Saturday, August 17, 2019

Woman With a Well by SUSAN HARRIS

The rock garden I built in 2016 
The golden rule when building in the country is to find water first, and so my induction to rural living was the digging of a well in 2012. 

I remember the heavy drilling equipment, monster-sized trucks and jacks and rigs etched imperiously against the blue of the Land of the Living Skies, like creatures of another world. I was she, giving the yea or nay to iron and men. 

The crew remembered me for a different   reason. Last summer my husband placed a call to the company that had drilled our well. As soon as he mentioned our highway intersection the contractor knew exactly which job was in question. It wasn’t the fact that I was a visible minority, though that helped too. The unique identifying factor was: “I remember that well because your wife screamed and freaked out when a tick walked up her pant leg.” 
Visible and traumatized.

The contractor had paused from reading the digitals to flick off the offending tick then to locate a slab so I could stand high above the grass, away from the disease-carrying beasts. He remained in proximity while reading directions to the team, and I gave the yeas and nays from my elevated position. (I surmise it's the reason the job was so pricey.)

The well draws me. 

But there’s one fact about it that I mull on often. Water was found at the 130 feet depth. 

A long iron shaft projecting one foot above the ground runs into the bowels of the earth. A pump inside the shaft brings the water to the surface.

My well. I’m a  woman with a well. 

Picture courtesy Google Images
I had romantic notions of creating an archway of morning glory flowers between the shrubs leading to the well. I had planned to construct a circular brick wall around the shaft  with the daintiest of peaked shingle roofs as I had seen on Pinterest. I was sure of my skills as I had created something similar for my backyard when I lived in the city. Closer home, a neighbour had an enviable structure, and my dream sprouted wings. 

Until the pump had to be changed in 2018, a year after taking up residence at the acreage. For days a rig rose vertically above the shaft, jarring the blue skyline. The pump lodged at 109 feet down needed similar height above to pull it out and replace the new. Machinery had to be laid flat on the surface at right angles to the shaft. Metres and metres of wire coated in rainbow colours coiled smack dab to the shaft. 

My brick wall and peaked roof faced death as my husband explained that practicality must prevail for the well. I did not reply. 

Three months later another pump had to be changed, and I came face to face with the distressing reality that our well was not meant to be Pinterest-worthy. Those fashionable structures needed an entirely different kind of well, one with diameter of a couple of feet, not the 6-inches  of the narrow  shaft we had. 

That day I replied. That day I bade my vision of rocks and roof a tender farewell. I still see the charming peak—in my mind. But when I look through the patio doors my eyes take in an inverted blue barrel. My husband secured the shaft with the practical shelter that cannot in any way, shape or form, be remotely considered romantic.  

Perhaps romance was not meant to be. But Eternity is. 

In John 4:4-42 we read about Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman who had come to get water from a well. She gives Him liquid water and He gives her Living water. She quenches His physical thirst, and He, her spiritual. 

My experience with our well is reminiscent of the deep, deep drilling into our souls to tap into the water of life. 

Thirty feet couldn’t do it. Fifty feet was too shallow. Ninety feet was not deep enough. It had to be tapped at 130 feet where it would gush to the pump, and the pump would pressure it to our house.

Blue barrel replaced the dream
The deep drilling through sickness and grinding  on the wheel of life calls for the refreshing cool. But this is not attained easily. The refining comes over years of trials and suffering, moments not worthy of pictures. But they are moments that supersede a photo-op. They are moments that build our faith, painstakingly, to culminate in an overpowering of the pressures, and we break through with clean, clear water. Becoming reservoirs of  hope, houses of encouragement, wells of life.

I’ve been to the well and found the Saviour. Now, I own the well and lead the world to Him from an acreage on the Land of the Living Skies. 

This, I’ve discovered, is both romantic and eternal.

Susan Harris hosts ETERNITY on Access7 television and her messages can be accessed on YouTube. Visit here website at 
Her recent release is Touched By Eternity: A True Story of Heaven, Healing, and Angels and is  available at Chapters/Indigo Amazon, Barnes &Noble, etc where books are available. 
Paperback ISBN 978-0-9949869-4-8 
Ebook ISBN 978-0-9949869-6-2

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Things We Authors Must Learn

When I started writing, I learned that I must show more and tell less. That meant describing the places and people I was writing about. I worked on that and improved.

There were more instructions, one of which was read a lot. No problem with that because I loved to read, and so I read more of the genres I wrote in. More inspirational pieces, more poetry, more children's books. I’ve learned from people further on in the journey, writers who’ve paid their dues and worked hard to get to where they are. Authors whose writing I enjoy, whether they’re household names or not.

It seemed I was always hearing a new set of directives. At workshops, at conferences, and from fellow writers. It’s like anything else, the more of it you do, the more you study, the better you understand and process it. That works for me, because as I write, I process information and figure out how I feel. Well, maybe not hard science and math, because my brain doesn’t handle those as well.

Then there’s the matter of social media and promoting the books we write, whether alone or in tandem with other writers. That’s a whole different matter. I have a Facebook page and a website, which I also have invested in.

My current learning curve, quite steep I might add, is moving a blog from one place to another. After collecting the files, uploading them to the right place, I learned I needed a new domain and I could have that within my website. And so I did the work on my own of acquiring the new domain. That was likely the easiest part.

 I was already using that blog platform, so once I can access the site, I may be home free. Well, maybe not free because I had to pay for help, to actually get it up and running. Once I can get in — just happened today — I can post again. It has felt like quite a lengthy project between my work and my summer activities.

Being a Christian is a process too, one where we get into it and learn along the way. A long way. We try to understand a teaching and put it into practice — not always the easiest thing to do. Unlike paying someone else to do it, we have to put in the time ourselves and ask for help when we need it. And we will eventually learn if we just stick with it. We’ll learn what we’re able to absorb.

 Our prayers may not always be answered as we’d like — something I learned a long time ago — but they will be heard. And that experience doesn’t stop me from asking again when I need wisdom or direction. Or to say thank you for a prayer that's been answered.

 We are assured that God loves us, that Jesus took on our sin for us that we might be redeemed and forgiven. That part is out of our hands, already done. It’s grace that makes it possible.

Carolyn Wilker is an author, editor and storyteller from southwestern Ontario. In her spare time she spends time with friends and family. Her trusty cell phone camera is ever ready for interesting new pictures.

Please note the new location of Carolyn's blog, Storygal. 
Stop by and leave a comment.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Susanna Wesley: Mother on Fire -HIRD

By Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

Never underestimate the power of a praying mom. Has your life been impacted by a sacrificial mother who would never give up?
Susanna Wesley.jpg
Born in 1669, Susanna Wesley was one of the greatest mothers who ever lived, raising up two of Christianity’s most gifted leaders, John and Charles Wesley. Can you envision, like Susanna, being the twenty-fifth of twenty-five siblings?  Her father Samuel Annesley had a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford and in 1648 was chosen to preach at the British House of Commons.  His eight hundred-strong congregation of St Giles Cripplegate was one of the largest in London.  Susanna’s father did a remarkable thing, encouraging his daughter to read and study theology.  When he died, he left Susannah his most valued possessions, which were his manuscripts and family papers.
Daily, as a mother, Susannah prayed “Dear God, Guide me. Make my life count.”  She loved to read biographies about other Christians, especially missionaries.  While reading an account of Danish missionaries, she concluded, “At last it came to my mind, though I were not a man, nor a minister of the gospel,...I might do somewhat more than I do...I might pray more for the people, and speak with more warmth to those with whom I have an opportunity of conversing. However, I resolved to begin with my children.”  She believed that by discipling her own children, she could change the world.  As a young woman, she once said, “I hope the fire (of revival) I start will not only burn all of London, but all of the United Kingdom as well.  I hope it will burn all over the world.”
As the mother of the Methodist revival, she methodically instilled in her children a passion for discipleship and learning. While only ten of her nineteen children survived to adulthood, she poured her life into them, raising up three sons, Samuel, John and Charles to become pastors.  Susanna believed each child was equally valuable; and had an uncanny way of making each know they were important.
Eric Metaxas has described Susanna as the mother of the homeschooling movement. In an age when many parents only educated their sons, Susanna taught all of her children how to read, write and reason, regardless of gender, including all of her seven surviving daughters. She instructed all of her children three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. Her children began and ended each school day by singing a Psalm and reading from the Bible.  Remarkably, she spent one hour a week with each of her children in personal instruction.
Her educational goal was that on her last day, she would be able to say “Lord, here are the children which Thou hast given me, of which I have lost none by my ill example, not by neglecting to install in their minds, in their early years, the principles of Thy true religion and virtue.”  When Susanna failed to find Christ-centered textbooks, she decided to write her own. Her first book A Manual of Natural Theory looked at how the natural universe revealed God as creator. Her second book was an exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, looking at the essentials of the Christian faith. Her third book opened up the practical implications of the Ten Commandments for daily living.  In her crowded house, Susannah would pull her apron over her head, taking an hour a day for her personal devotions when she was not to be disturbed. 
As both the daughter and wife of clergy, Susanna understood the challenges of pastoral ministry.  There was never enough money to feed and clothe the children properly. Her husband Rev Samuel Wesley, as the underpaid Rector of Epworth and Wroot, was always in debt, and even ended up twice in debtors’ prison.  Susanna offered to pawn her own wedding ring, but her husband refused her sacrifice.
 Being very outspoken, her husband had many enemies during his thirty-nine years in Epworth, some of whom destroyed the Wesley’s crops, stabbed their cows, attacked their dog, and set their house on fire in 1702.  During a contentious 1705 election, a political mob surrounded their house at night with loud drumming, firing of pistols, and shouting that they would kill Samuel. When their house was burnt down for a second time in 1709, six-year-old John was miraculously plucked as a brand from the burning.
While her husband was away in 1711, she started Sunday evening devotions for her children, which ended up attracting many neighbours: “Last Sunday I believe we had above two hundred. And yet many went away, for want of room to stand.”  The replacement Epworth priest was deeply offended that far more people went to Susanna’s devotional prayers than his Sunday morning service.  Responding to her concerned husband, she said, “As to its looking peculiar, I grant that it does. And so does almost anything that is serious, or that may in any way advance the glory of God, or the salvation of souls.”  When her son John Wesley later preached to tens of thousands, he fondly recalled the revival that earlier happened with his mother’s Sunday evening devotions.
John, the fifteenth child and Charles, the eighteen child of nineteen were almost not born, because of Susanna’s refusal to say amen to her husband’s 1701 prayer for the new King William of Orange.  Because Susanna saw the new King as a usurper, her husband left home, refusing to return: “We must part for if we have two kings, we must have two beds.” Samuel only returned and reconciled after their house burnt down.
When John Wesley felt called to ordination, his father discouraged him but his mom encouraged him to go for it.  Susanna coached John and Charles in the spiritual disciplines while at Oxford, encouraging him to read the Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis and Rule for Holy Living by Jeremy Taylor. After reading these books, John told his mother, “I have resolved to dedicate all my life to God —all my thoughts and words and actions.”
When John and Charles felt called as missionaries to Savannah, Georgia, Susanna said, “If I had twenty sons, I would send them all.” When John returned to England and began preaching in the fields, Susanna approved, sometimes standing by his side before tens of thousands.  She encouraged John to allow nonordained people to preach.  After her debt-ridden husband died leaving her homeless, she lived for her final three years with John Wesley in the famous Foundry Methodist Chapel.  On her deathbed, she said “Children, as soon as I am released, sing a Psalm of Praise to God.”  May we like Susanna end our lives on fire giving glory to God.
 Image result for susanna wesley
Rev. Dr. Ed and Janice Hird
-an article previously published in the September 2019 Light Magazine

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Star Appeal and Entertainment Value — ?

The original edition of the article below was written on the day of the British Conservative Party's appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister Elect. Here adapted from my P-Pep! column of August 1, 2019.

Whether or not the Conservative Party in Britain’s election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister will greatly improve the fortunes of their nation and heal the fragmentation that has come in the wake of the Brexit referendum, is surely not clear at present to anyone except the Almighty Himself.
Although I seldom venture into political discussion in this column, I touch base with this today – after all, my wife and I have dozens of extended family members in the UK who, if they care a hoot, will be either celebrating or bemoaning Johnson’s appointment. Perhaps you also have a vested interest in what happens in the UK, just like the personal interest that many Canadian have in what happens in the USA.

My interest is in the social and spiritual aspects. As with the USA’s President Trump, Boris Johnson’s flamboyant style and air of self-confident swagger evidently appealed to enough members of his party to have voted overwhelmingly in his favour. (Of course, at this point his is a party appointment, not a general election.) 
It seems that many people in our Western democracies nowadays are weary of what they might perceive as the stuffiness and starch of “the establishment,” with its  norms and typically dull political voices – not to mention party in-fighting. 

And so, a colourful ‘Rah!-Rah!’ rousing personality and fresh voice break on the scene. An entertaining energy emanates, shaking up the dusty halls of government and waking up swaths of the populace to feel different, more optimistic about themselves—that their voice matters—and to believe in new possibilities. Some level of nationalism is stirred and, for better or for worse, they pile on for the ride.

Do you ever wonder whether such qualities as humility, truthfulness, and integrity in a leader matter less than star appeal and entertainment value?

In the eighth-century BC the biblical prophet Isaiah presented a message of comfort to Israel —Israel, in which a great many people had slidden steeply into idolatry and fallen deeply into immorality, while acts of violence and injustice with oppression of the poor were commonplace. They would be heading into difficult times—times of correction and chastisement. 

And yet, God in His love promised mercy: “. . . I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:9b -10).
What a comfort to know that, contrary to their deserving, the Lord God hadn not given up or abandoned the nation entirely, but he would bring them through the trials that would befall them, even although they’d been unfaithful to Him.

May God have mercy on our nation and others that have been so blessed, although in various ways they may have fallen short of His call to live in grace, mercy and truth.

Peter is a retired pastor  well, sort of retired – as he is currently engaged as an associate volunteer pastor. He lives in Southwestern Ontario with his wife, May, and writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column and occasional magazine articles. Peter is author of two books: "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press) and "Raise Your Gaze . . . Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart" (Angel Hope Publishing). He and May are also engaged in leading nursing home / residential chapel services, pulpit supply and music. ~+~

If You Think The Internet Is About Freedom, Visit Western China - Denyse O'Leary

From Heather Zeiger at Mind Matters News:
The Uyghur people in Xinjiang province in northwest China spend their lives in a digital panopticon. Over 2.5 million Muslims are tracked via facial recognition software and cameras, and their cell phone monitored for any language that could be construed as religious. Over a million have been placed in so-called “vocational training centers” that are widely described as detention camps.
Even when not detained, they live like prisoners:
“For Uyghurs in Xinjiang, any kind of contact from a non-Chinese phone number, though not officially illegal, can result in instant arrest. Most Uyghurs in Turkey have been deleted by their families on social media. And many wouldn’t dare try to make contact, for fear Chinese authorities would punish their relatives. ISOBEL COCKERELL, “INSIDE CHINA’S MASSIVE SURVEILLANCE OPERATION” AT WIRED”
Xinjiang is considered “one of the most tightly controlled surveillance states in the world” (Wired). Everyone living in the province is under high-tech surveillance, which includes one hundred percent camera coverage of the capital, Urumqi. More.
Xinjiang province may serve as a testing ground for China’s 2020 goal of having 100% video coverage of “key public areas” in the country. Western big tech firms have been helping China with surveillance. Will you be surprised if they also help governments do it to us?

Note: The Uyghurs are not trusted by the government because they are Muslims. Christians are coming under the same pressures and Zeiger hopes to cover that in subsequent articles.

See also: Chinese Technocracy Surges Ahead with AI Surveillance. So what do the reservations expressed by Chinese technocrats, about “the soul” and “love,” really mean? 

Tuesday, August 06, 2019


           In 1974, at age 18, Karen was enjoying her summer working at a camp on the shores of Lake Simcoe. During a free afternoon, she and a friend were walking along the shore road and musing about the exciting future ahead; as she anticipated her university studies to become a social worker.

            It had been a good school year and her achievement that resulted in a Gold Medal helped to justify the scholarships she was offered from three different universities. She opted for Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, lured by the possibility of a lower professor/student ratio than at a larger institution. In addition her favourite author Margaret Laurence was the writer-in-residence there and she hoped to be inspired by her to pursue writing later on. 

            Her plans and dreams were instantly shattered when a drunken driver swerved around a curve and slid off the road and into the girls, tossing Karen over a five-foot fence into a telephone pole. When she landed, her neck was broken and she would never again walk or be able to use her hands, as she became paralyzed from the chest down. 

            Over the next year, Karen strived to begin to build a new life, with the limited capacity that she was discovering was hers. She was never fully informed of the consequences of her paralysis. That was something she learned through experience. With help from family and friends, over time, some of her dreams could be realized, although in a different way than she had imagined. Others were relegated to the scrap heap of her accident, untouched and even unmourned for six and a half years. Survival became her way of life from day to day as she learned to live with quadriplegia. 

            It is at such times, that those of us who have been raised in the church face a significant choice. We can choose to conclude that God has abandoned us or brought this on us and turn our back on Him and rely upon our own resources. Conversely, we can choose to believe that He alone can help us manage our incredibly challenging situation. Karen took that option. She explains it this way:

            “I was praying desperately to God one night about my situation when all of a sudden I began to experience God’s Presence and peace with me in a way that I never had before. I felt that God was telling me everything was going to be okay and that He was taking care of my future, whatever it may hold. I realized that my relationship with Christ previously was superficial, and that I had fooled myself into believing that I could control my own life and future. I told God that I would turn everything over to Him and allow Him to control and direct my life from here on in. That was the moment that I felt this tremendous sense of peace despite the fact that my life seemed to be over forever.”

            Karen was not immediately healed. In fact, she was not physically healed at all and even suffered additional physical problems through the years, which finally left her unable to eat. She proved her faith over the long haul by living life generously for 45 years, while battling to confront with courage her paralysis and other signficant medical challenges as well as spiritual obstacles. She was aware that she was never alone in facing them. 

            Karen needed to take ten years to complete an Honours BA in English Literature and Sociology and her Master of Social Work degree. Among the many practical obstacles she encountered were confinement to bed for many months because of pressure sores and confronting a Dean in the Faculty of Social Work who opposed her admission into the program. 

            There were also times when she was ambushed by spiritual challenges. Many times well-meaning people would tell her that if she had enough faith, she would be healed of her paralysis. Such comments caused discouragement and aroused in Karen suspicion and fear that she might not even have enough faith to make it as a Christian. One day, the Lord reminded her through the words of Scripture from II Corinthians 12: 9 that His grace is sufficient for our weakness. These words provided the assurance that she needed. 

            I met Karen and heard her share her story, many years before that story became significant in the life of our family, with the accident of our son, John who also became a quadriplegic. It is from my current perspective that I am able to appreciate what a hero she was. 

I was saddened a few weeks ago when I learned that Karen has now gone home to heaven. This world needs people like her who are able to see what really matters and to give to others when they have lost so much. I mourn for us, but I rejoice for her, because she is now totally fulfilled in the presence of the One who accompanied her along the whole journey.
Word Guild Award

Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award
Eleanor Shepherd from Pointe Claire, Quebec has more than one hundred articles published in Canada, France, the U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and New Zealand. Thirty years with The Salvation Army in Canada and France including ministry in Africa, Europe, Haiti and the Caribbean furnished material for her award-winning book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening. Other award winning stories appear in the booksHot Apple Cider andChristmas with Hot Apple Cider. She co-authored with her husband Glen the Bible Study book Why? Families. As well as writing, she conducts workshops on listening skills and prayer. Eleanor recently retired from being the pastor of an English speaking congregation in Montreal with The Salvaton Army. She is currently pursuing studies to become a Prayer Companion. Eleanor and Glen have two adult children: John who is pursuing a PhD in Rehabilitation Therapy in Toronto and Elizabeth who is a professional musican, nominated for Juno awards for her last four jazz albums.

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