Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Old Fashioned Stories-by Heidi McLaughlin

Lately I thrive on the simple things in life, after dinner walks, finding a plaid shirt in a Thrift Shop or stopping for an ice cream cone. I also love being huddled down with a great book and a bag of black liquorice. As my late husband Jack would have said, “This and Heaven too!” Well, he finally got Heaven and I’m beginning to cherish simple gifts all around me here on earth.

“This and Heaven too.”

For instance, last week’s big snowstorm in Southern Alberta. For three days, while I was visiting at my daughter’s family home, we were stuck in the house with no electricity and no school. The first evening of darkness we sat huddled around candles and a puzzle we couldn't see, and stared at each other. So, what do we do now? So I pulled out my Grandma gumption and asked my grandchildren, “Would you like Nana to tell you stories about my growing up years?” I was shocked when they shouted, “Yes, Nana!”  They dragged out their favourite blankets, snuggled on the couch and waited with eyes wide open.

They were mesmerized as I unfolded my growing up years of living in a log cabin for two years, of waiting for the two black bears to leave the outside pump so that I could fetch mother’s water. Of root cellars, snakes, getting the strap in school, and hunting for chicken eggs in the woods. With bedtime looming, ten year old Austin let it be known that we should go back to living in those simpler times, sitting by candlelight as a family and telling stories.  It made me think.  Are we so caught up in the latest and greatest, the flavour of the week, who is the latest rock star that we’re leaving behind a rich legacy of simple stories?

Are we too caught up in the latest and greatest?

My sisters and I begged our mother to tell us stories of her growing up years.  Between the war torn years there was too much destruction, hunger and fear to relive the memories. Yet, now that it’s too late, I long to hear the details of those years. How did they overcome struggles?  How do you become resilient? Where/how did you find joy? What is the most important thing you learned?

Even photo albums are becoming old fashioned as we fully embrace our digital world. “Well, we can put them on memory sticks or DVD’s people say. “ But with technology changing every six months how will the next generation access these “old fashioned” devices? How will we preserve our stories for our next generations?

I hope my grandchildren will remember the week of the big snowstorm where the lights went out. The time when I invited them into the twists and turns of my growing up years, and gave them a glimpse into the past.

Do you have children or grandchildren that need to hear how you handled that bully, helped with the chores, made Christmas presents or helped mom and dad plant the yearly garden? The simplicity of these narratives will enrich their lives and leave your God given legacy.

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at;, or her website:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Because of Grace by SUSAN HARRIS

It simply did not cross my mind to disobey my parent’s instructions while growing up in their house.
Credit:Google Images
There was no reason to believe they would ill-advise us and this made taking instructions without questions, normal.  Church and school were our focus. Dropping in at our friends in the neighbourhood was allowed but we kept our visits short. Sleeping over at the homes of others were off limit. 100% off limit. We slept at home, and were safe.

Sure, the rules were rigid, or so it appeared. No makeup, no jewellery, no wearing of men’s apparel aka trousers. No cinema, no parties, no smoking, no drinking. It seemed to onlookers we had no fun, and if I had worn makeup and jewellery before I turned 19, I may have been happier but I'll never really know. 

In this strict atmosphere, we were sheltered. We read, and studied, and were model children, highly respected for our academic achievements and religious upbringing. Shaped by grace.

When I became a parent I decided to emulate the proven aspects of my nurturing, which I had ascertained was living by God’s standards. Whereas my parents had misinterpreted the jewelry, makeup, pants, and movie aspects of Biblical injunctions, my understanding had expanded so that those rigidities did not play in to my parenting. The non-negotiable was in holy living. I explained to my daughter that I had lived by the standards of purity I was outlining for her. There was no hypocrisy in the life I was asking her to live. I was the parent. Not a friend but a parent. 

I was not shy to let everyone and anyone know the bar I had set. A bar determined by grace. But setting a bar does not operate in a vacuum. Sleepovers, especially had to be guarded, limited to homes with professional parents whom I screened ahead of time. The ratings of the movies she watched were checked. The books were scanned. We opened up our home and it was well visited by the young, while the bar in place. I will do it the same way if I had to raise a child again. 

Over the past week I’ve read the most troubling confessions of vulnerable women on posts widely circulated on social media as “Me too”.  I shed tears for the horror and pain they endured. This should happen to no one, not to a male or female. But inasmuch as these things happen in spite of perpetrators knowing it is wrong, I escaped the potential of such acts because of the standards my parents set. And my daughter is safe because of it too. Thank God.

There are many calls in the Bible to right living, so much so that we could dismiss them as stealing the fun. I’ve missed the mark on many, failing and failing again. But I pay closest attention to the ones with the worst consequences, and primarily I've not repeated those. 

When my parents said no it was to protect us. God is good, and even when He says no, He is still good. 

Susan Harris is who she is because of grace, and this grace is freely available to all.
Credit: Free Digital Photos

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Two Things I Need by David Kitz

As a writer I find there are two things I need – accountability and prayer.
I need accountability for a whole variety of reasons. Accountability keeps me on track. There are a thousand distractions that keep me from writing and achieving my goals. Knowing that I will need to report on my progress to someone keeps me motivated when I am tempted to procrastinate.
Accountability is my taskmaster. It keeps me honest and steadfast. I establish and report on my goals because if I don’t, I simply drift. Drifting is fine if you intend to go nowhere, but if you have a destination in mind you likely need a mentor or an accountability group. Our local Ottawa chapter of the Word Guild serves as an accountability group for me.
There's a much used cliche among authors. "The book writes itself, or wrote itself." There is a grain of truth in that statement, but don't swallow it hook, line and sinker. You still need to put in the hours of work. 
The second thing I need as a writer is prayer. I need the prayers of others because writing and being genuinely creative requires ‘alone’ time. In that alone time I need to hear from God.

You and I are image bearers; we bear the image of God. We were created to create. When we create using language, we are treading in the very footsteps of our heavenly Father–the Creator of all things. What enormous footprints He has left for us to explore!

Listening prayer brings us to the threshold of the creative realm. There we catch a glimpse of worlds and vistas unseen by anyone else. What a privilege we have as writers!
Are you working on a writing project? Do you need prayer and accountability to inspire your imagination and keep you focused? I welcome your feedback and prayer requests, or better yet contact the Word Guild prayer team. Let’s encourage one another in our divine calling as writers.

David Kitz lives in Ottawa with his lovely wife Karen. His most recent book The Soldier Who Killed a King is published by Kregel. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sunset and Evening Star Ruth Smith Meyer

“From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. (NIV)
 Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows; laughter will spill through the doors.(CV))   Jeremiah 30:19

Someone in close proximity to the cottage where our family has spent the last seventeen Thanksgiving weekends, could well testify to the truth of this statement. There was much rejoicing and happy laughter.  

The tradition of spending such a weekend together began when my husband and their dad and grandpa died on Thanksgiving weekend in 1999. We tried out a few different locations before we found this gem near Bayfield on Lake Huron, and we have returned ever since. From Friday night to Monday we live and laugh and love together.

The weekend always includes some reminiscing.  In the beginning, we often looked at family slides and pictures and read the little booklet of memories Norman had shared before his death.  In 2005, a few months before we married, Paul joined us and got a close look at the family of which he was anticipating become a part. It went well, for we never left a weekend that he didn’t say with a contented sigh on the way home, “I love spending time with your family!”

This year, even though my second grandson couldn’t be with us we were especially thankful for him.  Seven weeks ago, he suffered an accident that could so easily have killed him.  Although the accommodations weren’t adequate for his needs, he was at home recuperating quite well. We kept in close contact, texting him often.

We of course, missed Paul too, but I rejoiced to have my family around me and felt delight and gratitude bubbling up inside so often during the time we were together. 

Psalm 107:8-9 says “He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves”

Sometimes, from my perspective, it has appeared less than a straight path, but often on what I perceived as detours of difficulty, his miracle mercy has been evident.

Our family always make sure we have our evening meal early enough to be at the lakeside to see the sunset.  Saturday night was nice. Sunday night I breathed a prayer of thanksgiving and added a small request that God would let me know that he will be with me as I go on my life journey without a spouse to share my life.  It looked as though the sunset may be less than spectacular, but I was content. 

Ten minutes later, the clouds burst into radiance.  The whole sky from side to side, and even to the east, put on a breath-taking display that lasted for some time. The colours were so varied and gorgeous. Each  minute bought its own hues.  It felt like a direct answer to my prayer and filled me with assurance and heartfelt praise.     

 Apparently that sunset wasn’t just for me.  I saw many pictures of it on Facebook this week.  It was seen by many people from quite an area.  I hope it blessed those other photographers as much as it did me.

In the days since, my heart says with the Psalmist, “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”  Psalm 9:1

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Making the Effort—Carolyn R. Wilker

Monday began like any other day. My husband and I started out at slightly different times. I had a meeting to attend over the noon hour, and things to take care of in my office. My husband, a retiree, began the day more leisurely, and things he wanted to do.
 By the time I left, my husband had already begun preparing our lunch. After my meeting, instead of doing an errand, I decided to skip the errand and go home. We ate our late lunch together. Anxious to get back to work, we cleared the food away, and I headed for my office and my husband for a nap. Later, I had not only begun the quote, I had also put up a blog post.
Late afternoon, my office door was open when my husband came up the hall. I spoke but couldn’t understand his reply, so I asked again. He tried to talk, but I couldn’t understand a word. I helped him sit on the bed and sat looking at him, face to face. I realized very quickly that something was wrong. Stroke. Is this what it looked like? I called the doctor, figuring someone would give advice, but I was on hold. I wasn’t going to wait and took him to the nearest hospital. On retrospect, I could have just called 911, but I knew I needed to act.
In the emergency department, I reported my observations. A nurse whisked him away after only a few questions, leaving me to finish up the paperwork. Soon I was called; the doctor needed to talk with me. A nurse had already put a monitor on my husband. I watched, inwardly cringing at the high numbers. Much later that evening after a scan and another talk with the doctor, a patient transfer  team came and took him to the hospital that has the stroke unit. 
Our girls had come to be with us at various times, and the last one stayed until we had him settled in the ward. We went home late and very weary, knowing that we'd be back again.
Over those four days, I observed many professionals doing what they know best, taking patients for tests, talking with them about next steps, talking with patients, and encouraging them too. While my husband was soon able to get up and move around by himself, his speech remained a concern.
We couldn’t help but hear the fellow in the next bed reluctant to get up, even when the occupational therapists urged him to do so. Different issue than my husband, but alike in that effort would be needed to get better. That he would need to endure some pain and discomfort to get muscles strong again. They'd both need to make the effort.

 Art for Papa

 A little visitor now and then brings a smile

My effort will be in patience, to supply things my husband needs, and to encourage him to do the speech exercises given by the speech pathologist. I insisted, on our arrival home, on ‘no stairs’ for the next few days until I knew he was strong enough and steady on his feet.
Like his usual pattern, he sleeps late as I write this post. He may need some assistance with breakfast, but I will allow him to do all he can. This won’t be a typical day, but it’s good that he’s home.
Like us as Christians, it’s often difficult to do what we need to do—to practise patience  with our loved ones and show love to others, showing our light to the world in the best way we can.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Mystery of Silence - HIRD

The Mystery of Silence
By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Few of us like getting the ‘silent treatment’ from those that we care for.  Silence can sometimes be a painful expression of relational tension and even cutoff.  The flip side of silence and solitude is that it can be an important key to personal and spiritual growth.  We live in a noisy cluttered hi-tech world where silence is often hard to find.   Choosing silence can increase our ability to hear the still small voice that is trying to get our attention.  Jesus was often going off into the silence of the wilderness to be alone.
Recently my wife and I watched Martin Scorsese’s gripping new movie Silence.  It was based on Japan’s leading novelist’s book which tells the story of a seventeenth-century Portuguese priest in Japan at the height of intense persecution.  The recipient of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, it has been called "Shusaku Endo's supreme achievement" and "one of the twentieth century's finest novels".  Endo tells how the Japanese Christians once numbered 400,000 and had enjoyed great favour even in the Japanese inner circle.  Then Christianity was outlawed in the 1600s, resulting in drownings, burnings, and other atrocities.  The priests were under great pressure to publicly give up their faith, in order to end the persecution of the Japanese Christians.  The symbol of this persecution was being forced to tread with one’s foot upon the crucified face of Jesus. In a review by the New Yorker, John Updike described the book Silence as "a remarkable work, a sombre, delicate, and startlingly empathetic study…”
The author explores the image of silence where the priests had been painfully silenced.  The most painful silence seemed to be the silence of God in the midst of the great suffering.  The priest Rodrigues prayed: “Lord, why are you silent? Why are you always silent?”  As the persecution intensified, Rodrigues prayed again: “Lord, it is time that you should break the silence. You must not remain silent.”  Near the end of the novel, Rodrigues confesses to Jesus: “Lord, I resented your silence”, to which Jesus replied: “I was not silent. I suffered along with you.”  The crucified Jesus whispered to Rodrigues: “I am with you. You have nothing to fear.”  Another time, the suffering Jesus said: “I will not abandon you.”  Rodrigues could not take his eyes off what he called the beautiful face of the suffering Christ.  As Rodrigues ended upon trampling upon the face of Jesus, he heard Jesus say: "You may trample. You may trample… It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men's pain that I carried my cross."  Rodrigues learned that Jesus’ silence was not absence, but rather expressed the mystery of his suffering love for all humanity.  Could God’s sometimes mysterious silence be a sign of how much he cares?
Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
-an article for the Deep Cove Crier and  Light Magazine

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, has the book available in paperback and ebook

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