Saturday, February 28, 2009
The moment the thermometer appeared, the cry was revved up to angry screams accompanied with flailing limbs and writhing body. When she was set on the scales to be weighed, judging by the shrieks, you may have thought she was being cut open with a knife! I'm not sure we could have handled her reaction to a needle or other more painful procedure! It took both mother and nurse to try keeping her on long enough to get an approximate weight. I doubt if it was accurate. The moment the dastardly deed was done, Little Missy made a dash for the waiting room where she leaned back on an empty chair, hands on hips still emitting angry grunts. Then came the climax, her final grand statementher bottom lip protruded farther than I think I've ever seen a lip protrude, in a defiant declaration of her insubordination! One could almost see steam billowing from her ears.
A few minutes later, her mother brought out the identification bracelet that you could tell by her expression she thought her daughter was going to like. But Little Missy was having no part of it! She was still far too busy asserting her right to resist. There was no doubt about who wanted to be boss. It was obvious that she was going to assert her will to the fullest.
Now one could surmise that past experience may have caused her to be fearful. There may have been trigger points causing her to expect that worse would follow. I smiled discreetly, but then I began to see some similarities to adult behavior I have witnessed. Haven't we seen people who have a desperate need to be in control? When they feel that control slipping away there are often inappropriate actions in a frantic effort to get it back.
There are also those resistant to something new or unfamiliar. Have you ever been present in meetings where someone with Little Missy's attitude protested, “But we've never done it that way!”And there is no chance of changing their attitude no matter what. Who of us haven't seen people pouting and withdrawing from a group because a meeting or a decision didn't go their way There are always some who form quick decisions and object before they consider all the angles. Sometimes those quick conclusions make them miss what would have been to their benefit. Ouch!
All of a sudden I remembered that every time I point my finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at me! I may not have put on such a vivid display of my feelings as Little Missy, but how often have I missed out on something good because I put my energy into resistance? How often have I made a problem or complication more difficult by focusing on struggling against it rather than finding a way through? Maybe there is a bit of Little Missy in all of us.
Ruth Smith Meyer - Writing that inspires growing through knowing.
Smith Meyer has authored two books, Not Easily Broken and Not Far from the Tree.
Friday, February 27, 2009
So why do many people eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday or celebrate Mardi Gras? The ultimate reason is Easter. Both Easter and Christmas have warm-up preparation periods. Christmas has Advent. Easter has the forty days of Lent. Why bother to prepare for Easter and Christmas? Anything worth doing is worth preparing for, whether that is university education, marriage, or retirement.
Eating delicious pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came from the tradition of using all one’s eggs before Lent. Eggs in those days were seen as a luxury item that should be abandoned during Lent. Part of the challenge with Lent is that people think that you are giving up all enjoyment for forty days. Lent is often seen as very dark, gloomy and negative. That is why Mardis Gras in reaction sometimes goes to the other extreme. Yes, Lent involves self-denial, but Lent is not just about giving up things. Lent is about preparing to become a healthier, more loving person.
Forty Days is a key medical concept, giving us the term ‘quarantine’, an Italian medical expression for isolation during infection. Forty Days is also a key spiritual concept. Both Moses and Jesus spent forty days in the Israeli wilderness. This year we are being offered a creative new way to do Lent. We can take the 40 Day ‘Love Dare’, and literally save our marriages for Lent.
The 40-Day ‘Love Dare’ book http://thelovedarebook.com/ has become a #1 New York Times bestseller. While reading Love Dare on the way to San Diego, I found myself falling more and more in love with my dear wife. The daily concepts are simple, but profound and potentially life-changing. The ‘Love Dare’ book is based on the Fireproof movie, a surprise hit with ‘Growing Pains’ star Kirk Cameron. No one in Hollywood expected that it would become No. 4 at the box office, eventually bringing in $33.5 million.
In the past few weeks, "Fireproof" debuted on DVD and climbed to No. 3 on Billboard's DVD chart, beating out "The Hulk" and "Saw V," among others. Both the Fireproof DVD and the Love Dare book are really striking a chord with many people looking for lasting relationships, especially in marriage.
One husband e-mailed me saying: “I just wanted to thank you for taking the initiative and the time to watch "Fireproof" with me. It has already proven to be an incredible blessing. As you know, I was so moved that I bought a copy for my wife which we watched together. Then, equally moved, she surprised me by buying the Love Dare book and a Study Bible the next day. So now we are taking the Love Dare challenge and reading scripture together daily. And just two days in, the results are nothing less than miraculous.” Another Deep Cove resident e-mailed me saying: I couldn't wait for VALENTINES to watch FIREPROOF. It was excellent. I have already recommended it to my son and his spouse to watch, and one of co-workers at work. Thanks for recommending it.”
You can either rent the Fireproof DVD from your local Video store, order online at http://fireproofthemovie.com/ or pick up Fireproof and the Love Dare book at your local Christian bookstore. Marriage is not worth fighting about. Marriage is worth fighting for. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to save a marriage for Lent? It could be your adult child’s marriage. It could be yours. Let the forty days of Lent help ‘Fireproof’ your most intimate relationship.
The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC
Anglican Coalition in Canada
Thursday, February 26, 2009
How easy it is to procrastinate and thus miss out on an important opportunity. Recently, I have done this and now I regret the lost chance.
A cousin of mine, four years my senior, recently moved to a town within easy driving distance. She moved there a couple of years ago, following the death of her husband, to be near her daughters. We kept in touch by e-mail and Christmas cards. I thought of going to visit her; I thought of asking her to come to visit me. But I didn’t do either of these things and now it is too late.
In October of last year, I received a telephone call from her. I could hardly understand what she was saying. She told me that she kept falling down and listing to one side when she walked; the doctors thought she had had a stroke and they would be doing a CT scan to verify the diagnosis in the near future.
I called Muriel several times after that initial call but there was never any answer. I received a Christmas card from her, written by her daughter who said that the test showed that she had not had a stroke but, in fact, had a brain tumour for which she would receive radiation. I wrote to her care of her daughter but I didn’t receive any reply and, as I didn’t have her daughter’s married name, I was unable to locate her phone number.
In January, I received a phone call from a mutual cousin who lives in California that Muriel had died. Shirley and I talked for some time commiserating about the fact that we had not visited her while she was still in good health. Shirley had, in fact, met with Muriel several times over the years but I had not met with her since my childhood, when they both stayed with our family during the Second World War as evacuees from London, England. I felt remorse that I had made so little effort to meet with Muriel before she got sick and passed away.
Since Christmas 2008, another cousin has got in touch with me. We lost sight of one another a few years ago when she remarried. I did not have her new surname and was unable to find her new address. I will try not to procrastinate and lose the opportunity to meet up with Margaret who lives in Toronto, not that far away from Muskoka where I reside.
As we get older, friends and relatives of our own age can disappear from our lives in an instant. It is up to each one of us to make an effort to spend time with these important people. We need to take the time to let them know we are concerned with their well-being and that we care about our bond with them. Lost chances cause sadness. I don’t want to be the cause of that sadness again.
© Judith Lawrence
Web site: www.judithlawrence.ca
Latest book: Glorious Autumn Days: A Book of Meditations for the Wisdom Years, available at www.lulu.com
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
While Sue was doing my hair on Thursday evening, I said to her, “Do you ever go to church?” She is in her mid-twenties so I was not surprised when she told me she did not.
I was intrigued when she told me that she had gone to church with her family when she was younger but as she got older, she decided not to go any more. Curious, I asked, “Why?”
“I stopped believing there was a higher power,” she told me. I wondered what had led her to that conclusion, but I wanted to be respectful and not push her beyond where she was comfortable with this conversation. As a clergy person, I love to talk about spiritual things, but I realize that not everyone does.
Yet, she seemed keen to pursue it a little further, so we moved on. She went on to tell me how she felt people in the church judge and condemn you for how you look without taking the time to discover what you are really like. That attitude, she felt was what really pushed her away from the church. I had to agree. There were too many times in my own life, when I felt condemned by people who had no idea what was really important to me. I just did not fit their idea of what I should be like as a Christian.
Somehow, and I can’t remember exactly how it came up. It was just natural for me to tell her that what really turned everything around in my own life, was the day that I realized that God loved me unconditionally. It did not matter to Him what mistakes I made, or if I said or did stupid or mean or spiteful things. He loved me! He might not love the things I did, but there was no doubt that He loved me. Knowing He loved me just as I was made me want to be different somehow. Knowing I was loved like that made me feel that I was a person of value. My life mattered.
My heart ached as I heard the longing in her voice. “If I could believe that someone loved and accepted me like that, I would go to church. “
What a challenge! Especially when I remember what Jesus said. Other people will know we are his by our love for one another. I think that is a key part of His vision for the church.
Thanks, Sue, for reminding me.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The very first book I did with Infinity Publishing was a bit of an experiment – to test the self-publishing waters, as it were. I took my smallest book because I’d rather risk something I put weeks into - not months. The book was called “A New Friend for Christmas.” I did it on a print-on-demand basis so received one copy and then people would presumably flock to Amazon and buy the rest. I gave away the one copy of “A New Friend for Christmas” to a friend of ours, aptly named, Mr. Christmas (true story!).
After reviewing my one copy, I decided to change the title to “The Mystery of the Lost Friend” to match a book I was writing entitled, “The Mystery of the Missing Pilot.” I ordered a bunch of copies and, like the newbie I was, gave pretty much all of them away, although I did sell a few – to bookstores – yeah! My total run for “The Mystery of the Missing Pilot” was about 50 copies. As an experiment, it failed rather dismally but as a learning experience, it was a roaring success.
My biggest problem with this book was the cover. I had used a photo of my own that when blown up was very “pixilated” – one of many terms I learned along that rough road of experience. There was nothing wrong with the text itself – just the presentation of it. Three years later, this same book was published under the title: “Get Lost!” and won the best children’s book award for 2006 from The Canadian Writing Awards (hosted by The Word Guild).
And yes, I self-published it once again. This time with a company in Winnipeg called Art Bookbindery. They have an excellent cover design artist, text layout designer, and superior binding quality on all their books.
Because I love to teach and mentor new authors, I have done 6 anthologies so far (all self-published). Also, a resource book: Meet Manitoba Children’s Authors, a book that raised the profile of 38 Manitoba authors, promoting their work to schools and libraries.
And I’ve been working on my first love (as far as writing goes) – fiction. Colin’s Choice was published in 2005, Get Lost! in 2006, Deep Waters in 2007, Pilot Error in 2008 and coming in just a few days to a bookstore near you… The Little Ones.
I’ve developed my own publishing company – “Goldrock Press” and plan to continue to publish and promote the work of other authors, in addition to my own.
My focus is: Christian, Aboriginal, fiction, “northern,” Manitoba, Canadian, children, youth, adults, non-fiction – pretty much in that order, although every project of course does not encompass each area each time.
Proud to be self-published? Yes, I think so. The literary world has changed so much in the past few years – the big old printing presses and ink under the fingernails have been replaced with outsourcing, track changes, and electronic proof copies. Downloading eBooks has replaced wandering around in book stores (although I still prefer the latter).
In the early years, I fought technology and wrote my manuscripts by hand (something, as I recall about the creative flow) but although I still do not rush madly into the next great new technological marvel (quite the opposite actually!), we must all eventually face the inevitable. The times they are a changin’! And self-publishing is here to stay.
M. D. Meyer is the award-winning author of The Little Ones, Pilot Error, Deep Waters, Colin’s Choice, Get Lost! and Meet Manitoba Children’s Authors, and the editor of six anthologies, Prairie Writers, volumes 1, 2, 3, Northern Writers, volume 1, The Voice Behind the Mask and The Isle of Mirage. Dorene was a mentor in the 2008 Sheldon Oberman Emerging Writers Mentor Program.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
“And so we agree to disagree?” It can be unsettling when we hear two people struggle with differing points of view while sitting at the same table, or in the same pew or choir loft? Why are we more comfortable when we all agree? Is it because we can build on each other’s thoughts, finish each other’s sentences and even second-guess what others may be thinking. We sing songs like, “We are one in the Spirit” and expect the whole group to come out at the same gate. But, that doesn’t always happen. And if it did, I think it would be a bit boring.
Points of view and varying perspectives give texture and colour to the ordinary. I cherish the voice that risks the statement at Bible Study, “And have you thought of . . . “ Or the person who steps into the circle at a council challenging an overused tradition. Maybe it’s a child who states she is bored in church causing the elders to reflect on worship.
If it's easy to love one another in the body of Christ when we agree, we are called to love even more as we make ourselves a channel of God’s love to the one with whom we differ. Perhaps our greatest challenge is to gain unity-in-diversity without judgement or criticism. I’ve found the use of Holy Manners extremely helpful when people come to the table from different theological perspectives and faith traditions. It is the time when we can learn from each other and watch the Spirit move in our midst encouraging us to share our views.
It's always supportive to review Holy Manners and apply them to discussion and decision-making, particularly during church Annual and Council meetings and especially when considering provocative issues. I keep them in view even as I write emails and blogs.
"keep God at the centre of everything we do
separate people from problems
allow for full and equitable participation
listen carefully without interruption
welcome the conflict of ideas
honour the decisions of the body" (Dr. Marion Pardy).
And it is when you put another piece in the puzzle, that my picture appears greater.
Keep in touch: http://the_meadows.homestead.com/mann.html
Friday, February 20, 2009
A fellow without too much experience of the modern world was taking his first trip in an airliner. He was a little nervous, to say the least. But, all his friends assured him that, modern technology being what it is, he would be safer in the air than driving his pickup truck.
He was finally convinced to give it a try and went to the airport, where he boarded his flight.
After his return, a few days later, his neighbours exclaimed, "See, Billy? You were safe! Now wasn't that easy?"
“Well," Billy snorted, "it was alright. The food was passable and the movie was okay, but I want you to know I never put my weight fully down in the seat for the whole flight!"
This old story, I think, illustrates a difficulty that all of us face from time-to-time. There are just some things that, no matter how many experts tell you about their conviction, you either have to prove for yourself or remain unconvinced.
The other side of this is the certainty that there is a right way and a wrong way to do something. When I was taking my flying lessons, I was taught that there were definite procedures that had to be followed in a ritualistic fashion in order to prevent a catastrophe. It was not enough to know that the last person who used the aircraft had done a ‘walk-around’ and confirmed that the tanks were full, the prop and flying surfaces undamaged. Things might have changed during, or after, the flight.
I remember hearing of a private pilot who pulled into a service centre at an airport, after a long flight, and told a new employee to ‘top off the tanks.’ The pilot went inside while the young attendant went about his task.
The traveller returned, didn’t do a proper ‘walk-around’ and took off. Ten minutes later, he was calling in a ‘Mayday.’ It seems that the new guy had misunderstood what his instructions were. He had filled the tanks on the small plane but had left the ‘top off the tanks.’ Movement of air over the open filler tube had suctioned most of the fuel from the tanks in flight.
Sometimes it pays to be cautious. But there are some things we need to be able to trust.
It is good to have a network of friends who are trustworthy. It is essential to be able to trust our co-workers when there is danger all around.
Let me suggest, too, that we need to be assured we can ‘put our weight fully down on’ the God we believe in.
Different people make different things their personal gods. Money won’t do it. In the present economy, we know it could all be gone tomorrow. Possessions are equally as perishable. Fame is fleeting. No matter how great your friends might think you are, don’t think you can worship your own abilities, or those of others. Maybe your efforts to prove how un-spiritual you can be have become your god of choice. None of these things will support you when life is crashing. In times of trial, it’s amazing how quickly some folks seem to ‘get religion.’
We are told that there is a God we can trust—a God we can put our full weight upon and trust to support us all the time. Some believe that. Some don’t. Until they do, they can’t rest confidently. It makes for a rather uncomfortable trip.
Throw all your worry on [God], because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 (ISV)
Robert Scott is a pastor and the author of ADVERTISING MURDER, LOST YOUTH and MURDER EXPRESS, titles in the Jack Elton Mystery series, Published by AVALON Books, New York
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Dan Gainor, predicting the death of newspapers, writes,
Based on history, it’s highly unlikely newspapers will be savvy enough to save themselves. When the Internet gained popularity, news outlets were slow to cooperate and even slower to make money. Job ads moved online to places like Monster because new Web sites could react faster and better than stodgy news outlets. Classified pages were unable to compete against Craigslist, which does their job for free.
Instead of trying to revolutionize the news business, owners milked their cash cows until the cows died. Instead of embracing new tech, unions battled changing job rules and entrepreneurs launched competitors instead of dealing with such bureaucracy. That was poison in a good economy. With a major downturn, it is likely fatal.
Control over the Internet? Ontario Human Rights czar's controversial suggestion
Civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant reports,
More eye-opening reporting from Joseph Brean, the MSM's most prolific HRC-watcher:The Ontario Human Rights Commission is calling for Parliament to force all Canadian magazines, newspapers and "media services" Web sites to join a national press council with the power to adjudicate breaches of professional standards and complaints of discrimination.Human rights commissions are obsolete; the battles for equality of the sexes and races were won decades ago; the number of HRC complaints in Ontario has actually fallen year over year, despite that province's population growth. Think about that: the most ethnically diverse province in Canada has a declining number of human rights complainers, according to their own annual reports. That's good news to normal people -- but to those who need to stimulate and manufacture grievances in order to maintain and grow their bureaucratic empires, that's very bad news indeed.
The council would have the power to order the publication of its decisions and "would help bring about more consistency across all jurisdictions in Canada," reads an OHRC report to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Politicians attacking media? Bad idea!
Legacy mainstream media may be dying, but attacking them is not a good idea for politicians, according to pundit Roger Simon,
Barring reporters is rarely done by campaigns. In 1988, when televangelist Pat Robertson ran for president, he banned T.R. Reid of The Washington Post from his plane after Reid wrote a profile of Robertson containing numerous embarrassing revelations. Reid continued to follow the campaign on commercial flights, and, of course, his being barred from the plane became a story.
Which is the problem with barring reporters. Smart campaigns know that it's a waste of time to attack and ban the media. Seducing the media is much more productive.
Attacking the media is a waste because it is not an issue voters care about. Many voters already have a low opinion of the media, and it is unlikely that a campaign can lower it further. All it does is make the campaign look petulant.
Rick McGinnis, one of the most interesting film critics in Canada, has been let go by TorStar from their free newspaper Metro, in the continuing decline of newspapering, and he talks about the weird experience here:
We ended up waiting in the lobby for the longest time - me and John and Steph, the union reps. They'd apparently known since last week - the company has an obligation to tell the union - and had tried to talk them out of it, but they were in earnest. I can only imagine how bad things have to be if they're axing all of the reporters - all three of us, one still on maternity leave. It occurs to me that I'd been talking to Steph about stories and deadlines the whole time, and that she'd had to pretend she didn't know anything. I start wondering who else knew, and my mind starts a little paranoid spider dance of speculation.
I notice a hired security guard, his barrel chest stuffed into his shiny bomber jacket with big silver shield patches at each shoulder, sitting in the corner. We never have security in the office, and it suddenly strikes me that he's here for me. I'm imagining him prying himself out of the waiting room chair and sprinting after me heavily, pinning me in a flying tackle by the lunchroom as I try to make it back to the newsroom to holler "You're all doomed - get out while you can!" He mostly just sits in his chair, his eyes intent on his magazine.
As we wait for Ruth to bring me my things - my laptop bag (now empty as the company owns the laptop), my daytimer and reporter's notebook, my phone and the framed picture of my daughters - I see Glen, the managing editor, with his jacket and briefcase, being escorted through the door to the stairs leading down to the parking garage. I turn to Steph and John, my eyes wide. Yeah, they whisper - Glen too.
Monday, February 16, 2009
THE BEAUTY OF DIVERSITY
For the past three weeks I’ve been a participant in Diversity Conversations, a pilot project designed to address discrimination in all its ugly forms. It’s been a challenging yet meaningful time as five of us, plus two facilitators, looked at our individual biases. The diversity of our backgrounds alone provided fodder for discussion: there were two Jewish participants, two government employees, someone from a mixed marriage and an evangelical Christian. Our discussions have been intense yet we’re unanimous in our condemnation of hatred and discrimination of others who do not look or believe the same as we do.
Yesterday we invited a few friends over for lunch following the morning church service. It was one of those unplanned but thoroughly enjoyed events. During the meal the conversation turned to global economic challenges (what conversation doesn’t these days!). That, of course, turned naturally to the election of President Obama, and quickly shifted to the matter of the election of an African American. Once more the topic of racism and discrimination became the centre of conversation and once again we talked about our individual roles in a society that so easily judges a man or woman by outward appearance.
Through all these times and events the threads of an old Sunday School chorus keeps running through my mind: Jesus loves the little children/All the children of the world/Red and yellow, black and white/They are precious in His sight/Jesus loves the little children of the world.
The questions the ancient sage, Job, asked remain the same: “If I have denied justice…what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?” (Job 31:13-15)
God despises injustice. We’d better do the same!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
A lot is written about love. A lot is said in the name of love. A lot — ah, but talk is cheap. Hallmark will gladly say it for you; that is, they’ll help you say what you think you are supposed to say. It’s tricky coming up with the right words, so we find ourselves in the greeting card aisle, eventually plugging our noses and selecting the least-tacky valentine’s card we can find. My personal favourite is the blank card, where you can simply say what you wanted to say in the first place. Don’t think that poets have it easier than others in this department. We’re supposed to always come up with just the right words; such an expectation is the world’s greatest source of writer’s block.
I believe that the toughest subject to write about is love. Another difficult topic is God — although, I suppose in one way, they are the same subject. Again, it’s hard to write about love, or God, because we think we know what we are supposed to say. We often opt for sentimentality, instead of carefully-thought-through perceptions. The Harlequin romance sings of the happily-ever-after in a world where every handsome prince becomes self-absorbed and bungles his role. The religious poet can wrap into a neat package what doesn’t honestly fit into a neat package. When it comes to love — just like with good writing — it’s the showing not the telling that really rings true.
Something that I have found works is to approach the subject indirectly, like native buffalo hunters sneaking up on a grazing herd. Here’s a love poem, I wrote for my wife, Gloria.
As A Baker
As a baker she’s a maker in a holy tradition the daughter
of a farm daughter from Manitoulin bringing delicacies to my mouth
Her fingertips understand the transformation of flour to
dough to flaky pastry & how to stir my attention
She makes music with raspberry & blueberry with strawberry
rhubarb & cherry takes the humble apple spy cortland mutsu &
macintosh & mystically with perfectly unmeasured cinnamon
She wakes my senses makes sweet squares at Christmas
brings forth fruit pies cobblers & crisps in season or draws
delicacies from the deep freeze a large serving of summer cooled a
long age in winter’s deep well
She shakes my appetites alive with tastes & textures on my
tongue For my sake she’ll shake & roll & sprinkle sweetness in her
kitchen alchemy She knows the way to a man’s stomach is through
his heart making me receptive to all she has to bring tuning my palate
to her particular talents developing my dependency on her presence
her smile her voice
I cannot pretend that I am always the husband God desires me to be, but I believe I got the words right — at least this once.
D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week; his new poetry book, Poiema (Wipf & Stock), and his chapbook So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed are available at www.dsmartin.ca
Friday, February 13, 2009
Then someone challenged her to look in the one place she had avoided. She was convinced she would not find it there, believed she had already looked but been barred from it. Deep in her soul she knew that place was where love lived, but she believed she was not worthy of finding it, so she avoided going to that source.
But eventually she came to the end of her desperate running. Every other source had proven empty and false. There was nowhere else to go, so she turned her face to that source and gave in. “Okay,” she said, “show me that it’s real. Prove to me that love exists for me.”
Then she admitted she had done a lot of things wrong in her lifetime of searching and she asked forgiveness. She didn’t know that was the key that unlocked the barrier.
Nothing happened right away. The clouds didn’t part, lightening didn’t flash, but some time later a miracle occurred. She birthed a child. What grew in her as she cared for that child was a love she could never have dreamed of. It swelled inside her and overflowed. She recognized the miracle and was thankful. She recognized that someone did indeed love her. He loved her enough to intervene in her life and cause a miracle. She was loved and nothing else mattered. She had found the true Source.
She had learned what the word love truly means. It doesn’t mean receiving at all. It means giving.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. … We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:16-19).
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.
1. I still have two baby teeth without permanent teeth following.
2. I’ve never had wisdom teeth…I don’t believe I need them, I’m wise enough (haha)
3. I don’t mind the smell of skunk.
4. I’ve travelled to Holland four times.
5. I have a recurring nightmare where I’m trapped in a run-away elevator.
6. I’m reading the Bible for the 3rd time, and believe it to be all truth.
7. I’ve written 5 books: a health & fitness workbook, 3 devotionals, and a children’s book.
8. I’m working on a novel.
9. Like my three brothers, I have the uncanny ability to find typos everywhere.
10. I’ve been in two major car accidents.
11. I’ve never filled out my own income tax (although I’ve taught accounting at the college level).
12. I’ve worked as a personal trainer, career counsellor, professor of accounting, waitress, photocopy jockey, and door-to-door salesperson.
13. I’ve met Ron McClean in a bar in Calgary.
14. I’m a laughter junkie.
15. I looked forward to turning 30, but dreaded turning 40!
16. My husband introduced me to snowmobiling…and I like it!
17. I’ve gone skinny-dipping before (shhh, don’t tell anyone).
18. I’m not afraid of dying – I look forward to spending eternity in heaven.
19. I once wanted to have triplets. I now have two children and am quite relieved they weren’t twins!
20. I had a Keeshond dog named Kasey when I was a kid. He was afraid of water.
21. My favourite Bible verse is Philippians 4:6-7.
22. I’ve started my own blog on health & fitness.
23. I won 2nd and 3rd prize in gradeschool Science Fairs – one project was on the eyeball, the other on mould.
24. I went White Water Rafting 3 times one summer. The last time I went I got tossed from the raft (thus the reason it was the last time!)
25. I had the chicken pox, mumps and poison ivy (but not all at the same time).
Tag -- you're it! How well do you know yourself?
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
It's already February and the year is going on six weeks old. How are you doing with all those goals and resolutions you so bravely (or foolishly?) dreamed up and wrote down when 2009 was in its infancy?
Here's a tongue-in-cheek view of what so often happens to mine, although I must admit I've made some progress this year thanks to a very helpful online course called Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors taught by psychologist and writer Margie Lawson. (The course is done but you can purchase the lecture packs any time. From Margie Lawson's home page, click on "Lecture Packs" - left sidebar, then "Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors.")
January, February ...
It's January, all must change
my resolutions cry it!
I'll clean the cupboards, shine the glass
completely change my diet.
The constant list of things I need
has changed from Christmas treats
to organizers, storage boxes
and a set of sheets.
It's February, nothing's changed
the bathroom scales decry it
(that frozen stash of Christmas treats
has sabotaged my diet).
The hopeful list of things I pledged
discreetly tucked away --
ten months to do just as I please
until next New Year's Day!
© 2004 by Violet Nesdoly
Personal blog promptings
Writerly blog Line upon line
Children's devotions blog Bible Drive-Thru
Friday, February 06, 2009
I went for a walk Monday. My goal, as I pushed my boots through the slush and did mini-skates on patches of ice, was revising my business plan. No, I wasn't going heading to the accountant's office. I wasn't meeting a business consultant for tea at Tim's.
I was running errands. While I was at it I decided to chat with the 'ultimate business advisor.' I had a few questions for him. Questions like: "You do know that the plan I wrote last year, with your help, makes no sense in a recession?" and "Is this some kind of bad joke?"
My Business Advisor didn't shout back advice. Nor did angels apppear on the road with a gold encrusted plan for me. But one little sentence popped into my head, "Do What Is In Front of Front of You."
I won't bore you with what I saw in front of me, although it did include a messy desk and phone calls I had to return. But I will say that within the hour, I had a new plan along with a completed errand list.
Does your business plan need revising? Get yourself out into the sunshine and have a prayerful chat with your unseen business advisor. Do what is in front of you.
Jane Harris Zsovan writes in both mainstream in Canadian publications about faith, business, arts, and contemporary Canada. She is the author of Stars Appearing: The Galts' Vision of Canada. She contributed "Jessie's Generation: Canada's Firebrands of Mercy and Justice" to Hot Apple Cider: Stories to Warm the Heart and Stir the Soul. Jane writes Vision of Canada Blog, on contemporary and historical Canada.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Winter has always been one of my favourite times of year. Autumn’s brisk mornings give way to a sparkling snow-covered world. The whole landscape like a delicious cake is iced and decorated to perfection. North winds blow their invigorating gusts, clearing out the cobwebs and debris forcing a fresh assessment of the basic needs of life. Winter has always been an aid in replicating the same kind of reassessment in my inner life. Bundling up in warm winter coats, donning hat, mitts and scarf and venturing out for a walk or on cross-country skis, into a good brisk storm helps me clear the cobwebs out of my brain, too. On my return, it brings a whole new rationale for wrapping myself in a blanket and sitting close to the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand.
This year, the snow blew in early in November and took me by surprise. About the same time, a string of deaths began to occur. These were not aged people, but those at the prime of life, snatched from faithful service, from the edge of adulthood and from young families who still needed two loving parents. Those surprises were closer to shock and dismay.
It seemed every time the telephone rang, every meeting we attended, we heard about someone else in hospital with serious illness, emergency surgery or newly diagnosed with cancer. I longed to go out in a storm for one of those invigorating winter walks, but my sinuses were acting up and wouldn’t allow me that reprieve. The north winds may have been blowing outside, but the cobwebs and debris in my mind and heart seemed to hang there and pile up. I began to resent this winter and all the sadness that kept the days sunless and drear. I longed for a change.
Then a few things happened that sent beams of hope shining through the clouds. A good friend made it through a five point by-pass, a daughter and son-in-law experienced break-throughs in their medical challenges, another daughter orchestrated a successful fund-raising gala, a new vision glimmered through the church and God worked in many smaller ways to give courage and hope. As though the weather were responding with its own cheer, the sun began to shine more often turning the winter into a glistening fairyland.
Today snow drifted down most of the day hiding the sun once more. Looking out the window, I see the bare boughs of the maple in our back yard turned into a lacy white pattern against the sky. The evergreens are wearing their white wraps like regal ladies at a ball. The falling snow is like bits of peace floating down like feathers. My heart expands in thanksgiving. The air is still crisp and cold—but surprise! I give my head a shake. Yes, I am enjoying the winter weather.
With elation, I reach for my hat and coat. That bit of hope helped my attitude do an about face. I wonder, as I breathe in the cold air, and turn my face upward to catch a snowflake on my tongue, “How can I share this joy?” What I can do to bring positive change to those around me. If a smile is catching then a positive word, a compliment, or recognition of a job well done, could offer hope and encouragement that could change a gloomy winter day into a phenomenon of beauty and peace. I see my neighbour in the window across the street. I wave enthusiastically then do one better. I catch a snowflake on my hand and blow it to her like a kiss.
Author of Not Easily Broken and Not Far from the Tree.
If you are looking for a good Valentine’s Day flick, I recommend that you pop over to your DVD stores to pick up the Fireproof DVD. So often we act as if our marriages never need tune-ups...that somehow they can look after themselves. Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to put our other distractions aside and treat our spouses as the most important persons on earth.
Kirk Cameron plays the part in Fireproof of Captain Caleb Holt, a dedicated firefighter who gives his best at work, but needs to pull up his socks at home. His wife Catherine (Erin Bethea) becomes fed up with Caleb’s negativity, and files for divorce. What follows is a challenging journey of falling back in love as Caleb takes the forty-day ‘Love Dare’. The sub theme of ‘Fireproof’ is the old firefighter’s motto: ‘Never leave your partner behind.’
Caleb tries hard to change how he treats his wife, but often faces discouragement. Firefighters, especially since 9/11, have been put on a pedestal by many. "How is it that I get respect everywhere I go except in my own house?" Caleb complains. His fellow firefighter Michael says to Caleb, "You'll run into a burning building to save people you don't even know, but you're going to let your own marriage burn to the ground?"
Caleb finally turns to his father saying "How am I supposed to show love to somebody who constantly rejects me?" It seems to his wife Catherine that Caleb cares more about his new truck, new house, and future boat than Catherine herself. Caleb's dad wisely tells him that "whatever you put your time and money into will be what you care about."
Listening to his father’s wisdom, he finds an inner strength and faith that gives him hope to keep trying to change. "I am sorry," Caleb poignantly tells Catherine. "I have trampled on you with my words and my actions." It is often so difficult for us as men to humble ourselves before our wives and admit that we were wrong. But what a Valentine’s Day difference that can make.
Mitch Temple of Focus on the Family said that, "This brilliantly produced film radiates messages of authentic determination, faith and hope, even for those of us who have felt like giving up on our marriages” Joe Leydon of Variety Magazine comments that "Cameron is genuinely compelling as Caleb, a work-obsessed firefighter on the verge of divorce from his neglected wife.”
In its first weekend, Fireproof grossed $6,836,036, putting it in fourth place at the box office. As of January 2009, Fireproof has an estimated domestic gross of $33,351,975, more than tripling the lifetime earnings of its predecessor, Facing the Giants. The average Hollywood-produced movie costs more than $100 million to make. Fireproof, as an independent film with only a $500,000 budget, proves that the little guy can still make a big difference.
To check it out for yourself, just click on YOUTube at
Fireproof, while not a perfect film, reminds me that marriage is worth fighting for. Marriage is a gift from God that can revolutionize our lives, when we put our spouses first under God. My Valentine’s Bliss prayer is that marriages across Canada will become stronger, healthier and more caring.
The Rev Ed Hird+
Rector, St. Simon’s North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
Monday, February 02, 2009
Canadians are avid trackers of the weather—I look at the Environment Canada Web site several times a day for the local forecast. This year, when the long-range forecast was not to our liking, many of us resorted to checking The Farmer’s Almanac in the hopes that it would give us a less cold and snowy outlook. The Almanac did give us a better forecast but, so far, it has not been correct.
Though February 2nd is not an official Canadian holiday, Groundhog Day is well remembered on the news channels. It gives us something to look forward to in the way of good weather prospects—or something to complain about if spring is not promised as soon as we had hoped.
In the church calendar, February 2nd has two celebratory feasts. Both are to do with the birth of Christ and both are recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 2. One is the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple; the other is the Purification of Mary, mother of Jesus, following the birth of her son. A Jewish woman is in semi-seclusion for 40 days after giving birth to a son and, counting from December 25th for 40 days, we come to February 2nd, on which day, Mary presents herself to God in the Temple, as is customary, for purification; at the same time, Jesus is presented by Mary and Joseph to be ransomed or redeemed from God as the first-born male in the family.
Sometimes, this Feast Day is called Candlemas because of an old Bible reading used during the service: [The Lord] will search Jerusalem with candles. Zephaniah 1: 12
Both the secular holiday of Groundhog Day and the religious holidays of Presentation and Purification are full of light—Groundhog Day searches for the return of the light of lengthening spring days, and the feasts of Presentation and Purification wait for the coming of spiritual and holy light into our lives.
We give thanks for Christ, the light of our lives and for the lengthening daylight as we approach spring time.
© Judith Lawrence
Glorious Autumn Days: Meditations for the Wisdom Years by Judith Lawrence, available at www.lulu.com
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