Monday, May 30, 2016


Over the past several weeks I've been working on an old manuscript. "And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins." Mark 2:22

With this scripture in mind, I began to sift through what was new and what I was trying to wring new truths out of old settings, goals, conflicts and conclusions. Something was wrong. It wasn't hanging together as it should.

I went back to my outline and premise. Yes, secure and ready to rebuild or revise. I thought of the wineskins. And began to think how the idea of putting new wine in new skins definitely made sense. Old wineskins, used wineskins and immoveable old wineskins - I don't think so. And old wine into old wineskins just plain stunk.

How can I manage this? Manipulation? Not a good idea. Force feed? Not a chance.  A truth is a truth isn't it? A truth will stand against all and any manipulations one might apply. So what could I salvage from this old tired, immovable thought process that was timeless? 

I went back to the manuscript's premise. Yes, it's solid. Ageless! There is a truth there. There is a good story here. Like the idea of putting wine in wineskins, which has proven itself through the years, I began to compare this idea to my words, phases and chapters. What could not go in? What was tired and just wouldn't fit.

As these thoughts began to challenge my thinking, new wineskins began to take shape along with new wine. Yes, same old concept that's been used since forever. This would work. Six months later I confess, "Yes, this did work."

Sweet wine!

Donna Mann
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Friday, May 27, 2016

Grow Up! Tracy Krauss

1 Corinthians 13:11  “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
Our prompt this month encouraged us to write about growth. I can think of many ways I have grown in my both my writing life and my spiritual life.
Just as pruning encourages new growth, criticism and even rejection can teach one how to be a better writer. I've endured my share of such 'training', and even now I look back at some of my early published work and wish I could re-do many things that now jump out at me. Actually, I hope to do just that. I plan to eventually re-publish my entire backlist once the rights for each piece have been reverted back to me. Beyond my growth as a writer, I am amazed by how far I've come on the tech side of things. After my first book came out in 2009, the learning curve was steep in terms of marketing, promotion, learning about social media and so forth. I know I am still growing and learning every day, so I try to keep an open mind when it comes to these things.
I've also learned a thing or two in my time as a Christian. I accepted the Lord way back in March of 1982. There have been mountain top experiences, many long plateaus, and even a few dips. Overall, I can chart the progress, however, and can say with confidence that I am a more mature Christian now than I was back then. 
My husband and I have been in ministry on and off for many of these years. We are currently just finishing up as interim pastors of our church, which has been without a regular pastor for almost two years. It has been another learning experience since each congregation has its own unique strengths and weaknesses.  One thing that has struck me this time around is how the length of time as a Christian doesn't necessarily equal spiritual maturity. Unfortunately there are a few folks who are disgruntled about one thing or another and they don't mind sharing it! The lack of maturity is astounding at times, especially when it comes to issues that are of no eternal value...
But enough of that. Like the scripture says at the top, there comes a time when we must put away childishness as it pertains to immaturity, and act like adults. This doesn't mean we should stop being childlike when it comes to the wonder of God and the enjoyment of the life he has given us. In that case, we are to become like little children. 
I expect that I will look back a month, a year, a decade from now and see growth in both my spiritual life and my writing life. As my dear friend Jacqueline used to say, "Age is only a number." She lived up to this motto on a daily basis. Jacqueline was one of those people that 'sparkled'. She was full of vivacious energy, was fun-loving and energetic, had a positive outlook on life, and loved Jesus with all her heart. (And she never lost her sense of style! No frumpy old lady clothes for her!) Thankfully, when cancer struck at 87, she went quickly with dignity and grace. 
It's true. Age IS only a number. It has nothing to do with one's maturity or growth as a human being. There are many baby adults out there and a few very wise young ones, too. May we all aspire to be in the 'wise' camp, realizing that each one of us still has a lot of growing to do. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Best Laid Plans by Glynis M. Belec

 Our home had been on the market for almost a year. We thought our plans were good ones. Downsizing seemed like the right choice and a good financial decision. Since we had been dealing with some health issues and needed to start thinking about a bit of a change, the plan seemed perfect.

 But nothing happened. We had a few nibbles but little that led us any further than getting our hopes up for a few brief frustrating moments. We agonized over what was the right thing to do according to God. Why wouldn’t He want us to do what seemed the most sensible thing? Sell the house. Get rid of ‘stuff’. Reduce our debt load. According to budgeting gurus we were making all the right decisions. Why wasn’t our house selling? Turns out, God did know what He was doing and He was about to make things very clear.

Then my father had a heart attack. He had been managing decently in his own home, although my sister and I had been taking turns caring for him and making it possible for him to stay there. It was a lot of work, but we knew Dad valued his independence and we did whatever we could to keep him happy, well-fed and safe.

But the time had come to make a decision. Dad knew he needed more help. And there was no way he would consider any type of extended care. His military background demanded certain things! Besides, I had made a promise to my parents when I was young, to take care of them in their golden years.

 Dad was hesitant, at first, to admit that change was necessary. I can’t say I blame him. In Ecclesiastes 3, the words poetically describe how there is a season for everything. Not only that, there is a time for every purpose under heaven. I’m thinking that not only Dad was shifting seasons, our purpose was shifting, too. It wasn’t going to be easy for any of us. I had to give up my tutoring. Dad had to give up a measure of his freedom. The decision was made. He would move in with us.

It meant many changes. And quick ones, yet. Dad needed to sell his home. We talked about listing it, but then we thought about trying to sell it ourselves. Things happened. A phone call was made and before we knew it, Dad’s house had sold within the day. The day? Are you serious, God? That was my first reaction. We had had our abode on the market for a year with nary a bite and Dad’s home sells at the click of a phone. It didn’t seem fair.

But God isn’t in the business of listening to my complaining and tantrums. Because He knows the big picture and has a way of working all things out for good, He sometimes wisely overrides our plans.

 And work it out, He did. We soon realized what God was up to. If we had sold our house we would definitely have bought a smaller home and downsized considerably. And if that would have happened we would not have been able to have Dad come and live with us.

It’s been almost two years now. Dad is nearing ninety.  Things are working out well. We all had sacrifices to make as we shifted seasons together. But when I think upon how God worked it all out I am reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

                I’m not going to argue with that. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Sting of Criticism – by Heidi McLaughlin

The art instructor paced back and forth and glanced at my painting.  Each time she walked by I was thrilled and encouraged by what I accomplished in such a short time. I was amazed how just the right sculpted brush strokes could makes trees come alive and the reflection on water appear so brilliant.  By the third day in this art class my enthusiasm peaked as I saw my potential as an artist increasing by the moment. Then the instructor stopped at my easel and called the rest of the class to come over and stand around my painting. My cheeks were flushed with pride as I waited for her words of praise.

Like a needle thrusting a balloon, her words shattered my illusions of grandeur. “Class, this is what you do NOT do.” She then proceeded to destroy all my hard work and creativity that had flowed out of my spirit in the last three days. It was more than that. Instead of doing it with kindness in a private moment, she humiliated me in front of my peers and shattered my courage. She left me defeated, questioning my self-esteem and I wanting to quit.

A courageous resolution rose up in me and I went back the next day to try again. I was not going to let one woman’s opinion diminish my passion and creativity.  Yes, she had valuable comments but they were expressed with the intent to crush and not build up.  What I took away from that ghastly encounter actually improved my paintings and prepared me to have thicker skin for more criticism ahead.

As an international speaker and author, I have heard and experienced painful criticism.  When I put myself out there with my words, actions and opinions, they don’t always line up with other people’s expectations. To overcome these crippling offenses and embrace all that I know God has called me to do, I filter criticism this way:

  •  Who is saying it and what is their motive?  Is this coming from a place of wanting to help me or put me down?  Is it jealousy? Is it helpful? Do I respect that person’s opinion? 
  •  Most criticism holds value.  Even when I left a room in tears or felt I could never walk onto a platform again, I always learned something new about myself.
  • Criticism does not define me. I am God’s beloved and: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

·        If criticism is filtered in a healthy and productive way, it helps sharpen “iron on iron” and is part of the transformation process to make us more into the image of Jesus Christ.

The years following my painful art class experience, I tool several College courses and produced many beautiful pieces of art.  What I didn’t realize is that God was preparing my passion for creativity, beauty and meaning to make a difference in this world through writing and speaking to women all across the world.  Isn’t God’s plan always so wonderful and perfect?   

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. 
Her new book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places will be released June 23, 2016
You can reach her at:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How high is the High Road? BY SUSAN HARRIS

When it rains in the countryside where I live, one could take the high road to avoid flooding that is certain on the roads in the low-lying areas. But I’m not referring to the path described by geographic elevation.

The phrase “take the high road” is ascribed to American origin, and means  “to approach an endeavour or problem in a fashion that is above pettiness, to travel the moral high ground, to behave decently”.

Noble callings! Our natural instinct is to defend, to retaliate, to give her “a piece of our minds” (hmm, what percentage remains?).  Taking the high road is not easy as a person consciously chooses not to make a defense of himself, and this noble act itself becomes an object of criticism.

Long before America came into existence, our Lord disclosed His noble standard to the prophet Isaiah. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8,9 (KJV) He identifies the high road, His Way, and that it is superior to our lower ways.

David writes in Psalm 18:30. “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (KJV). The question of whose way is better, nay perfect, is established (and it’s not my way.)

A prophecy of the millennium echoes, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 (KJV) The Lord seeks to deliver us from contrary ways that goes against His perfect will for our maturing. 
The conclusion - 
  • ·      There is a higher way.
  • ·      That way is perfect.
  • ·      We are asked to walk in that way.

 I can approach an endeavour or problem in a fashion that is above pettiness. I can travel the moral high ground. I can behave decently. It may be an uphill climb. It may be tiring. It always has a treasure at the top. 

It taking the high road easy? No.
Is taking the high road doable? Maybe
Is taking the high road a choice? Yes.

SUSAN HARRIS, author of nine books, is pulled back by Grace as she navigates the high road.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Life--A Grab Bag by Ruth Smith Meyer

This month I’m using a blog from way back and revising it to suit my present life.   That’s because this past week or two have held such a wide variety of experiences and the subject just seemed to fit.

Although I haven’t seen them recently, I remember the local drug store of my childhood having “Grab Bags” in an aisle bin for a modest price.  You couldn’t see what was in the brown paper bags before purchasing them; you just had to hope there may be some things you really, really wanted.  A few times, I couldn’t resist the temptation.  There usually was at least one item with which I was delighted. Some were okay, but not something I would normally have purchased, but still useful, and some items I hardly knew what I could do with-even a disappointment. Yet they had all come in one bag.

The past week or two sometimes have felt like one of those grab bags--holding quite a variety of components that tried to wreak havoc with my equilibrium. 

 Among the goodies—warm thoughts and actions conferred on me for Mother’s Day from both parts of my family. Those included beautiful words, cards flowers, a teddy bear from a granddaughter who thinks everyone should have one of those to hug, a nice family dinner and two dozen beautiful roses from a son-in-law who feels more like a son.  I also had a deeply satisfying day with Paul’s three daughters as we worked at dividing the contents of a few rooms. A daughter and grandson showed up on a Saturday afternoon to help with some heavier cleaning that had been weighing on my mind.  Another daughter did me the favor of driving me to a speaking engagement in Toronto. And perhaps most satisfying was bringing together another cantata for our choir to sing at Christmas; sorting through the beautiful music we have sung in the past, finding a theme and writing narration that would tie it all together to let the listeners know that The Light will Come.

The okay? The days are getting longer but have remained on the cool side.  To me this is not all bad, for I prefer cooler rather than hot.  However the spring is advancing, flowers have begun to bloom, the birds are tending their nests, summer will come. Although my days, my house and my life still feel lonely, I am adjusting and slowly, but surely finding a new way of life.

The items I think I could have done without? A hip and leg are keeping me awake with pain and unable to be as active as I am used to being. All the news of tragedy in the world. The forest fires in Fort McMurry make my heart bleed for those who have been affected, for the firemen and workers fighting the inferno, for the mothers who see their sons and daughters going into danger in order to help others. The news of more deaths of people in the prime of life, some older spouses left alone after a life-time of love, and several afflicted with Lou Gerig’s disease facing a long slow decline and increasing inability to communicate. Then there is the burial of my husband’s remains today. I have definitely not looked forward to this rite which was delayed for four full months after his death.  It seems like having to revisit my initial grief—like pulling a scab off a wound way before the needed healing has fully taken place. Being the kind of person who is carried through the immediate crisis by adrenalin and the full realization only dawns on me gradually weeks after, this seems like a bad time to have to attend to this task—the adrenalin is gone.

Some would say as in the grab bag, life is a bit of a gamble.  There is no doubt; life certainly is a mixed bag.  What a difference though when one has a deeply grounded faith in Someone Who has the world in His hands!  It helps us believe there is purpose in each one of those grab bag items, even if that purpose may be concealed at the moment. Let us not cast away or push any one of them aside, but reach out with open hands, seek out the opportunity for growth, understanding and deeper relationships that each presents and ask that Someone for help when we are perplexed.   


Ruth Smith Meyer most of the time enjoys discovering God's faithfulness as she faces the adventures in her life.  She thanks God for the privilege of speaking to different audiences on different subjects and discussing the contents of her books with her readers.  Visit her at ruthsmithmeyer. com.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My Grand Experiment by Bobbi Junior

I am not one who seeks the limelight. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with seeking centre stage, especially when we have such a wonderful message to share with the world.

It's just not for me.

I did give it my best effort during my first few years as a serious writer. Agents and publishers, queries and synopsises, guesting and launching, tweeting and tooting.. I read and learned, signed up, joined up, and followed up… I tried it all.

My conclusion? I am an unasbashed combination of reluctance and stubbornness.  My writerly friends helped me come up with an appropriate logo for my brand – a Beige Amoeba.

I'm fine with that! Let me chat with people one on one, let me e-mail on a personal level. But after a couple years of journeying through the reverberations of a published book on a hot topic, I have with relief accepted the fact that while I am compelled to write, I am not compelled to speak, to market myself, or to promote my work.

And I know I’m not alone.

That settled, I now had a problem.

I had completed another book.

What do you do with a manuscript when you refuse to engage in any of the publication routes?

Stubborn? Yes. But I’m also pragmatic. If When The Bough Breaks needed to get out there, I believed the Lord would find a way, and he did. At a writers' conference a presenter uttered the magic word.


Did you know that Charles Dickens published The Pick Wick Papers by instalments in his local paper? Harriet Beecher Stowe did the same with Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

If it worked for them, why not for me? I already had a blog and 27 followers. I was off to a great start.

I announced my plan on TWG’s Facebook page. Friend NJ Lindquist sent a timely article giving cautions with this sort of publication. I weighed my plan against its points of concern. No worries. Chapters were already short, so suitable for blog posts. The book wasn’t evolving as I posted. It was already complete and had been professionally edited by friend and writer, Patricia Anne Elford, so no chance of veering outside the plan.

In the blogging world, pictures are important. Fellow writer and artist, Ramona Furst teamed with me to create a distinctive original image for each chapter.

Best of all, marketing could be left to God.

I spent a morning formatting and scheduling the first dozen chapters to go out every Saturday. Within a few weeks my e-mail list had more than doubled (Well, yeah, I started with 27 subscribers. But now I’m up to 60+. For a reluctant self-promoter, this is success.)

I share each new chapter on Facebook, others share it as well. When the Bough Breaks is available to the cyber audience as the Lord chooses.

An unexpected joy comes from the fact that people can comment on each chapter, in the moment. Some have e-mailed privately to share their own experience. For me, that camaraderie is a blessing.

So there you have it. Publication by instalments. For an introvert who wants nothing to do with marketing, but wants the story out there in the public realm, it’s a perfect solution. As for finding the right reader, our Lord can direct people to my blog as he pleases. That’s works for me.

Bobbi’s new book, When The Bough Breaks tells of the 1985 loss of a much wanted baby in. Published chapters and other publications are listed on her website 

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