July 12, 2024

Sanctuary and Heritage by Sharon Heagy


           My husband and I were cutting grass in a small country cemetery in preparation for a family reunion. As I weaved the lawn tractor between the headstones, I surveyed the names of families who had laid to rest the remains of loved ones beneath the soil. Many names were familiar but there were a number I did not recognize. Folks who had long since moved from the area, their names faded from the memory of their community.

            Questions bombarded my mind. Why did they leave? Where did they go? Did anyone ever return to see the markers?   

            There was evidence that someone had come to visit. Once brilliant-coloured artificial flowers adorned the ground near these sentinels of history, the blossoms now faded and torn. The wind had tossed and shared some petals among the other graves sites.

Tall hedges envelope this area in a green embrace and we found some gravestones hidden there.  Someone’s loved ones all but invisible beneath the arching arms of the caragana.  We did our best to clean up the markers we could access, cutting, trimming and shoveling as best we could. But we lacked the time and ability to clear them all. We swore a vow to each other to come back and finish what we started with the necessary equipment to clear away the brush and bramble. These are the last remnants of beloved family members and we consider it an honour to maintain their final resting place.

            Having been there many times before, we were surprised when we discovered a family member we didn’t know existed. An infant named John Jay Heagy. Almost covered with grass, we found a small marker pressed into the dirt with his name and the year of his birth and death. He was born and died in 1929, almost 100 years ago. None of my husband’s siblings or local cousins knew who this lad was, but when we had supper with an uncle that evening who is 94 years young, he was able to recall whose baby it was and a piece of the family puzzle was put into place. 

            On chiseled granite and engraved plaques were the names and dates of lives lived, long and short. Born to a mother and father. Someone who was once loved. The evidence was all around us. People cared enough to lay these folks to rest in this quiet beautiful spot. A place to come and visit, a place of connection, of history, of love.

            As writers, we not only leave our bones behind when we pass on but we also leave our words. The heritage we leave behind are the words we write, perhaps long remembered after we are long gone. And maybe, just maybe, even beyond anyone knowing our name in connection with the words. Many of the common phrases of the English language have come from the authors of the Bible or from writers like Shakespeare, yet nobody cites them as references or even knows where the familiar phrases come from. Phrases like ‘the blind leading the blind’ or ‘by the skin of your teeth’ come from God’s word. ‘Wild goose chase’ and ‘in a pickle’ come from The Bard of Avon Not that I am comparing any of us and least of all myself with any of these folks but “with God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26) Just as my beloved and I are honoured to care for the graveyard, we writers must care for and honour the words God gives us to pen.

 With a push of a button and the turn of a key the mower and tractor were silenced.  My whole being basked in the peace of this place. Truly, there was a sense of all-encompassing peace. Vesper sparrows sang their songs of prayer and added to the sacredness of this place and I thought, ‘Lord how fitting it is that You would fill this place with vespers. Quiet evening prayers. I whispered the word ‘sanctuary’ with a sigh of contentment and blessing and spent a moment more in silence before we loaded up our gear and headed for home. 

July 11, 2024

What Does SUCCESS Mean to You? by Steph Beth Nickel

 
Photo Credit: geralt on Pixabay.com


Before we can determine if we are on the path to success, we must determine what success means to us.

For many, being successful means earning a lot of money, writing a bestseller (or two or three . . .), growing a social media following of 100s of thousands, etc.

But maybe you define success far differently—and that's okay.

For years, my goal has been to self-publish. But including such a lofty goal on a list is infinitely easier than breaking it down into its multiple components: completing the manuscript(s), learning each step of the process, enlisting the aid of others, and following through (especially that first time, when every step has a learning curve).

Despite a plethora of reasons (and excuses) for not being further down the path, I am taking steps in that direction. Recently, I fired off my manuscript to beta readers and asked for their input.

As writers, we never truly know how the reader will receive our words or if those words will achieve the goals we have for them. Receiving input from trusted individuals and making recommended revisions (especially if multiple people comment on the same thing) will make our writing stronger.

I have several other goals and means of measuring success but have had the desire to self-publish for more years than I can remember. So, I will press on in that direction . . . with the help of my beta readers—and so many others.

And when distractions come along, which they will, I will determine if it's time to re-evaluate my goals or press on. Although self-publishing is still a goal of mine, it is not, by any means, my highest priority. My husband is retiring next year, and the plan is to sell the house we've been living in for over 20 years and move west with our daughter to be close to Son #2 and his wife. Finding my place in our new community and "finishing well" are my idea of true success . . . whether that includes publishing multiple books or not.

As Christians, isn't it amazing that, from God's perspective, we have already attained the ultimate success. According to Ephesians 2:4-6, ". . . God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . ."

These verses, among so many others, assure us of what has been referred to as "the already but not yet." Because of our faith in the Lord, a success far greater than any we can imagine has already been secured for us.

What an encouragement as we travel the path to what we define as success in the here and now!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version@), copyright© 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



July 09, 2024

STILL by Joylene M Bailey

 



***


It's been a very warm and busy day. 

Traces of trauma linger ...

Now, the evening is still.

Still, I must still my mind, which still stirs restlessly.


***


It's been a very warm and busy day.

Traces of trauma linger ...

Now, the evening is calm, motionless, quiet.

Nevertheless, I must make quiet my mind, which, so far, stirs restlessly.


Settle

Shush

Smooth

Soothe

Soundless

Serene


Motionless

Noiselessness

Soundlessness

Quietness

Stillness

Peace 

Be still


And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. [Mark 4:39, KJV]


He stilled the sea; He can still my mind, my inner being.


For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said: "In repentance and rest you will be saved,

In quietness and trust is your strength." [Isaiah 30:15, NASB]


Stillness leads to strength.


And never forget ...

He who watches over Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep. [Psalm 121:4, NASB]

***


Here is a beautiful song to help you be still.


**********


Joy encounters stillness at home in lake country, Alberta, where she lives with The Cowboy. Find more of her joy-infused writing at Scraps of Joy   If you've been praying for her grandson, Deklan, who underwent three brain surgeries last month you may like to know that he's now home and continuing with outpatient care. Every day he's a little better, and an MRI scheduled for July 24 will show how far he's come. Thank you for praying. 

Feature Image by Reza Askari from Pixabay

July 08, 2024

S is For Senior Processing Errors by Bob Jones


Has it happened to you?

 

You go into the kitchen to get the key to the mailbox, see the dishwasher needs emptying, and as you put the clean dishes away you realize you haven’t had your morning coffee but as you pour a cup you can’t remember why you came into the kitchen.

 

Stan Goldberg has written a lot about different types of senior moments. What they share in common is information processing errors. These moments are not necessarily early warning signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. They are normal experiences that can be helped with more sleep, a healthy diet, exercise, doing one thing at a time, using stress management techniques or reducing mental clutter by using lists, calendars or apps.

 

How many of the following have you experienced?

 

1.  Forgetting Names/Numbers

Have you been at a gathering, and a person approaches you whose name has inexplicably been stripped from your memory? What’s worse is when the person is a close relative. As the person approaches, your anxiety increases with each step. Or, you have called your spouse’s cell phone hundreds of times but when you need to use someone else’s phone to call, you can’t remember if the last four digits are 6502 or 6250.

 

2.  Repeating Stories

You meet a friend, and they begin telling a story about a trip. You groan inwardly because this is the second or third or fourth time you have heard it. You listen politely because you understand the story has more to do with the significance it has in your friend’s life.

 

3. Misplacing Objects/Forgetting Purpose

We all misplace objects. It is a daily occurrence for some people. Sometimes we misplace ourselves. You end up in a room in your house and can’t remember why you went there.

 

4. Substituting Words

When a man asked his wife if their dog, Silver, had been fed, he used a long-deceased pet’s name, followed by the name of another deceased dog, then a third, eventually retrieving “Silver.”

 

5. Sequencing Problems

Everyone has experienced problems with tasks that require a series of steps. Sometimes, if the sequence is interrupted, even briefly, I forget the reason for initiating the move.

 

6. Difficulty Completing Tasks

It is Saturday morning, and you look at a list of unfinished projects accumulating over the last six months. You are so overwhelmed that instead of starting any of the tasks, you curl up in your favourite chair with a coffee and begin reading a new novel.

 

7. Disorientation

You show up at a store you’ve been in hundreds of times before and know exactly where to go to get what you need because your legs know exactly where to take you. However, one day when you show up, you are at a loss on how to get to your destination.

 

How many have you experienced?

 

Oh, did I write that already?

 

Processing errors can be troubling, but most of the time they're just a result of the brain's normal aging process. It is important to make note of these experiences over time and ask others to tell you if they've noticed that the moments are becoming more frequent and if so seek out professional help.

 

One thing I am encouraged by as I age is that Bible memorization is a way to keep your brain, as well as your spirit, tuned up.

 

Thank you for reading. 

 

Bob (the above photo is from my 70th b-day after running 10km to raise $ for humanitarian work in Ukraine)

July 05, 2024

In the Shape of My Words by Brenda Leyland (Guest Post)




"Because right now, there is someone
out there with
a wound in the exact shape
of your words."

Sean Thomas Dougherty, American Poet
as found on GoodReads


A single word can turn someone's day around. A single sentence can change a person's life. And it can go either way—for better or for worse, depending on what's been said, and how.

The words leapt from the screen to my heart when I first read Sean Dougherty's quotation on GoodReads not so long ago. They buoyed my spirit, and my writer's imagination soared with possibility. For there isn't one among our company who doesn't yearn over the words we write and speak—hoping even a few will be that glove perfect fit for someone's wounded heart, bringing light and healing to it.

So why, when I later read the lines a second and third time, did I feel sucker punched in my inward parts? Surely, I didn't misread it. But what if the poet meant something opposite to my first thought—something unthinkable, but possible in my fallen humanity, and more to my sorrow, something probable. When Sean Dougherty said someone has a wound the exact shape of my words, did he mean that I have words that match the wound to make it whole? Or did he mean it was my words that created the injury in the first place? Dear Lord, it hardly bears thinking.

I scrambled to find the whole poem, I wanted to see its context. Found elsewhere online, it comes from Dougherty's poetry collection The Second O of Sorrow. It turns out, this one sentence is the poem, and when I read the title, which is phrased as a question, to me it becomes clear:
"Why Bother? Because right now, there is someone out there with a wound in the exact shape of your words." (The poet recites the poem HERE)
I breathe out a sigh. As a writer I long for my words to deliver messages of hope, joyfulness, and encouragement. I cringe remembering occasions when my impatient, insensitive words rushed in where angels feared to tread—ruffling feathers, agitating minds, and bruising tender hearts. In the middle of the night those sharpish words haunted, and my heart squeezed to think how unkind, how unlovely, how unlike Jesus they had been. Lest I spiral downward feeling the awfulness without hope, He graciously brings to mind occasions over my lifetime when my words had, indeed, poured like ointment over someone's aching heart—what joy I felt at those times in being an instrument for good. 

I do believe my instinctive first response to Dougherty's poem is right. No matter the poet's original intent, both possibilities are now etched on my mind. I cry out for mercy... and grace. For myself, and for anyone else who seeks it. Like the Psalmist calling out to his God, I yearn for the words of my mouth—and from the nib of my pen—to be acceptable in His sight (see Psalm 19:14). That they will affirm and be gracious, lovely and good, and will in no measure demean or belittle any soul.

The poet looks me in the eye and asks me, "Why bother?" I mull my answer carefully. Because the words I write, shaped with sensitivity and His divine love and inspiration, will one day exactly fit someone's wound and bring healing to it. Can anything be more joyful and enriching? Can a writer aspire to anything more worthy and excellent?


Top Image by CDD20 from Pixabay


Inspired by the beauty of God's world, Brenda blogs at It's A Beautiful Life. A longtime member of InScribe, she's been a past recipient of the Barnabas Award, a contributor and columnist in FellowScript magazine, and a contributor to the InScribe anthology 'Christmas: Stories & More'. Brenda's joy these days is to play with words and shape them into beautiful thoughts for good.


 

July 03, 2024

Seeing and Writing with “New Eyes” by Sandi Somers

 


It all began in March 2020, when COVID locked us in from many events and contacts with people. That included church attendance. While I watched services online, I needed more for Sunday morning, and so I decided to go bird watching. I first visited Inglewood Bird Sanctuary in Calgary where I had taken my first birding courses in the 1980s. Memories of walking the paths and discovering birds new to me flooded my mind, and I felt as though I were back in those years, breathing its summer air, and feeling its warmth. 

That first morning of birdwatching in 2020, I felt a great nostalgia for those days. But soon I realized I couldn’t live in the past. I needed to build new and meaningful memories.   

I seized every sunny Sunday morning to go birding, frequenting pond and lake sites that I had visited in early expeditions. In the exhilaration of early mornings with the sun peeking over the eastern horizon, my spirit worshipped God and the wonders of His creation: “How majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1,9 NIV). 

That year, I took time, leisurely focussing my binoculars on the distinguishing visual features and actions of the birds, and then, sitting on park benches, I carefully checked my bird books and chatted with expert birders who guided me in identifying new-to-me birds. Once home, I journalled many of my weekend adventures and drafted articles and devotions, some of which have been published. 

As the weeks went by, new visions of Alberta’s natural history spurred me on. That’s when Proust’s famous quote became a major turning point for me.  His “voyage of discovery” means we shift our sights and "look at the details of our lives with a scintillating freshness"[i], Introduction  Sometimes we don’t realize how God gives us important gifts from our own “back yard” so to speak, even during times of restrictions. 

Eugene Peterson, pastor and author, asked his readers: [D]o we take what is right before us in our own backyard and sink our lives into what is already given to us, enter into the intricacies, the endless organic relationships that make up this world?”[ii] 

To see with new eyes, you need to “(a)bsorb everything you see and hear and feel and touch - or rather as much as you can. Harness all your past experiences and turn them into your writing”[iii] The deeper we pay attention to details of our lives, God will give us newness in what previously seemed ordinary or even restrictive. He will give us a fresh perspective that brings richness to our writing. 

Discovering the same landscapes with “new eyes” that year meant much to me as both a nature lover and as a writer. When I discovered Proust’s quote, I posted it on my fridge to remind me of 2020 when seeing life with new eyes means finding new freedom and expansiveness to write with newfound treasures from what before had seemed ordinary. 



[i]Lilburn's introduction to Don Domanski, Selected Poems, 1975-2021 (London: Xylem Books, 2022).[ii]Eugene Peterson, Eat this Book: Conversations on the Art of Spiritual Reading), Grand Rapids MI: William B Eerdmans, 2006), 44-45.  

[iii] Source unknown

July 02, 2024

S is for Silly Me ~ by Brenda J. Wood

  

Silly me, I should have kept that deadline.

Silly me, I should have entered that contest.

Silly me, I should have checked my spelling.

Silly me, I should have finished that novel.

Silly me I ……. (Fill in the blank)

 

Silly means weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish (Dictionary.com)

Thesaurus.com gives 53 other ways to say silly. Some of them are too silly to mention but here are the highlights:

childish, crazy, frivolous, idiotic, irresponsible,

ludicrous, nonsensical, pointless, preposterous,

ridiculous, simple, empty, irrational, stupid 

sheep-headed, asinine, brainless, empty-headed,

featherbrained, ignorant, muddle-headed,

illogical, immature, witless. 


On our worst day, we are not any of these things. Why do we continue to speak untruths into our minds and hearts? We tell ourselves these things while knowing deep down that they aren’t true.

“We use negative drama to scare ourselves out of creativity.” (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, page 141)

For as he (or as a man or woman) thinketh in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7 (KJV)

As a Man Thinketh is a self-help book by James Allen, published in 1903. It was described by Allen as "... [dealing] with the power of thought.”

It was the publishing date that really caught my attention. (Don’t be fooled by later publications.) 

This truth has been visible for years. Isn’t it time we grabbed onto it for ourselves?

He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (Psalm 112:7)

(But do we specialize in giving bad news to ourselves?

How different would our creative life be if our thoughts lined up with this verse?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. Philippians 4:8

 


Brenda J. Wood has authored more than fifty books. She is a seasoned motivational speaker, who declares the Word of God with wisdom, humour, and common sense.





July 01, 2024

S is for Social Media ~ by Wendy L. Macdonald


 

For writers who are also introverts social media can be a dirty duo.

I get that.

If our goal is to get traditionally published, divulging our dislike of using social media can get us canned. (I may or may not have learned this by experience.)

I don’t think social media is detestable. It’s like a seasoning that’s best used in moderation. It adds zip to an author’s platform. But too much time spent on it can overwhelm the writer and dilute their ability to write long-form projects. 

An emotionally exhausted author can’t create well when her well is dry.

Using social media to enhance a writer’s platform looks different for different personalities. An introvert with a limited supply of social spoons must find out what works best for her. Social media is about serving our target audience without making ourselves targets for overwhelm.

One person’s formula is one person’s formula. It can also vary throughout the year. For example, I cut back on my posts because I was teetering on the edge of burnout. Posting once a week on my main platforms restored my love of sharing and renewed my genuine love for my followers. (I didn’t have the heart to take a full sabbatical because I didn’t want to alarm my devoted readers. I love them.) As it turned out, posting once a week is my sweet spot for using social media. If I sense a nudge to add more posts in the future, I will.

What does serving your audience look like?

Serving means sharing what we've learned our followers like best. Mine prefer flower photography and encouraging words. Staying away from politics or other divisive topics serves well too. There’s a place for those things. At present (and maybe always), my platform isn’t it.

Social media is also a place to socialize. Several years ago, I stumbled upon what works best for me. Since I find the home feeds overwhelming, I often skip them and simply visit back those who recently visited my page. It helps me be social without getting exhausted. I do this mostly for Instagram and X.  

Social media is a wonderful way to find good reads we may otherwise miss. Think about the last few books you read. How did you find out about them? When I get to know and admire an author via their social media presence, it often leads me to download a sample chapter of their latest book. If that goes well, I buy it.      

Social media is a great way to discover readers and what blesses them best. Once we realize what passion of ours meets their needs the most, we’re wise to focus on it. I regularly pray that the words on my posts glorify God and encourage readers. It’s wise to invite God’s help. Always.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 KJV   

What do you think of social media? What do you love about it? What do you find challenging about it? I’m nosy to know.


Wendy L. Macdonald is an inspirational blogger and YouTuber who loves to do nature photography on Vancouver Island. Her happy place is making junk journals to sell in her Etsy shop. Her byline is: “My faith is not shallow because I’ve been rescued from the deep.”


June 28, 2024

What do we recall? - by Mary Folkerts


 Why is writing good for the soul? For me, It cements truths in my mind that I already know but too often forget. I have good intentions to remember, but life throws its challenges, and I get bogged down in negative emotions. 

Lamentations 3:19-24 says it perfectly, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (NIV).

Every day, we have a choice about what we will let our minds recall. I can remember all the struggle, pain, and disappointment; the result will be that “my soul (will be) downcast within me.” The other option is to call to mind what I know from past experience and the truths I read in God’s word, that His love and faithfulness to me never run out. Every morning I awake, His faithfulness is evident in the rising sun and the breath in my lungs. This kind of remembering produces hope! If God has brought me through to this point, I can trust Him to continue to see me through this current hurdle! 


As Christians, we are called to bear witness to God’s faithfulness, and as we speak (or write) hope to our own hearts by recalling His love and mercy, we can stir hope in others who struggle to recall God's faithfulness to them.


Recalling my affliction (calamity, suffering, adversity, misfortune, trial, ordeal) = a downcast (discouraged, disappointed, disheartened, miserable, cheerless) soul.


Recalling God’s love, compassion (grace, kindness, mercy, tenderness) and faithfulness (constancy, dependability, loyalty, trustworthiness) = HOPE (confidence, expectation, dependence, endurance).


God‘s faithfulness towards us, does not mean we receive everything we want but that He will, in His time, give us everything we need to produce in us a heart after God. 




Mary Folkerts is mom to four kids and wife to a farmer, living on the southern prairies of Alberta, where the skies are large and the sunsets stunning. She is a Proverbs 31 ministries COMPEL Writers Training member and is involved in church ministries and music. Mary’s personal blog aims to encourage and inspire women and advocate for those with Down Syndrome, as their youngest child introduced them to this extraordinary new world. For more inspiration, check out Joy in the small things https://maryfolkerts.com/  or connect on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/maryfolkerts/ 

 


June 25, 2024

Renewing a Writer's Mind ~ Valerie Ronald

 

A month after moving to a smaller house, I am still trying to bring order out of chaos. On the days when I seem to be loosing the battle, I escape to the backyard, a small plot of ground revealing unexpected beauty. I am refreshed by the sound of the breeze running its fingers through a windbreak of trees between our yard and a farm field. I sometimes glimpse a red squirrel or a wild rabbit in the undergrowth, or hear the flute-like whistle of a meadowlark. Above the treetops the skyscape unfurls like an ever-changing scroll, parading white cloud castles across its blue expanse. Lately, looming thunderheads crowd in, a prelude to resounding thunderclaps and torrential rain. As quickly as it comes, the storm moves on, leaving a renewed landscape with its freshly washed face lifted to the sun breaking through ragged remnants of clouds.

Observing the renewal of my backyard vista after a storm, I am reminded of God’s desire to see us transformed by the renewing of our minds. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2 NIV)   

God wants us to think as He thinks, as revealed in His Word. We can’t achieve this on our own, but only by the power of His Holy Spirit indwelling us. The transformation occurs from the inside out, as we are “cleansed by the washing with water through the Word.” (Eph. 5:26) This supernatural renewal allows us to experience the direct guidance of God in our lives, including our writing life.  

So how is the mind of a Christian writer renewed? What practices and disciplines help keep us fresh and focused on what God wants to accomplish in and through our words? Our mind gives us the ability to weigh possibilities, make decisions, analyze emotions, and determine our affections. Our will has a major part in determining which direction we choose to take in these important areas, however, the influence of the Holy Spirit cannot be underestimated. The more our lives are surrendered to the authority of God, the more of Him can shine through our writing.  

Allow God’s Word to inform your writing  

The Bible reveals God’s mind, character, purposes and plans. Consistent reading and study of His Word cleanses and conforms our thinking, resulting in increasingly pure thoughts and holy living. What we put into our mind will come out in our writing.

Preface each writing project with prayer

Prayer is essential if we are to follow the writing path God desires for us. Constant conversations with Him can result in new inspiration, themes, direction, and much more. Let Him speak to you during these sacred communications, giving you opportunity to tap into His boundless creativity.

Refresh your mind in nature   

Our minds and bodies are refreshed and renewed when we spend time in God’s beautiful creation. Going outside gives us a break, often bringing a new perspective when we return to writing. Finding inspiration in the natural world helps focus our mind on God.

  Reflect on what is good  

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8) As this verse alludes to, we can choose what we think about. Be discerning in where you put your thoughts. The world holds many enticing things to draw our minds away from God. Practicing discipline in your thought life will help you realize that God’s way is best, because there you find joy.

Just as our writing life is constantly changing, so our minds are in a state of renewal and transformation by the Spirit of God. We are on the way˗˗neither all we ought to be but also not what we once were. As I watch the sky transformed day by day from my backyard, it encourages me to trust in God’s good, pleasing and perfect will as He renews my mind daily. 

 

Valerie Ronald writes from an old roll top desk in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, with her tortoiseshell cat for a muse. A graduate of Langara College School of Journalism, she writes devotionals, fiction and inspirational prose. Her purpose in writing is to encourage others to grow in their spiritual walk.

June 24, 2024

Readers Who Write by Lorrie Orr

 


Doris is the eldest girl, with three younger siblings,
 of which there would eventually be 9 more.













Every night, Doris' father sat in his armchair, unfolded his newspaper, and began reading. Four-year-old Doris watched his lips moving, forming the words silently as he read in English, his second language. Doris wanted desperately to read, so much so that during the day, she would sit in his chair, hold the newspaper as best she could, and move her lips. Sadly, this method did not seem to help her decipher words in the least, but once she started school, reading came easily. Doris grew up to become my mother and loves to read to this day.

Do you remember learning to read? Dick and Jane were the stories I read in Grade One, and I do not remember the learning process, but the joy of reading has never left me. So much happens when I read. I escape into other worlds. My mind races and/or calms. I learn about a plethora of subjects. I deepen my connection with God, not only when I read the Bible, but also when I see how He is present in others' lives in the stories I devour. I am motivated to do things. Reading is my great delight.

Reading teaches me much about writing. Do you know a writer who does not enjoy reading? I don't. Stephen King says, "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write." How I read influences how much I learn. 

I read quickly, often racing through books to get to the denouement, then most often sitting back with satisfaction at a tale well-told. And since I miss a lot when I do that, I often return to the story, reading more slowly, taking note of the way the author uses words or details to bring about a desired outcome. Francine Prose (what a great name for a writer), says "We all begin as close readers. Even before we learn to read, the process of being read aloud to, and of listening, means that we are taking in one word after another, one phrase at a time, that we are paying attention..." When I read to my young granddaughters, I read the story as it is written the first few times. Then I begin changing individual words. The little girls love to catch me out and correct me. They are paying attention. They know that the words I substitute do not fit the story. They are learning to delight in reading.

Learning from literature, from reading, teaches me by positive models. I ask myself why the author chose this word over that one, how this sentence is constructed, why this gesture is included. Strunk and White's classic Elements of Style tells me what and what not to do. In reading literature, I see those elements at work. Prose, in her work Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them cautions that the "advantage of reading widely, as opposed to trying to formulate a series of general rules, is that we learn there are no general rules, only individual examples to help point you in a direct in which you might want to go." I notice Hemingway's concise way with words and L. M. Montgomery's flowery use of them. I see how Charlotte Bronte uses colour to evoke meaning in Jane Eyre. The list could go on and on. 

Last summer I read a cleverly constructed light novel dealing with time travel. The ending startled me and I found myself going back and forth in the book, looking at clues the author had written with seeming effortlessness. I love the story in Acts 8 of Philip hearing the Ethiopian reading from Isaiah and asking him if he understood what he read. Those words led to grace and salvation. The power of words cannot be understated. My words and your words are not inspired as Isaiah's are, and yet God uses our writing to his glory. 

What do you enjoy reading? 



Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island. Sitting down with a cup of tea and a book is a lovely way to spend a few hours, inside, outside, on a boat, or in the woods. Her favourite genres include mystery, history, memoir, historical fiction, cooking, gardening, and just about anything printed between two covers. 

 


June 21, 2024

Read and Review! by Tracy Krauss

Good writers read. Widely. I’m sure we’ve all heard this advice and can agree. 

But how many of us take the time to review what we’ve read? 

We should all know by now that reviews are an author’s best friend. They add credibility and are what propels books forward in search engines. In short, online reviews are valuable to authors, no question. But what about the value of writing a review to YOU as the reader?

I make it my practice to write a review for every single book I read. (Almost.*) 

Writing reviews is excellent writing practice. It’s the perfect practical way to hone one’s writing skills and is a great exercise in writing concisely while also using descriptive details. Writing reviews also sharpens analytical skills, requiring one to reflect on character development, motivation, pace, or overarching themes—all aspects of writing that any author should want to develop. 

It forces one to distill the story down to its most basic elements without sounding cliché or giving too much away (unless you like spoilers) while still engaging with readers beyond a mere retelling of the plot. It stretches one to think of different ways of saying similar things. (“I loved this book!” isn’t really saying much. WHY did I love this book?) 

There are many good reasons to write reviews. First, they are very helpful—crucial even—for today’s authors. So, if you truly like an author, why not give them a boost by writing a review? This shouldn’t be a daunting task. As writers ourselves, we should be able to express our views with a certain amount of eloquence. Instead of a burden or a chore, look at writing a review as an opportunity! 


* The exception are books that are so poorly written that I can’t honestly give them higher than a one star. I’m not in the business of crushing a person’s self-esteem, especially online for all to see. However, if I have a relationship with that person, I would likely contact them privately with my feedback in order to facilitate future growth. (I suppose it’s the teacher in me.) It’s a bit like telling someone they have spinach in their teeth or their dress is tucked into their nylons… Sure its awkward, but that’s what a true friend would do to help them avoid future embarrassment. 

__________________________


Tracy Krauss
lives and writes in Tumbler Ridge, BC. Writing reviews is a fun way to bring closure to each book she reads! Visit her website https://tracykrauss.com






June 20, 2024

Remembrance of Writers by Alan Anderson

 



A few of my favourite poet/writers:

John O’Donohue (1 January 1956–4 January 2008)

Sylvia Plath ( October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963

Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926).

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886).

 

Special Remembrances

 

There are times throughout the year where we remember people and times that matter. I imagine certain days come to your mind, such as the birthday of your parents, spouse, children, and best friends. There are other special days we may hold dear, like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Remembrance Day, and the like.

 

Perhaps there are writers you look on with great remembrance. These are writers whom although passed from this world, still speak, their words full of life. I pray this simple message encourages you to remember your favorite writers.

 

I can’t go into detail about each of the aforementioned writers, but please allow a few thoughts to summarize why I hold them in remembrance.


Passionate Writers


Poems from Emily Dickinson hold my hand as I read them. There are times her poetry also kisses my soul as I reflect on them and soak in her expressive words. Even though most of her poetry was published after her death, readers still benefit from her words.

 

I regard Sylvia Plath as a favourite writer because I am interested in her as a person. Sylvia had her first published poem when she was nine years old. In her earlier poetry, she wrote about nature. Her later themes of mental illness and relationships in her poetry give evidence of a broken soul. She took her own life in 1963 when only thirty and her poetry touches me even today.

 

Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke affects me like no other poet. I can’t explain this enough, but the way he writes enraptures my ears and eyes, then settles deep within.

 

John O Donohue and I would have been buddies if we had met. Perhaps my Celtic background caused me to sense him as a kindred spirit. I can imagine John and I sitting in an Irish pub enjoying fish and chips with a beer on the side. We would chat about the beauty and spirit of poetry.

 

Writers who love their words share them with the world. They have a way with words like a passionate chef who wants to feed all those he meets.

 

Remembrance of Legacies


The names of famous writers I mentioned at the beginning of this post left legacies. They live on in the sense we still love their words. Years after their deaths, we recite their poetry or read their stories and novels. Their legacies indicate who they were as people. Their words are like offspring eager to please the authors and bless the world.

 

Write and Keep Writing

 

Reading words of writers I remember encourages me to keep writing. Reading about their lives reminds me God can use even me, a broken vessel, to offer words of hope through my trembling pen.

 

Dear writer sisters and brothers, keep writing. Allow pen and paper to be constant companions of your soul. You see, as you write your next short story, novel, play, poem, blog post, or essay, you are adding to your legacy.

 

Please realize as you remember writers you admire and love, God loves your words. He has given you and me a passion for words. When we write, we express the longing of our souls.

 

Bless our words, O Lord,

as they make their way into the world.

Help them touch hearts,

Heal minds,

Blanket souls in love eternal.

Allow our words, O Lord,

To speak long after we have gone to our blessed hope.

May they live as seeds of your love.

 


 


Alan lives in a small village called Deroche, British Columbia, with his wife, Terry, and their poodle, Charlie. He enjoys walking on the dike near his home, where he finds inspiration for his writing. He occasionally writes articles for FellowScript Magazine and is a regular contributor to the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship blog. His website, https://scarredjoy.ca, is under construction