Tuesday, June 28, 2011

God Runs - McCormick Brandon

Did you know that God runs?

One day, an unkempt drifter blistered by the sun, barefoot and bloody staggered into the town center. His father, the CEO of a successful company, recognized the staggerer, got up from his desk and took off running toward his son. As he ran, the father's expensive shoes kicked up dust onto his designer suit.

The father's assistants gazed at the scene from the windows of their posh offices and sighed.
"The old man's lost his mind," one said.

"He's a fool for that no-good kid of his," said the other.

The father opened his arms and embraced his rebellious son. "At last you've come home," he wept on his shoulder. Before the son could say he was sorry, the father forgave him for squandering his money and living like an idiot. He even forgot the hurtful words the son had said to him years before when he took off for a better life, words no parent wants to hear - I wish you were dead.

Jesus told this father's story to answer the question 'what is God like?' An assortment of losers, thieves, low-lives, dummies and rebels (just like us) needed the answer to that question.
And they got it. God kisses sinners with forgiveness. He loves to the point of foolishness. He watches for our return long after everyone else has given up hope. He forgives before we ask. He loves us before we are able to love Him.

Look up, God is running toward you.

"God is love." (I John 4:16)
(P.S. Check out Luke 15 for the whole story

Monday, June 27, 2011

Support Networks - Eleanor Shepherd

            Why are transitions so difficult for us?  One reason might be that they force us to leave the comfort of our support networks.  We have to rebuild our support network every time we face a major change in our situation. 
            It happens when we change jobs.  I learned this month that the office of Opportunity International for Quebec and Atlantic Canada will be closing.  Since that office is located in my home, that means that I am obliged to change jobs.  While I have been working from my home office, I have been linked with my colleagues at the National Office in Toronto and in other offices across the country on a daily basis.  Now that contact will no longer continue and I will not only need to find a new employer, I will also need to establish a new work support network. 
            This morning at our church service we accepted a new member of our congregation.  This man is not young and he is in what may well be the final stages of his battle with cancer.  However, he chose to become a member of the church.  Why?  It was important for him to acknowledge that he was a part of this support network.  He has been able to share something of his own faith journey and offer hope to others as he has received treatment at four different hospitals during his battle with cancer.  It is not only that he wants to be a member of our church.  He talked about being in fellowship with his mother and his grandparents that have predeceased him.  He is part of a much larger network that is supporting him.
            Recently a friend faced the unexpected death of her husband from whom she was divorced several years ago.  She had at that time had to relinquish the support network that had been part of their married life.  However, when he died, a group of friends were at the funeral who had been part of the support group of this couple at the time that they were married.  The support network they had established at that time emerged for her again when she needed it. 
            We are always building or repairing these support networks, either unconsciously or intentionally.  It is sometimes in the crisis of our lives that we realize how important they are.  How lost we, ourselves would have been at the time of our son’s traumatic accident if we had not had our support networks to help us through the dark days of coming to terms with his paralysis. 
            Our support networks enable us to do more that we could do independently.  It is in our own interest to nurture and develop the relationships that make up these support networks.  Not only do we need them when challenges come our way.  They also sustain us through the transitions.  While my work support networks are in the process of being dismantled and reassembled, I still have the support network provided by my family, my church congregation and my writing community.  Together we make it through.    

Friday, June 24, 2011

Old News . . . Good News - Black

When I first began writing a column for a small town newspaper in 1996 it was on an alternating basis with a ministerial colleague. After about three years he moved away and I soon began providing a weekly article. I could not have dreamed I’d still be doing that in 2011—more than a year after leaving that community myself.

The column is inspirationally oriented and called P-Pep! There is a readership. Well, OK, so my guess is that the reading demographic of my efforts is probably from about 50 to 100 years of age, with a sprinkling of younger folk. So, “What’s wrong with that?” One might ask. Nothing. Nothing at all. I’m entirely comfortable with my loyal P-Peppers! In fact, I heard from one recently.

Several weeks ago I received a letter card through the mail, which was forwarded to me by my pastoral successor. It was dated June 5, 2010. That was several days after my wife and I farewelled from our church and community on my retirement from fulltime pastoral ministry.

Other communications had been forwarded to us over time since we left, but it’s a mystery why this one had taken more than a year to come. Had it been stuck in a corner of a post box or bag before coming to light? Whatever. In any case, this was a most welcome thing. What a lovely encouragement. Here’s an excerpt:

“. . . May I wish you sincere congratulations in your retirement. We have met several times during the past fourteen years. I know you are moving soon and leaving the community . . . I wish you both continued health and happiness in your retirement. Best regards . . . Always a friend . . .” and she signed it with her name. “Always a friend.” I like that. I had no idea that this lady, a senior member of another congregation in the town, felt that way.

She came to the farewell open house our congregation provided, and was among a number of regular P-Pep! readers who expressed their hope that I would continue writing the column—and so far, I have. And then her lovely letter arrived—belated. (Hey, that rhymes with elated!)
I took that as a confirmation.

As a writer whose life has been touched and taught by the grace of God, and who is in some sense transformed by grace, I write out of that experience, since my worldview is in part shaped by it. What I write, while hopefully practical and down-to-earth, may at times have an otherworldly dimension to it. It bears elements of the gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ—and represents the old, old story which is ever new.

Whenever the story of God’s love demonstrated in Jesus comes alive in a person’s spiritual core, it really is good news, and works like medicine to bring healing and wholeness.

It’s true: old news really can be good news!

© Peter A. Black.
Black is the weekly inspirational columnist at The Watford Guide-Advocate,
and the author of “Parables from the Pond” (Word Alive Press; ISBN 1897373-21-X).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Christian media must be part of the new media or die - Denyse O'Leary

In "Why liberals fell for ‘Muslim lesbian blogger’ hoax" (OC Register, June 17, 2011), Mark Steyn tells a story that shows why current Big Media won't likely recover from their current tailspin:
On Sunday, Amina Arraf, the young vivacious Syrian lesbian activist whose inspiring blog "A Gay Girl In Damascus" had captured hearts around the world, was revealed to be, in humdrum reality, one Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old college student from Georgia. The following day, Paula Brooks, the lesbian activist and founder of the website LezGetReal, was revealed to be one Bill Graber, a 58-year-old construction worker from Ohio. In their capacity as leading lesbians in the Sapphic blogosphere, "Miss Brooks" and "Miss Arraf" were colleagues. "Amina" had posted at LezGetReal before starting "A Gay Girl In Damascus." As one lesbian to another, they got along swimmingly. The Washington Post reported:"Amina often flirted with Brooks, neither of the men realizing the other was pretending to be a lesbian."
It got so crazy that three armed thugs were supposed to have captured "Amina" and a Free Amina Facebook page sprang up. Until, that is, the construction worker outed the college student ... then got outed himself.

Front and centre: Media would have ignored these Yankee guys except that they were pretending to be gay Muslim girls and media had no means of establishing the facts. So they were all-day suckers.

(Meanwhile, in news no one notices, Syria's government killed 19 protestors at the biggest rallies yet ... )

Mark's right to say that "'Amina Arraf' is nothing more than the projection of parochial obsessions on to distant lands Western liberals are too lazy to try to figure out." But it's more than that: Today's media are obsessed with their writers' concerns, not their readers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No Title, no Subject, no Thoughts — Lawrence

I find myself, the day before my TWG Blog is due to be posted, with absolutely no thought of a topic on which to write.
Some writers, I know, find this stimulating—to come up to the hour of deadline and write their piece on the edge.
Some say they do their best work this way—under pressure—this is definitely not me! I like to be organized, know what I want to write about ahead of time, think about the topic as I go about my days, do a free-fall writing session about the topic in my journal, transpose it to my word processor, edit it and let it sit a few days several times over, until I finally feel satisfied that I’ve gone as far as I can with the topic.
No chance of doing that long drawn out process this month—for, here I am, the day before it’s due and I have no topic about which to write. There is nothing in my mind, in my heart, or under my pen about which I feel inspired to write. Absolutely nothing jumps out to grab me. So, what then will I do?
At the writers’ group I attend during the summer, we have an eight minute free-fall writing period. We take turns each week to choose the subject and it is given to us just before we begin this process. Because of the way my writing brain works (as described above), I find it quite difficult to get started. But, with only eight minutes to come up with something, one can’t waste too much time thinking about it.
I have devised a way of getting started under this pressure-filled moment at the writers’ group, by writing the word on my piece of paper and just write without thinking too much about it and, eventually, something is there on the page to read out to the group at the end of the eight minutes.
Basically, then, that is what you have today in my blog. Nothing! No title, no subject, no thoughts. It is my contention that a writer should be able to write something about any subject he is given. If, however, he has not been given any subject, what then? It is up to you, the reader, to decide whether or not I have been able to fulfil my own assertion that a writer should be able to write something about anything, even if that topic is nothing.

© Judith Lawrence 

Newest book by Judith Lawrence, available at 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Morning After - MANN

I returned home from Write!Canada totally zonked. My energy drained as I willingly released it in scurrying from appointments to workshops to continuing classes. No time to put up my feet and too much caffeine slowly ushered me into the delightful position of information-overload. I hugged friends I hadn’t seen for a year, kept tabs on my VISA as I chose books in the overflowing bookstore. Thank you Word Guild for providing these schedules and a great bookstore.

I find writing this Morning Page extremely stressful as I spent my Continuing Class with Kathryn Dean, a catch-it-all editor who appeared to enjoy her class as much as I did as participant. Thank you Word Guild for your excellent choice of faculty.

As a Word Guild volunteer responsible for billeting, I had opportunity to place two registrants with welcoming hosts. Many volunteers and staff work together to offer the best, longest and biggest conference for writers who are Christian, in Canada. Awesome! Three, I want to mention with full appreciation with many others: Heidi – we love you. I do enjoy my chicken soup, casseroles and BBQs, Brian for your undying effort to provide books for us. And a special thank you to Adele for your story and song. What a witness – truly an offering overflowing with grace. And Charlie didn’t have to do anything to get something – a true example of God’s unconditional love gave her opportunity to affirm Jesus love for him. What a gift!

I came to the conference, tired from the previous late night at the Gala, yet vigorously elated from winning the Long-Feature-Article award. Thank you for Word Guild sponsors.

As good as it was, I reflect quickly on some missed opportunities: being in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting side-tracked in interviews and at the end of the day, wondering about some of my choices. Yet, each of the above was a learning opportunity and does not take away from invitations to submit further work, encouragement to continue in the writing process and to welcome mentorship. So I press on!

Even though my cat seemed surprised to see me sitting in my chair this morning, she tested our friendship by immediately jumping up and claiming her space. And my Happy Hubby asked, “Is this Mother’s Day or Father’s Day?” as he brought coffee and juice to my side table.

Where to from here? What do I do with the plethora of writing guidelines, purchased and free books, piles of hand-outs and notes from classes? I’m going to take some of my own advice from leading the Orientation class last year: Make my lists, set my priorities, set some goals, create a calendar and begin my writer’s prayer log, but right now, I’m going back to bed ( 9:00 AM Sunday).

Donna Mann

P.S. I just checked Judith’s Blog schedule and I see where I’m due on Tuesday, so today’s Morning Pages have graduated to my blog.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Have you ever been stuck? -HIRD

By The Reverend Ed Hird

-an excerpt from my upcoming book 'Restoring Health: Body, Mind and Spirit', a sequel to 'Battle for the Soul of Canada'.

Have you ever been stuck at a key transition-point in your life?
[i] I have. Being stuck sometimes feels very painful. At other times I’m oblivious to it. A key turning point for me was when as National Chair for Anglican Renewal Ministries, I attended the 1998 ARM/SOMA Pre-Lambeth Leadership Conference at Canterbury’s University of Kent. Walking into a seminar, God ‘whispered’ to me that I would be receiving a message. The Rev Freda Meadows, who ministers with the International New Wine Director Rev Bruce C
ollins, suddenly called me out of the crowd and said:

You don’t need to run in keeping up with others. Enter into God’s rest. Keep your eye on the finishing line (which is Him). You will be moving into new things...word of knowledge... You will be gifted in this area...You are in an apprenticeship time at present. You will disciple others. You are a man of God’s Word, things of the Kingdom. You are a person of vision...a visionary...long-range. God is going to put you in a key place and you will find yourself training and discipling others.

Ten years later, the Rev Freda gave further insight into the 1998 Canterbury prophecy, saying:
...the underlying thrust was to trust God for the outcome of the plans He had in using you and that while you were to do all that was necessary, it was not for you to try and make anything happen but to follow the Lord's leading using the gifts and skills He gave in the best way you knew and through what you had learned as your experience grew.

I had no idea how powerfully God was going to use the 1998 ARM/SOMA Pre-Lambeth Leadership Conference. Most of us as Anglican Westerners were still stuck in the ‘inside strategy’ mindset. Being conflict-avoiders, we were going to ‘fix’ the North American Anglican churches while still inside the old institution. Institutionalism is a mental virus that can slip inside the mind of even the most sincere believer, turning us toxic. We Canadian Anglicans were still quite ‘gung-ho’, but the American Anglicans/Episcopalians at the Canterbury Leadership Conference were unusually quiet. They lacked their usual American ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude. When Americans go quiet, you can tell that something is up.

At the official Canadian night, Bishop Eddie Marsh of Central Newfoundland invited the Americans to come up and share. I will never forget how Bishop Alex Dickson and Dr. (now Bishop) John Rodgers stood up and repented to our African colleagues for the shame that the USA has brought on the Anglican Church, and for Bishop
John Spong’s castigating of African Anglicans as just one step out of animism and witchcraft:[ii]

“(Bishop Spong) has insulted you. We are ashamed for him; we are ashamed for ourselves. We ask your forgiveness and we assure you that he does not speak for us.”

Hundreds of African bishops and clergy spontaneously flocked forward and hugged the Americans, weeping and declaring God’s forgiveness. Todd Wetzel of Anglicans United said that ‘this was one of the American Church’s finest moments in decades.’ This prophetic action of repentance and forgiveness, I believe, was the birth of the Global South Anglican movement.
[iv] Archbishops Emmanuel Kolini and Moses Tay were the first Global South Primates to publicly adopt North American Anglicans into their Provinces through the Anglican Mission in the Americas, but many other Anglican Primates have since joined them, resulting in the unforgettable Jerusalem 2008 GAFCON conference and an unprecedented ‘boycott’ of Lambeth 2008 by hundreds of Anglican bishops representing most of the fifty-five million Anglicans worldwide. God used that 1998 pre-Lambeth Leadership conference to help Anglicans to become unstuck.

Rev Ed Hird

Rector, St Simon's Church North Vancouver

Anglican Coalition in Canada



[i] Terry B Walling, Stuck!, ChurchSmart Resources, 2008 “Without transitions, and the paradigm shifts that occur, Christ followers would stay stuck!”, p. XIII
[ii] “African Christians? They're just a step up from witchcraft: What Bishop Spong had to say about his fellow Christians, John Spong interviewed by Andrew Carey, Church of England Newspaper, July 10th 1998. Newspaper & Andrew Carey. "They've moved out of animism into a very superstitious kind of Christianity. They've yet to face the intellectual revolution of Copernicus and Einstein that we've had to face in the developing world. That's just not on their radar screen."
[iii] Doug LeBlanc, Lambeth, 1998, “Episcopal Dissidenta, African Allies”, Dr Miranda Hassett, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, http://anglicanhistory.org/academic/hassett2004.pdf
[iv] GAFCON, http://www.gafcon.org ; Global South Anglican Online, http://www.globalsouthanglican.org

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dad, can you fix this? - Gibson

Every so often, when I’m walking alone and the wind is right, I smell the fragrance of my father’s workshop. Sometimes I stop, shut my eyes, and walk into the memory. My father’s body is curved like a bracket beside his table saw; his mouth arranged just so, his small, rough hands carefully maneuvering a board past its blade.
There was a time—a glorious collection years, a bundle of years—when whatever I needed fixed, Dad could fix it. Made? Dad could make it.
Daddy, I drew a guitar. Could you cut it out? Daddy, I need a set of high jumps. Think you think you could make them? Dad, I’d like some wee houses with tiny little chimneys. Can you do it? Dad, I’d love a cupboard here. Would you build it?
Once, newly married, newly nesting, and panting for all things vintage, I traded a friend for a much-abused-but-dripping-character Morris-style rocker—without rockers. “Dad,” I asked him, “think you could make new rockers for this chair?”
My father tucked his tongue just right, looked it over, felt its strong bones, and agreed the chair was worth it. He searched for months for the right kind of oak. While cutting the second rocker, he came to me, his hand wrapped in a bloody towel. “Kathleen,” he said, “can you take me to the doctor’s?”
Dad got the rockers on that chair, but his reattached finger had to heal first. He almost fixed that for good.
Coffee table, high chair, picnic table, cupboard door, car—he fixed them all. I only had to ask. Sometimes I didn’t even have to ask—he offered.
A stray male kitten adopted us one summer when Dad was about seventy-five. When I complained about the vet’s cost to neuter the cat, he offered to fix it too. “We used to do that all the time, back on the farm,” he said. Had he lived closer, I may have let him. Instead he gave me instructions: “Stick it upside down in a pair of boots. Find your sharpest knife, and just cut the ding dongs off.”
I declined.
If it could be made of wood, Dad could make it. If it could be broken, he could fix it. And if it could be fixed once, it could be fixed twice.
But Mr. Fix-it Neufeld didn’t stop with fixing things. He tried to fix neighbours, churches, relationships, kids, and grandkids. And sometimes, by God and prayer, he did. He even fixed my heart, sometimes, his ears his only tool. Once, after he’d picked me up from a friend's home, he sat in the car for a very long time while I finished my distraught ramblings over pubescent hurts.
In my memory, his tears fell as his prayers rose.
Some people’s dominant trait is assertiveness or compassion, intelligence or wit. Dad’s was cheerful fix-ituitiveness.
I didn’t inherit it. But into eternity, I’ll be blessed by it.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. You’ve always looked a lot like God to me.
Writer, speaker, and broadcaster Kathleen Gibson took the cat to the vet. Yesterday she fixed a wooden umbrella pole. Find her online at www.kathleengibson.ca

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kingdom Poets Recommends Christian Wiman - Martin

Christian Wiman is on his way to becoming a major American poet. His first significant step, after the publication of his first poetry book The Long Home (1998) was being appointed as the editor of the magazine, Poetry in 2003.

Wiman was raised in west Texas, in a family of faith. He however turned to his own way. He has recently arisen from an extended season of creative drought and an even longer period of spiritual drought to produce his latest collection, Every Riven Thing (2010). Readers of this work will see a new God-consciousness. For example, in the poem “And I Said To My Soul, Be Loud” he says,
-----------“For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things
-----------“and I will ride this tantrum back to God...”
This is something he has done — recently returning to both God and the church. The following poem is from Every Riven Thing.

Small Prayer In A Hard Wind

As through a long-abandoned half-standing house
only someone lost could find,

which, with its paneless windows and sagging crossbeams,
its hundred crevices in which a hundred creatures hoard and nest,

seems both ghost of the life that happened there
and living spirit of this wasted place,

wind seeks and sings every wound in the wood
that is open enough to received it,

shatter me God into my thousand sounds...

My review of Christian Wiman’s third poetry book, Every Riven Thing, is soon to appear from Ruminate.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. 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: www.dsmartin.ca

This is this week's post from: Kingdom Poets Follow this link to see dozens more, including some of the world's most celebrated poets, as well as some lesser known treasures.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Christian Bookmobile: EXCERPT: Tooth for Tooth by Kimberley Payne

Christian Bookmobile: EXCERPT: Tooth for Tooth by Kimberley Payne

In a State of High Dudgeon - M. Laycock

I found myself there this past week. "In a state of high dudgeon." - a state or fit of intense indignation; resentment; ill humour

A more common word for it is discouragement. It's a nasty word and an even nastier reality. But it happens. We have days when things overwhelm us, when bad news brings us low, when we wonder if God really has given us this task, this ministry of writing. And if He has, why doesn't he let a few others in on the secret?

I had one of those days this week. I'd been fighting it for some time, ever since learning that the treatments I'll have to undergo for cancer may be more extensive than originally thought. That could mean I'll have to cancel a trip to the arctic that has been planned for over a year. Then I got an email from my publisher telling me my next novel may not be published after all. And an attempt to solicit help from friends to promote my ebook was a dismal failure. A phone call from my sister who is watching our mother die in a town on the other side of the country left me on the edge. All of this has left me feeling tired and unwilling to keep trying to roll that huge ball of life uphill.

Discouragement. It can lead to frustration and frustration to anger and anger to lack of faith. It was my husband who reminded me of this. I guess he was seeing the signs. He reminded me that my worth is not dependant on selling millions of books. He reminded me that success does not rest on being on the best sellers list. He reminded me about some of the changes in people's lives because they've read my novel. He reminded me that joy does not rely on the circumstances around me but comes from knowing I am loved by a God who gave his own life for mine.

That lifted my head, made me look up again and realize that God is here, with me. He's the one who gave the ball a mighty heave to get it moving in the first place and I know he's not going to abandon me or let it roll back on top of me. A friend sent me this scripture yesterday. It helped lift my head up too.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8).

And then there's this one - "I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber" (Psalm 121 - 1-3).

So I am lifting my eyes to see the gifts of God around me - the burgeoning green of spring; the deep red of geraniums in my living room that just won't quit blooming; the hugs and prayers of friends who just won't quit encouraging me. And I am thankful.

Addendum - since writing this post awhile ago, I've had some great encouragements - my doctor agreed to scehdule the cancer treatments so that I can make that trip to Baffin Island, and then I learned that my work has been shortlisted in two categories of The Word Guild contest. My husband and I attended a church conference during which I was overwhelmed with the well-wishes, love and promises of prayer that flowed out to me the whole weekend.

There are days of discouragement, but then, praise God, there are those other days.


Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011. A collection of devotionals for writers has just been released here. Visit Marcia's website

Friday, June 10, 2011

But I'm at the computer... - Nesdoly

This is a poem about my headstrong inner child
rebellious teen, dysfunctional adult.
This is a poem about sneaky ways
to break my own rules.
This is a poem about bribes and bargaining
Work for one hour
and you can check your email.
This is a poem about adult ADHD
fed by email, blog stats, galleries, and Google.
This is a poem about resourcefulness
web searches, and getting sidetracked
on internet ramblings one can call research.
This is a poem about being sneaky –
Just one more click on Facebook
and then I’ll really get to work.
This is a poem about fear.
This is a poem about finally
getting lost in the words
swept away by the ideas
into the zone
living the scene.
This is a poem about the indulgence
of guilt-free blog-reading
when I’ve met my goal.
This is a poem about going
through the whole process again tomorrow.
This is a poem about writing.

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

Website: www.violetnesdoly.com

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Limitless Love - Derksen

This weekend I heard a new concept or at least, for me, a new way of describing an old idea...loving without limits. Most people have no problem loving their spouses, their children, or their parents. We love a friend and that causes no dilemma. In fact loving those who love us is easy. It's loving the unlovable, the disgusting, and the stranger that gives us cause for pause.

When we try to love someone who does not reciprocate the affection, someone who is in desperate need of a bath, or someone who continues to make poor life choices, we tend to justify. We look for reasons why loving that person is impossible, not only for us but for everyone we know who is civilized and a 'good Christian'.

Loving without limits opens the door for possibilities. There is no room for justification because there is none. Christ was clear. We are to treat the stranger as if he were Christ himself. The Lord tells us to meet them where they have a need and He does not tell us that there are exceptions.

Loving without limits...such a thought. Do you mean I have to share a meal with a drug addict? Are you saying that a drunk who is in need of a place to sleep is someone I should love and even provide him a pillow for his head? And even more scary...what about that writer I meet at a conference who thinks they are a better writer than I am, who is vying for the attention of the same publisher, editor, or agent that I am?

Loving without limits means that whomever God places in my path, I am to love, to fufill their need and I am to show them the same love Christ would show them if He were standing in my place. For some, we will be the only Jesus they will ever see. Are you ready? Look for the adventure of whom God wil bring into your scope off influence.

Barbara Ann Derksen, writer and speaker, rides with Chritian Motorcyclists Association, sharing her faith and ministering to bikers. What opportunities has God placed in your life and will you love without limits?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Not for Sissies - Reynolds

Brenda and I are both getting a bit hard of hearing, “normal for our ages.” Sometimes I will want to say something to her, “Brenda!” No response. So I’ll say it a bit louder. “Brenda!” Now, hearing me, she will turn and say, “Yes.”  By that time, I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say to her.
“The Golden Age” they call it in commercials. But those who have the “Gold Card” (as it’s called here in British Columbia) know that old age is not for sissies. Failing eyesight, hearing problems, failing strength, aching joints, hardening of the arteries, and of course forgetfulness. (Personally, my more minor complaints are very biblical – a stiff neck, weak knees, and a fibrillating heart.) These realities are the theme of many “old folks” jokes, especially loss of memory.
There is the story of the pastor, calling on an elderly parishioner, who asked her if she ever thought about the hereafter. “O yes,” she blithely replied, “Very often. I go upstairs and wonder what I came up here after.”
For myself, I can hardly go from one side of the kitchen to the other without stopping to wonder what I was looking for. Or I’ll open the fridge door looking for something, stop and try to remember what I was looking for, only to remember in a minute or two that what I wanted is in a cupboard, not the fridge.
I used to say that our memories are fine, as good as they ever were. It’s just that we worry more about them. I must admit though that it takes me longer to remember the name of a flower or a friend. Meeting someone on the street or at the doctor’s office, I desperately try to remember his or her name. Finally, five minutes after they’ve gone, I remember it. Sometimes, I remember the name just as I’m walking away. On these occasions, I will turn and look back and call out loudly, “Good bye, George!” (Or Dan, or Sam, whatever it may be.)
Talking about doctors (weren’t we?), think of the amount of time we spend visiting doctors (professionally, of course). We are fortunate to have a “GP,” a family doctor; the generalist whose most desirable quality is knowing when to refer to a specialist. Specialists come in many varieties. At the moment, I boast, beside my faithful GP, a cardiologist, urologist, ear-eye-nose-and throat specialist, dermatologist, neurology and endocrinologist, even a foot specialist for something called Planter’s Fasciitis. Over the course of recent years, I had hospital stays, trips to emergency, and a growth taken off my nose so big they had to take a piece of my ear to plug up the hole in my nose. (Unfortunately, my nose is as big as ever.)
Between hospital stays, visits to doctors, day surgeries, plus going to the bathroom, there is little time left for necessary exercises. I go three times a week to a Heart Wellness Clinic (“old farts with healthy hearts”), and then I do stretches at home each day (and I am pretty faithful). I seem to need ten hours sleep at night plus a nap in the afternoon. There’s no time left for living.
A lively topic of conversation, when seniors meet, is the number of pills each has to imbibe daily. Personally, I am down to three for my heart, beside the one for an over-active bladder (how nicely put), then another for constipation caused by the pill I take for an over-active bladder. Then beyond prescriptions, there is the usual variety of multi-vitamins and the supplements, like calcium with Vitamin D (to keep my legs from aching at night). I’ve told Brenda that I don’t care how long I continue to live, as long as I have my mind and my stomach, and of course no more aches and pains than are tolerable.
It’s a time however when humour helps a lot. A good laugh is necessary for the senior years. Here are some making the rounds (probably have been making the rounds for years).
            Story one – a man, visiting an elderly couple, noted how during the meal the husband always referred to his wife with terms of endearment: “Honey,” “Darling,” etc. While the wife, in good old-fashioned style, was getting dessert, the visitor remarked on this to his old friend, who replied, “To tell the truth, I haven’t been able to remember her name for months.”
            Story two – two elderly couples in conversation, one of the men was boasting of a recent course he had taken in “recall” (to help him remember!) Finally the other, suitably impressed, asked for the name of the course. After a few minutes, trying to remember the name of the course, he turned back to his friend and said, “What’s the name of that flower, the one with thorns on the stem?” “Rose?” asked the friend. “Yes,” he replied. Then turning to his wife he said, “Rose, what’s the name of that memory course I took?”
            Story three – two elderly women in a nursing home were having a nice conversation when an old man streaked by, stark naked. One woman turns to the other and says, “What was that?” “I don’t know,” the other replied, “but it sure needed ironing.”
            Unlike many seniors, I don’t mind the thought of going into a “care facility” as long as my family come to see me, keep an eye on me to see that the staff don’t leave me lying on the floor all night, or in a light night gown in front of an open February window. I don’t want unnecessary medication (easy to say at this point in time), and when I come to die, I hope for someone who loves me to hold my hand and perhaps to pray and read some of my favourite passages from the Bible.
            As we say, old age is “no time for sissies!” It is a time, however, when faith become more and more important, not only because we are closer to our own death, but also for enduring the trials and struggles of each day. (There is also the story of the little girl who asked her friend why her grandmother was always reading the Bible. She replied, “I guess she’s cramming for her finals.”)
                The following is taken from a little book -- Good Grief, by Granger Westberg, a Lutheran minister (on the faculty of the University of Illinois Medical School when the book was written).  He writes,
            I am convinced of the importance of keeping at the task of nurturing one's faith because I have seen how such people demonstrate greatness under trial.  Conversely, I now have seen what happens to people who have not taken seriously the necessity of working at their faith when life was good.  These people seem unprepared to handle even the smaller losses which all of us face from time to time. . . .  
                        At the time of great loss, people who have a mature faith give evidence of an uncommon relationship with God.  They demonstrate an uncommon inner sense of strength and poise which grows out of their confidence that such a relationship with God can never be taken away from them.  With such a basic philosophy they can face any earthly loss with the knowledge that they still have not lost everything. They still have God on whom to rely.  I have come to see that this way of looking at life makes an amazing difference in the quality of their experience.
                        (Granger Westberg, Good Grief, pp. 50 & 51)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Raining Hammers - Austin

In a time-worn, if not time honoured tradition, most construction projects have included blood-letting. I've always thought it a tradition best buried and forgotten, but in spit of that, virtually every project bigger than a bird-house that I have worked on has extracted its measure of blood from me. As well as trying to discard out-worn traditions, I've tried to quit using the excuse of brain-damage. But with each new knock on the head, it seems to be the best one-size-fits-all explanation.

This time it was an old Eastwing, wonderfully balanced and intimately known to the calloused hand that had put it down just moments before. One houndred thousand nails and more it had driven, swung by that hand over the years. Many other hammers had been used at times, but always the old Eastwing was sought out, preferred above all others. No, there had been no vow of, "I'll keep you you only as long as we both shall live." There was no betrayal, no subtle or blatant shame heaped upon it. And the hammer itself had never expressed dissatisfaction with its lot. Nor had it every before used its claws to tear living flesh. That is not to say it had made any promise to abstain from flesh and blood. The right hand that gripped and swung so confidently, took guidance from eyes that sometimes gave less than perfect service. The thumb and fingers of the left hand often throbbed and sometimes bled. They shared the pain, taking seriously the biblical mandate that when one part suffers, the whole body suffers with it. Strange that a hammer striking the thumb can drive an ache all the way to the toenails. Strange too, and perhaps fortunate, that words that might escape at such moments are usually cut off by a quick sucking of breath through the teeth.

Moving a ladder is a routine part of many carpentry tasks. To the best of my knowledge, moving a ladder is not a part of any rain dance and should not call hammers to fall from above.
Did you know that claw-hammers actually have claws? And did you know that owning three hard-hats does not prevent blood-loss when all three sit on shelves and hammers fall from the sky?

My wife didn't know whether to call the ambulance or the undertaker. I could use more blood-flow to the inner workings of my brain. But there seems to be more than enough on my scalp.

In my younger years I donated blood frequently and always felt strong and healthy after the process. But usually a rather attractive nurse would banter with me while she inserted an exceptionally sharp needle into a part of my arm with large veins and little feeling. The "gift of life," when extracted by a claw-hammer rather than a pretty nurse, somehow misses out on that 'good-deed' satisfaction. And were you aware that spouses who happen to know you own three hard-hats, sometimes ask insensitive questions at insensitive moments?

"Is that blood?"

"No. I'm trying a new makeup trick for the Easter drama I do. Do you think I'm overdoing it?"

Later she asked why I hadn't been wearing my hard-hat. I mean, really. . . should a man have to answer such questions while the top of his head still feels (and looks) like somebody has tried to bury an axe in it? After all, a hard-hat would not have stopped an axe.

Like many men of a certain age, I take some ribbing for the reflection from the top of my head. There is good news and bad knews when scalping attempts are made on balding men. The good news is two-fold. (1) A scalp with little hair makes a poor battle trophy, so the cutting and tearing is usually abandoned before the scalp is fully removed. (2) Little hair gives more exposure to the air and quickens the clotting, so if the scalping itself doesn't kill you, the bleeding just might stop on its own before you are drained dry.

Unfortunately the bad news is also two-fold. (1) The scalp that is not worthy to hang on a warrior's belt is rarely made more handsome by bloody scabs and purple bruising. (2) Spouses, once convinced you will live to do something as intelligent again (they would never use the word 'stupid') do not give praise for manly scars. They expect you to stop the bleeding outside, and for goodness sake, "don't use the white towel." They'd even prefer not to sit across from a blood-streaked face at meal times, wanting all possible evidence of your manly encounter erased. Spouses are wonderful and recommended for many reasons, but rarely for inflating male egos.

Eastwing hammers are a respected name among carpenters of every skill level. Old or new, their balance is near perfect. But even old hammers, with countless little acts of revenge to their credit (just ask my left thumb and fingers) may still harbour a grudge. I've used this hammer for more than 30 years. Who knows? Maybe by its calculations, 100,000 nails means a half million blows. Does one knock on the head balance the accounts?

It still fits my hand well. The balance is still near perfect. It remains my hammer of choice for nearly every task that calls for such a tool. But I rarely set it down these days on any surface higher than my knees. My head, hard as it is, apparently houses a brain. I sometimes doubt that, but a number of tests have confirmed there is something in there, even if it doesn't always perform as it should. But. . . I've taken First Aid and a hammer, even an Eastwing hammer, is not a sterile instrument. So using it to either draw blood or to preform brain surgery fails to meet proper medical standards. Besides, I'm not convinced that dropping hammers from the sky is taught in any accredited school, so I think I'll ask for a second opinion if some surgeon feels the need for a closer look at any grey matter I might have. Besides, I want to be asleep before the surgery starts, and I want to know a sharp scalpel rather than 30 year old claws are going to be used -- no offense to the hammer.

I've made it a habit to unplug my computer during exceptionally stormy weather. But I think next time it threatens to rain hammers, I just might grab my hard-hat and park myself at the computer, regardless of what the weather-man says.

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Theme of My Life - Meyer

Recently, I was listening to a series of CDs recorded at last year’s Write! Canada. They were of a continuing class by Sheila Wray Gregoire. On one of the CDs, she asked the question of her audience: “What is the theme of your life?”

I really puzzled over that one. I know that the books, stories, articles or poems that I write need to have a theme. Even this blog post must have a theme. But my life…? How could an entire lifetime be summed up in one theme?

But as I gaze backwards now and think about my life’s journey, it can indeed be summed up in one theme.
As a young child, I dreamed of love. I had a crush on my grade 2 teacher. As a ten-year-old, I wrote an eight-chapter book about a nurse during WWII who travels overseas to find her brother and ends up falling in love with a soldier. I loved watching Roy Rogers movies where the hero would rescue the beautiful young lady from the men who were trying to steal the deed to the ranch owned by her recently deceased father. They would ride off together into the sunset with sweet music playing in the background. I dreamed even of a time when my father would return to be reunited with my mother. I dreamed of love.

But I never believed in it. Not really. The fairy tales of happily-ever-after were places I traveled to and places I inevitably returned from. They only lasted as long as the movie or book or the day dream in my mind.

I had given my heart to Jesus at a young age. I longed to serve Him. Every day, I worked hard to please Him. I worked hard so that He would be pleased with me.
Looking back, there are specific people whom I remember who began the breakthrough in my disbelief of love. I began to think that perhaps it might truly exist – for other people. It wasn’t until I met my husband and he said, “I can’t prove that I love you; you’ll just have to trust me,” that I came to understand what love was. I experienced it for myself and KNEW I was loved.

Still, I strove hard to win my Father’s love. I was constantly vigilant, fearfully aware of every little area where I might need to improve.

Then one evening, walking out under the stars, arm in arm with my husband, the Lord spoke to me and told me that the way that I trusted John’s love was the way that I could trust God’s love. I could rest in His unconditional love. I didn’t need to strive or live in constant fear and doubt. I could rest. As the Bible says, I was “accepted in the beloved.”

That should have been the end of my story but it isn’t. I still struggle with accepting the love of my husband, my family and friends. And I still struggle with accepting God’s love.

Coincidentally, I have just finished the sixth book in a series of novels that depict a seven-step journey of healing. The sixth step is: “God loves me.”

It’s true. God loves me. God loves you. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

We just need to “believe in Him.” We just need to trust that He loves us. Walk into His arms and let Him hold you close. God loves you.

God loves me. The theme of my life. The theme of my song for all eternity.

Dorene Meyer

Contributor to Hot Apple Cider and A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider
Author of Lewis, Jasmine, The Little Ones and Deep Waters
Now in book stores across Canada
Distributed by Word Alive Press www.wordalivepress.ca.
Available online and as ebook on Amazon www.amazon.com (key in title of book and publisher: Word Alive Press).

Thursday, June 02, 2011

GO JET GO - Boge

It is one of the greatest days in Winnipeg's history.

On May 31, 2011 the NHL announced it was returning to our beloved Winnipeg.

As a kid I used to go the Jets games with my dad. We would park the car and run to the arena just for fun. It was such a passion to cheer for them, to feel the collective enthusiasm of our entire city and all Jets fans when they played.

And then they left.

I remember it well because it felt like something changed. It felt like we had lost a critical component to our city. And the majority of us felt it. We were now Jetsless.

But we believed. Even when it looked like there was no chance, we believed the Jets would someday come back.

And on Tuesday, that dream became a reality.

Thousands of us 'took leave' from work to be able to hear the announcement live and cheer it on. The cops closed down Portage and Main and hundreds poured onto the street to watch a game of street hockey.

It was surreal. The Jets were back. (okay, I know the name is not official yet...but) thousands of us were wearing our Jets jerseys. Our long awaited team after much believing was now back.

And to think, the passion and excitement and the 'is this really happening or is it a dream' feeling that we were having is only a small, small indication of what it will be like when someone else who was here on this earth will return.

We don't know when, but we continue to believe. And when he does appear, it will be incredible.

Be encouraged in your faith.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

My BE Day by Ruth Smith Meyer

After a busy three weeks, I woke on our first of July holiday morning with nothing urgent that needed attention. My head knew that, but my inner self was still on fast forward. I felt as though my head was at least a foot ahead of my feet and that I would fall flat on my face if I slowed down.
When my husband asked if I wanted to accompany him on an hour's drive to his daughter's where he wanted to work on the truck he's been restoring, my mind went into a whirl. I have writing I need to do. I have calls to make. I need to play catch-up from the busy schedule of the past few weeks.
My hubby, my Wise One, often tells me "You're retired you know!"
Often I jokingly reply, "If I am re-tired, that must mean I've been equipped with new tires and ready to keep travelling."
I was about to say that very thing when I heard the echo of my first husband's frequent observation. (He was another Wise One.) "You have trouble being content to just be, don't you? You seem to feel that every moment you have to do."
Abruptly, I hushed those voices that bid me Do,do, do! I decided this holiday Monday would become my Be Day!
With determination, I let go of my to-do list and turned my face the other way. I happily busied myself making a lunch for the two of us, gathered up my camera and a book to read then joined my husband.
As we drove, the glare of the computer screen I had anticipated staring at was gently replaced by the clouds and the sun in seeming competition to see who would win. The interaction produced beautiful light and shadow patterns on the fresh spring growth. The smell of the rain-washed earth replaced the odour the burning-rubber of my active mind. The rolling countryside stretched out inviting my tightly focused mind to enlarge the borders of my vista and to relax to see a bigger picture.
When we arrived, I vacuumed the inside of the truck on which My Wise One was working and not only found pleasure working near him, but also satisfaction in changing the appearance of the carpet. That work reminded me of the neglected corners of my life where little bits of litter gather when I am too focused on one thing. I prayed that God would help me take the time to clean out those corners too.
The book I had picked up happened to be Pressing into the Thin Places, Encouraging the Heart toward God by Margaret Harrell Wills. That's exactly what it did for me this morning. After reading awhile, I needed to let my discoveries settle in, so I picked up my camera and strolled around the beaurtiful grounds and flowerbeds around our daughter's home, capturing bits of the beauty. There's something about looking through a camera lens that forces one to see through diffferent eyes. Some shots were of the larger scene, but many focused on a bird house nestled among the shrubs or a single flower or close up of a few blooms. Each opened a different vista in my increasingly thankful and peaceful heart.
Back on my chair, I was pleasantly interrupted to visit first with a daughter,then with a granddaughter, both of whom have brough much joy to my life in the past few years. It was a pleasant addition to my Be Day.
The afternoon finished with my husband and I working together to build two birdhouses to add to the ones already on the property.
On our drive back home, we drove through a driving rain that seemed to finish the cleansing of my cluttered mind. At one point in the midst of the driving rain, we could see the clear blue sky to the right with the sun peeking through the clouds.
Ah-hh--that is life. Sunshine and shadow, a time for intense focus, a time for stepping back to see the broader picture, a time for a through washing away of the cob-webs of our brains, the sun always ready to shine through the clouds--a satisfying Be Day!

Contributing author to Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

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