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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

TENSION TO TENDERNESS-by Heidi McLaughlin

My heart sinks when I hear someone say: “I feel so overwhelmed, overscheduled and fatigued that I am afraid I am bypassing my divine life’s purpose.” Each time I hear the framework of those words, a familiar arrow hits my heart.  I know what it feels like to function at Mach 2 speed. I am a card carrying member of this generation that is running on a depleted “soul tank.”  Like unrelenting shock waves I hear stories of another blown up marriage or someone unraveling like an ‘out of control’ scotch-tape dispenser. Years ago I came to the shocking realization that I had to make some relentless decisions to slow down and leave more margins in my life. This revelation came to me in a large grocery store.
 In the middle of Aisle 5 of the canned fruits and vegetables I flipped out over the fact that the store had run out of their cranberry sauce. Before you chastise me, you have to understand it was three days before Christmas and I was exhausted and running late.  Back then I didn’t realize the danger of running on a depleted soul. When our bodies are ready to crumble under fatigue, it doesn’t take a universal catastrophe to crush the last remnants of our sanity.  After I was rude to the clerk and stomped out of the store, I sat in my car and submitted to my inexcusable, shameful behavior. Something was wrong and it had to change. I was not experiencing the life that Jesus said is available to all of us. The bible says: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT).
I know that you and I do not want to miss out on the fulfilling life that is right in front of our noses.  But how do we re-schedule our days, dismiss some obligations, disappoint people and give up our people-pleasing gratification? We need to be able to orchestrate our lives through a wiser grid. Let’s recognize the fact that we are modeling this behavior to a younger generation that is already struggling with depleted souls. Instead of beating ourselves up with endless obligation we need to model more Christ-like tenderness towards ourselves and others. How then do we change the tension of all our demands into a nourishing tenderness?
Please know that as I am writing this article I am not the teacher who has it all figured out and is giving self-righteous advice. I am still the student. Changing tension into tenderness is a daily struggle and commitment.  But I do know this: it is my responsibility to guard against the constant barrage of invading tension. The bible tells me that this all starts in my heart: “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Here are 4 things that help me.
1.         I must realize that my heart is the essence of who I am. It is where all my passions, desires and dreams live. It is the part that connects me with God and all people around me. I need to listen to the murmurings of my heart and make it a top priority to keep it physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy.
2.         Know that my heart is under constant attack from the demands of life around me. No one else can change my tension into tenderness. Every choice I make is in my power and I need God to help me.
3.         I must be brutally honest about why I am trying to cram so much into my life. I need to ask some harsh questions. What is my distorted vision and belief system which makes me believe I have value only when I work so hard?  Why do I feel jabs of guilt when I goof off and feel unproductive? Do I continue to work to earn love and approval from others instead of God?
4.         Each day I end my time with God with this simple little prayer. “God help me to do today what I need to do today. No more and no less. To give glory to Your name. Amen.” It’s a simple prayer but it has revolutionized my life and God is empowering me to keep my days balanced, so that I can enjoy the rich and satisfying life available to me.
 You and I live in the daily tension of meeting life’s demands plus trying to find tenderness for our own soul. The power lies in our hearts. I challenge you to make some bold choices to change your tension into tenderness.
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





Monday, 17 November 2014

Are you short-circuiting your own Success? SUSAN HARRIS


It happened so many times that I could not disregard it. Without fail the same song rose in my spirit each time I went into my bathroom. "He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it…" (a chorus drawn from Philippians 1:6.) When I left the bathroom the song immediately dissipated. In and out, rise and fall of the song, with heartbeat regularity and rhythm.

I pondered on this for days until one afternoon the truth hit me so that I felt as if I'd bumped into an actual object. God was brooding over my bathroom, hovering as over the darkness in Genesis 1:2. In a very tangible way that was not reciprocated elsewhere in the house.

Along with that truth surfaced a memory. In my childhood home we had a few chicks as pets. They'd eventually become hens and lay eggs. One day we did not see our favourite pet, Chickie Ann, a yellow chick my mom had bought us from the poultry store. We searched for her, calling her name, and finally was rewarded with a faint cluck.   Out-of-sight, under a tree in a nest of grass, we glimpsed Chickie Ann's now white feathers. She showed no interest in following us home. It turned out that Chickie Ann was sitting on eggs that would hatch baby chicks. The hen was brooding over the eggs, sitting quietly, patiently, providing the heat necessary for the eggs to spawn life.

Brooding precedes birth. Life.

That night I received a message on Facebook from a friend I'd made through the TWG Facebook page. During our conversation I enquired about her writing. In her reply was a line, "I feel that the Lord is hovering over it…"

The hairs on my arms stood at right angles to my skin. Two women, in two provinces, far from each other, both writing what the Lord laid on their hearts, had the same sense of God hovering over them. God hovered, brooded over the dark waters and then He brought forth something new. Light. A product called earth. Animals. People.

Brooding precedes fruitfulness.

Many times we are called to be still, to be slow, to pause. If we rush that season we would have broken the cycle needed for fruitfulness. We'd have created our own self-destruct. Unintentionally. Had we taken Chickie Ann away from the eggs, we would not have had five new yellow little chicks to delight in. And we would have broken the mother hen's heart, a heart that would have grieved in her own animal way for her babies. When we break the cycle, we not only short-circuit our own success, but we grieve the heart of the Creator at the potential and plans that cannot come to pass.

The book, the illustrations, the dream mandate a time of brooding. Are you rushing it? 

Find Susan at:

http://susanharris.ca

https://www.facebook.com/SusanHarrisCanadianAuthor

https://twitter.com/SusanHarris20

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

ABOUT: Susan Harris is a speaker and former teacher, and the author of Golden Apples in Silver Settings, Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are, Little Copper Pennies and Little Copper Pennies for Kids. Her first submission to Chicken Soup for the Soul is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? edition as Smokey's Lockout, and was released August 19, 2014. Remarkably Ordinary was released in print on November 1, 2014. Her upcoming children's picture book, Alphabet on The Farm will be released in both English and French, and 10 ½ Sketches: Insights On Being Successful Right Where You Are will be released as an ebook on January 2, 2015. Susan was born in exotic Trinidad but now lives on the Saskatchewan prairies with her husband, daughter and the unpredictable cats.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Giving Birth and Watching your Baby Grow


Writing is a lot like pregnancy and giving birth then watching your child grow.

If you are a parent, you can probably remember when, the time of waiting for the “idea” to get big enough to become actual reality, then after months of carrying the precious little bundle around, watching that first turn from tummy to back, finally sitting without needing a cushion behind the back, learning to crawl with a distinctive move— then your baby took the first step. Granted, it was probably a wobbly, uncertain move from one adult hand to the other, or from one chair to the other.  It may have ended with a sudden plop to the floor, but eventually the child learned the freedom and those first days of the new way to get around, was spent walking and walking and walking.  You as a parent marveled the independence you saw develop right before your eyes.

          
  Years ago, after having been accused that I remembered too many negative things from my childhood, I began recording my early memories.



 Those incidents others thought of as negative, I saw only as difficult times when I learned one of life’s lessons, so I recorded those as well. I kept adding to the account as new things came to mind. 


When I finally acquired a computer, I transferred those memories into a file.  Now, adding incidents into the proper time-line became easier. After thirty or so years of this sporadic activity, my children began to urge me to flesh out the narrative with more detail and personal sentiment and make it into a book they could keep and enjoy.


            Working on one chapter of my life coincided with my turn to read a piece of writing at our local writer’s group, so I decided to share it with them.  Many of them expressed delight with the story and their desire to hear more.  When I told them this book was for my family, they insisted that a wider audience would appreciate it.


             Suddenly my “baby” took on a different demeanor.  I gave it a name, nurtured it along, carrying it with me wherever I went.  I fed it with more information, with greater emotion and honest feeling—recognizing truths I hadn’t clearly seen before.  I watched as it began to “sit,” on its own merits.  The turn-overs and crawling moves happened when I shared small bits in short articles or in my speaking engagements and continued sharing with my writer's group.


            A few weeks ago, it took its wobbly first steps to the welcoming hand of an editor. When it gets daring enough to come back to me, I shall do what I can to send on its way to the publisher, my life story, Out of the Ordinary.


 Like a mother with her child, I will have some trepidation, wondering if there will be falls and scrapes, but also as a good mother, I will attempt to free it to be who it was meant to be, and hope that it will touch other’s lives with joy, with greater understanding of themselves and with courage to share their own life stories and leaning.




            Those are the chances you take when you’re a mother—or a writer. 



www.ruthsmithmeyer.com

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Creativity in us—Carolyn R. Wilker




On the weekend I spent an enjoyable day with two friends at “Christmas in Paris”—an event we had never attended before.
I’d heard about it and decided it would make a good day trip. Doris and Amanda’s schedules were free and so we set out Saturday morning for Paris (Ontario, that is). Driving country roads instead of main highways, we watched the panorama of trees with coloured leaves, many still on the tree and the ground carpeted with more.
We’d done our research before setting out. For a toonie, paid at any location, we gained admission to all six locations, the proceeds going to the “non-profit organization (Kindred Spirits Artisans) and help fund these wonderful events the public enjoys every year.”
 The website invites us into the festivities with these words:
 
Our vibrant community shares the joy of the holiday season by opening our homes and hearts! Participate in a unique shopping experience and select your gifts from the work of our artist and artisans!

Kindred Spirits Artisans of Paris began as an incorporated organization of people who share common interests in raising “the profile of the arts in the local community.” Founded in 1990, local newspapers announced the initiative of people “from a variety of artistic disciplines as a cultural renaissance,” an event that has continued over the past twenty-three years.
We arrived under heavy skies and the likelihood of rain, but at first it was just chilly. We’d be indoors and out so rain did not much matter, for the spirit was bright and the houses and buildings hosting the events were decorated gaily, reminding us that Christmas is indeed coming. For those who wanted to do Christmas shopping, it was a perfect opportunity to purchase handmade crafts from the artisans. Having been a craftsperson myself, I'm always interested in seeing how artists combine materials to pleasing effect.
 I hear it coming—Christmas is so commercialized. And it is, but for us that day, it was simply an opportunity to go somewhere together, see the works of wonderfully creative people who live in the community and surrounding area. We were not disappointed, although too many scented items precluded me from wandering and looking inside one large venue at the golf course, but I invited my friends to see what they could find while I enjoyed the outdoor scenery from the raised verandah.
Over all the six sites, we saw glasswork and creative stitchery, beadwork, wreaths, metalwork, ornaments, silk scarves, and so much more. I marvelled at the ingenuity of many of those artisans—the pictures made with wool roving, felted and embroidered to make a natural scene; and gourds that had been dried and made into ornaments. Among all those items, I found some special treasures—ornaments, a winter wreath and art card—to bring home.
 In the middle of our tour, we sat talking over lunch in the main part of town, and then looking around in the stores, and by this time it had begun to rain.
Thinking on the array of beautiful things made by those artisans reminds me that God invested the same creative expression in us that he himself did in creating us. Our creative gifts are meant to be used, whether with words or artistic forms. Celebrate that creativity this season and all year long and share it with others as a gift from our creator.


 



Carolyn R. Wilker, editor, storyteller and author of Once Upon a Sandbox

 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit - HIRD



By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Who in their right mind would want to be sent to a toxic island where everyone was a pirate, including the grandmothers, grandsons, and everyone in between?  Who would want to be sent to an island where all islanders were liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons?  The Island of Crete which my wife and I visited had been a pirate stronghold for over 800 years.  While in Crete, we learned about Titus who was just the man for the job.  He did not flinch.  Titus taught toxic Cretan pirates how to become radically healthy: how to love, how to lay down their lives for another, how to be the faithful husband of but one wife, how to be gentle and patient.  He taught the female pirates how to be best friends with their husbands and their children.  This is true health.  If the wisdom in the 45-sentence book of Titus can revolutionize a pirate island, it can even transform a pirate continent like North America.  Signs of our North American toxicity include gun violence and the insanity of the shooters, obesity when there is no shortage of food, and a wealth of communication tools while many are no longer talking any more.




File:Crete topographic map-fr.svg

 
Is it a mere coincidence that the late Steve Jobs defined Apple employees as pirates, even raising a pirate flag with the Apple logo as the pirate eyepatch?  It is better, said Jobs, to be a pirate than join the navy.[1]     In the 1999 movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, Jobs accused Bill Gates of ripping him off by producing the Microsoft Windows mouse-based graphical user interface.  Gates, the wealthiest person on earth, memorably said to his outraged fellow pirate Steve Jobs: “we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it."[2]  Ironically Jobs loved to quote Picasso’s comment: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”  So do great pirates. 

Titus was a first-century go-getter.  He reminds me of my father, Ted Hird, who always gets the job done.  At one of my father’s retirements, his company, Microtel, gave him a statue of a horse in memory of my father’s billing the company for a dead horse.  Working in Newfoundland for three months with the snowy roads sometimes impassible, my father hired a farmer’s horse to drag the telecommunications equipment up the hill. The microwave tower was finally finished, but the horse died.  Titus-like leaders make things happen against impossible odds.
If the toxic Cretan pirates can become healthy, anyone can become healthy, even North Americans.  Dr. Brene Brown, whose TED talk has been seen by over sixteen million people, said that we in North America “are the most we are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in (our) history.”[3]   In an age of many regrets, Titus is a symbol of hope for healthy leadership in the twenty-first century.  With the huge global changes happening, the need for healthy leaders like Titus has never been greater.  A key solution to our North American toxicity is rediscovering Titus, the epitome of integrated healthy leadership.  Titus planted significantly healthy communities by identifying and training indigenous leaders in every one of the over hundred Cretan cities.  The book of Titus gives you the keys to healthy communities, healthy families and healthy lives.

The book of Titus calls us to become whole people – in mind, body, and spirit.  That is the theme of my brand new book ‘Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit.’  So often we North Americans are toxically fragmented in areas of our lives.  We need the Great Physician to give us a full check-up to determine whether our lives, our marriages and families, our churches and communities are sound and healthy.  Many of us are out of balance in our health emphasis, neglecting either the body, the mind or the spirit.  Too many good people have bought the lie that they can eat anything they want and not bother to exercise.  The Bible says that our health choices have consequences.  We reap as we sow.  People who neglect their bodies lose the ability to travel cross-culturally as they get older.  People who neglect their minds go stale and have nothing worth saying.  People who neglect their spirits go shallow and self-absorbed. Healthy leaders embrace their bodies, minds and spirits for Christ’s sake.

My prayer for those reading this article is that we will choose the way of holistic health in every area of our lives.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Mission Canada
-an article for the November 2014 Deep Cove Crier


-Ed’s brand-new sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available inpaperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback andebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.  Indigo also offers the Kobo ebook version.

-In order to obtain a copy of the prequel book

‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘ED HIRD’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPALusing the e-mailed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada



[1] Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2011), p. 145.
[2] Andy Hertzfeld, “A Rich Neighbor Named Xerox”, November 1983; Martin Burke, Pirates of the Silicon Valley movie, 1999. http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=A_Rich_Neighbor_Named_Xerox.txt
(Accessed Feb 1st 2014)
[3] Dr. Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability, TED Talk, June 2010, https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability/transcript  (accessed June 22nd 2014).

Friday, 7 November 2014

Can we really talk to the animals? And is Fred Flintstone a prophet? - Denyse O'Leary

Two installments of my continuing series on the human mind. Did it - could it have - arisen purely by natural forces?

 Science-Fictions-square.gif Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness:
... On the other hand, there are no "primitive" languages, in the way that we can speak of "primitive" technology (knapped stone vs. high grade steel). It is possible to translate the Bible into any language, despite its ancient origin and the complexity of its tangled multi-kingdom histories and abstruse theological arguments.
Yet there is something natural about language -- natural to humans, that is. It is has proven very difficult to get a foothold for a simple made-up language like Esperanto because, as a missionary who spent his life translating the Bible into dying languages pointed out to me, Esperanto was devised purely for convenience. It is no one's "heart language."
Some say the world looks different to speakers of different languages; others ridicule the idea. It's hard to say. The people who use a language will tend to put their own stamp on the ideas it conveys. The world may indeed look different to them, but that's not the word stock or the grammar so much as what they habitually use these tools to mean.
Yet one hears little of these subtle questions when one turns to naturalist accounts of language. More.
Science-Fictions-square.gif The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote -- and shop, and tip at restaurants
Ever since Darwin's The Descent of Man, in which he proposed the theory of sexual selection (how some are selected to pass on their traits), his followers have extended his thoughts to encompass just about all aspects of human nature.
First there was social Darwinism, which fell into disfavor after World War II because its theories justified colonialism, exploitation of labor, and eugenics. These policies were developed much earlier and for reasons unrelated to Darwinian theory, but the theory was easily co-opted to justify them. Later, in the 1970s, sociobiology blossomed.
Sociobiologists, using insect colonies as their model, explained human behavior that seemed a puzzle -- such as kindness to strangers -- as originating in the way that our genes get passed on because genes are shared, in large part, with relatives. Sociobiology became controversial, however, when it attracted allegations of racism.
But soon after, a much broader movement burst on the scene -- evolutionary psychology (evo psych). Almost all human ideas can be explained, we are told, as the functional products of natural selection in our remote ancestors.
We may not know why we do things, but the evolutionary psychologist does. He knows, by the methods of science, the "truth" about shopping, voting, or tipping at restaurants. More.
Note: The Science Fictions – human evolution series is here.The cosmology series is here, and the origin of life series here. O’Leary for News

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Great Things in Small Packages (by Peter A. Black)

She toiled through the evening hours. With every kick and stroke she pushed and pulled through the darkness of night, pressing through the pain.
 
For almost twenty-seven hours, without a moment of sleep, she pushed ever forward, clawing at the water, defying six-foot waves that rushed relentlessly at her, smashing into her face, as though attempting to stifle her breath. Fighting cramping in her leg muscles, while willing her fatigued arms and shoulders to move, she ignored the deepening cold during the long hours from sunset to dawn.
Tempted, but never giving up, she pressed on until she achieved her goal. At less than five feet tall that wisp of a woman was only fourteen years, one hundred and fifty-eight days.
This human dynamo is Great Lakes marathon swimmer Annaleise Carr—the youngest ever, at the time of her Lake Ontario open-water swim (August, 2012), to complete the 57 kilometres, from the mouth of the Niagara River to the breakwater at Marilyn Bell Park, in Toronto. Shifted off course and hampered by adverse weather, she actually swam 77 kilometres.
Courtesy: Annaleise Carr's FB Page
In July, 2014 Annaleise cut short her intended 75 kilometre Lake Erie swim from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Port Dover, Ontario, at the 42 kilometre mark, by coming ashore at Long Point. That was a wise decision, for rough conditions and stormy weather prevailed. However, she completed the remaining 33 kilometre distance on September 1st.  
Why does she do it?
Compassion flooded her heart when she visited Camp Trillium in Norfolk County, Ontario, near Lake Erie, and there met children suffering from cancer. She witnessed the wonderful care, companionship and enjoyment that Trillium provides for them, and offered to volunteer. “Give me a call in five years,” said the director. Trillium’s volunteers must be at least eighteen; Annaleise was only thirteen.
A determined and creative individual, who loves God and people, she would not be deterred. And so, she conceived the idea of the swim.
In the two years since that Lake Ontario swim she has received a score of awards and numerous citations and commendations, from many organizations and various levels of Government. Public venues bear her name on commemorative plaques, and the town of Simcoe community swimming pool was renamed after her—Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre. She was included in CHCH TV’s Top 20, 2012, and was also number 10 in CTV Kitchener’s top stories, the same year.
Listing all her recognitions to date is extensive. To mention here only a short list, selected from among the many:
~ World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) Woman of the year in 2012

~ Ontario Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Pin, presented by Lieutenant Governor David Onley

~ 2012 Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year

~2012 Canadian Sport Awards Spirit of Sport Story of the Year

~ Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, presented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper

~ Recipient, Peace Tower Canadian Flag, presented by Minister Diane Findley MP, on behalf of Prime Minster Harper.
The list continues to grow as accolades of her more recent accomplishments roll in.
Now a sixteen-year-old highschool student, Annaleise remains unassuming, despite the momentous attention surrounding her. The eldest of four siblings, she laughs and smiles her way through her day with her siblings and school chums. She hopes her passionate motivational talks in schools will inspire young people to aim higher and engage in helping others.
Fellowship room, Eden Baptist Church, ON
Peter, with Annaleise and her dad, Jeff Carr,
.
Despite her slightly restrained demeanour when addressing a mainly adult audience, she doesn’t curtail her passion and evident desire to allow God to use her skills and life to bless others – especially the children who receive help and hope through Camp Trillium.
Her efforts and inspiration has helped mobilize, in a ripple effect, many individuals, organizations and businesses. Their efforts, combined with hers have, to date, raised more than $260,000 in donations for the cause.
My wife and I are honoured to have met this remarkable young lady and her family. She acknowledges she couldn’t have accomplished her goals without them and a great host of others who volunteer.
Annaleise Carr is living proof: Great things can and often do come in small packages! And also that God will make a way for those who live for Him and desire to bless others. :)
~~+~~
Source Credits: 1. Live interview October 2014 – Rev. A. Brndjar and Ms. Carr at Eden Baptist Church, Ontario. 2. Toronto, 2014: Recordbooks / Lorimer; “Annaleise Carr: How I conquered Lake Ontario to help kids battling cancer” by Annaleise Carr as told to Deborah Ellis. 3. Simcoe Reformer / Norfolk County Tourism, Ontario. Booklet, 2014: “Conquering Lake Ontario”; #annaswims.

~~+~~
Peter’s new book, “Raise Your Gaze . . . Musings of a Grateful Heart,” was released in August.


Peter A. Black is a freelance writer and columnist in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing). Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults.