Monday, July 27, 2015

Writing In Perspective - Tracy Krauss


There are moments in life that bring everything else into perspective. Births, deaths, weddings… occasions that trump the mundane (and sometimes frustrating) realities of normal existence.

I’ve had a few of these recently. My second grandchild was born in early July and there is nothing like snuggling a newborn, inhaling the sweet pungency that only a brand new baby emits. Another of my daughters is getting married this fall. In the whirlwind of planning and preparing, I am grateful that such a solid, godly man has chosen to cherish my little girl. These happy events make worrying about my word count seem a little less urgent. 

But life isn’t always a bouquet of roses. There have been some stressful family situations, too. The mother in me has spent far too many nights in tearful prayer, convincing myself that ‘letting go and letting God’ really is the best solution, hard as that is to do. Then there are those sudden blindsiding events that change one’s world in the blink of an eye.

My cousin’s wife was killed tragically this summer in one such blink. An avid triathlete, she was training for a charity cycling event when she was clipped from behind by a delivery truck. She leaves behind two young children and a grieving husband.

While babies and weddings and other summer celebrations fill us with joy, sudden tragedy is the thing that really puts the rest of life in perspective. My summer has been focused on writing a new novel, with a long list of promotional items thrown in. Somehow, social media stats seem rather trivial in light of the grief my cousin and his family are facing.

This doesn’t mean that one should give up on writing or promoting. Meaningful work brings joy to the human heart. (Ecclesiastes 8: 15) It is good to have goals and strive toward them. The bible says that God put eternity in men's hearts, so I think it's natural to look to the future. But don't let the busyness, or the frustrations, or the disappointments get in the way of embracing the present.

I'm still plugging away at my next novel, determined to have it polished before school starts in the fall. I'm also making plans to attend a conference in Calgary in the middle of August. However, I'm taking some time to reflect and also enjoy the mundane moments in the present. It's about balance, I think. The past, the present and the future coming together as a whole without too much emphasis on one over the other. Celebrate the past, enjoy the present, and keep looking to the future.

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published author and playwright living in Tumbler Ridge BC. Website



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sweet Success by Glynis M. Belec

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.
Romans 12:2



   Success. Ah, yes. As writers we all want to be considered successful by the masses. I’m thinking that if I did a survey and asked fifty people to give me a definition of success, there would be quite a few differences, though.

     Is success not defined by conformers of this world, as being measured by the amount of money in a bank account; the number of cars in the driveway; the total vacations in a year, or, in the case of writers, the quantity of books sold? Sometimes I have to be careful that I don't adopt that mindset, too, for it is drilled into me daily via the lure of advertising. 

     Certainly, as writers, though, we want to sell books. That’s one of the reasons most of us put finger to keyboard. And there is no glossing it over – the bills beg to be paid. But as believers, I’m thinking our definition of success needs to take a different form. Surely we write because God has given each of us a unique voice and a distinctive message to share and to glorify Him.

     Of course we would like to have 1000 readers buy our book on Amazon in one week, but what if one person, alone, bought our book and then said, “Thank you. I needed to read that. Your message was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you. You've changed my life.”

     Wouldn't that be a good and Godly measure of success? I think if we keep in mind that we write for an Audience of One, then our words will touch someone’s heart in an amazing way. And then when that happens, there can be a ripple down effect and lives really can be changed.

     I just finished listening to about 12 different speakers talking about how to sell hundreds of books on Amazon. How to make a six figure income as a writer. How to market and sell, sell, sell so that you can have great victory and climb the ladder of success  (especially if I enrolled in the courses offered later!) I will admit that I gleaned a lot of interesting information and tips from many of the speakers; some encouragement and a few things I might try to implement. But there seemed a void. A bit of a cold focus and I’ve decided that that coldness was a lack of Spirit writing.

     I am certainly not saying I know it all, because I surely do not! Romans 12:2 doesn't tell me that I will be transformed by the removal of my mind! It states that I shouldn't pick the world so that my mind can be renewed by God's golden Word, instead. It’s good to pay attention to things that increase my knowledge but I have to be careful that I don’t chuck aside God’s will in the process.

     Success is obedience to God and is defined (in His eyes) by the fulfilment of His purpose for us. That may involve 5,000 books sold; it may comprise of merely 50. The defining moment is that satisfaction that comes once the God-given words are released on paper and are prayerfully placed before the throne of the King.  Maybe the yield will not be riches or fame, but if I listen and obey and seek to fulfil God’s will with my words, then success will be clear. 

********+*******


Glynis lives, loves, laughs and does an awful lot of reading, writing, publishing and praying in her home office. Her latest children's book - Hopeful Homer offers hope and encouragement to anyone who might find herself in 'the pit'. 

Check out Glynis's bookstore here

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oh, Canada...I kneel in prayer for thee

Unlike our neighbor to the South, Canada has no official separation of Church and State. But that didn’t stop the eyebrows raised in a few quarters when on Canada Day in 2014 our Prime Minister mentioned God in a tweet. Twice.

“God bless us all, and God keep our true north strong and free,” he wrote.

“Please do not include God in Government,” one person tweeted back. Another tweeted, “The difference between God and Canada is that one of them exists and deserves to be celebrated.” And one person urged, “Please try to keep your favourite gods to yourself. We have enough crazies invoking imaginary f(r)iends already.”

I didn’t see our Prime Minister’s tweet until later. If I had (and if I made a practice of tweeting) I may have tweeted back. Something like, “God has blessed, and continues to bless Canada. Most of us aren’t paying attention.”

A growing tide of vigilant atheism sweeps North America. It doesn’t frighten me or surprise me, but it does sadden me. History books reveal what happens when nations, like Pinocchio of fairy tale fame, try to separate from God. God, like Geppetto, Pinocchio’s maker, cannot be forgotten, banished, left out, ignored or destroyed. We may try, but when we use the freedom our Creator gave us to walk away, nations, like the storybook puppet, eventually face the consequence: a downward cycle of depletion, strife and loss. Not always quickly, but always inevitably.

Something else happens, too. Historically, the more tightly governments restrict expressions and practices of faith, the greater the attraction to that faith, driving people to practice it more devoutly, even in secret. Ironically, attempts by governments to suppress faith in God have served as the catalyst for some of the world’s largest renewals of faith. The underground church in Communist China is perhaps the best example of that.

In the Dr. Zeuss book, “Horton Hears a Who,” an elephant, Horton, becomes convinced that an entire world of beings live on a barely visible speck. Mocked by everyone else in the forest, he risks his life to preserve the speck which, meanwhile, faces its own crisis – only one person believes in Horton. I won’t spoil the story – except to say that belief and action save the day, the speck, and the elephant.

Almost eight billion of us live on our speck now, each of us created with an unbreakable connection to God. Each of us a part of his plan, and every one of us dearly loved.

I opened my Bible and found a treasure this morning. “Let God grant us grace and bless us; let God make his face shine on us, so that your (His) way becomes known on earth, so that your (His)salvation becomes known among all the nations.”  Psalm 67: 1-2 CEB

Like our Prime Minister’s tweet, that passage makes two mentions of God. I’ve made it my prayer for our beloved country. God bless Canada -- even when Canada Day celebrations are long over. God keep us strong. And may God’s ways become known.



Kathleen's words have found homes in hearts and media outlets worldwide. Her current work as a full-time communication and constituency assistant to a Member of Parliament provides a unique perspective on the crucial roles played by Parliamentarians.
Find her at her website, on Facebook, and in other places.
This Sunny Side Up column was previously published in various Western newspapers.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

LIVING WITHOUT REGRET-by Heidi McLaughlin


I attend a lot of funerals. My first husband died and I grasp the importance of just “showing up” to support family members during their grief. I have remarried and my new husband is a pastor to an age group 55 and older, so at this juncture of my life I am acquainted with many people who are moving into the final years of their life. Consequently I hear a myriad of eulogies and I'm always gripped with a deep sadness when I hear:
“I wish I would have made more time to be with mommy/daddy/sister/bother/friend.”
“I should have...”
“I never…”
"I REGRET..."

Those are moments in time that we can never recapture. Missed opportunities leave us feeling sad, empty and sometimes we are angry that we have allowed the daily distractions of life to sabotage the important things that were left unfinished.   

So I have made a decision. I do not want to come to the end of my life with regrets. I have learned to do something that I call: “Playing the movie forward”. Here is how it works: When I am faced with new opportunities, challenges or new creative ideas, I ask myself the question, “What will this look like in fifteen years?” Then I go through this process:
1.         I feel it is crucially important that I keep my life in balance. Not too little or too much of anything. So I ask myself: “If I add this new ‘thing’ into the equation, will it bring my life out of balance for an extended period of time?”
2.         How will it affect my relationship with my husband and family?  Will I be so fatigued and zapped of energy that it will rob us of precious time that we could spend together?
3.         Can I afford it financially, emotionally and physically?

4.         Will it leave a valuable imprint in someone’s life or this world?
5.         When I look back at this “thing” 15 years from now, will I be glad I did it?

In this confusing and complicated world it is so easy to get off track and succumb to the daily distractions and the demands around us. But, I was born to live with purpose so I choose to take care of my life and my heart so that I don’t feel the helpless and agonizing pain of regret.

But there are days when I blow it. It might be by stabbing someone with an unkind word or just choosing to ignore the pleading, helpless look in someone’s eyes. I can’t ignore my errors and heartlessly move on. That will ultimately cause regret. I need to make the wrong into a right. It is imperative that I forgive those whom I have hurt and then receive forgiveness from God so that I can let go of my own guilt and shame. The bible tells us that there will be difficult days. It says: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).  God sent His son Jesus into the world to help us overcome those days when we make a mess out of our life. That is when we need to look to Jesus and say, “Jesus, help me…” (With whatever difficulty you are experiencing right now).

Then we have to choose to receive Jesus’ forgiveness, learn from our mistakes and be determined to do better next time. We need to move forward fully engaged and be determined to live a life of “no regrets.”

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at: www.heartconnection.ca






Friday, July 17, 2015

THE STOREHOUSE by Susan Harris


“I’m not a religious person,” says Thalia Tringo, “but I try to tithe a percentage of my income.” 

By "religious" I imagine that Tringo is not an adherent of any particular faith. The agent and owner of Thalia Tringo Real Estate, and all the agents in her employ, tithe $250.00 from each transaction to charity. (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245263.)


Tithes ensure there is food for the storehouse. But what does the storehouse look like? 

My storehouse was the name of the church I wrote on the cheques - my tithe of 10% of my gross income- which I tucked in little white envelopes and dropped in the offering plate. (I imagine I count as "religious".)

About a dozen years ago a young couple disclosed to me that they were going to give their tithes to a family in need. They implored my confidence  for it was expected that their tithes must go strictly to the church in which they held membership. 

I contributed to missions, and gave offerings over and above my tithes, but since that conversation with the couple, my concept of the storehouse widened. In addition to my local church, I give to church plants in foreign countries, pastors with meager salaries, people stricken with cancer. 

This month my heart grieved for an 11-year old and the educational odds she faced in her country. “I’m sending July tithes to the family so they can buy textbooks for the girl.” I announced to my husband.  He was not surprised.

There are huge debates over “to tithe or not to tithe”. The one I prefer to have is over the storehouse – what does it look like? Yet debate is not necessary because I follow God’s leading, gauging the needs and distributing my tithes among those needs.  And in so doing I ensure there is food in many storehouses. His storehouses. I give generously and faithfully and God reciprocates as He promised. 

Tringo is not “religious” yet she is impelled to tithe. She has found storehouses and has provided food. 

In what house do you store?



SUSAN HARRIS is the author of six books including Alphabet on The Farm. 

http://susanharris.ca

http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Harris/e/B007XMP4QS/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/1-Minute-Prayer/368981386624849

http://www.borealispress.ca/Author/aid/433/Susan%20%20Harris

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