Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Identifying The Weeds by Carol Ford

His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. 
Matthew 13:37-43 (NIV)

When we purchased a different park trailer last fall, I had not considered the challenge of the garden beds that were included. I’m not a gardener, and our last lot only featured grass and moss. So last week, before we went north to our new retreat, I purchase my first pair of gardening gloves in a lovely shade of orange with knobby palms for a better grip, and a container of plant food for healthier blooms. I was ready.

On arrival, I walked around the yard and observed the residue of leaves and the winter effect on the plants. It looked like a lot of work. I found a rake and wheel barrel in the shed and, much to my husband’s amusement, started cleaning up the obvious debris. Once this was done, I was then faced with the difficult task of determining which plants were weeds and which were for show.  I recognized Lily of the Valley from my childhood and those cute little plants were sprouting everywhere, even in the lawn, but for the rest I was at a loss. Weeds can sometimes look quite pretty with small colourful flowers.

My experience with this new hobby, made me think of the above scripture. As Christians we buy resources such as a variety of bibles and devotionals to equip us in our walk with God. We also clean up the obvious sins left over from our old life, but like my garden, when we have to sort out the ‘weeds of sin’ from the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ we don’t always want to do the hard work of removing them. Old habits and temptations are often stronger to uproot.  They also can be pleasant to our senses.

Jesus often used the analogy of seeds, planting and gardening to explain his heavenly kingdom. Someday the weeds will be separated from the good plants and have eternal consequences.

Over the summer I’m going to use my gardening time to consider this truth.

I welcome your comments. You will find more information about me at https://carolfordassociates.wordpress.com/

I have several recorded broadcasts on Careers and Worklife on Hope Stream Radio - Life Under The Sun https://hopestreamradio.com/program/life-under-the-sun/

If you are a writer or speaker, you might like this devotional: https://www.amazon.ca/As-Ink-Flows-Devotions-Christian/dp/0817017674

Friday, May 18, 2018

STEALING LILACS: A Tribute by Heidi McLaughlin

The first time it happened I was only four. “Mommy why are we stealing these lilacs?” “Do those pretty flowers belong to us?” I was bewildered as I watched my gentle mother on her tiptoes reaching and snapping the branches from the vintage purple lilac bush.  Soon her arms were filled with bunches of purple and the succulent aroma made her smile from ear to ear. I must have been mistaken, my quiet and tender mother would never do anything wrong.  Certainly not steal. Captivated by my mother’s joy I clung to her hand and bounced along as we headed back to our compact bungalow nestled in a small village in Germany.

World War Two left bomb shelters, broken dreams and poverty throughout Germany. Yes, the rubble was being transformed into its former beauty and culture, but families were still struggling to re-establish their former lifestyle. My young and innocent mother was confined to the bareness and poverty after a devastating war, and I knew she longed for beauty. We were very poor. There was no garden to grow fresh vegetables or soil for my mother to grow the Dahlias, Sweet Williams, pansies or carnations.  Her heart yearned to fill our home with vases filled with cut flowers of every shape, color and fragrance.


When we moved to Canada it felt like paradise to have our own vegetable garden and flowerbeds. Mother and I with our knees close together, poked holes in the soil and she showed me how to gently insert the tiny seeds and cover them just right. Soon our yard represented a painting of asters, dahlias and any flowers that survived the harsh winters and cooler summers of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Often, I saw mother heading outdoors with a pair of scissors to cut just the right combination of flowers that filled many of our crystal vases.  Finally, she had the freedom to unleash her inner desires and create a home filled with beauty, peace and fulfillment.

Over time I observed mother expressing and modeling beauty through various avenues. I was fascinated by the way she hung clothes out in the fresh air, laboriously and lovingly securing each item with the wooden cloth pegs. With perfection, she was able to iron and transform dried wrinkled messes into absolute perfection. For hours she was either on her knees or stooped over a buffing machine to wax and polish our floors until we could see our reflections. Somewhere in the house, there was always the aroma of a flower or the smell of freshly baked bread. She found it difficult to say, “I love you” but every day she reflected her love by creating images and fragrances that let us know we were the most important people in her life.


As the years passed I learned to appreciate and understand her quiet quest for peace and beauty. Now that I’m all grown up, I live in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Each spring the earth awakens with Saskatoon berry blossoms, forsythia bushes and daffodils. My joy erupts when I walk through the surrounding vineyards, and then along a fence where I find a particular purple lilac bush.  Its branches creep outside of its normal enclosure and I just happen to have a pair of scissors in my pocket. Without hesitation I snip off a few branches, carry them home and put them into a vase to watch them burst open in all their splendour.

Through strolls in the meadows my mother cultivated my heart to explore and enjoy the simple things in life. I am so grateful that she modeled how to infuse simplicity with beauty to create a beautiful loving home. My mother taught me 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 Amazon.ca; Amazon.com, Goodreads.com or her website: www.heartconnection.ca

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Power of Remembering by SUSAN HARRIS

Remember His marvellous works that He hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of His mouth; Psalm 105:5 (KJV)

Remembering delicious wontons makes me believe
God will never let me go hungry

When we remember, when we think back on what the Lord has done, we are encouraged and our faith is strengthened. May we call to mind His goodness to us and to those whom we know. May He resurrect in our memories the miracles, small and great, that we have experienced or seen in the lives of others. As we recall the times when God guided our decisions and directed our plans, or looked at His unparalled works of creation, may we be inspired inspired to trust at a level that we’ve not ventured before. As we remember we are assured that the things that have not come to pass will yet be fulfilled.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Greetings From Entebbe, Uganda - HIRD

On Saturday, we flew ✈ to Entebbe Uganda πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¬where we will be spending the next three weeks on our Uganda & Rwanda mission trip, teaching on marriage & renewal. While in Entebbe, we stumbled upon the amazin Entebbe Botanical Gardens. 
Check out a YouTube clip about the Entebbe Botanical Gardens.
 Our first conference where we will be speaking daily is at Rwentobo, the site of the East African Revival that we have been teaching about from 1 John for the past four weeks at St Simon’s. The Healing for the Nations Convention, led by Canon Medad Birungi, had 25,000 people attend last May.
After the Ugandan Convention, we will spend the rest of the time with Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, the Chair of our Anglican Mission College of Consultors. You will remember how he adopted St Simon’s in 2004, describing what we had been through as spiritual genocide. He commented that when there is a burning house, you rescue the children. We are very grateful for his many sacrifices for us.

During our time in Rwanda, we will be teaching on marriage, based on our new book, first in the Diocese of Byumba in the north, then Kigali, and finally in Southern Rwanda at Butare, famous for its University. There will likely be many unexpected changes to the above schedule during these three weeks. Plan ‘G’ is the key πŸ˜‰
Your prayers are vital for the life change in marriages that we are believing for.
Yours in Christ,
Ed+ & Janice Hird

Monday, May 07, 2018

Tips from the Ottawa Christian Writers' Fellowship Facebook group - Denyse O'Leary

You don't need to live in Ottawa to belong. Just go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/265911277141603/ and ask.

Traditionally published e-books on the decline


 Christian MARKET Weekly
Unit sales of traditionally published e-books fell 10 percent in 2017, according to PubTrack Digital, part of the NPD book group, which also noted that e-book unit sales hit 162 million last year, down from 180 million units in 2016.  

[Newer publishing models probably mostly account for that. ]

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) announced the winners of the 2018 Christian Book Awards in 11 categories, and named the 2018 Christian Book of the Year as Jesus Always by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson).



While millennials worldwide share some attitudes and values, this group of 18-30-plus-year-olds have some quite different views and needs depending on where they live. In CBA’s third issue of the bi-annual Global MARKET International News & Trends report, find out about global millennial trends that surprise and concern parents, church leaders, and Christian resource producers and retailers.


On Tour with “The Soldier Who Killed a King”

What will stay with me are memories of warm smiles and lives touched by the message of the cross.



Possible interest: Amazon cracking down on people who review a book they haven’t read
It may sound harsh but the restriction is not without reason. At Uncommon Descent, we call such people noviewers 


Children's products a growing category 

Children’s products are a growing category, and CBA would like to see how your store is reaching out to children and their parents. Send a photo and Dr. Mary Manz Simon, noted parenting and childhood education specialist, will share them in her upcoming report on Children’s Product Trends presented at UNITE 2018, July 8-11 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.



Thursday, May 03, 2018

Entertaining Strangers by Rose McCormick Brandon

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13
One Saturday morning we lingered in bed thankful for a slow day. Melody, about eight at the time, ran downstairs and quickly returned to our room upstairs. “There’s a man sleeping on the couch,” she said. “Of course there is,” we said sarcastically believing she was trying to get us moving. She had a reputation as a prankster so this didn’t help her cause. 
“There is someone down there,” she kept saying.
"Sure. Sure."
We took our time getting up and finally the five of us trooped downstairs. And there on our living room sofa lay a complete stranger, sound asleep. We stood over him staring at him like the three bears of Goldilocks fame. 
He awoke with a start, disoriented.
He’d been drunk the night before and was headed for a relative’s house on our street. As he stumbled along he found our front door unlocked, came in, found a comfortable couch and collapsed. 
Doug offered him breakfast. He joined us in the kitchen for a few minutes, still groggy and perhaps suspicious that we might call the Police. He was harmless. And even if he wasn’t he was no match for Doug who suggested we pray for him, which we did. 
Soon he was out the door and on his way. 
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2). I don’t believe our stranger was an angel (read about Abraham’s angelic visitors in Genesis 18), but I do believe his landing on our sofa was not by accident. It was an opportunity to pray for and to show kindness to a stranger.  
Prayer: Lord, as I go about my usual business today, make me aware of the needs of strangers and give me an opportunity to exercise hospitality.
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children, One Good Word Makes all the Difference, numerous magazine articles and personal stories for compilations like Chicken Soup for the Soul. Rose writes two blogs, Promises of Home and Listening to my Hair Grow. Contact her at: rosembrandon@yahoo.ca 

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