Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Year Resolutions One Month Later – Lawrence


Today, is January 30th, the penultimate day of January. The first month of 2008 is almost over and what has been accomplished? Many people, including Christians, will have given up on New Year resolutions made with good intentions and so much hope in December. Perhaps, they are now filled with despair and think it’s not worth trying again ­­when, at this moment, they are filled with feelings of failure.

I look back in my journal and see that on December 31st 2007 I wrote, The last day of 2007. What does this mean in your eyes, O Lord? Each day is the same with you; a New Year is only a way for us to keep track of our time and our days. To you, O Lord, one day is as another. We go on trying to grow and mature in the Holy Spirit. We struggle with new lessons; we learn our lessons; sometimes we learn our lessons by rote only to find that they are quickly forgotten; sometimes we learn God’s lessons in our hearts and souls and we grow in the fruit of the Spirit.

When we don’t learn new lessons the first time, we are presented with the lessons again and again—not so that we become disheartened by the repetition, but rather that we will be heartened and encouraged by our growth however slow it appears to us.

We live in a world where so much is instantaneous—we can make a hot cup of coffee in a minute in the microwave; reconstitute orange juice from concentrate in the time it takes to remove the concentrate from the freezer, put it in a jug, add three cups of water and stir. We can talk to someone without travelling to the place where she lives; we can write to that same person and it can be read by her one second later when she opens her e-mail.

But lessons of the soul and spirit are learned more slowly—one day at a time; one part of a lesson at a time. It takes time for the fruit of the Spirit to grow and mature—but it does and will if only we keep asking the Holy Spirit to aid us in our learning.

So, if you feel discouraged that your New Year resolutions have failed so soon after you made them, take heart and be encouraged; try again, but do not try alone. Ask the Holy Spirit to assist you. It takes time to grow a spiritual garden and we can begin at any time—we don’t have to wait for another New Year’s Day. The moment of the Holy Spirit is this moment, new every morning, not just the morning of the New Year.

www.judithlawrence.ca


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Chapter of My Life Called France - Shepherd

Shortly before leaving France, after living there the first time for four years, someone asked me to share my experience of living in Europe. The title suggested was The Chapter of My Life Called France. My problem with the title was it felt like reading a book by looking at only one chapter in the middle, without reference to the beginning or ending of the volume.

If I share with you the chapter of my life called France, I also need to provide a brief glimpse into the first and last chapters of my life book.

Although I cannot tell you when this book will end, I do know how it will end. If I remain faithful to Jesus, He will take me one day to be with Him forever, either when He returns or death comes. Which way is not really important. What matters is that one day I will go to live joyfully forever with Jesus. That will conclude my life book, or at least volume one.

Now about the beginning of my life book - I was born into the home of Salvation Army officers (clergy). From infancy I heard about God’s love, our sinfulness and available forgiveness. Worship every Sunday, Sunday School classes and all of the activities at the church were a part of our family life.
My parents lived what they believed and preached, and under their influence, I make my first commitment to God at age seven.

I tried to be a good girl, but it was when I was in my early twenties that God’s love and grace became real in my life.
Nearly ten years later, my husband, Glen and I felt a calling from God to become officers in The Salvation Army. We entered the College for Officer Training in Toronto, along with our two children, in September 1979. In 1981 we were sent as pastors to Lethbridge, Alberta. Two years later, we went to Montreal, responsible for Salvation Army youth ministries for the Quebec and Eastern Ontario.

In February 1987, our superior asked us if we would be willing to leave Canada to go to an appointment in France. Immediately, we said, "Yes", and on July 29, 1987 we found ourselves at Charles de Gaulles airport after a flight of six hours and a time change of six hours. The following day, we were en route to our National Camp at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to begin our ministry among the youth of France. At the beginning, I thought that I had arrived on another planet. There are so many differences in the way people live in Europe and North America. Slowly I adjusted.

One thing that helped in my adaptation was the six months I spent learning French at the Alliance Fran├žaise.

I started classes at the Alliance Fran├žaise in January 1988. Unable to converse in French between our arrival in July 1987 and January 1988 I spent much time alone with the Lord. Apart from the family few others spoke my language.

That sacred time prepared me for my ministry in France, as I began to pray for specific individuals as I met them, even if conversation with them was limited. The Lord used my prayer time to create in me openness towards France and French people.

When we arrived in France, Glen and I often wondered, what were essentials of The Salvation Army and what were the things we wanted to introduce that were simply part of our cultural heritage as English Canadian Salvationists. It was a question we had often asked in Quebec as well. Our faith must take into account the culture of the people. The problem of culture and of what is particularly Anglo-Saxon in The Salvation Army is a perpetual one, particularly in cross cultural ministry. We always tried to ensure in France that the Army was not identified as an English organization.

Given this priority, you can imagine our surprise, joy and delight when one day while riding the Metro, we had an unusual encounter. A woman and her daughter stood next to us in the crowded train. Glen and I were chatting in English, since we were not with any of our French colleagues. The lady was a cultured individual, who came from somewhere outside of Paris. She asked her daughter what language we were speaking. When the daughter replied that we were speaking English, the lady began asking questions. Hearing her questions about us, we switched to French. The lady expressed surprise that The Salvation Army also existed in English speaking countries. She had always throught that The Salvation Army was a uniquely French organization.

Learning a second language was difficult; but some lessons I learned were relevant to other areas of my life. I developed concern and compassion for foreigners. Now I know how they feel. People think you are stupid, when you cannot communicate your thoughts. Following a conversation is a challenge with inadequate time to formulate a question or express an opinion. Even commenting on the weather becomes a challenge.
The main requirement for learning another language is humility. Even if you are forty years old as I was you must become like a little child again. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3 that we must become as little children if we want to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Learning a new language enabled me to understand these words in a way I never could before.

In order to understand French, I had to recognize my inadequacy. Without French, I could not communicate. Living the Christian life is like that. Only when I admit, that reliant upon my own resources, I am unable to live as Christ desires, will I invite Him to work in my life and demonstrate His power through me. Recognition of need enables me to appreciate my total dependence upon the Holy Spirit working through my life.

Through my experience of living in France, I came to appreciate the value of adapting to another culture. I learned that other cultures hold treasures that can enrich our lives. Certainly Western European culture is similar to our North American culture, but even exposure to the differences that this permitted me, has awakened a sensitivity and willingness to learn from the diverse cultures that surround me in Canada today. In God’s economy nothing is wasted.

Eleanor Shepherd

Monday, January 28, 2008

Why Do We Long for Escape? - Gregoire

I have a dream. It probably won't resonate with you, but we're a family of campers, so keep that in mind as I share this.
We pack up everything for four months and rent an RV. Then we drive around the southern states--the sleepy little towns that hardly anyone visits. We do schoolwork on the road (we homeschool, so this is easy). We play board games. We get away from the phone, the fax machine, the demands on our time. And I write. And write. And write.

You may dream of a cottage by the lake, or something that fits your temperament better. But you probably have it, don't you? That ideal place you would run to, where you could be your most productive, your most creative, your best.

Even non-writers have these dreams--to escape, and find the real "me". To have time to get in touch with God, and figure out His will for this stage of our lives. To dig for the Truth that seems missing from our daily lives with the myriad of demands on us.

There's nothing wrong with getting away, and often a little vacation can clarify things in our minds. But I think this urge for escape isn't necessarily a good one, and perhaps says more about our priorities and beliefs about God than it says about God Himself.

David, after all, wrote some of the best Psalms when he was literally running for his life from Saul. He wasn't in a quiet, peaceful place with no concerns. It is not necessarily peaceful surroundings that bring on creativity.

Perhaps it is that we forget that God does not only call us to write. I am also called to be a mother, and that means making my children practice piano (there is definitely no piano in my RV dream). It also means getting involved in the youth group at church so I can meet their friends and minister to them.

He also has called me to be one of the only lights in our extended family, which means I have to make an effort to get to know my nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters-in-law. He has also called me to write a weekly column, and not just the books in my head. He has called me to things in the here and now.

When we say to ourselves, "if only I could have that cabin, I could be productive...", what we're really saying is that "I can't be productive where I've been planted." The place where God has put me right now makes it impossible for me to really use the gifts God has given me. Yet is that an accurate picture of God? Can it be? If God calls us to something, He will also give us a way to fulfill that plan.

Please don't get me wrong; I'm not saying we shouldn't take the occasional weekend away to pray and prioritize. Sabbath and rest are, of course, part of His plan, too. But our productivity has to come in the here and now, where we live and breathe and do dishes and answer the phone. Maybe it means we have to get more disciplined to get done what we need to do everyday. Maybe it means we need to start cutting some things out of our lives. But we need to do it, for God calls us to redeem the world, not just the little cabin in the woods.

So I am trying to let go of my RV dream. I am trying to be more disciplined on the writing days I do have, so I can redeem the time. And I am learning new strategies for practising the piano. That's what I've been called to. It's hectic, but it's okay.
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Sheila is the author of To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother, and How Big Is Your Umbrella: Weathering the storms of life. You can find her at www.SheilaWrayGregoire.com.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Bucket List of My Own - Laycock

This is a quote from my husband’s sermon last Sunday. I found the stats. surprising to say the least. The focus of the Bible is not, as we might suppose, on the events of Christ’s first coming as Messiah, though this is certainly foundational. The focus of the Bible is on the Second Coming of Christ.

“It’s been estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ – an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses! 23 of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to the second. In short the Bible is not all about the historical Jesus, it’s about the pre-eminent, soon to return, majestic and glorious Son of God, Lord of Lords and King of Kings."

As I’ve pondered those words since Sunday, I’ve had a renewed sense of responsibility, accountability and perhaps even urgency, as a writer. These days, it seems, may indeed be drawing to a close – perhaps more quickly than we know. It made me think of the ads running right now for a movie about two old – ahem – older, gentlemen who realize they’re getting on and decide to do the things they’ve always wanted to do before they “kick the bucket.” So they make up a “Bucket List.”

Not a bad idea. As a palliative care volunteer I was told to make just such a list once. “Write down all the things you want to accomplish before you die,” our facilitator said. When we had at least ten things on the list, she said, “Okay, now imagine you had six months left. Re-write your list.” Then she narrowed the time again, and again. I was fascinated by what happened to my list the closer I got to my demise. It went from a top priority of getting published to a top priority of connecting with those I loved.

Writing that list gave me a valuable perspective. I realized that although writing and being published were important, they were not worth usurping the place of people in my life. Then, as I set about putting that perspective into action, I realized it really wasn’t a question of either/or but a matter of blending and balancing, and most of all, obedience.

Connecting with people became of prime importance but I came to understand that God had ordained that one of the ways in which I accomplished that is to write.

So, to return to the beginning, or perhaps to the end, what if Christ were to return tomorrow? What would I want Him to find me doing? The words loving, ministering, praying, all come to mind. And how would I do that? The word sequel comes to mind. I have a book to write. With the Lord’s help it will be a book that will put people first, a book that will point them to Jesus, a book that will perhaps even change a life or two. As I write I will be loving, ministering and yes, praying. It’s what God has given me to do. He has put this currency of His in my hands and said, “Put this … to work, until I come back.’ ” (Luke 19:13b)

Marcia Lee Laycock

http://www.vinemarc.com/

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Procrastination: The Ambitious Writer's Enemy — Hovsepian

I used to deny - passionately! - that I procrastinate. Then I started simply making excuses or explaining it away. At one point I accepted and admitted it. But I didn't really do a whole lot about it.

Now, I'm not a terrible procrastinator. I always meet my deadlines and am the proverbial busy person to whom everyone always gives more things to do. I have a reputation for being organized and keeping track of things. And yet, if I can get away with it, I tend to leave things until the minute-just-before-I-panic-because-it's-almost-the-last-minute! My procrastination has always been just enough under control that it doesn't really affect the people around me (much), just myself.

About four or five months ago, it stopped feeling like something I could just laugh about or brush off. I sensed God telling me, "Ann-Margret, I've been patiently waiting for you to realize the negative impact of this habit and to outgrow it. You're not doing the things I want you to do."

And it hit me. This had turned into a spiritual problem. No, I wasn't committing any huge sins... and I wasn't even being irresponsible toward the people I made commitments to. But I was holding myself back from the opportunities and possibilities God wanted to bless me with. I was holding myself back from the articles and books I want to write, from the projects I want to work on, and even from the fun things I want to do! I wasn't being a good steward of the gifts and resources and time He's blessed me with. I wasn't appreciating the honour of being called by God to fulfill a specific purpose.

Suddenly, mediocre became nowhere near good enough. Not for me, and I knew not for God. So now I have an accountability partner and I'm using my organizational skills to keep track of my small and big goals (daily, weekly and monthly). I'm spending more time reading my Bible and, ironically (but not surprisingly), I'm finding more time to get things done and out of the way to make even more time for writing projects.

We can make all kinds of excuses for not writing: lack of skill, lack of time, lack of ideas, lack of confidence, lack of whatever... But if you're not writing, what are you left with, and are you happy with it? I wasn't.

A word of encouragement: If I can overcome procrastination (even with baby steps), anybody can! Just don't tell yourself you'll start next week...

Ann-Margret Hovsepian

www.annhovsepian.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In Praise Of Uncertainty – Schneider

If there’s anything consistent in the life of a writer, it’s the principle of uncertainty. When we sit down to write each morning (or afternoon, or evening, or whenever we get to the computer), we don’t know whether today’s allotment of words will flow or eek. Once the final draft it written, polished and submitted, we have no way of predicting whether the editor will love it or hate it. When the book is published, we can’t foresee how sales will go, or how reviewers will feel about the story we’ve bled onto the page.

A discussion on a Christian writers’ loop earlier this week made me aware of similarities between my writing life and my prayer life. Prayer is all about uncertainty. When I petition my Heavenly Father, I don’t know whether His answer will be “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” Sometimes He goes so far as to surprise me with an answer that’s none of the above. I don’t know whether I’ll feel “heard” or like I’m just talking to the walls.

In spite of the uncertainty in my writing, I show up at the page each day simply because it’s my job. Through my obedience to the demands of creativity, a story is born. (It’s no coincidence that the creative process is likened to giving birth.)

In spite of the unceertainty inherent in prayer, I show up to talk with my Father simply because He’s my Father. My purpose for talking with Him has nothing to do with “results” and everything to do with relationship.

Discipline is what takes me from idea to publication. Discipline is what takes me from uncertainty to trust.

Uncertainty is what makes me depend on my Creator, both in my creative endeavors and in my daily life. If it weren’t for uncertainty, I’d think I could manage it all alone. Instead, I discover resources beyond my imagination and I’m reminded hour by hour how much I need Him.

That’s why I’m grateful for uncertainty.

Janelle Schneider

Monday, January 21, 2008

Scenes From The Life Of A Blogger - O'Leary

Prediction, retrodiction, and malediction ...

It's not even six a.m. here in EST, and already 230 people have visited the Post-Darwinist (one of my two solo blogs), either to read my nine predictions if ID is true or whether it's true that most Discovery Institute fellows are, like, fundies. Or else to read about the Pope vs. howler monkey stand-ins at an Italian U ...

I notice where several Darwinists want me to understand that I am not much good at making predictions. Well, I have news for them. Back in 2001, I predicted that intelligent design would be BIG news by mid-decade, while some Darwinist or other was prophesying its death every six months. I then sold a book on that basis (By Design or by Chance? Augsburg 2004) and got named as co-author on another one (The Spiritual Brain, Harper One, 2007).

I am still getting royalties on the first book and still living off the advance on the second. Oh and yes, the same Darwinists* are still predicting the death of ID every, like, six months or so - about as often as royalty statements arrive, with a cheque thoughtfully attached. No, I am NOT rich (!), but I know how to make predictions that are likely to come true. It's half the secret of selling books. There is a name for it. It is called trendspotting.

(No, narc boy, NOT trainspotting, TRENDspotting. Read a book, will you? Change your life.)

*But you know, Darwinists are not always as smart as they could be. The last time I had this much traffic, I seem to recall that some Darwinist was making a big deal of the fact that I have two blogs. Like why? WHY? I guess that individual doesn't go in for reading blog hedders because the answer was right up there in the hedders. The Post-Darwinist supports By Design or by Chance? and The Mindful Hack supports The Spiritual Brain. Usually a new story will fit better into one lineup than another. But I guess you'd have to be the sort of person who reads blog hedder copy to know that.

Meanwhile, I get an amazing number of comments, most of which I reject, from a type of person I can only describe as a young fogie. Self-important young fellows who want me to believe, quite often, that they are scientists. If so, they do not reflect well on their disciplines. They are pendantic, unimaginative, censorious and utterly lacking in curiosity. Quick to resort to threats, name calling, and bully pulpiteering. I can't imagine what they will be like when they are old, but why would I want to know? They're the main reason I think that Darwinism is doomed. It's not attracting the sort of people who create new ideas. It is attracting the sort of people who fear that the world is passing them by, and they're probably right.

Aside from all that, blogging is fun.

Denyse O'Leary

http://www.designorchance.com

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Meanderings - Austin

Years ago, I set out in a small wilderness area that I had never explored. Enclosed by a frozen river and two intersecting roads, there was almost no possibility of getting lost. It was one of these wonderful winter days, overcast, yet strangely bright. At times it snowed gently. The cloud cover seemed to glow, but the sun’s position could not be seen.

I had no great skill with cross-country skies, but it was an almost magical day and I was in good shape. Still, the time came to head back to the car for the short drive home. An hour later I found myself staring at tracks I was quite sure I had made – about the time I started back. A little bit sheepish, I started out again. The sun remained hidden and snow fell softly. Just a little of the magic had gone out of the day.

You guessed it – an hour later I once again stared at tracks the fresh snow has softened. The area couldn’t have been much larger than one square mile. Two roads and a river formed boundaries. My pride said it was impossible. My logic said it was impossible. My sense of direction said it was impossible. Lost is too strong a word, but I made that circle three times. One road was in sight and the noise from a small down-hill ski-slope reached me each time as I started out. Yet somehow the “shortcut” through the bush brought me back each time to my starting point.

Pride doesn’t surrender easily, but even someone as stubborn as me can be worn down. I followed the road the next time and without another long meander, was soon home.

I’ve caught myself thinking about that day as I have watched the snow and sunshine play some whimsical game with each other. If I could measure my writing efforts in miles (or kilometers if I come back to this century) how much meandering has there been on this path? My pride wants to believe I’m going the right direction. My logic looks at some books being published and insists I’m writing better than that. My sense of direction is convinced that if I just keep going, I’ll get there eventually – wherever there is. And if a bit of the magic has gone out of the effort, there is still that glow behind the clouds. There is still a wonderland of words that can transform a little patch of wilderness into a place I can get lost in. There is still the magic of a poem emerging when I’m trying to write a letter, the challenge of some obstruction that looms unexpectedly as I’m rushing through virgin territory, pounding out words as fast as I can type. There is the wonder too, of those long slow hours wrestling with a couple of paragraphs that just aren’t right, the knowledge that maybe I’ll never get it quite perfect, but the beauty of language and the joy of the journey. And there are the aha moments when I’ve let something rest awhile and the right word sneaks into my consciousness – like the sun peaking through the clouds just long enough to give a sense of direction once again.

A good life this – on skies or at the keyboard, though the passage of three decades since that day has shortened my meanders in the snow.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Greetings from the Windy City - Hird

Greetings from the Windy City
An article published in the February 2008 Deep Cove Crier

I recently flew into the Windy City in the middle of a snowstorm, and wondered what I was doing there. Because of mechanical failure, my earlier flight was cancelled and I had to fly to San Francisco instead. Thanks to a sleep mask and ear plugs, I slept wonderfully at 30,000 feet, ending up in Chicago at 6:30am the next morning. My Chicago meetings started immediately at 8:30am that same day!

So why was I in Chicago anyways? I had been invited to take part in a two-day strategy session designed to help Christians and especially Anglicans learn to love each other more. We had Anglican leaders from Canada, various parts of the USA, and England gathering together, praying together, eating together, listening together. Some of us knew each other before. About half of us were total strangers.

We listened carefully to an exciting story about how Anglicans overcame their differences and gathered together on Sept 23rd in the first ever Anglican Awakening. More than 2,000 individuals met at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois to affirm their unity of faith and belief in Christ, and to hear a sermon from The Most Rev. Dr. Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

“Two thousand years ago Jesus prayed that ‘they all would be one, as we are one,’” Archbishop Akinola began. “Where is that unity? Has God not answered the prayer of His Son?”

Archbishop Akinola commented that Christians today don’t have the unity they desire because they have not been transformed by the power of the Gospel. “You cannot give what you do not have,” Archbishop Akinola affirmed an African saying. “We can’t have unity with one another unless we have unity with God.”

The Midwest Anglican Awakening included 20 participating congregations from a variety of ethnic and denominational backgrounds. The organizing committee was chaired by the Rev. William Beasley, the Midwest AMiA Network leader.
“I was delighted by the spirit of unity displayed in the service today, and I believe we are all more united in purpose than ever, to accomplish the mission God has for us both in sharing the Gospel of Christ and in serving physical needs around the world today,” the Rev. Beasley said.

Before the benediction, Archbishop Akinola strayed from the program to lead an extended time of prayer for healing, teaching the congregation an African prayer song imploring “Let the Spirit of the Lord come down on us.”

“I believe we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way today, and we all were encouraged and empowered to unite together in mission and purpose to reach and serve the global Body of Christ,” William Beasley said.
On Sunday March 2nd at 7pm , we will be having a Pacific Coast Anglican Awakening: first steps to which you are all invited (if close enough). There will be people flying in from all across Canada and the USA.
It will be held at Fraserview MB Church at 11295 Mellis Drive in Richmond. Bishop Bill Murdoch of the Anglican Province of Kenya and Anglican Communion Network Dean for New England will be preaching. The Rev William Beasley, AMiA Midwest Network Leader, will also be taking part. Please join us in celebrating the gift of unity in Jesus Christ.



The Rev. Ed Hird+Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Of Obits and Blogs - Wegner

Sometimes I wonder if my reading habits should be labeled “somewhat askew.” Let me explain: one of the first sections I check in our weekly newspaper is Obituaries. On the odd occasion I purchase one of Vancouver’s daily papers (or take advantage of the free copy at the local coffee shop), I can spend a good cup or two’s worth of time pursuing the death notices.

That all started when I became a member of the Cancer Victims Society of the world. No, I’m not aware of a formal organization but there’s a bond that automatically enrolls you immediately upon diagnosis. I’d read the obits daily to see if one of my fellow travelers had succumbed. Some days I felt so lousy, I checked to see if I was in there. Years after I was declared cancer-free, the practice, now a way of life, continued. The difference now is in how I read each entry. I wonder if that one knew Christ as Saviour? Or, just think, that one is in the presence of the Lord! Gratitude for life and a driving motivation to live what’s left to the fullest have replaced my angst that I or someone I knew had died.

I rarely read fiction and can’t imagine that I’d ever have the skill or desire to write a mystery or romance. For those reasons I feel disconnected from most Word Guild conversations and activities but I do read the blogs.

Please understand that although I make my living as a writer and researcher, I spend no more time on the computer than I have to. Technology and I have this mutual understanding: you do what you’re supposed to do and I’ll do the same. I sometimes browse radio and newspaper sites just to find out what’s going on around the globe but since I have less than zero desire to surf the net for the sake of surfing, reading blogs has to be meaningful. They must be because I keep going back to them.

But here’s my “somewhat askew” reason and modus operandi. First, I scan the piece to get a “feel” for the conviction of the writer. Sometimes I’m so moved I go back and re-read the piece right away; other times, I don’t. Next I check out the section that reads: Comments. What intrigues me is that except in rare cases, the space always contains the note: Zero Comments. How come? Why do we hesitate to encourage or challenge each other? I know opinions are just that but what’s the point of providing an option if we don’t use it?

Finally, I always go back, re-read the blog, and then mull over what comment I could add. But, and in this I am in unison with my The Word Guild friends and associates; most of the time I don’t say anything either.

As askew as my methods may be, these are the thoughts I’ve pondered this week in anticipation of adding my two cents worth. Any comments?

Linda Wegner

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ruminations On The Technology of Life - Clemons

I marvel at the advance of technology. I was born in an area when most telephones were on a party line. Two or more homes shared the same phone number and we had to listen for a specific ring to know if the call was for us. (We were also able to pick up and eavesdrop on other people’s conversations—oooohh.) You could dial a local call with no prefix, but long distance had to go through an operator, and overseas—forgetaboutit. We’ve come a long way, Baby. Today I sit and type e-mails to friends around the world and send them in electron packets pulsing across the planet at near the speed of light.

Then I think about God and marvel about how, before time began, He developed something called prayer that allows me to send messages all the way to heaven, right to the very throne room of the Almighty, in the blink of an eye.

I’ve done this before, sit and ruminate on God’s technology as compared to our own. It helps me keep things in perspective. Man makes some fairly sophisticated machines, but nothing compared to God. According to Michael Denton, author of, Evolution, A Theory in Crisis, “Even the smallest bacterial cell is in effect a microminiaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery made up of 1,000,000,000,000 atoms, far more complicated that any machine built by man.” How about that? And I stare at my computer and realize that, even with his most advanced technology, man will never create a microprocessor that compares to the human brain.

Then there’s our DNA. I’ve heard it said if the information that comprises a single DNA were written in telephone books filled with tiny telephone-book size type, and the books were laid flat and stacked one upon another, the stack would reach the moon. That’s a lot of information. And God’s the one who wrote it all down. I like to think of God as having phantasmal libraries filled with the recorded DNA of every human who ever walked the planet. After we die our bodies, whether we’ve become mulch in the ground, or turned to silt at the bottom of the sea, or billowed up as ash from a fire, will enjoy a bodily resurrection. The code for our reconstruction has been stored in the heavenlies. “And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” Job 19: 26

I’m also fond of comparing man to a computer. Our bodies, like a computer’s hardware, are made of physical elements, or matter. But the computer is useless without software because it’s software, or the program, that enables the computer to accomplish the tasks for which it was created. Software gives the computer life because it enables the computer to compute. Our minds are software.

Unlike hardware, software is not composed of matter. Weigh a computer, then add more hardware, and the weight of the computer increases. But weigh a memory device and then fill it with terabytes of information, the weight of the memory device stays the same. Software, the part of a computer that is information, cannot be weighed. It has no mass. This massless data can be transported through the air using radio waves. The information can then be sent and received by someone at a distance the way one computer shares information with another via a wireless router.

The body holds the essence of life, but it is not life itself. Life is in the nephesh, or soul. When the body takes its last breath, the heart ceases to pump, and neuron pulses stop transmitting signals to the brain, life goes on. Life is not composed of matter, life is composed of data—the information that makes us all that we are.

Someday our bodies will break down and be cast upon the junk heap of history to become so much rust. But the massless part, all the information that makes us unique, lives on. The real us, once free of our earthen vessel, will be transported to another dimension. If our modem is wired to God and our address stored in the database of heaven, our signal will be strong and the reception good. “He that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out,” send your request to: Jesus@heaven.com. If not, our address will take us somewhere else—“and anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Ouch!

Death can’t kill the soul, only whatever chance the soul has of determining its final destination. But that’s a rumination for another day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Few Resources For The New Year - Hall

Since we're still at the beginning stages of 2008, I thought I would share a few of my favorite 'Resolution' resources with you. A favorite resolution of many of us is to read through the Bible in a year. I have done this in the past, always charting my progress in my Bible on sheets of paper that get lost along with last week's bulletin.
This year I'm doing it online at Crosswalk.com http://bible.crosswalk.com/BibleInAYear

When I finish reading my passage for the day, I update my progress in my online calendar. I get to choose from dozens of translations. This year I've decided to read through the Bible using The Message paraphrase.

Also, if I'm reading along and a particular verse jumps out at me, I can click on it, and look it up in many different translations (my own 'parallel' Bible). I can also read about the verse from a number of commentaries. This is a great resource for Bible teachers.

If this year is your year to de-clutter, Cyndy Salzmann might be able help with that. If you recognize the name, Cyndy was at Write! Canada last June and gave a wonderful bunch of sessions to those of us who took part in the professional track. Her website http://cyndysalzmann.com/ has some great resources for decluttering your life, plus a podcast on getting your house and life in order.

And if your desire is to eat better and exercise, click on http://www.fitday.com/. I've used this one, and I've also looked at http://www.my-calorie-counter.com/. You plug in the food you eat, and it keeps track of calories, and carbs, and fat and all those good things. They even evaluate your diet.

And if your goal is to write better and write longer, Randy Ingermanson is a friend of mine and he's got a great newsletter for writers. www.advancedfictionwriting.com.ezine/readers.php

Yours for a happy new year!

Linda Hall

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Tribute to R.S. Thomas - Martin

Although not as famous as another Welsh poet with the same last name, R.S. Thomas (1913-2000) is “the pre-eminent, Welsh poet writing in English in the second half of the twentieth century” and perhaps Wales' best-loved 20th century poet. An Anglican priest who spent his career working with the back-country farmers who could never have appreciated his alternate role as a poet, Thomas is renown for his depiction of the people he served, and for his strong, spiritual poems.

One fictional farmer Thomas writes of, named Iago Prytherch, is representational of the men who worked the unsympathetic land, and sat in the pews of the churches where he served. In one poem (“The Hill Farmer Speaks”), such a farmer pleads, “Listen, listen, I am a man like you.”

Since I believe it is our duty as writers, and readers of the finest in literature, to pass on the legacy that has inspired us, I would like to share here a couple of my favourite R.S. Thomas poems, so that you too may seek out his work, and in turn feel inspired to share it with others.

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

The Country Clergy

I see them working in old rectories
By the sun's light, by candlelight,
Venerable men, their black cloth
A little dusty, a little green
With holy mildew. And yet their skulls,
Ripening over so many prayers,
Toppled into the same grave
With oafs and yokels. They left no books,
Memorial to their lonely thought
In grey parishes; rather they wrote
On men's hearts and in the minds
Of young children sublime words
Too soon forgotten. God in his time
Or out of time will correct this.

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week; his poetry chapbook So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed is available at www.dsmartin.ca

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rediscovering Male Friendships - Hird

Rediscovering Male Friendship
-an article for the North Shore News ‘Spiritually Speaking’ column
by the Rev Ed Hird

While completing my recent book, I reconnected with an old friend, David Bentall, who has also become an author. David and I met back on a dark, rainy evening in February 1972. I had been invited to a youth meeting by another friend of David s, John Edmondson. But my ride failed to turn up. Being a fairly determined individual, I jumped on my 10-speed Pugeot and sought to find the meeting. Unfortunately I wrote down the wrong address. By the time I found the house, I was half an hour late and totally drenched.

When I rang on the doorbell, a youth leader named Len Sawatsky welcomed me with a big smile. That evening changed my life. I remember seeing David Bentall and John Edmondson, beaming with a joy of which I knew nothing. I said to Dave and John later that evening: Whatever you have, I want it. Len Sawatsky then took me to the kitchen and patiently explained to me what it meant to know God personally. I said yes, and my life has never been the same since.

Thirty-four years later, David Bentall s book The Company You Keep (Augsburg, 2004)* allowed me to catch up with his life journey. David discovered that though he was successful like his father and grandfather in running Dominion Construction, his heart was not really in construction. So David wisely chose to change course and become a family business consultant http://www.nxtstp.net/ who regularly teaches courses at the Business Families Centre at the University of British Columbia. David tells in the book how isolated most men are from each other. Our radical independence as men is the problem, not the cure.


David comments in the book that Most dating couples spend sixteen hours a week together. Once married, they are too busy to give each other one hour a week. David shows chapter by chapter how having close male friendship helps us have stronger marriages, healthier children, more effective businesses, and better spiritual lives. David is in an accountability group with Bob Kuhn, founding partner of the law firm Kuhn and Co., and with Carson Pue, President of Arrow Leadership Ministries. This male accountability group help each other stay focused on the priorities of marriage and spirituality.

David comments: Marriage is a delight, a comfort, an inspiration, and an adventure. It's a wonderful gift from God, and at times it's exhilarating. It s all of these things and much more, but one thing it often is not easy. In fact, if you want to build a marriage that will last, you are likely in for a battle...

With unusual transparency and vibrancy, David shows how challenging it is to keep one's head and marriage in today s fast-paced business world. Solid male friendships have been David's lifesaver. I strongly commend David s book** for anyone on the North Shore who wants to retool their life and marriage. May David's book inspire us as men to refocus on our wives and families in the midst of life's frantic pace.*

To purchase David s book, just click on http://www.bestprices.com/cgi-bin/vlink/080665158XBT.html or http://www.nxtstp.net/newbook.htm **

To watch a video about David Bentall s Next Step Advisors and his book, click on http://www.nxtstp.net/bentall.wmv

The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC
Anglican Coalition in Canada
http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/nsnews033.html

Friday, January 11, 2008

Choices - Aarsen

I have a hard time making decisions and making choices. When I go to large department stores I feel overwhelmed by all the choices available to me. I have the same problem when I'm writing a new book, plotting a new story. I have so many decisions to make about the plot, setting, the characters, their history, their motivation and which events will show this the best that there are many times I can't make up my mind. I head down silly rabbit trails, trying to make sense of where my story is going. And then that same mind shuts down.

I was in the middle of one such mind meltdown when my agent contacted me about a writing opportunity. Guideposts was starting a new series and was looking for writers. The editors would supply me with the characters of an ongoing storyline, the setting, the basic story and I would take it from there. I wasn't sure I could do this, but as I struggled my way back from yet another side trail in my current book, I thought, what's the harm. I could see this as a challenge. And it was. Yes there were restrictions and yes I couldn't make things up as I went along. But I found I could still be creative within the boundaries laid for me. I couldn't head madly off in all directions and didn't need to. To my surprise I enjoyed it so much, I did four books for Guideposts. The first one, The Price of Fame, comes out in February and I am currently contracted for a fifth. I still do my other writing for my other publisher between these books. I still have opportunity to be creative and to try to make all those decisions and stretch my brain but I also look forward to each book I do for Guideposts. I like the safety of some decisions made for me leaving me space to make others. I like the boundaries. Between the two publishers I currently work for, I have the best of both worlds. The opportunity of choice and the opportunity of boundaries.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lessons from James Moore - Mackey

(The following is a guest post by Lloyd Mackey, a member of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa and author of Stephen Harper: The Case for Collaborative Governance(ECW Press, 2006). He can be reached at lmackey@canadianchristianity.com. This article is a reprint from Ottawa Watch, a weekly publication from inside the Parliment Buildings.)

The James Moore story, though now three weeks in the past, provides some grist for the mill that might best be described as "the case for communications ethics."

Particularly, it permits me to register, for the first time in 2008, my occasional concern for what gets left out when a story is passed along from one group of hearers or readers to another, over a period of time.

Moore is the young Conservative MP from suburban Vancouver who was accused of displaying "scantily clad" females on his laptop computer, in the House of Commons. His accuser was western Ontario NDP MP Irene Mattyssen. Two days after making the charge, she gave a fulsome apology, admitting she should have inquired of Moore about what was actually happening on his computer screen.

In covering the story, various Hill-based media reported that what was "actually happening" was an image of Moore's former girlfriend, not some soft core porn model as had been implied by Mattyssen.

But at least one respected commentator, Mike Duffy, went into a little more detail, and thus provided some additional light on the subject.

Duffy noted that Moore and a Liberal MP, both dog aficionados, had been conversing, during a lull in House action, about their respective pooches. According to The Duff, Moore pulled up a number of photos of his own dog. Most of the photos were of the canine alone. One, as it happened, showed the animal playing at a beach, with said ex-girl friend in the background. She was apparently dressed in contemporary swimwear.

As far as I can tell, Duffy was the only major media person to provide the doggy detail, thus placing the story into a much different context than the simple explanation that Moore was allegedly gazing at his gal pal's image.

The story illustrates, in my mind at least, the need for journalists to occasionally go into more detail than might seem necessary. This is particularly true when the bare bones story (no pun intended) places an unfair ethical or moral shadow over the subject.

Stories take on legs of their own, particularly if they have scintillating aspects. To remove those aspects is to make the story more dull, even if more accurate or within context.

If I may, I would like to spin off two more sub-themes from this consideration.

One concerns my periodic suggestion that people who want to avoid getting tarred in the media consider that they "don't have to say it."

Christian leaders, particularly, should keep this axiom in mind. If a leader has not fully thought through a position, he or she has every right to reserve comment, even if being hounded by an aggressive journalist.

Some leaders take the opposite tack. They issue controversial statements so that they can get maximum exposure from media people who are pushing for a colourful quote. They maintain that if they have, in the process, crossed the line of truth or consequence, they can always apologize. That is what the late Jerry Falwell did, when he suggested that events like 9/11 were the consequence of American civilization's laxity toward homosexual behaviour.

The other concern is a respect for what is public or private.

Christian leaders, in their sermons to their congregations, will sometimes issue inflammatory statements about seemingly aberrant behaviour in the outside world.

Sometimes, journalists find their way into such church services. Then, considering the sermon to be delivered in the public domain, they report on the remarks.

In objecting to the coverage, a pastor in such a situation might point out that this is a private service, meant to instruct the faithful on certain issues. He or she will suggest that, by making the instruction public, the journalist is unnecessarily holding up the aberrant behaviour to ridicule by the general public.

The issue becomes, not what is right or wrong, but what kind of expression is public or private.

From this perspective, a Christian leader should be very careful about comments that might be reported in the media, aware of the potential unintended consequences. It is helpful to remind oneself that something expressed to an inner circle, then repeated in the wider world may change significantly in the continued transmission.

It is all part of being as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove.

Lloyd Mackey

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Do We Write (and Read) What's Good? Or What's Safe? - Gyapong

Over the holidays, I read two books by Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, who were important evangelical leaders in the 1970s and 80s. They founded L'Abri, a retreat centre in Switzerland where many young pilgrims from around the world found their lives profoundly changed. Frank Schaeffer was a gifted Christian apologist, and his wife was also a gifted speaker and writer.

Their son's books---his memoir Crazy for God: How I grew up one of the elect, helped found the Religious Right, and lived to take it all (or almost all) of it back, and his semi-autobiographical novel Portofino, are anything but hagiography. They are "warts and all" portraits of his famous parents. Yet at the same time, genuine grace and love pours through. I am more interested in reading his parents now.

Frank recounts how his non-religious publisher sent boxes of Portofino (published in the 90s) to Christian bookstores, expecting the novel would sell like hotcakes because of the Christian celebrity of his parents. Instead, boxes were shipped back because of the sexual content and sometimes unflattering portrayal of evangelicals.

I write at more length about Frank's memoir over at The Master's Artist. I highly recommend both these books, even though they are not "safe" according to the conventions of so-called Christian publishing. They are, however, good. They are well-written, they reveal real people, trying to lead godly lives and often making a mess of it. Sounds like most Christians I know!

So much of what I have found wrong with much of so-called "Christian" publishing is the stress on the safe rather than good. We find the safety requirements in the written and unwritten rules against certain words and content, even a tacit agreement to put Christian characters in their best light once they have accepted Christ.

Even portrayals of sinful characters have lacked the punch, especially in fiction, though much has improved over the last decade.

I confess, I would rather watch the Sopranos, with all its awful language and envelope pushing sex scenes than read a safe Christian romance that lulls me to sleep with its sweetness and light. I may be unusual, but I don't read to escape reality, I want an intense experience that makes me gain new insight into it. If you've ever watched the Sopranos, you'll see excellent character development, real people, real conflict and tackling of spiritual and psychological truths that ring true.

I suppose it is possible to be good and safe, good and unsafe, bad and safe, and bad and unsafe. Either category of good is fine with me. The world is awash in the latter two categories.

I personally don't think that God is "safe" in our conventional understanding of safety. He can turn our world upside down and change us in ways that feel anything but safe. But when we look back at how we've grown, some of us even find ourselves thankful for the suffering that forced us to wake up.

A really good book should challenge our safety bubble and make us hungry for a true encounter with God.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mentor to Many - Meyer

Recently I was awarded a mentor position in the 2008 Sheldon Oberman Emerging Writers’ Mentor Program here in Manitoba. But even before I received this news, I had been thinking a lot recently about the topic of mentoring.

It came up about a month ago at a book event where someone was telling me about their writing journey. She talked about a course she had taken with the late Carol Shields and how this renowned Manitoba author had influenced her writing career. Then she asked me if I had a writing mentor. A name immediately popped into my head but I quickly dismissed the idea. It seemed too bold of me to assume that I had a mentoring relationship with the author that had come to my mind.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was probably the best way to describe the influence this person has had on my life.

It has been uncanny at times. I always seem to be a few steps behind her like a distant echo. It’s not an intentional following but some common passions and personality quirks seem to be leading us inexorably down a similar path. There are differences, of course, but many startling similarities also.

At my lowest moments when I was ready to throw in the towel, she was coincidentally there also, ready with a patient but no-nonsense approach, enabling me to forget the self-pity and get back to work, doing what I most love to do - write.

Recently, Chip MacGregor addressed the topic of writing mentors in his weekly blog. He said, “A mentor is someone who is a bit further down the path from yourself – with more experience in the field, so as to give you some wise advice and direction, especially when you are trying to grow or are faced with a major decision.” Yes, I think I do have a mentor, after all.

So as you celebrate your 60th birthday and I my 50th (there’s that distant echo again), I want to thank you N. J. Lindquist for being a mentor to me.

I know there are many others who have also benefited from your wise counsel and leadership, many who have been helped along their writing journey, who have been mentored by you. So perhaps it would be fitting for me to thank you on behalf of those countless other writers who would not be where they were today if it were not for N. J. Lindquist.

Thank you!
Dorene Meyer

Saturday, January 05, 2008

TAPS: Life after Death in 2008

http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/cr0801.html
TAPS: Life after Death in 2008
-previously published in the January 2008 Deep Cove Crier
by the Rev. Ed Hird+

As we have entered the 2008 New Year, many are wondering about what lies ahead this year. Every new beginning is both a fresh start and a death to that which went before us.

I have discovered that you cannot say ‘yes’ to something new without saying ‘no’ to something else. Sometimes in our frantic culture, we keep adding endless things to our agendas, our lives, and our family. Eventually emotional indigestion sets in. Without healthy boundaries, everything crashes. The joy of life itself disappears.

In reflecting on the 2008 New Year, I was struck by the appropriateness of the bugle song Taps.

“Day is done, gone the sun
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.”

What gives us hope for this 2008 New Year, as we have bid farewell to 2007? The Year 2007 is gone, never to be retrieved again, except in our memories. But we can safely rest, for God is nigh. In the uncertainty of the unfolding future, we can say ‘It is well with my soul’ for God is nigh. In the pain of grief, tragedy, and unexpected suffering, we can say that there is hope, because God is nigh.

The bugle call was written in 1862 by the Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, an American Civil War general. Taps replaced "Tattoo", the French bugle call for "lights out." Within months, Taps was used by both Union and Confederate forces.

The Taps bugler continues:
“Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, goodnight.

Taps is a very sad bugle song. Few songs touch our hearts more deeply. That is why it is so appropriate at military funerals. At the 1999 Taps Arlington Ceremony, Chaplain Colonel Brogan said the following: “Lord of our lives, our hope in death, we cannot listen to Taps without our souls stirring. Its plaintive notes are a prayer in music--of hope, of peace, of grief, of rest... Prepare us too, Lord, for our final bugle call when you summon us home! When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and death will be no more."

At the heart of Taps is an assurance that the light of the dawn will shine brightly. Light is always stronger than darkness. Love is stronger than hate. Life is stronger than death.

Taps reminds us that there is life after death. Sometimes we experience smaller deaths like the death of a job, a marriage, or a relationship. Other times we experience the finality of a loved one’s funeral. Taps reminds us that even in great pain and tragedy, “God is near, do not fear’.

Life can be very hard, sometimes heart-breaking. In this 2008 New Year, may you find great comfort that there is life after every kind of death. Jesus on the cross assured that. God is near.

The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC
Anglican Coalition in Canada

Friday, January 04, 2008

As It Is Written - Fawcett

For centuries we have sat on the edge of our spiritual chairs waiting with the belief that any minute Christ would return. As time has continued to roll on and we have seen prophecy after prophecy unfold, it has become easier and easier for Christians to believe in the imminent return of our Lord. While I am not a theologian nor am I in the business of expounding upon end time events, I do have a keen interest in the observations of our world's events. And those observations more and more resemble the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 24. What does this have to do with writing?

While participating in The Word Guild listserve, I have read repeated comments on the increasing persecution of believers in Christ. When we say Merry Christmas, we are reprimanded. When we write about the truths of scripture and the corruption of our world, we are scoffed at and slandered. When we follow our convictions we are told we are wrong and not-so-subtly attacked by those who would steal away the freedom our Lord gave us. And yet, it is these very things that should warn us that Christ's return is drawing near. Didn't he say that there would be those who would come claiming they were God and mocking his name? Wasn't it he who warned us that even our own family members would turn against us? Didn't he declare that his way was narrow and difficult--a taking up of a cross? Didn't he even mention that we would be persecuted as he was--and that the very earth would cry out in violent birth pangs against the corruption that has come? So why are we surprised? And disheartened? We knew it would come.

As Christian writers it is our jobs to remain strong. Strong in our faith. Strong in our knowledge of Christ and his Word. Strong in our positions as sons and daughters of the greatest King.

We may have to endure the mocking. We may have to accept that governments will hate us because they have hated God. We might even have to face persecution such as we have never before faced. But in this time of struggle, we must trust our Saviour to give us the strength to persevere when all in the world says it is foolishness to do so. And in our endurance we must keep our eyes on the goal--the eternal reward. It is our responsibility as writers who are Christian to keep on hoping, to keep on fighting the fight with the determination to show as many souls lost in darkness that two thousand years ago there came a great light. He will come again and it won't be as a gentle baby. He will be our mighty King. Let us all use our words wisely--written and spoken--to shout to the world the freedom his blood bought. And let us remember that one day the petty voices of those who would mock our Lord will be silenced and their knees will be bowed before the King of all Creation.

Donna Fawcett
Author of Thriving in the Home School
Donna Dawson
Author of Redeemed and The Adam & Eve Project
recipient of Word Alive Press' top eight authors promotion
authordonnadawson@hotmail.com
www.inscribe.org/donnadawson
www.authordonnadawson.com

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Every Day is New Year's Day

I am the Queen of Resolutions. The Guru of Good Intentions. The Diva of Declarations. The Premier of Promises ... You get the idea.

I'm a big, big fan of New Year's resolutions. Every January 1st, I make them. Every January 2nd, I break them. Tradition is important.

Exactly eleven years ago, January 2nd, 1997, I had an epiphany. If Lamentations 3:21-23 really is true--if God's mercies really are new every morning, and His faithfulness really is great--every day (every moment!) has all the promise and potential of a New Year's Day. Failure is cause for repentance (and repentance means changing direction), but it's not cause for inevitable despair.

This New Year's Eve, like all the others, I wrote a long and stubbornly hopeful list of Things I'd Like to Work On. But at the top I put my most important resolution: Every Day Shall Be New Year's Day. Thanks be to God, that's a promise I can keep.

Here are the words to the song I wrote eleven years ago, the night I had my epiphany. It still applies to me, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Happy New Year!
Carolyn

I buy a lot of diaries
Fill them full of good intentions
Each and every New Year's Eve
I make myself a list
All the things I'm gonna change
Until January 2nd
So this time I'm making one promise

This will be my resolution
Every day is New Year's Day
This will be my resolution
Every day is New Year's Day

I believe it's possible
I believe in new beginnings
'Cause I believe in Christmas Day
And Easter morning too
And I'm convinced it's doable
'Cause I believe in second chances
Just the way that I believe in you

This will be my resolution
Every day is New Year's Day
This could start a revolution
Every day is...

One more chance to start all over
One more chance to change and grow
One more chance to grab a hold of grace
And never let it go

This will be my resolution
Every day is New Year's Day
This could start a revolution
Every day is New Year's Day

© 1997 running arends music/New Spring Publishing, a division of Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc. (ASCAP)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Defeating the Monsters - Harris

As I look outside my window, the world is a wonderland of snow, sleeping trees and winter grey skies. The clouds hang so low, they nearly touch the ground. It's beautiful, yes. Like an enchanted kingdom.

But frozen January days always leave me feeling disoriented. They remind me of horror movies in which unsuspecting villagers go on about their daily business with with no idea that, just over there, on the mist covered island, lurks a giant monster awakened from hibernation.

Aren't we all like those villagers? The future looms before us, unpredictable. We can't be certain the assignments will arrive, the jobs will continue, the family will remain healthy. Perhaps disaster is waiting just beyond the door.
But the psalmist tells us: "If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague come near your dwelling, For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go." Psalm 91: 9-11.

We need not fear any monster that may be lurking in the silence this January. Happy New Year. And my God fill your pen this year.

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