Saturday, August 29, 2015

Surprise in Substitution by Donna Mann

Going camping. First check the weather report and then the freezer. Yes, it’s a go. But what if a low pressure system moves in, the temperatures drop, the sun hides behind cloud cover that leaks enough water to keep your rain barrel full about every two hours.  Besides the cloud cover disables the television and the internet – so what else is left? Lots!

Such was our experience this past week.  Just happened to have four good hockey biographies for Doug, watched three movies, and I read and edited my 43K inspirational novel. God bless the weatherm’am. We did a 120 degree turn and had three days of quality time: quietness, peace and good camp food. Even the cat had us all to herself.

Not all circumstances can be turned into something as positive as the above situation. Nor do we always just happen to have the necessary alternatives to compensate for that which we had planned.  Being resourceful helps, looking for the positive side is a good effort and being ready to make lemonade out of lemons is a gift.

Rather than having the opportunity to take lots of pictures of a shining lake, sunny beach and a blue sky with white fluffy clouds floating by, we settled for seeing the beauty in lily pads, a walk between showers and early to bed- early to rise kind of schedule.

So what was substituted and exchanged in this situation for the expected? Perhaps attitude, activities and adjustments. Not all was lost, for what we never had to begin with cannot be compared with what we gained in the long run. This parable gave itself life in day-to-day living. And it’s nice to watch it happen, especially if you’re the one living through it.


“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am (Phil 4:11).” for upcoming news

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Wonder of It All - Tracy Krauss

Ever wonder why God doesn't just fix all the problems in the world? He could, you know. But for some reason He has chosen to work through frail human beings like you and me.

He also chose to sacrifice His own son to make atonement for our sins. Ever wonder why that was even necessary? Oh, I know, I know... theologians among us will point to the Old Testament and the necessity for blood sacrifice.

But why? 

God is God. I'm sure He could have come up with another plan. Some other way. He's the one who instituted the laws in the first place. In His infinite creativity, He could have thought of something that didn't involve bloodshed.

Fortunately, I don't have to try to make sense of everything God does. I accept the fact that His understanding of the universe and how things work goes far beyond anything I could possibly conceive. Perhaps someday I'll understand the whys and hows - or maybe I won't. It seems arrogant to think that I could ever truly grasp all the finer details, even in eternity. It's kind of like a toddler asking why the sky is blue. I could give a scientific explanation which would probably sound like a foreign language, or I could just say, "Because God wanted it to look pretty." I think I prefer the latter.

I am happy to let God be who He is - the Almighty. Willing to use a flawed vessel like me to do His work here on earth. Now that is pretty wonderful.

Tracy Krauss writes fiction, non-fiction and stage plays from her home in British Columbia.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In the Shadow of Your Wings

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you just want to pull the covers over your head and hide away from the world? David was having one of those days when he composed Psalm 57. But in David's case, he wasn't just trying to avoid a snarly boss. His boss, King Saul, was hunting David down to kill him. Needless to say, there must have been some fervour in David's plea for help. “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed." 

The phrase 'take refuge in the shadow of your wings' reminds me of a story etched on my mind from my childhood. My dog, Champ, absolutely loved any newborn creature on the farm. He instantly became the newborn's defender. Generally, this worked out very well and we appreciated his hovering affection. All was fine until one day our pet bantam hen brought her newly hatched chicks to our backyard.

Champ was thrilled at the sight of these tiny fluff balls.  He greeted them with a bark and vigorously wagged his tail to welcome these new arrivals. Mother hen misunderstood his intentions. She hastily gathered her chicks under her wings to defend them from this wild beast. Champ was outraged. Surely this hen had swallowed up these defenseless chicks. He began to bark at her fiercely, trying to get her off her brood. The hen simply tightened her wings down on the chicks. Laughing at the sight of this, we called off our well-intentioned dog.

Our heavenly Father is our well-intentioned protector. Do we refuse His help? We are eternally safe in the shelter of His wings. Let Him draw you close today.    

Response: LORD God, you are my defender. Help me daily to appreciate your love and protection. Amen.

Your Turn: Do we sometimes push away from our secure place near the heart of God?

For more thoughts on the psalms visit:

Monday, August 17, 2015


Have you written a resume? Have you been interviewed for a job? Then you've promoted yourself. Is that tooting your own horn? Not if you are stating facts.
Insight - Learn early what your strengths are and practice talking about you so that it can appear natural and easy.
“Tooting your horn” is a maxim that carries a negative connotation, boastful and exaggerated. As a writer, I've struggled with being modest versus appearing boastful. Publishing is a world where authors create bios about themselves that are required to be compelling and interesting. It's part of the pitch. How else would someone learn about me and use that information to decide if he wants to buy my book? Just as I would not be drawn to an insipid artist or writer, I must not come across as insipid or irrelevant. (Photo credit: Loud Megaphone by digital art)
Sitting across from prospective job candidates, I've said to many, "This is not the time to be modest. Tell me why you are better than the rest. Tell me why I should hire you."
I reminded myself of the expectations of promoting myself when I started writing. Uncomfortable as it was at first, I caught on quickly and learned that if I was to show I was competent, I needed to publicize myself concisely and confidently.
Insight: If you've studied, you've done the work and you have achieved, no one can tell the world about it better than you can.
There is however, a grey area between self-promotion and bragging. No one likes a bragger but everyone wants someone who has confidence.
Insight: Bragging is accompanied by arrogance. Self-promotion offers evidence that allows others to conclude that one is capable, and is accompanied by humility.
It is a fact that we are born with gifts, whether of music, art or plain ol' gab.  Regardless of what we are born with, I've discovered that most things can be learned.
Insight: Success is not about being gifted. Anyone can learn strategies to aid in success.
Howard Gardner, an American psychologist, recognized Multiple Intelligences. The theory holds that people possess different kinds of intellectual strengths and that these strengths are critical in how we learn, understand and express ourselves. 
… ( some lines from original are removed here)
What do you aspire to? What holds you back? What education or training will help you overcome the drawbacks? Anyone can be trained to be effective. Don't be discouraged if someone else can do something better than you can. There is enough space in the world for all of us to fill and fit, so prepare to claim your spot.
The work you do is more important than the title you hold. You don't have to be a marketer to get your books out there. You don't have to be the chief chef in order for others to enjoy the sandwich you’ve made. You don't have to belong to Maid Services to clean an office. But you can use marketing strategies and preparation tips to get word of your book, sandwich or cleaning abilities out there to others.
Get yourself noticed by taking a strong stand. Don't be afraid to be opinionated. Make others talk about you. You may not be liked by everyone but you will not get lost in the crowd either. 
(... some lines from original are removed here)
A voice that belonged to the one described as the Beginning and the End. The Alpha and the Omega. And He gave instructions throughout the process of idea to publication. He opened doors to the media and the market. He taught me how to promote myself, to become a specialist at me, to learn from His school with me as the only student. Private tutelage from Heaven. And I succeeded from every cardinal point on earth, all the time recognizing that the true promotion came from above.
But I must do my part, knowing that it's in quietness and in confidence that I draw my strength. My books were picked up by a larger publisher within a year of hitting the market. The Lord placed the right combination of learning abilities in me. He trained me for His glory, through both formal classes in theology and from whispers to my spirit when I was alone with Him. And for this I say:
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10

(An excerpt from 10 ½ Sketches: Insights On Being Successful Right Where You Are. Contains over 85 insights to build success )

Susan Harris owes her successes to the Lord. On breezy islands or freezing prairies, she has thrived because of the insights she lays out in her latest book, 10 ½ Sketches. She is the author of six books and has also contributed articles to blogs, magazines and anthologies.

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