Friday, June 22, 2018

First chapter of my memoir - by Carol Ford

 I considered making this piece a prologue in my book, but I feel that readers often skip prologues. I would welcome your feedback on this approach to my memoir. Chapter 2 will take the reader back 46 years leading up to the following event in 1994.

Chapter 1

When they drove away, I experienced a renewed feeling of separation and abandonment.

The intensity of my emotions shocked and alarmed me.  I sobbed.

Neighbours, who saw my husband, boys and I waving goodbye to this man and women, would never have suspected the drama that had just unfolded in our lives.

Less than a week prior, my sixteen-year old son and I had driven to another city to search for information about my birth family, and I was unaware of the flurry of phone calls that happened because of our inquiries.

One of those calls came to me late on the Sunday night.
 “Is this Carol?”
I hesitated, “Yes.”
“This is your sister Joan”
I heard screaming in the back ground, “Mom, it’s just like TV—it’s really her!”
The rest of that phone call was a blur, but I knew I had just experienced one of my life moments.

After we hung up, Joan contacted our brother Glenn. She called back to see if we could meet  at my home in two days.  It was all happening so fast!

The morning of their visit I’d dithered about trying to decide how to entertain them. Should I make sandwiches, or finger food, or desert—what do they like? What do I serve to family members I have never met? 

Friends called on the phone that day and offered prayer support.  One brought a bouquet of roses to my door for the celebration.  So many people wanted to witness the reunion, but we chose to keep it private.

Nerves were taut as we waited for their arrival, and I jumped when the knock came.

My boys, husband and I opened the door to a tall handsome, well-dressed man with a full head of salt and pepper grey hair.  He filled the whole doorframe.  This was my brother, Glenn.  I immediately noticed his bright blue eyes, a similar feature to mine.  My sister, Joan, entered behind him. She looked like a woman who had weathered many of life’s storms. She was out of breath and using a cane. I took her hand and helped her manoeuvre the front step. A strong smell of cigarette smoke expired as she talked. When I peered into her face, I was struck again by traces of familial features.

“Please come in,” I managed to say.  “This is my husband, Allan, and these are my two sons, Doug and Mike.” 

How strange to be making these introductions between family members.

“Let’s go to the kitchen where we can sit and talk.”  I said.

We walked down the hall together.   Once we were seated at the table, my sister scrutinized my face.  In fact, we were all intently observing each other—looking for signs of resemblance. 

“Look at her, Glenn, she looks so much like Grandma Kemp,” my sister immediately remarked. She said this in a tone of admiration and love.

My husband had a white gauze bandage wrapped around his head that day.  We all joked about his biking accident the evening before.  He told the funny story of the doctor’s visit when he had admitted to not wearing a biking helmet.   This seemed to break the ice.  I quickly noticed Glenn’s wit and humour. He teased Allan about living with an abusive spouse.  We all laughed.  My boys hung back in the doorway while they watched the adults connecting. What were they thinking? These were their flesh and blood aunt and uncle.

Joan did most of the talking that day, while Glenn quietly observed and listened. He interjected funny quips here and there which I sensed was his way of coping with the emotional tension of the event.

Joan and Glenn had always known about me, but I only knew they existed a year ago.  I read excerpts from the ‘non-identifiable information’ provided by the Children’s Aid Society.    Joan kept correcting the dates and facts that had been recorded—her memory was remarkable. She spoke with authority and accuracy and was a little intimidating. It was evident that our personalities were similar; we were all outgoing, take-charge kind of people—no shrinking violets in the bunch! Our sense of humour was also similar and we laughed and joked a lot that afternoon. 

When the afternoon drew to an end, I gave them each a framed picture of my little family to take home to their spouses and children.  Glenn told me that he would host a BBQ later in the summer to introduce us to my extended family members.

I could see that Joan and Glenn deeply loved and respected each other; they were siblings. I had been brought up an only child and didn’t understand this type of relationship.  Was there room in their lives for me? I was acutely aware of the missing years and our life together. 

Chapter 2

I welcome your comments. You will find more information about me at

I have several recorded broadcasts on Careers and Worklife on Hope Stream Radio - Life Under The Sun

If you are a writer or speaker, you might like this devotional:

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fathers - Heroes or Obligators? BY SUSAN HARRIS

We’ll never know how Snow White or Hansel and Gretel’s lives might have played out if their father had echoed the words of the Lord Almighty, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," 2 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV) 
Photo from Google Images

Invariably, the fairy tales have portrayed fathers as dead, absent or weak, giving in to a domineering stepmother (which has indoctrinated a negative stereotype of stepmothers and which is a whole different discussion outside this blog). Barring Beauty and the Beast, the fathers have fallen short badly.  As a result the children suffered. 

We still see a number of children neglected and abandoned by fathers, but unlike Snow White, the squirrels and deer have not helped with housework or recreation. Fortunately, we have seen better – foster dads, step dads, adopted dads and responsible male figures who have stepped in to feed, educate and heal those boys and girls. In these fine men we denounce the myth of the fairy tales and embrace the wonder of the love of Father God. Through men like these children can understand the abstract concept of Jehoveh Jireh our Provider until they can understand the faith walk for themselves.

Photo from Google Images
 Today, June 17, 2018, is Fathers Day.  I grew up with a father who cared for his offspring. That he did is not heroism - it is obligation! Much credit is to be given to men who hold fast to their responsibility. 

But men who did not produce children biologically, yet show compassion, and give up their resources to raise other people’s children, are the true heroes. I salute your goodness, your kindness. Your true love. 

Happy Fathers Day.

Susan Harris is an international speaker, teacher and the author of 12 books.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Ottawa Christian Writers' Conference

On April 7th, the Ottawa chapter of the Word Guild hosted the fourth annual Ottawa Christian Writers' Conference with about 60 writers in attendance. The conference featured two plenary speakers, Faith Todaysenior editor, Karen Stiller, and former west coast member of parliament, John Weston. Both speakers stoked our passion for writing while providing a host of practical tips and real life experiences that can prove invaluable.
In addition, conference attendees had a choice of six workshops taught by experts on a broad range of topics from poetry to editing. 
Denyse O'Leary teaching her workshop

There is something almost magical that happens when Christian writers come together. We find ourselves on common ground, with common interests that rest on the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Though the genres we labour in may differ, our faith underpins our work. 
This year's conference took place on the seventh floor of the Cardus building in downtown Ottawa. The beautiful location, delicious meal, and amenities added significantly to the enjoyment of this event. Thanks goes to Word Guild board member, Peter Stockland for acting as our host at Cardus.  
Please take a moment to check out the highlights video below. Who knew that being a Canadian Christian writer could be so much fun?

You know you are meeting a need when participants are eager for more. A number of events are planned for the coming months, including the 5th annual Ottawa Christian Writer's Conference on April 6th, 2019.
David Kitz is the author of a number of books, including The Soldier Who Killed a King and Psalms Alive! David is the founder and chair of the Ottawa Christian Writers' Fellowship and serves on the board of the Word Guild

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Secrets by Ruth Smith Meyer

A small solid wooden box stood before me.  It was made of a dark wood and had a lovely patina.  It even had a lock and key.  My mind went back to my childhood.  How I wished for just such a box. My four-year older sister had a card box in which she held her secret treasures.  I was told to never look inside that box.  To be fair, she allowed me to have one too for my treasures. We agreed the contents would be off limits to each other, but I didn’t entirely trust that she would disregard the temptation to explore when I wasn’t there. I wished I had a key!

Did it work the other way?  Would I have sneaked a peek into hers if the opportunity presented itself?  Not on your life!  She was used to ruling the roost.  If she thought I may stray from what she wanted, her threat “You’d better (not) or you’ll be sorry!” quickly made any such desire vanish like a cloud of dust driven in a strong wind.

I did wonder what was so secret that she had to hide it in a box.  Yes, I did have my box too, but mainly because she had one.  My embarrassment, should she look into mine, wasn’t because of the treasure I had in it, but because I didn’t think I had anything important enough to hide—and I didn’t want her to know that.

Those ‘secret boxes’ have come to mind often in my life, for it seems that secrets that need to be boxed up are detrimental to being an honest and open person.  In my case they represented my feelings of inadequacy.

Many years later, when I realized I was still hoarding my secret stash of inferior feelings, I made a conscious effort to open the box and allow others to see me as I am. Having nothing to hide was so freeing.

If I was presented now with a beautiful box, I no longer would require a lock.  It would probably be set somewhere with the lid open to display some interesting stones, shells or some other items I have collected and love.
I’d rather not be in a box anyway!

Ruth Smith Meyer is an author and inspirational speaker who enjoys people wherever she goes. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Like a Teeter Totter Ride—Carolyn R. Wilker

Success and Rejection are opposites on a scale. I send off a submission to a publisher and wait. I’ve been told not to sit and just wait but to keep writing. Life moves along and there’s plenty to do. I write other stories, poems and speeches, take care of grandchildren, my husband, and my home. I edit for others, and behind that an excited, expectant part of me waits for an answer.

When I was a child, my father built a teeter totter for us (what some call a see-saw). Two long boards balanced on a metal A-frame that Dad had welded together then attached a metal plate where the boards were centred. We had two boards on that frame, each with a seat and T-handle at each end so that when there were more than two of us playing, or we had friends over to visit, there was room for more. We enjoyed endless hours of fun in our own rural playground of swing, sandbox and teeter totter. We went up and down, up and down, sometimes landing a bit too hard or getting dumped off, if the person at the other end were bigger or more energetic than the other. 

Successes and rejections are a bit like riding on a teeter totter. The ride up is pleasant. The wind blows through my hair; I see the clouds and sky in a different light, and there’s a feeling of euphoria when I’d like to stay in that place. The euphoria could be receiving a note about the acceptance of a manuscript, the willingness of another to publish my work. The other seeing something good in what I hoped was a polished piece. It’s a bit like being in the clouds, feeling as though the day is suddenly much brighter. Writers report that this can happen at any time in their writing career, and it’s always welcome. 

But it doesn’t remain that way. Eventually we go down. There’s the descent of this end, sometimes with a thunk, hitting the ground. That’s the no from a publisher, delivered however kindly, or just a plain unvarnished “No, it doesn’t match our list.” Or no response at all. 

I’ve had a bit of both lately. I received a ‘yes’ to a poem submitted to Tower Poetry for consideration, accepted for the summer issue, then a ‘no’ from a reputable writer’s organization to my application for membership, based on my book submission. An up followed by a thunk. One was a bigger deal than the other, for I had hopes pinned on that application. It caused me to sit back and feel great disappointment. Alright, it was the cause of some tears too. I’m still processing the why of it. The door is not shut forever, just for now. 

However, we’ve been told not to let others dictate our success.  We might indeed ask the question: Success in whose eyes? And here is where the kind comments of others on our work come in. It’s a good thing that I have not waited to sell the book until I heard, because it’s been a very long wait. Though it was jarring and an unwelcome response with little explanation, I’ve already sold out most of my first order of books, so someone likes it. Many ‘someones’ have written, saying how much they appreciated it. 

As Thomas Edison might have said, a failure is not the end. It just means that one way of doing something will not work for this project. And so I go back to my planning, engaging the creative part of my brain for marketing as I used for the initial writing. The teeter totter needs to go back on the upward thrust, letting the wind blow our hair again, seeing the sky in a new way, joining the euphoria we knew before. May it be that way for you too. As Wayson Choy once said to me, “Never Surrender.”


Carolyn Wilker is an editor, author, writing instructor and storyteller from southwestern Ontario

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Greetings from East Africa -HIRD

We bring you greetings from the Solace Retreat House in Kigali, Rwanda. REVOLUTIONARY LOVE (John 3:16) was the theme of the five-day Healing for the Nations convention in Rwentobo, Uganda. 25,000 delegates attended from many African Nations and around the world. There were many speakers and music groups from Rwanda, Kenya, Congo, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, and North America. Janice and I spoke daily about how revolutionary love can transform one’s present or future marriage. We taught from Ephesians 5 about mutual submission, love and respect through Jesus.  Our new book For Better, For Worse, drawn from Ed’s doctorate on marriage, was the basis of our marriage talks. We encouraged thousands of couples to strengthen their marriages through rediscovering each other’s hidden strengths, celebrating each other’s differences, valuing the gift of conflict, and balancing closeness & personal space. We shared that marriage is a dance of intimacy in which we need to regularly learn new ‘dance steps’. Marriage is not about settling down but rather about embracing a bold adventure walking together into the often unpredictable future. In a wedding, one makes a for Better, for Worse commitment to one’s partner, come what may. Janice and I shared many humorous and sometimes embarrassing stories about challenges we have faced in our 41 year marriage.
Many couples at the Convention came forward to renew their commitment to their marriage. Others made first-time commitments to finally tie the knot after many years of relationship. In many parts of Africa, paying a bride price to one’s future in laws may involve many cows, making marriage seem financially unreachable. I was reminded that we in Canada sometimes make a wedding , reception and honeymoon so expensive that some young people see marriage as out of reach. I have often married young couples in living rooms or in parks to make weddings more affordable.
After Uganda, we then taught a three day marriage workshop to key Christian leaders in the Northern Rwandan city of Byumba. Then we led marriage workshops in the Eastern Rwandan region of Kibungo, the Western Rwandan region of Ruhango, and the capital city of Kigali. You may remember that we previously taught about marriage seven years ago in Rwanda. The hospitality and receptivity by the Rwandan delegates was memorable. It is so encouraging to teach people who are hungry to learn and grow. Our future is about healing marriages.
Ed+ is praying for a successor after 31 years as the Rector of St Simon’s. This will enable Ed + and Janice to spend more time writings book and speaking at marriage & renewal conferences. Please join us in prayer for just the right successor.
As we write this article, we are preparing to teach other marriage seminars with Bishop Emmanuel of the Kibungo Diocese in Eastern Rwanda,
Hosted by the dynamic Anglican Bishop Nathan Gasatura, we are looking forward to seeing many more marriage transformed through revolutionary love. Rwanda, having suffered so deeply in the 1994 genocide, is very open to the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness for all. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts.
Rev Dr Ed & Janice Hird
Rector, St Simon’s North Vancouver
Co-Authors of For Better, For Worse

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Items from the Ottawa Christian Writers' Fellowship Facebook page - Denyse O'Leary

Join the page, get these items sooner:

You needn't live in Ottawa. - Denyse


Hollywood does not make that much money from R-rated films. It’s just their culture.
Not one R-rated movie has made a top ten gross since 1995.
According to, a movie statistics website, the movies taking top dollar gross from 1995 to 2007 are PG-13 movies with a whopping $48.55 billion (yes, that is with a B) made from 1,247 movies filmed since 1995. R-rated films come next with a cumalative $34.1 billion made on 2,321 movies (that's an average of $14.7 million for each movie). Next in line are PG movies with 638 films grossing $19.9 billion and finally 207 G-rated films grossing $6.35 billion or average of $30.7 million each. G-rated films grossed more than twice per film what an R-rated film grossed. Does that make sense to you?
Doing a little math, the R-rated movies grossed 30% less than the others, yet more of them were filmed. Not one of them made it into the top ten grossing slots. From 1995 to 2007, eight PG-13 films, four PG films and one G (Finding Nemo) made the number 1 slot for gross dollars culled.

Here is John Weston's keynote speech at the fourth annual Ottawa Christian Writers Conference
Parliamentarian and author, John Weston's keynote address to the Ottawa Christian Writers Conference


Did you attend our annual conference on April 7th? Here are some video highlights. Enjoy and feel free to share this with others.
Highlights from the 2018 Ottawa Christian Writers Conference Visit for more info.


Who reads the Bible?
Black Americans are more likely than most others to read the Bible regularlyly and to view it as the Word of God, according to a new Pew Research Center survey report. It found that more than half of black people in the U.S. (54 percent)–both Christian and non-Christian–said they read the Bible or...

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