Saturday, April 29, 2017

In what key do you play your life?/MANN

Does it really matter in what key we play a piece of music? Some would say, good Bluegrass should be played in the key of E or A. Well, my friend Charlie says anything sounds good in G. When I go to the local nursing home to play the piano, Charlie often greets me. “Are you going to play the piano?”

“Yes, I am. Are you going to join me in entertaining the folks?”

“I like playing in the Key of G.”

I assure him that I’ll play as many pieces as I know in the Key of G. He grins and points to his mandolin. I settle onto the piano bench, Charlie faces the residents, steadies his instrument firmly on his lap and tightens his fingers around the neck.
As soon as I put my fingers on the piano keys, he asks, “Key of G?”

And I reply, “Key of G, let’s go.” 

When I finish a piece, he grins as if he is the only one performing. After I play for a while, I decide to try a song that the residents particularly like, but it’s easier for me to play it in the Key of D. I wonder if Charlie will stop strumming and frown at me. But, he doesn’t miss a beat. He continues playing his favourite three chords with a big smile on his face like he’s on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

It is only then, I realize regardless of what key I play, Charlie will play the song in the Key of G and coax responses from the residents and staff like a pro. And when we finish, he’ll turn to me and nod. What is important to him is playing his instrument, sharing his music with another musician and giving pleasure to his friends seated around the big room.

“I like Bluegrass music,” he says.

“I do too. Let's try this one.” I begin to play ‘Church in the Wildwood’ with a distinct bluegrass rhythm. Some musicians’ say the rhythm guitar is the glue to hold a band together. I think Charlie’s mandolin does the trick for us. Even the old gospel songs take on a new pulse.

Trust is the important ingredient in sharing music with someone Trust that Charlie will continue to play even though I change the key. And trust that to some the rhythm is as important than the key. Keeping the same rhythm is as significant for Charlie as breathing. His tapping toe and strumming keep  us both on track.

We’re familiar with words like trust, and joy, community, being sensitive to one another and spreading God’s love wherever we can. We read that in the Word and we live it out in our lives. To see all of this and more as the ordinary stuff of life reveals God at work in the everyday world. Thanks be to God.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (Philippians 4:8)

Donna Mann

New Release from Angel Hope Publishing: Good Grief People
Book launch: Saturday, May 6th, 2017, Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum.

Friday, April 28, 2017

God Knows Our Name

Hello, my name is______________. What a simple statement. But have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are unsure of what name to put in that blank? I have.

Until I began my second year of university I never hesitated to fill in that name blank. My name is Elaine. My family, friends and teachers had all called me that name. I filled out forms for the university that went to the professors. I did as instructed. Fill in your first, middle and last name and circle the name you go by. I wrote Carol Elaine Clark and circled Elaine. Yes I had always been known by my middle name. In our family, calling a child by their middle name appeared to be a tradition, since my father, both his sisters and their father were all known by their middle name.

In every class that year, no matter how much I tried to change it,  the professors insisted on addressing me as Carol  I finally gave up trying to change the professors and opted to answer to Carol. Secretly I had always liked that name better and for a year I could enjoy it. I did not think it mattered what people called me that year but I met my future husband in those classes. He learnt to know me by one name and my family knew me by another name. That fact has not changed even though more than forty years have passed.

On Easter Sunday, our pastor spoke about Mary Magdalene coming to the empty tomb. In John 20:10- 18 we read the account of Mary hearing the angels tell her that Jesus had risen just as he said he would. It also talks about her seeing Jesus but not recognising him until in verse 16 He simply says, "Mary". Her fear vanished as she recognised the One who knew her name.

I thought about Elijah as he hid in the cave in fear for his life. (I Kings 19). God met him there and called him by name. Elijah found encouragement when he listened to the still, small voice.

Saul, a zealous Pharisee, persecuted the Christians after Jesus death and resurrection until Jesus met him on the road to Damascus ( Acts 9) and called him by name. Saul's life changed after his encounter with Jesus and he told everyone about the need to believe in Jesus' death and resurrection as the only way to God.

God the Father and Son met people where they were and called them by name and their lives changed. Peace and encouragement replaced fear and sin.

Isaiah 43: 1
But now, this is what the Lord says - he who created you O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine. 

God knows my name, my full name, so it does not
matter which one I choose to answer to. He knows your name too. I pray that like Mary at the empty tomb we will recognise His voice and know his peace and love.

Carol Elaine Harrison lives in Saskatoon, SK. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who loves spending time with her family. She also loves to tell stories shares from the heart, whether one to one or in various sizes of groups. She has published one book, Amee's Story and has short stories in a number of Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Turning Sad into Glad by Glynis M Belec

       I try to get along with people as best as I can for I figure what’s the use of being an opinionated, grouchy person whose busyness trumps stopping to ‘smell the roses’?

      Over the past seven years or so I’ve discovered life’s too short and my whirlwind days are better spent fitting in as much joy, kindness and love as I can muster. Days don’t always start out that way (I’m only human). Sometimes that opinionated, grouchy side tries to claw her way out. That’s when I open the trunk and dig out the armour – beginning with the Word of God.

       Reading scripture sure helps. So I try to do that every morning right before “Miss Grouchy, Opinionated Self” gets out of bed.

       Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend. Gillian (I will call her). I met her a few years ago at a fundraiser for ovarian cancer and for some reason we hit it off, stayed in touch and now we get together every so often.

       Gillian struggles with depression and sometimes she just needs to get away and talk. As we nibbled on our Greek salads yesterday, she shared about her friend who had recently committed suicide. Absolutely heartbreaking. We ate slowly. I wanted to say the right things. My “fix-it” side floundered. There was nothing I could say to take away her immediate pain and bring her friend back. I felt God tell my brain to calm down, to shut up and to listen. So I did (as difficult as that was for me).

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, 
slow to speak, slow to anger 
James 1:19

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.                  
Proverbs 18:13

           Gillian continued to pour out her heart – even confessing that she had such thoughts sometimes but wasn’t sure what caused her friend to cross the line. Then the tables turned. God opened the door. A few words flowed and then during our discussion the focus shifted from indescribable sadness to grateful gladness.

           Nothing had changed except the flow of our conversation.

          “I don’t know how people who have no faith in God, do it,” Gillian finally said, tearing up.

           We both agreed and by the time we had taken our last sips of tea, we were hugging and planning another get-together. Jesus gives us Divine appointments. This lunch date with Gillian was no exception.

She left feeling a little better that she was able to share a bit of her pain. I left grateful to God
that He had made me slow down and shut up long enough to listen; to really listen.

           In this crazy, helter-skelter world filled with so much scorn for the Saviour on so many levels, it’s good to find focus in the Word.

           We’ll never fix everything no matter how hard we try, but in the Word there is comfort, hope, and a thousand ways to turn sadness into gladness; starting with – In the Beginning. 

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. 
You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 
John 16:20

        Glynis lives, loves, laughs and does an awful         lot of reading, writing, publishing and                 praying in her home office. 

        How thrilled Glynis is to be part of 
        GOOD GRIEF PEOPLE (Angel Hope                     Publishing) - an anthology filled with stories         that help readers recognize, honour and               celebrate  the individuality of grief. 


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Learning Discipline through Blogging

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Today’s topic is the title of a devotion written by Melony Teague.  It is one of ninety devotions in As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers. The writing prompt asks: “Do you blog? If not, consider creating a blog as a form of self-discipline in your writing life. If you do already have a blog, how can you better use it as a tool to establish the habit of writing daily?”

Mel’s prompt encouraged me, and fellow author Claudia Loopstra, to jot down the benefits of consistent blogging.

We came up with seventeen; can you help us reach twenty?

A blog can:
1.       Honour God
2.       Be a forerunner to a book
3.       Provide personal accountability
4.       Stretch our minds and spirit daily/ weekly
5.       Share our spiritual gifts
6.       Be a witness to others
7.       Hone our writing skills and vocabulary
8.       Improve our ability to write concisely (300-500 words for a topic)
9.       Market our published works
10.   Create a ‘brand’ for our writing
11.   Highlight other authors and their  published works
12.   Share information
13.   Encourage  others to start the habit
14.   Provide conversation starters and comments
15.   Develop our ‘voice’
16.   Build relationships
17.   Become a published article

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


The word “kindness” may sound limpid, but I believe it is the strongest expression of love. If you notice a decline in human kindness, you’re not alone.  I was saddened and shocked by research done by the University of Michigan which states: “After the year 2000, College kids today are about forty percent lower in empathy (kindness) than their counterparts of twenty or thirty years ago.”  That was the beginning of the media age and kids grew up with access to games that eventually numb people to the pain of others.  When we become isolated and selfish, we don’t make time to be kind.

I am so grateful for people who still live their lives the way the Jesus taught us in the Bible which says: “…you should practice tender-hearted mercy and kindness to others” (Colossians 3:12 TLB). It takes unselfishness and time to stop our busy lives and make a phone call, deliver a meal, drop off a flower, or invite someone out for dinner.

It’s been five months since the death of my second husband and I am still receiving tender-hearted kindness from many people.  At the end of the third month I hit a wall and needed emotional and physical support.  When I prayed and asked God for help He used kind people to be His hands and feet to help me with every aspect of my life. Throughout my grieving journey, kind people have been my greatest gift. Those who took me in when I could not function on my own. Those who came to stay in my home and support me with meals and daily functions. Those who checked in with me every day to make sure I was O.K. Even the simple things like a card in the mail or in my Inbox, or joining me on a walk or a cup of tea.  Those people who made the time to extend kindness have literally changed my life

Kindness is not being a doormat or acquiescing to uncomfortable or unrealistic demands. Kindness is a sincere desire to allow the Holy Spirit to shape our hearts like Jesus, overflowing with compassion. To follow the example of Jesus, we need to re-adjust our over-abundant, over-complicated and busy lives to make time for a hurting world.

Modelling kindness to our younger generation is the first step to changing the statistics that our next generation is self-centered and uncaring. Through the astounding kindness that I have received in the last five months, I know that when I have the strength and ability, I will make it my life mission to extend kindness wherever I go.  I believe it’s the greatest legacy I can leave.

University of Michigan research:, 7724, September 12, 2015

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at;, or her website:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Poured Out - by Eleanor Shepherd

This is Maundy Thursday and many Christians mark this day as part of the Passion of Christ by remembering Jesus washing the feet of His disciples.  The Bible tells us how He poured the water into a basin and went around to each of His disciples, washed their feet and dried them with a towel.  This has always been one of the most powerful pictures for me of the Leadership style of Jesus and something that I would like to imitate. It also connects with a part of my own story.
                I have recounted to many people how a few years after our son John’s accident that rendered him a quadriplegic, Glen and I were leading a church service in one of our congregations in Ontario.  That Sunday morning, before the service began, the worship team sang a song about the potter.  It talked about how he remade the clay pot into the vessel that he desired it to be. It was that day that I realized that all that many of the things that I experienced as a result of John’s accident were the actions of Jesus as the potter, refashioning the clay pot of my life into the kind of vessel He wanted me to be.  

                The image of the potter was one that was familiar to me and I had always thought that what the Lord was making of my life was some kind of vase.  However, as I reflected on my experiences during this troubled time, I realized that my reshaping by the divine potter was turning that vase into a pitcher. He was refashioning the top of the vase and forming it into a lip useful for pouring.  I knew that for many years, He had continually been pouring His love into my life and somehow through my sharing with others this new journey, I was going to be able to pour that love into their lives. 
                One of my dear friends, who heard me tell this story, gave me a jug and basin that she had found and chose for me for as a special gift.  Whenever I look at that lovely set, it reminds me of the love God continues to pour into my life so I can pour it into the lives of others.  
                When I left Opportunity International, my parting gift from my colleagues there was pottery – a pitcher and basin to encourage me to keep on pouring out God’s love, as I had shared my story with them also.  
                In the daily grind, it is easy for us to forget these important reminders of our calling, until again the Lord sends someone to remind us.  That happened for me again recently when I celebrated a significant birthday.  My daughter had a book made up with photos and letters from people who she thought might want to honour me.  In a sense, I am reluctant to share this, in that it can sound like I am boasting and I do not want to do that, but for me it was another reminder of what God has called me to do, with the empowerment of His Spirit.  

                In her contribution to the book, one of my friends spoke of the appropriateness of my maiden name – Pitcher.  Her comment was, “Now that I have known Eleanor for five years and have seen her in her various roles – among them pastor, writer, mother, wife, grandmother and friend – it strikes me that the Lord could not have chosen a better surname for her.  I have seen few people that, “pour themselves out” so wholeheartedly in word, deed and prayer.”  The kind words of my friend again remind me of the opportunities that the Lord continues to give me to follow His example and pour out the love He has poured into me. 
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

Eleanor Shepherd from Pointe Claire, Quebec has more than 90 articles published in Canada,  France,  the U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and New Zealand. Thirty years with The Salvation Army in Canada and France including ministry in Africa, Europe, Haiti and the Caribbean furnished material for her Award winning book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening. Eleanor works as a pastor in Montreal with The Salvaton Army.

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