Friday, April 29, 2016

My day-by-day winter/Donna Mann

I will remember the winter of 2016 fondly. Being right handed and breaking it certainly proved challenging. And then several weeks after being cast free, I sprained the left hand and was soon casted again for another six weeks. To top that off, an injured rotator cuff continued to speak out. My life changed over night. My challenges grew daily. I learned much about self during these days. Most of these new skills, I will practice daily.

Breaking or spraining a hand can be heartbreaking, especially to a writer, but I want to focus on the perks. And yes, there were definitely many good things came out of this experience, both planned and unexpected. Strange how the body compromises, shows strength in unexpected parts. I was pleasantly surprised.

I couldn't do anything in the kitchen, so I welcomed a box of cooked food, fresh from a friend's freezer/refrigerator along with a caring note. This box lasted several days and gave Doug a break from the kitchen as well.

I enjoyed my husband's excellent cooking through the first six weeks and then during the second six weeks. More than that, he delivered the meals to my chair where I was encircled by my computer, the television, good books and sound system.  Added to that, he did the laundry, the vacuuming and the shopping. He was my chauffeur. And he even cut my meat at meals.

Signing up for six writing courses online proved to be as inspiring and entertaining as going to the theatre. Pausing to think, writing unreadable notes and then laughing at myself when trying to read them - proved the most challenging.

Now you might ask, how did I manage to take both hands out of commission? I tripped both times. During the winter, one of my best friends fell up her stairs. Another friend did a spread-eagle in her driveway. Between the ice, uneven ground, patio slabs and scurrying, some of us found it easy to fall. 

Having this experience caused me to slow down and think before I walk. Something I admit never doing in my whole life. I am learning to be cautious when I move - to watch my step. Observing my movement and climbing a stairway of steps at the same time can be difficult. Fear of falling can restraint activity almost as much as an actual fall can be disabling. 

Taking one step at a time in life, understanding the challenges and celebrating achievements give opportunity for a happy dance, even a slower one.  

During my day-by-day winter, I remembered the lyrics of “One day at a time.’ and ‘One more step around the world I go’ even though my steps were slower. They encouraged me to think positive and be thankful in all circumstances.   

Come and visit me at

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Expectation by Tracy Krauss

I am approaching a milestone that some of you may not be able to relate to. This summer marks the eighth year since moving to our current home in northern BC. If I don’t up and move between now and then, it will be the longest I have lived anywhere since I left the nest way back in 1980. I won’t lie. I’m feeling a wee bit antsy. Restless even, like I need to find a reason to move – QUICK!

In thirty-three and a half years of marriage my husband and I have moved between 15 and 20 times depending on how you slice and dice it.  (We moved back to a couple of communities more than once.) We’ve lived in five provinces and territories including BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the NWT and the Yukon. We’ve watched the northern lights, basked in the midnight sun, survived stampeding bison, and experienced more than one close encounter with polar bears. Add to that another ten plus moves before I ever got married and you might be able to understand where I’m coming from.  

Don’t get me wrong. Tumbler Ridge, our current hat hook, has been good to us. I have a stable job teaching all the things I love like Art, Drama and English. I signed my first publishing contract after moving to TR and I’ve had a pretty good run since. All four of my children (not to mention the two grandbabies) live within a two-hour radius. Compared to some of the other remote locations where I’ve lived, that’s pretty good. To top it off, this is a really beautiful part of the country. Waterfalls, mountains, hiking trails, relatively mild winters… I really can’t complain. In fact I’m not.

bag already packed?

Somewhere deep in my gut I feel a stirring.  The call of a new adventure won’t be silenced. Is it the fact that so many other people have made an exit after the economic downturn in the region? It seems like everyone else is moving so maybe I’m just feeling left behind. My husband is one of those who lost his job more than a year ago. We had already started pastoring our church on an interim basis because the church could no longer afford to pay the pastor. Once my husband got laid off he was able to focus even more time and energy on the church. That was twenty-one months ago and it is now coming to an end as a new, full time pastor is scheduled to arrive June 1. The question is, now what? He’s been looking for work the entire time, but God obviously needed us to be focused on this transitional period in the church. We now wonder what doors He will open once we are released from that responsibility.

I honestly don’t know what the future holds but there is a sense of expectation. Perhaps this post will have an addendum in the coming months.

Tracy Krauss writes stage plays, novels and other fluff while trying to adjust to the notion of putting down roots - not an easy task for a compulsive wanderer. Visit her website for more: "Fiction on the edge without crossing the line"


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Living to Live or Living to Die?

No big surprise. Death is inescapable.

Although not a pleasant thought for most of us - life, as we know it, will one day cease.

We just don't know the day or the time, which is probably a good thing. It is the one event in this world that, without a doubt, will happen. No matter how we try to prolong it, once our time is up, our time is up.

Many of us don't want to think about dying because it puts a whole different perspective on living.

The way I see it, that can be a good thing, though. Well it's a good thing as long as we choose living to live over living to die. There's a difference between living life to the fullest or not bothering because we are going to die anyway.

When I was going through a health trial and I didn't know what the road ahead looked like in the survival department, I was introduced to that popular country song by Tim McGraw - Live Like You are Dying. Great idea as long as living like you were dying includes more joy than dread; more peace than fear; more love than friction.


Dread, fear and friction arise from an unsettled heart and a feeling of unworthiness. But the good news is that dread fear and friction can be replaced with joy, peace and love. And I have found, firsthand that when that joy, peace and love stroll hand in hand with faith, death becomes a beautiful thing and something I do not have to fear.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, 1 John 4:18 a,b

I think it's when faith hits home that you learn to love deeper, speak sweeter, and give forgiveness that you've been denying. After all we will have eternity to contemplate how we lived our life. . .

I am in no rush to leave this world, but if my time is up, no matter how much kicking and screaming I do, it won't matter. I have two choices when it comes to life and death. I can choose to see death as something horrific, formidable and something to fear. Or I can choose to see death as the cessation of life here as we know it - but wait - there's more.

As a believer I have the hope in my Saviour, Jesus, that eternity awaits. Yay! That is my prayer for my entire family and all my friends - in fact, as naive and cliched as it may sound - it's my prayer for the world. 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

And for some final, parting wisdom, Snoopy shared some profound incite with Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown: “Some day, we will all die Snoopy!’
Snoopy: “True but on all the other days, we will not.”

How's that for a little motivation to go sky diving or Rocky Mountain climbing or 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu?

I'm in. You? 

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, April 21, 2016

Blessing Upon Blessing - Marcia Lee Laycock

I love traveling. The ability to go off to foreign places has been one of God’s gifts to me over the years, in spite of the fact that my family has never been wealthy. 

My first adventure came during university when a friend urged me to put my name on the list for a trip to Spain being organized by the faculty of the geology program. I balked at first. “There’s no way,” I told her. It was almost the end of the year and I was almost broke. But when I was offered a seat the pieces fell into place and off I went. Traveling around Spain, Portugal, France and Switzerland opened my eyes to the wonders of Europe and gave me a thirst for more.

Then I found myself in the Yukon and travel to anywhere was expensive. “But everyone has to have a honeymoon,” my new husband said, so off we went to California, arriving in San Francisco on Chinese New Year. Now that was a cross cultural experience!

Not long after, we made the leap of faith, landed in Bible College on the flat Canadian prairie and then moved one province to the west to begin ministry in our first church. I thought our traveling days were over. A pastor's salary didn't leave much in extra income. But God had more in store for us.

After seven years it was time for a year-long sabbatical. “Papua New Guinea,” a missions expert advised us, “That will be a good place for you to go.” I wasn’t even sure where PNG was, but God made the doors open and before I could voice all the ‘what ifs’ we were there. Life in the third world was both challenging and exhilarating as God opened our eyes to the need to trust Him every moment of the day. At the end of that year coming home was harder than going, but slowly God worked in our hearts and minds and souls and we adjusted once again to life in Canada.                                                                                                                                          An opportunity provided through our church's affiliation with The Associated Gospel Churches of Canada took us to Israel not long after, and then seven years later God moved us from our comfort zone again, to begin a new work in a small community. As a church planter, my husband’s salary dropped into the bottom of the barrel once more. And once again, I thought our traveling days were over.

But God had another plan. It included eighteen months of cancer treatments and a slow recovery. “Take your wife somewhere warm,” the doctor said. Impossible, I thought, but before I could list all the reasons why not we were floating on the warm waters of the Caribbean. 

A cruise was not something I had ever envisioned in my future but when my husband’s mother turned 90 she decided she wanted to celebrate with the whole family – on a cruise ship off the coast of Alaska. When she was 92 there was one more trip on her bucket list – the long cruise to Hawaii, and she wanted me to go with her. I had to think about that for just a second or two.

Spain, Portugal, France, Switzerland, the Yukon, Alaska, Papua New Guinea, Israel, the Caribbean, Hawaii. Not bad for someone who thought she’d never leave the borders of her own province, let alone her country.

Yes, it’s been a joy to see it all, to experience so much. But even more, it’s been a blessing to see what God wanted to teach us through it all. There have been many lessons about trust, about His provision, about His generosity and love. With every adventure we learned more about Him.

“Surely you have granted (us) unending blessings and made (us) glad with the joy of your presence.” Psalm 21:6 


Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has three devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies, including the Hot Apple Cider books. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded on Smashwords or on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format on Amazon. 

Her most recent release is A Traveler’s Advisory, Stories of God’s Grace Along the Way.

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tow Trucks and Angels in Disguise-by Heidi McLaughlin

This particular morning was no different. As soon as my feet hit the floor I started my mental “to do” list. I wanted to get through this day as quickly and efficiently as possible so that I could get out of my office and onto the golf course for my 4:57 tee time. The sun was already blazing over the beautiful Okanagan valley and it made me gasp with joy. It was a perfect day for golfing.

As I drove up the familiar hill on Boucherie Road a warning registered in my brain. The black vehicle on the crest of the hill was no longer moving. My foot hit the brake; but it was too late. What followed was a crushing, ghastly sound of metal twisting and ripping. The deafening explosive sound of the deploying passenger air bag thundered through my little VW Passat, and I thought I was having a heart attack. My body flew forward and it hurled my chest into the steering wheel. In my confused state all I could see was smoke and white powder and I knew that some very bad had happened.

Once the pain in my chest subsided my first thought was, “Dag nab it I’m going to miss my golf game.” I was covered in coffee from head to toe and felt embarrassed as I stood alongside the fire truck, ambulance, police cars and tow trucks. My day was ruined. My car was totalled. My joy was gone. Not only that, but I had to watch people glare at me as they were stuck in this huge traffic jam.

Over the years I have made intentional efforts to be a thankful person. The Bible says: “Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16 NIV). God’s word has proven to me that my joy comes when I look God-ward and focus on all the good and beautiful gifts God gives to me every day…in all circumstances. But on the day of the accident, I found it hard to be thankful

Later that afternoon, once I stopped ruminating about the horrific explosion, an unusual thought came to mind. Heidi, maybe that vehicle you rear-ended saved someone’s life.  The driver of the other vehicle stopped to let a child cross the road. If that SUV had not stopped for that little boy, would you have seen that child?  What if you were so distracted that you had not seen him?

The thought that I might not have seen that little boy left me vulnerable and shaken. Then it dawned on me. Our human eyes cannot see or comprehend the fact that there is always a bigger narrative unfolding in and around us. In amongst the tow trucks there are miracles and angles all around us that we cannot see or understand.  God is always at work unfolding a greater story.

That realization made me stop and remember that God says to “give thanks in ALL circumstances.” Now that I saw a bigger picture, I was so thankful that I sat and looked up to Heaven with tears streaming down my face saying, “Thank you God that you not only love me but you also care for every detail of my life. Help me to be thankful always, in spite of how I feel or how I perceive the situation. Thank you God that you are always with me. ” 

In spite of your circumstances, what are at least 3 things you can be thankful for today?

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:

kK is for Kale by SUSAN HARRIS

When the graphic designer of my new picture book, L’alphabet à la ferme, sent me pictures to choose for the k word, I honestly did not know which picture of kale was more suitable. I had zero knowledge of kale. I could not identify it, had certainly never bought it, nor ever expressed an interest in the vegetable.  

That day the lethargy evaporated. If kale was going to be in my book, I vowed that I would become as close to an expert as I could on the subject. Fortunately this post has a word limit which debars a thesis on kale, so you will be spared the gushing of the kale-enthusiast I’ve morphed into, but I will share a few facts that changed the obscure leafy vegetable to a coveted daily dish. And I’ll share my recipe too.

Low on the glycemic index, kale belongs to the Brassica family with vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and collards. Kale is laden with nutrients that puts it high on the list of the world’s healthiest foods, packed with vitamins A, C and K, and calcium. Therefore including kale in one’s diet provides nutrients that support healthy skin, hair and bones, as well as healthy digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease. Other health benefits include improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering the risk of cancer, lowering blood pressure and lowering the risk of developing asthma. ( 16, 2016)

Which writer does not need a healthy body or lovely hair for the camera?

My first attempt on the power food bandwagon was to try making kale chips. This was quickly abandoned as the only beneficiary was the trash can. I also did not care for raw kale. Then a simple recipe from my childhood got me eating this super green 5-7 times a week. Because kale appeared similar to choraiya bhagi, aka aramanth leaves, that grew in Trinidad, I thought of sautéing the kale the same way as we did the choraiya. This proved to be the winner.  

A serving of kale equals 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked, and one cup of raw kale has only 35 calories. My recipe, however, is based on what I eat at one meal. Because seriously, how do you measure a cup of unruly, curly kale? Anyway, I hope you enjoy this dish.

Recipe for Sautéed Kale 

Cooking time – 6 minutes

3 stalks kale
1 tsp olive oil (or any cooking oil)
¼ small onion thinly sliced
1 clove garlic crushed  (or 2 cloves if you like)
1 tsp cracked pepper (optional)
½ tsp salt (or to taste)


1. Wash kale and pat dry. Trim off the woody stem leaving only the leafy part.
2. Cut leaves into small pieces as in photo.
3. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a non-stick skillet (or 2 tsp if using an iron pot).
4. Drop onions in oil and sauté on medium heat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. When onions becomes soft, turn down heat between medium and low. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. (Note – garlic burns easily so be sure to lower the heat and turn mixture often.)
5. Add kale and salt to onion-garlic in skillet and sauté for one minute uncovered. Kale should begin to wilt and turn bright green.
6. Cover skillet with lid and let kale steam in its juices for 2 minutes. Then remove from heat. 

The website indicates the calorie count of the ingredients as: 

40 calories per tsp of olive oil
zero calories in the salt
5 calories in the cracked pepper 
24 calories in the onion
4 calories in one clove of garlic

 Kale can be eaten as a side dish with any meal or as a filling in a pita wrap.  Delicious.

Just rambling - I tried to slice the onions as best as I can but I realize I do not have onion slicing skills for good photography. I used 2 cloves of garlic bit 1 clove is enough. I also use a small iron pot I brought from Trinidad to cook my kale. The quarter tsp measure is available in stores.

K is for kale. Who knew writing a
children’s picture book would 
spin off such rewards?

SUSAN HARRIS is the author of eight books. Her newest release is L’alphabet à la ferme from Borealis Press and the first of her books to be translated in French. This book contains over 50% new pictures than is found in the English  Alphabet on the Farm.

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