Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cleaning Up The Winter Mess-by Heidi McLaughlin

Finally, in Kelowna the snow has melted and replaced the terrain with a grey and brown mess.  Even though our winter was harsh, the majestic beauty of fresh, glimmering snow temporarily hid the remnants of fallen leaves and dried vegetation. On my regular five kilometre walks I love to look around at God’s glorious creation and take time to praise Him and thank Him that I live in such a beautiful country. Today it was hard, as my eyes took in the grey rubble, mud and brownish flattened grass. 

Winter has left its stain.

The winter seasons in our life also leave their ugly scars and discoloured reality. Those seasons of grief, disappointments and daily struggles, when it seems that everyone is getting on with his or her life and you’re left behind. When the communication in your marriage hits a rock wall.  Or when you feel like you’ve lost control of your children and call yourself a “terrible parent.” When you’re trying to start a new novel or non-fiction book and the landscape of your brain is barren and dry. No matter how hard you try, the monthly budget just doesn’t meet all the needs.  Those are the dark and lonely days of the winter season.

Trudging along with one foot in front of the other I reflected on my own winter season. Yes, losing my second husband to a heart attack was dreadful and hard and left a grey mess in my life.  But how sad if I continue to stay in that darkness without hope of new life.  As I continued my walk I saw   The vineyard workers had been in the fields and starting pruning the grape vines.  The beginning of new life! Bountiful fruit.  The new season of spring is just around the corner. 
signs of new hope.
New hope!

We all go through those hard cycles of life, but what a waste if we stay in that mess and never allow God to prune us for new beginnings.  New growth.  Transformed minds. So how do we continue this journey out of winter and into spring?   “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Trusting God to take you out of your darkness and onto a new pathway starts with knowing who “your Lord” is.  Is it your own strength? Is it the advice of your friends and family? Or is it the Lord, the creator of Heaven and earth? The One who knew you before the foundations of the world were formed? The One who marches the stars out each night and calls them by name, and not one of them is missing? (Isaiah 40:26). 
Our Lord who has a good future and plan for each one of us.

I know it may not feel like it, but God is with us every day helping us to live out our very best life.  In the same way that our nature seasons come and go, our life and soul seasons follow that same rhythm. Allow God to guide you out of your winter darkness, let Him prune what needs to go, and embrace the fresh and new springtime of your life. Watch the new fruit emerge!

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, March 17, 2018

Meaning of Green by SUSAN HARRIS

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of the Irish, and by extension, friends and well-wishers
around the globe. The colour green is associated  with St. Patrick’s Day but rather than why they chose green as their colour, I was more interested in the symbolism of green in general. Some facts of green are:
·      Green is a secondary color on the spectrum.
·      Green is formed by combining the primary colours of blue and yellow.
·      Green is the most common color in the physical world, found in nature, in grass, trees, and shrubs.
·      Green is the color of awakening, of renaissance and rebirth. It is the color of spring when everything comes alive, and there is a guarantee that life will go on while things remain green.
·      Green is a color that is stable and enduring, as season after season, green resurrects.
·      Green symbolizes fertility and harmony.
·      Researchers have found bodily benefits to green, such as improving vision since watching green soothes the eyes, and relaxing the body by alleviating stress. People working in green offices have been shown to be more satisfied with their jobs.
·      The green light on the traffic trio equates safety, physically and emotionally.

 The association of green traces its roots to Irish political history. Timothy McMahon, Vice President of the American Conference for Irish Studies argues “the earliest use of green for nationalistic reasons was seen during the violent Great Irish Rebellion of 1641, in which displaced Catholic landowners and bishops rebelled against the authority of the English crown, which had established a large plantation in the north of Ireland under King James I in the early 17th century. Military commander Owen Roe O’Neill helped lead the rebellion, and used a green flag with a harp to represent the Confederation of Kilkenny, a group that sought to govern Ireland and kick out the Protestants who had taken control of that land in the north of Ireland. The color green cropped up again during an effort in the 1790s to bring non-sectarian, republican ideas to Ireland, inspired by the American revolution and the French revolution. The main society that promoted this idea, the Society of United Irishmen, wore green, especially an Irish version of the “liberty caps” worn during the French Revolution. One police report described their uniform as comprised of a dark green shirt cloth coat, green and white striped trousers, and a felt hat turned up on one side with a green emblematic cockade. 

Though the rest of the uniform eventually faded from popular wear, the importance of the color green spread, thanks in part to the poems and ballads written during this time, most famously “The Wearing of the Green.”"


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What Energizes You?

With a title like that images of the Energizer Bunny spring to mind. But I think for every writer, this is a valid question. What energizes you? What fills your tank so that you are able to do the hard slogging that is required as you work on that article or manuscript?

I think for each of us the answers may be different. Personally, I know there are a variety of things that fuel my passion for writing.

Positive feedback is certainly one of them. There's something quite unique about the feeling you get when you know your words have spoken deeply into someone's life. Imagine—your thoughts and words are valued and appreciated. That's special.

A second tank filler for me is the sense of community I get when I am with other writers. Wow! These people understand me. They understand my writer's lingo, sympathize with my angst, and cheer me on my small successes.

Writers' conferences are a great way to build that sense of community and recharge your batteries for months to come. The annual Ottawa Christian Writers' Conference has been doing that for me for the past number of years. This year's conference is on April 7th. Details can be found on the Word Guild website:

Finally, as Christian writers we undoubtedly draw inspiration from our Lord and Saviour. As we draw near to Him, our calling and vision becomes clear. In worship and prayer we find the great Source—the eternal Source that gives meaning and purpose to all our writing.

With the celebration of our Lord's great sacrifice drawing near, let's all spend some time drawing close to Him. He's the true energizer. I don't know about you, but from time to time I need a jolt of that resurrection energy.

David Kitz is an Ottawa-based writer and Bible dramatist. His Passion of Christ novel The Soldier Who Killed a King was voted the top book in biblical fiction by the Interviews and Reviews website.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Music to My Ears

Music can lull a child to sleep. Gentle tunes that accompany the rocking motion in a grandmother’s or mother’s arms to soothe an upset or tired child and help her go to sleep. I have often held a child and put him to sleep while rocking and humming or singing, so I guess my voice is not too hard to bear.
While creating this post, I’m listening to soothing music, alternating piano and classical, and if I don’t fall asleep at the keyboard, you’ll hear what else I have to write. While I enjoy a wide variety of classical music, I also love many popular tunes that carry a melodic rhythm. But for resting, I want something that is gentle and relaxing and without words. 

I don’t remember our mother singing us to sleep but perhaps she did, or maybe my grandmother did when she lived with my parents for a few of their early years. I sang to my children at bedtime and now I sing or hum to my grandchildren when I have occasion to settle them for a nap or nighttime. Only when they’re older do they sometimes tell me to stop singing. Can’t win them all.

On a different note, my mother would say some piece of news was ‘music to her ears’ and I might be tempted to use the same expression from time to time. News I’ve long awaited, surprising news that’s happy or unexpected, but very good, might put that line in my head. This phrase is actually an idiom, I discovered. Oxford Dictionary of Idioms says that ‘music to your ears’ means “something that is very pleasant or gratifying to hear or discover.” There’s no mention of musical tones or rhythm or notes at all, just good news.

Tragic news would not be the kind we wish to hear, but news of an exceptional accomplishment, a long-awaited win or news of a new baby born to delighted parents is the kind I speak of.

Maybe we should recoin the phrase ‘music to my ears,’ but I don’t know how else I’d rephrase it. Idioms often mean something quite different than the words used in the term, but this one is easy to understand, I think. Something that’s easy to hear could ring like a melody. It might not rhyme or have a rhythm but is pleasant to take in and repeat. Like music.

As a Christian in an often difficult and sad world, the news that God loves us so much that he sent his son (John 3:16) might ring like music in our ears. Not the false words that led to betrayal. Not the cruel beating or hanging on the cross. Not the disciples running away because they’re afraid, but the act of love. That’s it — ringing like music in our ears. The gladness that comes Easter morning when we finally come out of those gloomy last days of Lent and Holy (hellish) Week. The hallelujahs ring like music in our ears.

I haven’t fallen asleep yet with the relaxing tunes floating from my speakers, but had I not been working towards the deadline of a post, I might have been tempted to turn off my computer sooner and say ‘goodnight.’ The music has been repetitive in rhythm but it is soothing, like ‘charms to soothe the savage breast,’ wrote William Congreve in The Mourning Bride, 1697. I think Shakespeare would have liked the line too.

Carolyn Wilker is an author, editor, workshop leader and enjoys music.

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