August 22, 2017

Writing and Life: A Balancing Act by Alan Anderson



“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.:--Psalm 42:11.

As I begin this post I must confess I am not one who may adequately offer insights into the balance between “life on and off the page.” Perhaps the following will be accepted by readers as the words of one who bears the scars of a once imbalanced life. I am a life still under construction.

Twenty years ago the walls of my life collapsed around me. If not for my family, I would not have survived. I was raising our family with my wife, I was working full-time, I was a part-time seminary student and a bi-vocational pastor. As a husband and father I knew I had to work to support my family. There was nothing unusual about that, of course. I wanted to improve my skill set for ministry and to serve my church at the time.

Somewhere along the line of my life, I forgot about me. I entered into a Tunnel of depression (I wrote about this in a previous post for InScribe). I had failed! I failed my family, I failed my work, and I failed my church. In my search for a way out I read Christian works on God’s strength and stuff like that. I came across an article by a well-known Christian figure from the past. He stated that if we experience such things as burn out, we have stepped away from God’s will. Ouch! That counsel didn’t help. Now I realized I had also failed God! After reading that statement I believed I didn’t want to find my way out.

In time, however, after groping around in the dark, I found my way to the light. My pen and paper helped me dig my way out of the crushing darkness of the Tunnel. The debris of my failure began to be cleared away by the words I wrote. Those precious words that saved me!

I cannot say a verse of Scripture from God’s Word came flashing into my mind. I wish I could for that might sound more “spiritual.” All I can say is, words I wrote to myself, informed me my life had lost balance. In time I left pastoral ministry in order to follow the path God was directing me to. I realized my hope is in God.

Gradually God led me to work/ministry devoted to “my teachers” such as people confined to care homes. Often they are people locked away in their own minds seemingly with no way out. I come alongside them and hear their cries as they pour out their life stories. Oh, the privilege to be gifted with a listening heart!

I continue to struggle at times with balance in my life. I think that is why I believe I am not one to offer insights to other people about balance in life. I am merely a work in progress, I hope.

My heart still grieves at my past failures. Like sin, my failures are like a dead horse that won’t lie down. Even now, as I write this post, I can weep at how much I have failed. My balance, however, was found through the hope God has promised His children. A hope no one, not even my wife or family or closest friends, can offer. A hope that looks beyond my failures, my imbalanced life, and assures me I am loved.


Blog: ScarredJoy@wordpress.com

August 21, 2017

Breaking News .... by Jocelyn Faire



We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming to Bring You This Very Important Public Service Announcement   robinkirbygattodotcom.files.wordpress.

The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
 Psalm 33:10 NIV  


The human journey fills with interruptions of our regularly scheduled lives by ...
disaster, joy, babies, disease, beauty, rainbows, cups of tea, storms, phone calls, questioning children, loneliness, reminders that life is not fair
We interrupt whatever you're doing to bring you ...
Interruption ... what does it mean? ... The online dictionary defines it as:

1. to cause or make a break in the continuity or uniformity of (a course, process, condition, etc.).
2.to break off or cause to cease, as in the middle of something: (from www.dictionary.com)

This month while contemplating the topic of interruptions ...  planning once again to work ahead, my plans were thwarted once more. Ceasing as in the middle of something became a regular occurrence. My mind was busy taking mental notes of life interruptions that were happening all around me.
My brother in law was in a motor cycle accident, and from the  moment the police arrived at my sister's door to rush her to the hospital to be with him, her life has been turned sideways into an endurance pace for a brain injury recovery. The prognosis is positive, but the days are filled with uncertainty. This accident impacted many lives and events. On another note it meant that my sister and I were now the co-planners for a family baby shower. Even though planned, that baby's arrival is an interruption of eternal significance for my nephew and his wife. That baby girl is a delightful interruption for the smitten first-time around grandparents. My daughter's furlough has been interrupted with uncertainty after the hospitalization of her mother in law. Her mother-in-law has been battling cancer for a number of years, and the unknown leaves my daughter and her husband wondering if they should delay their return to Africa. 
As I type this morning on a lakeside deck, my husband of eight months interrupts my writing with “Would you like a cup of tea?" I say yes as I reflect on the changes/interruptions of my recent status quo to now having nine new grandchildren who have spent the past few days with us at a cabin on Lake of the Woods in Ontario. Four year old Leah sneaks up to me as I write, she only needs to smile to warm my heart. Her brother's shouts have me rushing to the dock to catch one of my best pictures of the summer. Talk about interruptions! I chuckled as I delighted to have a great image for this month's theme. Here is a frog who has been seriously interrupted. (Yes-it is a garter snake swallowing a frog.)

My recent change of marital status has been one of the most wonderful interruptions that has turned the corner after a long stretch of grief processing.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8 NIV
While writing is not my career, it continues to be an important outlet for the processing of the last dozen years that have been an ongoing series of interruptions. I have prayed for God to continue directing all aspects of my life, especially for the right people to cross my path. I am keenly aware that He is present in all moments. It has been said that interruptions are God's way of getting our attention. I hope to be mindful when it happens. 
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life—the life God is sending one day by day.  CS Lewis 



August 19, 2017

Wonky Ankles - Joylene M. Bailey

Photo: Pixabay


I wish I had appreciated my ankles while I had them.

But who ever thinks about ankles? They connect one’s feet to one's legs and do myriads of jobs we never even think about as we walk, climb stairs, and dodge obstacles. Until… they don’t work right anymore.

Balance is becoming an issue for me.
Literally.
Physically.
Practically.

These days I tend to fix my eyes on the path just ahead of me to make sure I place my feet on level ground. Uneven ground is not my friend. It sends me into painful wobbles. And so I keep my head down, and focus on the ground at my feet.

I was walking this way the other day on my short jaunt to the mailbox. Eyes down, focused on keeping my balance. 
When I returned to my driveway, I caught something red out of the corner of my eye, and I glanced up to see my large crimson geraniums smiling at me from their planters by the fence. The plum and jasmine coloured petunias waved in cascades by the front door. A flutter of chortling sparrows partied in my giant elm tree. I breathed deeply and tipped my head back to take in the limitless blue sky.
What a lovely day!

All these things I miss every time my focus is on keeping my balance.

Finding balance in life and in writing is important. It is a good thing. It is a necessary thing, for best work and best health. But I must take care lest I get so consumed with achieving perfect balance that I forget to look up, to notice, to appreciate, and to enjoy the wide wonderful world around me, and my place in it.


But of course, the real message of this post is … appreciate your ankles, they’re the only ones you’ve got.  ;)




Joylene writes from Edmonton where she lives with her Cowboy and her wonky ankles. Find her blog at Scraps of Joy.

August 18, 2017

A Balancing Act - Gloria Guest

The young gymnast with perfect poise, seemed to move effortlessly as she manoeuvred on the four inch balance beam. Her name was Nadia Comaneci and she was only thirteen years old, the same age as I was.

I sat with other members of my grade eight gymnastics club, mesmerized by her. That night she received a perfect ten on the beam, an unheard of feat; but it was only the beginning. Nadia Comaneci was about to explode onto the athletic world stage. At fourteen, she would go on to compete in Montreal's 1976 Olympics, receiving seven perfect scores and earning five medals, including three gold. The rest is history.

 Back in my own school gymnasium, I'd try to be like Nadia Comaneci and perform the perfect cartwheel on a practice ‘beam’ which in reality was a low bench and a fair bit wider. But even then it wasn’t easy and I'd fall off more often than not. Over and over I'd practice it, but I never seemed to get it quite perfect and was definitely not ready to graduate to the actual beam. I felt defeated and clumsy.

My bigger failure however, was in failing to see the vigorous training that had been required in order for her to attain those few perfect moments; the many falls she had to have taken, the daunting sacrifices, the expert coaching. All I saw was the perfection.

I no longer attempt cartwheels, let alone on a bench, but life has often become a balancing act in other ways; balancing schedules, family life, personal time and my own pursuits of writing. And believe me when I say that balance in life has never been my strong suit. But since those days in the gym, I have come to accept that I will never attain perfection, on or off the balance beam. Sometimes the grace is more evident in the falling.

The same night that I was privileged to watch Nadia Comaneci, there were other competitors who performed well, stellar even; but perhaps they wobbled, or worse yet, fell. They weren't perfect. But they were able to get back up and compete as if it had never happened, a feat of another kind.

I just need to have enough grace, to get up and try again and to let others do the same.

*Originally published under the column entitled A Slice of Life by Gloria Guest in the Moose Jaw Express (2011)


August 17, 2017

Do you believe in things unseen? - by Rohadi


Writers do. We can pick floating ideas seemingly out of thin air and then...we turn them real.

Anybody can have an idea, but few people will do something about them.

What we do with those unseen ideas matter. Where most others will spend the time watching Netflix, a writer will satiate their ingrained human trait for adventure by creating.

Artists create, we execute, we produce, we ship. And it takes work.

Not only does it take work, but the craft is work, and if not treated as such, that idea, the book, the poem, the song, will never get done.

It may sound trite, but you have to, “just do it”.

The spiritual comparison would be the vicious cycle that prevents activity called “prayer”. Not prayer itself, but the excuses we use with it like, “I’ll pray about it,” which often translates into the veiled answer of, “I’ll do nothing about it.” We need to pray, “as we are going”….

When I decided to treat my writing as a job I scheduled the time as I would any other important task. It was still hard to fight resistance and do literally anything else, but adjusting my perception from hobby to profession helped me complete. It lead me to the place, through scheduled routine, where the idea planted in my head turned into a tangible work one could see, read, touch, and feel.



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Visit Rohadi at his blog.