Friday, March 30, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
As well, in our farming community, we didn’t have the advantage of any Holy week meditations, luncheons or supportive gatherings to take us through the various events of Jesus’ last week. As well I'd never attended a Maundy Thursday meal. Perhaps because we didn’t have the advantage of participating in these services in our little church, I should mention that as a child and later as a teacher, these events were always highlighted and taught both in Sunday school and in worship.
So it wasn’t that I didn’t know about the events of Holy Week, it was just that I’d never experienced them. I remember the precise day this changed when I phoned a friend and suggested we go into the town church to a Good Friday service. We were always made welcome in our sister church, but that didn’t entirely lift us from knowing we were from the country church – we were the rural folks. I remember admitting this was the most sorrowful, grief-stricken service I’d ever attended in my whole life. I also came home thinking, “Man, those town people really take all of this serious.” I also came home claiming because of the tone of the service that I’d never, ever, go to another Good Friday service.
And if the truth be known, I have to admit that I’ve never missed a Good Friday service since. The reason being, the experience of Good Friday changed Easter Sunday for me forever. Musical scores and lyrics were more meaningful, lilies were whiter, scripture spoke clearer and even the candles burned brighter. For me, experiencing Holy week changed my life. The privilege of being led through the event and later walking the Stations of the Cross put me into the crowd. And when I sang, “Where you there when they crucified my Lord”, I knew that my attitudes were reflected in the crowd, my fears were similar to their fears and the tone of my voice reflected other voices raised on that day — that changed Christendom forever. Yet now, we are blessed with salvation and sacraments, discipleship and the Body of Christ, fellowship and commitment, the Spirit and the reality once again of beauty for ashes.
Is 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, . . . “
May your Good Friday be very good . . .
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I have met many people who are writers, some I know well and have met in person, and others I have never met face-to-face. I read their contributions to our online discussion forum through our Word Guild discussion group.
Later I met Elaine, Janet and Violet, to name a few, at Write! Canada. I continue my connection with them through twitter and facebook as well as private email messages and, in some cases, a phone call.
In Canada, we’re rather spread out geographically, and we’re a good distance, in most cases, from our neighbours south of the border. Online discussions can take us anywhere in the world, depending on who we connect with.
Through the Saturday Snapshot meme on At Home With Books, I’ve become acquainted with Alyce Kreese, a book reviewer from Oregon, as well as fellow writers from Canada, the US, Australia, Scotland, England and Australia. We’re all avid photographers.
I connected with Jill Kemerer through her presence on twitter. I liked what she had to say, and she clicked the follow button for me too. How would I have met all these interesting people otherwise?
I’ve learned that Jill, who writes inspirational romance, enjoys a cup of coffee in the morning and has a good sense of humor. While I have not read any of her books yet, who’s to know that could be in my future? I’ve connected with her on several levels, one having similar concerns as a writer and author.
Why does all this matter? When publishers do less for us as writers, regarding promotion and marketing, we need to do more of it by ourselves, just as business owners must promote their brand. The way to do this, of course, is to engage with people in our target market, those who would read our books, articles and blogs.
As a consumer, I can understand that; I prefer to do business with people I know, wherever possible, whether it’s searching for an editor or speaking coach, even hiring someone to put new shingles on my roof. Alternately, I may act on a friend’s recommendation.
Jill Kemerer wrote in her blog last week, “We already struggle to find time to write; adding all of the social media responsibilities takes even more of our precious minutes away. The tug-of-war between doing what we love, writing, with something that feels vague and at times uncomfortable, social networking, exhausts us.”
Jill considers writing as a business and compares it to a person opening a restaurant because he loves to cook. If no customers come to sit around the tables and taste the food, why bother cooking? It’s like that with writing too. Who will taste the offerings we writers present if we are not known?
We’ve had this discussion on our Word Guild discussion forum too. Many fellow writers agree with Jill; they find it exhausting to cast the net so wide, and a few have given up on social media. While I’m more diligent some days than others, I have often wondered just how much time to spend on it and how long it will take to get results.
For people concerned with return on investment (ROI), know that it takes time. In a seminar I attended more than a year ago, Scott Stratten reminded us to choose two or three social media platforms and do them well, whether it’s twitter, facebook or some other platform. While we may not agree with all of Scott’s methods, there’s one thing we need to remember—the social aspect.
Author of Once Upon a Sandbox
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
By Rev Ed Hird
For sixty-six years, the St. Simon’s NV family has been celebrating Easter. I have always enjoyed Easter, especially for the chocolate. Just like Christmas, Easter has its food connection and its spiritual connection. Most people love to eat. Easter family gatherings invariably involve lots of delicious food, especially those wonderful hot cross buns.
Good Friday is a traditional fast day where many choose not to eat in order to remember Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Easter Sunday is a traditional feast day where families celebrate with delicious feasts. Without Good Friday, Easter Sunday makes no sense. Without Easter Sunday, Good Friday is just a terrible tragedy. Good Friday shows that God can turn everything that is against us to our advantage. God transformed Good Friday (the most evil day in history) into Easter Sunday (the most beautiful day in history).
Many of us steer clear of Good Friday because it reminds us of death, of pain, and of our own personal mortality. Sometimes we may question: what on earth is Good about Good Friday? What’s so good about someone going through the worst suffering and most excruciating death ever? Good Friday seems too morbid, too deadly, too bloody.
Once every year, billions of people around the world pause to remember the mystery of Easter. Most people love Easter: bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing. In the air, you can sense victory and resurrection and new life. No wonder that churches have many visitors on Easter Sunday.
Modern medical science is wonderful in the way that it can prolong life that would often otherwise be over. But medicine can only postpone the inevitable facing all of us. We are mortals here on earth. In my mid-teen period, I lost sight of the power of Easter, and concluded that there was no life after death. Death was final, and that was the end of it. Nothing was waiting for me but the grave. What was it all about, I wondered? Was life really worth the effort? I began to fear the power of death and the meaninglessness and emptiness of life. I even secretly wondered if life itself was worth living.
In the midst of my teenage self-doubt, I still loved Easter, but I didn’t get it. Theflowers, the food, the fun and even Easter worship were enjoyable, but somehow I missed the message. It is funny how you can celebrate something that you grow up with, and yet the real meaning can be missed. When the penny finally dropped, when the light came on, it was like waking up from the dead. I finally understood that Jesus solved the unsolvable death problem, and that by faith in him, the future is bright and unstoppable.
My prayer for those of you who love the Easter season is that you may realize that at the end of the day, love is stronger than death, and love has the final word.
Rev. Ed Hird, Rector
St Simon’s North Vancouver
Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)
-an article previously published in the April 2012 Deep Cove Crier
-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada
You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide
Monday, March 26, 2012
Now let us look at Belmont, the upper middle class enclave nearby. There, marriage, work, and voluntary social service are still the norm, and street crime is decidedly not.
Murray thinks that Belmont, nonetheless, shows one clear sign of civilizational decay: Despite the fact that its privileged residents were groomed and educated to lead---they do not wish to lead.
How can this be? Belmonters are, typically, officers in enterprises large and small, so surely, they lead. In that minor way, yes.
But socially, they do not lead. They merely wish to be left to prosper in peace. While they know what habits and practices helped make them successful, they show a surprising reluctance to advocate them:
The new upper class still does a good job of practicing some of the virtues, but it no longer preaches them. It has lost self-confidence in the rightness of its own customs and values, and preaches nonjudgmentalism instead. (p. 289)Let’s say a guy ripped off an old woman’s pension for drug money for months, and the offence was only discovered and charged when she was hospitalized by her landlady on account of starvation/dehydration.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
This is an excerpt from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress by Marian den Boer
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
We started the job, Butterfly Bean and I, with cloths, scrub brushes, and a bucket of hot water. The garage sheltered us from the frigid wind. Not warm in there, nor bright. Daylight showed through the small window on the east side, and a solitary bulb suspended overhead helped some. Every five minutes, I ran to press the round white garage door button. Once to lift. Once to stop. And once to close. That kept the wind out and another light on.
Her little hands pink under transparent rubber gloves, my first ladybean scrubbed fiercely, matching my efforts. Every so often she picked up a brush and scraped a bit of paint that wanted free. “This door sure is dirty, Nana.”
“Sure is, honey.” Then, because I didn't want her to get bored, I said, “But there’s something special about it, d’ya know?”
She paused, eyes bright in the gloom. “What’s special?”
“It has stories, Butterfly. Lots and lots. Every time it turned on its hinges, for all those years, it got a new one.”
She’s a story girl, that child. She sings them, plays them, immerses herself in them—like her mama.
“Tell me.” Excitement barely contained.
“Well…don’t know them exactly. But it has tales, sure as a bed has covers. And they likely started at a tiny house near here, a very long time ago, the day someone hung it in the front doorway of...”
“Hmmm, let’s call him Mr. Larkin….”
Our coat cuffs sodden with dirty water, Butterfly and I scrubbed and told stories. We rolled them back and forth between us like snowballs. Until they got big. Until they felt real and solid in our minds.
We storied that door clear to clean, she and I, till her lips and fingers blued with cold, and the old stories stood still.
The old door has a new story now, one it tells from its position over our queen-sized bed, white side out...
Who, me? Used up? Ugly? Ah…but l have a story. Got time? Forgotten, I was. Headed for the pit, till someone found me, loved me, and plucked me out. Said I was worth the trouble, scrubbed away my grime and told me who I was. Washed away the dirt, but left my character and my story. Gave me a new life, a new purpose, and a new story. That’s my story…and I’m stickin’ to it.
Redeemed. It's the story of every Christ-follower, including this columnist.
Published in Yorkton This Week and elsewhere, week of March 5/ 12
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
In a recent interview in The Toronto Quarterly he spoke of "a despair in modern poetry". He said, "I think the valid emotions of poetry require severe testing. In that I am influenced by R.S. Thomas and Geoffrey Hill. Bear in mind that as a religious poet, I am automatically thought by some readers to be sentimental...” He continued to say, Poetry “should not just evoke or report feelings, it should also test them with certain ironies.”
He has written biographies of the novelist Graham Greene, and the poet Dame Edith Sitwell.
The following poem is from his 2004 collection, Crossing the Straits (St. Thomas Poetry Series).
Occupation: Pilate Speaks
Execution hangs in the air
like a figure of Roman rhetoric,
every obscure point personified
and made plain, an allegory played out
in simple sentences and understood.
We are an occupying power, one kingdom
in the midst of another, compelling
loyalty where the heart is beaten down
and all things lie under the exaction of fear.
My task is to quell their riots,
to keep the peace of our advantages.
In this man is the fiction of kingship:
he requires or enacts no policy,
and recruits to his cause no persons
unworthy of nails. I wish to parley
for his innocence, for the due process
of irony ends in freedom or death,
and I would not depose his heaven,
his kingship that is not of this world.
Yet his small elevation, this mound
at Gabbatha, occupied at Caesar’s
pleasure, permits no gentle discourse.
A voice may carry, and there is no King
but Caesar. You know to whom you speak.
I hand him over to bloody converse
of the whip, those lacerating words
inscribing an empire in his flesh,
such rituals of his coronation
as will befit an ambiguous reign.
Mu regret will have its other meanings,
possible worlds invading our sleep
with all unchosen things, holy jests
as may stay for an answer I cannot give.
I send him form the mind’s place into streets
loud iwth voices of the world’s no meaning;
I linger in this moment’s constant death
to barb in three tongues my tribute to his reign.
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 an upcoming 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.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Marilyn first became aware of the problem when she saw a photo of Nancy, a woman with no nose, no lips, and no ears. Then Marilyn met Nancy and heard her story.
Nancy was only seven years old when she was abducted by the LRA. She escaped but was abducted a second time. After her recapture, another child soldier was forced to do the facial mutilations with a razor blade.
Marilyn went on to describe how it was virtually impossible for these women to integrate back into normal society. Their repulsive appearance and the way food dripped out of their mouths when they ate meant that nobody wanted to be around them. When they started businesses, no one wanted to do business with them. They were rejected by everyone, even shunned by their own families and left isolated with no hope.
Then Cherril watched Nancy’s Story, a short video that showed how plastic surgery transformed Nancy’s face from grotesque to beautiful. Cherril was moved to tears—and determination. As president of Women by Design (WBD), a women’s ministry of Christian Life Assembly (CLA) in Langley, B.C., she knew that taking an offering was one way to fund surgeries. But she wanted to do more.
Jasmine Wiebe, CLA’s pastor of women’s ministries, was at the same conference. Marilyn’s presentation drove Jasmine to her knees. As Jasmine prayed, Cherril and her husband, Grant, came up with the idea of donating the lavender that grew in thick hedges along the driveway of their Langley acreage as a fundraiser. With volunteer labour, Cherril figured they could make $10,000.
The actual work began on harvest day, mid-August 2010, when more than 30 people joined Cherril in the first step of the WBD “Lavender Project.” She describes that day:
“We worked to cut bunches and tie them with elastics. Then we loaded them onto a truck, drove it to the barn, and lifted the bunches into the hayloft, where wires were strung and waiting. Four people hooked the lavender onto the drying wires. It took us four and a half hours to cut and hang over 1,000 bunches. Then a large fan was left running 24/7 for two weeks to keep the air moving to dry the lavender bunches."
|Work in the lavender barn / The women bagged hundreds of sachets.|
Come September and the beginning of the WBD fall session, Cherril had lots of womanpower at her disposal. Through September and October, work bees of ladies went to the barn three nights a week to shuck and sift the lavender. When that was done, Rebecca, a local craftswoman, was given enough lavender to make 400 bars of soap. The remainder was packaged in pre-made sachet bags of various sizes.
Selling the soap and sachets got underway at the WBD’s Christmas event. After Cherril explained the project and showed the Nancy’s Story video, interest was high and sales were brisk. In fact, events took a turn Cherril never anticipated. In her own words:
“Not only did we sell lots of product, but the donations started coming in—far more than we ever hoped for. A few Sundays later, the story of the lavender was told again. God moved on the hearts of the congregation, and over $13,000 was donated. We were not asking for any donations; we only asked that people help out by buying our lavender products.”Sales continued into March 2011, when Marilyn Skinner was a guest at CLA's mission conference. This gave CLA's women a chance to hear directly from her about the needs of African women and catch her passion. Cherril was also able to personally present her with a ceremonial cheque in anticipation of the total monies earned. The actual money sent to Africa that April was $50,584.89—enough to pay for twenty surgeries!
The success of that first fundraiser, combined with the continuing need for reconstructive surgeries, convinced Cherril to launch another lavender project in the fall of 2011. More products were added, including lavender milk bath, foot soak, body scrub, and aromatherapy bags. Lavender sales parties at which Nancy’s Story was shown brought in hundreds of dollars. Along with sales at Christmas events and in CLA’s foyer after Sunday services, a local farmers market displayed and sold the products over the Christmas season. Sales are continuing into 2012.
When asked what impact this project has had on her, Cherril talks of being encouraged in many ways.
"God encourages us to step out in faith when He gives direction. He also tells us that He will be with us each step of the way and will step in when we cannot do any more. He has done that way past our expectation and we are awed. Hopefully, we are all encouraged to keep going and not get tired in doing good. As a leader I want to keep encouraging the women of WBD to step out of their box, be creative, and trust God to try different things.”
First published in the March 2012 issue of Testimony Magazine.
- Nancy’s Story, Part 1- http://youtu.be/k4-mpR852ik
- Nancy’s Story, Part 2 - http://youtu.be/_cpQxSRa1zI
- Listen to Marilyn Skinner describe the Living Hope Project in the short video that launches on opening “The Living Hope” page: http://www.watoto.com/projects/living-hope
by Violet Nesdoly: http://violetnesdoly.com
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
In preparation for an interview tonight on http://2012writersalive.blogspot.com - I believe the interview will be posted tomorrow on that website - I decided to look up the word comfort zone. I have long believed that in order to live life to the fullest, to love and accomplish, people must step out of their comfort zones. Jesus told Peter to step out of the boat.