Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Attitude Quandry Ruth Smith Meyer

Olympic Attitude Quandary

The Olympics of the past two weeks remind me of the proverbial elephant . That beast nosed into our living rooms and our lives with the Olympic Torch’s journey across our fair land. With the opening ceremony, the elephant took over the room and many hours of our lives.

We began to stay up late in the evenings to cheer on our athletes, rejoicing when Canada made the podium. Our routine started to centre around the live broadcasts of Olympic events. Especially at first, with typical Canadian grace, we cheered for those who made gold, silver or bronze no matter what nationality, and congratulated all those who gave it their best. We were awed by the tremendous dedication of those young people. We applauded with extra exuberance if Canada did well and our pride in our country grew. Having some people from our own community added to the sense of involvement, so when Drew Doughty was on with the Canadian Hockey team or Scott and Tessa were skating I was all gung- ho, cheering and straining for the prize for them.

Gradually I felt a sense of disquiet. I wondered what was happening to me. As the weeks wore on, more and more, I found myself wanting gold for our country—or silver at least. By this last Saturday the elephant was taking up most of the space in our lives and I began to feel discomfort even while I cheered on with each new gold or silver for Canada. A real tug-of-war raged within me that I still can’t completely understand.

Part of me glories in the accomplishment of Canadian athletes. I am truly proud of the quality and the effort expended, but there is also a part of me that decries putting so much importance on a few winners. Haven’t all the athletes given their best? Were not many “losers” very close to the time of the “winners”? When I saw the disappointment on some faces even though they had done a good job and won silver losing out on the gold by mere hundredth or thousandth of a seconds, I felt distressed that those athletes couldn’t feel good about their accomplishment. When I saw gold winners come to congratulate their competitor just to have the silver medalists turn their backs and walk the other direction I grieved the lack of sportsmanship and questioned the effectiveness of what the Olympics were meant to accomplish.

Then there is another side of the conflict within me. Although I believe in exercising our bodies and perhaps pushing them to greater limits than we thought possible, I feel some hesitation when I see the skiers on a dangerous course that probably should have been shut down, careening down the hill and ending up being taken away on stretchers. Others coming down the mogul hill in spite of knee damage not fully healed or skating with injuries, continuing in spite of broken ribs and more made me wonder how those people are going to feel, in thirty, forty or fifty years, about how they used their God-given bodies.

So I am in a quandary. The Olympics have come to an celebratory end and the elephant will retreat from the living room, but will its spirit and the moral predicament linger in my mind?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands - Meyer

Over the past few years, my faith in God has been gradually eroding. Not in any dramatic or life-altering way. And I still run to Him in my hour of need and ask for daily strength and guidance.
But there’s a part of me that has been seriously disgruntled. Like Job, I want to argue my case with God – present my arguments to Him. There are things that I wish God would change.
My case is not for my own suffering. It’s for the rest of the world – the whole world – everyone who has ever lived or will live in the future.
It’s for the little girls in Cambodia who are daily subjected to unspeakable horrors. It’s for the slaves that were tortured hundreds of years ago (the images of the movie, Amazing Grace, remain fixed in my mind). But mostly it’s for all the people who have not chosen to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” and be saved. Jesus Himself said in John 3:16 that they would perish.
I know that my anguish over a suffering world is a reflection of God’s anguish over a suffering world. But I want to ask: why doesn’t He change it then?

I’m 51 years old. I’ve lived long enough to look back and see the times when I have seriously blown it. Usually, it’s because I just didn’t see the whole picture. Typically, it was because I thought I knew best and I marched full steam ahead with wonderfully good intentions that resulted in horribly bad outcomes.
What I’ve been thinking about in the last few days is that I’m not God. I can’t see what He sees. I can’t see the past and the future, stretching back and forth through eternity (it hurts my brain to try!). I can’t see into the hearts of each and every person who has ever lived or will live. I can’t see how their lives will turn out or what their eternal futures will be. Only God “knows the end from the beginning.”

When I was about seven years old, I first heard about the wonderful salvation that God had given us through the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins. With a truly child-like faith, I put my full trust in this wonderful God who loved me so much.
As a young adult, I struggled with the concept of trust and with accepting the Father’s love. I had to first make a conscious choice to accept my husband’s love before finally, one night walking out under the stars, the Lord said to me that the same way that I trusted my husband was the same way that I could trust God. It was a choice I made that night.

Today, I am making another choice. A choice to trust that the God who made the world also knows how to run it! That the One who loved the world so much He gave His only Son to die for that world, is much more troubled by a child’s cry, a slave’s anguish and a lost soul’s torment, than I could ever be!

As a person living in this 21st century, Internet and media-driven world, there is this illusion that I can know all there is to know about history and about current affairs. What arrogance! I’ve been a member of the media – I know every story is slanted. You have to have a hook, you have to have a headline and you have to prove your point – even in a 30 second news clip – especially in a 30 second clip! What do any of us really know about what is happening in the world today? ...And what is happening in my soul and in yours. Only God. Only God sees the whole picture and only God can make wise decisions for individuals, countries and the whole world, past, present and future.

Throughout my life, God has been there for me. His Holy Spirit has comforted and guided me. I’ve known the Father’s love. I’ve stood by and watched as God has miraculously intervened and answered prayers way beyond what I could have even imagined asking for. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for over 40 years. Through all the buffeting and storms of life, there’s been this solid rock under my feet. In the times when I’ve felt like I was just barely hanging on to a frayed rope, I’ve known He was holding me and if I did fall, it would be into His strong, loving arms. I totally trust Him for all of my todays and all of my tomorrows.

And I choose now to trust Him for everything else – for all those things that I cannot see or understand.
And I thank Him that He has big shoulders – big enough to handle all the questions, complaints and arguments from King David and Job – and me. He truly is an awesome God!

Dorene Meyer

Author of The Little Ones

"Meyer effortlessly weaves together suspense, deep theology, and the contemporary issue of the lasting scars of child abuse, as her characters seek to answer the question 'Can God be both merciful and just?'”
Maranatha News

Friday, February 26, 2010

Savour The Flavour - Ayotte

Isn’t it hard to believe that Christmas is over once again? Two months have flown by so quickly, yet the true spirit of Christmas lives on. I received a lovely Christmas present from a gentleman in his mid seventies whom I hardly know. He is actually a dear and long time friend of my sister.

I am a fairly new TWG member (summer 2009) and I am also a new author (spring 2009). I feel that a great gift has been bestowed upon me at this later stage in my life in what I refer to as the beginning of my twilight years. After completion of my first book I’m Not Perfect and It’s Okay, I found such wonderful support from my husband, my family and my friends. This, too, felt like a generous gift which created that Christmas feeling all year long.

The gentleman I mentioned earlier became a fan of mine shortly after he read my first book. On completion of reading it, he demonstrated a keen desire to read more. He eagerly accepted to read the manuscript for my second book. Are you like me? Do you like immediate feedback? Do you patiently wait to hear or read the reactions of others to what you have so carefully written? Our words are so important to us because they are an expression of our innermost self that we are choosing to share with others. This choice involves risk. I feel I show my faith the most when I am prepared to take that risk. By choosing to share my words with you today I am taking a small step in my life journey in order to grow in faith.

On Christmas Eve, shortly before my sister’s friend was to attend Midnight Mass, he gave me the most incredible Christmas gift. I had sent him my second manuscript a few weeks earlier and was waiting patiently to get some feedback. He wrote that he was reading the chapter titled God’s Wife and he was so moved by it that he decided to immediately e-mail me. He mentioned that he was reading my manuscript much like he was enjoying Christmas candy. He was reading slowly to better absorb and digest my words and their meaning. He said that he was enjoying what I had written in the way that I meant it to be read, slowly, very slowly, one chapter at a time to “savour the flavour”.

I think that is an excellent expression to describe the Christmas Season. The true meaning of Christmas is meant to be savoured all year long because it is the gift that keeps on giving. Savour the flavour…hmmm, hmmm good or should I say hmmm, hmmm, God? What wonderful gifts God has in store for us all!

Posted by Dolores Ayotte
Author of I'm Not Perfect And It's Okay

This article was previously posted on on February 7, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Music while Writing by Kimberley Payne

A question that was asked on The Word Guild discussion forum was, “What music do you listen to while on your computer? While writing?”

The responses were as varied as each writer and the different types of writing available.

Denise Rumble shares, “I find that sometimes I need it very quiet to concentrate, other times I want the music loud, or soft. It depends on the type of writing, where I am in the process, and my mood. Of course, listening to music greatly affects my mood which can certainly be a boon to my writing, as well.”

Like Denise, Pam Mytroen picks her music according to the project she’s currently on. “Forget listening to anything with vocals and lyrics however. I completely miss them when I'm writing fiction. But non-fiction is another story.”

Lynda Schultz also has tastes similar to Denise. “Sometimes the words to a song throw off my concentration, so I need instrumental music to which I do NOT know the words (otherwise I start to sing and that throws me off). Sometimes, I need the words to raise my spirits so that I can write. Fast or slow again depends on what I'm writing. It's very dependent on the task I think—‘heavy’ writing requires less intrusive music. At times, quiet is the only thing that works too.”

On the other extreme, Robert White likes his music loud. “Christian rock, heavy metal, classic rock, prog rock, you name it I'll listen to it while I'm writing. In fact, I find myself distracted by quiet music while writing.”

Lisa Wilson agrees with Robert, “I'm with you! It depends on what I'm writing as to what I listen to, my tastes are pretty eclectic. I'll listen to Country, Big Band, Jazz, Pop, heavy metal, classic Rock even neo-classical (instrumental soundtracks). But usually it's something fast, upbeat.”

However, Heidi McLaughlin writes in quite the opposite environment ... “‘Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.’ That is how I like it when I am writing - not a sound, absolute silence. It's the only way I can ‘hear’ the words in my head.”

Jenny Burr agrees. “I'm with Heidi, no creatures stirring, no noise in the making, not even background instrumental. Silence is my best background noise.”

Tammy Wiens needs noise around her. She recently went to a retreat at a monastery where the authors in attendance were asked to respect the silent times from 9-5. “I almost went crazy!!! I did get a lot of writing done but didn't enjoy it. I like noise around me--children, music, radio, television -- sometimes everything at once. It doesn't matter the style of music or nature of the television program -- I like noise.”

Personally, I like to listen to instrumental music and pretend like I’m playing the piano as I’m typing on my keyboard.
How about you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Youth For Christ - Christians receiving public funding

Below, please find an article I wrote that was published in the Winnipeg Sun on Feb. 22, 2010

Martin Nixes Cash for Christ

Pat Martin would have us believe that the right society is the one where ‘fundamentalist Christians’ are excluded from government funding. In particular, he does not want Youth For Christ to be given any government assistance because they tell young people about Jesus.

By labeling YFC as a group that preys on ‘vulnerable, impressionable kids’, Pat Martin is demonstrating a disdain for Christians. He tries to appear as a moderate when he says that “Sally Ann and others have been doing a great job for years. But these people (YFC) are evangelical fundamentalists.” We might do well to consider why Sally Ann is called the Salvation Army. And trying to separate “Christians” from “evangelical fundamentalists” is a false notion. You’re either a follower of Jesus or you’re not.

Martin doesn’t want tax dollars used to convert people to Christ. But if Martin wants to call YFC a place that lures in young prospects with sports then he has to show that YFC represents a clear and present danger to society by exposing youth to Christ. If he can’t do that, then his attack is unsubstantiated and he should withdraw it.

So then why do some Christian organizations go to the government for money? Why not do it all on their own without government help the way Pat Martin wants them to?

Because there are points where government and YFC share common ground. They both want at-risk youth to have a safe drop in centre where they can make friends.

Martin hopes every level of government will unite in his battle against YFC. But ironically, Martin may have helped Youth for Christ’s cause. What he intended for harm has been turned around for good. Many people have now become aware of YFC’s goal to build hope in the inner city. His comments may even aid the fundraising campaign.

I challenge Pat Martin to sit down with staff at YFC – people who could be working at other jobs but choose to dedicate themselves to loving people in the inner city. I challenge him to meet youth who attend YFC functions and determine if they are being helped.

I don’t have a problem with politicians debating how or if to separate faith and public funds. That’s called democracy. But to attack a reputable organization in a spirit of condescension is not acceptable. The NDP should call him on this.

I drive past the proposed building site at the corner of Main and Higgins every day on the way into work. I also pass by Siloam Mission, Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission where I used to volunteer. Are people who use these services being lured in by food, shelter, clothing, safety and the love of volunteers?

So what should Pat Martin do now?

He should call John Courtney of Youth For Christ and get together for coffee. Say at the Ellice Café that Harry Lehotsky started. I mean that sincerely. They should sit in the dream place of an inner city champion and discuss how Christians have succeeded in helping people in need.

And how Christians can, in fact, put public money to public good use

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Trio Sings of the Great Reversal- Eleanor Shepherd

A Trio Sings of the Great Reversal

Hannah’s praise song (I Samuel 2: 1 – 10) is part of a trilogy of praise songs by women of faith in the Bible. The other two praise singers are Miriam, who led the singing after the Israelites had escaped from their Egyptian captivity and Mary, the mother of Jesus who celebrated the deliverance her Son would bring to the world.

Hannah rejoiced at being liberated from the stigma of being a barren wife. Miriam rejoiced that she and her people had been freed from bondage. Mary rejoiced that the sovereign Lord had considered her worthy to give birth to His own Son.

In seeing God at work, these women discovered that He does not fit into our patterns of thinking. The values of God are different that the values of our world. Each of the women echoed this idea in the songs of praise they voiced.

We see in each of the songs God’s great reversal. Hannah talks about how God cares for the poor. “He treats them like princes,” are the words used in one translation. We regard the poor as helpless, not as those to be revered. Hannah would probably understand the attitude of someone like Mother Theresa who tried to see the face of Jesus, in the poor to whom she ministered. Perhaps that helped her treat them like princes. We may find new purpose as we learn to value those who would not be considered important in socio-economic terms. Seeing people this way may, like Hannah give us reason to rejoice.

For Miriam the great reversal was revealed in the way that the Lord leads with love. (Exodus 15: 13.) No longer is power found in brute strength. Even though the enemies of her people have just been destroyed, she somehow understands the strength of the Lord is found in His love. This message shows up so often in the teaching of Jesus. We find new purpose in discovering that no good comes when we respond to violence with retaliation. When we overcome violence by love, when we truly do turn the other cheek, we really overcome our enemies. That love is the strength that comes from the cross of Christ.

Mary describes the great reversal in terms of God’s mercy. (Luke 1: 50 – 51) She tells how He removes princes and he exalts the lowly. The lowly are not exalted simply because they are lowly, but rather because they recognize their need of God. They know the truth that Jesus proclaimed in John 15. Without Him, we can do nothing of lasting value.

The princes believe they possess power and do not realize the power that makes a difference is that which comes from the Lord of mercy and grace. Mary tells how the hungry are satisfied and the rich sent away empty-handed. God alone call fill the hungry soul and nothing else will satisfy. Our purpose comes not through dependence on our own strength or power, but in dependence upon the strength of love that comes from the Lord and in loving interdependence upon one another. Then our lives can reveal something of the presence of God in our world.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Free book for free labour? - Denyse O'Leary

On a journalists' blog recently, a question arose about a Canadian newspaper - which shall remain nameless - that was giving out a free book for the prize-winning travel article. And that's it. A free book.

My own comments were:

1. re giving books instead of money: Any retail business that has very little money will try to give inventory instead of money - if they already own the inventory and cannot return it to anyone for money. Chances are, a public relations firm sent the book to the paper.

So there it is on a shelf. But that book could be spun into a free article. Hmmm, making it into a contest means there could be several free articles ... not bad for one little book.

2. No one should pay any attention to claims that a writer should be pleased just to be published because it helps one's reputation.

My local handyman doesn't think like that, you better believe. He has a good reputation and has served me well. But he lives on money, not reputation. So do we all.

It is true that I manage a "free book" contest for blog commenters, but the situation is quite different. Commenters do not make a living from commenting. It is equivalent to offering a free book for "Best Letter to the Editor of the Month."

Yes, newspapers are in bad shape, but this is getting a tad ridiculous.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Whispering Pines -- Black

How often have I seen or heard the term "Whispering Pines" used as a choice of name for a cottage, house, or motel, or title of a poem! Why should those two words be so evocative – perhaps even comforting, for some people?

Experience is often the starting point for memory. The haunting cry of a loon echoing over a placid lake in the twilight hour after the sun has slipped from view, is one of those sounds that once heard and absorbed, seems to live on in memory.

What about the kark! kark! kark! of a lone crow calling out in the still air of a bright, frosty morning, followed by a distant call in response? In memory, I hear such calls now. Why? Because I’ve witnessed both the scenarios and sounds, before. I’ve looked up from a landscape of snowy white and pastel hues pierced by the protruding beige of corn stubble, my eyes searching sapphire skies for the source of those cries. And I’ve observed the crow winging its way towards reunion with its own kind, its karking fading, even as its form grew smaller in my vision, the further away it flew.

A month or so ago, the words whispering pines stole into mind, and I wondered whether I had ever heard pines whispering. Was there in fact, anything in my past experience that related to the term? But since I had serious work to do, I quickly moved on to other things.

Then, one crisp, winter night I was walking in the neighbourhood, and as I turned a corner, I heard them ... pines whispering. I slowed my pace, and looked up. There was just sufficient light from the heavenly bodies in the night sky to silhouette the tall, stately evergreens. Hardly a breath stroked my face at ground level, and yet, away above me in the tree tops a steady breeze gently coaxed a whispering song from the branches and needles. Wwhhhoooeeeshssh ... That’s it – that’s why Whispering Pines is such a favourite! When the conditions are right, it’s like a hushed conversation, a gentle song of nature.

I continued my walk, and imagined a young child, alone in his room, and a mourning widow, now alone in her bed, hearing the gentle whisper of wind through pines. They’re saying, "You’re not alone; we’re standing tall and straight, like sentinels to guard you. We’ll cut back the strong wind when it threatens your home, and stop much of the snow from piling up around you, easing your load. We’ll sing to you lullabies of comfort, when gentle breezes blow."

Nature’s lesson to me wasn’t over yet. For the thought occurred that, when a strong wind courses through trees and neighbourhoods, so much noise can be generated that gentle whispers become inaudible. And besides, amidst the bustling soundscapes of daytime traffic and human endeavour, the effect may be much the same.

I remembered how Elijah of old, after great success, became deeply distressed and emotionally depleted. He stood at a cave mouth and witnessed a great wind tearing rocks apart. This was followed by an earthquake, and then by a fire. But God ‘s personal presence wasn’t in those demonstrations of nature’s might. However, after the fire came a gentle whisper; and Elijah tuned into a message from God that resulted in recovery and renewed direction.

Whispering Pines . . . message from on high to comfort and restore.


© Peter A. Black. This article was first published in The Watford Guide-Advocate, Feb. 18, 2010.
Peter's book, "Parables from the Pond" is published by Word Alive Press.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Home at Last - Boers

Born in Canada, it’s taken me five decades to become Canadian.

The oldest child of immigrants, my first language was Dutch. My parents spoke it with me, friends, fellow church members, employees and customers. I learned English while playing with neighborhood children. In kindergarten, my accent was so thick that I could not properly pronounce my first name. English “th” has no Dutch equivalent; my father called me “Artur” until he died.

My parents chose Canada because Canadian troops helped drive out Nazi occupiers. They were grateful that Canada had room for Dutch immigrants. They were Canadians by choice, first immigrants and then becoming citizens in the 1967, Centennial year.

Still, I grew up thinking that I was Dutch, not Canadian. We had frequent visitors from Holland and I visited there often, experiences that confirmed my fondness for being Dutch. Yet as an adult, I gradually came to see that I was not really Dutch. I love the scenery, the food, and my relatives, but much is foreign. I usually don’t get the jokes.

One month I exchanged pulpits with a Dutch minister. I was perplexed at how class-oriented the Netherlands is. (Among immigrants class was not pronounced; we all struggled, having coming to Canada with few possessions and little money; immigration was a great equalizer.)

So I concluded that I was not Dutch either. I have since spoken to others raised overseas – children of soldiers, diplomats, and missionaries. They describe a “third culture” phenomenon; where they do not know their own identity or culture.

In the 1980s, my wife and I lived in the US for seven years. We were glad to move back here and be close to family and long-standing friends in 1987. Yet in 2002, we went again. I did not think it a big deal. My grandfather also emigrated at age 45. Besides, as a citizen of God’s Reign, I am neither Dutch nor Canadian, right?

But going shortly after September 11 and viewing on-going hysteria was sobering. We were treated differently as Canadians than 20 years before. Earlier, people said, “You’re mostly like us, you just pronounce some words funny.” Now we were often met with suspicion. Our immigration process took years and cost tens of thousands of dollars. My wife was cursed at work – a surgical center – by professional medical folks who resented our non-participation in invading Iraq.

Once we purchased passport photos. At the cash register the person next to us saw the photos and asked our nationality. When we said “Canadian,” he got chilly and abruptly ended the conversation. We learned to be discreet about declaring our origins.

As I watched politics and read morning headlines – resistance to taking responsibility for global climate change, antagonism toward Canadian health care, defense of lax gun control laws – I felt more and more like a stranger in a strange land. One year, our family spent almost a quarter of my income on health care, all expenses that would have been covered in Canada.

I realized how ill at ease I was and increasingly gained a sense of knowing that I am Canadian. I started wearing on a favourite suit the maple leaf pin awarded to my father when he became a citizen.

More and more, we longed to come home both to be closer to family and old friends and to live in a culture that resonated. Now we are in Toronto, an astonishingly multicultural city, where – so I am told – most residents were not born in Canada. Many of those who were born here are the children or grandchildren of immigrants. I guess we’re all figuring out what it means to be Canadian and I can’t imagine better company.

Arthur Boers is author of The Way is Made by Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino de Santiago (InterVarsity) and teaches leadership at Tyndale Seminary, Toronto.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spending Love All Year Long — MANN

I heard someone once say that love was not meant to be said, but lived. That sounds like a poet’s voice, yet in the aftermath of Valentine’s Day, I see it as an opportunity to explore ways for love to live on beyond the day. According to a recent survey conducted by BIGreseach, the most popular Valentine’s gifts are flowers, followed by cards, candy, an evening out, and jewelry. Although men are the big spenders, this survey states ‘they plan to fork over $156.22, which nearly doubles the $85.08 that the average female plans to spend' (2007). That one day can revenue more than 16 billion dollars.

Claiming that ‘love is the greatest gift’ and remembering that it is meant to be lived out, I ask what happens the next day and the next week after Valentine’s Day? And how is this generosity spread evenly over the year among the under-privileged as well as the privileged?

As a child, Valentine’s Day in my one-room school house was a very different day. We exchanged hand-made cards and home-made cookies. One of my teachers always asked each student to say something nice about the person sitting behind them. Those of you, who remember the desks in the one-room school house, will also remember the ink well. I always found it difficult to say something nice with black tipped, blonde pig-tails. However, Mrs. Shafer wouldn’t take no for an answer, “Surely Donna, you can find something nice to say.” Even in the sweet and sour so evident in some experiences, it’s good to reflect and see the humour now that was difficult to see then. And Mrs. Shafer, always asked the entire class to think kind thoughts about other students . . . all year long

Our farm house always had a little flare of colour on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it was a nice break in the middle of winter. My mother used to make little red candy squares with an icing center, and she always had a red table cloth. But, then, she was the kind of mom who loved to prepare and present something special . . . all year long.

When animated email greeting cards became popular, it was so nice when people remembered my birthday or anniversary with a card. I always enjoyed them. Then five years ago, I began to send friends cards on unexpected days with a caption such as Thinking of You. I continue it . . . all year long.

Now, with the explosion of multi-media opportunities to relate to people and encourage them, one can have a choice of whether to use email, texting, Facebook, Tweeter and of course the telephone. Keep it going, not just on a designated day, but . . . all year long. Some people frown on all the available formats to connect, saying it’s takes away opportunity to converse face-to-face. But, when we accept that it’s here to stay, then we can also agree that at least people are talking to one another . . . all year long.

Donna Mann

WinteGrief. Essence Publishing
Aggie's Storms. The Brucedale Press
Sequel coming soon
NEW: MeadowLane Audio Children's Books/Stories

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

“Just a part of being a girl” - Carleton

I couldn’t believe that I allowed those words to come out of my mouth.  image

My oldest daughter now in grade two has been struggling with trying to fit in with the girls in her class since school began.  As parents we had been encouraging her to try and deal with it herself because this issue was never going to go away.

One Sunday morning I walked in late to the service after cleaning up from my Sunday School class.  A line of girls – my two included- were kneeling at a pew colouring the children’s activity sheets.  I sat down in front of them and breathed a sigh of release to give myself over to the service and the music that was about to begin.  This morning it is the praise choir, voices fill the sanctuary.  As a song is coming to an end, I have the sense that I need to turn around.  As I turn, I see the puffy, red eyes of my daughter pleading with me to help her out of this situation.

I whisper in her ear, “What is going on?”  She grabs my hand and leads me out of the sanctuary.  That is as much of the service that I was going to participate in that Sunday.

For the next hour my daughter and I explore what it feels like to be a girl.  She begins to tell me all the stuff that is happening at school with other students in her class.  How she never feels like she fits in and wonders how can friends be so mean.  She asks me, “How can my friends be nice to me in class and then not want to play with me at recess?”  I tell her, “It’s just a part of being a girl.”  Then in her wisdom of 7 years she tells me, “That’s not what a true friend is.”

She is right.  I had to withdraw my statement and tell her that I agree 100%.  There is no reason why girls need to act like that.  In my mind I begin to wonder, how is that trait learned anyway and why as a society have we accepted it as ‘just the way girls are’?

As my daughter continues to tell me the struggles she is facing at school, so many memories and feelings of my own come racing back.  Soon we are both crying and cuddling in one of the Sunday School rooms as we are trying to come to terms with this reality we are facing.  Where do we go from here? 

My daughter has got it right, she knows what a true friend is and isn’t.  She has no desire to try and understand why girls would act like that, she just wants them to be real and what a true friend should be.  For me, I want to understand and do something about it.

It has been a few weeks since our meltdown in church.  I have been to the school to meet with her teacher and we have had a few of her friends over for play dates.  I am learning and understanding that everyone comes from a different place in life.  Right now, I need to encourage my daughter to stay strong to her values.  We are called to be the salt and the light.  Whether we are 7 or 37, sometimes we need a lot of encouragement so that our salt doesn’t lose it’s saltiness and so our light never dims.

front cover


Cj Carleton is the 2008 Canadian Christian Writing Award winner for her first book “What Makes You Unique? Discover the Truth or Believe the lie”  Learn more about Cj and her upcoming Online Girls Bible Study by visiting

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

W10 PK - Belec

by Glynis M. Belec

Pastor Kramer (PK), from the pulpit and beyond, has taught me much over the years. You really must meet our shepherd. He's incredibly smart, a kind sort of a chap who loves to read everything in sight and compassion is his middle name. He loves back-packing [alone] in the remotest parts of God's creation. Then he comes back to Drayton and relives his God-moments from the pulpit and we journey with him.

PK can hobnob with the influential, make a neighbour feel loved and he has been known to slap his knee to bluegrass music in the deep Kentucky south on more than one occasion as he observes and mingles with the locals.
Did I mention PK is a good teacher, too? Yup...this Sunday was an extra special treat. I learned much and I want to share a portion.
PK has a sermon series in progress entitled "Trekking Through the Bible." I'm sort of loving it actually. I usually garner bits and pieces and write things down that I might explore later or use as a springboard for discussion or fodder for my journal.
But this past Sunday I was scribbling and scratching like a scribe at sunset. I was gleaning more than my fair share of the tasty morsels that he was tossing to the congregation.

Of course prefacing a sermon with anything to do with writing piques my curiosity. He started off by pointing out that the tv show W5 actually is named precisely for the 5 w's of journalism - who, what, where, why, when - I am probably a bit of a dim bulb, but I really have to confess that although I have watched that show on many occasion, I had not clued in to that.

PK agreed that these 5 key w's, along with their brother (how,) are the crux to writing a good story but then he said to make it a really good story you have to add five more w's - worthwhile, wow! well? we and watch.

I listened carefully.

I might have added a little here and there, but for the most part this is how PK outlined his 5 new w's for writers:

1. Worthwhile - a story has to be worthwhile. As I write I will ask myself are my words significant? Does my story have value? Is it useful to the reader?

2. Wow! - does my story have the wow factor? What is the hook? How will a reader react?

3. Well? - Does my story beg the reader to react? What sort of response or emotion does it elicit? Is there something to learn from this story?

4. We - Is there some sense of community to my story? Does it make the reader think about people or community?

5. Watch - Does my story make the reader sit up and pay attention? Is there enough meat to sustain and nourish the reader?

This neat sermon introduction was a great hook. Pastor Kramer continued to use these 10 w's as he referred to passages from Genesis 6,7,8 & 9. He talked about the incredible story of Noah and how it surely did fit the criteria outlined using these 10 w's.

So I have to thank Pastor Kramer for not only reminding me why God preserved the record of Noah, but he also taught me how to write a better story. Who would have thought...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Discarding Friends - Aarsen

. . . that's how I felt a couple of weeks ago when I felt I needed to make some changes in my life. I was dealing with a return of vertigo which seems to come and go when my life has stress or is disorganized and messy. Messy was hardly a word to describe the plethora of books in my life. I had books piled up in the living room, filling end tables, spilling off the numerous bookshelves in our house. They were double booked on my bookshelf in my husband's office and mine. I had glanced at this literary cataclysm so many times it no longer jarred. But when the vertigo came back, so did the disquiet over the mess I saw every day. It was time to simplify at least this area of my life and when the vertigo eased, I dug in. I thought the job would be easy. If the book hadn't been read in the past two years, out it went. But books are peculiar things. They attach themselves to in you unusual ways.

In the book, Inkheart, Mo, a bookbinder, tells his daughter, " . . The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it . . .books are like flypaper- memories cling to the printed page better than anything else."

And this is exactly what happened to me as I started my heartless purge. I pulled down a tattered a copy of Captains and Kings and remembered sitting in my small living room in my first home, curled up in our third-hand loveseat, snatching moments between feeding my firstborn and laundry. I could feel the sun coming in the living room window, I could see the fields, covered with snow, stretching away from our little house.

And so it went. Roots, a book my husband and I discussed while doing chores together in our pig barns (now long sold), my collection of LaVyrle Spencer romances, lovingly collected as my children grew, the collection growing and moving with me from trailer to rented home to renovated home to where we live now. Assorted fantasy novels that transported me to other worlds when my own world with four biological children and one handicapped foster child could be so complicated and unsure.

Each book I pulled off my shelf carried a memory even if the story itself was not so memorable or meaningful. Could I truly get rid of these? But what was the alternative? I knew I wouldn't stop buying books and my book collection was truly getting out of control. So I hardened my heart and started pitching. And as I did I realized some books were not my friends. Some had not delivered on the promise the offered when I lovingly held them in the store, touching their pages, waiting to be taught and transported.

But it was still hard. Even though I own hundreds of books, I struggled to discard a small portion of my library. I felt as if I was getting rid of friends. Some maybe not such good friends, but they had come into my home and into my life and some of my memories had stuck to them, like flypaper. Discarding the books did not discard the memory, but the mind is a fickle thing. Memories can be lost if not resurrected enough and in our busy lives, who has time to meander through the past when the present demands so much of our attention?

I know I will buy new books and as I read them some will enter my life and hold my memories. Some will be fleeting and maybe unimportant, but some will weave their story around my heart and become intertwined with my life. Those are the ones I will keep and those are the ones I'll hold out to my family and friends and make the introduction - "You've got to read this book" and wait to see what they thought.

And when I'm gone, my children can pick them up and puzzle as to why in the world mother kept three copies of The Moonflower Vine, Little Women and Pride and Prejudice. (One for keeping and one for sharing and one a backup in case I lost one of the other two)

(This is a guest blog by Carolyne Aarsen. Since writing her first novel in 1997, she has many more published novels to her name. You can read more about Carolyne at

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What are those Little Metal Things? - den Boer

I shoved the vacuum powerhead across the floor in my 13-year-old daughter’s room. She had just finished tidying the place—no need to stoop down to pick up stray books or toys or make-up or pencils. I set myself on automatic pilot and my mind on my next Toastmasters’ speech.

Clunk, grind, clunk, clunk. Whoops. What are those little metal things on the floor? What’s this wire hanging out of the powerhead? I had vacuumed up the headset for Lizzy’s ipod. I felt a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach—you know that feeling that comes with dollar signs attached. Why do kids these days have such expensive toys?

I turned off my machine and unwound the wire from the roller brush. I gathered up the wire and six little metal parts. I found my daughter downstairs on the computer.

“Lizzy, I’m so sorry, I destroyed your earphones.” I showed her the 7 pieces.

“That’s hilarious,” she said. “It was sort of broken anyway. Janna has tons of them. She gets them free when she flies to visit her grandparents in Florida. I’ll just get another set from her.”

Sometimes I feel so out of touch.

Friday, February 12, 2010

When the Saints Come Marching In -HIRD

By Rev Ed Hird

The Olympics has reminded us that it is fun to celebrate. Those of us who attended the packed-out Deep Cove Torch Rally on Feb 10th will remember the excitement of the children and teens from Cove Cliff, Dorothy Lynas and Seycove Schools. Children help us become more fun and childlike. Children know how to celebrate.

I will never forget my parents taking me as a child to Frank Baker’s 1200-seat Attic Restaurant in West Vancouver by Park Royal Shopping Centre. I loved the delicious ‘all-you-can-eat’ smorgasbord, the endless Tiffany lamps, and James Bond’s Aston Martin car with all the gadgets. My strongest memory though was following Frank Baker and Lance Harrison’s Dixieland Band in a congo-line around the restaurant as they trumpeted out ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’. Although Lance Harrison rarely performed outside the Vancouver area, he was featured in the CBC TV special 'A Visit to New Orleans,' filmed during a trip to the birthplace of jazz in 1971. Dixieland Music, sometimes called Hot Jazz or New Orleans Jazz, became synonymous with the song “When the saints come marching in”. This song became so connected with New Orleans that they even named their NFL Football team “New Orleans Saints”.

Louis Armstrong was the first person in the 1930s to turn this Afro-American spiritual into a nationally-known pop tune. Fats Domino, and Billy Haley & the Comets, turned it into a Rock and Roll rendition. Elvis Presley recorded the song in his Hollywood film “Frankie and Johnny.” Even the Beatles recorded it. Because of its dominant popularity, Jazz musicians in New Orleans charged 500% more than for other songs just to play it. I never realized back at Frank Baker’s Attic that the song was originally a funeral dirge, speaking about people dying and go to heaven. “O Lord I want to be in that number” expressed the desire to be ready to meet one’s Maker.

Who can forget the scenes of devastation just four years ago in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city? With 80% of the city flooded, many wondered if New Orleans was finished. Out of the ashes has arisen an unlikely football team that has given hope back to a crushed people. It took the New Orleans Saints 21 years to win their first season and 34 years to win a single playoff game. Who can forget the Super Bowl XLIV scene with Saints Quarterback Drew Brees holding his son after the Saints had a surprise 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts? The sports commentator’s final comments were “The Miracle in Miami has happened. The Saints have won the Superbowl!” As Phillip P. Lasseigne, Daily Vidette Features Editor, put it, “When people in the Gulf Coast lost their jobs, their houses and their loved ones after the hurricane, they turned to the one thing that had always been there for them for both the good times and the bad: the Saints.”

I had no idea that Saints Quarterback Drew Brees had a strong faith in Jesus Christ that has shaped his dedication and integrity both on the field and off. To Brees, this dedication means that “you trust in the Lord, you trust that he has a plan for your life, you trust that he is never going to put anything in front of you that is too hard for you, or he would not put it in front of you. No matter what comes your way, you will be able to overcome it. It will make you stronger. It will give you the ability to influence in a positive way so many other people. I want to give back what’s been given to me.”

Besides QB Drew Brees, everyone was talking about the other Quarterback Tim Tebow who was in a 30-second Superbowl ad seen by 100 million viewers. Despite initial concerns by some, the ad turned out to be a lighthearted celebration of family life. Tim Tebow, who was almost not born because of pregnancy complications, became a Heisman Trophy winner and selflessly serves others on medical mission trips to the Philippines. Tim Tebow and Drew Brees truly are Saints who come marching in

Rev Ed Hird
Rector, St Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
-published in the March 2010 Deep Cove Crier
-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anchors to Guide and Govern - Gibson

When I responded to God’s invitation to write on the topics of faith and life in the secular media, he terrified me for a season. He allowed—for reasons still obscure to me (except for the fact that my ignorance made me bold)—the placement of my words in national and international mainstream media.

I’m a very simple woman. But regularly the call came for words and opinions I knew were far beyond my natural capability of thought. As so many have before and beside me, I felt the immediate need for increased prayer and specific anchors to guide and govern my words. The Holy Spirit and God’s Word have provided that.

Here are just a few of the verses that have stabilized me, taken from the book of Proverbs, in the New King James Version of Scripture.

They may encourage a few others, too, no matter in which venue God has called you to write or speak. But if God calls you outside of the Christian marketplace—don’t back away. He will equip you to go there. Seek Divine wisdom and brace yourself with the Word.

Ch. 16

3. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
9. In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
13. Kings take pleasure in honest lips (words). They value a man who speaks the truth.
18. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
20. Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
21. The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.
23. A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.
24. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.


27. A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered
28. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Ch. 18

13. He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.
20. From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.
21. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Ch. 19

8. He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.

Ch. 20

6. Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?
15. Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.
27. The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.

Ch. 21

5. The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
6. A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.
22. A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust.
23. He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.


1. A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
4. Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.
11. He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
12. The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.
29. Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.

Kathleen Gibson is author of West Nile Diary-One Couple's Triumph Over a Devastating Disease

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Anatomy of a Suicide - Austin

I am no expert on the subject, but I know the punch-in-the-gut feeling of being caught in the middle, a friend hurting desperately, searching for a way out. He is the saddest drunk I know. He can go for months without a drop, but one beer leads to a 24 pack. I don't know how it is physically possible, but somehow he can down them in about two hours, usually with a harder drink or two in the mix. As intoxication increases, his mood plunges, but always the next drink promises relief. Then guilt sets in -- and he has now sucked back enough courage to take the next step. It has usually been drugs -- prescription or street drugs -- in massive doses. Then my phone rings.

A slurred voice, "I'm not gonna bug you no more, man. I'm gonna do it right this time." He uses a pay phone. He refuses to say where he is. He laughs at my questions, then sobs, "You don't know what it's like, man. You don't know."

The abuse starts then, anger at me, insults and cursing. "Why don't you just butt out and let me die?" He forgets that he made the phone call. He forgets that I have tapped every resource, activating a whole emergency response team each time he has done this. He forgets that I am convinced his life is worth saving.

I'm hard pressed to tell him why his life is worth saving in any way that he can comprehend, especially when he is drunk. I'm hard pressed at times to tell myself why his life is worth saving. But I've watched him grow. I've seen the intervals between crisis stretch longer and longer. I've seen him find joy in life and seen glimmers of hope for his marriage. I am convinced he still has something worth living for, something to give to his family. A one night binge is a poor thing to die for. He is worth so much more than that.

Love for a punch-in-the-gut type of friend is a strange thing. One thing is sure -- it is a verb, not a noun, an action, not some cozy feeling. The following poem expresses truth in ways that prose seems to fail me. Written between crisis that came too close together, with little healing time for either of us between, it is part of a self-distributed collection titled "Let Heaven Weep."

It Feels Like Anger

Love? It feels like anger -- and I'm tired to the bone.
I've been fighting 'gainst the things I want to say.
I really want to shake him, get a message through his skull.
A part of me wants to make him pay.

The crises come farther apart.
It's progress of a kind
and I know that in his way he's trying hard.
But I've walked this path so oft' before
and the cost each time is high
and I wonder -- can I do it once again?

Seventy times seven? Seems that number's getting close,
but God has not yet given up on me.
Don't know what I have left to give.
Already feel so drained,
and the days ahead are shrouded with a cloud.

But love is not a cheap thing,
is not given without cost.
Seems the Cross should be reminder strong enough.
And strange to say -- I believe in him
though the evidence says "NO."
and scores of others have washed their hands of him.

Love? It feels like anger.
Don't look for gentle words.
Look for actions that declare he still has worth.
And stand with me if you will for I sense I'm growing weak.
Yet I long to see him on the healing path.

Though my belief in him grows shaky
help me not let it die.
The God who loves me loves him deeply too.
And if we stand together -- so much stronger than alone
we can find a way to see him through.

Love? It feels like anger
and I'm okay with that.
Not beating myself up with shame and guilt.
I sense that someone's praying, so I'll last another day.
Maybe it will be the one that sees him free.

Copyright Brian Austin

Eventful Memories - Atchison

Events occur throughout our lifetime helping us realize how far we have come in life. As I look to the start of the 2010 Vancouver, British Columbia Winter Olympics this February, I am brought back in time to the 1988 Winter Olympics that were held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

I was five months pregnant at the time, expecting my first child. A nervous mother-to-be, a career oriented woman, and a loving wife to my husband of five years. I remember stepping down the huge steps at Canada Olympic Park, ready to watch the ski jumping. I was tired, a little grumpy and very uncomfortable. It was a hectic drive to the shuttle area, an hour’s drive across the busy city streets, and then an hour or two wait while sitting on rustic earthen benches to see if the ski jumping would actually occur because of the extreme winds due to a Chinook that had blown in.

It turns out the event was cancelled, out of the stands we climbed, and it was back onto the bus across town. I am sure as I took that ride and cradled my abdomen with my hands I thought of the baby’s future, of our future as a family. Would I be a good Mom? Would our finances be enough to sustain us with a new baby? I prayed that night for the good health of my baby and for our future.

Twenty-two years later, I still pray every night for the safety of our daughter, our only child. She came with some difficulty in early June of 1988, three weeks ahead of my due date. Healthy and happy, our baby girl has grown into a full grown woman, and will be graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Nursing degree. I watch as she creates her own life now as an adult. Her dreams and goals are strong. It is a blessing that she has chosen a career where she can be a health professional helping those in need. Her heart is kind and gentle.

I have always considered my daughter one of God’s children. I know with God’s help and prayer, we have been able to bring a healthy baby into the world, and watch her grow. We have always said that we would be there for her, and we still are. I knew we would not have any financial trouble in raising her and we haven’t.

It is with warm heartfelt happiness that I greet the 2010 Winter Olympics. The memories the event is triggering remind me of the past and our delightful yet scary times over the years. As I lie down to sleep tonight, I shall once again pray for my daughter and the good parts of our lives and hope that the next twenty years will be as good as the last ones. Who knows, maybe the 2030 Winter Olympics will return to Calgary and maybe I can take my grandchildren to see the ski jumping, and just maybe they will have brand new seating and stairs.

Patricia L. Atchison

Writing & Plublishing Blog:

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Blue Umbrella — Martin

“Not many people are killed by lightning.
Zac’s mother was.”

So begins the story of Zac Sparks, a ten-year-old who has had the carpet pulled out from under his life. He lands unevenly in the town of Five Corners, at the mansion of two cruel elderly aunts, where his existence becomes like that of a prisoner.

The eccentric populous of Five Corners seems surrounded by mystery — a girl who by choice doesn’t speak, a blind balloon seller, a midget butler, a shaggy barber (even smaller than the butler), a mother who rarely leaves her room, a town drunk whose beautiful singing voice is inexplicably heard when she is nowhere to be seen, and the proprietor of a general store who carries a blue umbrella wherever he goes. There are rumours of the upper level of the store being haunted, and Zac has seen strange lights coming from its skylights at night. The more he learns the stranger things become.

There is an effective allusion to Narnia, early in The Blue Umbrella. Zac is reminded of the story his mother had read to him, when he looks at some fur coats; he wishes he could escape, as the children who travelled through the wardrobe had had wondrous possibilities open for them.

Mike Mason’s writing is refreshing — just a hair’s breadth this side of absurdity — in a style reminiscent of Lemony Snicket. The Blue Umbrella draws us into delight — particularly when we see with childlike wonder the beauty and grandeur of weather. It also stirs dread — being rather dark for younger children: Zac’s aunts beat him continuously, and they take him to visit a character whose evil is so palpable that it overshadows their cruelty. Conversely goodness comes through in other characters, although Zac isn’t always sure who to trust.

The Blue Umbrella is about trust — and is also naturally seasoned with truths about important issues including anger, free will, the nature of reality, and heaven. Eventually Zac comes to trust one who “was willing to die for him” — and who, despite Zac’s short-comings, was quick to tell him, “Well done”.

We have a wonderful heritage of fantasy writers for children who desire to capture the truths of the Christian faith in their books — George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and now Mike Mason. Mason is a popular non-fiction writer (attendees at Write! Canada several years ago received a free copy of his book Champagne for the Soul) but The Blue Umbrella fulfills his childhood dream to be a novelist; it stands well on its own but, I’m please to say, is also the first book in a trilogy.

Mike Mason is a Canadian, living in Langley, B.C. The Blue Umbrella is published by David C. Cook — First edition, September 2009

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at:

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Greetings from Rwanda

Rev. Jean Pierre Rukundo
The Anglican Church of Rwanda
Shyogwe Diocese
Po Box 142 Muhanga/ Rwanda.

Dear Pastor Ed Hird,

Greetings in Jesus` name.

I have met you in North Carolina in Winter conference 2010. Thank you very much for your book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada'. I am reading that book, and I still remember your voice. I love you and I am committed to pray for your ministry amidst the challenges you have. You have decided to surrender earthly things for the Truth of the Gospel. The Lord you serve is not poor or ignorant. He will provide whatever you need for His work. I will share your story with my family and friends, and build a network to pray for you.

God bless you and keep you safe as you serve Him and prepare the future leaders to rescue your country.

With love and respect.
Rev. Jean Pierre.

A Life, Worthy - M. Laycock

I once had to walk through a swamp with a heavy pack on my back. I stumbled at almost every step because of the muskeg, my legs chilled to the bone by ice-cold water that lurked beneath the hummocks we tried to walk on. But I had a friend with me who continually turned and encouraged me with words that made me believe I could do what had to be done. I finished that arduous trip only because I sensed he believed I could do it and it made me want to.

In Ephesians 4:1 – The Apostle Paul writes- “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” On the one hand this makes me smile and want to step forward with my head held high. On the other hand, it makes me cringe.

As Christians we have received a primary calling, to be like Jesus and to glorify Him in all things. That calling is irrevocable. And I am painfully aware that I fail to be worthy of it every day. I continually fall into sinful attitudes and thoughts. It makes me think of Paul’s cry in Romans – “oh wretched man that I am!” He too knew himself to be weak and unworthy, in his flesh, yet he also says – “Although I am less that the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ …” (Eph 3:8).

And in that I am encouraged, because the calling on my life does not depend on my worthiness. It depends only on God’s grace and that will be sufficient for the task, not so that I will succeed, not so that others will praise me, but so that the name of Christ will be exalted.

How amazing that God chooses to use us, chooses to give us a calling and the grace with which to accomplish it! Such awareness causes me to strive to do what Paul admonished the Ephesians to do – live a life worthy - worthy of the name God has bestowed on us. How amazing that even though we fail God continues to extend that calling and that grace, just as a coach continues to encourage his protégés even though they fall short of the mark.

The encouragement is in itself sustaining, because just knowing that He doesn’t give up on us keeps us going, keeps us striving, keeps us longing to live a life worthy - worthy of Him.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from Alberta Canada. Visit her website -

Friday, February 05, 2010

A Month in the Life of a Scanner - Lindquist

For the last month, I've been so busy just "doing" that I've had virtually no time for reflecting, thinking, or, alas, writing. So I thought, why not just tell you what I've been doing? Especially since I'm a very high scanner (see Barbara Sher's books I Could Do Anything if I Only Knew What It Was and Refuse to Choose. I like them so much I created an Amazon store so you can actually buy them on my website.
They're in the creativity section.

Many creative people are scanners. Unlike those who are able to maintain a focus in one or two key areas for a long, long time, we simply have a LOT of different interests. Some of us focus on one thing and "finish" with it before moving to something new (totally frustrating friends and families with our flightiness). Others seem to juggle all kinds of interests, like the guy who used to keep a dozen plates balanced in the air on the Ed Sullivan show. I'm kind of a mix. I find learning something new exhilarating, but I also go back to certain things, not wanting to just leave them behind.

So what does a month in the life of a scanner look like?

I started out on January 4th with the goal of writing my memoir. The one I’ve been talking about writing for, oh, say, 12 years at least. January to March was my designated time to write the first draft. Only I got sidetracked by trying to understand my parents, which led me to want to know more about their families’ history, which led me to ask if anyone knew how to check on a few details about my grandparents that I’d been told but couldn’t confirm. The great news is that another member of The Word Guild knows something about this and sent me copies of birth certificates, marriages and census information. Very cool! The bad news is that I haven’t gotten much actual writing done.

Related to my memoir, I had bought a book for a friend’s birthday called Fearless Confessions by Sue Williams Silverman. I decided to order a copy for myself, too. After reading about 25 pages, I told my husband that if I’d paid $500 for the book, instead of the $20 or so it costs, I’d count the money worth it. Still reading it a little at a time. And it’s going to change the way I write my memoir. Assuming I get to it one of these days. Maybe sometime in February? Yeah, right. During the Olympics is not a great time for me to write. Which reminds me that my third son was born on December 18, 1980, and I got to spend two weeks int he hospital with him watching the Games (longs story involving a C-section, jaundice, doctor forgetting to do some things, and a case of the chicken pox at home.) Best possible timing! I had a terrific excuse to lie around wtching TV.

Where was I again? Oh, yeah. Early in January, I started blogging about writing at my new site Write With Excellence. This is something I want to do so that I can create a book from my "Get to Know the Writer in You" class. So I’m taking various points from my materials and expanding on each one. I started with Finding Things (i.e. getting organized in general) and moved from there into how to organize your ideas and then how to find new ideas.

In the process, I decided to give concrete examples of how I got some of the ideas I used, and post the resulting articles or books. That entailed finding my articles or stories, formatting them, and creating pdfs of them to attach. But it was good because I wanted to put up more of my writing anyway, and this gave me a reason (and a deadline) for doing it.

But January is also crunch time for Write! Canada. I was editing blogs and posting two a week, plus coordinating to make sure all systems were going, putting the information all on the website and making sure everything was working and accurate. Sounds easy, but actually took me a lot of time. There are just so many details to finalize, people to contact, and so forth. And a registration form to get ready – which my husband spent a number of days working on, too. But we’re happy with the end product – we think we have a fantastic conference - and registration opened on schedule Feb 2nd.

At the same time, I’ve been creating three new websites to hold all of the information that we’ve had on the old The Word Guild website. Why am I doing it? Because I'm the only person we can afford. :) And I'm the only person I know who would volunteer to do it who could do it. So I've spent hours testing themes to find the one that would work best for what we need, creating new headers for each site, and transferring tons of content from the old site onto the new ones. Again, it all takes a ton of time, because every time you fix one problem, another one rises. But we’re almost there. The first site is in use now:

My next goal is to create webinars to teach our TWG staff and volunteers how to use these sites. I don’t mind setting up the sites, but I’m not into maintaining them! I'm thinking of offering the webinars to other people at a moderate fee, too. Need to do something with all this stuff I'm learning. (And I am learning a lot.) Actually, I need to do the webinars so that a year from now when I want to do another site, I'll be able to watch and remember what I did. :)

What else have I done this month?

I’ve interviewed a number of Hot Apple Cider authors, then formatted the interviews and posted one a week on the Hot Apple Cider site.

Last night I created a form for keeping track of my eating and activities. I've also been keeping one eye on the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this week, and I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening with the Blue Jays and Raptors. And I’ve read a few books. I did a bit of shopping at the winter sales. Had a meeting about possibly teaching a course next fall for a college. Did some paid critiquing. Hmm. That reminds me, I have to get the forms for the critique program for Write! Canada updated and finalized next week.

After that, the next thing on my agenda is to start doing some Web TV programs based on my Release the Creative You workshop. We’ve set up a studio in our loft and we need to get going on that.

And then there’s the fantasy I started writing in the fall. The one my granddaughter is waiting for somewhat impatiently. And the mystery I've started that a number of people keep asking me for. And since my husband left his job with IBM in April, he has the strange idea that we should both start doing some things that actually pay, so I'm looking at doing more workshops across Canada this year. Of course, they need to be planned....

N. J.

N. J. Lindquist

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