In this time of Covid-19, schools closed, activities limited, social distancing, in the uncertainty of future events like high school and college graduations, going off to college in the fall, working from home or finding yourself unemployed; it is easy for fear and anxiety to arise.

I’ve been meditating on rest and peace in Christ; remembering all He’s brought me through in previous hard and uncertain times of life. The other morning I awoke with Psalm 16 going through my head and I’ve been meditating on this passage for the past few days.

You Will Not Abandon My Soul

A Miktam of David.

16 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my deligh

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on
my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

It is comforting and reassuring to know God makes His path known to us and in His presence we have fullness of joy. If anxieties and worries try to invade, remember our loving High Priest wants to hear it all and asks us to cast our cares on Him. Spend time with Him daily, in His Word, in prayer, in quiet meditation. Cast, continually, your cares upon Him. And remember, He is our chosen portion and He holds our lot.

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Writing Prompts

I used to teach creative writing to middle schoolers while I was living overseas. I had compiled a booklet of creative writing prompts for my students to use over the summer. Now that the schools are closed due to Covid-19, I am having my sons do 20 minutes of writing each day. They are using this booklet to provide a prompt for the day. I am sharing the 72 writing prompts with you.

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Writing Prompts72 prompts for journaling

by Beth M. Symanzik2015 revised 2020

dedicated to my Creative Writing Students at Faith International Academy of Davao, School year 2014-15

copyright May 2015

A few words about creativity and journaling

Creativity is a God-given talent we should all be developing. God, our Father, is a creative God. Look around – notice the colours of the world – of nature, the various shapes, plants, animals. Notice people. Each person you meet is created in the image of God by God Himself. Amazing thought.

Creativity is a way in which you translate what you hear, feel, observe, experience, and/or think from something that’s inside you to writing creatively about the idea.

Keys to Creativity –

  • Develop a creative life style – take lessons or teach yourself art, calligraphy, music, dancing. Make crafts, woodwork, sew, garden, go to classical concerts, go to operas, ballet recitals, etc. Sing, work with clay, bake, do puzzles, do logic puzzles, doodle.
  • Exercise 20 minutes daily walking, running, swimming, biking, lifting weights, etc.
  • Spend time outdoors enjoying God’s great nature – hiking, sketching, playing, biking, skating, etc.
  • Write – write in short assignments. Spend a minimum of 10 – 20 minutes daily writing.
  • Try to get the words and memories down as they occur to you. There is no right or wrong. There is no grade. Just write. The more you write the more creative you become.

If you make a point to write daily for 10 – 20 minutes, you’ll have a lot of words written within a year that could be turned into a book or collection of stories.


  1. Write about a scary dream you had.

2.What food do you miss the most from your passport country?

3. What stories have you heard from or about your grandparents?

4. If you won one million US dollars, what would you do with it?

5. What are some fun memories you have of one of the middle school Outdoor Education trips?

6. Write about a time you were lost.

7. Write about a time you moved.

8. Write about your favorite food and why you enjoy it so much.

9. If you lived underwater, what sea creature would you want to be and why.

10. If there was an underwater world where humans lived what would it be like?

11. Write about a time you were really sad.

12. Write about a time you were really proud of an accomplishment you’d achieved.

13. Finish the story:

A looming hulk rose before them in the murky darkness.

What is that?” he gasped? “Is it a……..?”

14. Write about a favourite song.

15. Write about a favourite dessert.

16. Write some alliterations.(remember, an alliteration is using the same beginning sound in many of the words of a sentence. Ex: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.)

17. You are walking to school and find a large gold nugget. What will you do?

18. An asteroid is hurtling straight for the Earth…..

19. Write about your favourite childhood toy.

20. If I could change one thing about myself…..

21. If and when I raise kids I will never…..

22. Invent a new tool. Describe it’s use.

23. Describe an event that changed your life.

24. Write about when and how you accepted Christ as your Saviour.

25. Write about your favourite Bible verse and why it’s meaningful to you.

26. You’ve been locked in the top turret of a castle….

27. Five goals I have for myself are…..

28. 450 mice have invaded your bedroom. What will you do.

29. You fall in a hole and end up in middle earth. What happens next?

30. You wake up one morning to discover you’ve traveled back in time and are now a

Roman soldier…

31. A pirate ship captures you…….

32. If you could travel to the past where would you go? and why.

33. Write a list of 45 things that make you feel good.

34. What cultural differences do you notice between here and your passport country.

35. Write a list of prayer requests and praises you’ve been praying about, received answers for, are still waiting for an answer on.

36. Who is the person from history you’d love to meet and talk to?

37. Tell about what triggers anger in you or someone else.

38. Describe your ideal friend.

39. Describe your ideal teacher.

40. Describe your ideal vacation.

41. What is your favourite weather? Why?

42. What is the best book you’ve ever read? Why?

43. Make a tall tale out of an event that happened to you.

44. Be an animal and write a short story about what your life is like as that animal.

45. When I feel lonely I…….

46. Write about a computer game you’d love to create.

47. Were you ever in a fire, flood, hurricane, typhoon, or tornado?

48. “The trip to Bagabag was disasterous. The bus veered and……”

49. What is your favourite way to eat pizza?

50. Seven things I’d change about school are….

51. My favourite colour is…. It makes me feel……

52. Personify your shoes. What tale do they have to tell about the travels

you’ve done in them?

53. Write about a funny event that happened to you.

54. Write about a favourite memory you have of time spent with your dad.

55. Write about a favourite memory you have of time spent with your mom.

56. Write about what scares you most about transition to a new culture.

57. Be a mango that gets dried. Describe how it feels to shrink, shrivel, dry up, be packaged.

58. Write about a time your parents embarrassed you.

59. Write about a time a teacher embarrassed you.

60. What is something you’d like to thank your parents for?

61. When I feel happy I…..

62. How forgiving are you when a friend or your parents let you down? How do you deal with your disappointment?

63. Write a short biography of your mom.

64. Write a short biography of your dad.

65. Write a short biography of your favourite relative.

66. Write about four things your family has taught you.

67. Write about something special and/or unique about you? Why do you think it is special and/or unique?

68. You are in a strange situation and unsure how to behave. What will you do?

69. Write about a person who has greatly influenced you.

70. Write a list of items you are thankful to God for.

71. What is your earliest memory of moving to a new place?

72. “When I think about the corona virus….”

Stay creative! Keep writing!

Recommended Websites

Recommended Books

“Writeriffic” by Eva Shaw – Writeriffic Publishing Group, 1995

Writeriffic II” by Eva Shaw – Waterfront Press, 2014.

“On Writing Well” by Steven King – Scribner; 2010

“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott – Anchor; 1995

“Writing The Wave” by Elizabeth Ayres – Veriditas Books, 2014

Loving Our Neighbors

Martin Luther had this to say during the bubonic plague:

You ought to think this way: “Very well, by God’s decree, the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal.
Therefore, I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it.
I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.
If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.
If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but will go freely.”

Words from C.S. Lewis

In 1948, C.S. Lewis wrote a paper titled “Living In An Atomic Age” after the atomic bomb was developed. I think his words ring true for this age of COVID-19.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb (or COVID-19), let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

It seems a good time to dwell on Romans 8:35 – 39 “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Daring Greatly

My blog is a personal challenge for myself to be vulnerable. I’ve always associated vulnerability with weakness. I grew up learning to hide shame and fear behind a mask of “I’m okay” only to have all that ripped off and healed through many events I encountered on the mission field and through reading authors like Dan Allendar, Mark McMinn, Brene Brown, Elisabeth Elliott, Brennan Manning, Augustine, Robert J. Wick.

I love Theodore Roosevelt’s quote “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Our family dared greatly moving overseas as a mid-life career change, taking children ages 12, 8, and 5 at the time half-way around the world, only to add two more into the family a little over a year later. I dared greatly, and continue to do so, in the continual, on-going healing from childhood sexual abuse. And there is a sentence that sparks a shame thought, “oh, you shouldn’t say that.” But it’s true.

As Psalm 145:3 states, “One generation shall commend Your works to another and declare Your mighty acts.” And I have many “mighty acts” stories to share. God is so faithful and so loving.

And I offer this blog as a story of hope, resilience, vulnerability and courage to others facing challenges living overseas, dealing with hurts from the past or currently, facing challenges to personal growth, etc… I encourage anyone to pick up Dan Allendar’s book “The Healing Path” and for those sexually abused, “The Wounded Heart” and read and reread.

I’ve learned to see God in every moment of life, every event, to be thankful, to praise Him in the good and the hard, to see ushering in His Kingdom in acts of daily life.

I’ve not arrived, I’m not perfect, and I keep falling uphill seeking Him first in all my ways (Matthew 6:33).

Join me in this journey.