Monday, 31 January 2011
Continuing Donna's post of Friday on her favorite books, I want to mention a book that I have not been able to put down - literally - since a friend loaned it to me on Thursday. This book is The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules by Carolyn Custis-James. When I come across a book like this, a book that literally spins my thinking around, I want to share it. I hadn't gotten through half of it before I was ordering three copies - two for friends and one for me to keep. She writes about widowhood and barrenness with a sensitivity and realness that is rare in Christian non-fiction where we are often told to 'trust in God and all will be well.' She goes deeper. What if it's not well? What happens then? We all think we 'know' the story of Ruth and Naomi and Boaz, but the fresh insights she brings to that familiar story will never have me looking at it the same.
Friday, 28 January 2011
As I look over the titles, they remind me of the many different stages in my faith journey. I can see seasons of my life: decades where I searched new truths from the old story; studied certain scripture; experienced particular academic settings; celebrated emotionally hyped and quiet meditative worship. The books tell the story of the journey.
I love my seminary years: they gave me opportunity to sit with the scholars of the time and give place to new understandings. Those were the years I lived out the Yentl of the 70s and wouldn't trade them for riches. And then in communities where I served, I met both lay and clergy who shared their faith in meaningful ways. I especially remember a Presbyterian minister who had studied in a Jewish seminary – how I loved to sit at his feet to hear his interpretation of scripture. I am thankful for opportunities for spiritual growth and for the people I met along the way. The books verify the process.
Dates on the front pages often determined the length of time that I stayed with a particular author and their perspective of the truth. Books, whether novels, non fiction or theological treatises portrayed certain faith doctrines – all of them revealed individual world views, although sometimes couched between the lines and not visible. Yet, they helped me to distinguish between the kind of Christian I want to be and the kind I don’t want to be. Hindsight is usually 20-20 – a good practice to continue.
One of the growing areas for me, especially since my retirement, is finding theological books that stretch my thinking. In doing this, I promptly remember the richness in the discovery of new truths. I often wonder if ministers have miles of books to learn better ways to tell congregations what they want to hear, or if these books serve to create a safe haven to explore areas of new understanding, and the courage to step out of the acceptable circle to find new and refreshing experiences of God’s love.
And so I continue reading titles, thinking about the impact they had on my life and wondering if I will give then away to influence someone else’s life or put them back on the shelf for future use - some of both, I hope. I liken this in some ways to a recent incident where good friends sifted through the ruins of their house after a fire, in search of family wedding rings - a symbol of identity and heritage. I will continue to sift through the many books collected over the years and find that which is meaningful in this season of my life and what clearly identifies who I am and to whom I belong?
http://www.donnamann.org/ Check out Aggie's Dream (September, 2010)
http://meadowlane.homestead.com/ (Children's Farm Stories)
Valentine’s Day’s full title is St. Valentine’s Day, because it was named after two St Valentines. They were both Italian clergy martyred in the 3rd century AD for their Christian faith. Because of their sacrificial love, it has become one of the most popular annual events celebrated by hundred of millions around the world. It has become a traditional date night where a wise husband remembers to take his wife out for dinner, followed perhaps by a movie or theatre production. (Husbands, please note that such dates are much less expensive than divorce lawyer’s fee; so put Feb 14th in your IPhone or Blackberry).
Nineteen years ago in a Deep Cove Crier article about marriage, I wrote the following words: “Inside the heart of each and every one of us there is a longing to be understood by someone who really cares. When a person is understood, he or she can put up with almost anything in the world.” After being posted (unbeknown to me) on hundreds of Romance websites , I ended up writing a chapter for the upcoming Canadian anthology “Hot Apple Cider 2’ about this romantic quote. In Hot Apple Cider 2, I commented that my beloved wife “Janice and I are learning afresh the joy of ordinary pleasures: taking regular time together for peaceful walks, chatting over a cup of tea, listening to each other’s daily experiences, watching a video together, going out for dinner, and even reading together.”
Recently I picked up the North Shore News, read Martin Millerchip’s article about Presentation House, and on a whim said to Janice: “Let’s go out on a date night to see Antony Holland’s St Mark’s Gospel.” Being remarkably adaptable, Janice agreed. What a wonderful evening. Unplanned, unexpected, and totally memorable. Happy marriages need to have that sense of adventure, of the unexpected. Boredom in marriage is the devil’s best tool. Sadly many husbands stop dating their wives after they marry them. “What happened to the man I married?”, many wives wonder. Why was he so attentive before marriage, and now he would rather hang out on the golf course or stay late at work? Our wives deeply need to be romanced, pursued, won over every week. That is one reason why the romance novels are a Billionaire dollar industry, because we husbands are not always putting our wives first. My wife Janice needs to know that she is more important than my work, my hobbies, my writing, my sports. She needs to be Number One under God in my life.
I love to hold my beloved Janice’s hand when we are out on a date. Sitting there in Presentation House, watching Antony Holland perform St Mark’s Gospel, I often reached out to her and gently squeezed her hand when something was really moving. Many people don’t know that Mark’s Gospel is high drama, and when done by a gifted artist, can bring you to tears. Antony Holland, at age 91, is literally North America’s oldest leading actor. If I have half as much energy when I am in my nineties, I will be deeply grateful. As Martin Millerchip of the North Shore News put it, Holland's 'hard to resist, perhaps like Jesus'. Holland directed plays throughout the Middle East for the WWII Allied forces, and founded Studio 58 at Langara College where my parents attended his plays for many years. (My mother tells me that Studio 58 initially rehearsed its play in our St. Matthias Oakridge church basement.)
I first became aware of Antony Holland from watching his phenomenal acting in 'Tuesdays with Morrie'. No one dances quite like Holland in the final ‘Morrie’ scene. Antony Holland is the quintessential actor. He loves what he does. At age 91, he has just started. Love is what motivates him. Love of acting and love of people. In both St Mark’s Gospel and Tuesdays with Morrie, the love of God overflows through Holland.
Rev Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the 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 PAYPAL using the e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99CDN/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
You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
"I just need a cross and a bible," he said.
I assigned him [and his brother] a sheet of review questions to go over while I ransacked a few unpacked boxes. Soon I found the cross. I gave it to my student, albeit a little reluctantly.
"Make sure you take care of it." I dished out my orders.
I headed to my 'Christian/Religious' book section in my classroom. Then I saw them. An entire row of assorted translations and options. Good News. King James [new] King James [old] The Living Bible New International Version; The Holy Bible for the Deaf and more. I selected a nice red King James Holy Bible and handed it over.
"Make sure you take care of it," I said once again. "I want these back."
I found out some paper and embellishments that my student would be able to use for decorating. We tucked it all in the shoebox and we agreed he could finish it at home that evening. Right now we needed to study for science.
I handed out an assignment sheet to both boys. As they worked on the first two questions, I felt a nudge from God.
"Look at all the Bibles on your shelf."
I looked over at my shelf. Then I thought about the Revised Standard Version beside my bed and the other NIV Devotional Bible in the bookshelf in my bedroom. [It's large print so that I can see it if I don't happen to have my reading glasses handy.]
Our tutoring session drew to a close. Binders closed. Backpacks zippered. Both boys donned their coats and boots.
"You don't have to hurry to return the Bible or the cross," I said. "In fact if you want to keep them..."
The boys looked at me and without acknowledging my words, said their farewells and high-tailed it in the general direction of home.
I leaned against the door and thought about what had just transpired in my heart. God had pointed out there was no need for me to be stingy with my possessions. My irritated self stood silent before God as my heart softened. I realized that I really did not want to lend a Bible to my student because he had not lived up to my expectations.Mistake number one.
By lending one of my Bibles, I would miss it from my shelf. There would be a hole and I might need the version for something. What if he did not bring it back? Mistake number 2.
I would lend out one of my [many] Bibles as long as he took care of it and returned it to me as soon as the project was over. Mistake number three.
Hmm...sharing conditionally. I resolved to try harder.
And just as God would - God did. Confirmation of my spiritual lesson for the day came a few hours later when I received an email from a new writer friend. And to add a little icing on the cake, my new writer friend happens to be the educational assistant who works with my students in their religion class!
This gal sent me a video.
Never before have I witnessed such joy and gratitude as the people in this video receive the Bible in their native language. As I watched the people hunger for the Word of God, I was reminded about spiritual passion and how I need to step out and share unconditionally - just as Jesus did. And if that sharing means a little wooden cross on a leather strap or one or more of my Bibles...then I should hesitate, not. Ah yes, God. Yet another lesson learned.
Kimyal New Testament launch in Indonesia from United Bible Societies on Vimeo.
If you can find a few minutes to watch this video, you will witness joy unabandoned. Sheer, blissful, joy. No reluctance; no condition. Just grateful bliss...
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Cat gives blood to save hemophiliac kitten declares the headline. The newspaper story out of Lethbridge Alberta goes on to describe how Boris, a homeless cat, saved the kitten’s life. What does our world have in store? Are we looking forward to more such headlines?
Dog wins Citizen of the Year award. Pack of coyotes jailed for killing deer. Zoo animals go on strike. Ape applies for driver’s license. Cow-eater charged with cannibalism.
Will we decide to share our newspapers, our roads, our hospitals and our government with animals—equal rights for all?
Our textbooks define us as animals. As a society, we’ve stopped recognizing ourselves as created in the image of God, our Creator. We’ve even stopped recognizing our Creator.
It has all been done before:
“You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. Daniel 4:32-33 NIV
Marian den Boer is the author of Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress
Monday, 24 January 2011
So now we have four.
Friday, 21 January 2011
F.R. Scott (1899–1985) was a “first mover of Canadian poetry,” according to Louis Dudek. He was born in Quebec City, and went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. Scott studied law, and later became Dean of Law at McGill University. During the depression he became leftist in his political views, and became influential within the Canadian socialist movement. In 1970 he was offered a seat in the Canadian Senate, which he declined.
His credentials as a poet are equally impressive. F.R. Scott was the editor of such publications as McGill Fortnightly Review, The Canadian Mercury, and Preview — which helped him to initiate new poetry in Canada. He won the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1981 for his Collected Poems. (In 1977 he’d already won the GG for nonfiction for his Essays on the Constitution.) Leonard Cohen recorded Scott’s poem “A Villanelle For Our Times” for his CD Dear Heather (2004) with musical accompaniment.
What is it makes a church so like a poem?
The inner silence – spaces between words?
The ancient pews set out in rhyming rows
Where old men sit and lovers are so still?
Or something just beyond that can’t be seen,
Yet seems to move if we should look away?
It is not in the choir and the priest.
It is the empty church has most to say.
It cannot be the structure of the stone.
Sometimes mute buildings rise above a church.
Nor is it just the reason it was built.
Often it does not speak to us at all.
Men have done murders here as in a street,
And blinded men have smashed a holy place.
Men will walk by a church and never know
What lies within, as men will scorn a book.
Then surely it is not the church itself
That makes a church so very like a poem,
But only that unfolding of the heart
That lifts us upward in a blaze of light
And turns a nave of stone or page of words
To Holy, Holy, Holy without end.
Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca
Thursday, 20 January 2011
But the next morning was not sunny. The fog lingered.
“Let’s go up anyway,” my husband said, “at least as far as the cemetery.” I knew what he intended. The cemetery held the graves of two good friends, men in their twenties who had taken their own lives in a suicide pact many years before. Their deaths had been the catalyst to the beginning of the journey that led us to faith in Jesus.
We parked the car at the gate and wandered among the graves, noting some names we recognized from years gone by, noting how young some of them had been when death claimed their mortal bodies.
We found the graves we were looking for – one marked by the idler wheel of a D6 Cat, the other by the front frame of another piece of heavy machinery. I watched quietly as my husband pushed scrub brush away so we could see their names welded on the unusual headstones. Memories of that time brought a quietness to the place.
Neither of us wanted to head back to town so we continued up the dirt road as it wound its way to the top.
The peak of the Dome was above the clouds so we looked down on the grey shifting mist, watching as it slowly began to dissipate. A small patch of blue appeared. Part of the Yukon River. I was puzzled at first when I saw it emerge. At this point in the river’s course, the Yukon is not blue. It’s a milky grey, filled with the silt from a river upstream. Then I looked up and realized the river was reflecting the blue sky above it, slowly being revealed as the clouds moved away.
I thought of all the people who had come into our lives at that time of death and tragedy, people who prayed with us and guided us toward the truth about life, death and eternity. And I smiled. They themselves were just ordinary people, living ordinary lives in an isolated place, but they were reflecting something from beyond themselves. Something that glowed with the colour of vibrancy and life – the very face of God.
I pray that will be the case in my life and in everything I write. Though it may have little that is called extraordinary in its pages, though it may exist in a world filled with shifting fog, may it be a reflection of truth, flowing with the colour of true life, able to translate into healing, able to reflect the love of a holy God. May it draw my readers along, as that small patch of blue river below us did, to a place where they will meet Him and know Him, just a little bit more than they did before.
"And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man" (1Cor.15:49).
Marcia Lee Laycock is a writer/speaker from Central Alberta. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone, will be released this fall. Her devotional book, Spur of the Moment is available on her website - http://www.vinemarc.com/
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Dear God, as the One who created words and who came as Word, we acknowledge that You are the creator of our tongues (the urge and ability to communicate) and the source of all wisdom about words. Today we bring to You our work of producing and spreading written words.
Help us, first, to hear from You. May Your words sink deep into our own hearts. Help us to listen to them carefully for ourselves and then afterward go and tell our blog, e-zine, magazine and book readers, "This is what the Lord God says."
Help us not only to write but to be bold to submit what we've written, for You have told us to cast our bread upon the waters with the promise that we will find it after many days. May we steward our time, talents and opportunities wisely, for from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Help us to resist the urge to draw attention to our successes and praise ourselves, choosing instead to wait for You to lift us up and make us great.
May You be the one to expand our influence, the place of our tents, the curtains of our dwellings, the numbers of our blog readers, book buyers, friends, and followers. May we spare no effort but rather lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes in excellence so that the good news of Your kingdom will spread to the left and right. As a result of our words may followers of Jesus inherit the nations and make desolate godless cities alive again.
We roll our writing work on You. May You cause our thoughts to become agreeable to Your will so that our plans will be established and succeed. We need You to guide us continually, to satisfy our souls when we feel dry, and to strengthen our bones when we are tired. Help us to be as productive as watered gardens, our words as refreshing and life-giving as springs of water.
May the beauty and delightfulness and favour of the Lord our God be upon us: confirm and establish the work of our hands, yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it. Amen.
You might also like "A Blogger's Prayer" by Ann Voskamp
By Violet Nesdoly
(This prayer was first posted on the Inscribe Writers Online blog January 12, 2011)
- Personal blog promptings
- Writerly blog Line upon line where I'm running a series based on the excellent book Beyond the words (by Bonni Goldberg) -- good insights on the writing life and writer self-care. Please drop by!
- Daily devotions for children Bible Drive-Thru
- Daily devotions for adults: Other Food: daily devos
- A poem portfolio
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Can't Get No Satisfaction
Monday, 17 January 2011
As for our harps, we hung them up on the trees in the midst of that land. / For those who led us away captive asked us for a song, and our oppressors called for mirth: “Sing us one of the Songs of Zion.” / How shall we sing the Lord’s song upon an alien soil? Psalm 137: 2 – 4
We can sing the Lord’s song at any time and in any place, and it is even more important that we sing it when we are on alien soil. When we are captives in a strange land, we need to sing songs of praise—the very singing of these songs of praise releases us from captivity. What is captivity for us? It does not necessarily mean being behind bars in a prison cell, it may mean being captive to negative thinking about a situation in which we find ourselves.
We may not feel like singing God’s praises when things go wrong in our lives, we may want to wallow in our misery. However, a difficult situation is not the time to hang up our harps but a time to sing the Lord’s song with even more vigour. It is a time to strengthen our faith; a time to sing a song of praise and of thanksgiving for the lesson the Holy Spirit is presenting to us.
If we hang up our harps in times of trouble, we are captive to the events in our lives; but if we retune our harps at these times we are free to receive other gifts that God is offering us—new vistas, new horizons, new adventures. When our captors say sing, we must ask, “How loud and in what key?”
If we hang up our harps they will go out of tune and be useless until someone else comes along and takes them, tunes them, sings the Lord’s song, and reaps the benefit. When we sing God’s praises in tough times the Holy Spirit is able to move into our events and give the fruits or seeds of a new harvest. We must listen to what the Spirit says and tune our harps and sing with joy.
© Judith Lawrence
Friday, 14 January 2011
Silence is golden, our grandmothers used to say. And though we don't often remember it, it is true. Silence is golden!
I stand on my skis on Hollyburn Ridge where two ski trails cross. No one else is around. Around me the air is thick with fog, and heavy. The mountain is socked in with heavy cloud. Everything is not only quiet, but completely muffled, absolutely still. Green trees fade into grey ghosts twenty or thirty yards from where I stand.
The snow lies on the ground and on the trees about me. Flakes that are almost rain softly, silently, fall. There is not a sound.
I stand and listen. The silence seems so good. It feels so right. In the words of the twenty-third psalm, it "restores my soul."
So much of modern life is noise. The radio is blaring. The television is on, constantly it seems. People are always talking. And around us, in our homes, there is always the sound of a motor -- the refrigerator, the furnace, someone's electric razor or hair dryer. We don't hear them consciously, but something is usually buzzing. Always noise.
Many years ago, far away from here, I stood on a country hillside, beside a farmhouse, in the chill darkness of a winter's night. A clear, still night. A night when you could hear the stars. On the slope the other side of the valley were the lights of distant houses and the occasional bark of a dog. I still remember, years later, the silence of that night, when every sound was audible.
"Be still and know that I am God," the Bible says (Psalm 46:10).
Sometimes it's only in the silence, in the stillness, that, listening, we can hear, and know!
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
An excitement grows in me as A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider moves through the final stages before typesetting. I've just had a taste of the articles in it, but that taste leaves me thirsting for more. I'm honoured to be named among the authors of such a collection.
The piece that will open the book turned my mind back some 20 years. Passionately involved in the pro-life movement at the time, and in and out of jail, I wrote constantly with passion and intensity. Re-reading those pieces now, I see a heavy overdose of religious and ideological jargon. Still, many of them gained publication. Yet one message eluded me.
Even 20 years ago, a disturbing statistic about abortion numbers was the lack of difference between professing Christians and non-believers. I believed I understood one key reason for that lack of difference, but every effort to articulate that reason came up short. I finally asked my oldest daughter, 17 at the time, if she could write from the perspective of a daughter coming home pregnant to a proud father who has been outspoken in his opposition to abortion, but whose religious pride could not accept his daughter in this situation. Can I confess that I cried when I read her story? Alanna did exactly what I asked. Too much of the father was recognizable, and I did not like him.
This piece (below) appeared anonymously in The Interim in 1997. It was my daughter's first published work. A testimony to the sense of authenticity is that the editor called me, feeling his way very carefully, asking if this was something we were going through as a family. It is shared with permission of Alanna Rusnak, now married and the mother of three of our grandchildren -- and still writing as well or better than her father. It is shared because it still articulates a far-too-common double standard within the Christian community. For more up-to-date samples of Alanna's writing, visit selfbindingretrospect.blogspot.com. Her post titled, "What You Do Unto the Least of These" reflects on a nine-year-olds response to her Daddy going to jail.
My Daddy's a proud man. Strong in his convictions, devoted fully to everything he believes in. He's a kind of 'John the Baptist'. . . not screaming salvation, but, "SAVE THE CHILDREN!"
I've always thought he was for real, always believed he meant what he said. . . now I'm not so sure. The devil has been pulling his strings -- hard!
He believes in himself and people respect him a lot. They look up to him as the perfect father and husband. I hear people say all the time, "Why can't we have a perfect family like them?"
We may have been close to it then -- but now. . ?
Daddy used to sing a cute little song for me. It was his way of telling me he loved me.
We used to do silly things together, father-daughter bonding times.
We used to put on old records and bring back the disco era.
We used to have such fun.
Nothing has been fun since it happened.
Daddy broke our favorite record in half last week. He hasn't sung or whistled in days.
Daddy doesn't love me anymore.
He always said that both he and Mom would support me if it ever happened. But now he's going against everything he's ever said.
"Just get rid of it!"
You say it so calm, like it's just a bug or something. You went through so much pain trying to save those lives, and now you want me to kill it. You're not my father.
I could have run away. I could have gone and hid until it was all over. Is that what you'd want me to do? Would that protect your precious reputation?
Daddy. . . who are you? I don't know you anymore. I thought you loved me. I thought you'd always be there for me.
It was a mistake -- I know. We didn't want it to happen. John's parents weren't home and we had a bit to drink. It just happened and now I'm pregnant. I told you and you just sat there all stony faced and hard. Mom started to cry and you told me to leave. I had nowhere to go. I couldn't go to John. He said he never wanted to see me again. To be rejected by John for a mistake that was his too -- hurt more than anything I've felt before. But my own father. . ?
"You're not my daughter!"
How can you say that? Daddy. . . look at me. Can't you recognize your own little girl? I haven't changed. I'm still young, vulnerable and naive, maybe more than before. You can't just pack it in, call it quite and not think about me. I can't get through this on my own.
Look at me. . . I'm crying. This is so stupid!! The very person who should be here helping and supporting me wants nothing to do with me right now. Have you any idea how that makes me feel? I'm already going through enough. I don't need all this on top of it. Where are your getting your ideas from anyway? I don't think you understand anything! You've never been pregnant! You can't know how terrifying it is! You've never told all your friends you were going to save yourself until marriage, then blew it! You don't know what it's like. Think about what I'm going through. What's everyone going to think when they find out? I'm the good Christian girl -- never done anything worng. Now look at me. . . Laura Ingils Wilder turned Madonna.
My reputation will be totally shot. All the guys will think I'm easy and I'll probably have to drop out of school. My life is totally destroyed! I have nowhere to go, no one to turn to and no way to support the baby when it does come.
But I'm going to do everything I can to make its life good. I will feed it, nurture it, and I will love it unconditionally -- even when it makes stupid mistakes.
My baby is more important than my reputation. But you! YOU!! You're terrified aren't you? Completely freaked out!
What if the Church finds out?
What will the elders think?
Who cares? Is that really more important than a human life? You're disgusting! Who cares what people think? This is your grandchild! It's not your mistake anyway -- it's mine and I'll take full blame for it. Just don't force me into an abortion.
And what if I did anyway? What if I did have an abortion? How would that change things? You'd still hate me, wouldn't you? You still couldn't watch me walk from the house without thinking I'm going out for sex. You wouldn't trust me. You'd have no sympathy.
You're not a father to me. . . I don't know what you are.
Why can't you just hug me? -- pat me on the back and say, "I love you. We'll get through this together."
Why can't you just forgive me? Why can't I be Daddy's little girl again?
How can I live without a father, knowing there was a time when I did have one -- one who loved me, but now hates me because I made a mistake?
I am a daughter to nothing.
I am nothing!
Flesh -- holding the baby of a guy I didn't even love.
Garbage -- rejected and disowned.
Ugly and dirty.
Empty -- alone.
DADDY!! I need you to love me!
So for all those of you out there contemplating taking that BIG step, here is my list of the top ten reasons why you should get married.
1. When you get old (very old), there will be someone around who understands your one-liners and quotes from old (very old) TV shows. “Oh, no, we took a wrong turn at Albuquerque!”
2. Being married to your best friend ensures that your best friend won’t move away (like they did in grade school, high school, college…).
3. It’s wonderful when someone knows all your weird quirks, habits and preferences and loves you in spite of and/or because of them!
4. It’s nice to not have to explain all those weird quirks, habits and preferences. Yes, I do like to put milk on my cereal in the morning and let it soak until it’s nice and soggy before I eat it – why? I don’t know.
5. Reason #5... Well, King David had the right idea – just the wrong person (see I Kings 1: 1-4 for details). When you get past menopause (those days when you want to throw away the covers and not, definitely not, cuddle), it’s nice to have someone to keep you warm at night.
6. It’s nice, very nice, to have someone to come home to.
9. It’s a great feeling to have a lifetime of shared memories with someone you love.
10. Okay, there’s another great reason but I’ll let all you young folks figure that one out on your own.
Suffice it to say, getting married is a good idea. Staying married is an even better idea.
Take it from me – a bona fide expert now!
(Romance) Author of Deep Waters, The Little Ones and Jasmine
Now in book stores across Canada
Distributed by Word Alive Press http://www.wordalivepress.ca/.
Available online and as ebook on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/ (key in title of book and publisher: Word Alive Press).
Monday, 10 January 2011
If you, like nearly 7 million others, watched Team Canada’s third period debacle in “Buffalo, Ontario” against the Russians you saw one of the most inexplicable and disappointing moments in Canadian World Junior history.
I feel bad for the fans who were there to cheer our boys on. I feel bad for the millions of us that watched from living rooms across the world. But mostly, I feel bad for the Canadian players who will be dogged with this for the rest of their lives.
Or will they?
As disappointing as the game was, it’s a lesson in leaving the past behind. Not all of Team Canada will go on to play in the NHL. Hard to believe when you think you skated out there in front of a sold out crowd with the chance to put the puck in the night and bring them and the nation to their feet. But that’s the way it is. For some of them, this is as far as they will get. Maybe the minors. Maybe not. Some will make in the NHL and hopefully leave the stunning 5 third period goal performance by the Russians behind.
But either way, whether a player goes on to NHL fame and glory, minor hockey, or something else, they will need to be able to not let their past define them.
“If only I would have done this…” “If only I would have made this choice instead of that choice…” “Man, how my life would be different if only I would have seen that opportunity for what it was.” “I could have had it so much better if I would have just done this one thing differently.”
One of the tough things in life is coming to the realization that you can’t go back. Time only moves forward. Like it or not. And the ones that succeed in life are the ones who after putting their hand to the plough don’t turn back.
There are two kinds of contented people in the world. Notice I didn’t say happy. Happy is overrated. It’s a moving target and fleeting at best. But as far as contented people there are two kinds: those who think they are and those who actually are.
There are those who make it to the proverbial NHL of their lives – they get the job they wanted, get the spouse they wanted, get the kids they wanted, get the house and friends and, dare I add, the closeness in relationship with God they wanted etc. etc. etc. And good for them. Sincerely. But herein lies the danger - they will only think they are content unless they see their lives for what they are, an absolute gift from him, and keep their lives focused on him. Playing in the NHL is a dream for very few.
Then there are those who blew a chance, or many chances, or, worse, never realized the chance at the time but only in retrospect. They felt the sting of remorse in knowing that “if only…” or “I should have…”. They worried about troubled kids. They regretted a poor choice. They struggled with singleness. Felt the burden of missed opportunities. But then, and here’s the kicker – they forgave themselves.
They forgave themselves and moved on.
We’re so good at asking God to forgive us. We’re okay at forgiving each other. But do we forgive ourselves? Do we see a life with mistakes and missed opportunities as a gift from God, too?
The Canadian team can’t ask for a rematch. And you and I can’t turn the clock back. We can try, though, and too many of us get stuck trying the impossible. We can even blame God by asking our omnipotent, omniscient creator why he couldn’t have pushed a little harder to get everything on the right track. Isn’t that what he’s there for? To do for us what we can’t do for ourselves?
The Bible says all things work together for good. But it takes faith to actually believe that our failures can work for good. Chuck Colson went to prison for Watergate and the result was Prison Fellowship. That’s an easy one. There are others that are much, much tougher. Like perhaps in your life, for example. I can’t answer the reason for the pain in your life. It may not even become obvious while we are down here.
But in order to move forward we have to ask for faith to believe that God forgives and uses our lives for his glory.
Especially when we’ve blown a big lead and let down people.
We could have had gold. We got silver (ouch. That really hurts saying that).
But in the end, life is not in the what. It’s in the who.
Whom are you trusting to make something of your life?
Sunday, 9 January 2011
The day of his departure came and he found himself at the gates of the heavenly city, dragging the heavy suitcase with a firm grasp.
“Sorry,” St. Peter said with an outstretched arm. “You are not allowed to bring anything with you.”
“But sir,” our friend asserted, “God gave me special permission to bring one suitcase along.”
“Just a moment,” said St. Peter, “I will check the ledger.”
He leafed through the pages, then looked up in surprise. “You’re right! You ARE allowed one suitcase. You may pass through the gates, but I’m really curious. What did you choose to fill your suitcase? Would you mind showing me?”
Proudly, the suitcase was opened. St Peter looked within and gasped in disbelief. “You were allowed one suitcase of anything you wanted to bring along from earth and you chose to bring a suitcase full of PAVEMENT?”
Soon after I heard that story again, we were reading in our daily devotions about Christ leaving the glories of heaven to come to earth to such humble conditions as a stable. The wonder of the change Jesus experienced filled my mind for several days. A few mornings later we read about the wisemen who brought their gold, frankincense and myrrh. The best and richest gifts they had to the little Christ-child.
Now Jesus came as a very human baby, but suddenly, I wondered if, when Jesus became aware of those gifts, he may have smiled and wondered at a gift of pavement. I was beginning to wonder what I would or could offer to God that wouldn’t make him want to smile at its insignificance.
Then I thought of what I, and probably many mothers, have experienced when our little ones first had the desire to bring flowers to us and came bearing a beautiful bouquet of dandelions in their chubby little hands. I remembered the way my heart filled with loving gratitude for the treasure they presented and the genuine love and adoration in their eyes. An Ah-ha! Moment! I made a connection to God.
I still thrill at the thought that God is pleased with whatever I offer him for the very same reason I was delighted by dandelions. The adoration of my heart and the sincerity of my desire to please him far outweighs the offering itself. Oh to bring him such delight every moment of my days!
Friday, 7 January 2011
It's easy to let my thoughts wander as I scrub pots and pans. Sentences that refused to come together in the quiet of my den click into place at the kitchen sink. An idea for a new article pops into my brain. An outline forms. I hurry from room to room, fluff pillows, scrub sinks, throw laundry in the washer, anxious to reach my laptop.
When I finally sit on my retro green leather office chair with squeaky wheels, the words don't always flow onto my computer screen the way they did for Holmes. The sentence that sounded brilliant at the kitchen sink sometimes loses its shine.
Still, all is not lost. A good beginning, a solid paragraph or two. Another day, more chores, an updated outline and soon (or not so soon) a shiny new article will develop.
Thursday, 6 January 2011
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Thought for the day: What it means to be a rational animal - Incalculable even to ourselves- Denyse O'Leary
Man is a rational animal. If one knew only the definition and had never met a man, one would assume that a rational animal meant a reasonable animal. In fact we know that man is, just as often, unreasonable. The possession of reason, which distinguishes him from the lower animals, means that he can act reasonably as they cannot, but also unreasonably, as they cannot.
The animals, not having reason, cannot misuse it. Man has it, can misuse it, does misuse it. ... Man is endlessly ingenious in discovering ways of misusing his reason. The commonest way, perhaps, is to leave it unused. Most of us would rather not think at all when any effort is involved. The use of the body is easy, and promises pleasure. The use of the mind is difficult and holds out no such promises. So man is always trying to by-pass the use of the mind.
He thinks with reluctance, which makes him a slave to habit. He thinks with the will, which makes him a slave to desire. He thinks with the imagination, which makes him a slave to slogans. Not using the full power of his mind, he loses perspective. Things closest -- that is, closest to the body’s power to respond to them -- loom biggest. ...
One result of all these ingenious ways of avoiding the use of the mind is that man is intensely gullible: offer him happiness, and all his defenses are down. And the trouble is that man is not consistent: you cannot even rely upon him to act unreasonably: for he is damaged, but not wholly; and he is free. ... The wandering mind can concentrate, the tired will can make a stand, the thrusting self is capable of supreme sacrifice. You never know when. There is that element in man which makes him incalculable, even to himself” - Frank Sheed (1897-1981), Society and Sanity (pp. 55-58).
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
Holidays afford time for pleasures excluded from the daily grind, like going to see a movie at the theatre. This year, a film I greatly enjoyed was The King’s Speech.
The second son of King George V, the Duke of York, struggled with stammering. His angst increased as his position required him to make speeches and would not permit him to retreat from the public arena. His story became a microcosm of the situation in the state that he was eventually called upon to govern as monarch.
Working with a mentor and teacher, Lionel Logue who became his friend, the Duke of York destined to be George VI, laboured intensely with diligence and persistence to overcome the obstacles to his successfully finding his voice. He strove to articulate clearly what those he governed needed to hear from their sovereign.
He was working in a country that had in a sense lost its voice as well. The events that were taking place in Europe were a threat to the country, as Hitler prepared to dominate Europe. The premature death of his father, King George V, brought the issue of the succession to the throne of England to the fore. In addition, his brother Edward, the Prince of Wales who was heir to the throne, created great controversy in the kingdom, particularly with parliament by his relationship with the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, whom he eventually married. This decision forced Edward to forfeit the throne and the mantle of leadership fell on his younger brother, who was crowned George VI.
The story of George VI, reminded me of another leader who struggled to find his voice and his confidence to lead the people that God entrusted to him as well. I think that Moses and George VI would have found they had a lot in common. Raised in a royal household, Moses grew up as the adopted grandson of the King of Egypt. The daughter of Pharaoh found him floating in a basket in the Nile. He did not anticipate that he would be in line for the throne of Pharaoh, but God used his upbringing to prepare him for leadership of the Israelites.
Like George VI, Moses struggled to be able to express his voice, and surrendered reluctantly to accepting the mantle of leadership. As the Lord provided a friend like Lionel Logue for George VI, so he provided his own brother, Aaron for Moses. The role of both of these men was crucial to the success of the leader.
George VI came to the throne at a time when Britain was in great turmoil. The experience in working through the challenges of his own struggles enabled the monarch to offer encouragement and hope to the people of his realm. He did not pretend that it was going to be easy to find their destiny, but he could offer hope because he was himself a living example of how difficulties could be overcome.
Moses also had a history of addressing challenges when he came to a position of leadership. He had a passion to address social justice and as a result found himself fleeing from his homeland of Egypt and learning to find out who he was and how he could make a genuine difference through years spent facing the challenges of finding himself while caring for sheep in the wilderness. He too had to find his voice and when he returned to Egypt, he knew who he was and what God had called him to do and was accompanied by Aaron who helped him to do it. Like the people of Britain whom George VI was called to serve, Moses faced a people who were uncertain about their future because they were uncertain of their leadership. The road ahead for them was also difficult and they needed someone who had the courage and persistence to go on in spite of the challenges.
These two stories of leaders thousands of years apart are an encouragement on an individual as well as on a societal level. Each of us has our own challenges to face as we try to find our own voice. With persistence and the help of those who God puts in our paths to help us along the way, we can overcome these challenges.
Then, as we find our voice we can encourage those around us, especially those who are looking to us for any kind of leadership. Together we will find our corporate voice and overcome whatever holds us back from becoming all that we were meant to be.
Encouragement propels us as we hear one another’s stories!
Monday, 3 January 2011
Queen Year at the closing days of December is a grand old lady.
She has nurtured and watched over us and borne us along
for these twelve months of three hundred and sixty-plus days.
She began her journey with us as a baby, a princess holding much promise.
Her energy and life brought us smiles and hope by Spring,
as rapidly maturing, she sang and danced her way into our hearts.
But she soon outgrew us, so that by Summer we weren’t quite sure
whether we or she were pulling the strings of our destinies.
By Autumn we had become more comfortable in her presence,
sensing that she understood the Plan better than we understood life’s enigmas.
We sensed that she had a source of wisdom and knew better than we what was best for us.
Finally, we resigned ourselves to her directives and learned to rest in her embrace.
It is Winter now, and her end draws near, yet Queen Year is truly regal and wise.
Propped up on her pillows of well-earned respect, she reclines in possession of all her faculties.
And we . . . we gather round her bed knowing that whatever judgments she declares
for how we have treated her during her sojourn with us will be for our learning,
for our good. And so we intently listen ... listen well in order to heed.
Her reproofs are to instruct, her commendations are to inspire.
Queen Year has no desire to hang on to her life or power, for she is a giver.
Her life is all but spent, and she is poised with grace to relinquish her hold.
Her smile assures us that the gift of a newborn Princess Year will,
like she has done, nurture and care for us, as we care for her.
And even though she too will outpace us to grow and mature so swiftly,
we will learn to love and trust her, for, like all the years of our lives with all of their days,
She will be to us a Gift from the hand of the Creator Divine.
© Peter A. Black, 2007
Peter is a freelance writer living in Southwestern Ontario.He is the author of "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press), and writes a weekly column in The Watford-Guide Advocate.