Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Favour the Familiar/DONNA MANN

I favour the familiar for many reasons and one of them is that I do not expect to recognize it by my last impression. Even though I have a previous picture tucked away in the depth of memory, I am pleasantly surprised at new dimensions, colour and texture when I revisit the familiar.  I could use this opening sentence reflecting on relationships, writing, gardening or buying a car, but in this blog, I want to explore the thought in terms of experience.

Summer is camping season for us. Doug loves to drive and I am content sitting in the passenger seat and taking pictures. It's also a time when we see our province in different seasons - sometimes before the winter wheat breaks through the ground, or after the leaves have fallen and many times between. I particularly like to go to Manitoulan Island and live on island-time. However, I think I could go stand on the banks of the Grand River and remember the rush and roar of the Fraser River in British Columbia, even though they are different kinds of rivers. Somehow, there is a satisfaction in drawing from the views and sceneries in local areas. Although we have travelled across the ocean several times, been to Australia and Alaska, crossed Canada from shore to shore more than once, I favour the familiar and ordinary in driving by something I know like the back of your hand, and seeing a difference from the last time I saw it.

I wonder how this relates to relationships and to healing and feelings of serenity, much needed in a stressful world. I sense that the familiar is therapeutic and even beneficial. Take a farmer for example who has left the farm and moved to a nursing home. Think of the peace and satisfaction he would feel in seeing the earth freshly ploughed and the sea gulls flying back and forth, diving for that worm. Think of the memories that a windmill standing isolated in the middle of a wheat field might raise. Or the pleasures of seeing a child walk through a field with a fishing pole over his shoulder.

We live next door to the house my Grandma and Grandpa owned. As I sit on our deck I see the huge Spruce tree I played under in the 40s. I see the same trees that keep the 85-foot drop to the Irwin River safe from our curiosity and provide a sense of wonder as they ‘clap their hands’ in response to the wind. I look across the village block from end to end and see lawns touch each other, as through the years the neighbours haven’t erected fences. The familiar: peaceful, contentment and good for the soul

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12).


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Monday, June 27, 2016

Growth by Tracy Krauss

Growth. It's this month's prompt and quite apt considering that natural growth is all around us at this time of year. I'm sure that many of you have also experienced a tremendous time of growth this past weekend at Write! Canada.

My own growth as a writer has come in spurts and starts. Sometimes it's been through conferences, like the one that just happened, and sometimes it has been through books, webinars, or other helpful resources. More often than not, however, it has come through failure, mistakes, rejection and other difficult circumstances.

I'm keeping it short and sweet today, since I have other commitments like report cards and end of the school year preparations that are keeping me occupied. But I wanted to take this opportunity, especially after the 'high' of something as wonderful as a writers' conference, to remind you that growth can come in many forms. Don't miss out on every opportunity - both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Garden of Gratitude by Glynis M Belec

Laughing Lobelia
Satisfied Sage
Merry Mint
Today my garden said 'Thank you!' For weeks the droplets have been scarce or non-existent. This year I have been determined to keep all things hydrated so I have been faithfully watering early morning and late evening. Shoots have been a little thankful, and for the most part I have managed to help ward off sizzling seedlings.                                                                                                                                                                                         But then the rain came. It poured. I opened the patio door and I could almost hear my collective vegetables and flowers singing praise to their Master Gardener. They were thankful that I kept them going but they danced with joy when their Creator lavished them with the waters that would do so much more than sustain.                                                                                                                                                                                  
As I gazed at the gulping earth I thought about how that is so like God. He allows us to have a hand in His creation but ultimately He is in control. Sure my little garden hose might have made a little bit of difference, but for me to cause the garden to come to the intended fruition - it wouldn't have happened. I might have helped a determined bean sprout or a frazzled marigold stay upright.                                                                                                                                                                             But one thing I noticed - every night and every morning, there were signs of exhaustion and drooping and discoloured leaves. The ground remained scorched and parts of my little plants were giving up. What I was doing was good, but it was obviously insufficient.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               This morning was different. There was no drooping. No battle weary fatigue. No signs of retreat. There was a new fragrance - an earthy, warm smell. The sun shone and the once tired plants stood tall saluting the Master Gardener. The green looked lush and vibrant. Pretty pink petunias and laughing lobelia held their heads high and their beauty attracted buzzing bees hungry for sweet pollen. A white cabbage moth circled eyeing the green plant waving in the gentle, warm breeze.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That was when I thought about God. It was time I stopped to say thank you to the Master Gardener in my life. Sometimes I am quick to take credit; when my life and every breath I take is ultimately all about God. I plod along and prattle on, forgetting that He is the One who has poured the Water of Life into my days. He sent His son who poured out His blood so I can be here and be a witness to His glory and grace; His forgiveness and peace. He does more for me than sustain me. He offers me His final fruit - eternal life. When I think about that, I feel like dancing in the rain.   
Triumphant Tomato 
Delighted Dill
Stalwart Stevia
   A summer rain brings refreshment and renewed life. Jesus brings us that same kind of rejuvenation in our lives when we turn to Him and trust Him and allow Him to control our weakened state. We are no less worthy because we turn to Him. In fact, when we do turn to Him in all areas of our life, then growth happens. Our roots are made secure. Our core is established. Fruit appears. 
Lettuce pray!
A Garden of Gratitude
Playful Parsley 
I, for one, am happy the Master Gardener is tilling the soil and sending the refreshing rain in my life! 

“And it shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil.”  
Deuteronomy 11:13-14
(Now to get to those pesky weeds that also love the refreshing rain - literally and figuratively) 

Glynis lives, loves, laughs and does an awful lot of reading, writing, publishing and praying in her home office. 
Her latest children's book, which happened to be shortlisted for a Word Guild award in the Children's category - Hopeful Homer - offers hope and encouragement to never ever give up!

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Curiosity can kill the cat or open the sabotage door. Strangely enough my curiosity on the golf course affirmed the sub-conscious power of self-sabotage. I’m not a great golfer but on a good day I can play a pretty decent game.  I have a dream to shoot a certain score and I know I can do it. So why hasn’t it happened?  A pattern has unfolded that forces me to look at how I actually sabotage myself from reaching my goal.  When I am at hole 15 or 16 and know that I am close to a good score, I add the numbers to see how close I am to my dream objective. I start to get it excited. Very soon the game changes and the next three holes are a disastrous Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Target missed. Then the walk of shame.  Why do I defeat myself? Again and again!

My husband has seen my dismay and voiced my frustration: “Honey why do you check your score before the game is over. You always end up sabotaging your dream?”  I agree with him and am beginning to understand the verse in Bible that says: “The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy” (John 10:10 VOICE). Ok I know I am stretching the analogy of a golf game but I am becoming aware of this concept in many areas of life.  Perhaps a goal of writing a book, speaking to a large audience, pursuing a radio program, raising funds for a worthwhile project or opening a Day Care Centre. There is an enemy (Satan) playing dirty to steal our dreams and joy through making us believe voices of defeat and accusations that are not true:

a.         You don’t deserve this.
b.         You’re not smart or capable enough.
c.          You will never amount to anything.
d.         Why would anyone want to hear what you say or write?
e.         Who do think you are anyways?

Those negative thoughts have burned into our sub-conscious to sabotage our glorious and fulfilling future. They sneak into our soul through the trap door of fear, unworthiness and shame.  It’s important that we recognize them because they are not from God.  In Philippians 4:13 NLT it says: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  You can do ANYTHING my friend.  The number one regret that people have is: I wish I had been more true to myself.

If you are standing on the brink of a big idea for a book or you want to take up painting, decorating, scuba diving or run a marathon. Dismiss the voices in your head and tell them:  “Oh, it’s you again.” Then step up to the plate and embrace the life that God has given you to live with passion and joy. In the second part of the John 10:10 Jesus says this: “I came to give life with joy and abundance.”

If you have children you know how much you want them to enjoy the gifts you give them. Our God is a good Father who has lavished us with gifts and abilities for our pleasure and to make a difference in this world. Let’s not allow fear or shame to defeat us, instead let’s look sabotage right in the eye and say: “Oh it’s you again” and move into your glorious future.

 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:
Her new book RESTLESS FOR FOR: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places will be launched July 4, 2016.

Friday, June 17, 2016


The maxim drummed in my ear, a refrain that was indefensible. Over and over it revved in my brain, Once is a mistakeTwice is a pattern. Three times is a habitAnd over and over I wondered why I never thought of it it until this week. 

Why didn’t I include Smokey’s picture in my picture farm books? The last sentence of the last page of each book reads, “She got the idea for this book while playing with her kitten, Smokey, who was also born on the farm.” And below the line is a picture of my other picture book, Little Copper Pennies for Kids. Not of Smokey.

In the English edition of Alphabet on The Farm, K is for Kitten. Instead of the orange kitten, I could have used Smokey’s picture. Twice. 

Search Quotes (dot com) was relentless. “You can’t make the same mistake twice. The second time you make it, it’s no longer a mistake, it’s a choice.  Deal with the consequences!”

That was in 2104. When the French edition, L'alphabet à la ferme, was released this year, the last sentence of the last page was the same, except in French.
Three times.

In the French edition, the letter C first featured Chevre (goat) but I immediately thought that a kitten should be there and so “C comme Chaton” replaced the Chevre and the little orange kitten smiled out of the page.

Wretched me. Why wasn’t the chaton Smokey?

English Stack (dot com) further conspired against me, ably using the second language to underscore my faux pas.  “In French, there is the expression "jamais deux sans trois" (literally: "never twice without a third [time]").”

Except I had eleven times to my credit if I considered the proofs. Oh la la! I did not  possess the stop-before-the-habit-is-formed gene so now I had to face the consequences.

My feeble attempt to redeem my error to immortalize my cat in publishing is the fact that today, June 17, he is appearing on CTV at a local branch in Yorkton where I live. This video I intend to embed on YouTube.  Another endeavor is a poster ordered from Vistaprint which I will hang on a prominent wall in our house. On June 21 he will attend the book launch of L'alphabet à la ferme at St. Henry’s Elementary School in Melville, a French Immersion school. He has been invited to Christian Club’s ladies meeting in August and I will take him. 

Smokey loves our garage and is staying there (and not in the house due to my allergies) for his star appearances.  A double car garage all to himself and who knows for how long.  Meanwhile, my  beloved CRV is parked in the open driveway, in thunderstorm and rain, at risk to hail. The lawn tractor had been ousted to the back yard, with the consolation of shelter of the cover of the barbecue grill that is too small for it. And the grill and tank gets wet and dry alternately.

Once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern. Three times is a habitEleven must be for redemption.

Susan Harris is the author of nine books. Stories about Smokey are featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul and in  10½ Sketches: Insights on Being Successful Right Where You Are . The story of how Smokey became a house pet and inspired Susan’s writings can be read in a free download of How Not to Kidnap a Cat at

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