Monday, January 22, 2018

Knowing When to Stop - by Carol Ford


I love old Victorian movies and I’ve just finished watching The Barchester Chronicles. It is based on the Warden of Barchester, by Anthony Trollope.


Barchester is a small English community, and the clergy of a wealthy Church of England cathedral and hospital are the central players. With a change in the role of the Bishop, Rev. Harding, a Godly and gentle individual, who has been the Warden of the Hospital for several years, becomes the target of greedy and ambitious characters. There is a full range of evil motives, innocent love, female wiles and humour throughout the series.


 What struck me at the end of this drama was how, after several hours of programming, all the loose ends were wrapped in one brief dinner scene. Mr. Harding’s ambitious brother-in-law raised a toast to the gentle Mr. Harding and gave him a tribute for his ethical and kind behaviour, and then gave another toast to celebrate the engagement of Mr. Harding’s beautiful daughter and future son-in-law. Good won out over evil and that’s all we needed to know.


It might have been nice to see the grandeur of the marriage ceremony and so many other outcomes, but after a fairly long and twisting tale and it was time to end the program.

 Do we know when to stop.....

Talking in an interview?

Closing a sale?

Ending a story?

Finishing a speech?

Sharing information?

We often keep writing or talking well past the position of effectiveness.


I was privileged to receive feedback on a chapter of my memoir from Marina Nemat, author of Prisoner of Tehran. Marina teaches memoir writing at the University of Toronto. She commented in several spots in my writing, “We get it!” I think too often I try to tell the reader how they should feel, instead of creating the emotion from good narrative. What about you?

  *Marina is an amazing person, here is her website:


We’ve “got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em” like that famous Kenny Rogers’s song. (The Gambler Lyrics)


 Carol is writing a memoir about adoption reunion. She is a co-author of As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers. 

She invites you to visit her website:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Singing In The Rain-by Heidi McLaughlin

 The 1952 romance/musical, Singing in the Rain was so spectacular that I went to see it twice.  The fact that my talented and handsome grandson Ryan had the lead in this live performance might have had something to do with my inspiration and eagerness.  For days afterwards I found myself singing:

“I’m singing in the rain,
Just singing in the rain,
What a glorious feelin’
I’m happy again.
I’m laughing at the clouds
So dark above
The sun’s in my heart.”

And then a lot of doo-dloo-doo-doos.

It’s a catchy, happy song and before I know it I’m snapping my fingers and moving my feet.

And I’m happy again.

January in Kelowna, British Columbia is a dreary and cloudy place.  We live in a valley; hence the clouds cover the mountaintops and a dark blanket covers the Okanagan basin.  January 2017 was not a good month for me after the death of my beloved Jack, so I am trying very hard to create new memories and feelings for 2018.

This week as I drove home with the rain/slush hitting my windshield, I felt the gloominess creeping in.  Then I remembered the song, “Singing in the Rain!” I started to sing and before I knew it was doo-dloo-dooing and tapping my steering wheel. When I pulled into my garage I grabbed my grocery bags and bounced into the house.

Yes, I know happiness depends on our circumstances and joy comes from our glorious hope within. Joy is our assurance that we have an eternal hope in Heaven and that God is involved in every detail of our lives. But some days we just need something to make us happy. Bouncy. Singing. 

Especially for us writers behind our computers during these long winter months.

I challenge each one of us to make intentional efforts to doo-dloo-doo through this cold and gloomy month.  I’m creating new memories in several ways:
·      I had my Bible Study group into my home for a potluck dinner and afterwards we made bead bracelets.  The camaraderie and laughter was contagious. I went to bed full and happy.
·      Get above the clouds. I’m going snowshoeing this week to find some blue sky and fluffy snow.  Again it’s best to do it with friends who light a fire within us.
·      I’m going to see a musical, “Sister Act.” Now that will make me happy. How about you, is there a live musical near you?  You’ll soon be tapping your toes.
·      Have people into your home for a game of cards.  There is sure to be a truckload of laughter.
·      Do a puzzle or a paint by number.
·      Read the books that have been laying by your bedside for years.
·      Simply taking a long walk and breathing in fresh air and new hope, always refreshed the soul and recalibrates our thoughts.

The Bible says: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 TLB)

God is a good Father to us and He desires that we live our very best life.  Some days are harder than others, especially when we are reliving grief and darkness. But there are ways to lift our spirits. I’m determined to be happy again and God is helping me every step of the way. Doo-dloo-doo-doo.

 Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at;, or her website:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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 the title of this blog does not refer to the path described by geographic elevation.

The phrase “take the high road” is ascribed to American origin, and means  “to approach an endeavor 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 has to consciously choose not to make a defense of himself, and this noble act itself can become 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).

Father God identifies the high road, His Way, and this road 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. Biting our tongues, filtering our responses is the fruit of taking the high road.

The conclusion- 
·      There is a higher way.
·      That way is perfect.
·      We are asked to walk in that way.

I can approach an endeavor 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.

I choose to take the high road. How about you?

SUSAN HARRIS, author of 12 books, is often tempted to step off the high road but is pulled back by Grace as she navigates her terrain.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Are Leaders Born or Made?—Carolyn R. Wilker

I read a message in our writer’s group forum this week in which a member posed the question, “Are leaders born that way or are they made?” I had to respond. God-fearing or not, I think leaders are made. It’s true that some individuals who are outgoing may seem to be natural leader material, and they might, indeed, be asked first. But it doesn’t mean they’ll do the job any better.
Allow me, for a moment to share an experience of my own. When I was a new writer, someone in leadership of The Word Guild said we ought to get ready to speak—to offer a workshop, talk about being a writer (“on account of curious people”) and promote a book. At the time a book was the furthest thing from my mind since I’d only written short pieces such as book reviews and articles. How many would it take to make a book? Nevertheless, as nervous as I was just thinking about speaking in public, I spoke about my fear to a fellow writer. She told me about Toastmasters. I said I’d think about it. I had many commitments with daughters still at home and put it off. At least three months. 
Then, in September, I got a call that put more urgency to the matter. After writing a column for our city newspaper, I was called on for an interview by the editor of my hometown Gazette. This is getting serious. I got some coaching from said leader of our writers’ organization and right away made plans to check out Toastmasters. Long story short, after thirteen years of practice in speaking and taking on executive positions in the club, speaking in the community and book promotion, I look in the mirror at the leader I’ve become. In that time, I’d promoted not one book, but three or four, and taught seniors at the community centre for most of those years. At the beginning, I wasn’t running out there saying, “Pick me.” I started because someone else believed in me. Oh, my! Looking back, I see where it's taken me. Looking ahead, I wonder, What else?
Participating in the Toastmasters area speech contest a year ago

In June, I said ‘yes’ to a district leadership position in District 86 Toastmasters for the coming year. That never would have happened otherwise. In fact a lot of things I’ve done could be attributed to that experience, including storytelling.

 Promoting my latest book

Giving a workshop for Write Kitchener in 2013

Thus my answer to the question: Are leaders born or are they made? I answered positively, “They’re made.” Citing biblical leaders who were afraid of the challenge put before them, they didn’t beg for the position, but they were promised help along the way, that they’d be given the words and tools. Just think how much more prepared Moses would have been had he received leadership training in advance, or that Jonah ran the other way and still ended up going where God told him. And a man in our time who saw possibilities that seemed impossible—Nelson Mandela, a man we see as a true leader.
I take on my role, sometimes still anxious, but less afraid than before because of other leaders who could point the way and answer questions. When people say they will pray for me for a particular challenge, I accept it and believe it will help. The Toastmasters training has helped me be more professional in my presentations, such as not clinging to the lectern, avoiding 'ums' and 'ahs' and all manner of distracting mannerisms, but instead knowing how to prepare my notes, or not use them, and calm those butterflies in my stomach. The strength from God is a great asset. And so I affirm that leaders are made. That’s my truth and I’m sticking with it!

Carolyn Wilker is an author, editor and storyteller from Ontario, Canada.

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