Saturday, February 27, 2016

For the Love Of... by Tracy Krauss


It's a word that gets used a lot, but what does it really mean? Love can be a noun - it is a primary emotion, after all - but it's also a verb. It reminds me of that old DC Talk song from the 90s 'Love is a Verb'. (Enjoy a blast from the past and watch the youtube video by clicking the link.) If we say we 'love' someone or something, then we better SHOW it with our actions.
I have no complaints with love in its noun or its verb form. However, issues can arise with its overuse and the varying degrees of affection it represents. I love shoes, jewellery, and eating in restaurants, but this kind of 'love' doesn't come close to the kind of emotion I feel for my family. There are even different kinds of love within this deeper, personal realm. The love I feel for my husband is different than the love I feel for my children and grandchildren, or my brothers and sisters. All of these kinds of 'loving' are strong, but they are different. Similarly, the romantic love I have for my spouse is not the same as the love I have for my church family or my friends. Patriotic love is still another example. And what about my 'love' of writing? I feel pretty strongly about my call to write, along with many of my other creative pursuits. Where do these activities fit into the mix?
The Greeks got it right when they used specific words for each type of love. In the New Testament 'agape' love is used to express the divine love of God - both God's love for us and our love for Him and for one another. 'Phileo' love is the kind of brotherly love we have for a friend. 'Eros' is the romantic love we feel for a spouse. It would be great to have a more specific way of differentiating between my feelings for my husband and a craving for pizza. 
Beyond a few smiles the debate really isn't that significant. Here is what's really important. John 3:16, possibly the most familiar verse in the Bible, says,  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." This is agape love at its finest, given to us by God Himself through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

Thinking about pizza? Or my husband?
Tracy Krauss is an artist, author, playwright and teacher living and working in northern BC. For more visit her website:

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Great Valentine's Day Swindle? by Glynis M Belec

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. February is getting ready to pick up her skirts and meander off, too. The roses have faded; petals lay limp and dark on the dusty table. The empty chocolate box, littered with discarded wrappers, sits in the pantry waiting for me to decide whether to toss or recycle.

February – the heart month. February 14th, the day young lovers celebrate affection and old lovers celebrate life. Mothers bake heart shaped cookies for their children to give to fellow students. Florist shops run out of roses; card shop cash registers overflow with profit and chocolate – oh the chocolate enticingly decorating the front counters. Lonely, unattached singles feel relief, wondering what all the fuss was about anyway.

Then it’s over.

Back to normal. The arrow on the ‘love-o-meter’ dangles precariously and the love that Hallmark designated to be ‘in the air’ a couple of weeks ago, evaporates a little. The once prominent display of ‘Chocolates for that Special Someone’ has now been slapped with gaudy red 1/2 price stickers and Easter bunnies pop on the shelves relegating the hearts to the rear.

So what does this mean? Was it all a hoax? Can we possibly only show love on one day?

Love has been gypped. She’s been deceived and lied to.
Someone decided that love would prevail one day a year. I’m thinking it had a lot to do with the ringing tills and chubby wallets.Maybe I am being a little harsh and negative – after all I did love the roses and the luscious Lindor!

All right. That’s it! Time to turn this around and really focus on how REAL love never is gypped.

Once I bring the Creator of love into the equation, there comes into view, a whole new picture.

God is Love – what does that mean to me? It means He reminds me 12 months out of the year that He is Lord and King of my life. It means He sent His Son, Jesus, to bear the sins of the world and to lay down His life. It means he loves me exactly where I am and He is in control of my life even when I feel like I am losing control.

The world will disappoint. God never does. The world breaks her promise. God never does. The world will tell me I am foolish and unworthy. God loves me no matter what.

Thank goodness God doesn’t slap a half price sticker on me when I feel less than lovely. Thank goodness I can remember past Valentine’s Day that love abounds. To God be the glory when I am able to reach out to someone-anyone and love them because God loved me.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11


Glynis lives, loves, laughs and does an awful lot of reading, writing, publishing and praying in her home office. Her latest children's book - Hopeful Homer offers hope and encouragement to anyone who might find herself in 'the pit'. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Being Vulnerable - by Heidi McLaughlin

I believe we are afraid of being vulnerable because we all have “dark corners.”  If someone knew this thing about us what would they think? Would they still like us or will it create awkwardness? Will they reveal a deep-rooted confidential secret?  What if I make myself vulnerable and they stomp all over my heart? Like a needle stuck on an old scratchy vinyl record we want to step out of our comfort zone and be vulnerable but our fear holds us back.

With a God given confidence I can now say that I have no problem making myself vulnerable. After all, my life stories are spread throughout my books all over the world.   Personal reflections and poignant moments have made their way onto Facebook and many blogs.  I run into strangers and they tell me things about myself that absolutely startle me.

Twenty-two years ago, with the help of a counsellor, I confronted all my “dark corners” and cleaned out my secret box.  I did this because keeping secrets was slowly suffocating me.  I discovered a startling truth:
a.   Our dark corners (shame) CLOSE the door between people. Shame stops us from being vulnerable and authentic because we are afraid we will be “found out. It stops us from fully loving and bonding with each other.
b.   Our dark corners OPEN the door for Satan. He uses those dark corners to crush us, shame us and keep us rehearing old lies.

I had enough of those ugly mind games and needed to open all areas of my heart and become vulnerable. I realized we are all imperfect people struggling with fears, insecurities, failures and afraid of looking stupid. But if we want to fully experience love acceptance and belonging we have to be willing to talk about the ugly stuff, the things that hurt us or shame us: We have to start conversations like this:
1.         “Because my daddy always put me down and made me feel stupid, when you talk to me like that in front of other people I feel diminished, hurt and unloved.”
2.         “I sense that you are looking at pornography. We need to talk about this.”
3.         “When you spend your entire evening on your i-pad, I feel like you love the i-pad more than me.”
4.         “I really feel fat, please help me to eat healthier.”
5.         “I feel overwhelmed and tired, and I feel depression coming on.”
6.         “I was sexually molested when I was eight, and I really struggle with our sex life. Please try to understand and help me.”
7.         “If we keep spending like this, we are going to be in serious trouble.”
Vulnerability laced with love and honesty opens the deepest and most beautiful places in our soul. That’s what marriage and relationships are all about. Brene Brown in her book Daring Greatly[1] unpacks being vulnerable in a way that will transform every areas of our life. Vulnerability allows us to be free to love fully, accept each other wholeheartedly and fully enjoy being who God designed us to be.

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:

[1] Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (New York, NY: Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2012).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What Are You Thinking? By SUSAN HARRIS

“Everything is created twice, first mentally, then physically.” (Stephen Covey)

Whether consciously or unconsciously, our thoughts become our reality. Ideas first exist in the mind before they are translated to practicality. Therefore guarding our thinking, sowing healthy thoughts in new directions, are key to overcoming strongholds. Many see the negativity around (or in) them as permanent with no ability to change. But ironically, that becomes a truth because it is the thinking pattern – if you think it’s permanent, then it is. 

Reality follows thoughts. If we believe that the addiction will never be broken, it wont, but if we see it as temporary, that this too will pass, then the new thinking will translate into a new reality. We will act in hope and anticipation of an addiction-free future.

The Scripture is abundant with urgings to guard our minds, our hearts, for the critical issues of life come out of it (Proverbs 4:23). We are encouraged to put on the mind of Christ. In fact, we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). This priceless possession is our passport to successful living on earth if we allow the mind of Christ in us to chart our days.

What are you thinking?

SUSAN HARRIS  is an author, speaker and former teacher.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Away, On or Through? Ruth Smith Meyer

“Why do we have so many ways to talk about the ending of life?” a writer asked a while ago. “A person croaked, kicked the bucket, bought the farm, bit the dust, departed, expired, passed away, passed on or passed through—why not say it like it is?  They died!”  The many expressions, she thought, stem from people not willing to face the bald fact that death has taken place.

Death is a subject many are uncomfortable talking about and many would rather not think about this inevitable part of life. Even those who have confronted the idea and dealt with their apprehension may still have some qualms. My first husband when told he was terminal said “I’m not afraid of death; it’s the unknown process of dying that makes me anxious.” 

            Talking about it, though, is one of the best preparations for the time when we are confronted with death, whether it happens suddenly or we are told we or our loved ones are terminal.  More than a year before my first husband’s death, as part of a Marriage Encounter team, we wrote a presentation about our feelings as we think on the death of our spouse.  It was a difficult time of writing, but we trudged ahead until it was written.  That encouraged us to go ahead and make some tentative funeral plans.  We had no idea how soon we would be glad we had done the talking and planning before the reality stared us in the face.

            In the time after his death, I was glad for those whose comfort level was such that they could listen to my grief and weren’t afraid to mention Norman and talk about him.  I was also confronted many times with those who didn’t know how or were afraid of talking about death.  The tension was tangible every time I mentioned my husband’s name, and many times, the subject was abruptly changed.  I became acutely aware of the need of education about death.

            When my second love, Paul and I got married ten years ago, we knew that one of us would probably have to face the loss of a partner the second time. When he was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer just two weeks after our marriage, we thought this may happen much sooner than we had hoped.  However, God gave me incredible peace, assuring me that I was exactly where he wanted me to be.  In spite of the hours and hours spent in waiting rooms and hospitals, those ten years brought joy and blessings far above what we could have anticipated. Even when at the beginning of January this year we were told there was nothing left to fight the cancer and that Paul would now be placed under the care of the Palliative Care Team, that incredible peace and joy remained.  We had ten years!

Having gone through the experience of ushering a second husband into the next life, I’ve been thinking a lot about that woman’s statement. Yes, both Norman and Paul died, and I’m not afraid or shy to say so. Somehow, to say they died, is not enough.  I was right there and sang both of them into eternity although this time I had the help of family around me. “Home!” Norman whispered with joy, in his final moment.  Paul relaxed as we sang “I can only imagine” and other hymns. He breathed his last with a smile on his face.  It did not seem like death so much as stepping through the gossamer curtain dividing this earthly life and eternity. Both of those occasions were not so much death scenes as times replete and abounding with life—life abundant.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.”  Psalm 116:15

Out of the Ordinary, the story of her life is Ruth Smith Meyer's latest book.  You can read more of her journey there.  She would also welcome conversation with you, or is available to speak to groups.  You can visit her at

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Da Vinci’s painting of The Lord’s Supper—Carolyn R. Wilker

It seems such a short time ago that we celebrated Christmas, with services, turkey dinners, family gatherings and opening of gifts. What a difference between the joy of the announcement of baby Jesus and the solemnness that surrounds the opening of Lent when we are reminded what mere mortals we are, that and the imposition of ashes in the form of a cross at our Ash Wednesday service last evening.
In this season of Lent, our congregation—without a minister for the time being—is joining with two other area churches, as we have for the last several years, for a Lenten supper followed by a service in the hosting church. The three congregations take turns hosting and providing the supper, and the pastor of the only congregation with a minister is organizing the services.
 The pastor giving the sermon shared a story of Leonardo da Vinci creating the famous painting of the Last Supper, of Jesus with his disciples. Perhaps most disciples were easy enough to paint. Da Vinci could look around and sketch almost anyone in the marketplace, but according to the story, he looked for a model who exemplified Jesus’s character and found a young man with striking appearance who seemed to fit best. He hired the man to sit in his studio and painted him.
As referenced in an online biography, Leonardo took over two years to find the right character to paint as Judas, where he apparently found his models in the marketplace.
I had to make sure I heard it right, and so on returning home, and again this morning, I searched the story on Google. Here’s where it gets interesting. The version being referenced on the Snopes site gave the ‘Judas character’ a name (as we do in fiction). In this version, different from what I read on the Internet last evening, it seems that Da Vinci chose a man who was in prison and that the prisoner was released. How many versions are there of this story? I have to wonder.
 Snopes, a site on the Internet that sets out the truth on false stories, claims that story is false and a Christian allegory (a fictional story with a symbolic message), and that a person writing the story would not have had the historical context in this much detail. Also there are no apparent records of models he would have used
 That response is similar, but not identical, to one on the Truth or Fiction site, that references biographer, Robert Wallace, who said that “there are no accounts of a prisoner being brought from Rome for the sittings.”
It’s an interesting juxtaposition of character and stories. Did the pastor knowingly choose the allegory to make a point? I don’t know that. Yet I think there’s a lesson for us, besides knowing what is truth and what is not. The allegory shows how easily a person can fall away from knowing God—unless he asks for daily help and direction, and acknowledges his sin.
That’s what the Lenten season is all about—knowing our position as sinful beings and believing that God sent his son Jesus to die for all our sins. Not a pretty picture, but then Easter follows with the resurrection.

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