Tuesday, September 26, 2017

God & the Details by Glynis M Belec

I really wasn't bothered about going, because I knew I had so much to do and it was an effort to make arrangements for my elderly father who lives with us, anyway.

But it was a generous gift and it would be a bit of precious time spent together, so we said 'yes'. Not to mention it would be rude not to accept the gift certificate from our kind daughter.

The gift certificate was for a riverboat cruise complete with 'Blazing Fiddles' entertainment and a full course meal to enjoy as we meandered our way down the Grand River in Caledonia.

It took a bit of arranging to get away, but everything fell into place and my Happy Hubby and I were off.

The BLAZING FIDDLES entertained us with some fine,
toe-tappin' tunes! Such fun. 
The weather was perfect. The drive was lovely. We even were able to leave early enough to enjoy breakfast at a local bistro. Life was good.

Then when we arrived a few hours later, it seemed quiet, peaceful and we winked at each other as we noticed the age group in attendance were up one or two levels from us! Would we be the youngsters here? But we were soon to discover that it's the older folks who come early. Before long, there were passengers of all ages, waiting to embark on the three hour tour!

Getting ready for a rousing spoon-playing
song. Happy Hubby wished he had brought
his along! 

We handed in our gift certificate and were directed to the complementary coffee/tea/muffin/butter tart area.

The music program happened in the cozy area right at dockside. We were treated to a musical medley filled with toe-tappin' tunes and an energy—contagious!

God had been up to something, I am convinced, last week. We haven't had vacation time or certainly not anytime together this summer. We weren't complaining about it and all was plodding along well. He knew that. But I also think He made all things work out because He wanted us to get away, even if it was for only a few hours.

A kind, gentle Captain with a great knowledge
of the area. 
We embarked. Our Captain was wonderful. He'd been working for the Grand River Tours organization for 19 years and as we settled in and cruised down the river, he shared every bit of knowledge that he could about the area.

It was wonderful. We had nowhere to go. My phone wouldn't work on the boat - well unless I went outside. I used it only once - to check on Dad. Then it became a camera only!

My Sweetie-Pie settling in for dinner

The water was a little murky because of the humidity, but a
beautiful meandering down the Grand River! 

It was the most peaceful, relaxing time we have enjoyed together in a while. We basically 'grazed' for three hours. The meal (appetizers, salads, fresh bread, roast beef dinner topped off with apple pie) was delicious. And we made some sweet friends along the way, too. There was a lovely worker from a group home who had taken two of her clients on the tour. We were sitting next to them and had some good laughs; what wonderful souls they were. I think that was a Divine appointment, too, as we heard some amazing stories and left inspired and encouraged.

I was thankful we made the effort to go on this excursion. We were most grateful that God blessed us with a glorious day, calm spirits, safety in travel, wonderful company, and a nice comfy bed to come home to!
A blessed day to remember. 

God's like that. He looks after his children so well and cares about the details. We didn't have to go on this cruise. But we are jolly glad we did. God made everything perfect, and for that we were (and still are) grateful!

The LORD has been mindful of us; He will bless us. Psalm 115:2a 

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 CHRISTMAS WITH HOT APPLE CIDER - an anthology filled with a wonderful assortment of Christmas short stories, memories, drama and poetry. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

I Finally Got it Right! by Carol Ford

During my full-time work in a corporate training and development role, I was asked each year to help the sales staff have a ‘learning’ opportunity at their off-site—usually located in a lovely setting. They were a hard bunch to please and, although I delivered a variety of learning activities over the years, it was the last one, prior to my retirement, that finally exceeded their expectations. This event was probably one of my most creative endeavours in a work setting.

The sales management wanted an opportunity for their salesmen, who are away from home and office at least fifty percent of the year, to know more about their employee benefits. My mind started to go crazy with a concept similar to a trade show. I arranged for exhibits for education, travel, medical, health and safety, pensions etc. We set up like a party with music, helium balloons, prizes, popcorn machine, a basketball game, and shoulder and neck messages. They only had approximately one hour in their busy schedule at the off-site to tour the event, but the feedback was amazing.

I’ve been thinking about this event, and other opportunities I have had to be creative over the years, because I’m preparing for a short talk on the topic of Creativity. As a writer, I often hear myself saying, “What's the use?” Because I feel that I have nothing original to say or I’m not nearly as proficient at wordsmithing as others. But I do need to remind myself that God is my partner in all that I do. He has given me a talent of idea generating (too much at times) and I want to use this to mentor and encourage others who often feel like they have reached a dead end.

Have you been able to identify the talent(s) that God has given you and celebrate a success that you have achieved with His help? 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, ......You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24


I'm privileged to be one of the authors in this new publication - My Forever Home 1948

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Many Conversations—Carolyn R. Wilker

a prize-winning exhibit

Women's Institute display

September 8th to10th was our hometown fall fair— the place we loved to go with our parents when we were children, the weekend after Labour Day and when we were back in school after the summer. We looked forward to the parade, rides in the midway, eating caramel corn, and seeing our school friends. Incidentally, it was also the place where my parents met when they were young adults, at the Friday night dance.

This year, as an author with a new book, Harry’s Trees, I’d signed up early and paid for a table where I could meet people of my hometown community. I had other books too, but my new picture book rose to the top in interest. Probably helped by articles in the Tavistock Gazette, the Ontario Farmer and Oxford Review and people who knew my Dad and his inspiration for this book.

My table, ready to sell
Ontario Farmer article about my Dad and my book

Preparing for the weekend, I remembered that we’d be standing on a cold arena floor, one with ice under it, for hockey had already begun. When my husband and I packed the car on Friday morning, we included a rubber mat, a set of coloured foam mats for standing on, my boxes of books, and something to sit on. Snacks too.

We’d set up the books on the table in the morning then went to visit my mother for awhile. The fair began at 5 p.m. on Friday when the arena opened for exhibits and the silent auction.

Parents and children streamed in, seniors ambled along, looking at displays and seeing who won the prizes in fruits, vegetables, handiwork and art. Many headed to the nearby church booth for a cup of coffee or tea and some pie and ice-cream. My husband and I ate our sandwiches and watched the action. Soon people began to stop and take notice of the books. I offered younger children a tree stamp on their hand.

An older man and woman soon stood before me. “We read the article in Ontario Farmer about your book,” the gentleman said. “We came to see you. Did you get my email?” he asked.

I asked for the surname. “No, I didn’t get it. You can get a book now that you’re here.”

“We’d like to buy two copies,” the man said.

They asked me to write in the names of their grandchildren. I printed in the names, they paid and were on their way.

 This sort of thing happened over and over during the weekend—people I didn’t know or ones I knew, seeking me out to buy the book for children, grandchildren, or themselves. They all had the same interest in trees that my dad had, that I had too. Many of them knew my Dad in some capacity.

Conversations included the artist’s style, how the book came into being or asking me how long I’d been writing. I often got a smile as they walked away with book in hand.

I had kindred spirits there, not just farmers who are custodians and stewards of the land, but also long-time friends, fellow high school classmates or siblings of my classmates. Conversations were longer when it wasn’t so busy, or much shorter while others waited. All were good.

When fair goers headed out to the tug of war or the ambassador contest or other activities, the arena would become much quieter for awhile. That’s when I checked my bids at the silent auction, looked at displays, or chatted with the young woman next to me who’d been doing face painting.

silent auction- during set up

Quiet moments at Hannah's table

Another Women's Institute display 

Sherrill and another woman at the Tavistock and District Historical Society booth

The late evening hours passed the slowest. We drove home late, only for me to sleep, eat and return the next morning. The weekend passed and the arena air was so cold, but we had no emergency, so we couldn’t complain. Except maybe shiver. Friends in Florida in hurricane weather certainly came up in conversations.
 Sunday mid-afternoon, I packed up my books. We gathered chairs, mats and other items, packed them in the car and headed for home. It had been a weekend of healthy returns, mostly sunshine, and many pleasant conversations in an agricultural community that works well together.

"We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land."  
--text by Matthias Claudius, 1740-1815

largest pumpkins next to my table

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Getting too cozy with Poison Ivy-by Heidi McLaughlin

It’s been there for twenty-one years, trailing down the rock wall and slyly hiding behind the rose bushes.  Twice I got poisoned by that beautifully disguised three leaf plant.  I’ve been seriously bombarded with a hot, itchy rash that wouldn't let me find comfort or sleep.  Some rash turned into blisters that started bleeding and needed antibiotics. Now I know why it is called “poison” ivy.  

Knowledgeable people stay away from it, or do they?

A deeply desired temptation propels us to make stupid moves. For instance, a friend’s son is getting married and they need dried rose petals for the end of the ceremony. Perfect, I want to help! I know the ivy is behind the rose bushes but I’ll be careful not to touch anything with a dark green leaf. For several days I walk by the rose bushes with temptation luring me on.  If I wear long sleeves and gloves nothing will happen. But I’ve done that before and somehow some poison oil got on my skin and it spread throughout my body.  Nah, this time it will be different. Now I know better. And so I deadheaded the rose bushes and got poison on my left thumb.  That was on Monday. By Wednesday I was awake all night scratching my arms, neck and fingers. Friday morning I woke up, my face and neck were so swollen I could hardly see.  I took a picture and sent it to my friend with the message, “Look Ma, no wrinkles.” An hour later I was in the walk in clinic to get medicine for my infected body. 

Temptation has a way of deceiving us.
Giving in to temptation that is wrong for us will always hurt.  Many times it will not only hurt us, but  also friends and families.  When we give in to:
·      It’s just a little flirting, it won’t come amount to anything.
·      I’ll lie just this one time.
·      I’ll just “borrow” this money from the drawer and put it back when I have some of my own.
·      Pornography is free, easy and gives such pleasure. I can stop any time.
·      Just a few drinks after work, it won’t hurt me.

And on it goes.

Jesus the Son of God taught us to pray: “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13) Jesus told us to pray that because He knows if we “yield” we will hurt.

There is a deceiver Satan, who knows our vulnerability, our weak spots and blindsides us into wanting something that we should not have. Satan is out to separate us from our vibrant and love filled relationship with God.  Knowing this is the first step to STOPPING and PRAYING the way Jesus modeled for us to pray.

We live in a seductive world and it is easy to get caught.

We are in the middle of the most colourful time of the year.  The autumn landscape evokes deep reflection for me. What are some things I could have done differently?  (Don’t go near the poison ivy).  What tempts me? How did I honour God this past year? When I was hurt or offended, did I give in to temptation and respond with kindness or underlying anger?

Everything is too accessible for the younger generation and us. Almost daily I pray for my twelve grandchildren: “they would not be led into temptation but to deliver them from the evil one.”  Jesus taught us how to pray so that would be safe, healthy and live the abundant life He came to live.  May we learn from His life that He modeled for us when He walked this earth. 

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 Amazon.ca; Amazon.com, Goodreads.com or her website: www.heartconnection.ca

How Unchanging is Change? by Susan Harris

Five days from today the seasons will officially change as summer gives way to autumn. From heat to coolness. From green to red and yellow. 
Seasons change in the Town of Wolseley, SK.
Photo credits Helen Gwilliam.

We've touted the cliché: the most constant thing is change. Some change we like, others we  don’t like.

Without fail change happens. Fads come and go. Cycles heave and fall. We follow change like an audience entranced by a skilled belly dancer undulating with fluidity and grace,  appreciating it until we are asked to take the stage. 

We’ve declared  God is the same. He changes not. "Faithful One so Unchanging" one song hauntingly intones.  Age to age still the same. The standard in spite of what culture or laws demand.

Yet we buckle under change, wrestling with the new, taken by surprise, shaken by the expected unexpected.

I contemplate again if this is how it should be. If God is unchanging, where does change fit?

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 lists fourteen pairs of antitheses, all of them changes destined to occur while we're alive. The first pair scopes our boundaries - birth and death. The rest fall in as we live: plant and uproot…  tear down and build … weep and laugh… scatter and gather…. search and give up…  silent and speak… love and hate… war and peace. These are changes predicted and foretold.

(See how day changes to night at our place in this 18 seconds clip)

Fisherman John's background lay in mending nets, assessing surging tides, and counting fishes for customers.  He had no inference of a digital age. Yet the number he identifies in a vision has produced debates arguably unequalled for any other digit combination.

Theologians, numerologists, and coffee drinkers alike have weighed in on what this means and in whose era it will escalate.  

Technology employs numbers second only to Math. Passwords- re-enter password. Numbers in drivers licenses, in passports and payment cards. In sports teams and waiting rooms. Everywhere.  Numbers abound as abundant as species of plants, an essential evil to the aging population, an enticement to the texting generation.

Unchanging Coniferous Trees.
Photo credit Helen Gwilliam 
And in it I look for the unchanging. Could it be that it lies not in a single event that interrupt the lullaby of our days, creeping them into nights which cajoles into seasons and blends into years? Is it adrift in the spectrum that the Faithful One has gathered between the span of thumb and finger?  The same finger that wrote on the sand while accusers slouched away unnoticed?

I look and I find what I have long known but not realized. My head and my heart move close and shake hands on common ground. The Unchanging One has announced it will happen. All the things I think of as change, He said I should expect them. All the polar opposites in Ecclesiastes. 

And if I have been told to expect them, I cannot claim to be surprised, for to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

SUSAN HARRIS is a product of change. Like a chameleon she adapted from the beachside to the prairies, from corporations to home office. She is the author of 12 books.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Advancing Ourselves by Advancing Others by David Kitz

Self-promotion is a required fact of life for authors in today's world. Currently, I am doing a host of activities to promote my recently released novel, The Soldier Who Killed a King. But there can be something unhealthy about all this focus on my books and my writing.

The question I need to ask myself is am I also helping others in their writing journey. Am I willing to take the time to write that positive book review, or provide a word of advice or encouragement to others?

Psalm 35 draws to a close with this warning against schadenfreude: May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace (Psalm 35:26).

So what is schadenfreude you ask? Dictionary.com defines schadenfreude as satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune. It is a compound German word: schaden harm + freude joy. In other words, schadenfreude is the joy you may feel when hearing about another person's calamity. Schadenfreude can be viewed as the ladder-climber's delight in seeing others fall behind or off the ladder entirely. Far too often it manifests in the false assumption that we can advance ourselves by putting others down.

The truth is we advance ourselves by advancing others. Advancing by putdowns has no firm foundation because it hurts others and creates hostility. It usually ends badly because pride precedes a fall, just as darkness follows sunset.

Are you exalting yourself at the expense of others? If so, take some time to repent. Do your best to repair the damaged relationships that result from such behavior.

Petrie Island sunrise -- photo by David Kitz
Paul, the apostle, gives us this advice: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited (Romans 12:14-16).

As writers we should take joy in the success of others rather than resenting their achievements. Let their successes ignite within you a desire for self-improvement. With God's help change what you can within yourself before looking to change others. We all have a place in our heart that needs some renovation.

Then with David we can rejoice when others succeed. May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

Response: Father God, give me a heart of thanksgiving. Grant me a pure heart with pure motives. May I always delight in the well-being of your servants. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you suffered from a bad case of Schadenfreude? Do you rejoice when others succeed or are you envious?

David Kitz lives in our nation's capital and chairs the local chapter of the Word Guild. His most recent novel is published by Kregel and available through a variety of sources.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Stoplights of Life by Ruth Smith Meyer

Sometimes there are moments in life that make us pause--like a stoplight turned red. 

Because of a curb-hopping accident he had witnessed as a young teenager, my grandson always stood, well back from the curb, behind a light post as he awaited the changing light so he could cross the street. 

Three weeks ago on his way home from work, he decided he had time to make a call to his roommate, so he punched the numbers on his cell phone. 

The next thing he knew, there was a thud and he was flying across the street. “Tuck your chin into your chest to avoid head injury.” He obeyed this caution that came from the inner recesses of his mind.  His trajectory was interrupted when an oncoming car collided with him. He felt himself sliding off of it onto the ground 16-20 feet from where he had been standing. 

His first instinct when he hit the ground was to get up.  But then a bit of his training as a lifeguard rose in his mind.  “Keep the accident victim laying still until emergency help arrives.”  He obeyed.

One small moment in an ordinary day could have changed our lives and had tragic consequences. We are so aware that God’s protection and timing made a difference. How else could you have the presence of mind to tuck in your chin as you are flying through the air? 

In the two weeks since it happened, so many scenarios have played out in our minds. If my grandson had not been behind the light post when the car jumped the curb, he would have taken the full impact of the collision.  The blow was hard for the post was broken off.  The post, falling in a different direction could have caused severe injuries. The timing of the collision with an oncoming car as he flew across the street, could have spelled death or permanent disability.  As it was, because of where he hit it, the vehicle may have broken his fall and softened the impact of the street. So many variables could have caused a different outcome. 

He had a few small lacerations, and bruises besides the shattered tibia just below his knee. That is serious enough. He needed surgery, plates and screws and it will take a prolonged time of healing. Compared to planning a funeral, that seems small. He too, is aware how blessed he is and is amazingly positive about it all. He’s had incredible support and care from his place of work even though he’s only been there six months. For that he and we are thankful too.

 I’m glad that our family has always been free to express our love.  That small moment has made us keenly aware of the need to do so often. The awareness has spilled over into other parts of our lives. Revaluation of what is most important in life, how we are spending our time, the desire to tell others too, what they mean to us in case the opportunity would suddenly not be there.

 Life just looks a little different.

Happenings like that seem to be a time to pause at the red lights of life, consider as we wait for the green and then proceed again with our hand firmly in God’s.

Ruth Smith Meyer finds pleasure in observing life, learning from experience and finding God's surprises along the way.
If you want to learn more about her, visit www.ruthsmithmeyer.com or get a copy of her life story, Out of the Ordinary.  She would be glad to hear from you.

Popular Posts