January 26, 2024

Measuring stick by Mary Folkerts

Social media has taken the game of “comparison” up a few notches or ten. We can now measure ourselves not only against people we know but against complete strangers! All in the comfort of our home as we scroll and admire all their accomplishments. (And feel just a tad sorry for ourselves and everything we have failed to accomplish). 

But in all seriousness, how easy it is to measure our successes and failures against someone else's life without knowing their full story. We see only a glimpse, and if we compare ourselves against them, our blessings and successes begin to feel tarnished around the edges. We were content until we pulled out the measuring stick.

Whenever people strive to hone a craft, be it writing, art, music or another passion, there will always be someone who can do it better. That is not a reason to give up because everyone has a starting point, and it takes work and practice to improve. If God has given us a desire and gift for something, we should pursue it. We may not reach the masses, but if we bless one heart, we have been successful. 

Not all things are taught in Kindergarten. 

Some come natural, 


printed into the fabric

of the tiny soul. 

It appears we are born 

with a measuring stick 

in our back pocket. 

Johnny's lunch is better than mine

Suzie has a prettier dress

my colouring is in the lines,

hers isn’t. 




all day long — theirs against mine.

Did my mother not teach me?

Did my Sunday school teacher

not warn me?

Oh yes, but the lie is large

and the satisfaction 


when the evidence is in

my favour. 

But the balance is capricious, 

and I am Eve, 

scrambling after the early

apple of deceit, 

for the knowledge-–

my own kind of affirmation 

that tells me 

I am worthy. 

When I don’t trust 

my Maker’s words that 

declare, “It is good!”

I search constant confirmation

from sources as fallible as I--

that I am not behind,

that I am as good as,

that what I create matters,

that I am not redundant, 

that what I do 


The way of freedom

says, bury your tools 

of evaluation, gauging,

comparing one against 

the other. 

Only discontent and 

dissatisfaction comes 

with this deception 

which claims that my worth 

is measurable. 

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/  

January 25, 2024

M is for Mac ~ Guest Post by Andrea Kidd

Why do I write? Mac is one reason. I met Mac one morning when he was out for his walk. He stepped away from his buddies, let them go past, waddled over and gazed kindly into my eyes. He contemplated me as though he were enquiring, “Would you, could you, be my friend?” I was honoured by his gift of interest. 

Mac looked across the boundary of green chains that dangled between us. It would have been easy for either of us to cross that gentle barrier. But, a greater gulf separated us and prevented our close union.

Mac is a king penguin living at the Calgary Zoo and I am a human living in Longview. We live close enough for a friendship to be possible, but a friendship with a fellow creature on this planet has its limitations, especially when we are not of the same species.

Still, my brief relationship with Mac was satisfying and pleasurable. It gave me hope for future relationships with God’s creatures and His people. Mac’s fearless, friendly, engaging and curious gaze reminded me how good it is to interact with others.

Mac continued to give me attention as he cocked his head first to one side and then the other. Finally, he took one last, long look and joined the other king penguins as they toddled down to the bottom of the hill.

Later, I visited the penguin habitat where Mac lives. King penguins, Humbolts, Gentoos and Rockhoppers all go about their daily lives there, diving, shaking water off their backs, feeding babies, scrambling over rocks or calling for a mate. We laughed at the crazy, long yellow ear tufts of the Rockhoppers, but the king penguins in their smart black and white suits accepted them as normal penguins, which, of course, they were.

Suddenly, a certain king penguin leapt up onto the barricade that separated us and stared down at me. Mac was back for another look! “Would you, could you be my friend? Could we be good companions for life, you and me?” he seemed to say. I thought he was going to jump down to me. Kindly penguin keepers came to provide a gentle buffer between us. Mac could do as he pleased, come down or plunge back into the cool water of his home; however it was clear that no encounter harmful to either of us would ensue. The penguin keepers provided a boundary between Mac and me that gave us a safe space for good interaction. We could explore our relationship without fear.

Mac turned, dove into the water, propelled himself out onto the rocks and mingled with the other king penguins, calling with a loud raucous voice that he was single and looking for a mate.

Good choice, Mac! Some relationships are only meant to go so far. 

As I was writing this article I discovered an amazing truth:-  God has removed all barriers between Himself and us, even though we are not of the same species.

God is God and I am not. I am human and God is not, although, for a while, He did take on human flesh. We are so different and yet God invites us to be His friend. He has dissolved the barriers of guilt and shame between us and Himself through Jesus. He says, “Do not fear!” 

At first I wrote about Mac because it was delightful to experience the encounter again. Then God revealed to me nuggets of wisdom about my relationships. There are barriers that need removing with people I know, and some to maintain for healthy relationships. And, a person’s relationship with God need have no barriers; it is the deepest and most satisfying of all. As writers we encourage others to taste this goodness as well. 

My encounter with Mac confirmed my belief that I must share this wisdom.

Thank you, Mac!


Andrea Kidd writes to open readers (including herself) to recognize Jesus walking by their side in the ordinary and extraordinary events of daily life. She contributes regularly to the High Country News published and distributed in the Foothills of Alberta.

January 23, 2024

M is for Morsel ~ by Michelle Strutzenberger


Do you remember what you ate for breakfast two Thursdays ago?

Whether you do or not doesn’t really matter, does it?

The point is, you can trust that that breakfast, that morsel, whatever it was, nourished you for that time.


Just as we regularly eat for present physical nourishment, we read the Bible regularly for present spiritual nourishment.

We may not remember our devotions from two Thursdays ago, but we can trust those readings, those morsels, nourished our spirit for that time.

My pastor deserves the credit for this “food/devotional-as-nourishment-for-our-present-time” point.

I thought it could be called the “morsel principle.”


I’d like to suggest this same principle can be applied to our work as Christian writers – perhaps more so today than ever before.

A few years ago, and for decades before that, the publishing industry essentially meant the production of printed works that readers might come to count as “treasures.” They might buy, read, reread, collect, save, and eventually pass on, these tangible artifacts.

Today, however, the reading habits of many don’t involve printed works as much as they used to. Instead, readers spend more time online following blogs (like this one), subscribing to e-publications, and liking/commenting on social media posts. (According to a report from Publishers Weekly, print book sales fell 2.6% in 2023)1.   

I’m not sure how other writers feel about this, but I’ve struggled with wondering about the worth of my work when it is something that is “consumed” online.

I long for the olden days, when printed works were “treasures” bought, read, put on shelves, reread, collected, and passed on.

Yet, if we think of “morsel” principle, perhaps we can be encouraged. Maybe nobody will remember or “treasure” our works as printed artifacts. However, if we are trusting the Lord to lead our writing, then we can trust that He will use our work, however it is published, to nourish someone in one of their present moments.

We can pray over every piece we post, whether in blog form, on social media, via e-news, or some other way, “Lord, use these words for someone’s nourishment today.”

Then, even if they don’t remember it later, we can be encouraged that our written words, dedicated to Jesus’ service, may be a “morsel” for someone’s present moment.

Michelle and her family enjoy hiking mountains and trails together. She is currently sharing a series called, What Growing Up in a Mennonite Family of 10 Taught Me About Survival. To read the series, send an email to awakehopetoday@gmail.com.

1.      Milliot, J. (Jan. 5, 2024). Print book sales fell 2.6% in 2023. Publishers Weekly. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/94037-print-book-sales-fell-2-6-in-2023.html

Muses and Menageries ~ Valerie Ronald


Her golden yellow eyes glow with a million secrets ˗˗ a miniature, furry mystic. Curled up on a cushion by my writing desk, she purrs away like a gently boiling kettle, wreathed in an air of deep contemplation. My tortoiseshell cat, Pansy, is my writing muse. Having her nearby gives me a sentient being with whom I can connect while I create.

The origin of the word muse stems from Greek mythology, the name given to the daughters of Zeus who had powers to inspire poetry, music and drama. The modern definition is a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist. I do not actually believe my cat has the power to telepathically plant ideas in my brain, but somehow, having her near helps me think. There is something about her inscrutable demeanor that conveys empathy with my creative side. When I reach over to stroke her soft fur she will look directly into my eyes and give a slow blink, as if to say, yes, you are on the right track with those words. I approve.

Animals have inspired writers since the beginning of the written word, and literary history is full of lore about authors’ profound relationships with their pets.

Mark Twain had a fondness for his daughter’s black cat, Bambino. When the cat went missing, Twain used his literary skill to write a descriptive ad seeking his return. Bambino was found, perhaps due to the eloquence of Twain’s plea. 

Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s constant companion was a cocker spaniel named Flush, whom Browning allowed to sprawl on half her manuscript page while she worked on the other half.

C.S. Lewis, British writer, literary scholar and theologian, lived on an acreage occupied by dogs, cats, chickens, badgers, foxes, rabbits, birds, snakes, and frogs. This menagerie may well have inspired Lewis’ inclusion of animals in much of his writing.

I expect there are statistics to support the theory that writers have pets in greater numbers than non-writers. Perhaps it is the presence of a non-judgmental companion that helps the flow of creativity, or the benefits of what I call fur therapy. When I get bogged down in my writing or need a break to mull over my current project, I relax on the couch with a cup of tea where, inevitably, my cat comes to sit on my lap. Stroking her soft coat, hearing her comforting purr, I can feel myself relax. She responds to me with recognition and affection, a connection that helps nurture the inner language of the soul, from where I write.

I haven’t owned a dog for some time, but I remember how beneficial it was to go on long walks with a canine companion. Getting out in the fresh air to enjoy nature, stretching my legs and observing the unfettered joy of my dog exploring the trail ahead definitely aided my creative flow.

I read of an equestrian whose horse would follow her around staring at her until she had the impression to bring pen and paper to the paddock and write. The horse then peacefully grazed close by while an entire poem flowed from its owner’s pen onto the page without interruption. In her re-telling she says, “I knew horses were creative, mystical, and mysterious, but I had never been outright used for my prehensile ability to grip a pencil before.” 1 Believe it or not, there is something to be said for the effect animals have on creativity.

Knowing we are made in the image of our Father God, we can conclude that we have inherited the part of God’s nature that cares for the animals. Jesus tells of five sparrows being worth only two pennies, yet not one of them is forgotten by God. (Luke 12:6 NIV) King David’s early role as a shepherd caring for his father’s sheep provided him with rich imagery for his poetry, the most beloved being Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s Psalm. It is not difficult to imagine David’s connection with his sheep inspiring his creative prose during the long days and nights of watching over them.

Do pets or other animals inspire you in your writing? I would love to hear stories from other pet-owning or animal-loving InScribers about what gentle influence animals have on your writing process. 

"Perhaps it is because cats do not live by human patterns, do not fit themselves into prescribed behavior, that they are so united to creative people." - Andre Norton



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.

January 22, 2024

Memoir - Snippets and Tips by Lorrie Orr


Writing a memoir is a tangled affair. Maya Angelou writes "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." I might argue that once you decide to tell the story, there is no greater agony than knowing HOW to tell it. As I've been writing the story of my family's years in Ecuador, I've wrestled with the HOW more than the WHAT. For reference I'm using the handwritten letters sent by me to my in-laws. My mother-in-law kept every one of those letters, over 21 years of them. I'm ever so grateful. I don't have to rely completely on my memory. Yet, there is far too much detail to include in a memoir. Memoir condenses hundreds of stories. 

Memoir is different than autobiography in that it prioritizes the writer's feelings about her experiences over events that happened. Although the events are historical fact, they are framed in "true stories, well told," as Lee Gutkind says. It's a form of creative non-fiction, and can be constructed chronologically, or weaving together past and present experiences, following a theme, or focusing on internal conflict.

Ah yes, conflict. Without conflict there is no story. What are the two conflicting desires at the heart of my story? How can I center them around a universal theme that will resonate with readers who will not have had the same experiences?

I recently read Helen Rebanks memoir The Farmer's Wife: My Life in Days. She writes of the conflict between wanting/needing to earn money and her greater desire to devote herself to "the small domestic things (that) matter." For me the conflict might be my longing to return to Canada versus God's leading. He becomes the hero of my story as he gives me daily grace and joy to live where he wants me. 

These bits and pieces are things I'm thinking about as I write my memoir of creating a home on the equator. What memoirs have you read, and would recommend? 

Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she loves the rare snowfalls, walking along the water, and spending time with her husband, children, and five wonderful grandchildren. 

January 19, 2024

Muse - by Tracy Krauss


In its verb form "muse" means: to think or meditate on; to comment thoughtfully or ruminate upon...

However, writers tend to use it as a noun. "The muse" has come to mean that sometimes elusive, sometimes erratic, often overrated inspiration we need to create. There is a sense that we have little control over it; that it has a mind and will of its own and we'd better take advantage of it when it's activated. 

It's also a wonderful excuse for procrastination. "I'm not inspired right now," or, "I'll wait until the muse strikes."

I've got news. You can take control of your muse!

The first time I heard this declaration was at an InScribe conference about ten years ago. Murray Pura was the keynote. Since then I've heard many other "experts" say the same thing. As creative people, we control our muse, not the other way around.

If writing is important, don't wait for inspiration to strike like lightning. In fact, most of the time, it simply takes some sort of action on our part for it to come to life.  

Practically speaking, this means making a conscious decision to sit down and write, even when I don't feel like it. I give myself a time limit so the task doesn't feel as onerous. Ninety-nine times out of 100, I "feel" inspired before the ten minutes are up. If not, I give myself permission to stop and do something else. I don't know how many times I've done this when I have a post to write (like this one) or some other writing task that requires commitment. (Like NaNoWriMo) It works! 

While inspiration is a wonderful thing, make sure you're not using it as an excuse to procrastinate. Take charge! Take action! YOU are in control of your MUSE!

Tracy Krauss writes - and pursues all of her creative interests - from her home in northern BC. Visit her website for more including her more than thirty titles: tracykrauss.com

- fiction on the edge without crossing the line - 

January 18, 2024

Memoir, Memories, and Mercy by Alan Anderson


Our blog Moderator, Wendy MacDonald, wrote a magnificent message for our first post of 2024. Her thoughts on the genre of memoir moved this writer. More than this, her words became a motivation for me to attempt a focus on memoir writing alongside my poetry.


My first post for 2024 is an attempt at a memoir style message. I am open to suggestions from those more experienced in memoir writing.


Memories As Years Go By


A New Year causes me to look back on past years. Memories of all sorts come to me as a flood of bright jewels and as crushed gravel. You might relate to this. I pray God will continue to grant His grace to us as we journey 2024 together.


Types of Memory

I find the following points about memory useful.


Sensory memory: this is the earliest stage of your memory and often only stores information for a short period of time.


Short-term memory: this is anything you’re already thinking about. These memories are often forgotten quickly.


Long-term memory: also known as the “preconscious or unconscious mind,” long-term memory is information outside our immediate awareness but can be accessed when needed.

(Please see, https://www.webmd.com/brain/what-to-know-about-memories.)


Although I do not pretend to understand the science of memory, I know memories are indispensable to me. I mean, what would I write about without memories?


Memories Are Like Ink.


Like all of us, memories contribute to my life. Memories are the ink of what I write and the fuel of my writing energy. Whether I write poetry, short stories, or blog posts, the ink flows with memories.


These days, I am more cognizant of the value of short-term memory. If something significant happens or comes to mind. I write it down as soon as possible. I always sleep with a notebook by my bedside. Throughout the night, I often wake up with a thought going through my mind. I write it down before it floats off into never-never land.


Long-term memory is where a lot of my writing stems from. When I take the time and think through certain experiences from the past, the memory ink flows free. Even if years have passed since an experience happened, I can recall enough to bring the memory to life.


Memories of Mercy


I view my memories in two categories. I see them as “dark memories,” or “hold close memories.” They are all memories of God’s mercy.


Dark memories throw us to the ground, kick dirt in our faces, and crush our souls. They may cause us to walk through life as a ghost, a phantom unnoticed and unconcerned in the world. These memories, these dark episodes are not without meaning. By the mercy of God, support from those who love us, prayer, and one’s determination, dark memories need not claim our lives. If we do not run from them and take time to process them, we can break free from their bondage. This freedom can help us form our writer’s voice.


There are memories I hold close of loved ones, pets, and places dear to me. These memories are also reminders of God’s mercy and how He holds me close. Hold close memories form much of what I write. They let me know my life matters and has meaning.


When memories hold me close, the ink flows. Each letter, every sentence, every word, and paragraph, is part of a memory. My aim is to empathize with my readers to encourage them to know they are not alone, and they matter. Through the mercy of God, we can move forward even from dark times. God has shown and still shows mercy to me therefore, I show mercy to others. Without God’s mercy, my memories would be miserable.


My friends, hold close to your memories, for they flow from God’s mercy on you.



Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry, and their poodle, Charlie. He contributed stories to Good Grief People by Angel Hope Publishing, 2017; Story by Story: The Power of a Writer, Unstoppable Writers Publishing, 2018; Easter Stories & More by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, 2021. He is currently working on a book expressing the grief of grieving grandparents entitled “Hidden Poetic Voices: A Reflective Work of Grief, Faith, and Poetry.” Alan periodically writes articles for FellowScript Magazine and the online magazine for Compassionate Friends. He has written posts for our InScribe blog since 2015. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca.

January 16, 2024

M is for Moments by Lorilee Guenter

I sat on a rough log as a gentle breeze formed ripples on the lake in front of me. A song brought tears of grief. As I sat, a pelican appeared swimming along the shoreline to my right. While it swam out from the tree cover, I thanked God for the gift of seeing the bird up close. Little did I know it would climb out of the water and sit on the rocks beside me. The two of us sat together in silence. It was a moment orchestrated by God.

I was near the end of a spring hike. My legs protested each step as I neared the trail head. As I gasped for air, I told my husband I was done. I knew I would continue but I wanted to stop and sit on the cold ground, giving in to every complaining muscle in my body. It was an irrational thought since we could see the curve in the path just before the trail head and parking lot. I continued knowing comfort was close. As I turned the corner bringing the vehicle into view, I heard a rustling in the woods. I looked up to see a bear looking at me. We held each others eyes for a moment before it continued to the spot I wanted to stop at and then to the river beyond. I continued to the car.

These two examples are unusual experiences. They are moments in time brought about by God. The unexpected and the everyday events all enrich our lives and our writing. 

I looked up the definition of moment. It is a measure of time that is usually brief, such as my encounter with the bear or the pause to notice a new flower. It can also be a point in time that is noteworthy, such as my encounter with the pelican. I find the first blossoms on my haskap plants each spring spring noteworthy. It is a moment I look forward to since it is a sign of the garden waking up. They arrive along with tulips and other spring flowers. The moment I notice them is a brief time. In that way the moment of noticing meets both definitions.

When I write fiction the moments I choose to create give insight into what is important to the characters. They move the story forward. My experiences allow me to add authenticity as I include details I have experienced. However, my experiences don't limit my imagination. Instead they inform it and provide a framework I can build on.

In life, each moment is a chance to pause and recognise God's presence. It is an opportunity to admire His handiwork. From moment to moment He is writing His story and we have the privilege of being part of it. 

January 15, 2024

M is for Mission Statement by Carol Harrison


M is for Mission Statement

There is a lot of information about finding our target audiences for marketing our writing. Where does our writing fit into the publishing world or is it for family, friends, and ourselves? What if we also enjoy doing a variety of creative endeavors? How do they fit together?

These were questions I asked myself often over the years. I am a writer who enjoyed sharing my writing with family and friends but also publishing it. I struggled with the marketing aspect of my writing. But I also enjoyed teaching workshops, speaking at various events and summer Bible camps and now I have added making Junk Journals for myself and others as well. How do these all fit together?

I took several workshops about discovering our vision for our creativity and then developing a personal mission statement to gel everything together. Rather like opening an umbrella over all the activities I liked to do, wanted more time to do, and how that would relate to others.

A mission statement reminds you and tells others about what you want to do or accomplish and what contributions you can make. It defines our purpose and ties all the aspects of how we use our God-given gifts together in one package that can also be shared with other people.

Here are some questions to ponder as you design your own personal mission statement after seeking God’s wisdom in doing so.  

-        What do I do?

-        Whom do we do it for – target audience?

-        What values are we bringing?

-        How do we do it? – speaking, workshops, writing, teaching, mentoring and the list can go on.

-        Why is what we do important to others?

-        What strategies can or do we use?

-        How would writing a mission statement help with our writing?

o   Finding target audience

o   Tying various aspects of creativity together

A personal mission statement is as unique as the individual writing it and their Gifts and abilities.

It took me a long time to think through and pray about what I do and why I do it. I asked myself often if I was moving in the right direction, the direction God wanted me to travel. Here is the end result of that journey to writing a mission statement.

Carol Harrison is passionate about mentoring people of all ages and abilities to find their voice and reach their fullest potential while encouraging them to find glimmers of hope and glimpses of joy.

I work towards this in my writing, my speaking, teaching, workshops, and even creating and sharing junk journals. It ties everything together as means of helping others find their voice, reach their potential and know that there is hope even in the tough times of life. 

Do you have a personal mission statement? What does it say? 

Carol Harrison enjoys sharing with people of all ages and abilities through her writing and speaking from her home in Saskatoon.