Thursday, January 12, 2017

January Roller Coaster

The heavy rain hit the skylight as though it was being tossed forcibly by the bucket full.  A jagged ribbon of lightning lit the night sky and the thunder rumbled close at its heels.  Am I talking about a mid-summer night’s storm?  No this was last night—mid-January.



            


Since the beginning of 2017, the weather has been a wild roller-coaster ride. Days of sun and blue skies, days of deep cold, days of fog, days of snow and blowing snow, of closed roads and unsafe travel, of rain , of sub-zero temperatures and back—and we’re not even half way through January.
          

  As I lay in bed to the tune of thunder and lightning, I began to compare it to another ride I’ve been on (and I surmise that I’m not the only one.)  A thunder-bolt of grief a year after the death of my husband, the joy of seeing great-grandchildren growing and thriving, the sorrow of seeing a good friend enduring serious surgery and a week later developing Gillian Barre syndrome, the pleasure of seeing my 20 year-old granddaughter’s book published, the unexpected death of another dear friend, quiet moments of writing where inspiration comes as a surprise, walking alongside friends who are on the waiting list for a heart for their three month-old, and on and on it goes.


           

But that’s life, isn’t it—the good alternating with the challenging and excruciatingly difficult in our existence?  That is the way life is, but it’s up to us what we do with it and how we manage to walk on.   We can get bowed down with the load or we can put our hand ‘in the hand of the Man who stilled the waters.’
    

   Sometimes when difficulties and trials come one after another, it feels as though we’re being tried by fire. Even that has an upside when we consider Zechariah 13:9 “I will bring those that remain through the fire and make them pure, as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call upon my name and I will hear them; I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
           
 Thank you Lord, that I am yours and you, oh Lord are my God!



Ruth Smith Meyer  is the author of two novels, "Not Easily Broken," "Not Far from the Tree,"  her memoirs, "Out of the Ordinary" and a children's book, "Tyson's Sad Bad Day."  She is collaborating with five authors to write "Good Grief People" due to come out soon.  

www.ruthsmithmeyer.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Honouring through Story—Carolyn R. Wilker





This past week has been an exciting one as I distributed copies of my first picture book, Harry’s Trees, to my family. The book started as a way for my parents' great grandchildren to remember their great grandpa who died in May this past year. Some of the children are preschoolers and in early school age years, as my own grandchildren are, and may not remember him later, but it is my hope that they will enjoy the story and some day appreciate the legacy he left for them.



The theme of trees has been paramount in Dad’s life. He learned about them as a boy. They were Christmas trees; they were firewood to heat their home. They were a home for birds, a place to pick fruit, and as a boy, something to climb. They're a way of holding the earth in place, of cleaning the air. He learned lessons of life through them too, through the season changes and a place where squirrels climb and birds build their nests.

As Dad grew older, he learned more about trees, such as how to trim them when they were broken so that they might continue to thrive, and when they needed to come down. Just as important he taught us to name them and respect them as well.

Dad learned about grafting branches from one tree and putting them on another, much as doctors take an organ and transplant it into another body when the donor has died, so that someone else might have a second chance at a healthy life.

Dad checking out the trees on a holiday in Jamaica


 Fellow writers offered much wonderful feedback on my story in various stages, such as arranging the story into seasons. I thank them all for their valuable suggestions.

As I celebrate this book, and the memories of Dad that it evokes, along with the vivid and colourful illustrations of my talented artist, Maja Wizor, I dedicate it to my father for all he gave us as we were growing up, especially the passion he shared of honouring God’s creation.

a sample of  illustrations within the book






Carolyn R. Wilker, author of Once Upon a Sandbox and contributor to several anthologies, including Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon. Watch for Good Grief People book coming in late February. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

Hope Rising in 2017 -HIRD




By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird


 Our hearts were created to be filled with rising hope.  For each of us in this New Year 2017, hope is a choice.  Will we be hopeful or hopeless, thankful or thankless, joyful or joyless?  Billy Graham said that people in the most affluent societies are feeling this sense of despair and hopelessness.

William Barclay memorably said that there are no hopeless situations, only people who have grown hopeless about them. After the fall of France to Nazi Germany, Britain stood alone. Winston Churchill said to his cabinet: “Gentlemen, I find it rather inspiring.” There is something in hope that not all the shadows can quench. Emily Dickinson wrote: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” Alexander Pope in his famous Essay on Man memorably stated "Hope springs eternal in the human breast, Man never is, but always to be blest"

For many people, hope has become equivalent to wishful thinking.  The term ‘I hope so’ often means ‘don’t count on it’.  Real Hope however doesn't mean maybe, could be, or possibly. It is an assurance of what is to come.  Hope is rising expectation of good things right around the corner. 

Dr McNair Wilson the famous cardiologist said in his autobiography Doctor’s Progress: “Hope is the medicine that I use more than any other – hope can cure nearly anything.”  Dr. Harold Wolff, Professor of Medicine at Cornell University, commented: “Hope, like faith and a purpose in life, is medicinal.  It is not exactly a statement of belief, but a conclusion proved by meticulous controlled scientific experiment.” You can take rising hope to the bank in terms of its practical impact on our lives.

In John Bunyan’s bestseller Pilgrim's Progress, it was Hopeful who comforted Christian in Doubting Castle. We are called to be a people of Hope.  As one song puts it, hope is a candle, a light in the window, showing the heart how to come home.  With God, all things are possible.  Billy Graham, who recently turned 98, said: “I’ve become an old man now, and I’ve preached all around the world.  The older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago.”  Faith, he commented, points us beyond our problems to the hope we have in Christ. 

In just two months, there will be a Festival of Hope at Rogers Arena.  The Billy Graham team, including his son Franklin Graham, will be there, sharing a message of rising hope and encouragement over the three nights.  I was privileged two years ago to attend the well-attended Greater Toronto Festival of Hope.  The music was impressive with top bands and local musicians involved.  The spiritual hunger especially among the young people was significant.  I have served over the past two years to serve as the North Shore Representative on the Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope.  You are invited to come on March 3rd to 5th and experience a rising of hope in 2017.

Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector


-an article published in the January 2017 Deep Cove Crier and the January 2017 Light Magazine

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Ottawa: "Writing as a Second Career." workshop, January 28, 2017 - Denyse O’Leary


ImageMaybe you can’t write full time. But could you make a late life career or part-time vocation of it? 
Explore the options with David Kitz, retired teacher with a fruitful writing career, and Denyse O’Leary, who has taught practical work and business principles to writers for decades.

Find out how you could make you dream a reality. At Ecclesiax Church , 2 Monk St. in the Glebe Join us 10 am - 12:30 pm. The $20 fee includes snacks and writer-friendly prize draws. The money collected helps fund our annual April conference.

Send confirmation to: Nicole Wegschneider, nicolejourney@gmail.com

Also, would you like to receive a free Writing Tip of the Day? Inspiration, getting your message across, opportunities — we have them all!

You do not need to live in the Ottawa region. Send a message to Denyse O’Leary, denyesoleary@gmail.com if you wish to be added to the list. Or go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/265911277141603/ and ask to become a member. Here are samples of the tips you could receive:

– Writing tip of the day: Hollywood is courting Christians? From CBA Newsletter:

Secular Hollywood is quietly courting the faithful, according to The New York Times. Movie studios and their partners have been “very quietly, sometimes to the degree of a black ops endeavor, building deep connections to Christian filmgoers.” Marketers are writing bullet points for sermons, providing footage for services, and proposing Sunday school lessons. Among the movies to be pitched this way is Hidden Figures, about unsung black heroines of NASA’s 1960s space race. More: http://cbaonline.org/…

– Writing tip of the day: 13 inspiring quotes from Christian authors “Complain and remain. Praise and be raised.” by Joyce Meyer “Jesus promised his disciples three things—that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.” by: G.K. Chesterton More: http://www.deseretnews.com/…/13-inspiring-quotes-from-Chris…

– Writing tip of the day: Making it easy for publications to write about your book I wrote this to a friend this morning:

I very much look forward to your new book, xxxxx. May I make a suggestion: Provide persons like me with a file of useable quotes. One key factor in whether I give air to a new book is whether I must transcribe in order to do so. That comes out of my time budget. Copying the same information is practically time-free. So once I have set up links, author and cover pics, etc., I could do three times as many pieces in the same budgeted time. I doubt it affects sales, except positively. Also consider sending me an excerpt, to which I can keep referring back. We could also do an interview. -- Many writers needlessly deprive themselves of communication opportunities because they do not grasp that the editor, however interested, has slots to fill within deadlines. Making it easier means making it more likely.

Hear from you soon! Blessings, Denyse

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Be Mindful to be a Blessing in 2017 by Rose McCormick Brandon

As a new year begins, I’m struck by my need to care, not about things, the condition of the world, politics, entertainment and other things, but to care about people.
Our purpose for living is to love, to care. Specifically, to care about God and others.
God cares about people. Jesus perfectly demonstrated this by sacrificing His life on the cross. He showed that, above all else, people matter.
People are confused, lost, in denial, wounded and broken. Our purpose for living, the reason we’re alive, the reason we know Christ, is to share His love with them.
Someone said, “Most human problems stem from the fact that we treat people as things and things as people.” God’s interest is always in people, not things.
This phrase in Galatians 6:10 touched my heart - "Be mindful to be a blessing.”
I love the word, “mindful.” Wherever we go, whatever we do, we should be mindful to bless others in our conversation and actions. Being mindful means that we’re conscious of our actions and words, conscious of their effect on others. Their effect should be to bless.
A tall order.
Can I be mindful all the time? Probably not. But, I can try. And with God keeping my mind full of His purpose, I can definitely improve.
God’s incredible purpose for me is that I lift the fallen, encourage the fainthearted and give hope to the hopeless. Without purpose, my life shifts in whatever direction the winds of change take it. Right now, winds of unrest unsettle the globe. As a Christian, I can’t become unmoored by these but remain constant in my endeavor to bless.
What I notice in others who are steadfast in their purpose of being a blessing is that nothing, no loss or unrest, changes them. They keep on blessing others, speaking of Jesus at every opportunity, praying with diligence; their love for others motivates them.
They are my mentors.

Prayer: Father, as I drag myself into a new year, fill my heart with purpose. Remind me of the reason I exist – to be a blessing. Let me not run away from this responsibility but help me to embrace it. People are your priority. Help me to make them my priority.


Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of four books, including One Good Word Makes all the Difference and Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children. She writes personal essays and devotionals for several publications.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Day by Day the 'MillieWay' (by Peter Black)

A tiny cottage nestles in the woods on a country road, with little more than the basic services of electricity and a land phone. The lady of the house pretty much takes care of herself and day-to-day chores with a little help from her son, who calls by from time to time to ensure she is OK.
Not Millie's Cottage
Courtesy: Google free

Not only is her home tiny, she’s tiny, too. Obviously frail, she weighs in at well under one hundred pounds. The actual number doesn’t even match her age – ninety-eight! Suggestions that she should move into town don’t receive much of a hearing from her. And her friends’ statements of concern that, “it’s so lonely and remote out here,” don’t gain any traction at all.
  
Millie reminds me that physical frailty doesn’t necessarily equate to either weakness of character or of spirit. This tiny titan has character and spirit in abundance. Her stalwart independence was developed throughout her life’s journey, meeting challenges and disappointments, bereavements and losses along the way.
Not Millie: IStock Photo
However, her independence represents only one side:
~ She lives alone, but is not lonely.
~ She is frail and weak, yet she is strong.
~ Her means are modest, yet she abounds in the richness of contentment.
Here’s the other side: Many decades ago Millie committed her life to the Lord Jesus. He is to her a close and constant companion.
Importantly, she didn’t get stuck on the periphery of the Christian life, but journeyed along that pathway, exercising dependence on God’s grace, growing in faith and in her relationship with the Lord. Reading the biblical scriptures and meditating on their implications and significance for her life, while keeping daily prayer appointments with God and serving others in His name – these have given her sustaining power.
This indomitable soul has faced her todays with gratitude and grace, despite whatever her yesterdays might have brought. And now Millie continues facing her tomorrows in readiness of spirit. She’s homeward bound to be with Jesus, her Lord and Saviour, while continuing house-bound in her tiny cottage in the woods, journeying on into this—another New Year, with hope and peace, joy and love. . . . And contentment.
Contentment what a great quality!
Hopes, dreams, aspirations and ambitions, and even discontentment might be OK, if well-placed and well-focused; they can occupy an appropriate, beneficial place in our lives.
Of course, unless these desires and motivations are honourable and others-oriented and we go about fulfilling them by honourable means, such urges may consume us with a soul-destroying selfish obsession. Unchecked, they can leave a trail of ruined lives, broken relationships and families, violence and crime and murder, and even become amplified as feuding communities and countries at war.
But this isn’t so with folks like Millie and friends of hers I’ve come to know. Regardless of whether people are financially poor or wealthy, they can be either intensely selfish and discontented, or selfless and truly contented.
Let US journey on into the New Year, balancing contentment and ambition the “Millie way.” It was Apostle Paul’s way, too – content and ambitious at the same time. He says:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 1:6-8 NIV). 
And, “. . . one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14 NIV).
 ~~+~~
 
Peter A. Black lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond.
~~+~~

 
 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

ANOTHER DECADE - Eleanor Shepherd


         
          2017 will usher me into my next decade. It is one of those years when I will be having another birthday ending in zero. I can’t believe that there have been so many of them now. As I reflected on this my reflection turned into a prayer, that I make today to celebrate the beginning of the New Year. As each decade has passed I have seen new evidence of the faithfulness of God in all the different stages of my life.

            
Gracious Heavenly Father,

      Thank you that during my first decade, I was welcomed into this world by a family that invoked your care for me even before I was born. Even though my childhood was not one of the kind of material prosperity that I learned of later, we always had enough.  I realize now that compared to children my age in most of the rest of the world I was rich in goods as well as in the comfort and security, lacking for so many. How grateful I am for the often unappreciated abundance You provided.

       When my second decade rolled around I was living in Vancouver, the other end of the continent from the place where I was born in St. John’s.  Perhaps that was part of Your preparation for me of a life of travel.  Schooling was different in each of the five provinces where I lived during those years.  Finally landing in Montreal, where You opened new doors for me with university, meeting Glen and being exposed to the other main Canadian culture.  

                During my third decade, as I met and married the mate that You provided we began our own family. We had resources available because of educational opportunities You had opened for us. Thus we could find meaningful work and provide for the needs of our children, in turn. Like us, opportunities were showered upon them by Your grace and our good fortune of living in the developed world. 




           As I entered my fourth decade we found ourselves in the midst of the maelstrom of busy family life. Also we changed careers, moving into ministry together. This opened our eyes in new ways, not only to Your goodness to us but to Your activities in the lives of so many other people. They came to You in their times of pain or joy, confusion or fear and discovered that You were there for them, as we had occasions to walk with them in the journey of faith.


            My fifth decade saw us leave our home country to continue to fulfill our calling in Europe. Sometimes, I felt like Abraham, not really sure about the language and customs of the country that I had come to. Like this Old Testament patriarch, I too found that You accompanied me to this new land and saw that I found friends, medical care and everything I needed. You gave me a whole new world of European culture to discover firsthand. Thank you for these wonderful gifts. 

            
      As our children became more independent and our careers more focused on leadership, I struggled sometimes in my sixth decade. Yet you never failed me and though at times I felt inadequate for the task, You gave me feedback from unexpected people and places to show me that You were able to use my small contribution for Your purposes. I had further proof of Your faithfulness in response to my obedience.

           

        My seventh decade brought great challenges that I never would have anticipated and tested my confidence and trust in Your faithfulness as we faced the accident of our son that left him a quadriplegic and me wondering if You really were as faithful as I had always found You to be. I wondered if my faith was all illusion, but through the grief work and the forced digging deeper into our relationship, I found You there in the darkest night and knew Your words were true.  You would never leave me or forsake me.             


 
      Now as I enter a new decade, I realize that there may not be many more. It depends upon the grace and strength that You provide and my use of the gifts of health and strength that You have given me.  I have been privileged to come to know my children’s children and always You have been faithful. How can I ever thank You enough for Your goodness to me through the decades?  My heart is filled with thanksgiving and praise on this first day or the New Year. My prayer is that I will live out my gratitude and tell of Your goodness every day of 2017. 

Amen.

Word Guild Award
2009
Word Guild Award
2011

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