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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Rain - Rose McCormick Brandon

Rain.




“Finally,” chirps a robin hiding in the maple outside my window. Drops hit the wide leaves, split and fall in splinters to the delighted earth. It’s been dry. So dry, there’s been a province-wide ban on burning. No joking around campfire flames. No poking logs with a stick and watching sparks drift till they disappear.

Today, raindrops kiss the earth with blessings. They kiss on both cheeks. Bless you. Bless you. Ahhh sighs the earth, “I thought I’d never see you again.” Deep in forested hills on the north side of the city dangerous kindling threatens to burst into flame. One spark could ignite hundreds of wooded acres and claim small villages.

Today’s rain dampens fire’s destructive plans. It seeps through layers of pine needles and leaves into dry compost. Rain washes dust from the trees. They sparkle in green health as if an ambitious cleaning lady had scrubbed them till they shone.

A thirsty earth drinks long and deep. Nature and humanity breathe a relieved sigh. Breezes from open windows blow papers loose from the table top. Welcome winds chase stale odors through screens and deposit fresh smells in every room. Rain is a gift from God.

He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside (Job 5:10)

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Ongoing Battle with Grief - Shepherd


I really do not know what to do about this grief thing. Just as I think that I have it under control, something happens and it moves into the foreground once more. I thought I was doing so well, to be able to even talk about John’s accident in television interviews with hardly a catch in my throat. Then came one of our regular phone conversations.
“What have you been up to?” was my usual query. John’s answer was that he was trying to book a hotel room with a roll in shower in the city where they were having the annual meeting of one of the Boards he belongs to. He was having no success and had decided that he would have to rent a bath bench. My stomach churned with anxiety when he shared this information.
A roll in shower is the safest way for him to bathe. I hate bath benches! They are so insecure for someone who is unable to sit up unassisted because of a spinal cord injury. All day long, I kept praying, “Lord, please help him find an available room with a roll in shower.”
I felt the anxiety mounting and the fear and grief once again rearing their ugly heads as the tears sprang to my eyes every time I thought about. Like a magnet, these thoughts seemed to cling to the back of my mind and I could not shake them off. If only…. He has to worry about so many complicated details, when he needs to travel! It seems so unfair. As well as the need for a roll in shower, he also has to arrange for an attendant to help with his morning routine for getting up and ready for the day. There is not one day in life when he does not have to depend on someone to come and help him get ready to face the day. I feel my chest tighten with anxiety as I again realize how challenging life is for him.
He explains why he has not found time to work out details for a visit with us. Not only must he find solutions for the accessible hotel room and attendant. He must also work out arrangements for another trip he needs to make to Washington, to participate in a conference about people with spinal cord injuries. Getting there will not be easy. It seems like nothing ever is for John.
The normal plane that flies from Toronto to Washington does not have a large enough door to accommodate his power chair. He has a couple of options, he has now discovered. One possibility is to have someone take the chair apart enough so that it can squeeze through the door. In this case, he must ensure that the pieces that are taken apart are all kept with the chair so that it can be reassembled correctly at his destination.
The other option is to fly to another city in an aircraft that has a door large enough to accommodate his chair and then take a flight from there to Washington with the same stipulation. His fear is that every time he gives up his chair, he risks that something may happen to it and he will not be able to use it when he arrives at his destination. This fear is based on travelling experiences he has had. When a power chair replaces your body, as your method of locomotion, its availability and functionality are crucial.
John does not share these challenges with us to get our sympathy or to elicit our help. He just needs to be able to safely vent his frustrations somewhere, and I am delighted that he feels free to do so. I am sure that I would not be able to handle the thousands of frustrations every day with anything like the amount of grace, he does.
However, his frustrations bring my grief to the fore once more. I know that the Lord will supply his needs, but if I am honest, I sometimes wonder why He does not do so more quickly. This uncomfortable situation makes me confront my own lack of belief. I can identify so much with Bill Gaither, when he sings, “I believe, help Thou my unbelief. I long so much to feel the warmth that others seem to know.” Sometimes He seems so far away and so silent. Yet in the depths of my being, I do believe, even when I do not see the evidence that God is at work. I guess that is what it means to walk by faith. I must stare my grief and fear in the face and not allow them to hold me captive. I must learn from John to gather up my courage and go on, overcoming the obstacles and moving forward one turn of the wheel at a time.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Found Your Voice . . . Yet? - P. A. Black



As a kid I was always fascinated by sound. Whenever I had the chance to try a musical instrument that I’d never played before I usually managed to coax a tune out of it. It all started when I was three and was given my first harmonica.

Once I was tall and strong enough I stood on one foot and pumped with the other, picking out melodies with my right hand, while steadying myself with the other. First were single-note melodies of choruses and then came double notes and elementary harmony. The pump organ eventually went out of the house and a piano came in.

Musical exploration went on from there till a wide range of instruments were tackled (tackled, I say – never mastered!). There were times when I improvised, as many children do, with household items – pots pans, glasses, string, elastic bands, and what-not. I learned, and nobody had to tell me, that everything has its own natural frequency – a length of two-by-four, a piece of metal, a wooden board, crockery and cutlery, a room; they all have a voice waiting to be heard. That interest eventually found me many years later restringing pianos, tuning grand pianos for concerts, and making a weekly trip to the city’s BBC studios.

Oh yes, everything potentially has a voice, whether of the insect world, or of birds on the wing, and animals on land or creatures in the sea. The wind gives soothing voice as it strokes leaves like a bow over delicate strings, or vents fury in a hurricane. Trees creak and groan with expansion and contraction from heat and cold, or clap their hands as their branches jostle in the wind. Each forest has its own sound. So do the waters of sea and river. Not to forget the musical plop-plop-plop of water from a leaky tap, the gurgling flush of a toilet, and the swirling vortex of water exiting a bath.

The psalmist, extolling the virtues of creation, glows with a similar realization: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard (Psalm 19:1-3).”
Modern science is now able to bring to us sounds from the vast “emptiness” of space, for it is full of energy and sound. It just has to be provided with a means to be heard.

Perhaps we understand “voice” so much better today than former generations. Women are to be given a voice, and also are youth, children, the poor, those physically impaired, and those developmentally challenged. Their advocates urge that each of these groups, with their needs and aspirations and their distinct contributions to the social, cultural, and intellectual soundscape, should be heard.

Writers must find their own distinct voice. As I read colleague Donna Mann’s recent blog post the thought occurred: Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, the writer of narrative must have the eye, ear, touch, and heart of a storyteller. Each aspect contributes towards the individual’s writing voice.

I’m not quite sure that I’ve found mine –or should I say, not sure that it is fully developed. But I am sure the voice of God wants to be heard through the voice He gives me. Therefore I focus my eyes, attune my ears, and touch the world around me, and let those inputs reach my heart. These will give character, timbre, and authenticity to my writing voice.

May our voices speak, sing, and sound in the eternal soundscape to God’s praise and glory.
~~+~~
© Peter A. Black.
Black is the weekly inspirational columnist at The Watford Guide-Advocate, and the author of “Parables from the Pond” (Word Alive Press; ISBN 1897373-21-X).

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Fool you with numbers - Denyse O'Leary

Two recent items from my work at Uncommon Descent, demonstrating the need to be ungullible when listening to media stories intended to gin up public opinion:

This one:

The Goldilocks zone is real enough, but the Goldilocks number ...?

The term “Goldilocks zone” sometimes references Earth’s position, as just right for carbon-based life. The number, as it happens, is a phantom, but a powerful force in shaping opinion nonetheless.

Marvelous fun from Brooke Gladstone at Slate (May 19, 2011) about the Goldilocks number, 50,000, used in media to gin up scare stories. Here's an interesting item by the same writer on “objectivity” in journalism.

Now, as I have said for years, there isn’t really any such thing as objectivity in journalism.

One’s bias isn’t a bad thing in principle, it is simply the place one stands when covering a story. One can make allowances for it, to the extent that one recognizes it.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

And this one:

Numbers don’t lie, but people do

Or anyway, they babble political correctness and call it accuracy. We looked at the “Goldilocks number” used to manipulate public opinion. In “The Marginalization of Christians continues in Canada” (May 21, 2011), journalist and author Michael Coren talks about politically correct manipulation of crowd numbers. For example, the government broadcaster, tax-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation underestimates the crowd for pro-life rallies by multiples; in the case Coren mentions, CBC underestimated by 200%. But it overestimated the Gay Pride parade in Toronto by five times the police figure:
We can only thank our publicly funded stars that the same network — joined by most others in the mainstream media — tells us every year that more than a million people attend the gay pride parade in Toronto, when the police privately inform journalists that 200,000 is closer to the mark. For a million people to be present, the crowd would have to stretch from the southern tip of Toronto to Barrie, Ont., more than 100 km north.

(See especially, Coren’s Why Catholics Are Right (McClelland & Stewart), on the bestseller list for five weeks.)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

God’s Guidance Fulfilled — Lawrence


On August 27th, 2010, I wrote a blog on this site called, Acknowledging God’s Guidance. It was about specific guidance that I had received from God, regarding my new manuscript, Highway of Holiness: Soul Journey.

Regarding God’s guidance, I quoted Carolyn Myss from her book, Entering the Castle, in which she says:

“Once you acknowledge guidance, you will always be shown pathways through whatever difficulties arise…You will gradually develop the stamina to act on the guidance you receive, confronting whatever fears surface along the way…you know what it is to hear God. That doesn’t settle the challenge of whether you will follow this voice.”

The guidance I needed was whether or not to self-publish this book, as I had done with three of my other books, or whether to continue to send the manuscript to more publishers and see if it would be accepted by one of them. I felt that I did receive God’s guidance in the following words, “Wait a little while longer; there is a place for you.”

However, I was finding it difficult to wait and began to hedge my bets by beginning to format my manuscript so that I would be ready to self-publish while, at the same time, continuing to send out my manuscript to publishers.

When God wants to prove a point (in this case, I believe God wanted to prove that my doubts of God’s guidance to provide a publisher for my manuscript were unfounded), then miracles happen.

This is the miracle I was given:

I sent in my book proposal one day over the internet as instructed by the publisher, Wipf and Stock. The next morning, I received a reply that they wanted my manuscript. How amazing is that? Eight months later, my book is published and available for purchase. It would have been earlier than that but I became very sick in October 2010 and my manuscript deadline had to be postponed for three months until my health and strength improved.

I give thanks and praise to God for his faithful guidance and miracle of my newly published book, Highway of Holiness: Soul Journey.

Highway of Holiness:Soul Journey By Judith Lawrence

Book Description
You were born on earth in holiness but as you walk along life's road and become buffeted with life's trials you lose the knowledge of the holiness with which you were born. Join Judith Lawrence along her soul journey as she considers God's grace, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the abundance of Christ's love, and many other blessings received along life's road. Discover your soul's qualities, discern your soul's voice, and follow your soul's leading along your spiritual pilgrimage. Become a contemplative without a cloister, keep God at the center of your life, and find God's open doors along your pilgrim way. This book will take you through paths of prayer and assist you to become aware of your soul's presence within; it will guide you towards a unique relationship with God, take you along your path to spiritual maturity, and give you a realization of your holiness and oneness with God. The spiritual journey is one of awakening to your soul's presence, rediscovering the holiness with which you were born, and being transformed into spiritual beings.

Retail Price: $16.00
Web Price: $12.80
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13: 978-1-61097-159-1
Pages: 132
Binding: Paperback
Publication Date: 05/11/2011
Street Date: 05/11/2011
Division: Resource

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Everybody has a story - Mann


As writers we know the importance of the concept of story. Everybody has a story. Some of us are more accepting of our story than others. Sometimes people have difficulty reflecting on their life because of painful memories while others draw creative energies from looking back over the years. The plus side of this is the older you are, the more stories you have. And the older you are, gives you an advantage to the number of people you have either met or been told about.

If you are a genealogist, you have many stories at the finger-tips. Telling them and writing them down are appropriate ways to remember those people who have impressed you in some way. Precious stories, handed down through the generations, are seen through different perspectives when a writer breathes new life into them.

I was recently gifted with several items of my grandmother; with each one came a story which I would have forgotten, had I not held these things in my hand. An anniversary gift, a hand carved piece of wood or a piece of jewellery fill in gaps in her story.

A cousin put a great grandmother’s diary in my hands several weeks ago. Information about relationships, communities and people suddenly read like a novel to me. The difference being of course that I knew of the characters and the historical settings to be true. Even the plot of the story unravelled paragraph after paragraph on that neatly written page laid out a solid plot.
Over the years I have kept family letters. They describe joys, sorrows, accomplishment and failures, openly. There is no judgement, criticism or censure – only appreciation and wonder.

We don’t have to look far into any of our ancestor’s stories to see all the main ingredients of any narrative: goals, conflicts and disaster/reaction, dilemma and decision. They lived it and good plot proves itself in family documents. Asking questions that beg acknowledgement move us further into the plot. What was the one thing that motivated any one of our ancestors to make the decisions they did? Why did they respond to particular events and situation in certain ways? How did they manage to set goals in the midst of such uncertainty of homesteading, building community and sustaining relationships?

Your research and artefacts keep you on track with the personality traits that you have gleaned about individuals. You’re in good company: safe and secure in the arms of history and family culture.

As a child, I remember a package of letters slid into the material of an old truck that sat in a curtained area of an upstairs bedroom in our farmhouse. The red ribbon tied neatly around the letters stated their importance. Although I remember being very curious, I never opened them as they silently spoke of privacy. Later in my life, I noticed they were gone.

So it is with family stories: some are to be shared, retold and interpreted while others simply beg the integrity in which they were created.

Donna Mann
Aggie’s Storms (2007) Brucedale Press (The childhood of Agnes Macphail)
Aggie’s Dream (2010) Brucedale Press (Agnes Macphail’s teenage years)
http://www.donnamann.org

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Treasure - GLYNIS M. BELEC

A while ago I made the decision to 'treasure the moments.' I decided I would trust God and although it is a wise move to think ahead and to plan one's life up to a certain point, I want to live day to day with Jesus at the helm.  Miss J was born almost three years ago. I recall telling her, when she was a wee bairn in arms, that one day we would have tea together. Today it happened

Miss J was to spend a few hours with Grandma. As usual I had a list as long as my proverbial arm. As I thought about deadlines and duty, I felt a little God prod reminding me about the way I have been signing my 'Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider' books lately.

Over the past month or so, I've had the privilege of joining other authors [and then one day alone] at different events to help promote, sell and sign this great Canadian authored anthology. Most of the time when I flip the page to my bio and story, I scribble my name along with the words - Treasure the Moments.                                        
Today, I felt God ask me - "What does that really mean?" 'Twas shortly after that that Miss J asked me to read her a story. Four books later I asked my darling granddaughter if she wanted lunch. "Pancakes," came her request. "Do you want to help me make them?" The giggles and anticipatory glee that filled her face was confirmation that this was to be time well spent.
We stirred, mixed, measured and tasted. . No way were we to sit at the kitchen counter or at the big table. This was going to be a picnic teaparty and Miss J was orchestrating it. She found a perfect little wooden tv tray in Grandma's pantry along with the tartan tin that held the little brown china teaset. The table was being prepared.  Miss J knew where the cloths were, too.  She picked out a few grubby ones but I didn't deny her. She liked the colours but instead of putting them on the table as a cover, she placed the two cloths on our stools. We were to sit on them. I would oblige. As I stood on guard beside the hot grill, Miss J set our table. Eventually we sat down and giggled through our pancakes and maple syrup and our tea-milk was deliciously delightful in the mini cups. There were a few uh-ohs as Miss J miscalculated how much to actually pour.  But it was such a blessed and almost a holy time, if I can dare say that.
What a privilege it is to be a grandma. What a treasure it was today to feast on chopped up pancakes on our little plates. What a blessing it was to sing and to rock little Miss J to sleep after lunch and to tell her how much Jesus loves her. Next time I sign a copy of Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider and write in my little trademark notation - Treasure the Moment, I will remember this day. And I will treasure it. Thank you God for the poke...

For where your treasure is, your heart will be also...Matthew 6:21
  

Secrets of a Driving Instructor - den Boer

“How do you pick things to write about?” my brother-in-law asked.

“There are lots of things I’d like to write about, but don’t,” I replied.

“Like...?”

“Like things Angela does. She’d never give me permission.”

Angela’s eyes opened wide. “Like what?” she challenged.

“Like, I’m taking you out driving tomorrow. I probably won’t be able to write about that.”

Angela, her newly acquired beginner’s permit burning in her pocket, had driven in a parking lot once with her father. He came back shaking his head and she came back begging that I go with her next time. “He expects me to know everything already,” she lamented.

Angela had also driven the family van the final mile to Oma den Boer’s house in the country where we were spending a few days during Christmas holidays. That little trip with Angela at the wheel produced large butterflies in my stomach. I think it was because she tended to drive on the very edge of the road, very near the ditch.

Just thinking about our upcoming lesson knotted my insides. I prayed, “Lord keep us safe and help me be a good teacher.”

I remembered Mr. Tripp, my high school defensive driving instructor who went out with entire classes of teenagers, three at a time. He exuded calmness. He always sat back, casually sucking mints. He never raised his voice.

We saw him as a man who enjoyed his job and did it well.

And why not? Even though he was at least 50, he could spend several hours each day cruising the countryside with bright and witty 16-year-olds and get paid for it.

The driving lesson

That Boxing Day morning when Angela and I headed out on her driving lesson, there was practically no traffic on the country road where Oma lived. The lack of traffic made it somewhat easier for me to exude a Mr. Tripp-like calmness.

At one point, a large farm vehicle approached. I don’t recall just what it was—I was too busy thinking about slipping into the roadside gully as Angela steered wide of the approaching vehicle.

Our next test was a German shepherd trotting towards us on the right shoulder of the road as we made our way up a hill and around a corner. Angela gasped and veered blindly across to the left side of the road. Thankfully there was no oncoming traffic.

“Umm, Angela, the life of that dog is not as valuable as ours,” I quietly hinted.

The dog episode was followed by several challenge-free minutes. Angela looked over at me and smiled, “See, I haven’t given you anything to write about.” As she gazed at me waiting for an answer, the van drifted across the road.

“Uuhh...” I uttered pointing ahead.

“Whoops.”

I continued to direct Angela up and down numerous side roads and in our effort to avoid major highways, she turned around in countless farm lanes. Her skills improved as the minutes ticked by.

“Why do you keep looking at your watch?” she asked. “Is this boring for you?”

“Oh, no,” I assured her. To maintain my Mr. Tripp veneer I thought it best to not mention the turmoil in my digestive system. It occurred to me, those mints Mr. Tripp was always popping—they must have been Tums.

The Lord did answer my prayer. After an hour we arrived back at the house unscathed, and I’m sure not even Mr. Tripp could have done a better teaching job.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13)

As we drive the road of life the Holy Spirit is our teacher. Unobtrusively directing us, guiding us, loving us, and letting us learn from our mistakes, He’s the ultimate teacher. He doesn’t make mistakes and doesn’t need Tums as he guides us into all truth.

An excerpt from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress

Marian den Boer blogs at Blooming

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Laugh a little, laugh a lot--Gibson



A day without laughter is a wasted one, they say. Read this, and you won’t waste today.

My friend Karla* and her husband lived in the country and owned a pair of very large dogs. The pups often brought their kind owners small “gifts” collected while roaming outdoors.

One evening one of the dogs found a special prize, and rushed into the house to present it. But no one seemed to be about so the dog went hunting, his gift in his mouth. He searched the kitchen, the living room and bedroom.

When the pup finally found Karla, he dumped the present in her lap and waited for praise.

Just one problem: Karla was busy. In the washroom. Actually, when the pup barged in, she was soaking in a tub full of bubbles. And she had never had a bath with a muskrat before.

Especially not a live one.

It’s likely safe to say that the reverse was also true for the muskrat.

What happened next is a little unclear. As I recall the story, my startled friend did what came naturally—hollered and leapt out. Unfortunately, so did the muskrat. The two of them stood dripping and screaming at each other for a millisecond, then took off in opposite directions.

I laughed so hard when I first heard that tale I was sure I’d loosened something vital. Medical science tells me what I really did: decreased my stress hormones and raised my immune-boosting ones. People who laugh often, scientists tell us, may also be at less risk for depression, heart disease and osteoporosis.

The Preacher and I spend time with another set of friends almost every weekend. We seldom leave each other without having had at least one great laugh. But on our last evening together, fatigue dampened our conversation. Laughter seemed far off.

Late in the evening, the conversation circled to spring flooding and the topic of dams. That was when I recalled the dam letters—a now infamous exchange of words between the State of Michigan and Stephen Tvedten.

Beavers had built a dam across a spring on Tvedten’s country property. When a neighbour complained, the state charged Tvedten with “illegal dam activity.” Tvedten’s letter of response and creative use of the word “dam” caused a brouhaha that quickly went viral on the internet.

I located the dam letters online and read them aloud. In the space of a minute, a table of four tired and slightly cranky people transitioned to just shy of fall-down-and-slap-your-hands-on-the-floor kind of guffaws. We parted light hearted—lifted by laughter.

King Solomon, author of the book of Proverbs, spoke several times in chapters 15, 16, and 17 about the connection between joy and laughter and health. You likely know one of those verses: “A merry heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit dries out bones.”

If anyone has reason for laughter, it’s Christ’s followers. People of purpose, people of destiny: laugh a little. Laugh a lot. It does The Body—and spirit good.

*not her actual name


***

Kathleen Gibson, faith and life columnist and author




Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Kingdom Poets introduces Andrew Lansdown - Martin

Andrew Lansdown is a Baptist writer living in Perth, Australia, who has authored ten collections of poetry. He writes both adult and children’s poetry, has more than fifty published short stories and a trilogy of popular fantasy novels. Les Murray has called him Australia’s greatest Christian poet. The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry in English, suggests that because of the Christian stance in Andrew Lansdown’s poetry, perhaps “his work has been neglected and undervalued.” Even so, he is the recipient of many awards, fellowships, and honours.

He is an imagist poet — preferring to share the brief glimpses of his perceptive eye, rather than longer, rambling verse. It has been suggested that the effect of his poetry is cumulative, and can be best appreciated when reading many poems, one after another. His most recent collection of adult poetry is Far From Home (2010).

Rose

The day after I cut it
I notice the white rose
in the pottery vase
on my desk start to wilt.

All day it has been
drooping lower and lower,
until now its small head
is hanging upside down,

lolling loose-haired
against the shoulder
of the vase, as if given
entirely to sorrow.

Parable

for Leroy Randall

Plant a seed, reap a song:
such are the ways of God.

Jesus said his kingdom
is like a mustard seed

which when buried rises
to a tree, and the birds

alight in its branches.
So, from a grain, a surge

of sap and shade, a haunt
of gladness and surprise.

Oh, beyond all desire,
the tree of God abounds

with nests—and a choir!

The Raven

The raven is a black and craven bird,
a bird by the Law unclean.
Its carrion cry on the wind is heard -
the raven, that black and craven bird.
Yet it is the one the Lord by His word
has sent for my keep and keen.
Oh, the raven’s a black and craven bird,
a bird by the Law unclean!

Posted with permission of the poet

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

This is this a recent post from: Kingdom Poets Follow this link to see dozens more, including some of the world's most celebrated poets, as well as some lesser known treasures. Also visit www.andrewlansdown.com

Monday, 16 May 2011

A Mini Between Semis - Marcia Laycock

Many years ago, I travelled from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to Dawson City Yukon - a distance of 5,255 kilometres or 3,265 miles - in an Austin Mini. It was a trip filled with adventure and there were many times when I felt the smallness of my little vehicle. One day in particular comes to mind.

I gripped the wheel of my Mini and concentrated on the flow of traffic around me. I knew the route I had to follow would take me through the heart of a large city. There was no by-pass to avoid the downtown traffic. I stayed in the middle lane to avoid vehicles turning left and right. As the city began to close around me, so did the traffic. I was already feeling a bit claustrophobic when a huge Semi pulled up to my right. We both stopped at a red light. Then another Semi pulled up on my left. The two trucks effectively blocked out the sun. I glanced in my rear-view mirror just as a third Semi pulled in behind me, stopping inches from my tiny bumper. Suddenly I realized my palms were sweaty. I concentrated on the stoplight and the instant it changed to green, my little car sped forward, out from under those looming shadows. I’m sure those truck drivers had a good laugh at my expense. I don’t know if they had intended to intimidate me, but they certainly succeeded in doing so.

I had a similar feeling just a couple of years ago when I attended a large book fair in one of the largest convention centres in the heart of Toronto, one of Canada's largest cities. I stood on the edge of that hall and stared at an overwhelming number of booths and displays. My ears buzzed with the hum of people - authors, publishers, editors, media people - all there for one reason - to promote or advertise or talk about books. The word "intimidated" does not come close to how I felt at that moment. I stood rooted to the spot. But then I saw a familiar face and told my legs to move. Within a few moments I was among friends and the panic attack I had felt coming on faded away. I was still a very small fish in an ocean but at least there were a few others just like me.

There are many times in a person's life when circumstances may overwhelm and fear threaten to paralyze. But God has promised to give us a way out - like a green light at an intersection, or a smiling face in an unfamiliar setting. That way is His only Son, Jesus Christ. Focusing on Him will lead us through any circumstance, any difficult place. Trusting in Him will give us the courage to walk the path He has chosen for us, even when it takes us into places where we don't feel we belong, like a huge book fair in a far away city, or a cancer clinic in our home town.

So "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
****

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011. A collection of devotionals for writers has just been released
here. Visit Marcia's website

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Going Down Singing - Arends

I've shared here before about my father's passing last summer and a bit of its impact on me -- my latest CT column touches on that loss and explores the idea of preparing for death in general. Not the sunniest subject, but I've really tried to explore the link between accepting our mortality and living life abundantly. Let me know what you think!
Thanks,
Carolyn

To see the original post with photos and comments, go to May 12th 2011 post.

Going down singing
Why we should remember that we will die.
Carolyn Arends
(In the April Issue of Christianity Today)

The day before he died, my father wore what his doctors called the "Star Wars mask"—a high-tech oxygen system that covered most of his face. Pneumonia made his breathing extremely labored, but that didn't keep him from chatting.
"Pardon?" my mom would ask patiently, trying to decipher his muffled sounds. Exasperated, he'd yank off the mask, bringing himself to the brink of respiratory arrest to ask about hockey trades or complain about the hospital food.
After several hours, he gave up on conversation. He started singing.
"What are you humming?" my mom asked. My dad repeatedly tried to answer through the mask before yanking it off again. "With Christ in the Vessel, I Can Smile at the Storm," he gasped. "Wow," murmured my mom, before singing it with him.
My dad learned "With Christ in the Vessel" at Camp Imadene in 1949, the summer he asked Jesus into his 8-year-old heart. Six decades later, hours before his death, that silly old camp song was still embedded in his soul and mind, and he was singing it at the top of his nearly-worn-out lungs.
I have never liked thinking about my own death. But I've considered it enough to know I hope I go down singing, or at least speaking or thinking, something about Jesus.
I suppose that is why I found myself sobbing on an airplane while reading Margaret Guenther's The Practice of Prayer. In one section, Guenther discusses the Eastern Christian discipline of continuously repeating the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." She reports her own efforts to incorporate the practice into her daily life, even sizing up the logs she chops for firewood by the number of Jesus Prayers she'll likely get through before they are cut.
I love the idea of having such truth-giving words ingrained into my routine. But here's Guenther's line that really got to me: "I hope that by imprinting [the Jesus Prayer] on my subconscious, it will be with me for the rest of my life, especially at the end, when other words will perhaps be lost to me."
Guenther, a former professor at General Theological Seminary in New York, is an accomplished and educated woman. Yet she is humble and practical enough to do what she can to prepare for her own death—and for the possibility that even before her death, her mind might fade into dementia. In a culture consumed with denying mortality, here is a woman who plans for it, in a way that affects the minutiae of her life now.
Many early Christian communities encouraged believers to engage in the spiritual discipline of considering their own deaths—not in order to create morbid fear, but to put this life in the proper perspective. Memento mori, medieval monks would say to each other in the hallways. "Remember your mortality," or, more literally, "Remember you will die."
Death unaddressed is the bogeyman in the basement; it keeps us looking over our shoulders and holds us back from entering joyously into the days we are given. But death dragged out from the shadows and held up to the light of the gospel not only loses its sting, it becomes an essential reminder to wisely use the life we have.
When we remember the mortality of those around us, they become more valuable to us. Madeleine L'Engle once noted that when people die, it is the sins of omission, rather than the sins of commission, that haunt us. "If only I had called more," we lament. Remembering a loved one's death before it happens can spur us into the sort of action we won't regret later.
And remembering our own mortality helps reorder our priorities; a race toward a finish line has a different sense of purpose and urgency than a jog around the block. When a believer acknowledges that he is headed toward death (tomorrow or in 50 years), he can stop expending the tremendous energy it takes to deny his mortality and start living into his eternal destiny, here and now. And he can be intentional about investing himself in the things he wants to be with him at the end, much the way Guenther seeks to make the Jesus Prayer a permanent part of her psyche.
I don't want to romanticize death. My friend Bernie calls it "the Great Gash," and I must confess that on the six-month anniversary of my father's passing, the hole left by him is still gaping.
But though death hurts, it is not the end. Though we mourn, we do not mourn as those who have no hope. And so I offer my dread of death to the Author of Life, asking him to help me to number my days rightly. I don't know how many I've got, but I want to use every one of them to get the truth about who Jesus is—and who I am in him—more deeply ingrained.
That's why I'm teaching my kids "With Christ in the Vessel." We sing it at the top of our lungs.

Copyright © 2011 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.


www.carolynarends.com
www.feedthelake.com

Friday, 13 May 2011

Steward what you've been given - Nesdoly



Though most American Idol wannabes perform in the pop genre, a recent contestant, Scotty McCreery, is an unapologetic country music singer. In a blog post at Powerful Purpose Associates, writer Anthony Fasano says about Scotty,

"...it would be very easy for someone like Scotty to try to sing pop music...to gain popularity votes. However, he refuses to do that! Every single song he sings is either country or he sings it in a country music style."

One can't help but make comparisons to writing. No matter what genre you write in, chances are you've second-guessed yourself,  thinking if I were only edgier or safer,  more literary or more formulaic, more complex or simpler I'd be more successful. Or you doubt your choice of genre and consider switching from writing personal essays to, say, romance novels because that's what's being published — even though you haven't read a romance in ages and you're really not crazy about them.

Personally I love the world of poetry, have dabbled in it for years and have some very talented poet friends with whom I'm often tempted to compare myself. For example, one of the women in my poetry group won  the poetry category of the Surrey International Writers Festival in 2010. She read her piece to us several weeks ago and it blew me away. I could never see myself writing something like that.

Bob Charles in an old Alsop Review article titled "So You Want to Be a Poet" tells aspiring poets (and, I believe,  writers of any genre) some of the things that are in store for them as they travel along the road to excellence:


"1. You'll realize that every poem  you've ever written up to that point is fatally flawed.


2. You'll realize how awfully far you still have to go.


3. You're going to discover what kind of poet you are. This is not necessarily a joyous discovery...You'll discover what your limitations are. This is definitely not a joyous discovery. You'll realize there are some poems you simply can't write. Not now, not ever. They're beyond your range; beyond your capability."

It all sounds a bit depressing, doesn't it — until one puts it into context. Ephesians 2:10 is a good frame:

"For we are God's own handiwork, His workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew that we may do those good works which God predestined, planned beforehand for us, taking paths which He prepared ahead of time — living the good life which He pre-arranged and made ready for us to live." (Amplified)

In plain words, we don't have the capability or interest to write some things because we were never meant to write them. We won't ever be held accountable for stewarding talents we don't have and opportunities that haven't come our way. But we will want to have done something with what we've been given, whether it's a gift for plotting mysteries, writing cozy devotions, structuring doubt-resistant apologetics, or composing simple poems.

(Hat Tip to N. J. Lindquist for the link to the article "What American Idol Can Teach Us About Career Advancement".)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Going Down Singing - Arends

I've shared here before about my father's passing last summer and a bit of its impact on me -- my latest CT column touches on that loss and explores the idea of preparing for death in general.  Not the sunniest subject, but I've really tried to explore the link between accepting our mortality and living life abundantly.  Let me know what you think!
Thanks,
Carolyn

Going down singing
Why we should remember that we will die.
Carolyn Arends
 (In the April Issue of Christianity Today)

The day before he died, my father wore what his doctors called the "Star Wars mask"—a high-tech oxygen system that covered most of his face. Pneumonia made his breathing extremely labored, but that didn't keep him from chatting.
"Pardon?" my mom would ask patiently, trying to decipher his muffled sounds. Exasperated, he'd yank off the mask, bringing himself to the brink of respiratory arrest to ask about hockey trades or complain about the hospital food.
After several hours, he gave up on conversation. He started singing.
"What are you humming?" my mom asked. My dad repeatedly tried to answer through the mask before yanking it off again. "With Christ in the Vessel, I Can Smile at the Storm," he gasped. "Wow," murmured my mom, before singing it with him.
My dad learned "With Christ in the Vessel" at Camp Imadene in 1949, the summer he asked Jesus into his 8-year-old heart. Six decades later, hours before his death, that silly old camp song was still embedded in his soul and mind, and he was singing it at the top of his nearly-worn-out lungs.
I have never liked thinking about my own death. But I've considered it enough to know I hope I go down singing, or at least speaking or thinking, something about Jesus. 
I suppose that is why I found myself sobbing on an airplane while reading Margaret Guenther's The Practice of Prayer. In one section, Guenther discusses the Eastern Christian discipline of continuously repeating the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." She reports her own efforts to incorporate the practice into her daily life, even sizing up the logs she chops for firewood by the number of Jesus Prayers she'll likely get through before they are cut.
I love the idea of having such truth-giving words ingrained into my routine. But here's Guenther's line that really got to me: "I hope that by imprinting [the Jesus Prayer] on my subconscious, it will be with me for the rest of my life, especially at the end, when other words will perhaps be lost to me."
Guenther, a former professor at General Theological Seminary in New York, is an accomplished and educated woman. Yet she is humble and practical enough to do what she can to prepare for her own death—and for the possibility that even before her death, her mind might fade into dementia. In a culture consumed with denying mortality, here is a woman who plans for it, in a way that affects the minutiae of her life now.
Many early Christian communities encouraged believers to engage in the spiritual discipline of considering their own deaths—not in order to create morbid fear, but to put this life in the proper perspective. Memento mori, medieval monks would say to each other in the hallways. "Remember your mortality," or, more literally, "Remember you will die."
Death unaddressed is the bogeyman in the basement; it keeps us looking over our shoulders and holds us back from entering joyously into the days we are given. But death dragged out from the shadows and held up to the light of the gospel not only loses its sting, it becomes an essential reminder to wisely use the life we have.
When we remember the mortality of those around us, they become more valuable to us. Madeleine L'Engle once noted that when people die, it is the sins of omission, rather than the sins of commission, that haunt us. "If only I had called more," we lament. Remembering a loved one's death before it happens can spur us into the sort of action we won't regret later.
And remembering our own mortality helps reorder our priorities; a race toward a finish line has a different sense of purpose and urgency than a jog around the block. When a believer acknowledges that he is headed toward death (tomorrow or in 50 years), he can stop expending the tremendous energy it takes to deny his mortality and start living into his eternal destiny, here and now. And he can be intentional about investing himself in the things he wants to be with him at the end, much the way Guenther seeks to make the Jesus Prayer a permanent part of her psyche.
I don't want to romanticize death. My friend Bernie calls it "the Great Gash," and I must confess that on the six-month anniversary of my father's passing, the hole left by him is still gaping. 
But though death hurts, it is not the end. Though we mourn, we do not mourn as those who have no hope. And so I offer my dread of death to the Author of Life, asking him to help me to number my days rightly. I don't know how many I've got, but I want to use every one of them to get the truth about who Jesus is—and who I am in him—more deeply ingrained.
That's why I'm teaching my kids "With Christ in the Vessel." We sing it at the top of our lungs.


www.carolynarends.com
www.feedthelake.com

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Discipline of Writing - Derksen


The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and my feet want to go for a walk...a rare occurrence for my feet. However, writing is a discipline so I look out the window...marvel at the glories of God's creation but sit down at the computer anyway.
Life is full of distractions. When my children were in elementary school, the powers that be chose to build schools that had no windows...no distractions. They were holed up in their caves all day...except for recess...and never saw what I see when I look out my window beside my computer. They never learned to deal with distractions. Distractions can come in the form of sleep interuptus, or it can cause a writer's mind to go blank just when her characters are at a crucial, pivotal point in their life. I leave them hanging, just stepping through a doorway with some members of the criminal element watching their every move, ready to do bodily harm at a moment's notice.

At writer's conferences, we are told to write every day and if you have a complex story going on, it needs to be kept fresh. Deciding not to write today could, and I use the term loosely, cause me to forget where they are and who's doing what to whom. As a writer I do find it hard to forget them, though, since they sneak around the corners of my brain meeting new people, and getting into situations that I never intended them to experience. Putting their story down on paper is the only way I can stop them from doing the same thing over and over again in this head of mine. Does it sound like I am too involved with my characters? I guess they do control my life somewhat and can prove to be a distraction when I am involved with another project of the non-writing variety.

Distracting phone calls can interrupt an otherwise clear train of thought when a writer is in the midst of putting some words on paper or computer. And yet, a phone call can also give a writer another avenue to travel with her characters...to give them a more human appeal to her writers. So I don't turn off my phone. It's business as usual and my hope is that what I write is intelligent enough to hold my reader's attention...to draw them forward to the next page and the page after that.

At writer's conferences, we rub shoulders with the published as well as the non-published. All are writer's, some just a little more polished than others. We mingle with editors, agents, and such who all want to find the next New York Times best seller but in this electronic age, virtual books are taking a hit. Even libraries are lending eBooks now but whatever form a book takes, it still has to be written.

When the scholars, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to put down on papyrus, or whatever material they used in those long ago days of writing, they had to be disciplined. They had to stick to their task, be accurate, and spend the time to sit there each day when the sun shone and the birds sang. Where would we be today if they had bent under the yoke of distraction? Where would our readers be if we give in? We are writing Christian material that, for some of us, inspires our readers to a closer walk with the Lord, aren't we. What if I'm the only Christian writer that someone reads? What if the Lord wants to use me to touch a heart that otherwise is closed to His gospel?

I would hate to enter heaven's gates only to find that someone else is not there because, a bird distracted me, or the sun was shining too brightly, or my feet needed to go for a walk...now. God has placed a gift in all of us...my gift just happens to be writing.  It's not a treasure to keep buried but a gift to share with whomever He places smack dap in the middle of my path. Knowing that, I wonder where all these distractions come from.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Reflections on "Joseph and his many-coloured Dreamcoat" – Reynolds


"Joseph And His Many-Coloured Dreamcoat" is the best thing Andrew Lloyd Webber ever wrote!

I like the way the songs mimic various styles, like the cowboy lament, or Rudy Valee, Maurice Chevalier, and of course Elvis. They're well done, music and words, and also the arrangements.

The reviews recognize this. They have given the musical high praise. But I've read none that has emphasized the point of the play. One review implied that it was a fun bit of froth that had no substance or even a story line.

Well, whoever said that has never read the Bible.

The story of Joseph is a great story, one that has captured the imagination of people down through the centuries. Both Freud and Erich Fromm had a go at Joseph's dreams. And the story is told amazingly well in the words of the songs. "It's all there in Genesis 39!" You can look it up—Genesis chapter 37 and following chapters.

The story tells us that the purposes of God cannot be thwarted, even in the face of human perversity, and that dreams do come true. Dreamers, like Joseph, are often the instruments of God. Through them and through their dreams the purposes of God for humanity are often achieved. "But the Lord was with Joseph, and kept faith with him." (Genesis 39:21)

The Bible, after all, is a book of stories, the stories of the acts of God in creation, judgment and redemption, and in a final consummation. It is about a dream, a dream that God has placed deep in the human heart, a dream of a time and place of justice and peace, which Jesus spoke of as the rule or the kingdom of God.

It is the dream of a time when "they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” It is the dream of Israel, a land where "they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid!" (Micah 4:3-4)

Isn't it a dream that each one of us holds deep down? Joseph is you and me, our hopes and dreams, and the hope, the possibility, the faith, that they may come true.

Close every door to me, keep those I love from me,
Children of Israel are never alone.
For we know we shall find our own peace of mind,
For we have been promised a land of our own!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Read Any Good Books Lately? - Austin


I spoke at the Church Library Association of Ontario Spring Conference in Orillia on Saturday, May 7th. I felt I communicated effectively for the most part. Yet one concept, cut from my notes because it was poorly articulated, somehow demanded expression. My words on that issue proved clumsy and inadequate. That has compelled me to wrestle with it a bit more.

As a church librarian I have the joyful privilege of connecting people with wonderful resources collected over the years. Many truths are timeless, but somehow find fresh expression every few years. Many truths that seemed self-evident a generation ago must be expressed in new language for this generation to grasp. And perhaps most significant of all, knowledge of the Bible, common even among people who did not embrace its message a generation ago, has become more and more rare within the church itself. Most North American churches have many people in their congregations who have not and do not read their Bibles. The most careful, Bible-centered preaching cannot bridge that gap. All the accumulated wealth of biblical truth found in a wonderfully stocked library cannot bridge that gap. A librarian's skill, with intimate knowledge of the collection, cannot bridge that gap.

Sometimes I feel an almost aching need to shout at people as they come in to our library: "Ignore every book on these shelves. Sit down with your Bible. Get to know it. Then come back."

Sometimes I feel the need to shout to myself: "Put down that book. Turn off the computer. Spend time in the Bible for itself alone. Quit pretending the eight translations within one step of your computer, drawn from often as you write -- are read for their own message. Take time to draw closer to God. Hear Him. Know His voice."

My reading time has dwindled with eyesight problems. How much priority do I put on God's Word within that now limited time? Some questions prove much more comfortable to ask of others. As I have celebrated small improvements in my eyesight over the last three months, my reading has increased once again. Yet I cannot claim to have gone oftener to my Bible. So I dare not challenge others without challenging myself. As a librarian, caretaker of wonderful resources, I MUST remember that these are a supplement to Bible knowledge, never a substitute. I MUST remember that for myself as well as for those I minister to.

I believe strongly in inspiration for today's writers, myself included. I am convinced God speaks through the words His followers wrestle with and commit to print. Yet the inspiration of the Bible is -- I am fully convinced -- somehow of a higher nature, with a necessity and an authority far beyond anything I have ever penned.

Is there a way, in a well-stocked church library, to point people to the Bible and ask one simple question. . .

Have you read any good books lately?

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Future of Publishing ? :)

You have to have been living in a cave over the past few years not to realize that there is - has been - will be - a major shift in publishing as we know it. This shift began way back when my head was still in the sand. I was never going to get myself one of those crazy ereading 'devices'. I am - was - a book 'purist.' (What if I'm in the bathtub reading and it falls in? One of ads had a girl sitting on the beach and reading her Kindle in the bright light of the sun - to which I snorted, 'So, what does she do when she wants to go swimming? Leave it on the beach to get sand in it - and worse - stolen?)

But, then after Christmas I got an iPhone and everything changed. Actually, my husband and I got two iPhones, and got rid of our landline. Now, I know the iPhone is not a perfect ereading device, but it does work, and I've read books on it, and bought eBooks for it. But, what it has done is to provide me with an introduction to eReading. I use it in church, I read my Bible and devotions from it, I read the morning news on it, I read books, play games, read and send my emails, work on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes it even gets used as a phone.

Suddenly, I began paying attention. I re-read those old postings in my various yahoo groups of novelists and authors. I started following the tweets of authors who were making a good living - thank you very much - by re-publishing their OOPs as ebooks. (Out of Print). I began reading the blogs of people who had even shunned six figure contracts in order to 'make more' by epublishing.

If you don't believe me - here are some of the blogs I've been following:

http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-will-book-publishing-look-like-in.html

http://amandahocking.blogspot.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703838004576274813963609784.html?mod=wsj_share_twitter

http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/15/technology/ebooks_beat_paperbacks/index.htm?hpt=T2

Oh - and that picture up there to the right of this post? Twenty years ago I wrote a series of three mystery novels set in Canada with an RCMP corporal as its hero. (August Gamble, November Veil and April Operation. August Gamble even won best book in the - then - God Uses Ink competition.) I am now in the process of completely gutting and re-writing these as ebooks. So much has changed since I wrote these books - police work, technology, not to mention my own personal theology and view of life.

The new and revised August Gamble will be going up shortly as an eBook - probably for the whopping price of .99! The two later books will be 1.99 each. I plan to put them all up together.

Yes, the world is changing. What has been done to music (I can't remember the last time I actually went into a store and purchased a CD. I buy all my music now on iTunes.), is being done to publishing, and TV and movies. Stay tuned.

Linda
http://writerhall.com


Thursday, 5 May 2011

Fan of Blogging - Meyer

Hi everyone!

After many years of waiting to get a "round tuit" this is the day! I am going to start my own blog.

It does help considerably that I am now on high-speed Internet. Working with a speed of 53 kb/second was a bit tedious to say the least. Loading up pictures could quite literally take hours.

I still live way up north (850 km north of Winnipeg, MB) but we finally broke down and got a satellite dish affixed to the side of our house.

So the gal who would much much prefer to be writing with pen and paper in a cabin in the bush with a wood stove and kerosene lamps is finally and completely gone high-tech. It's been a long journey. My husband had to practically pry my old typewriter from high school out of my hands and into our yard sale when we moved. I was being hired to be a newspaper editor so buying my own computer seemed almost like a necessity, even to my frugal mind.

When it became absolutely necessary for me to go on the Internet, my long-suffering son showed me more than once (actually a few more times than once!) to send my first email.
Now I google, tweet, facebook, post, link in, upload, download, tag and even, on occasion, poke (although that still seems a bit rude to me).

For those of you who are still waiting for your own "round tuit" do not delay a moment longer. It's easy really. Just go to www.blogger.com. Sign in, using any google account you have (like gmail) or start a google account if you don't have one. Then choose a name, choose a template and start blogging!

Please visit my blog at www.dorenemeyer.blogspot.com

Dorene Meyer
www.dorenemeyer.com

Author of Lewis, Jasmine, The Little Ones and Deep Waters
Now in book stores across Canada
Distributed by Word Alive Press www.wordalivepress.ca.
Available online and as an ebook on Amazon www.amazon.com (key in title of book and publisher: Word Alive Press).

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Election - Boge


How do you feel about the Conservatives winning a majority government in Canada? What do you think about the Orange Crush in Quebec? How do feel about Ignatieff leading the tank of the liberal party? Do you think the Conservative ads against Iggy were too much? (Michael Ignatieff. He didn’t come back for you. You can check it out on youtube if you want to see them).

It’s refreshing to have a Christian in a majority position as the leader of our government. It’s a privilege for sure. But it comes with a reminder that the responsibility for a great Country doesn’t rest with the government.

It rests with the people.

We have four years, at least, until the next election. We can’t do everything – and when I say ‘we’ I mean each of us individually. You will have to pick your battles and I’ll have to pick mine. I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who often thought about what it meant to be responsible as a citizen and as a Christian.

What will your contribution to Canada be over the next four years?

Yes, church work is important. Yes, writing is important. Yes, family is important.

But what are we as Christians doing for Canada?

Are we building homes for the homeless?

Are we offering to care for unwed, pregnant teens who are contemplating abortion?

Are we conducting ourselves to the highest possible standards when we are overseas on business as Canadians?

In short, today I'm asking myself this question: How will Canada be a better country four years from now because of me?

If you have suggestions, feel free to share.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Significance of Senses Ruth Smith Meyer



A dear woman in our congregation is half way through her 99th year. Eleanor is blessed not only with an avid interest in life and in people around her, she is filled with a spirit of kindness and she also has a liberal gift of spunk.




When I looked up that last word in my flip dictionary to see if I could find a better word to describe her I found the following words; backbone, courage, determination, doggedness, fortitude, get up and go, gleam, grit, gumption, guts, heart, liveliness, mettle, moxie, nerve, passion, pluck, spark, spirit. Yes, she has all of those, so spunk is exactly the word to describe her!


For many years, she lived alone in her own house in the city. Just in recent years she changed to a senior’s apartment in our small village and began to come to our church. Faithful in her attendance, she always has a kind word for all she meets and such a positive attitude toward life. In her 98th year, she began to mention that she isn’t quite as spry as she used to be and apologized for not so readily recognizing people because of her eyesight. Finally she also acknowledged that she barely hears anything that is being said at church because of her hearing loss. No one had realized for she kept coming each Sunday without fail. When we expressed our empathy and told her how sorry we were, she said “Oh well, that’s alright, I just like being here on a Sunday morning.”



Once we were aware of her need, we set the wheels in motion to get her an audio aid for hearing. One Sunday she was fitted with the new hearing device before the service began. You should have seen her face! Afterward she actually beamed when asked if it helped. “I heard every word,” she rejoiced. There’s been an extra glow in her ever since.



This made me conscious of more than the five senses we usually talk about. For writers and for readers the sense of sight is of vital importance. We are not alone in this. But for lovers of the printed word to not be able to read would be a great loss. It is difficult to imagine my day without being able to read something. It is even harder to imagine being restricted in both sight and hearing.



Vital as those senses are, there’s another that we all need and crave--the sense of belonging, the sense of being a part of something, and for followers of Jesus, a sense of being a part of the body of Christ, the church. That sense is just as or even more vital to our self-worth and nourishment as the other five. Of course, sight, hearing, touch can be the vehicle to make it all real, just as that audio device assisted Eleanor.



As I was contemplating my feelings about the plans for launching Second Cup of Hot Apples Cider in the coming months, I realized that those activities—even the ones across Canada that I won’t be able to attend but of which I am aware—and I perceive that being a part of this exciting new book draws me into another part of this body. It gives me a sense of belonging, of purpose in a joint venture, a feeling of partnership and a great deal of pleasure.



But so does another part of God’s kingdom—The Word Guild. Together, each doing our part, under God’s direction we can make a difference in our world through our words.