Monday, April 29, 2013

A Valuable Perspective

This is a quote from one of my husband’s sermons. I found the stats. surprising to say the least -
The focus of the Bible is not, as we might suppose, on the events of Christ’s first coming as Messiah, though this is certainly foundational. The focus of the Bible is on the Second Coming of Christ. “It’s been estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ – an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses! 23 of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to the second. In short the Bible is not all about the historical Jesus, it’s about the pre-eminent, soon to return, majestic and glorious Son of God, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

As I’ve pondered those words I’ve had a renewed sense of responsibility and accountability as a writer. These days, it seems, are indeed drawing to a close – perhaps more quickly than we know. It made me think of the a movie that released a while ago, about two old – ahem – older, gentlemen who realize they’re getting on and decide to do the things they’ve always wanted to do before they “kick the bucket.” So they make up a “Bucket List.” Not a bad idea. As a palliative care volunteer I was told to make just such a list once. “Right down all the things you want to accomplish before you die,” our facilitator said. When we had at least ten things on the list, she said, “okay, now imagine you had six months left. Re-write your list.” Then she narrowed the time again, and again, until our imaginary life-span had been reduced to only a few hours.

I was fascinated by what happened to my list the closer I got to my demise. It went from a top priority of getting published to a top priority of connecting with those I loved.

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

Connecting with people became of prime importance but I came to understand that God had ordained that one of the ways in which I accomplished that is to write.
So, to return to the beginning, or perhaps to the end, what if Christ were to return tomorrow? What would I want Him to find me doing? The words loving, ministering, praying, all come to mind. And how would I do that? The word sequel comes to mind. 

I have another book to write. With the Lord’s help it will be a book that will put people first, a book that will point them to Jesus, a book that will perhaps even change a life or two. As I write I will be loving, ministering and yes, praying. It’s what God has given me to do. He has put this currency of His in my hands and said, “Put this to work, until I come back.’ ” (Luke 19:13b)
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from Central Alberta Canada where she lives with her pastor/husband. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone, has just been short-listed in the Contemporary Fiction category of The Word Awards. Visit Marcia's website

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why Writer's Conferences are so Important

As a writer you owe it to yourself to attend at least one writer's conference this year. My conference of choice? Write! Canada, held in lovely Guelph, Ontario from June 13 - 15 this year. I know they can be expensive, but look  at all the benefits you receive by attending:
  • You get to network with real agents, editors and writers.
  • You can have your work critiqued by some of those agents, editors and writers.
  • You will be able to attend some of the best courses on writing, publishing, etc. you will ever find.
  • You learn the current state of the industry.
  • You might meet your favourite author!
  • You learn the craft of writing from the pros.
  • You have the chance to pitch your work - which could lead to a contract.
  • You have the opportunity to promote yourself.
  • You will make lifelong friends.
  • It's an investment in your future.
  • You go home feeling motivated.
How you feel after a conference all depends on your expectations going into one. If you expect to go to a conference, pitch your book and walk out with a signed contract - you are dreaming! You will go home feeling miserable. Good expectations are:
  • Meeting editors, agents and other writers.
  • No expectations - just go and enjoy the weekend, you might be surprised at what happens!
  • Getting the chance for critiques of your work.
  • Pitching your work to an editor or agent.
  • Marketing yourself. Do you have a book out? By all means bring copies with you! You can sell them on consignment at most conferences. Or, if you are fortunate, an editor will ask to read it. I had that happen to me at my first conference! Of course, don't forget your one-sheets, business cards, etc.
  • Making contacts. I can't count how many one-sheets and business cards I gave away and received in return.
  • Delicious meals.
  • No sleep (how can anyone sleep when there is so much going on? It also doesn't help when your roommate wants to talk all night - or she snores. *Hint* - bring earplugs).
Of course, there are so many other wonderful things that can happen that I can't fit them all here.  At my first conference I went to, I was feeling rather down. I kept comparing myself to other writers and thinking I was horrible and should just give up. I was so depressed that I didn't even submit anything for critique, thinking - what's the point? But, God moves in mysterious ways. After the deadline passed for submissions, I breathed a sigh of relief, until they extended the deadline. Then I felt such an urgency to submit something that I knew God was nudging me. Good thing I listened. My work was critiqued by an editor of a publishing house who wanted to see the rest when it was completed. I was so excited after that weekend, that I literally haven't stopped writing since! I came home motivated to continue writing. More importantly, the Lord confirmed for me (again) that this was what He wanted me to do. I went in expecting nothing and came out with so much more.

This year I will be unable to attend Write! Canada, but I look forward to attending next year. If you are interested I suggest you visit this link and get your reservation in as soon as possible. This is a popular conference and you don't want to miss it!
Until Next Time,
Visit me @

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

God, I Don't Want To by Rose McCormick Brandon

When we know what we should do but don't want to do  . . . God can cause us to want to.
I don't mean that He will force us. But that He can put the "want to" in us, if we want Him to.
We may find someone unlovable but God says "love them." Impossible. Unless . . . we open our hearts and let Him cause us to want to love.
God may ask us to speak to someone about a particular subject, perhaps their own need of Christ. Yikes! What if they reject what we have to say? God can cause us to want to speak and not to care about the consequences.
What if we wake up one morning and God says, "Give x number of dollars to Joe." Can't Lord. Don't have enough. Don't want to. Joe doesn't deserve it.
When we know what we should do but don't want to . . . we can ask God to put the "want to" in us.
God's "want to" helps us see things from His perspective, the inside of a person instead of the outside. He closes our ears to their language and behavior and causes us to see how they really feel.
Do you need to have God's perspective on a person or situation today? God specializes in this. Paul found this out and wrote about in a letter to the Philippians.
For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose. (2:13)
Let's ask Him to do this for us.

Lord, give me your "want to" today. Re-align my perspective so that it lines up with yours.

Rose McCormick Brandon 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 married to Doug, an investment consultant, with whom she also co-authors articles on finances. Visit her blogs: The Promise of Home and Listening to My Hair Grow. Contact address:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Human Bombers Vis-à-Vis Brave Dog -- Peter Black

The news that broke last week about bomb blasts, detonated near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon, was a reminder that danger can lurk anywhere, and that such despicable deeds don’t only happen across the seas in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. 

We now know who the alleged perpetrators were; they have been named. One is now dead, while the other – his young brother, is in serious condition in hospital from gunshot wounds. At the time of writing it’s known that several people died – one of them an eight year-old boy, and at least 170 were injured, some suffering loss of limb.

Source: National Post
Regardless of what motivated the perpetrators, the actions were products of misguided minds and darkened hearts. The determination of the mind involves the function of the brain. The brain is a physical organ. Neuroscientists and psychologists, philosophers and theologians all seek to understand the nature of and relationship between brain and mind; between body (biological) and mind (psychical).

However, the biblical writers spoke of the heart. That is, the heart – not so much the physical pump that circulates blood through our bodies, but – as the core of our spiritual being that influences our mind and will, ultimately affecting our mental
Source: National Post
processes and resulting actions. 

The writer of the proverbs instructs his son: “. . . the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. My son . . . pay attention; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:19-23 NIV)

“Guard your heart” – the seat of our affections. How? By giving our minds over to good; to love and embrace what is wholesome and good, and despise and reject what is evil and bad. Who’s to say what’s good or evil? Is one person’s good another’s evil? 

The biblical narratives give examples of both. Through them we learn to distinguish between good and evil, by learning to love. That is, love – not romance; love, not self-interest. Love that seeks the highest good for another and that seeks to do no harm. 
An email I received last week contained a series of photos of a fire truck and a mother dog and her pups (see posted example). The event occurred in Chile. Here’s my adaptation of the captions that told story: 

During an early morning response to a house fire, firefighters were amazed. Amanda, a mother dog, risked her life to save her puppies from the fire . . . She raced in and out of the burning house, depositing her 10 day-old puppies in the safest place she could find – a fire truck! She’d already placed several puppies in one of the truck’s equipment compartments, when an onlooker began photographing. The firefighters were incredulous. They’d never seen a dog this smart or brave!

She’d let no one stop her, dashing back and forth through the open door into the smoke and fire, until all her puppies were safe. However, the firefighters sprayed a little water on her to keep her hair from scorching, as she made those repeated trips. Even so, singeing was evident on her hindquarters, forehead and lower legs.

Once all of her pups were rescued from the blaze, she nursed them, shielding them with her body. Bystanders called an emergency veterinary service. Amanda and her pups were rushed to a hospital. Although one puppy was treated for serious burns and later died, the rest of the family is alive and well, thanks to this heroic mother dog’s bravery. Amazing!

Her heroic treatment and commitment to her puppies’ welfare is a gaze-raiser!

Juxtaposed, these incidents provide stark contrast between evil actions and good actions. 
What a contrast between whatever motivated that mother dog’s action, and whatever motivated the humans who plotted, planned and detonated those bombs at the Boston Marathon. 

Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book."  (Finalist -- Word Alive Press ISBN 1897373-21-X )
His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate. His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Being Quietly Honest - Eleanor Shepherd

Today I had the joy of meeting with a friend, a soul sister, for lunch.  What I love about getting together with her is that there are few things that are off limits in our conversations. 
            As we sat at the table, catching up with each other the conversation flew off in all different directions circling around my new ministry, the challenges facing urban pastors today, the need for those in ministry to have prayer supporters, and her fundraising endeavours.  We shared anecdotes of times we have been misunderstood when we talked about faith and times we failed to understand where friends were on their faith journeys.   An important element we grapple with in our faith is the importance of being centred in our relationship with God.
             As we talked about our lives, our parents, our husbands, our children, our joys, our fears, our faith journeys, and our challenges we realized we have come the place in life where we are able to acknowledge to ourselves that we are simply women who love God intensely.  On the verge of what are called the golden years, we can put away pretence and game playing and just be who we are.  We are Christians. We are learning the joy of being able to be quietly honest about our identity.
            We know that today to declare this is who we are, in some circumstances immediately makes others uncomfortable, for a variety of reasons.  There are some who have boldly and defiantly declared themselves as Christians, with the good intention of taking a stand for the faith.  Sometimes their fearlessness has been mistaken for arrogance. In all honesty, there are times when our faith has been declared in arrogance, as if we alone have all the answers and are willing to bludgeon others with the truth. This does not help our cause and dishonours the One who said that our greatest identification mark is our love.
            I admitted during our conversation that not wanting to identify with this kind of insensitivity and appear as overly judgemental, I have sometimes asked myself if I have gone too far to the other extreme.  Is it possible that by my openness to others I have appeared to deny my faith, by not declaring boldly wherever I am the truths that govern my life?  For me, to behave that way would be as dishonest and unfaithful to the person I am as jumping up on a soapbox and shouting out my faith through a megaphone. 
            Those things that I most firmly hold to are those that I quietly affirm to those who want to listen and discover who I really am.  A few years ago, I found that I was tiptoeing around talking about my faith to some folks who were close to me, for fear that I would antagonize them and threaten the trusting relationship that we had with each other. 
            Then one day, I realized that I was not being genuine with them by hiding behind that fear.  I gathered up my courage and approached them.  I told them that I wanted an honest relationship with them and that meant that I was going to talk about my faith with them, because that is an important part of my life and defines who I am.  What amazed me was the graciousness of their response and the expectation that of course I would talk about it.  They knew that my faith defined me and expected me to do so.  That was the day I discovered the strength found in the quiet honesty that comes with admitting I am a woman who loves Jesus with all my heart.  

Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Flavoured Expressions/MANN

My daughter-in-law recently gave me a plate of gluten-free cookies. What I expected and what my taste buds proclaimed were totally different. What had made the difference? “Real vanilla!” she said. How could one small change in a recipe give such a different flavour to what I had been accustomed?
Anyone who adds a little of Mrs Dash or Sea Salt to their stew and soup could answer that question.
I’m beginning to think that life without change can be very boring. At my age, I’m well into my perseverance years, (Psalm 90:10) and enjoying life, immensely. I’ve met many people with different religious points of view – varied theological perspectives and a variety of faith positions—some for which I’m sure they’d die. In these golden years, I admit to enjoying testing, trying and opening what was once for me, unyielding.
Change even in one’s faith gives a little colour and texture to the predictable. Our will, intellect and emotions (soul) gets a little jump-start, awakens our spirit, and prompts our relationship with God and others, to initiate transformation. Old relationships that had fallen away take new meaning and a willingness to invest in people and life itself give new purpose. Certainly modifying one’s eating habits and lifestyle redefines the term care for self. And the scales confirm that the body appreciates this change.
Over the past several years, I’ve made a deliberate attempt to pay attention to language and phrases that I and others use to describe an experience or relationship. At any point, I’m still a developing wordsmith, but the enjoyment of working with words takes me to different levels of understanding. Around that same time, I realized that draft-readers and editors consistently challenged me to use a variety of words, to gain a fresh meaning of plot and scene, conflict and resolution.
This worked well in the lives of my characters and I began to question why people constantly like to stick to the tried and true phrases used for so many years to define faith, especially when we serve a creating God, constantly making all things new. Certainly faith experiments are not meant to be stagnant. So I’ve begun to experiment and ask myself and others to ‘unpack’ particular words or well-worn statements. Conversations that follow are sweet, and we didn’t even add sugar.
This exercise opens up fresh new meanings. It’s a little like using real vanilla in a potentially dry cookie – it gives life and faith expressions a new taste initiating a new hunger and desire to be nourished.

Donna Mann

AGGIE’S VOICE to be launched early fall, 2013: the third and final book of the Agnes Macphail trilogy (Brucedale Press).

Popular Posts