Monday, September 29, 2014

God Rest His Soul/MANN

“God rest his soul.” How many times have you heard that statement?  Is it any wonder in this fast paced world that the soul might be in need of peace of mind? The will, intellect and emotions can get us into trouble or settle us. The Spirit on the other hand can hold its own with consistent experience in God’s presence.
Our body is an accurate spiritual barometer that clearly indicates what is happening to us and around us. It seems to have a life of its own as it reacts or responds to where the soul has taken us.  It finds ways to speak to us, “Don’t forget about me. Hear my needs, care for me, help me.” When our bodies react in pain, tension, fatigue and stress, perhaps we should say, “What are you trying to tell me, friend? What’s your problem?”
As I look across the faces of different groups for whom I speak, I wonder if their body language is indicative of attitude. Does our body language indicate our emotions? For example someone whose shoulders are drawn backward would give the impression of resistance. Or if someone walks with a slouch, is it possible she is carrying a heavy load emotionally.
When a person who suffers chronic migraines says, “I was so angry; I wanted to blow my top” we listen.  If someone forces another into something he might not want to do, you might hear, “You twisted my arm.” If someone is feeling overwhelmed by work or relational expectations, would she say, “I’m over my head, or knee deep in trouble, or a tremendous weight on my shoulders or load off my mind.” When someone says, “I’m burned out” has his soul taken him to the extent his body can no longer reply? We see truth is in these statements, and realize the will, intellect and emotions (soul) drive physical reactions through the body?
In the church, we talk about reconciliation.  Jesus Christ reconciles us to God, to one another, to the world and very importantly to ourselves. That means all parts of self. When our body breaks down, it is not failing us. On the contrary, it is crying out for help and may very well be struggling with conflicts and grief and decisions and carry burdens that we have not yet been able to handle through our soul (will, emotions, intellect).
I am always thankful for my years served in The Order of St. Luke. And who would be in sync of the body more than Dr. Luke. We are a trinity: body, soul and spirit. If we listen carefully to our body,  we might find a new path to the soul.  Paul confirms this in the passage: “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Check out the Y.A. and up: Agnes Macphail series/Brucedale Press
A Rare Find/Castle Quay Books Canada
Lot's of changes happening with Meadowlane Kid's Book: NOW Little Red Barn

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What Writing Adrenaline Feels Like - Tracy Krauss

Adrenaline is not often associated with writing. Adrenaline kicks in simultaneously with fear, or starts pumping while engaged in a sport. It usually accompanies excitement, and let's face it, writing is a sedentary, and often solitary, activity.

Not so, dear friends! As I write this post it is almost 11pm and I am sitting alone in my hotel room. Yes, that would fall under the category of 'solitary' and technically I am sitting down... However, I can feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins. I am wired!

Why? The first day of Inscribe's annual conference just ended. Phil Callaway had us in stitches, Deb Elkink had us digging deep into the relationship between theology and our writing, and Bobbi Junior actually made us write in her workshop on 'Writing Groups'. I'm sure the workshops by Glynis Belec and Sheila Webster were just as engaging. (And it was super cool to meet Glynis in person!)

Then there is the personal connections. I am amazed at how excited I am to see familiar faces; to chat with another writer who 'gets' the compulsion to string words together; to encourage and be encouraged... This is the kind of adrenaline rush that could lead to inspiration.

I highly recommend such a hiatus from 'real life' to any and all authors, aspiring or seasoned. From time to time we need to step out of our comfortable cocoons and connect with one another on a face-to-face level. It is neither sedentary nor solitary. It is energizing...

... which is part of my current problem. I wonder how energized I'll feel in the morning? I guess I'll just have to rely on a good dose of adrenaline to get me through the day.

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published author who lives and writes from Tumbler Ridge, BC. She may currently be sleeping.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Write what you know. Really? - Lisa Hall-Wilson

That seemingly age-old writing advice used to grate on me. I wasn’t interested in writing what I knew about. How boring would that be? I’ve never been a male firefighter (yes, I have a penchant for romance), an FBI special agent (I’ve delved into suspense), an Amazon warrior (how boring would life be without fantasy) or been chased by a serial killer (I’m also a big horror fan). I’d be relegated to the mommy-lit section, or the not-so-desperate housewife literary novel section, and that just doesn’t put the sugar in my candy.

There’s more wisdom to this piece of advice than at first glance, but it took several years for me to stop fighting it. This isn’t a box I’m being forced into, but the safety lines that keep me from hitting author-rock-bottom. And I’m still learning more layers to this piece of wisdom, so my first tip is not to dismiss this out of hand as I first thought to do.

Societies, languages, technology, scientific discovery – these are all things that can evolve, change and grow. Human emotions don’t. The degree to which we experience that range of emotions varies from person to person, the situations that can cause those emotions may differ, but the basic emotional wringer we go through is the same one Noah and Moses went through.

These two verses really opened my eyes to the truth found in the “Write What You Know” advice.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1 NLT).

“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new” (Eccl. 3:9 NLT).

In listening to Ted Dekker’s continuing class CDs from Write! Canada (you knew you could buy CD’s of most of the sessions, right?), I was surprised to hear Ted say, “You can’t write what you don’t know.”

Ted writes fantasy, thrillers, and what he calls storyteller books (with a couple of non-fiction books in there too). Here’s a snippet from his talk:

“You can’t write what you don’t know. If you do, people won’t buy your characters…Generally speaking, we write out of our experiences. Whatever that pool of experiences is…

“I find areas to write about that I’ve never been in myself, and that allows me to step out of my own context and see things with fresh eyes. Do you know heartbreak? You can’t write about heartbreak until your heart has been broken…Don’t write about what you don’t know about.”  

Every character I write, is me. If I want my characters to reach out of the book and grab the reader by the throat or the heart, they have to be motivated by an emotion I’ve experienced. Every year longer I live, I find more depth to the emotions I can write about.

A teen being forced to choose between parents in a divorce. I’ve never lived this, but I know what it’s like to desperately want to avoid hurting someone I love, or disappointing someone I love. I know what it’s like to feel like I lose no matter what choice I make.

A firefighter who’s discovered his wife is in an adulterous relationship. This isn’t something I’ve lived out, but I understand being blindsided by betrayal. I understand the singular focus of just putting one foot in front of the other because I just don’t know what else to do.

A battered mother finally makes a choice to leave an abusive husband. I understand what it’s like to talk yourself into and out of a decision a thousand times. I understand doing something for the sake of someone you love, because you wouldn’t do it just for yourself.
Dig down into the very root emotions motivating your characters, and find some common ground. Once you do that, the degree to which you experienced those emotions becomes irrelevant. Once you have common ground, once that character becomes you - you can write from their perspective. 

Writing this way is hard, not gonna lie. You have to relive some things that will be painful, bittersweet, and difficult -- but so what. Pouring that reality into your characters brings them to life. This is the job of a writer. It will cause your readers to laugh, cry, pull the blanket closer, sleep with the light on. And aren't those the best kinds of books?

Go ahead and try this! It’ll change your writing.

Lisa Hall-Wilson is an award-winning freelance journalist and writer for the Canadian faith-based market. Lisa writes a syndicated interview column, blogs at, and spends way too much time on Facebook.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


A balanced life is over-rated. Before you call me a fanatic and burn me at the Time Management whiteboard I want to ask you. “So how is time management” working for you?”
Over the past ten years we have been saturated with “how to” steps for managing our most precious commodity-time. I was the day I threw my palm pilot into the garbage that I realized I had become a slave to time management. With all the information on how to de-clutter, time management workshops, fat day timers, computer and i-Pad calendars and every piece of technology known to mankind to help us with our 24 hour days, we are still rushing, sighing and feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
A balanced life sounds like a wise, wonderful concept; but what happens when our finely tuned “one hour increments” in our day timer fall behind and we fall apart? In a question and answer period at one my conferences someone asked me the question, “So Heidi, how do you manage your time?” It had been a long time since I looked at my daily life and this question evoked some serious evaluation. I became acutely aware that I am so blessed to be a mom and grandmother; able to still work four days a week, write books, speak across the country and mentor younger women. It made me realize that I am able to describe my life the way my youngest granddaughter’s face lights up when she is delighted about something and exclaims: “That’s yummie!”

I am deeply passionate about leaving my fingerprint on the earth in a meaningful and powerful way.  The bible inspires me with this truth: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV).  Here is what those words mean to me:
1.    Say “Yes” to Yummie.  God has given all of us gifts and passions to make our lives, and this world a better place to live.  Ask yourself this question, “What makes my heart pound? What keeps me awake at night dreaming, thinking planning? What do other people say I am good at?” Those are gifts God has given each of us. How dare we not use them?
2.    Say “No” to clutter and useless, meaningless tasks.  Why do we feel it necessary to fill our days with things that have no value; meaningless tasks that rob us of our passions and smiles?
3.    Pray and ask God for His wisdom how to live each day. Do this before you create another calendar event into your i-phone and the two alerts to keep you on track..
4.    No, we are not responsible for everything that happens in everyone’s life.
5.    Get proper rest. Fatigue makes cowards out of us. It makes us vulnerable and before we know it, we are caving in and signing up for another thing that will rob us of more energy.
6.    Realize there are seasons of being totally out of balance. I just finished a difficult season of caring for my mother before she died; challenging disruptions at work and speaking at many conferences.  My life has been totally out of balance for a few months, but my heart is still pounding with passion and purpose.
7       7. Realize this life is about relationships and not process. The bible reminds me of this in such a powerful way: “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:5 NIV). The breath of God within each of us is more important that the petty little tasks that consume our hours. 
8.    If you don’t know your gifts or passions, ask God to reveal them to you. He will gladly do it.If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NIV).
9.    Create your own “magical trash can” and get rid of all the “shoulds” that are robbing your joy.
God has given you and me the “breath of life” on this planet to make a beautiful and powerful impact on mankind. I don’t believe God ever meant for us to be chained to a time machine. As energetic, smart people, God fearing people living in this 21st century, we must take the time to discover our strongest gifts, passion and the purpose that God has given us. Having clarity about our daily purpose will fill our life with pure pleasure and satisfaction. It’s time to stop, smile and say “yes to the yummie.”

 Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Peering Through the Window Panes by SUSAN HARRIS

The building that housed the vocational trades was located further away from the main school compound. As such, the names of the departments there morphed into a description of location, and not curriculum, heightening the sensitivity of those who taught there.

My colleague, Jennifer, was livid. Someone had referred to an incident that took place "down the hill."

"How would you feel if someone was calling your department by another name?"

I taught Management of Business written on the timetable as MOB, but did not think it wise to elaborate on that.

"Not good."

The two words appeared to mollify the offended woman somewhat.

I left that school several years ago but I've remained cognizant how people view the things they value. How attached they are to the status quo. How they look at occurrences through their particular windows in life. How closely the perceptions are tied to their identity. How their reactions are a culmination of not one incident but too many occurrences, shooting out like petals from a core. A core that that has grown strained and tired as it nourishes the multi-directional spread.

I came across the Johari Window in Psychology of Education. The Johari Window, postulated by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, is a tool for understanding business relationships, self-awareness and personal relationships. The study identifies four areas of soft skills viewed through the "panes in a window."

In the first pane, called an "open" area, are the things a person knows about herself and what others also know about her. This is the area of least contention because all parties generally interpret behaviours and knowledge in the same fashion.

The second pane is the "blind spot," that which is unknown to a person about himself but what others know.

In the third pane we find the hidden area, that which a person knows about herself but others do not know. The hidden area can hold insecurities, fears, secrets, motives - anything that a person knows but does not reveal.

The fourth pane is the unknown area which neither the person, nor any one else,  is aware of.

Meet Roger. He phoned to initiate contact about publishing after finding my name in cyber world. His breathing was raspy. When he laughed, a wheezing sound accompanied each gust. Like me, he seemed fond of appreciating his own jokes. The difference with me is that I keep my self-appreciating humour within my family circles. So Roger laughed and wheezed often while I held the phone inches away from my ear.

But it was not his laugh or cough that made me feel I could not do business with the man. Rather, it was the incessant talk, his monologue. The few times I interjected, Roger was bent on giving his spiel, and not answers to my questions.

It was then I had an epiphany: If I had a problem during the publishing process, would I be able to resolve it with Roger? Would I be heard? Or would he justify, and reverberate, what he wanted to say?

"Roger." I cut into the conversation abruptly in louder tones than I had previously used. The line became silent. "I cannot move forward with you because I don’t believe I'd resolve a problem if one arose. I'm not being heard. You don't listen well."

Pane 2 was dominant.

Andy said off the bat that he had a problem with authority. I peered through Pane 1 and there was no need to view through the others.

Melanie resented questions. It appeared that instead of taking the opportunity to show potential business partners her skills and prowess, Melanie reinforced her neediness and their initial assessment. I viewed her as operating pre-dominantly like Roger.

Conflict management is a key element in deciding who I move forward with in business. Strange as it may sound, I actually want to see myself in a problematic situation before I commit to a business relationship with that person. Not that I'd stir the pot but I want to know attitudes and problem-solving models. How my potential partner reacts in a crisis.

When we know the kind of people who bring out the best in us, and make them key people in our relationships, we can live fully.  

(An excerpt from Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are Chapter 10, "Peering Through the Window Panes" by Susan Harris 2014).

Find Susan at:

BIO: Susan Harris' ebook, Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are will be released in print in October. She is a speaker and former teacher, and the author of Golden Apples in Silver Settings, Little Copper Pennies and Little Copper Pennies for Kids. Her first submission to Chicken Soup for the Soul is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? edition was released on August 19, 2014. The story is called "Smokey's Lock-out". Her children's picture book, Alphabet on The Farm will also be released, in both English and French. Susan was born in exotic Trinidad but now lives on the Saskatchewan prairies with her husband, daughter and the unpredictable cats.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

God Surprises Ruth Smith Meyer

This summer we planned a trip to Alberta to visit family. We’ve done it before with less unease. This time I would be doing all the driving since my dear husband has refrained from that for almost a year because of his cataracts.  It’s not that I haven’t done long distance driving—even if I usually shared the task, I have done half the distance as the sole driver.  But I am several years older.
My family questioned it, reminding me that I sometimes asked for them to drive on the busy highways.  I love my family and give serious consideration to their concern.  However driving through Northern Ontario and the Prairie Provinces is quite different than, say the 401 and Queen Elizabeth.  With prayer and conversation, we decided that if we made the days short and took our time, stopping for naps if needed, we could venture out. 

The first day, we started off under sunny skies—lovely warm but not too hot weather.  My husband had a stack of business cards from various motels where we stayed other times. We decided that New Liskard might be our first stop, but thought we’d wait to see if Cochrane was possible. 
Soon after Barrie, it started raining.  The further we went, the faster it rained and the more tense my shoulders felt. Finally, about 2:30, I suggested he call and reserve a room at the New Liskard facility for which we had a telephone number. 
“Could we reserve a room for tonight?” Paul asked,
“Sorry!  We’re fully booked for tonight.”
“Now what?” I asked as he disconnected.
“I guess we’ll just have to go and see if we can find another one.  We don’t have any more telephone numbers.”
“Oh Lord,” I prayed out loud, “Could you provide something for us?  We didn’t want to have long days, and this one is going to be long enough by the time we get to New Liskard.  We’ll just relax and trust you.”
“Amen!” Paul chimed.
When we neared the town, we prayed again, reminding the Lord of our request—as though he needed it. We saw “our” motel ahead.
“Let’s pull in there first, see if they had any cancellations before we look elsewhere,” my husband suggested.
I dashed through the rain as fast as I could with aching, stiff hips from the long sit.  I opened the door and as I approached the desk, I saw the attendant with her eyes wide open and lips apart as if in great surprise.  I wondered what was so shocking about me.  I’m too big and solid to be a ghost and I wasn’t carrying a gun.
 I asked, “Is there any chance you have a room available?”
“I do, I do!” she exclaimed. “I don’t know where it came from, but just as you drove in, I was going over my bookings and I found this empty room!  I don’t know how I could have missed it.  I thought we were fully booked this morning already and I told someone who called at about 2:30 that we had nothing available.  I still don’t know where it came from, but it’s yours if you want it.”
“We do!” I assured her.  “In fact it was we who called and we’ve been praying all afternoon that you’d have something for us.”
“Your prayers must have worked. It must be your room.” She kept shaking her head as I filled out the forms and she handed me the keys and wished us a good night’s sleep. It was obvious that she was astounded at the turn of affairs.

Now, after a busy, busy few weeks, as my day for this blog neared, I felt I was completely empty of words or thoughts to convey to our readers.  Tonight I sat down knowing it was time, but my mind was blank. 
“Lord what would you have me write, when I feel so empty.”
Immediately, the surprised eyes and open mouth of that motel attendant came into my mind. 
Sometimes life (including my writing) happens at times like that when I think my mind is just too full, like those motel rooms were—no room for inspirational thoughts—then he surprises me with something that I couldn’t conceive—a little space where I can find his love and care and know that he is here.  Reminds me of a Haldor Lillenas song my sister and I used to sing.

God was there to hear my prayer,
to lift my load of anxious care,
to every burden with me share,
God was there, yes God was there.

Visit me at 

Popular Posts