Friday, September 28, 2012

Flipping the Perspective Coin - M. Laycock

This is the season of golden light in Alberta. This fall has been glorious with temperatures remaining in the mid twenties, Celsius, for some time. It's the kind of weather that makes me want to go horseback riding, a hobby I have loved since a young child. Unfortunately my riding days are over due to a leg injury that happened when I fell while rock climbing on the cliffs of Lake Superior's north shore. The injury has finally caught up with me and keeps me from doing some things I have enjoyed in the past. It's a loss I feel deeply at times, but then, the doctors once warned me I might be in a wheelchair by now, so I'm counting my blessings. 

It seems there are always two sides to the perspective coin. You can either look at all the frustrations and barriers that will continue to arise in your life and in your career, or you can focus on the obstacles that have already been surmounted and the answers to prayer that helped you leap over them.

There are times when I get frustrated with the barriers in my life and writing career, but then I remember …
My second novel, A Tumbled Stone, was published because of the generosity of a friend and the answer to the prayers of many more.

I’d prayed about the money needed to submit to A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider and three speaking engagements popped up, giving me enough to submit and purchase a few copies. God supplied what I needed just in time.

A spontaneous decision to submit a YA manuscript to Steve Laube at Write Canada led me to ask for prayer and that led to an encouraging interview and his request for the full manuscript. Once again, prayer opened doors.

Recently I prayed that God would begin to open up speaking engagements for me. After being out of the loop for over a year due to a battle with cancer, I was a bit worried that it would take a while to build up that part of my ministry again. Then I was asked to speak at a Spring Tea; another woman called to ask if I would speak at a few Christian Women's clubs in Central Alberta and another invited me to speak at a retreat in Saskatchewan. I'm now in the place of having to pick and choose which engagements to accept. 

God answers. God provides.

Sometimes the perspective coin lands on the wrong side and when it does I am blocked by the burdens of frustration and disappointment. It's at those times that I have to make the choice to flip the coin over. Counting the blessings releases the joy of contentment and renewed enthusiasm.

So go ahead, flip that coin.

Marcia’s devotional ebook for writers of faith, Abundant Rain is now available at 
Marcia is also a sought-after speaker for women’s events. Visit her at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Border Crossings

This past summer, my husband and I once again traveled to the USA for a few weeks. I love the mountains and the super-friendly people in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Over the years we have gone across this longest undefended border in the world many times, and in many different locations.
Some of the border crossings are extremely busy with long lineups. The crossing from Detroit to Windsor is always busy. The crossings that border some of the western provinces and states are much quieter – and typically more relaxed and friendlier.  There are no guarantees ever that it will be quick, though. One time a few years ago (pre-9/11 even), we were traveling back with our motorcycle and trailer and we were at a very small border crossing. We were expecting to be just waved on through with a few friendly questions, but I think we ended up being part of a border guard training session or something. We even had a dog sniffing through all of our belongings!

In Rachel’s Children, my latest romantic suspense, a secret organization has illegal cargo on board their vehicle as it crosses over the USA/Canada border.  Many lives are at stake and it is imperative that their hidden cargo remains undetected by the border guards.
Rachel’s Children is being launched in Winnipeg at McNally Robinson Booksellers on October 19 at 7:00 PM. Please join me if you can!

Dorene Meyer      

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Same old, same old--same Old?

Commuters often drive the same roads twice a day for the length of their careers. Bus drivers, truckers and delivery people do too.  What do they see?

As a school bus driver with the same route for at least ten years, I often marveled at the things I saw along the way.  Several years, a snowy owl hung out in a two-block area for the winters.  It never ceased to fill me with awe.  I watched a Great Blue Heron build its nest in a tree beside a small creek.  I observed one woman faithfully taking her dogs for a walk around the perimeter of the farm.  With interest I watched one house take years to become habitable, several homes receiving face lifts and many landscaping projects beautifying their owner’s habitation. I noticed changes, but sometimes too, noted things I had missed even though I drove the same route so often.

 For the seven years I’ve been married to my Wise One, we have travelled the hour between our two homes, much of the time, weekly.  Some wonder that we don’t get tired of it.  That hour, though, most often, is a time of relaxation and enjoyment.  We travel through farming country and several small towns and villages, through all kinds of weather and four seasons of the year.  The weather and seasons alone bring a never-ending progression of scenery that brings delight to the eye. The snow covered landscape, the frost on trees after a winter’s fog, the sparkle of the branches in the sun after they have been covered with a freezing rain.  In the spring we follow the receding of the snow, the drying of the land and the new growth greening the landscape and dressing the trees. Summer brings a plethora of flowers, both wild and domesticated, the harvesting of crops, the smell of freshly mown hay.  Then comes fall with its blue, blue skies and purple lined clouds, the trees in their autumn splendor—my favorite season.  Sometimes I keep my camera handy to record some of those sights.   Again, we have witnessed building projects, landscaping improvements, the tragedy of a house fire and the subsequent building of a new home.  We see farmers and gardeners sharing the wealth of their gardens at roadside stands along the way. In one small town we enjoy the wood carving done on the trunk of a tree that had to be removed—artistry borne out of death. 

As with the commuters, and my bus run, I am amazed at how often I still see something I hadn’t noticed before and I marvel at how often you can drive the same route and still miss a vital part of the scenery.  It made me think of my reading habits.  As a youngster, I read books over and over again.  Some of my favorites were probably read dozens of times.  I couldn’t understand people who would read a book once then give it away.  Now maybe part of the reason was that there wasn’t a lot of money around to buy books; there were only five eight-foot shelves of books in our school library and I didn’t have access to the town library for many years.   I had to read—to me it was as necessary as eating.  So my only alternative was to read the same books again and again.  I read my school readers many times and I even read the dictionary from cover to cover.   Those books became old friends I still treasure.   That is why I keep as many books as I do, although I have begun to donate them to the church library so others can benefit, and I still have access to them.  I’ve  prayed that my writing may also merit multiple readings, so I was pleased when again last Sunday, a woman told me she just read my two novels again and enjoyed them as much as the first time.

As I read books multiple times, I always discover parts to which I hadn’t paid much attention on my previous perusals.  It seems to depend on what I am experiencing in life as to which parts stand out.  I guess that is why the Word of God is always fresh and new to me.  That Book has spoken to me throughout my life journey.  Someone has said that as we reach each new stage of life, we face it inexperienced. So even portions we have read many times, suddenly become new and relevant because of what we are facing or what we need to learn at the present. 

So yes, keep reading new books, but don’t shy away from returning to an old friend!

Digging For Answers in the Past - Rose McCormick Brandon

In January I started writing Sandra Nunn's life/love story. And . . . a thousand cheers . . . by Labour Day the final word was tweaked .

I've written a few magazine stories for others but this is only the second time I've written a client's book length memoir. The greatest difficulty? Finding the person's voice, letting their personality, and not mine, shine through the words. Sandra is funny and direct with a dollop of quirky. And her story is unusual. She stayed in a loveless marriage far longer than anyone would expect. She and husband Ernie fell in love in their fifties. (They married at eighteen.)

Sandra couldn't tell me why she stayed with Ernie. She didn't know. As her writer, it was my job to find out - I've always loved detective work - so with lots of prodding questions, I made her talk . . . fortunately, talking is one of her favourite activities.

I dug through Sandra's life until I found out why she stayed with a man who didn't love or want her. I dug all the way to Germany, the land of Sandra's birth. There, the answer became as obvious as a coffee stain on a white blouse. Sandra's parents were part of a child immigration program. Both were forcibly removed from their Ukrainian families - Walter at 14, Martha 12 - and sent to Germany to become farm workers.
Sandra developed, or inherited, probably a little of both, a steely determination to cope with adverse circumstances..
Giving up isn't in Sandra's genes. (Until I met Sandra, I'd never heard of the thousands of abducted Polish and Ukrainian teenagers that were sent to Germany. I know a lot about the British Child Immigration plan and write about it at:

As much as I tried to maintain Sandra's voice, I couldn't resist channeling some of my thoughts through her. I saw the hardships of Sandra's parents, and they were many, through a different lens than she did. Their trust in God and determination to overcome  gave them an indomitable spirit, which they passed on to Sandra.
Sandra and I had many sessions in my living room. For hours, she talked while I tapped on my laptop. The result? Sandra's story of late love is a message of hope to all couples, even those with semi well-functioning marriages.

The book is on target for publication in late Fall. Stay tuned for more details . . . .

Rose McCormick Brandon’s articles and essays are published in magazines, books, newspapers and devotionals in Canada and the U.S. She is an award-winning writer who specializes in personal experience, faith, life stories and the British Home Child Immigration period of Canadian history. Rose is a regular contributor to several national publications, including The Testimony, The Evangel and Daily Boost. Her work appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul and other compilations of personal stories. Rose is married to Doug and lives in Caledonia, Ontario. She has three adult children. Visit her blogs: The Promise of Home ( and Listening to My Hair Grow ( Contact address: 

Monday, September 17, 2012

On the Greens . . . Peter A. Black

What a gorgeous day for a round of golf amidst a beautiful setting! The course, while close to town and nestled between several roads, is distributed through sufficient scenic territory and natural beauty to inspire a sense of wonder and offer in certain areas a degree of seclusion.

We worked up a sweat, my wife and I, as we picked up our heels on our way through the course. Thankful as I was for the solar protection afforded by my brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt, it was still hot, hot, hot! But nice.

Sheltering in the welcome shade afforded by a canopy of trees and resting on a wayside bench, we took a swig from our water bottle, which provided us several minutes of relief from the sun and some refreshment. I lingered for a minute or two on a bridge over the creek to spot signs of aquatic life before moving on and climbing higher to the next area.

Electric golf carts merrily ghosted along, sweeping by us. Their occupants – cucumber cool, ensconced under cute canopies – returned our greetings with smiles and waves. Oh yes, it was indeed a great day for golf. We are very fortunate to have a course like this so close to the community.

How’s our game – our handicap? No game and no handicap – at least, not a golfing one. As a kid I often took club in hand and played at a city putting park. A few years back I ventured to shoot a bucketful of balls wildly across a field, at a driving range. Many years before, I once caddied for a friend, and a half-century ago in Scotland, my shoe leather even touched down on the soil of the venerable St. Andrew’s course, while on holiday there.

No, we weren’t golfing this summer, and neither are we golfers. [And neither are we the handsome couple in the picture!] My wife and I were only virtually on the course, walking the community trails that wind their way through it. We had a pleasant experience, and enjoyed many of the elements golfers enjoy – fresh air and beautiful surroundings of nature and exercise, but no development of golfing skills, and no sense of accomplishment in improving our game or coming ahead of an opponent.

We were so close to the action as it was safe to be, and sometimes we slowed down in our walk to witness a tee-off. Some people play virtual golf through the medium of electronic action games, such as the Nintendo Wii technology. Like us, so near the real thing, and yet so far. 
 How many of us get close to the Kingdom of God, but don’t participate in its life? We may or may not attend a church, but might well enjoy certain benefits made available through that community, perhaps through a church-sponsored community help program. 
Some of us enjoy warm sentimental or toe-tapping gospel music, especially country, while others enjoy various forms of liturgical music and find it a transcendent experience. Chords of emotion are stirred deep within, but is that sufficient to bring one to a personal trust in the Saviour and result in spiritual rebirth into the Kingdom of God?

Virtual faith, like my wife’s and my skirting the golfing greens, is still more observation than participation.

Jesus once told a religious man, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34)


Let us enter right in and participate. Our Lord Jesus, through His sufferings and death on the cross, paid the price for our entry into the grace and Kingdom of God.

Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and author of a children's / family book, "Parables from the Pond." 
An earlier version of this article was published in his weekly column in the August 30, 2012 issue of The Watford Guide-Advocate, and has been adapted here. 
His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario.

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