Monday, January 31, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.... and I feel sad - because the new addition took out all the comments - though I knew that would happen. (I changed my comment driver this morning when I got a nasty one and found I couldn't delete it with blogger.)

bottom of my resumé

As I mentioned last week, I’m doing a series of posts (Mondays) on work - looking over some of the jobs I’ve had on the way to where I am today (intro to the series is here).

My first job was back in high school as a piano teacher. I say that and pinch myself - because I haven’t played the piano with any seriousness in years. But back in Grade 9, when I was in my musical heyday I got up around six every morning to practice scales, arpeggios, four-note chords, and pieces till they flowed like oil from my hands.

All the hours of practice were fueled by dreams of becoming a professional musician. Trouble was, classical piano training put you on the road to not a lot of options. Besides playing for pleasure - which was hardly a career direction – you could teach, do accompaniment (which I never considered since I was horrible at sight-reading) or become a concert pianist. I set my sights on the latter.

The hard work paid off. When I took my Grade IX Royal Conservatory piano exam I passed with First Class Honors. And my work paid off in another area as well. The fall I began Grade 10 someone who was organizing music lessons for the small town where I grew up had the idea of employing some of us kids. And so I was offered the job of giving piano lessons to beginners on Saturday mornings.

The novelty of being a piano teacher lasted a few weeks and then reality set in. There was not much glamour in spending half-hour segments with little kids who’d rather be playing outside. I found drilling lines and spaces, listening to stumbling renditions of "London Bridge," and nagging about details like following fingering and counting out the rhythm just plain boring.

My dreams of starring on the concert stage were also taking a beating. As I settled in to high school in town, the thought of spending hours alone each day at the piano was suddenly no longer as important as spending time with friends. And it’s hard to be realistic about being a piano performer when your hands respond to nervousness by trembling, and you find playing in front of an audience more of a traumatic ordeal than a pleasure.

As the realization grew that I would never make it as a professional musician and certainly didn’t want to be a piano teacher, my dedication to music waned. But the creative energy I'd channeled into music had begun to find another outlet. I had begun to write. In fact I’d even saved enough money from teaching those lessons to buy a little typewriter!

And how did I use that typewriter? I joined a kids’ writing club (Young Co-Operators Club) sponsored by The Western Producer - and experienced my first taste of publication, under the pseudonym of "Nell" (a name which, by the way, I still use in some of the writing forums of which I’m a member).

Sunday, January 30, 2005

kingdom paradox

from A. W. Tozer:


The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than ever before and he fully expects to live forever....Like the nighthawk, which in the air is the essence of grace and beauty but on the ground is awkward and ugly, so the Christian appears at his best in the heavenly places, but does not fit well into the ways of the very society into which he was born....

That he may be safe he puts himself in jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it. He goes down to get up. If he refuses to go down he is already down, but when he starts down he is on his way up.

He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong. Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes rich his ability to enrich others vanishes. He has most after he has given most away and has least when he possesses most.

He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless when he is most conscious of sin. He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge. He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still. In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow.

Excerpt from That Incredible Christian by A. W. Tozer, Christian Publications Inc., © 1964

********

Kingdom Waltz

First is last
Small is great
Give to get
Learn to wait

Proud is low
Humble high
God attends
Mourner’s cry

Take the pain
Turn the cheek
Bless the poor
Help the weak

Serve unsung
Always pray
Fast unseen
Joy each day

Love, not hate
All forgive
Win the crown
Die to live

God the light
Christ we’ll meet
Crowns will cast
At His feet.
© 2004 - V. Nesdoly

Saturday, January 29, 2005

carrot cake

This carrot cake recipe is from one of those community project cookbooks - Favorite Recipes - Senior Citizens Organization, Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. The name beside it is Mrs. Vera Bornyk. I got the book from Baba, Ernie's grandmother.

Carrot Cake

1½ cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
4 eggs
3 cups grated carrots
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup coconut
1 cup walnuts
2 tsp. cinnamon
(cherries or mixed fruit may be added)

Beat sugar with oil, add carrots. Beat in one egg at a time. Add dry ingredients, then add coconut and walnuts.

Pour into 13 x 9 inch or Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 until done (toothpick inserted in thickest part comes out clean – 45-60 minutes, if in Bundt pan, it may take a little longer).


Cream Cheese Icing

1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese - at room temperature
2 - 3 cups sifted icing sugar.
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix and spread on cooled cake.

party postmortem

I invited some friends over to share Ernie’s birthday cake with us last night. The party was a great success (although I’m really glad I didn’t try to keep it a surprise from the birthday boy)!

First everyone got acquainted by telling how they’d met Ernie (I had invited friends from various segments of his life – his highschool buddy, a friend from when he was single, his long-time prayer partner, our next-door neighbors and new friends from our cell group - though sadly his high school buddy never showed up).

Next Marilyn (wife of Joe, the friend from bachelor days), who had brought her guitar and nimble fingers, trotted out her Newfoundland repertoire - "Aunt Martha’s Sheep" "The Unicorn Song, " "Alouette" - sung in Russian style and a great hit because she is such a natural entertainer. Then the twelve of us joined in by picking our favorites from a sheet of camp songs and adding percussion with a bagful of noisemakers – lots of rattley seedpod-looking thingys, maracas, a tambourine, and a kids’ set of cymbals which, thankfully, no one used! Randy (the prayer partner) and Val had brought along grandkids whom they were babysitting (2 and 6 years). They sure added to the fun. Little Jayden, the 2-year-old, helped later by gathering all the disposable punch glasses for the garbage. When there was a little punch left in one, it was bottoms up into his own mouth!

We ended our singalong with "Happy Birthday" and generous helpings of carrot cake and ice-cream, and a nice buzz of conversation throughout the house.

When I was telling everyone of the night Sonia got engaged, Pam from next door burst out, Oh, that’s what that was! She’d seen, from her kitchen window, Matt’s friends set up the gazebo tent and white twinkle lights in the park where Matt later popped the question. At one point she’d even wondered whether she should call the cops. (I’m glad she didn’t see Matt’s friend hop over our back fence in the process - or she would have for sure!)

So, another birthday celebrated. I always find it’s worth all the preparation (and stress – for though I love having a houseful of people, my introverted side puts up a lot of arguments why this is not a good idea...) .

Friday, January 28, 2005

my hon...



A day to celebrate Ernie...

- chivalry lives on in him. When I was just getting to know him, I was impressed by the way he made sure I was still following his car in traffic on the way to a friend’s house, pulling over to wait if I got stopped by a red light. He still opens doors and pulls out my chair - if I remember to let him.

- he has certainly kept his side of the bargain to cherish 'in sickness and in health’? I especially appreciated his loyalty and patience during a couple of difficult pregnancies.

- with him I laugh a lot. He has a droll sense of humor that comes out in all kinds of surprising places.

- he’s a man of God - loves the Lord and wakes up with a song on his heart practically every morning. He has a booming opera-like voice to go along with it. He reins himself in most times - but I love it when in summer, I happen to hear his booming baritone, above the sound of the lawnmower.

- he is open-handed and generous. When I complain I have nothing to wear, it’s "Go buy yourself something." I guess that’s pretty safe, because he knows I don’t like to shop.
- he knows the value of the leisurely break. Each day (when it isn't raining - or snowing) we drive to one of about six nearby walking trails for a noon-hour walk.

- not defined by gender stereotypes, since he took early retirement last year he (get this) cooks the meals, does the grocery shopping and the laundry (while I do my medical typing and write). It doesn’t get much better than this.

But I’m cooking tonight - because today is his birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ERNIE!


Thursday, January 27, 2005

small family, big challenge

Ernie and I took the afternoon off yesterday to be with my niece Bonnie, her husband Duane and baby Adele. They’ve spent the last few days at Children’s Hospital, having Adele’s eyes checked. You see, at 4½ months it’s obvious she’s not seeing. She does respond to light a little, but her eyes don’t track or focus.

What a lovely little family they are - both parents so good with their daughter and taking everything in stride, baby sometimes crying, yes, but then falling asleep with her fingers in her mouth, a picture of sweet contentment. They got a diagnosis on this visit, and I think that helps. Now they have some idea of what they’re facing, and can read books and check the internet for information.

We filled in the five plus hours before their flight to Fort St. John with a trip to Ikea, a drawn out coffee at The Pantry, a drive along the beach and finally dropped them at the south terminal with hugs and lots of time to spare.

These kids face a huge challenge in the days ahead. But I know they’ll be okay. Because in addition to their naturally optimistic outlook, they have a strong faith in God.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Canada - a little tongue in cheek

On my drive back from picking up my work yesterday morning, I caught Mike McCardell on CKNW, doing a parody of a Johnny Carson take on Canada.

I love stuff like that and this piece was sly and clever. In a fit of unaccustomed cheek, I emailed Mike (yes, that Mike McCardell - the one that does the human interest spot on the 6 o’clock news over at Global every night) to see if he had the piece, would send it to me and if so (yikes, I can’t believe I asked this) would he give me permission to put it on my blog. He graciously said yes. Here it is. Thanks so much Mike!


CARSON'S CANADA

Can you imagine if Johnny Carson ever did his monologue about Canada... There is a country with a state of mind that is like a mind after it’s had a few martinis, Sez Johnny while swinging his imaginary golf club: Ok, so imagine you kill someone in Canada. You go to jail for six months, with time off for good behavior, which means you didn’t kill anyone else in jail, or if you did kill them you didn’t do it with prohibited weapons.

Now what exactly is a prohibited weapon? Well, that is being worked out by the government in a program that cost more than it would cost to run an army. So they got rid of the army.

And replaced it by a gun registry program which is trying to get people to register guns in a Country famous for not having guns. The gun registry program has replaced welfare as the largest expense by the government. Which means more Canadians are paying taxes to register guns that they don’t have in Canada than there are Canadians who are Not paying taxes after making a living washing windshields on the street, which is the second largest growth industry in the country after farming.

They are bright, these Canadians, says Johnny. Since winters are very long they have learned how to farm under light bulbs, in their basements.

And you don’t have to worry about cooking their farm products. They smoke it, such a pure and simple method.

And there is socialized medicine. No one pays for medical treatment up there, sez Johnny. The only problem is they haven’t found a cure for a local affliction called the waiting list, which kills more Canadians than cancer or heart disease.

And the funniest thing about all this, says Johnny, is …I got this not from my writers, but from the newspapers.

© 2005 by Mike McCardell


Women4God Blogs

Catez at Allthings2all has set up Women4GodBlogs. I'm in!

Raison d'etre, rationale and rules here

Instructions for joining here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

o recalcitrant computer

Fellow blogger Vicki at Windows to My Soul has almost had it with her computer. I post this bit of doggerel today for her and all of us who have a love-hate relationship with technology.

O RECALCITRANT COMPUTER

O recalcitrant computer
first you need a double booter
then the screen turns black and blue
only tattlers getting through:
"Nasty program -- it's a fact --
has performed illegal act
and at once will be shut down."
Do you wonder that I frown?

Turn the fool thing on again
and I get the message screen
"Last turned off improperly:
do it right -- you won't see me!"
Love to leave you (now don't smirk
when I need you for my work)
need you more than you need me;
techno co-dependency.

V.Nesdoly 2004

Monday, January 24, 2005

poetry carnival

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The first Poetry Carnival is up at Philsophical Poetry!


CROCUSES!

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My crocuses are blooming! Four shy mauve blooms, and lots of buds. Who would believe it - last week snow, this week flowers.

Now if only I had a digital camera...

you might be interested in...

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  • Susan from It’s a Beautiful Day gives a moving account of her recent trip home to China after eight years away. (January 21 posting - "I'm Back")

  • "Rape is one of the hardest of abortion cases. But my wife is not a tragic victim. She is the happy mother of four children," writes Robert Hart in his introduction to "Her Mother’s Glory." (Thanks to Amanda at Wittingshire for the heads up on this.)

do i love my job?

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Vancouver Canucks coach Marc Crawford wound up an interviewer recently by stating he loved his job as a coach, and wasn’t that one of the best things in life - to work at something you loved.

I’ve thought a lot about that in the intervening weeks. When I ask myself, how do I feel about my job, I can say the same thing: I love what I do - at least most of it, most of the time. To shore up my confidence that I’ve made the right career choices, and for those times I feel ambivalent I’ve decided to do a little back-tracking to examine how I come to be in the particular place I am. In the next few Mondays, then, I’m going to do some blogitating on work, some of the jobs I’ve had, how they suited me or didn’t, and what I’ve learned about myself, life and God’s leading along the way.

In 1990 as a parent of a kindergartner and preschooler, I came across the book Discovering Your Child’s Design (now out of print) by Ralph Mattson and Thom Black. The jacket notes promised this book would help me:
- See my child from a different perspective
- Observe repeated themes in my child’s actions
- Record and interpret significant behavior
- Identify the distinct qualities of each of my children
- Encourage each child to make the most of the gifts God has given him or her.

I purchased the book, read it, and bought into its premise that a parent’s responsibility was to discover each child’s unique design in order to help them experience social and school success and eventually guide them to a fulfilling career. Shortly I began what the authors suggested and set up a design journal for my two youngsters.

My success at keeping this journal was short-lived. I have about two or three entries for both of them and then silence. However, even though I wasn’t faithful in writing down what I observed, through the years I’ve been on the lookout for some of the things this book talked about. It made watchful for themes and consistencies in my kids’ behaviors. It helped me to see that how they interacted socially was a key to their personalities. It alerted me to the fact that each of them had individual learning styles.

Now that both of them are young adults, I’m not sure how much difference my observations made in my ability to steer either of them onto a career path. They seem to be doing that on their own without my helpful suggestions – thank you very much!

The other day as I was thinking about my own career path this book came to mind again, not as a tool to help my kids but as a way to help me sort out and understand my own design, albeit retrospectively. Yesterday I reread a big chunk of it and I realized I could use it as a lens through which to view my journey through work. I’ll be attempting to see where my life has been true to various themes, patterns and consistencies. I am confident that I will come away from this process more sure than ever that today I am in the right place - a place sympathetic to the way I was designed. In areas where I find my life is incongruent, perhaps I can still course-correct.

As you journey with me, why don't you examine the work milestones in your own life. Who knows what we will discover?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

family reunion

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Family Reunion

"Now he (Joseph) left the room and found a place where he could weep." Gen. 42:24

Those rugged Semite robes, that tangled hair,
how this one walks, another's face, those eyes...
They near, the smell of Canaan fills the air.
Ten sheaves bow down - a wondrous, cruel surprise.
"Your servants, twelve, are brothers, sons of one,
the youngest with our father, one is not."
Ha, that one is! My peace with past hard won,
I'll not go back. "To jail. You're spies and caught!
In Rachel's tongue one says, "It was that deed.
It's punishment for how we treated him;
He cried and begged for help, we paid no heed,
Now vengeance serves her cup filled to the brim."
What's this -- they're changed? Oh God, I healed that pain
Now it floods back, wounds open, bleed again.


Copyright©2002 by Violet Nesdoly

Saturday, January 22, 2005

adopted from the book bin

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Yesterday while grocery shopping at Superstore, I visited one of the cheap book bins. I think of these untidy piles of shopworn books as orphanages. They are the last chance for an authors’ brain child to attract a home before being bundled up and sent.... who knows where!

I don’t usually browse long. The odd jumble of steamy romance, outdated technical and cliche kid board books don’t hold much appeal. But yesterday, sitting right near the top, an attractive hard-cover volume caught my attention.

I picked it up, leafed through and was captured by the quality paper, attractive layout, and the abundance of full-color Victorian illustrations - from photos of greeting cards to reproductions of paintings. This was a veritable feast for the eyes. On top of that, its subtitle, Reviving Victorian Family Celebrations of Comfort and Joy suggested to me I might be able justify buying it as research for the children’s writing I do. Finally, I flipped it over to look at the price. Would you believe, this 255-page hardback book with a suggested retail of $44.50 (Can) could be mine for $5.95?

So I am now the proud owner of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions. I’m not crazy about the somewhat affected and Victorian voice of the writing with its patronizing tone and liberal use of "dear Reader" (though I concede, she'd have to do this in order to sustain the little conceit she has set up). But it’s a beautiful book otherwise, dispensing year-round activity suggestions for kids and families with common sense, a few recipes ("Mrs. Sharp’s Irish Soda Bread" and "Mrs. Sharp’s Hot Cross Buns" among others), and poems by Katharine Pyle.

Gather around kiddos, here’s one for today:

JANUARY.

The shrill wind blew about the house
And through the pines all night:
The snowflakes whirled across the fields
And hid the fence from sight.

By dawn the drifts had blown so deep
No horse nor sleigh could go:
The dog-house and the chicken-coops
Were buried in the snow.

There was no thought of school that day;
We worked with shovels all,
And cleared a path from house to barn;
The snow was like a wall.

I wished our house was covered up,
Like that one in the book
My Grandma showed to me one day
Beside the chimney-nook.

The story said the chimney-pot
Just showed above the snow,
And all day long the lamps were lit
Down in the house below.

Katharine Pyle 1863-1938

Friday, January 21, 2005

spicy lentil meatball soup

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There’s nothing like a big, fragrant pot of soup to take the chill off a winter evening. This lentil soup recipe is one I modified from the basic recipe found in the More-With-Less cookbook. The spicy meatballs give it a Middle Eastern flavor.

SPICY LENTIL MEATBALL SOUP

½ lb. (1½ cups) raw lentils
(rinse in colander under running water before cooking)
6 cups water

Cook lentils 30 minutes or until tender

While lentils are cooking prepare meatballs:

1 egg
1 pound ground beef
1 tbsp. parsley flakes
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder (or 1 fresh garlic - pressed through garlic press).
¼ tsp. pepper

In large bowl mix all ingredients.
Shape into 1-inch balls.
Heat medium no-stick skillet and cook meatballs until brown

Add to cooked lentils (and water):

4 carrots, chopped or sliced
½ cup sliced green onions
cooked meatballs
1 clove garlic, crushed
1½ cup tomato juice
1½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried oregano

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer just until carrots are tender.
Check seasonings and serve (with buttered whole wheat bread - yum!)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

round and about

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More invitations to polish a post and submit. Adrian Warnock's U.K. Evangelical Blog has announced a new blogger award, the "warnie".

Andrew is hosting a Poetry Carnival at Philosophical Poetry on January 24th.

After officially declaring January Robbie Burns month on her blog, Rebecca Writes has not let us down. Posted so far:

Stay tuned. I’m sure she has more Burns in the pantry.

All the articles I’ve read lately on blogging have me wondering what have I got myself into, and do I have the committment, the drive, the time? (After three months of being in the blog world, I realize one could make a career of reading blogs, let alone writing one!) Joe Zimmerman at letters from babylon posts thoughtful reflections on blogging and priorities in "Influence Small and Great."


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

pickings from the email grapevine


Subject: Hospital charts

Actual writings from hospital charts:

1. The patient refused autopsy.

2. The patient has no previous history of suicides.

3. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.

4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

6. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.

7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

9. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.

10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

12. She is numb from her toes down.

13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

14. The skin was moist and dry.

15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.

18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.

19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

20. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

21. Skin: somewhat pale but present.

22. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities

(Thanks to my very funny friend Jean - who is never stingy with a good laugh.)

Monday, January 17, 2005

ooops!

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Late one afternoon last summer we got a phone call from our son Ben.

"I’m in the hospital." (He was supposed to be at work!) "I got my foot with the nail gun." His words were a little slurred but he sounded happy. "They just got it out. I’m feelin’ pretty high."

It turns out he had indeed nailed his shoe to his foot with his nail gun and they’d had to remove it under anesthetic.

That is nothing, though, compared to what happened to Patrick Lawler while at work at a ski resort in Breckinridge, Colorado on January 6th.

The tool sent a nail into a piece of wood nearby, but Lawler didn't realize a second nail had shot through his mouth, said his sister, Lisa Metcalse.

Following the accident, Lawler had what he thought was a minor toothache and blurry vision. On Wednesday, after painkillers and ice didn't ease the pain, he went to a dental office where his wife, Katerina, works.

"We all are friends, so I thought the (dentists) were joking . . . then the doctor came out and said `There's really a nail,' " Katerina Lawler said. "Patrick just broke down. I mean, he had been eating ice cream to help the swelling."

Read the rest of the story here.

Just another example of real life giving the urban legend a run for its money!


dale cramer - writer extraordinaire

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In recent days Bethany House editor Dave Long has drawn the attention of readers of faith*in*fiction, to writer Dale Cramer and the short shrift his second novel, Bad Ground, has received from the CBA and thus also from the mega-store market – all this this after being one of the few CBA books chosen to be reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly.

I, for one, am not surprised Dale Cramer’s has been singled out by a literary force. While you’re shopping for his second book, why don’t you also check out his first? I read Sutter’s Cross a little over a year ago, and was so impressed, I wrote a book review - for which, sadly, there were no takers. If you need more convincing, consider my year-old thoughts, on Sutter's Cross below.

***********

Always on the prowl for good new Christian fiction, I found Sutter’s Cross, a first novel by W. Dale Cramer, a pleasant surprise.

The story is set in fictional Sutter’s Cross, a tourist town in the north Georgia mountains, and spans a summer. Cramer begins by plunking us into the middle of the Community Church’s annual fried chicken and potato salad feed. There we meet narrator Jake Mahaffey and a scruffy interloper named Harley - who immediately catches Jake’s eye because Harley is wearing his pants! The various responses of the church members to Harley plunge us immediately into one of the main themes of the book - the church, its role in the world and the reaction of its members to anything that challenges the status quo.

Early in the book, Cramer also introduces us to the Holcombe family - Web, a Vietnam veteran and now successful land developer, and Eddy his 12- year old son (along with Marcus, Eddy’s friend). The elder Holcombe is the self-appointed ‘King of Sutter’s Cross.’ He’d be Eddy’s king too, if only he’d show up once in a while! Not surprisingly, Web had father issues with his own dad, Will, as a youth. Through Will, Web and Eddy, Cramer explores the theme of fathers and sons.

But in Sutter’s Cross, Cramer has created far more than just a soapbox from which to deliver his take on various themes. He has the instincts of a master storyteller. Web Holcombe’s land development ambitions together with a petering out hurricane late in the story guarantee that there is no lack of conflict, intrigue and suspense. And this land development aspect of the story add home, stewardship of nature, and land to the list of themes.

Cramer has an elegant way with words. Note this description of what met Jake when he arrived at Agnes Dewberry’s cottage:

"... a black-and-tan coonhound crawled out from under the porch, stretched, yawned and posted himself by the steps, pawing at an ear with his hind foot. Past the south end of the house lay a two-acre truck patch whose keeper obviously understood the earth. The lush garden radiated a deep, cool, blue-green, with cornstalks already six feet high and tomatoes as big as
grapefruits." P. 22

But his prose also has its quirky side - which I think helps him draw his cast of believable characters. Here’s one of our first run-ins with Web Holcombe:

"Web hated Fridays. It seemed everybody in construction piddled around all week trying to figure out the best way to cheat the weekly percentages and then ended up busting their hump to get all the work done on Friday..." p.29

His characterization is also satisfying because of his skillful use of dialogue and the convincing but easy-to-read regional speech of country folks like Miss Agnes.

One of the ways this book impacted me personally, was to make me ask, who of the characters was I most like. I saw bits of myself in the down-to-earth Agnes Dewberry, the open-minded Jake, and his idealistic and courageous wife Lori. But I was also pricked by glimpses of self-recognition in the pompous, Bible-quoting (but not -living) Orde Wingo.

The book is divided into 49 chapters and ends with an Epilogue. Included at the end is a "Reading Group Discussion Guide" - a list of eleven discussion topics - making the book a great choice for in-depth individual study or discussion in a reading group

You’ll see similarities to the Sutter’s Cross plot in the movies "The Shepherd of the Hills," and "Joshua." It has the colorful characters and sense of community found in the Mitford Series books by Jan Karon. I’d recommend it highly for the fiction-lover side of you.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

what i learned

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Our pastor challenged us last Sunday to observe a week of consecration. This was to help us get our new year off on a spiritually focused start, and to get us in a frame of mind to hear from God for what might be ahead for us in 2005. As part of that, he suggested we cut back on some activity that captures our attention and eats up our time.

I chose to cut back on my internet activities. I took a break from participating in my poetry forum, and didn’t read others’ blogs or write in my own. It was, frankly, a lot like being on holiday, and yet not. Here are some things I learned.

1. It’s good to take a break from things that are a major part of one’s routine. This week gave me space to step back and re-evaluate what I was doing. It forced me to look at my priorities and review how I was spending my time.

2. I was once again impressed with what an amazing book the Bible is. I began the week by looking up the word "consecrate" and its derivatives in a concordance. I wrote down a list of references to look up, and each morning in my devotional time I did a different study on consecration.

I didn’t get very far on my list. But in each study, I was amazed at how the Old Testament foreshadows the New. I began to see how each part of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament (I studied several of the chapters in Exodus where God gives Moses instructions for consecrating Aaron, his sons, their clothes, the temple furniture and worship accessories) has some counterpart in God’s plan of salvation and the Spirit-controlled life in the New. Again I conclude, God’s word can withstand my scrutiny. The more I dig into it, the more I find it layered with truth and meaning. It is consistent, reliable and intentional (by that I mean even the details in the O.T. sacrifice prescriptions, for example, are significant). God’s plan as revealed in the Bible is a testimony to His incredible mind.

3. I was reintroduced to one of my favorite writers, A. W. Tozer. I chose from our collection The Best of A. W. Tozer, a compilation put together by Warren Wiersbe. I found Tozer’s insights probing and relevant. I like his short, pointed essays. (He would have made a popular blogger!) Here is a Tozer daily devotional and a page of quotes.

4. I found, though, that taking time out like this doesn’t shelter me from nasty, real-life circumstances. On Wednesday morning, I was involved in a minor car accident - no one hurt, only the car. Bummer!

5. In all this, I didn’t get any blueprints. No "Thus Saith The Lord" pronouncements for the coming days, months, year. Instead I was impressed with the need to leave making sense of my life to God.

I was reminded of how many Bible characters were asked to just take the next step - without any idea of where the whole process would lead:

- The priests just had to take the next step, into the waters of the Jordan River (no assurances the water would stop flowing - Joshua 3:6-17)

- The Zarephath widow just had to make Elijah the next meal (not knowing the flour and oil would keep stretching to be enough for succeeding months - 1 Kings 17:7-16).

- Another widow just had to get her sons to gather the jugs, and then start pouring oil into them from the small pitcher in her hand (and who could have predicted that trickle would fill every container in sight - 2 Kings 4:1-7).

In each case, it was for these people, and is for me, a matter of simply doing the next thing. The words of direction I did get, were from Romans 8:9,14: "directs(ed)," "controls(ed)" and "led" - by the Holy Spirit (Amplified). In some ways I find this frustrating. In others it is freeing, for I am God’s responsibility.

Monday, January 10, 2005

consecration week

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Our pastor has challenged us to observe, in the coming week, a time of personal consecration. As he put it in his message this Sunday, Canada is in a time of moral crisis and it has happened on our watch. We need to prepare ourselves to meet with God. We need to spend time in intercession for family, community, our land, the world. But perhaps more than anything else, we need a time of personal revival. In the words of the prophet Joel (2:13-17).

13Rend your hearts and not your garments and return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness; and He revokes His sentence of evil [when His conditions are met].
14Who knows but what He will turn, revoke your sentence [of evil], and leave a blessing behind Him [giving you the means with which to serve Him], even a cereal or meal offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?
15Blow the trumpet in Zion; set apart a fast [a day of restraint and humility]; call a solemn assembly.
16Gather the people, sanctify the congregation; assemble the elderly people, gather the children and the nursing infants; let the bridegroom [who is legally exempt from attending] go forth from his chamber and the bride out of her closet. [None is exempt from the humiliation.]
17Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; and let them say, Have pity and spare Your people, O Lord, and give not Your heritage to reproach, that the [heathen] nations should rule over them or use a byword against them. Why should they say among the peoples, Where is their God?

As part of my response to this challenge, I will be cutting back on my web activities this week, including making entries to this blog. I will be doing a personal study on consecration, which I will post here.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

prayer's power

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We're under instructions to change the world. Once you have been rescued from it, you'll need power to become a threat to it. The world which contained you in its grasp until now will not release its hold on others without a fight. Power is the key to victory, and prayer is the pathway to power.
- Jack Hayford (Prayer is Invading the Impossible, p.29)

Prayer is the conduit through which power from heaven is brought to earth.
- O. Hallesby (Prayer, p. 117)

When I pray, coincidences happen.
- William Temple

(Quotes taken from Prayer Powerpoints, compiled by Randall D. Roth)

Friday, January 07, 2005

goodbye Lois Hole

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I heard the name 'Lois Hole' on the news while we were eating lunch today, along with 'cancer,' and 'died.' The name sounded uncannily familiar.

I jumped up to check my bookshelf, while my husband asked, "Who's she?" Sure enough, there among the other gardening books, were the two beauties, Lois Hole’s Favorite Trees and Shrubs, and Lois Hole’s Perennial Favorites.

I always liked these books, not only for their colorful photos and helpful descriptions, but for the smiling, yet ordinary looking woman on the cover. But Lois Hole, I discovered today, was no ordinary woman. On top of running a very successful greenhouse business with her husband, and authoring ten gardening books, she was active in the community serving on numerous boards, and as the Chancellor of the University of Alberta. She was also a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail, Edmonton Journal, and the Edmonton Sun, and was the writer of the Canadian portion of the 1999 Old Farmer’s Almanac Gardening Companion. She has appeared regularly on the "Grapevine" segment of CBC TV’’s Canadian Gardener. (Her I'll Never Marry a Farmer, looks interesting.)

In 1999, she was appointed Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor.

She was loved for her warmth, cheerfulness, enthusiasm, the soft spot she had for kids, and her hugs.

Goodbye Lois Hole. You have helped make the world a more beautiful place - in more ways than one.


always the kids

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Being a parent is such a daily and lifelong thing. What an illusion, to think once the kids are out of diapers, in school, through school, semi-on-their-own parenting gets easier.



EVERLASTING UMBILICAL CORD

3:00 a.m. –
instantly awake.
Sliver of welcome-home light
still shines under my door
a silent revelation
HE IS NOT YET HOME.

All sleep securely trussed and bound
by the everlasting umbilical cord
I go downstairs with sedatives –
pillow, journal, pen –
assume my post on the couch
and wait...

Every cell tingles
with questions, apprehension,
self-talk, prayer:
What on earth does an 18-year-old
do with his girlfriend at this forsaken hour?
There are people and cars around here
drowned in roadside sloughs
and not found for days
(girl, cut the melodrama!)
Dear God, please help him be okay.

Take up my pen
vent rage, fear
and live again a time
when the biggest risk he took
was a leap
from the fourth step
into my arms.

- January 2004

Thursday, January 06, 2005

more odds & ends

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Jeanne Damoff’s entry in today’s The Master’s Artist, "Pardon Me Miss, but Your Calvinism is Showing" - contains the thoughtful "Sonnet to the Dancer" - a good read to help you get your new year off on the right food.

If you love old books, you’ll understand Dory ’s excitement at finding a 19th century edition of Pilgrim’s Progress, illustrated with color plates and wood engravings. This page contains similar illustrations, and here are some thoughts and links for collectors of John Bunyan paraphernalia.

By the way, ordered your copy of Hugh Hewitt’s Blog yet? The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll find yourself in this auspicious company.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

sorry firefox browsers

It's come to my attention that people using firefox have a major problem viewing this blog. So today I installed firefox myself to have a look and it's true - what a mess! After one legible screen, the display gets black to navy, and then changes to dark blue.

This may be an issue with this particular template, or...

I'll try to troubleshoot, but if there is no fix I'll probably have to change templates (boo hoo!). Until then, you'll have to use Internet Explorer on which, as far as I know, it displays ok. Thanks for your patience.

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odds & ends

I’ve felt tongue-tied in the face of the tragedy, still playing out in southeast Asia. Dory of Wittenberg Gate posts a wonderful piece, "The Guilt of Survivors" dealing with one aspect of this.

Joe Carter at the evangelical outpost has posted a fifth installment of "How to Start a Blog - Owning a Micro-Niche." Something in me balks at his advice here. I guess if this article has done anything for me, it’s made me aware of the fact, I don’t want to be an "A list" blogger. I don’t want to curb myself to one topic or write about the same thing every day. Neither do I want to run ads on my blog. I love being part of the tail. My niche will continue to be "Miscellaneous."

Terry Whalin, writer and fiction acquisitions editor at Howard Publishing blogs at The Writing Life. His post, "Get Organized," has excellent new year’s resolution-type advice for writers and non-.

A wonderful French program developed for home schoolers has come to my attention. It looks so interesting, I wish my kids were young again so I could try it out on them.

My article, "Windows Along the Way," is this week’s member showcase article at Faithwriters.

this year I want to be a sheep - 2

(A devotional look at Psalm 23 - continued)

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

One of the reasons I need to live rightly is that God’s reputation is at stake - the reputation He gets when others watch the way I, who claim to be His child, live.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil.


I am not to expect to be spared the hard things, the close calls with death, feeling its cold breath on my neck.

The two statements in this bit will, I think, need some time between them to be proved, at least to feel true. When you’re walking through death valley, it can seem that evil is winning, and it’s easy to be fearful. Even though I know Job-like times are what grow me into maturity, and give my life depth and relevance to others on the same journey, it takes coming through to the other side of an experience like that to be able to say "I will fear no evil." If this is the worst - well, it’s not so bad that God can’t overcome it, transform it even, into something good. This blessing, posted by Ragamuffin Diva says it well.

For you are with me
your rod and staff comfort me.


Rod: used as a weapon against predators.

Staff: used by the shepherd to guide the sheep and set boundaries.

I’ve heard about it and experienced it at least once - the amazing presence of God in trials, making the crucible the best place on earth.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies


A banquet in view of hungry but uninvited enemies - what a great revenge scenario. It reminds me of Mordecai, honored by Haman.

You anoint my head with oil


In biblical times a good host would wash the guest’s feet and anoint his head with oil prior to the meal. Kings were chosen and singled out with an oil-anointing. The sick are to be anointed with oil, symbolizing the healing power of God the Holy Spirit.

My cup overflows.


The small receptacle of my life can’t contain all this good stuff.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


I’m thinking Anna. "She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying." She got to see Jesus, face to face.

But is there a way to do this - dwell in the house of the Lord forever - and not literally be in a sacred building?

There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and a gentle reception to divine breathings." Thomas Kelly

Lord, help me live on that profounder level today. Amen.


Monday, January 03, 2005

blog how-to

Joe Carter at the evangelical outpost has, in the last few days, posted an excellent series on "How To Start A Blog - Part I, II, III, IV and more may be forthcoming. He even recommends (in Part IV) putting tail hairs like us on his blogroll. What a novel concept.

And Hugh Hewitt has written a book about blogs. Read Joe Carter's review of Blog, Understanding the Information Reformation.

this year I want to be a sheep - 1

I took a break from my read through the Old Testament over the Christmas holidays, and spent some time in the Psalms. I came yesterday to Psalm 23. It’s one I know so well, I can slip through it with nothing registering at all. Instead of glossing over it, as I was tempted, I decided to examine it phrase by phrase and let my wool-gathering mind range free. For what it’s worth, here is my meditation (in two parts, the next part tomorrow).

The Lord is my shepherd

He is in charge of me. I’m His responsibility, His property, available for His purposes. A shepherd raises sheep for wool, for mutton, for sacrifice. It’s all for the shepherd’s purpose, not the sheep’s.


I shall not be in want

The Shepherd takes care of my needs - even my wants.


He makes me lie down in green pastures.
I have so much, am so well provided for that even green pasture no longer tempts me to eat. I take my fill and then lie down and relax, knowing that when I’m hungry again, I only need to jump up and keep eating. Such abundance!

He leads me beside quiet water.

Refreshing, easy-to-get-at water. I don’t have to worry about losing my footing on a steep stream-side, or fear being cast into swift-flowing water as the bank is undercut. No. This place of drinking is calm, still, safe.

He restores my soul.

Soul - that emotional part of me which gets hurt feelings, feels inadequate, gets lost in the masses, is easily wounded by a thoughtless word, or bruised by silence and being ignored. That needy, high maintenance part of me is restored and healed when I sense that I, though one of a flock of millions, have my shepherd’s attention. He knows my needs, leads me to pastures and water, takes the burrs from my wool, binds up my bleeding feet and takes care of each part of my sheepness.

Lord, I request sheep appetites, sharp for your pasturage. I find myself easily led away by the manufactured food of success, the attention of others, ease, pleasure. Like unnatural animal foods which lead to deadly BSE, this unhealthy mixture puffs me up, but plants, then nurtures in me the seeds of death. May my thirsts be slaked by the quiet waters to which You lead. May my soul find restoration in Your presence.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Word Dwells Richly

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Let the Word of God dwell in you richly. Col. 3:16

God's Word is rich buttery food
potatoes, steak, cream, honey.
It satiates, settles you down.
Restless hunger is gone.
You don't need to go scrounging
in the world's fridges
for cold leftovers any more.

Within you Word sprays light into secret places.
Penetrating beam picks out a box of thievery
hidden between piles of hurt,
a closet filled with tattered humiliation,
pride, bitterness,
a cesspool of unforgiveness,
a trunk of memories
corroded with shame, anger, regret.

Word-sword slits cartons
slashes piles
clears the closet
stirs up the sludge
cracks the lock.
Smell sickens
tears all over the place.
Heart-cleaning gets public:
ask forgiveness
write a letter
send a check.

Word is always with you now
the gurgling stream you hear
at each break in the traffic
a song singing inside you all day
a tension reliever that your left hand squeezes
while your right hand goes about life’s business.

Those Word-seeds must have found fertile soil
for you never saw such a plant in your garden before.
Smell its frangipani-fragrant blossoms.
See its fruit on sturdy boughs, ripen
under a hundred everyday suns.
Nothing in those hidden seed-germinating days
prepared you for this bounty –
how it spills over
onto family, paper boy, neighbor, boss
flows to orphans across oceans.
But why are you amazed?
For that is Word of God’s way
when it dwells richly.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

panning for gold

Here are two blog nuggets I’ve found in the last little while.

For conservative Canadians, Joel Johannesen, of Proud to be Canadian says it like you wished you had - only better.

For gritty writing alive with voice, attitude and honesty, Ragamuffin Diva (Claudia Burney) is your woman. Treat yourself to "Incarnation" and her Christmas story, "Home for Christmas," posted at Faith*In*Fiction.

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