Wednesday, December 28, 2005

life and all that...

Ernie’s dad has taken ill and so our holiday plans are veering sharply to the left. In case I don’t get around to these later, some holiday suggestions:

- read some excellent 'conversion' stories (fiction) here in the coming days.

- if you haven't yet, go see "The Chronicles of Narnia."

and a Happy New Year to all who read here!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

happy day-after-boxing-day!

We had our family Christmas yesterday, much jollity and food - plus presents galore. As we speak, I am playing a new CD (Rita Springer - my fav: "I Have to Believe"). I bought it to give to Sonia, but she already got it from someone else - that's what happens when you circulate the same wish list to various people! - so I might just have to take it off her hands :) and replace it with $$ for a different CD... somehow i'm not upset.

Anyway, we have the kids (Sonia and Matt) here for two more days. Ben and his girlfriend Georgi spent the evening with us yesterday too. You should see the present Ben made me. I collect apple ornaments in a haphazard kind of way. Well, he and Georgi took a class in pottery from Georgi's mom who is an art teacher. In that class he made an apple ornament for me - a very cool thing, two halves that fit together like a puzzle. Georgi gave me an apple-shaped cookie jar, made out of a painted gourd, a craft / art which her Dad's girlfriend made. What was especially touching was their anticipation of my reaction to these things.

Matt and Sonia showered us with more gifts - a CD (Hillsongs), a cozy chenille throw, and yummy books (Wild at Heart for E.by John Eldredge and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge for me).

Of course there was the usual wealth from E. - a gift certificate from my current favorite clothes store, an Estée Lauder’s Perfume Treasures collection (my great weakness: scent) - and still more goodies from sis, mom, the neighbors and the office. We have too much!

If I were cooking this morning, I’d make Ziploc Omelets.

ziploc omelets

Have you ever heard of this?

(This works great!* Good for when all your family is together and no one has to wait for their special omelet)

Have guests write their name on a quart-size ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker.

Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them.

Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, mushrooms, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc.

Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shakes it.

Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water.

Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed!

Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved in the process and a great conversation piece.

ENJOY

*************
*Disclaimer - I personally cannot vouch for this as I have not made these, though they sound worth a try.

Hat-tip: Miss Jean

Sunday, December 25, 2005

two for your christmas stocking


Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I’m blogging Christmas morning -but I am! It turns out E. and I are alone this day with my sis and her kids having their turn with Mom, and our kids expected tomorrow. All we have on our agenda, then, is Church at 11:00 and other lovely lazy Sunday things like going for a walk (if it ever stops raining) and reading all afternoon.

So, I have time to post a couple of things to add to the Christmas stocking of anyone who has stopped by to read.

First, here’s a year’s worth of writer quotes and links, put together by Mel Boring (ICL* webmaster) and which he sent out in the weekly newsletters of 2005.

And second, a poem "Let the Stable Still Astonish," by Leslie Leyland Fields** (top of page 7 .pdf file***).

My Christmas wish for all who read here is, in the spirit of the poem, that the God of Heaven and Earth be born in the rooms of your heart today.

*******************
* Institute of Children's Literature.

** L. L. Fields is a new writer to me. I found the poem by her in a book, Patches of Godlight - Father Tim’s Favorite Quotes assembled by Jan Karon.

This is a curious book. It is as if the fictional Father Tim got himself a blank journal and filled it up – handwritten – with snippets from all the people he was frequently quoting and referring to. Besides the handwritten format, another curiosity is that there is no copyright notice.

Anyway, I googled Leslie Leyland Fields to make sure she was safely ancient and that I could quote her work with impunity. I discovered she is very much alive right now and thus her work is protected by copyright. I did find a copy of this poem, though, buried in the pdf file of The St. James Scroll, above, where I’m trusting it was printed with her permission.

*** Sorry, the December issue which had the poem was replaced with a January /06 issue so it's no longer there. I've posted a different link in comments.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

of shepherds and sheep



Of Shepherds and Sheep


Abel spilled their blood
in the first acceptable sacrifice.

Abraham’s flocks flourished
though in the end
his son Isaac knew the terror
of lambs, lying bound on altar wood.

Joseph was sold to Egypt from the pasture
and the children of Israel
were segregated in Goshen
because shepherds were ‘unclean.’

Moses ran from the palace
to the mountains of Midian
where forty years as an apprentice
led to shepherding a nation.

David’s kingly character
was formed with the sheep
on Bethlehem’s hills,
for the Lord was his shepherd.

Isaiah foresaw Messiah-Lamb
and described us all
as confused and willful
wandering sheep.

Jesus would call Himself shepherd
and sheep-pen.
Even now He’s seated in heaven
a Lamb upon the throne.

What other audience was there, then,
for the angels that cold starry Judean night?

V. Nesdoly © 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

progressive christmas dinner -- blog style!

Remember those progressive dinners that used to happen at least once a year at Youth Group (or Young Couples’ Group, or Whatever Group)? Everyone would pile into cars and, with maps in hand, go house to house for the various courses – the appetizers at the Anderson’s, the salad at the Schmidt’s, the main course at the Miller’s and the desert at the Doerksen’s (not necessarily letter coordinated of course).

As a variation on that, I'm inviting you to a Progressive Christmas Dinner only going blog to blog. No maps necessary, of course – you will be whisked away at the touch of a mouse. Bon Appetit!

Appetizers
Lenten or Homemade Pretzels - from danielle bean
Antipasto -my very own taste-tested recipe, along with a tray of crackers, cheese, smoked oyesters, and cold cuts.
Our beverage is Hot Mulled Cider - from Elise at Simply Recipes

Salad
Mrs. Darling at Cooking with Mrs. Darling has, waiting for us, Black Bean Salad with Feta. And there's also a Broccoli Salad from Kalanna at Mere Recipes

Main Course
Elise at Simply Recipes has been cooking up a storm. She has Mom's Roast Turkey on the table stuffed with Mom's Turkey Stuffing, along with Cranberry Sauce (just like I make it), Creamed Turnips, and Spinach with Sesame and Garlic. Mrs. Darling brought the rolls.

Desert
Now to top off the feast, I hope you left room for Rebecca's legendary Cranberry Apple Pie (Ah Rebecca, I am forever in debt to you for this yummy treat!)


Wasnt' that delicious!? And I'll bet you still have room for more!

antipasto

This North American version of this classic Italian appetizer is always a hit at Christmas when everyone gets the munchies in the middle of watching those new DVDs or playing that new board game. Just haul out the crackers, cheese and antipasto and you’re good to go for another hour at least!

Antipasto (sans Seafood - I guess that would make it 'Vegetarian Antipasto'?)

250 ml. (1 cup) pickled onions, drained and halved
2 x 284 ml. (2 x 10 oz) canned mushroom pieces, drained and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
250 ml. (1 cup) green pimiento stuffed olives, chopped
250 ml (1 cup) ripe olives, chopped
250 ml. (1 cup) dill pickles, chopped
625 ml. (2½ cups) ketchup
60 ml. (¼ cup) white vinegar
60 ml. (¼ cup) Olive or cooking oil
398 ml. (14 oz.) canned green beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat, stirring often, until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Fill freezer containers, leaving 2.5 cm. (1 inch) at the top to allow for expansion. Freeze. Makes 3.2 L. (13 cups) antipasto.

Adapted* from Company’s Coming for Christmas by Jean Paré 1996.

Serve as an appetizer with assorted nibblies - smoked oysters, cold cuts, cheeses and crackers.

****************

*The original recipe includes 2 x 184 gm (2 x 6½ oz.) tins of tuna, drained and flaked, and omits the garlic

Thursday, December 22, 2005

christmas thorns

blogged here today.


"The Massacre of the Innocents" by Daniele da Volterra

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

book review: Nature Never Stops Talking


Title: Nature Never Stops Talking
Author: Alibrando, Samuel J.
Genre: Science, Nature, Intelligent Design
ISBN: 0-9725486-4-5

Though by his own admission he is not a trained scientist, Samuel Alibrando has had a long interest in nature. He also possesses a curious inquiring mind. Nature Never Stops Talking is the result. In the over 100 short essays it contains, Alibrando probes the natural world from amoeba to zoology and celebrates the evidence for intelligence and design he finds wherever he looks in the natural world.

The book is divided into ten chapters or subject categories. These include “Earth and Space,” “Scientific Properties,” “Beginnings,” “Plants and Trees,” “Insects,” and “The Human Body.” Individual articles which fall into the various categories make up each section, with “The Human Body” given the most space. The book ends with an appendix and index.

The strength of the book is the author’s way of uncovering, just below the level of the obvious and taken for granted, little known facts and intriguing connections. (In “Fire,” for example, he states: “I was amazed as a volunteer firefighter to learn there were ten different chemical reactions involved in creating a ‘simple’ flame.” When delving into the mysteries of water, he discovers that it is the only liquid that becomes less dense in its frozen form. He spells out the implications of this for life on earth in the piece “Every Time You See Ice.”) The end result is a mountain of evidence, built from findings which span the scientific disciplines, that this world couldn’t have just happened.

One small criticism of the book regards its actual dishing out of information. It seemed uneven, in that some chapters are a lot richer in facts and information than others. The chapter “Healing Skin” in the Human Body section, for example, is more of a ‘Wow– how does that happen?’ piece than a delve into the physics of how our bodies are designed to self-heal. The chapter “Nothing As Lovely As a Tree” on the other hand, goes into a lot of specific and satsfying detail about what conditions are necessary for a tree to grow.

Something I found disorienting concerns the book’s layout and the way the unrelated pieces in each section follow closely after one another, broken up only by one line of white space. To be sure, the title of the next piece appears below that space in bold font. But this minimal spacing together with the type of headings usually used to break up an essay about one subject, doesn’t seem sufficient to signal to the reader that they are now starting a new and entirely different article.

These minor things aside, this book is fun to read and would be a valuable addition to the library of anyone who is interested in the natural world. The book would also be great add-on material to a home school science curriculum. I can see how any one of the chapters could be a jumping off point to stimulate further study for readers of every age.

*********
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: The book Nature Never Stops Talking was sent to me by Mind & Media as a gift from the publisher who donated the books for reviewers.

Monday, December 19, 2005

no, they aren't made of chocolate



People’s favorite tree ornaments are decorating blogs all over the place and other blogs are collecting them.

Now if I had a digital camera, I could wow you with all manner of wonderful ornaments from my tree. I don’t. However in the past few years I have come to a happy compromise with my old Canon by, in addition to getting rolls of film developed into prints, having them copied to a disk (a way better solution than having a digital camera I console myself – think of all the hard-drive space I’m saving – Yeah, right! Think again about long it takes me to fill up the whole roll of film to finally see those pictures – oh well. But I digress... ) So, because of the technical reality above, I have a picture of exactly one decoration – and it would hardly fit on my tree. It’s the creche.

We got this hand-carved nativity at a Global Village kiosk during an MCC weekend in Abbotsford one August when the kids were little (I’m not sure where it was carved but in some developing country.) A few years later my husband cobbled together a wooden stable to house the display, which I then lined with moss. Every year I wrap this stable in a string of twinkle lights which makes it look as if it’s floating in stars.

Over the years I’ve added an angel display to it and some woolly sheep made by my crafty sister.

*************************

(For a delve into some of the dusty corners of this theme in Christmas decorating, view the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities.

Hat tip: Dulciana at Divertimenti)

snow in lotusland

After a stretch of clear, crisp weather, the prediction for today is for warming and precipitation. I’m guessing the confluence of these two weather systems will result in at least a few hours of snowfall before that turns to rain.

Snow here on the wet coast is not a non-event like it is on the prairies where I grew up. It actually has the ability to wreak major disruption on life, tying up traffic, cancelling school and generally giving anyone who has the need to be out and about a major headache. This is at least in part because this is Lotusland, where the expectation is that sandals on our feet and summer tires on our cars is what we’re owed for being clever enough to have moved here and away from the winter the rest of Canada dishes out.

This email, passed on from sis-in-law in Thunder Bay, captures the prevailing attitude pretty well:

Vancouver Blizzard 2005 - Revenge of the Commuters

Chilled Vancouver commuters faced their second day of winter hell today, as an additional one-quarter centimeter of the peculiar white stuff fell, bringing the Lower Mainland to its knees and causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the marijuana crops. Scientists suspect that the substance is some form of frozen water particles and experts from Manitoba are being flown in. With temperatures dipping to the almost but not quite near zero mark,

Vancouverites were warned to double insulate their lattes before venturing out.

Vancouver police recommended that people stay inside except for emergencies, such as running out of espresso or biscotti to see them through Vancouver's most terrible storm to date. The local Canadian Tire head office reported that they had completely sold out of fur-lined sandals.

Drivers were cautioned to put their convertible tops up, and several have been shocked to learn that their SUVs actually have four wheel drive, although most have no idea how to use it.

Weary commuters faced soggy sushi, and the threat of frozen breast
implants. Although Dr. John Blatherwick, of the Coastal Health Authority, reassured everyone that most breast implants were perfectly safe to 25 below, down-filled bras are flying off the shelves at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

"The government has to do something," snarled an angry Trevor Warburton. "I didn't pay $540,000 for my one bedroom condo so I could sit around and be treated like someone from Toronto."


Anyway, we need to be driving into Vancouver tonight, right about the time this white stuff is supposed to be falling. Oh joy!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

christmas with a twist

A week ago we were in the middle of the "Christmas With a Twist" production. It was billed as "a gift to our community" and was an entertaining blend of concert and production. Here are a few memorable moments in pictures snatched from our church's e-bulletin.


Some of the most beautiful gifts of this performance were the dance numbers. Young ballerina Natalie H. (center) choreographed this dance and trained these young dancers.


We got a visit from the Grinch. He learned that he could exchange his grumpiness at being woken up by the kids' choir, for being able to sing along with that choir himself and, as part of the deal, was promised as many Christmas lollipops as he wanted!

Our evening was hosted by Jerome*, Daisy and Jerome, three hillbillies who kept reappearing throughout the performance. Their hijinks gave us a lot of laughs and their conclusion at the end of this gift-focused production:


Daisy: But I don't haeve a gift to give.

Jerome 1: You have your laife.

Jerome 2: And isn't thaat what it's all abaout?

sent us home with a lot to think about.

* I think it was Jerome. It was a J. name anyway and both guys had the same name.

Friday, December 16, 2005

how to get into freelance writing


One of the things I enjoy most each morning is checking my hotmail spam box where emails from all unrecognized addresses end up. A few days ago there was a note from R. (who found me, I’m guessing, via my website). She said: "I am a Christian author looking to get into freelance writing. If you could forward any helpful information I would really appreciate it."

So for R. and anyone else interested, here is a bit about getting into freelance writing.

First, what is freelance writing? Well, it is simply being a self-employed writer. It means that you find your own writing jobs. Writing is your home-based business and what you write is your product. The business of freelance writing entails both creating the product (writing), then seeking and finding buyers or consumers for that product (marketing).

Here is how I got started in this business.

1. I began by enrolling in a course. This was to help me with both aspects of freelance writing – coming up with pieces of salable writing and learning how to market them. This is obviously not necessary for everyone, but it was helpful for me. The course I took promised that by the end of it, I would have at least one manuscript ready for publication. The course also promised to take me through the entire process from idea to submission. I knew that because submitting a manuscript would be an assignment, I would actually be required to do this thing that I would probably never have had the courage to do on my own.

2. I got a market guide. The course I took included their own market guide as part of the materials. The standard Christian market guide is the Sally E. Stuart Christian Writers’ Market Guide - 2005 (it’s updated yearly).

A market guide lists possible markets. The Sally Stuart one contains book and magazine publishers. It also lists periodicals and ezines (in categories such as: Adult / General Markets, Children’s Markets, Daily Devotional Markets, Pastor/Leadership Markets, Women’s Markets etc. ). Each listing gives information like the publication’s web site url, email and surface mail addresses, what they buy as to subject matter and length, if and how much they pay, how to obtain sample copies of the publication, their theme lists and writer’s guidelines, and how to submit.

3. Using my market guide, I ordered samples of children’s periodicals (the market I chose) that interested me. I also kept my eyes open for possible markets when I went to the Christian bookstore and when visiting friends. That’s how I happened on a copy of Keys for Kids - a periodical of children’s devotions produced by The Children’s Bible Hour. I read a few and thought - I bet I could write those.

4. When I got home, I checked out the Keys for Kids listing in my market guide and wrote to them requesting their submission guidelines and a sample copy. (When you do this, include a self-addressed stamped envelope [SASE] with enough postage for returning what you are requesting. Most market guides will tell you how much postage is needed – 1 stamp, 2 stamps etc. Of course these days, you can usually find article/story samples and writer’s submission guidelines online so you can skip this step – although I find it is still eye-opening to see actual hard copies of the publication.)

5. If the publication requires that you query before submitting, write a query letter pitching your idea, and then wait for the go-ahead before writing it. Keys for Kids didn’t require a query; they wanted to see the completed manuscript. (Many children’s publications don’t require queries though a few do. Queries are more common for adult periodicals).

6. Write the piece. Then send it in, formatted in manuscript style and in the way the publication prefers paying close attention to the guidelines. If they accept submissions only by surface mail, send them by surface mail. In that case include an SASE for return of the manuscript and the editor’s reply (rejection?! – most editors will return an acceptance on their own dime, although a few do use your SASE).

7. Keep a record of what you’ve sent out and by when you can expect a reply (this varies from a few weeks to months and the information is usually included in the market guide listing). If you don’t hear back within the stated amount of time, give the editor a week or two of grace, and then follow up with a note (by email or surface mail) as to the status of your submission.

8. If your piece is accepted by a market that ‘pays on acceptance,’ you’ll usually receive the good news with a cheque included in the envelope. If the market ‘pays on publication,’ you’ll have to wait until it actually comes into print before you see the cash. Paying internet markets may pay using some cash-transfer mechanism like PayPal. (I got a reply from the Keys for Kids editor about a month after I submitted the manuscript – with an acceptance note and a cheque.)

9. If your piece is rejected, look for another market for it, tweak the manuscript for that publication (may need to be shortened or lengthened, focus changed – that sort of thing) and send it out again.

10. Keep good records as to which manuscripts are out and where.

(I have designed my own manuscript tracking sheet on which I note the history of where each particular manuscript has been. I keep this in the manuscript’s file folder along with hard copies of the various versions of the piece – unless it is out to someone, in which case I clip the tracking sheet to the current version of the manuscript and that is put in a "Manuscripts-Out" folder till I hear its fate. That way I don’t mistakenly send it out to the same publication twice.)

11. Keep track of your income and expenses for tax purposes.

12. When your piece is published, you’ll probably get a contributor’s copy – a copy of the publication where your writing appears. Keep that on file and begin collecting writing clips – published samples of your work to include with your resume and in your writer’s portfolio.

13. Of course once you’ve sent out your first piece, you’ll be working on and sending out your second and third and fourth and fifth etc. pieces. Because in order to make freelance writing a successful business, you have to continue to work on both aspects (creating the product and marketing it) simultaneously.

To get a daily dose of information and inspiration about Christian writing – freelance and other – visit Terry Whalin’s blog, The Writing Life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

elder care

Yesterday hubby returned after a five-day jaunt to Kelowna, where he and his siblings moved his parents. Here is the adventure, told in his own words ( from an email he wrote to the kids - and used with his permission):

We got Grandma and Grandpa moved on Saturday. I picked them up in the morning and took them to Uncle Roy and Aunt Sally’s for the day. Then I went back to their old place to join the rest of the moving crew: Arnold and Daphne, Marilyn, Calvin, Alex, Devon, and Orrin.

Cal arrived with the boys and the "Ryder" truck. We also used Arn & Daph's personal vehicles plus another of Arn's company vans - seeing as we were only moving to Westbank, we did not pack like movers would.

To make a long story short, by 7:30 PM we had their new one-bedroom suite at L-Manor all furnished like they lived there for a long time; pictures on walls; Grandpa’s desk in the den/pantry with university degrees and other plaques on the wall. Two pies were baked and we had a "housewarming" with pie and ice cream and coffee - Uncle Roy and Aunt Sally and Katya joined the rest of us - 13 in
all.

Grandma and Grandpa were somewhat confused as usual - I stayed the night, the first night on the couch - that's another story which I'll not go into.
So now these dear ones are in the care of nurses and aides who will dispense their pills, call them to meals and generally make sure they’re okay. Hopefully they’ll adjust quickly and realize that now this is home.

My mom is doing well after her move November 1st. On Friday afternoon she invited me to be part of the Christmas party, where we sat around eating pastries, drinking coffee and listening to Christmas music played by a jazz duo - piano and bass. Santa even came to call. She has been participating in the activities offered in her complex, going on tours, last week to see a creche display, a couple of nights ago to see the Christmas lights, and tomorrow to some deal in Cloverdale. This morning she even went to the exercise class!

how is someone persuaded that God exists?

In a thoughful little blog post on December 9th, Rebecca tackled Virginia’s request: "I wish someone would just give me a good argument to share with non-believers about why the Bible is true."

Cutting to the chase, Rebecca replied in effect, you can’t argue for the authority of scripture until you’ve established the existence of a God. Then she threw out the challenge for readers to suggest books for Virginia to read on this topic.

The wheels in my head started turning immediately on reading this little ‘interchange’ last night (yes, I’m hopelessly behind in keeping up with my favorite blogs), and I considered adding a comment. However, it was the end of the day and I commonly suffer from evening fried-brain syndrome, so I didn’t. Instead I’ve mulled over this challenge in the intervening hours and have come up with a few thoughts on how people come to the conviction that there actually is a God - and that this God is the God of the Bible.

(And I will be using Bible verses to buttress my points, because I believe that it is only through the lens of the Bible that we see the world, life, and people as they are in reality).

1. Instinct. People are born with a sense that something greater than themselves exists (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Romans 1:18-21). So from the outset we are, in a way, flowing with the current as we attempt to prove the existence of God.

2. Intellectual reason and argument. There is a place for attempting to persuade people of the existence of God and the truth of the Gospel by intellectual means. Paul used this method repeatedly and sometimes successfully (e.g. Acts 17:16-34; Acts 24:25). We are told to do the same (1 Peter 3:15). (Some entry points: Intelligent design; the nation of Israel; the Bible - its history, its progressive revelation yet consistent message, its fulfilled prophecies).

3. Lifestyle and testimony. Sometimes people are convinced about God’s existence by watching the lives and hearing the testimonies of Christians (Acts 4:32-35).

4. Prayer. I think we – at least I – often forget the spiritual dimension of what is involved here. We think that if we can only win the argument and prove that our position is superior intellectually, the battle will be over. Wrong! Because there is much at stake here. The lifestyle implications of a person truly accepting the existence of God and the claims of the Gospel are huge and our whole culture mitigates against it. We set ourselves up for disappointment when we try to do this convincing with our own cleverness. Because understanding and accepting spiritual truth involves not only the intellect but also the spirit.

It involves and needs an opening of spiritual sight (Acts 26:17,18; 2 Corinthians 4:6). And so like Paul we need to pray that the spiritual eyesight of our friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers etc. will be opened (Ephesians 1:15-23).

5. Signs and wonders. The Bible is full of instances where the supernatural broke through and the result was people convicted that not only did God exist but that He was also interested in them personally (Acts 5:12-16). Though some say these things don’t happen any more, I believe they do. I have heard many stories of people, especially Muslim people – even here in Canada – whose dreams and visions of Jesus convinced them that He is real and as a result they have come to believe the Gospel as explained in the Bible. And stories of God breaking through in a variety of miraculous ways abound in cultures around the world. (Listen to this talk about what is happening right now in Ethiopia.)

6. The Bible itself. Though quoting Bible words about the existence of God to prove the existence of God will not carry much weight with the casual inquirer, I believe the Bible itself is such a miraculous book that an honest and thorough study of it will convince the student of the existence of the God behind it. I have heard of people who started out studying the Bible with a view to proving it false and instead coming to faith. God himself has promised that His word will accomplish what it sets out to do (Isaiah 55:10,11; Jeremiah 23:29). And for those of us discouraged by the apparent lack of results, I remind myself that the person who scatters seeds needs to be patient to see the harvest.

Finally, I would submit that God is never boxed in to using one of these methods alone (and there are doubtless others I’ve not thought of). He uses a combination to convince people of His existence and the truth of the Gospel. I guess for me the challenge is to work in cooperation with Him. I need to be ready to reason and give an answer, to live in a way that pleases Him and to testify, to pray for those in my world who are unconvinced, even to the extent that God will break through to them supernaturally, and to sharpen my sword skills (Hebrews 4:12).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the king of christmas wood



The King of Christmas Wood

A subtle twist has turned a stone tonight in Christmas Wood.
Though icicles pressed shards against the warmth
and frozen soil gripped steely fist
the tiny marvelous emerged beneath a stone
    a sacred writhe
        cocoon of God
in holy metamorphosis igniting love to flesh

    So then great glory angel sky plays strains
    with ancient melody of dark and stars
    and God is bending in and on Himself
    to flood a void and fill the vacant souls

The firestorm of Spirit joins praise to every tongue
tonight in Christmas wood the King emerges
Brittle snow and icy stone are merely fuel
for love's consuming blaze
to roll the stone aweay and raise
    the King of Christmas Wood.

-- Nathan Harms © 2005 - Used with permission

Sunday, December 11, 2005

new friends

Yesterday felt like a bit like a marathon. The first concert went well. Then the choir and everyone involved in the production had lunch in the gym after which we had an hour and a half to fill before the second performance. We sat around and chatted, went for mini-walks around the building – that sort of thing.

I am getting to know and like the Romanian women, D1 and D2. They are very bright and sharp.

D1 has a management position with a company that makes the little packets of condiments used by KFC and other fast food chains. As well she is a wife and mom of three and is taking classes in management!

She is lovely with fair, clear skin and soft brown hair that curls around her face. I love the way she speaks, with just a touch of hesitancy as she searches for the right English word. Yesterday she wore a black suit that had glittering threads woven into the fabric, with a shimmering jacquard top. Her clothes and manner speak of quiet quality.

She is also warm and generous. After her phone call home between concerts. she reported that there was a din in the background with her house full of people - mostly family. I’ve seen her greet her little nephew with a big hug.

She told us she loved to cook. She worked in product development at her last job and came up with a whole slew of cappuccino flavors for them. Her dream is to run a little coffee shop that serves specialty coffees and European pastries.

D2 is a slim, blond optical engineer – single. She wears gypsy skirts, sometimes with a velvet top and always elegant shoes. Her blonde hair is casual, a modern layered cut with a straggly long bit of bang that she keeps brushing out of her eyes.

I love the ironic bite of her outlook.“What would one do with psychology studies?” she asked. A discussion ensued around the fact that studies in psychology and other subjects like political science, English and history would surely not be an end in themselves. In her observation, North American young people seemed to choose ‘soft subjects’. It didn’t make sense to her; why would they not choose something that ends up with an actual job?

When I asked her what her dream was, she said, “You mean business dream?”

“You’d like to get married?” I asked. She just grinned.

F. is a little flight attendant with a French Canadian accent. She is feisty and funny. She told about how she’s inevitably called in to work extra shifts in difficult situations. Like the time their airline was asked to transport a prisoner from Mexico to Canada. She kept that burly prisoner in line, though.

“No alcohol. You hear? No alcohol! You know how expensive it is if we have to land in the States.”

Later, when the drinks were being passed around and he was asked what he wanted to drink: “I’ll have a Coke,” and, then looking to F., “Is that okay?”

***************

As I’m getting to know and enjoy these new friends, God is saying to me: Violet, that is how I want you to look at everyone - with kind eyes and an open heart. Because that is how I look at you and at every person on earth. I find each of you endlessly fascinating with your foibles and idiosyncracies and dreams. You are all so special to Me and I want you, my child, to appreciate all your human brothers and sisters in the same way.

I also am ‘collecting’ these women. Who knows, some day bits of them may be reflected in my stories.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas prep


We are in the thick of the Christmas production. It has come a long way from the lurching performance of Wednesday night’s dress rehearsal.

After the evening yesterday, I had the guests who we had invited, here for coffee (which sure made me appreciate entertaining as a duo; with my go-fer out of town, my whole day was pretty much taken up with getting ready). Today we do two more programs, one at 3:30 and another at 7:30. Then tomorrow night there’s a final evening performance in Maple Ridge.

I haven’t been in Christmas programs for the last few years and had forgotten all the downs and ups of these things and what they add to the celebration. There’s the feeling that this big time commitment will monopolize too much of your life at this busy season of year, followed by the realization that it really isn’t that big at all and will be over before you know it. There’s the whole nervous apprehension thing before each performance, followed by the feeling of euphoria when things go okay. There’s the fear that you’ll never have all that music memorized cold, followed by the sense of accomplishment when you do it – and as a bonus, now have wonderful lyrics like:

"Who is this King of glory?

Emanuel, God with us

Who is this King of glory?

He’s mighty to save us

Who is this king of glory?

He’s our Wonderful Counselor

Who is this King of Glory

He’s our Warrior, Deliverer"


safely tucked in your head and heart to sing and mull over in the days to come.


What a great way to get prepared for the season!

Friday, December 09, 2005

the three faces of Eve

I’ve been feeling restless about the blog lately, as if change is in the wind. Waterfall (blogger-no-more ...sigh) expressed some of these feelings in A Sort of Notebook when she wrote:

This is my last post. Already I feel this wonderful sort of relief, not to be wondering about daily hits, not to be concerned with whether I'm a rodent or an amphibian in the TTLB Ecosystem. No, I actually haven't even looked at my own blog but once in the last four days.

I have to admit - I know the feeling of being on a short leash to the blog. In fact, blogging for the past year has taught me more about my insecurities than I ever wished to know! And though I’m not sure what I’m about to do will ease my mind in that department, instinct tells me it’s the right move – for now anyway.

The instinct I’m talking about has developed as I’ve surfed around in the blog world over the past 1+ year and come to realize that I like to know (at least a little bit) what to expect when I surf to a site. At the same time, I’ve often felt fractured as I blogged, wondering which me is talking today – the outspoken Christian me, or the writer me or the everyday life me? Not that we can ever completely tease apart any of these personas – I know that! Anyway, I’ve decided to try blogging in a more focused way.

A long time ago I started another blog, Other Food, where I posted for a while about what I was learning in my quiet time and from Christian speakers and books etc. I have lately reactivated that blog and will be posting there about my spiritual pilgrimage. (You’re welcome to read. I’m posting a link to that blog in the sidebar.)

To accommodate another of my passions, I will shortly be opening a poetry / writing blog, where I can post my silly verses and unabashedly write about all things poetic and writerly. I’ll post a link to that blog when it’s up in case anyone is interested.

Of course I’ll still be posting, here at promptings, about all the minutiae of my life, and the little goodies I find on the web and memes and book reviews and political rants and family stuff and recipes... So nothing much will change, though I’m sure you won’t be surprised if I post here less often, which is no doubt a good thing because, for crying out loud, there’s plenty to read online as it is!

(I’ll also put up a link here to whichever blog I’ve written in on any particular day – for anyone wanting to keep up with all three types of posts.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

chick blog awards-announced

Sallie at Two Talent Living has, in the past few weeks, undertaken a mammoth project. She (with her hubby's help) devised the "2005 Blogs of Beauty Award" for women bloggers in 14 categories complete with a handsome graphic for the winners to display on their blogs.

The finalists (along with all nominations) are up here. Anyone (not only women) can vote. Voting ends 8:00 p.m. EST Tuesday December 6th.

**********************************

UPDATED:

So, if you're following this, the awards are up here (and I'm grinning, because three of the winners, Rebecca Writes, Wind Scraps and Windows to My Soul are blogs I read regularly, plus I voted for another winner as well. Am I in tune or what? (Or what. There were 14 categories so I scored 29% on that test.)

Anyway, now I have lots of great new blogs to check out

Congratulations to all the winners! Great job Sallie!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

christmas style -- trees on the runway

I guess I’m a real stuck-in-the-mud when it comes to decorating the tree – the same tree, the same ornaments, the same color scheme year after year. My boring predictability adherence to sweet tradition shows up when I read of some of the new trends in Christmas tree decorating.

Do you know, for example, that naked trees are in, that tone on tone makes for a "rich, well-dressed tree," and that you can produce a stunning effect with an artificial white tree? Find out how here.

Or maybe you’d like something really different. Apparently this year upside down fake trees are all the rage, so much so, Hammacher Schlemmer sold out of them weeks ago.

If you’re just wanting a richer traditional tree experience, check out these themed trees.


And for the geeks among us who’d like nothing better than to spend Christmas at the computer, a colorful number you plug into your USB port.

O Christmas Tree!

Monday, December 05, 2005

up on my soapbox

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a federal election campaign happening in Canada. We’re in the thick of it - with each night’s news headlined by what the respective leaders did this day.

One of this weekend’s big stories was what Conservative leader Steven Harper said to Peter Warren on his talk show Saturday morning. He actually admitted that if his wife was in pain needing a knee or hip replacement, he would (drum roll) "do whatever it takes" - even to the extent of paying for private services to get her help in a timely manner (GASP!).

Jack Layton - NDP leader - when asked the same question said that he and partner Olivia Chow have discussed the matter and they would (in my words) let each other suffer in order not to go outside Canada’s publically funded healthcare system.

In the hours since his politically incorrect admission, Harper has been asked repeatedly to clarify his position. Predictably, even the reporters color how he’s responded, preambling their video clips with language like "He tried to defend his position in Victoria...blah, blah, blah..." making it sound as if this has him on the ropes.

As usual I’m shaking my head in disbelief. Since when is it a scandal to admit that you’d "do whatever it takes" to provide for the health and well-being of your family. Only in the socialist Canada of 2005 where it’s a crime to drop your own hard-earned coin for needed medical procedures provided privately, because it means you jump the que and we all have to be equal and prop up this limping system by limping ourselves! Only in socialist Canada – a country where the ideological atmosphere is so pink, even a little common sense turns the air purple!

I like how Winston Churchill summed it up: Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy.

Whew, now I feel better!!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

twisted christmas?

The pace quickens. This is the week of "Christmas With a Twist" – our church’s annual Christmas production. Our choir sings four songs as well as leads in the carol singing. That means dress rehearsals Tuesday and Wednesday, and five performances - Thursday to Sunday. Ernie and I have been as excited as little kids about this. Then yesterday he got word that what we feared is about to happen.

His 85-year-old parents live in a city four hours’ drive away, near his brother. The health of both his mom and dad has been deteriorating for a while now. But lately things have come to a head. The long and short of it is, they will be moved from their townhouse to an assisted living place (though they don’t know it yet - they’re very resistant to the idea) this coming Saturday. And so instead of being part of the Christmas concert, hubby will spend the weekend with his family.

I’m a bit bummed out. I was so looking forward to us doing this together. But I know he needs to be there with his mom, dad, brother and sis at this traumatic time. If you think of it, pray that his parents will be able to handle the news that they are moving (on short notice - I think they’re to be told Thursday), and that the move will go smoothly.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I blogged here today.

Friday, December 02, 2005

how the natal star was born

The Son vanishes just after I am sent
to the Galilean virgin
and heaven isn’t the same.
Gone the laughter, mischief, hijinks.
Music replaced by silence
all monochromatic, sober
like the life of the party has left
and we don’t have the will
to keep partying or to go home.

The Almighty’s been moody since then
broods like never before
over calendars and seasons,
looks down a lot, mostly toward Nazareth
at this blossoming virgin-still
and her earthmate.

The day this couple sets off down the road
He starts pacing... pacing... pacing...
When they get to Bethlehem
it’s pacepacepace.
Then He pauses
"Hush!"

All the hosts of heaven stop their chatter,
crowd behind Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David
peer over the balcony
focus on a dark building
near a sign that blinks "Sorry - No Vacancy"
It’s so quiet you can hear the stars hum.

Then, cutting the night
tiny and tremulous
"A-wah, a-wah, a-wah, a-wah."

The Almighty laughs His magnificence
tosses His glory, flings His radiance
and then starts handing out
cig–, no trumpets
to every angel within arm’s reach.
"Go tell somebody, anybody!"

After they’ve left He asks for the bubbly
shakes it up
pops the cork
sprays it all over heaven.

--V. Nesdoly c. 2004

**************************

In mid-September I submitted this poem to the first "Christmas Presence Writing Competition" put on by Pacific Theatre in Vancouver ("...Pacific Theatre is seeking poetry, short stories, sketches, and personal essays -- either serious or comic original pieces reflecting on Christmas").

Yesterday I got an email. The poem above tied for first place with another piece! The prize: Hubby and I get to attend one Christmas Presence presentation (we've picked Dec. 19th) and will hear Ron Reed, Pacific Theatre's artistic director, read the above. AND, we also win "Everything Passes" to the remaining productions of Pacific Theatre's season. HOW SWEET IS THAT !?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

career or calling?

The first intimation Pastor Harvey Trauter’s message on the morning of November 20th* would be special was the verse (Ephesians 2:10) quoted at the top of the sermon outline. Only an hour or so earlier, I’d spent about 20 minutes of my quiet time cementing that exact verse in my memory!

The text was from the Old Testament - the story of God talking to Moses through the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-22). From the story, pastor pointed out the difference between a career and a calling.

Up to this point, Moses had had a career. Several actually. Because he’d started out as prince material in Pharaoh’s palace. When he disqualified himself by murdering an Egyptian, he fled the country and took up herding sheep. By now he was 80-ish.

However, if he thought he was nearly finished, God didn’t. For on this day, a bush which refused to stop burning caught his attention. He wandered over, God talked to him and the upshot of the conversation was a new assignment – a calling: to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt.

Part of God’s interchange with Moses involved a command about his staff – that shepherd-tool which signified his career in identity, income and influence. God told him to throw it down – in other words, let go of it. When he did, the staff came to life, writhed, became a snake. In other words, it went from being a natural tool for his own benefit, to a supernatural tool for God’s benefit.

And so it is with a career versus a calling.

A career is something we choose to do for ourselves. It is the route to status, money and power. We own it and decide what we do next to further it. Its rewards are visible but temporary. It can be interrupted by events that come along. It can easily become our god. It ends with retirement.

A calling, on the other hand, is something we receive from God. It promises difficulty and even suffering. It is something we become responsible to steward because God has given it to us. God enables us to fulfill our calling despite the most unlikely events. A calling isn’t over until we die, and its significance lasts for eternity.

Answering God’s calling will always involving handing our ‘career’ (that which identifies us, and gives us income and influence) to Him. When we do that, we have no guarantee we’ll ever get it back. In fact, if we do, we never will get it back in the same way. For it will become a tool in God’s hands for God’s purposes (and that might look radically different from what we had in mind in the first place).

Again I was challenged to think beyond labels – wife, mother, medical typist, writer – and, in fact, to take my hand off anything there that would usurp itself as a ‘career.’ Instead, I need to pursue my ‘calling.’

Which is...? Because unlike Moses, I can’t say I’ve been given such a specific assignment or clear-cut direction.

Lots of ‘calling’ images come to mind: being a fisher of men, being a branch and Jesus is the vine, being a kernel of wheat that falls into the ground and dies. The most compelling for me, though, is the image of being a bond-slave. Oswald Chambers comments eloquently about this on the November 3rd reading in My Utmost for His Highest.

"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me." Galatians 2:20

These words mean the breaking of my independence with my own hand and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus....It means breaking the husk of my individual independence of God....Will I give up, will I surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions whatever as to how the break comes? I must be broken from my self-realization....I deliberately sign away my
own rights and become a bond-slave of Jesus Christ.....This College as an organization is not worth anything, it is not academic; it is for nothing else but for God to help Himself to lives. Is he going to help Himself to us, or are we taken up with our conception of what we are going to be?

I am convinced that only by such relinquishment will we be able discover God’s calling and live out the destiny for which we were created: "For we are God’s own handiwork, His workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew that we may do those good works which God predestined, planned beforehand for us, taking paths which He prepared ahead of time – living the good life which He pre-arranged and made ready for us to live." - Ephesians 2:10 Amplified.


- For more on this topic, read "Led not Driven" by Vicki at Windows to My Soul.

Monday, November 28, 2005

7 x 7

The lovely Catez at Allthings2all has tagged me to join in on the seven sevens meme. So, here are my seven answers to the seven questions.

I Seven things to do before I die:
1. Write a novel
2. Publish a(nother) book of poems.
3. Travel in Israel
4. Go across Canada (with hubby) and visit all the provinces and territories we haven’t yet been to.
5. Live beside water (preferably the ocean).
6. Go on a missions trip.
7. Vacation in Hawaii.

II Seven things I cannot do:
1. Water ski
2. Snowboard and downhill ski.
3. Climb mountains (especially when it involves ropes, harnesses, rock screws or ice picks, crampons etc.)
4. Handle heights especially when on a ladder.
5. Cross streams on narrow things like logs.
6. Watch scary movies.

III Seven things that attract me to [my spouse or significant other or best friend]:
1. His sense of humor - we laugh a lot.
2. His integrity.
3. His loyalty, to friends, family, church leadership.
4. His generosity, especially when it’s expressed in lines like: "Want to eat out?"
5. The fact that he is not bound or limited by traditional gender responsibilities (e.g. since he’s retired and I’m not, he does the laundry and most of the cooking!).
6. He doesn’t try to control me.
7. He puts God first.

IV Seven things I say (or write) most often:
1. basically
2. yikes
3. hmmm
4. indeed
5. alas
6....in that vein ...
7....in that department ...

V Seven books or series I love:
1. The Mark of the Lion historical fiction series by Francine Rivers - the best historical Christian fiction I’ve ever read.
2. Levi’s Will - by Dale Cramer. Well-written story, straight from the heart.
3. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. Wonderful suspenseful storytelling.
4. My Friend Flicka - by Mary O’Hara. I loved this book as a kid. When I read it again a few years ago, I liked it even more, because as a parent, I now saw how wise it was.
5. Christ’s Witchdoctor - by Homer Dowdy. Some of the best creative nonfiction I’ve ever read. Read an excerpt here.
6. The Book of Small by Emily Carr. Not only is Carr a renowned painter. She’s also a fine writer.
7. Hateship, Courtship, Friendship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro - or any short story collection by Alice Munro. I read her not because I agree with her worldview but for the writing.

VI Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time).
(Warning - this list is pretty pathetic. I’m not into movies much)
1. My Fair Lady
2. Fiddler on the Roof
3. Dr. Zhivago
4. Sleepless in Seattle
5. Mr. Holland’s Opus
6. Mrs. Doubtfire
7. The Forsyte Saga (I’m not sure this is a movie - I saw it as a TV series).

VII Seven people I would invite to join in too:
If you’re reading this and would like to be part of this meme - consider yourself invited (let me know and I'll link you on the list)!
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

a christmas chain

I am the writer of our family’s annual Christmas letter. I have, in my ‘Christmas’ file, a copy of each one I’ve written! One of these years (maybe this one) I’ll make a photocopy of each and compile scrapbooks for my now-adult kids. But before I indulge in that luxury, I’ve set myself the task of writing this year’s.

For me the hardest part of composing this yearly newsletter is getting started. To help me with that I usually reread past versions to see how I’ve done it before. And so on Friday, I hauled out the Christmas file and flipped through this family history-in-letters.

The first thing that hit me was how technology has changed things. The earliest letters were handwritten on lined notepaper. A couple of years after that I designed letters that folded into cards with calligraphy or pen-and-ink drawings on the front. I painstakingly printed the artwork and the letter itself on parchment paper those years to keep the ink from fuzzing, as it did if I used porous bond paper.

In 1990 I must have hauled out my old manual Olympus to do the Christmas letter - because it definitely has the typewriter look (white-out and all). Then in 1991 I used a borrowed word processor. Finally in 1992 I got a computer which I’ve used till the present, printing each year’s letter on different Christmas stationary.

In addition to mirroring advances in technology, a bit of the history of the times comes through these letters too. For example the 1990 letter begins:


In only a few more weeks 1990 will be history. It has truly been an amazing year in our world, with the unexpected toppling of much of the Eastern Bloc, the sudden flare-up in the Middle East and looming uncertainties throughout our country as befuddled politicians tackle one brush fire after another...

(My goodness, that last bit could be a description of Canadian politics right now!)

In 1997 a mail strike was looming and that year’s letter started out:


To write or not to write that is the question,
Whether the mail will move we do not know
But when it comes to friends, e’en the suggestion
That we’d forget them’s answered with a ‘No!'

And a year later, as email became the favorite mode of communication for me, I jingled:


Email would be faster
a visit even better,
but as tradition would dictate,
from us a Christmas letter....

The most favorite part of rereading these letters, though, is reliving times with the kids when they were little. Here are a few favorite bits.

From the 1990 letter when B. had just turned five:


...This is a conversation we overheard between him and a little boy in the next seat on the ferry this summer. They were watching some object in the sky.

Little Boy: ...maybe it will go as high as Santa Claus.

B.: Santa Claus is a sham

Little Boy: (silence)

B: Do you know what a "sham" is? It’s a fake.

We nervously glanced at the little boy’s parents and were
relieved when the two boys started talking about something else.


And from that same letter:


S’s comeback to B’s endless knock-knock jokes:

B.: Knock-knock

S.: This is a recording. There is nobody home.


Finally, from the 1993 letter, when S. was 10 and not the keenest pianist:


...I brought some dispute between the children re: piano practice times to Ernie, our resident mediator and after he suggested a solution to the problem, he declared, "I’m as good as Solomon," at which point I heard S. mutter, "Yeah, cut the piano in half!"

Alas, reading all these old letters brings me no closer to starting this year’s. But I’ll think of a way to begin it in due course. Because I wouldn’t want to break this letter chain– which already spans 20 years!

Friday, November 25, 2005

christmas is up!


Today being the 25th and all, when I think of the amount I need to get done in the next month, I start to hyperventilate! How did Christmas sneak up on me again!?

But Christmas is up here at the blog (so I can strike that off my to-do list). In the sidebar, just under ‘Archives’ are a few posts, seen here before (but we always use last year’s decorations, don’t we?), to help you get in the mood of the season.

(Psst - that little booklet of Christmas poems - A Night Not to be Silent - was reviewed in the fall 2005 issue of Time of Singing.)


beautiful female blogger awards

Sallie at Two Talent Living has organized the "2005 Blogs of Beauty Awards." You can nominate your favorite blogs (female bloggers) in 14 categories. Nominations close Tuesday, Nov. 29, finalists will be posted November 30th for voting; voting ends December 6th with winners announced December 7th.

(I've got my list of nominees all picked!)

Hat Tip: Windows to My Soul

Thursday, November 24, 2005

happy thanksgiving

to our neighbors in the U.S.!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

how hip are you?

Paul McFedries tracks the ever-changing landscape of language on his web site The Word Spy. I spent wasted an hour or so there yesterday (that’s what I do when I’m overwhelmed with stuff to do - like Christmas prep!)

Here are a few newly coined words, randomly picked out of hundreds. Can you spot the correct definition for these word-mortiphications?

[That last is mine: word-mortiphication (mor ti fi CA shun) noun. A word that has morphed, though mortified in the process, into new usage.]


chatterati (chat.uh.RAT.ty) n.
1. Animals known for their chattering calls.
2. The elite members of the chattering classes.

glurge (GLURJ) n.
1. A sentimental or uplifting story, particularly one delivered via e-mail, that uses inaccurate or fabricated facts; a story that is mawkish or maudlin; the genre consisting of such stories.
2. The street garbage that inevitably finds its way to the bottom of one's shoe.

grandboomer (GRAND.boo.mur) n.
1. The CEO of any organization.
2. A grandparent who is a part of the baby boom generation.

himbo (HIM.boh) n.
1. The guy who likes to draw attention to himself by showing up in a bow-tie.
2. A man who is good-looking, but unintelligent or superficial.

innovicide n.
1. To kill a new or unusual idea.
2. The practice of demolishing old motels and inns and replacing them with new ones.

nooksurfer n.
1. A person who frequents only a limited number of Internet sites.
2. A surfer who looks for undiscovered and exotic places to surf.

plunderphonics n.
1. The practice of mutilating language by spelling words phonetically
2. A musical technique that creates a new piece of music by mixing passages from a number of existing songs.

rawist (RAW.ist) n.
1. A person who eats only unprocessed, unheated, and uncooked food, especially organic fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains.
2. A person with an undeveloped sense of decorum.

schmooseoisie n.
1. The class of people who make their living by talking.
2. People who crash cocktail parties.

Monday, November 21, 2005

ground beef vegetable soup

1 lb. ground beef
2 tsp. salt
c tsp. pepper
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium potato or rutabaga, cubed
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
16 oz. can tomatoes, undrained. (I use crushed tomatoes)

Brown ground beef and drain excess fat.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Simmer covered 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

5-6 servings.

(From my Pillsbury Kitchens’ Family Cookbook)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

a prayer

A Prayer to be in Paradise With the Children - by John Terpstra

When I must come to you, o my God, I pray
it be in the early hours of that day,
and just as on these mornings I would rather sleep
I beg the lively company to keep
of kids, in Paradise, where rest and rising meet.
My eyes will open, I will yawn and stretch,
and to the children jumping on the bed
I shall say, "I am Johannes Terpstra,
and this is Paradise, at your pleasure."
And I shall say to them, "This house has many rooms,
its hallways are for running, take the stairs in twos,
and we'll play inside the mansions of our living God,
for all doors open to the treasures of his kinderlove."

- read more

Saturday, November 19, 2005

peanuts, anyone?

Franklin
You are Franklin!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

hat tip: Kim

teach me


teach me
the sweet leisureliness
of being a lily
the implicit trust
of my child-hand
in Yours
the unlikely joy
that sings sparrow-songs
even when I'm on the ground

V. Nesdoly © 2005

********
Matthew 6:25-34; 10:29-31

Friday, November 18, 2005

promptings potpourri

Church vs. State: a "War" with Christianity

"The Canadian regime...is trying to reshape Canadian souls." That’s what Joe Woodard, a columnist for the Calgary Herald thinks. Some story trends he predicts we’ll see in secular Canadian media during the next ten years:

1. The official Canadian ideology of multiculturalism is just that: Ideology, or "propaganda masquerading as fact." This will result in ‘Conflict between Church and State’ stories

2. The Christian revival in Canada - the new (and for many inexplicable) popularity of resurgent Christianity among Generation-X and Gen-Y...

3. Exploring non-Christian beliefs in support of multiculturalism

4. Celebrating "spirituality" as distinct from "organized religion."

This presentation to a conference of the Centre for Faith and the Media (October 21-22/05 - Ottawa) is a must-read for Canadian Christians. It’s here.

Hat-tip: Ernie

************

My Dear Despicable Wormwood,

You magnificent wretch. I am delighted to hear of your progress....

[...] Good news! The latest commendations have arrived from the Council of Pit. You impress the lower-down, my zealous Wormwood. They have heard of your schemes on the Noise Proliferation Committee (NPC). Indeed, places of solitude and moments of silence grow ever more scarce in the Enemy’s vast and vulgar dominion. Oh what euphoria to see his insufferable creatures rush to fill the dead air with a cacophony of cell phones and muzac, leaf blowers and manipulated car exhaust pipes, 24-hour news and I-Pods. Those nauseating humans cannot escape their self-made dungeon of din!


- from "A Kingdom of Noise: A Screwtape Letter for the Media Age" by Erik Lokkesmoe.

Hat-tip: Marilyn in Thunder Bay

************
Do you know your neighbors? Catez at Allthings2all does. She writes:

Last week my computer monitor on my home pc blew up. It was a dramatic event with sparking and cracking noises. I mentioned this to my neighbour shortly before flying off in my car to buy another monitor... A couple of days later I went to the supermarket at the end of the day. As I was walking back to my car some-one called out to me. It was my neighbour's husband, who had stopped in at the same carpark after work. He asked about my computer monitor and of course I gave him a description of the drama and the news I had another one. He was very pleased for me. Just a short chat in a carpark. As I went to my car afterward it occurred to me that if I didn't know my neighbours I would have walked past him without noticing, he wouldn't have called out to me - the six degrees of separation would be firmly positioned between us.

Now that we’re on the doorstep of the Christmas season – a time when neighborly overtures are almost guaranteed to be met with an open heart, Catez’s post "Meet the Neighbors" is timely, as well as inspiring and practical.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

more thankfulness

I hope you’ve been getting your daily Thankful Vitamin from Rebecca and Julana. What an uplifting blog theme for November!

I want to add my item of thankfulness to theirs today. We’re one day away from being done with the whole ‘move mum’ thing and I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness through this time.

If you’ve read here before, you’ll know that at the end of September, Mum put a down payment on an assisted living suite in the town where I live (vs. 45 minutes down the highway where she’s spent the last 20 years).

That put us on a wild ride of sorting, boxing, garbaging, recycling, and taking loads and more loads to the thrift store to clear out the apartment Mum had lived in for 20 years. It would probably be one of the seven wonders of the world if it became known - the amount of stuff one little lady can squeeze into a 1000 sq. foot suite!

Many times during the process I nearly despaired. What would we do with all the furniture - good and serviceable but really not worth very much to anyone else. And then there were the appliances, and all the dishes, pots, pans, craft supplies, stocked pantry, fridge and freezer. More than once I lay awake mulling over all this, falling asleep only after I had once again committed the whole endeavor to God.

Yesterday my brother and sis-in-law came with a rented U-Haul and, bless their hearts, took away the last of the appliances and furniture and many many boxes. Now all that’s left are a few boxes and some odds and ends of furniture that we can take to the thrift shop with the car...and a suite that needs a good vacuum and scrub. That’s on my list for tomorrow.

This morning in my quiet time I read:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose hope is in the Lord
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NKJV)

I would say - yes! Most of the things I allowed myself worry over never came about! Where I leaned on God, my trust was well-placed.

What ‘heat’ are you in right now? What would be your ‘year of drought’? I encourage you to stop worrying and trying to figure it all out. Instead, trust in the Lord. Of coursed you do need to do the next thing. But you also need to wait for Him to work. Sometimes that will mean seizing the opportunity (like showing someone what’s left of the furniture even as the movers are there; he ended up buying the TV stand right on the spot). Sometimes it will mean waiting (like just not feeling ‘right’ about giving the apartment key -- when he asked -- to one of mum’s neighbors to show the appliances to perspective buyers. It turns out we didn’t need buyers; my brother took each and every one!)

Often during this time I felt this project was out of my control. Often I had to lecture myself with reminders of Who was. But the end result has been a crop of peace and the feeling of a job well. That’s a way better than high blood pressure, a stomach-full of ulcers, and a legacy of broken relationships because of my up-tightness.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

do you know Him?

You will fall in wonder, awe and love all over again. "That's My King!" (click to watch preview - 3:32)

(toque-tip: Julie in Salmon Arm)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

whys and wherefores of poetry

So, are we carnivalled out yet?! I hope not. Because this happens to also be the day the newest poetry carnival gets posted.

The 6th Poetry Carnival: Ars Poetica explores, in poetry,

What is a poem? Why do we write? As poets, what is the experience -- the process -- of writing, and how is it different from the experience of having finally written?


Thank you, Trebuchet, for hosting!

november fiction celebration

Window Shopping Edition


Welcome to November’s Celebration of the New Christian Fiction - Window Shopping Edition (aka - the Writer’s Craft Fair).

Let me take your coat. Enjoy the Christmas decorations, and the carols musaking in the background.* The barista will stir up your favorite beverage.

Now go, browse the variety of offerings. I just know you’re going to find something irresistible to add to your Christmas list - or to the list of your favorite writer-friend.

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Chris Well (in his CCM Magazine Blog) interviews Eric Wilson, author of Dark to Mortal Eyes (WaterBrook Press), the first in a series of suspense novels exploring the five senses. Eric's title alone has more layers than deep-dish lasagna!

(Pssst - check out the link to Chris’s own newly published novel at the bottom of the post!)

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"What’s so great about a toolbox is, it’s never too full," Linda at Lindaruth’s Spot tells us (good line to remember next time someone remarks about too many writing books!). She displays a tempting array in "Writing is a craft so you need tools."

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Here’s the quiz question from teacher/writer San (Aspire2 Blog): Who said "Writing is the hardest way of earning a living–with the possible exception of wrestling alligators"? Find the answer plus a gift-basket of writing resources in "Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers."

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If Pat of Deep POV: Confessions of a Christian Writer were marooned on a desert island, what would be her second choice of a book to take with her? Find out in "A Writing Book Recommendation."

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Elleann at Blogfish is sure she’s discovered a winner of a book and lets us in on the secret in "Tell me a Story!" (Hmmm - I’m getting a sense of what might be on my Christmas list!)

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Melanie at My Writing Adventure has her table strewn with some "Irresistible Fiction." Yum!

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Dee at Christian Fiction gives us an in-store demo in her post "Halo’s Eve Tip #1 - Need the Hook-up." I was intrigued by the route she took to come to the conclusion: "...writing simple is very hard."

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Paula at GraceReign slips several tips (e.g....if you are trying to discern where to spend your writing dollars, don't forget Christian writer's conferences) like gift certificates, into her recommended basket of goodies on display at "Writer Resources."

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Kathleen at Reading, Writing and...What Else is There? has found her dream mentor. She's spreading the word in "From Where You Dream."

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Finally, visit my own little stall (promptings) in the food court for menu tips on "a balanced diet for christian writers."

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Oh dear, here comes Marcia - looking a little disheveled and frazzled for being late and all, but loaded with goodies for her very own booth of "Writer’s Resources." No problem. Welcome to the fun. (In all the excitement she forgot to tell us how to get that last little item on her list, though. It’s here.)


Happy shopping everyone!!

* To keep the music playing in the background, click on the link to launch the song, then open this page again in a new browser. When music stops playing, click the > to begin the song again.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

a balanced diet for christian writers

(My 'craft table' for the November Window Shopping edition of "Celebration of the New Christian Fiction" blog carnival.)

Bread and Wine



My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald (and Binnie) Chambers

Next to the Bible, this little devotional by Oswald Chambers (and painstakingly compiled by his wife Binnie after his death) has done more in the last few years to shape my outlook as a Christian than any other book. Interestingly, I discovered it through fiction – Jan Karon’s Mitford books, where you’ll recall Pastor Tim often quotes from O.C.

The meditations characteristically take a view which runs counter to the popular wisdom of how to succeed – in life and as a writer. In that vein, however, they ring true to Kingdom of God principles (‘The great reversal" Eugene Peterson calls them in The Message). As a result this little book has rocked my world more than once as it has put me face to face with the fact that success by the world's standards (in whatever my chosen field of endeavor) holds no weight with God. Highly recommended for daily consumption.

(Note: I see there is an "Updated version in today’s language" available. I’d say nix on that! Chambers’ interesting use of language is one of the things that makes this book so appealing.)

Comfort Food




Beyond the Words by Bonni Goldberg

This is my current favorite book in the "hold my writer’s hand" category ('Bird by Bird,' 'Page After Page,' 'Writing Down the Bones' would be similar). Ms. Goldberg has spent a lot of time teaching writers. In this book she shares what she’s learned on her own writing journey as well as what she’s discovered from helping others. The result is an intuitive and sympathetic read.

Her thesis is that there are three facets of the writing process, beyond the physical act of putting words on paper or monitor, which must be in balance for the creative process to have free flow. These are percolation, revision and going public.

I found the first section on percolation especially encouraging. It put into words what I have often felt – that something was happening on my current writing project even when I wasn’t physically at my desk. In this section of eight chapters Ms. Goldberg brings out, among other things, the necessity for balance in the activities of living (vs. being permanently glued to one’s task chair), the value of input from books and other media, and the importance of being aware of one’s own creative processes. She suggests strategies to aid percolation and advises giving onself permission to take the time needed to let ideas grow organically.

Editing is one of my favorite activities, so there weren’t as many "aha" moments for me in the six-chapter "Revision" section. But again in the final "Going Public" six chapters of the book, I felt understood as I rarely had before. Here Goldman discusses reasons for and against going public with writing. She uncovers the dangers of going public too soon and shows how unmet expectations may be the cause of feeling blocked. She exposes the folly of hoping to get emotional needs met by the responses (to our writing) of others and, conversely, the sometimes-ignored fact that writing kept only to oneself is also self-defeating.

Each chapter ends with a section called "Practice" which includes a variety of exercises, both writing and physical (the latter seemed yoga-ish to me and some were a bit off-the-wall).

All in all, this book helped me understand the inner machinations of my writing self. I’d recommend it to writers of any genre, with any amount of writing experience.

Creativity Candy



Story Spinner

This hand-held gadget promises to activate the creative juices of writers, artists, actors and storytellers alike. It’s a sturdy cardboard circle thing with, on one side recipes (e.g. "Whine and Cheese": 1 Starter, 6 Words. Complain to your heart’s content about something) and on the other, three circles with slits that dial up to‘words,’ ‘starters,’ and ‘settings.’

Here are the instructions on the spinner:
1. Get a scrap of paper, watch and writing tool.
2. Dial up a recipe.
3. Turn the 3 wheels on the flip side to reveal the ingredients for your stories.
4. Set the timer for 10 minutes...create your story.

I’ve had mine for a while (....and haven’t actually used it – gulp). But I will, I will – as soon as I find a few minutes to play!

Friday, November 11, 2005

...let's not forget


Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians customarily observe 2 minutes of silence to reflect on our freedom and the men and women who sacrificed so we could have it.

Here is a story about that day.

On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a Shoppers Drug Mart store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the store’s PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.

Terry was impressed with the store’s leadership role in adopting the Legion’s "two minutes of silence" initiative. He felt that the store’s contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.

When eleven o’clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the "two minutes of silence" to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.

Terry’s anger towards the father for trying to engage the store’s clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, "A Pittance of Time". Terry later recorded "A Pittance of Time" and included it on his full-length music CD, "The Power of the Dream".

Read more...

Watch video - "A Pittance of Time" (click on ‘Video’)

Thank you, Terry, for reminding us in this poignant way of the meaning of this day, and that we need to keep the torch of gratitude burning.

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Who is Terry Kelly?

A native of Newfoundland, in 1979 Terry Kelly won two silver medals in the Canadian Track Championships and was a member of the Canadian track team that competed in the 1980 Paralympics. He is the third blind person in the world to run the mile in under 5 minutes.

He is a musician and has recorded five CDs. His project "The Power of the Dream" "is the first commercially-produced music CD in the world that includes Braille on the liner notes and is packaged so that the entire text contents can be accessed by the blind, the visually impaired and sighted alike from the enhanced CD."

In 2000 he was presented the King Clancy Award and in 2003 he was appointed by then- Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to the Order of Canada.

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