Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent Blessings/MANN

"For everything there is a season" is this not what the preacher in Ecclesiastics says? There is a time for this and a time for that, naming everything he can think of. Well now is the season of Advent and it is a time of waiting - of searching God's heart to see what God will show us, teach us and say to us. Come and bring your Hope, Peace, Joy and Love during these four weeks of Advent: A new beginning!

I often write my own material when I don't have a resource at my finger-tips. Back in the early 90's we didn't have local Internet and if we did, it was dial-up. So surfing the net for appropriate material just wasn't done. The following words have been sung many years since:

Oh come, Lord Jesus come into 
          our lives and shed your light.
Dispel the darkness 'round about,
          bring the day from each dark night.
We know when our lives fail to show, 
          the fullness of your grace.
So now we bow before you to 
          ask forgiveness in this place.    

O come, Lord Jesus, come into 
         our hearts and spread your joy.
Create with us a word of peace
         in the mist of hope destroyed.
Your birth always brings such hope, 
        your death has set us free.
We break bread and we taste until 
       we see you face to face.

Oh come, Lord Jesus, come into 
        your church who waits and prays.
In grace that brings us to your will 
       and teaches us your ways.
The Advent of your coming soon 
        will brighten every soul
And as we drink this cup of life, 
        your love will make us whole. 

Donna Mann (December, 1995) Sing to "I Feel the Winds of God" #625 Voices United UCCan
Come Lord Jesus Come Copyright @ 1995 'Called to Be Free Songs'

Blessings during this Advent season of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
Come and visit

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Flexing & Stretching - Tracy Krauss

As I reflect on the year that has almost passed, I realize that 2014 has been a year of growth in more ways than one. For starters, it has been my busiest year as far as publishing and new releases. This year I've had a full length novel, a novella, a stage play, thirteen short stories, a devotional book, and an illustrated children's book published. I actually had trouble keeping track of what was releasing when! (Probably not the best scenario as far as publicity goes...)

Several of these works I wrote under contract, which meant I had deadlines to meet every month of the year. I actually thrive under pressure, which is a good thing, because it felt a lot like I was doing 'nanowrimo' all year long!

Speaking of nanowrimo, I signed up again this year and still have a couple of days to finish my 50,000 word manuscript in the month of November. Perhaps I've been running on empty, because I've been finding the challenge even more 'challenging' than normal. I've pushed through and will finish, but it wasn't without its struggles.

Sometime in August, my husband and I took over as Interim pastors of our church. We volunteered for the position when our other pastor took a church elsewhere. The church needed to build up its finances, and since my husband is an ordained minister, we felt God leading us to take on this role. However, since we both work full time, we have been 'tag team' preaching. He preaches one Sunday and I preach the next. That, added to my position as worship leader and coordinator, and it has been busy indeed.

I am not complaining, by any means. This year has been a year of stretching and flexing, but just like in a sports analogy, I feel as if all the reps and hard work have made me a better writer. When asked recently on a radio interview what I had planned for next year, I didn't have a definitive answer. I have lots of options but no contracts. Maybe it's better that way. If I had known how busy I would be in 2014, I might have shrunk away from all my commitments.

As it is, I can look back and feel good about what I did accomplish. With God's help, I can do all things - even survive a wonderful frenzy of works in progress becoming realities.

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published author, artist and playwright, living in Tumbler Ridge, BC. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


My heart sinks when I hear someone say: “I feel so overwhelmed, overscheduled and fatigued that I am afraid I am bypassing my divine life’s purpose.” Each time I hear the framework of those words, a familiar arrow hits my heart.  I know what it feels like to function at Mach 2 speed. I am a card carrying member of this generation that is running on a depleted “soul tank.”  Like unrelenting shock waves I hear stories of another blown up marriage or someone unraveling like an ‘out of control’ scotch-tape dispenser. Years ago I came to the shocking realization that I had to make some relentless decisions to slow down and leave more margins in my life. This revelation came to me in a large grocery store.
 In the middle of Aisle 5 of the canned fruits and vegetables I flipped out over the fact that the store had run out of their cranberry sauce. Before you chastise me, you have to understand it was three days before Christmas and I was exhausted and running late.  Back then I didn’t realize the danger of running on a depleted soul. When our bodies are ready to crumble under fatigue, it doesn’t take a universal catastrophe to crush the last remnants of our sanity.  After I was rude to the clerk and stomped out of the store, I sat in my car and submitted to my inexcusable, shameful behavior. Something was wrong and it had to change. I was not experiencing the life that Jesus said is available to all of us. The bible says: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT).
I know that you and I do not want to miss out on the fulfilling life that is right in front of our noses.  But how do we re-schedule our days, dismiss some obligations, disappoint people and give up our people-pleasing gratification? We need to be able to orchestrate our lives through a wiser grid. Let’s recognize the fact that we are modeling this behavior to a younger generation that is already struggling with depleted souls. Instead of beating ourselves up with endless obligation we need to model more Christ-like tenderness towards ourselves and others. How then do we change the tension of all our demands into a nourishing tenderness?
Please know that as I am writing this article I am not the teacher who has it all figured out and is giving self-righteous advice. I am still the student. Changing tension into tenderness is a daily struggle and commitment.  But I do know this: it is my responsibility to guard against the constant barrage of invading tension. The bible tells me that this all starts in my heart: “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Here are 4 things that help me.
1.         I must realize that my heart is the essence of who I am. It is where all my passions, desires and dreams live. It is the part that connects me with God and all people around me. I need to listen to the murmurings of my heart and make it a top priority to keep it physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy.
2.         Know that my heart is under constant attack from the demands of life around me. No one else can change my tension into tenderness. Every choice I make is in my power and I need God to help me.
3.         I must be brutally honest about why I am trying to cram so much into my life. I need to ask some harsh questions. What is my distorted vision and belief system which makes me believe I have value only when I work so hard?  Why do I feel jabs of guilt when I goof off and feel unproductive? Do I continue to work to earn love and approval from others instead of God?
4.         Each day I end my time with God with this simple little prayer. “God help me to do today what I need to do today. No more and no less. To give glory to Your name. Amen.” It’s a simple prayer but it has revolutionized my life and God is empowering me to keep my days balanced, so that I can enjoy the rich and satisfying life available to me.
 You and I live in the daily tension of meeting life’s demands plus trying to find tenderness for our own soul. The power lies in our hearts. I challenge you to make some bold choices to change your tension into tenderness.
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:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Are you short-circuiting your own Success? SUSAN HARRIS

It happened so many times that I could not disregard it. Without fail the same song rose in my spirit each time I went into my bathroom. "He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it…" (a chorus drawn from Philippians 1:6.) When I left the bathroom the song immediately dissipated. In and out, rise and fall of the song, with heartbeat regularity and rhythm.

I pondered on this for days until one afternoon the truth hit me so that I felt as if I'd bumped into an actual object. God was brooding over my bathroom, hovering as over the darkness in Genesis 1:2. In a very tangible way that was not reciprocated elsewhere in the house.

Along with that truth surfaced a memory. In my childhood home we had a few chicks as pets. They'd eventually become hens and lay eggs. One day we did not see our favourite pet, Chickie Ann, a yellow chick my mom had bought us from the poultry store. We searched for her, calling her name, and finally was rewarded with a faint cluck.   Out-of-sight, under a tree in a nest of grass, we glimpsed Chickie Ann's now white feathers. She showed no interest in following us home. It turned out that Chickie Ann was sitting on eggs that would hatch baby chicks. The hen was brooding over the eggs, sitting quietly, patiently, providing the heat necessary for the eggs to spawn life.

Brooding precedes birth. Life.

That night I received a message on Facebook from a friend I'd made through the TWG Facebook page. During our conversation I enquired about her writing. In her reply was a line, "I feel that the Lord is hovering over it…"

The hairs on my arms stood at right angles to my skin. Two women, in two provinces, far from each other, both writing what the Lord laid on their hearts, had the same sense of God hovering over them. God hovered, brooded over the dark waters and then He brought forth something new. Light. A product called earth. Animals. People.

Brooding precedes fruitfulness.

Many times we are called to be still, to be slow, to pause. If we rush that season we would have broken the cycle needed for fruitfulness. We'd have created our own self-destruct. Unintentionally. Had we taken Chickie Ann away from the eggs, we would not have had five new yellow little chicks to delight in. And we would have broken the mother hen's heart, a heart that would have grieved in her own animal way for her babies. When we break the cycle, we not only short-circuit our own success, but we grieve the heart of the Creator at the potential and plans that cannot come to pass.

The book, the illustrations, the dream mandate a time of brooding. Are you rushing it? 

Find Susan at:

ABOUT: Susan Harris is a speaker and former teacher, and the author of Golden Apples in Silver Settings, Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are, 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 as Smokey's Lockout, and was released August 19, 2014. Remarkably Ordinary was released in print on November 1, 2014. Her upcoming children's picture book, Alphabet on The Farm will be released in both English and French, and 10 ½ Sketches: Insights On Being Successful Right Where You Are will be released as an ebook on January 2, 2015. Susan was born in exotic Trinidad but now lives on the Saskatchewan prairies with her husband, daughter and the unpredictable cats.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Giving Birth and Watching your Baby Grow

Writing is a lot like pregnancy and giving birth then watching your child grow.

If you are a parent, you can probably remember when, the time of waiting for the “idea” to get big enough to become actual reality, then after months of carrying the precious little bundle around, watching that first turn from tummy to back, finally sitting without needing a cushion behind the back, learning to crawl with a distinctive move— then your baby took the first step. Granted, it was probably a wobbly, uncertain move from one adult hand to the other, or from one chair to the other.  It may have ended with a sudden plop to the floor, but eventually the child learned the freedom and those first days of the new way to get around, was spent walking and walking and walking.  You as a parent marveled the independence you saw develop right before your eyes.

  Years ago, after having been accused that I remembered too many negative things from my childhood, I began recording my early memories.

 Those incidents others thought of as negative, I saw only as difficult times when I learned one of life’s lessons, so I recorded those as well. I kept adding to the account as new things came to mind. 

When I finally acquired a computer, I transferred those memories into a file.  Now, adding incidents into the proper time-line became easier. After thirty or so years of this sporadic activity, my children began to urge me to flesh out the narrative with more detail and personal sentiment and make it into a book they could keep and enjoy.

            Working on one chapter of my life coincided with my turn to read a piece of writing at our local writer’s group, so I decided to share it with them.  Many of them expressed delight with the story and their desire to hear more.  When I told them this book was for my family, they insisted that a wider audience would appreciate it.

             Suddenly my “baby” took on a different demeanor.  I gave it a name, nurtured it along, carrying it with me wherever I went.  I fed it with more information, with greater emotion and honest feeling—recognizing truths I hadn’t clearly seen before.  I watched as it began to “sit,” on its own merits.  The turn-overs and crawling moves happened when I shared small bits in short articles or in my speaking engagements and continued sharing with my writer's group.

            A few weeks ago, it took its wobbly first steps to the welcoming hand of an editor. When it gets daring enough to come back to me, I shall do what I can to send on its way to the publisher, my life story, Out of the Ordinary.

 Like a mother with her child, I will have some trepidation, wondering if there will be falls and scrapes, but also as a good mother, I will attempt to free it to be who it was meant to be, and hope that it will touch other’s lives with joy, with greater understanding of themselves and with courage to share their own life stories and leaning.

            Those are the chances you take when you’re a mother—or a writer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creativity in us—Carolyn R. Wilker

On the weekend I spent an enjoyable day with two friends at “Christmas in Paris”—an event we had never attended before.
I’d heard about it and decided it would make a good day trip. Doris and Amanda’s schedules were free and so we set out Saturday morning for Paris (Ontario, that is). Driving country roads instead of main highways, we watched the panorama of trees with coloured leaves, many still on the tree and the ground carpeted with more.
We’d done our research before setting out. For a toonie, paid at any location, we gained admission to all six locations, the proceeds going to the “non-profit organization (Kindred Spirits Artisans) and help fund these wonderful events the public enjoys every year.”
 The website invites us into the festivities with these words:
Our vibrant community shares the joy of the holiday season by opening our homes and hearts! Participate in a unique shopping experience and select your gifts from the work of our artist and artisans!

Kindred Spirits Artisans of Paris began as an incorporated organization of people who share common interests in raising “the profile of the arts in the local community.” Founded in 1990, local newspapers announced the initiative of people “from a variety of artistic disciplines as a cultural renaissance,” an event that has continued over the past twenty-three years.
We arrived under heavy skies and the likelihood of rain, but at first it was just chilly. We’d be indoors and out so rain did not much matter, for the spirit was bright and the houses and buildings hosting the events were decorated gaily, reminding us that Christmas is indeed coming. For those who wanted to do Christmas shopping, it was a perfect opportunity to purchase handmade crafts from the artisans. Having been a craftsperson myself, I'm always interested in seeing how artists combine materials to pleasing effect.
 I hear it coming—Christmas is so commercialized. And it is, but for us that day, it was simply an opportunity to go somewhere together, see the works of wonderfully creative people who live in the community and surrounding area. We were not disappointed, although too many scented items precluded me from wandering and looking inside one large venue at the golf course, but I invited my friends to see what they could find while I enjoyed the outdoor scenery from the raised verandah.
Over all the six sites, we saw glasswork and creative stitchery, beadwork, wreaths, metalwork, ornaments, silk scarves, and so much more. I marvelled at the ingenuity of many of those artisans—the pictures made with wool roving, felted and embroidered to make a natural scene; and gourds that had been dried and made into ornaments. Among all those items, I found some special treasures—ornaments, a winter wreath and art card—to bring home.
 In the middle of our tour, we sat talking over lunch in the main part of town, and then looking around in the stores, and by this time it had begun to rain.
Thinking on the array of beautiful things made by those artisans reminds me that God invested the same creative expression in us that he himself did in creating us. Our creative gifts are meant to be used, whether with words or artistic forms. Celebrate that creativity this season and all year long and share it with others as a gift from our creator.


Carolyn R. Wilker, editor, storyteller and author of Once Upon a Sandbox


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit - HIRD

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Who in their right mind would want to be sent to a toxic island where everyone was a pirate, including the grandmothers, grandsons, and everyone in between?  Who would want to be sent to an island where all islanders were liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons?  The Island of Crete which my wife and I visited had been a pirate stronghold for over 800 years.  While in Crete, we learned about Titus who was just the man for the job.  He did not flinch.  Titus taught toxic Cretan pirates how to become radically healthy: how to love, how to lay down their lives for another, how to be the faithful husband of but one wife, how to be gentle and patient.  He taught the female pirates how to be best friends with their husbands and their children.  This is true health.  If the wisdom in the 45-sentence book of Titus can revolutionize a pirate island, it can even transform a pirate continent like North America.  Signs of our North American toxicity include gun violence and the insanity of the shooters, obesity when there is no shortage of food, and a wealth of communication tools while many are no longer talking any more.

File:Crete topographic map-fr.svg

Is it a mere coincidence that the late Steve Jobs defined Apple employees as pirates, even raising a pirate flag with the Apple logo as the pirate eyepatch?  It is better, said Jobs, to be a pirate than join the navy.[1]     In the 1999 movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, Jobs accused Bill Gates of ripping him off by producing the Microsoft Windows mouse-based graphical user interface.  Gates, the wealthiest person on earth, memorably said to his outraged fellow pirate Steve Jobs: “we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it."[2]  Ironically Jobs loved to quote Picasso’s comment: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”  So do great pirates. 

Titus was a first-century go-getter.  He reminds me of my father, Ted Hird, who always gets the job done.  At one of my father’s retirements, his company, Microtel, gave him a statue of a horse in memory of my father’s billing the company for a dead horse.  Working in Newfoundland for three months with the snowy roads sometimes impassible, my father hired a farmer’s horse to drag the telecommunications equipment up the hill. The microwave tower was finally finished, but the horse died.  Titus-like leaders make things happen against impossible odds.
If the toxic Cretan pirates can become healthy, anyone can become healthy, even North Americans.  Dr. Brene Brown, whose TED talk has been seen by over sixteen million people, said that we in North America “are the most we are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in (our) history.”[3]   In an age of many regrets, Titus is a symbol of hope for healthy leadership in the twenty-first century.  With the huge global changes happening, the need for healthy leaders like Titus has never been greater.  A key solution to our North American toxicity is rediscovering Titus, the epitome of integrated healthy leadership.  Titus planted significantly healthy communities by identifying and training indigenous leaders in every one of the over hundred Cretan cities.  The book of Titus gives you the keys to healthy communities, healthy families and healthy lives.

The book of Titus calls us to become whole people – in mind, body, and spirit.  That is the theme of my brand new book ‘Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit.’  So often we North Americans are toxically fragmented in areas of our lives.  We need the Great Physician to give us a full check-up to determine whether our lives, our marriages and families, our churches and communities are sound and healthy.  Many of us are out of balance in our health emphasis, neglecting either the body, the mind or the spirit.  Too many good people have bought the lie that they can eat anything they want and not bother to exercise.  The Bible says that our health choices have consequences.  We reap as we sow.  People who neglect their bodies lose the ability to travel cross-culturally as they get older.  People who neglect their minds go stale and have nothing worth saying.  People who neglect their spirits go shallow and self-absorbed. Healthy leaders embrace their bodies, minds and spirits for Christ’s sake.

My prayer for those reading this article is that we will choose the way of holistic health in every area of our lives.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Mission Canada
-an article for the November 2014 Deep Cove Crier

-Ed’s brand-new sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, has the book available inpaperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback andebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.  Indigo also offers the Kobo ebook version.

-In order to obtain a copy of the prequel book

‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘ED HIRD’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPALusing the . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

[1] Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2011), p. 145.
[2] Andy Hertzfeld, “A Rich Neighbor Named Xerox”, November 1983; Martin Burke, Pirates of the Silicon Valley movie, 1999.
(Accessed Feb 1st 2014)
[3] Dr. Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability, TED Talk, June 2010,  (accessed June 22nd 2014).

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