Thursday, June 22, 2017

Did you notice the music?

“The Oscar for best Original Score goes to..”
“The best Original Song goes to....”
“The best Cinematography goes to... “
“The best Production Design goes to....”

At the recent Academy Awards event, viewers listened to all of the above statements as the Oscars were given out.  However, many individuals would say that they have little or no interest in these categories.  Most of us only want to know who will win best actor/actress, supporting roles and picture of the year. The producers of the evening are aware of our bias and therefore hold us in suspense as long as possible before revealing our favourite awards.

Music, screen sets and photography, when done well, are imperceptible. However, they focus the eye through the camera lens, move us emotionally with lyrics or melodies and provide context for the script and actions. Without these valuable background features, films would be flat and forgettable.

This illustration can be applied to other areas of our life.

In communication it’s often the ‘how’ of saying something that impacts us more than the ‘what’. “I won’t remember what you said, but how it made me feel.” Body language or the non verbal is what makes up ninety percent of the message.

When introducing change, the existing climate or environment will determine success and outcomes; like the water in a fish tank—if it’s not treated, the fish will die.

Written stories also require music/sound, photography/focus and staging/setting to engage the reader.  Next time you watch a movie, notice these invisible, but essential, components and imagine how you can recreate them in your writing; let’s think like directors with our/His script.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:10 (NIV)

I welcome your comments on the topic.

Carol Ford, Speaker, Career Coach, Author

A short story about my first Christmas in my adoptive home will appear in Christmas with Hot Apple Cider, October 2017. I'm co-author of devotional entitled: As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers (shortlisted for 2017 awards). To learn more about Carol Ford go to: https/

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Three Steps to Unleash a Creative Mind-by Heidi McLaughlin

“I’m going to build a raft, and then I can float it across the lake.”  My ten-year-old grandson Austin’s face brimmed with excitement as he envisioned the possibility of this grand adventure.  He could hardly finish his sentences as he sputtered: “And then I’m going to…and then…and then.” His joy was contagious.

The rest of the family got back on their bikes to return home, and Austin led the pack, eager to begin his new project.  There is a little forest in the back of my daughter’s house and sure enough Austin dragged out 3 small logs, just the right size for a raft.  Add some rope, a stick and a garbage bag for a sail, and his dream became a reality.  Only one hitch. How do we get it to the lake and make it float?

Austin was determined to find a way to float on his beautiful creation, and my heart sank as I watched his carefully executed plan fall apart.

His enthusiasm for this project was vibrant and I envied the energy and untapped creativity in this young lad.  Oh I needed some of that enthusiasm and focus.  So how can we unleash that zeal in our lives when at times the creative well runs dry?

Here are my 3 thoughts:

1.         Get a different perspective.  Hike, bike, drive or fly to an area you’ve never visited before.  An unfamiliar creation will inspire new creativity.   A fresh landscape, new art, varied music, food or culture is sure to inspire new thoughts and get your heart pumping for diverse ideas.
2.         Remove distractions. Once Austin had his idea, he was laser beam focused to build the raft and nothing could sway his plan. As adults we are bombarded with too many demands and noise.  Yet when our souls and mind are at rest, we can hear the sounds in our head that want to tell us a new story. 
3.         Be fearless. Austin’s plan bombed.  We couldn’t get the raft to the lake never mind making it float. Yes, he was disappointed, (I was more disappointed than he was) but he didn’t say: “I put all this energy into this raft and it doesn’t work.  I’m never building anything again.” No, he shook it off and was eager and ready for his next adventure.

Perhaps we’ve had too many disappointments, been rejected for our ideas or we’re simply too tired.  God, who is the ultimate creator of the universe and mankind, has made us in His image.  Because of that mysterious and miraculous master plan, on this side of heaven our creativity will never run out.  You never know, maybe like Tom Sawyer, your raft will float.

(That's Austin with his head in the well)
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:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Becoming Unordinary by SUSAN HARRIS

I just wanted an ordinary, simple life.

May 2/17. Trees bare from winter.
My gaze falls on the grove of trees that fringes the north side of our yard at our new acreage. In the height of winter I watch their bony arms raise to the heavens as if for mercy, for clothing green to cover nakedness. Being leafless though is pretty ordinary for that season.

April comes and goes, no buds, no shoots. The first week of May still gives no indication other than brown bare. 

Then suddenly it is there. Green. Although I am watching it everyday, it is only when I photograph the men at work laying the foundation for the garage that I notice how leafy and lush the grove has become. This transformation takes place in a mere ten days.  In this quick growing season, that too, is ordinary.
May 12/17. Green in ten days.
But alas, the long awaited glory is short-lived. Unbeknownst to me, and many others who thought this would not happen for another dozen years, the province is invaded by tent caterpillars. In my memory surface the plagues of the book of Exodus, the blight of the Egyptians. Prayer groups rallying around the globe on my behalf did not dent the infestation that feasted on hundreds of poplar, chokecherry and Saskatoon trees in our immediate perimeter and thousands nearby. I feel blighted too. In less than two months of living in the countryside, the joy is usurped.

For the first time the blinds on my kitchen window are pulled down against the revulsion of caterpillars in piles, caterpillars crawling, on the dirt, siding and stairs, caterpillars eeeewwww, too gross and vile to be pictured here.This is not ordinary. The history states it is an infrequent occurrence, but I’ve seen it three times in fifteen years, and twice in succession over the last two years. That's enough for my lifetime!

The grove to the north of our yard is once again desolate in the height of spring, their bony arms calling to Heaven for mercy. This is not ordinary. And imprisoned in the house, I too, weep for mercy. 
May 29/17 Leaves eaten off trees.
Garage foundation being laid.

Air attack is the only option. Spray in addition to pray. But the wind seems impervious to prayer. Eventually, on June 2 it succumbs to the calm needed for spraying and the acres are doused from above. The plague is ended. Thanks be to God, and the spraying team. 
June 2/17. Aerial spraying over the trees eaten bare.


Our help has always come from above. Lifting pleas to the Lord who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2). What ought to be the ordinary action and reaction of the Christian – turning to above- proved to be the same for the good of our trees.

My blinds up again, within  a week I notice a  greenish hue from the window. Could it be? I’m astonished, nay, astounded. How can growth rebound so quickly? 

June 12/17. Regrowth in ten days. Awesome.
The words of the prophet, Joel, ring in my ears: And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller,* and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25 KJV)

God has restored. God will restore. God is restoring. All these statements are true of the windbreak that guard our house. To see the word “caterpiller” in the KJV, to actually have been the victim of caterpillars, to see the destruction of the caterpillars and the resounding victory of the restoration, blows my mind. This is not ordinary. The hundreds of thousands of trees along the highway and surroundings are desolate. They have not regrown. This miracle is unique to our property. 

Jesus points us to the environment which we can understand, and then uses the  concrete experiences in this physical world to unfold lasting truths in the abstract, spiritual dimension. He urged His disciples and the crowd that followed Him, and us:  Look at the birds…Look at the lilies… (Matthew 6 NLT). 

June 2/17 The wildflower, Sweet Rocket in our yard,
comparable to the wildflower, Lily of the Valley.
Yellow circle shows ravaged trees.
I look... and LOOK WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE is my worshipful refrain. This wonder. Hourly, daily, each time I peer through the kitchen window I’m awed, stupefied by this resurrection unfolding before  my (incredulous) eyes, and my heart reshapes  at His doing. My spirit is tender, pregnant with  expectation of an unseen but tangible renaissance similar to what I’ve  witnessed in this snap of time.

For I know that God is a compensating God. He is a God of the making-up. The One who gives back fully. The heart-mender. The joy-giver. The body-healer. The mind-restorer.  The finance–provider. The eternal, prayer-answering Father. He who rains down favour. He who surprises us by giving far more than we could ask or think. Who takes us from being despised to being sought after. From ordinary to unordinary.

He refuses the ordinary for me because He made me to be so much more. To be unordinary. In other words to be peculiar, royal, chosen, holy, as declared in 1 Peter 2:9 KJV.  It probably grieves Him that I - we- (for He wants the same for you) settle for ordinariness, and for this I repent. 

As I ponder on the regrowth of the trees, I am willing to drop the status quo to pursue this great unordinary that He is thrusting me into. For I have looked, and convinced and convicted, I surrender to the bid of becoming unordinary.

* Emboldened text added. Note the spelling of "caterpiller" is as in the Bible.

SUSAN HARRIS is a speaker, and the author of 12 books, one of which is entitled Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are


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