April 29, 2024

A Preponderance of Ps by Bob Jones


This piece is presented on April 29th as a result of a profound amount of procrastination. I’m 21 days late because I put off pressing the publish button. That was a product of being a perfectionist. 

Preponderance

 

When I failed at crafting the perfect post, I postponed long enough that I completely failed to perform. I could proffer excusing my faux pas because I was preoccupied with preparation for a prolonged trip to Ukraine but I’ll pass on that proposition. 

 

On April 9th I was a guest professor in a seminary class in Lviv, Ukraine, teaching Pentecostal History. Surprise! I received a polite reminder from Wendy MacDonald about my missing post for April 8th. 

 

There was utter pandemonium in my thinking as my perfectionist personality wanted to throttle the procrastinator in me.

 

PhD kind of experts offer a perspicacious perspective: procrastination is really an avoidance of perceived future pain. There is a high probability that this quality is proliferate among creative perfectionists like those who populate this blog. If that’s your position, start before you're ready. 

 

As a plus, plan something pleasant as a panacea to persist in completing your project.

 

And one more “p”. 

 

Palindromes are numbers or words that read the same backwards and forwards like racecar, madam, 2020 or… Bob.

 

I am off to have a piece of pecan pie as a prize for persevering.

 

It was my pleasure to have you read this pithy post. Please point out "p" words I could have put in.

 

Read more of Bob's pieces at REVwords.
 

April 26, 2024

Puddle of pain by Mary Folkerts

 


Don’t play in the water, 

reminds the voice of caution. 

You’re not prepared 

in your silken slippers.

The mud will ruin 

your clothes.


Stay away from the puddle,

no good can come

from sitting in the 

muddy pool

water up to your eyeballs.

You could 

die!

 

It may be deeper 

than you know,

back up,

gather your skirts and run!

You could drown 

in it.


But what if they’re 

wrong?

The puddle of pain

my schooling 

where the minnow

learns to swim,

the pollywog

finding its legs

straining

stretching 

becoming. 


I think I will sit here

with my pain

and learn what I need 

to know. 

A little water 

won’t kill 

me. 


It’s our inherent reaction to run from pain, to avoid it at all costs, but pain finds us, and we have no choice but to confront it. If life is a coin, pain and sorrow are on one side just as surely as joy and fulfillment are on the other.


Would we be better off accepting that pain is part of life? I’m not suggesting we wallow in the difficult things that come our way, but neither should we run from them our whole lives so we never truly live for fear of pain.

 

I wonder if we could learn to sit with the pain of our emotions longer and learn from them instead of trying to shed ourselves of them prematurely? It’s like the figurative hot potato we want to toss before it burns our hands. 


 Pain can be our teacher, even if it takes years to understand what the lesson was.  And sometimes, there may be no apparent lesson other than the fact that life on this side of heaven has pain attached to it. And maybe the nearest thing we can learn and be witness to is the presence of Jesus, who holds us afloat in the pain. That, too, is a lesson worth learning. 



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/ 


 

April 24, 2024

P is for Passwords ~ by Michelle Strutzenberger

 

Would you rather your life be more like a password or poetry?

Passwords have become ubiquitous in this day, haven’t they?

We used to memorize poetry.

Now we burn up our brain power memorizing passwords. Or at least trying to remember where we wrote them down.

We’ve probably all experienced the “password checker.” Password checkers check the strength of our passwords. Of course, the longer and more nonsensical, the stronger they are.

Why do we need strong passwords? Well, to protect us from hackers. Hackers would like to get our money, identity, messages, and credit cards.

In our daily lives, there can be other types of hackers that steal something even more precious – our joy, our peace, our love.

I have found that the best protection against real life hackers is to put everything at Jesus’ feet.

I’ve found it especially helpful if I specifically name what is bothering me. I’ve come to adopt a practice of trying to understand what exactly it is that I’m facing and then giving it to Him. I’ll say, I put this burden at your feet. I give you this person that has hurt me. I lift up this anxiety I am struggling with.

Disorder and chaos have a way of making us feel powerless, don’t they?

I think that’s why I almost immediately start feeling better when I go to Jesus. First, I can trust He’s in control. Second, as I name my problems, they become less like a chaotic mess. They turn into order, something that can be dealt with, rather than a nameless, floating, whirling terror.

Maybe we need  to start taking back our lives from the chaotic power that passwords can be seen to represent.

Yes, I understand. They’re necessary. We can’t live without them.

But what if we intentionally find ways to fill our brains with more order and beauty than the nonsense of passwords?

For example, we could start learning poetry. (I know many of you already do that). I recently started memorizing some old poems with my teen daughter.

I know some of you already write poetry. That’s another way to say no to passwords.

We can name our struggles and put them at Jesus’ feet. Not just toss up a careless prayer. Show our deep trust in His very personalized, very loving interest in every one of our cares by naming them all, one by one, before Him.

I’d rather my life be more like poetry than a nonsensical password. What about you?

With Jesus’ presence and help, I know it can be – and will be fully so one day when we reach heaven’s gates.

And when we arrive at those gates, I’m quite sure we won’t be required to spout off some long, disordered selection of characters, numbers, and letters (including at least one capital) before the gates swing open for us.

No, I’m quite sure that on that day, it will be something much more like poetry, something close to, “Because He lives,” or “Jesus is my Saviour” that will be all it takes for eternity to open before us.

Michelle and her family enjoy hiking mountains and trails together. She is currently writing a series under her maiden Mennonite name, Michelle Teigrob. The series is called, What Growing Up in a Mennonite Family of 10 Taught Me About Survival. To receive the bi-weekly tips, visit this link and subscribe.


April 23, 2024

The Writer's Path ~ Valerie Ronald

 

I watched from a short distance behind to see how long it would take before she looked back for me. My firstborn had only learned to walk a few weeks ago, now nothing would stop her. She toddled down the forest path as fast as her small legs could carry her, eager to find out what was around the next bend, not once looking back to see if I followed. Decades later, she and her husband are seasoned hikers, roaming beautiful forest paths in remote mountain regions. No matter how far she goes, I carry in my mind the image of her as a tiny girl in a bright yellow jacket following the first path of many she would someday explore.

Do you remember the first steps you took on the pathway to becoming a writer? Did it begin as a dream in your heart ˗˗ perhaps the discovery you were good with words ˗˗ or a desire to tell your story? Many writers forge paths fueled by their own ambition, however, as a writer who follows Christ, I have learned to trust Him to show me the path He wants me to take.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5-6 NIV)

My path as a writer has had many twists and turns, memorable mountaintop moments and times when I’ve lost the trail. Lessons learned along the way strengthened my writing muscles and taught me obedience to the One who laid out my path. Gradually I learned to see God’s providence in each step on the path, even in the wrong turns I took.

Like the conviction that I was to write a memoir about a time of personal trauma in my past. I spent hours dredging up painful memories, trying to bleed them onto the page, yet often deleting hours of writing because of my reluctance to reveal such private details to future readers. Guiltily stalling work on the manuscript, I found it too emotionally difficult to unearth a chapter in my life God had closed long ago. Then I noticed a theme emerging. I realized I was weaving parts of my trauma story into other projects, yet without stirring up the emotional pain the focused memoir caused. I could share how God met me and taught me in those dark places, then move on to the healing and wholeness of the new life He blessed me with. I believe this is the path He wanted for me all along.

“Your great Teacher will reveal Himself to you; your eyes will see Him. Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: “Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go” whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left.” (Isa. 30:19-21 The Voice)

If you are truly seeking God’s will for your writing path, He will make your way clear. He has given you the best guidebook in His Word and the compass of the Holy Spirit to point you in the right direction. Even if you take a wrong turn, He can make a way where there is no way. I pray you experience joyful purpose and beauty with each step as you follow the writing path God has set before you.

 

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.

April 22, 2024

Always a Psalm by Lorrie Orr

 



Of all the books in the Bible, the Psalms are what I read most often. I read one each day, numbering them 1-31 throughout the book. They comfort me, make me laugh, and fill me with delight. I often find myself nodding along with David's words. John Calvin wrote, "I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, 'An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;' for there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated." Calvin seems to find more "distracting emotions" than helpful ones, but I think both are present. There are more notes and underlining in Psalms than in any other book in my Bible. 

Here are a very few of my favourites: 

"I lie down and sleep;
I awake again, because the Lord sustains me." (Psalm 3:5)

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:3)

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."  (Psalm 16:5-6)

"I love you, O Lord, my strength." (Psalm 18:1)

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; 
do not fret when men succeed in their ways, 
when they carry out their wicked schemes." (Psalm 37:7)

"Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary." (Psalms 96:6)

"I run in the path of your commands, 
for you have set my heart free." (Psalm 119:32)

I could go on and on. Often, when I read a verse, a memory pops up and I remember the joy, or grief, or anger that I felt at other times. I am so thankful that I can bring all of these emotions to God knowing that he will understand. Another, more contemporary author, Mark Buchanan says, "The Psalms give form to and language for the fullness of our lives. They track a path through the vastness of human emotion, its tundras and its jungles and direct all of it Godwards." The Psalms remind me that I am human (not that I need much reminding), but also that the emotions I experience have been experienced by humans from the dawn of time. And in every emotion, God is present. Is that not perfect solace?

What verses from Psalms do you treasure?



Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island, where she reads Psalms in the garden, on the beach, in the forest, and anywhere she finds herself. God's creation inspires!




April 19, 2024

Plotter or Pantser? by Tracy Krauss


 “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” 

Within fiction-writing circles, we hear this question bandied about all the time. May I submit to you that BOTH require a certain amount of Planning?

To me, a true “pantser” begins with nothing more than an idea, allowing their imagination and stream of consciousness to dictate what appears on the page. A plotter, on the other hand, spends time developing detailed schematics beyond the basic story arc. Inciting incident, character arcs, scene-by-scene development… This takes time and a lot of foresight.

I haven’t decided which definition fits me best. In fact, I challenge anyone to be a purist for either camp. 

I need more structure than a simple idea before I start writing a novel. Sure, sometimes I write a scene or some dialogue as inspiration, but to actually sit down and just let the story go wherever it wishes is somewhat like throwing ingredients into the air and hoping they land on the plate. It might work for a simple snack, but the more complex the meal, the more time must be taken to assemble the various parts. 

I’ve used various suggestions about how best to plot, from following a “formula” from plot-point to plot-point to writing scene descriptions on recipe cards and rearranging them. I like to write in Scrivener, so sometimes I lay our scene cards on the “corkboard” and populate my document with colour-coded scenes, using a different colour for each character or what have you. While this gives me a framework, I have to admit that invariably, my plans always change.

I can spend a long time working everything out, but once I actually start writing, new ideas come forward – things I would never have thought of until the writing process actually began. Sometimes characters say or do things that don’t fit with my original plan. These are not things I can foresee. They just happen, and I’ve learned that this is an important part of the process.

I need to have a general idea of where the story is heading, but sometimes I can’t work out these details ahead of time. I know where the characters are going, but I don’t always know how they are going to get there. That’s why the first draft is so important. Once I outline the basic structure of the book (the plotting part) I allow the “pantser” free reign as I write the initial draft. 

For me, both are an important part of the writing process. In the end, whether you lean more one way or the other, I doubt that anyone can actually stick to either in the strictest sense of the word. Perhaps “Plantser” is a better term!


Tracy Krauss
is a "planster' writing from her home in northern BC. Follow her online or visit her website: https://tracykrauss.com

April 18, 2024

Pals, Pens, and One’s Anam Cara by Janelle Baldwin and Alan Anderson

 


An Introduction to Anam Cara

 

We, Janelle, and Alan, would like to introduce our readers and fellow writers to the value of an anam cara to share your writing with and speak into your life. You will notice we focus on our relationship in this post.

 

Anam cara is an ancient Celtic term for “soul friend.” One blog post cannot cover the gift of an anam cara, but we hope this post will encourage you.

 

Janelle’s words


I first heard the words ‘anam cara’ at the Inscribe fall conference in 2012 from the keynote speaker, Nancy Rue. The words have always resonated with me.

 

My ‘soul friend’ is someone I met initially through Inscribe. Alan and I established our connection through a shared friend in the organization via social media. She felt we had similarities that would allow us to be an avenue of support for each other. Who knew that simple introduction would lead to genuine support and encouragement, not only in writing, but in many other avenues of life as well? God did, I expect.

 

My ‘anam cara’ is someone I can ask for a critique knowing it will be honest, gentle, and encouraging—something too often missing in my circle of writer friends. We also bounce ideas back and forth and swap life stories. This is a delightful blessing I didn’t know I was seeking, but needed. The Lord has always provided what I need, when I need it, and it has been no different here. I am infinitely thankful for my anam cara.

 

Alan’s Words


What is friendship? What do we mean when we call someone a friend? How much do I care for my friends? How much do my friends care for me? These are some questions flowing through my mind as I consider the value of an anam cara.

 

An anam cara is a unique relationship to embrace and cherish. Such a friendship can teach us how genuine a relationship can be. For instance, if Janelle asks me how I am doing, I don’t respond with flippant words like, “I’m good or not bad.” I am open with her.

 

Our Anam Cara Relationship

 

We haven’t met each other in person yet, live miles away from each other, and are part of different generations. These facts do not reduce the strength of our bond. We chat on social media a few times every week. We include discussions on our writing and personal matters. This is because we care for each other.

 

An Anam Cara Blessing

 

We close this post with a blessing from poet John O’ Donohue from his classic, “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom.”

 

“A Friendship Blessing. May you be blessed with good friends. May you learn to be a good friend to yourself. May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness. May this change you. May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you. May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging. May you treasure your friends. May you be good to them and may you be there for them; may they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth, and light that you need for your journey. May you never be isolated. May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam Δ‹ara.”

 

 

 

Janelle lives in Medicine Hat, Alberta, with husband, Sandy, their three mostly grown kids and two Shelties. She has been a member of Inscribe for over ten years and has served in the past as FellowScript Editor and webmaster.


Alan lives in a small village called Deroche, British Columbia, with 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.


April 16, 2024

P is for Possibility by Lorilee Guenter


 Prose, poetry, passion, project and prayer. I have bounced between these word possibilities for a month or more. Some words have been added, others discarded before they made the list. Every time I think I have chosen the theme for this month, a new idea or possibility presents itself. Even as I write this, possibilities play calling for my attention.

I have many unfinished projects because my tendency to procrastinate kicks in as soon as the ideas start to accumulate. I don't want to lose an idea so I make a few notes, or a concerted start, then I move on to the next. This year I challenged myself to kick the procrastination habit and finish some projects. It is my hope that this will open space mentally and physically to pursue some new project ideas without shelving more partial pieces. I plan to start next week, or the week after, because I have a new piece of poetry to polish. While at times it is fun to poke at my procrastination and the chasing after every possibility, I find it in fact hinders my opportunity to pursue those ideas. The more passionate I am about my current work the easier it is to follow through. However, my brain never seems to stay still. 

I am working on curbing my procrastination this year. It is a hard habit to break. Like all change, the key to progress is prayer. I am not doing this on my own. I never have to work on my own. This fact gives me encouragement. It renews my strength the days nothing seems to go the way I expect. Some days it would be easier to package up all my pens and gift them to someone who could make better use of them. Those days procrastination and mental mess obscure the possibility inherent in every day.

The more I work on consistency and following through on the ideas I am passionate about, the more I recognise that prayer and possibility are partners. I know this. I have known this. Somehow that knowing grows as I work. I am a writer who doesn't have the words to describe the phenomenon of ever increasing certainty that comes as I soak in a truth.

It is my hope for all of us that we, through prayer, will recognise the possibilities that God has prepared for us along the path He leads. I pray that we continue to let Him guide our thought as we sit, pen in hand, ready to tell His story. He is the author of every good possibility. He has promised to partner with us as we follow Him.

April 15, 2024

P is for Procrastination by Carol Harrison


 

P is for Procrastination

Procrastination. I am good at that. Do you ever struggle with procrastinating?

Procrastination is the act or habit of delaying or postponing some task that needs to be done, whether it is around the house, at work, or in our writing. I have always tended to procrastinate some things and I am in a season right now where procrastination seems to loom large in everyday life. Tasks appear to be larger than they really are. The tiredness due to health concerns and grief make motivating myself difficult. What causes you to put things off?

Some of the causes of procrastination for various people include:

-        Fear of failure

-        Lack of clarity about the task

-        Lack of structure

-        Perfectionism

-        Laziness

-        Allowing good reasons to become excuses once the reason is no longer valid

I’ve been reading (another way I procrastinate) about ways to overcome these various causes of procrastination. Even good things can sometimes become those excuses to delay doing a necessary task such as reading. It is a good thing for writers to engage in but I’ve found myself reading so much other things get left undone.

Fear of failure:

-        Start with small steps that are manageable as you work towards a larger end goal.

-        Build your confidence by taking small steps

-        Listen to what others have said about your writing. Read critiques you received. Sometimes our mind only sees the negatives and forgets to look at the positives.

Lack of clarity:

-        Can you break down the task into smaller steps – stepping stones to reaching the destination of a job completed?

-        Having deadlines to work towards gives a clearer vision of necessary timelines for your goals. I seem to work better when there are deadlines, even self-imposed ones.

Lack of Structure

-        Find a place that works for you to concentrate on your writing – a dedicated space if that is what works for you.

-        Figure out a designated time of day that is optimal for you to accomplish some writing or editing.

-        Remember that editing and marketing are part of the writing journey too.

 

Lack of Motivation

-        Is there some physical reason for lacking motivation? Is there a health concern or a need to step back from tasks for a short time due to circumstances?

-        Get an accountability partner. I have people who ask me how my writing is coming, what I’m working on, and how I’m feeling about the entire process. They also pray for me as I write or speak.

-        Accountability partners can also help with goal setting or breaking those goals into smaller steps on your to-do list. My one daughter reminds me to look back at what I’ve crossed off the to-do list and get a picture of the done list to see what I’ve managed to accomplish.

There are likely many more tips you’ve encountered or that work for you regarding this topic of procrastination. It has been a good exercise for me to take a look at why I procrastinate and get some ideas about how to overcome it. Now to put them into practice sooner rather than some time in the future.  

 

 Carol Harrison writes and often procrastinates from her home in Saskatoon. She loves exploring other adventures through spending time researching family history and reading.