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

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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.

******************
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!)

*****************
"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."

****************
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."

****************
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."

****************
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!)

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

**************
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."

**************
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."

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

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

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

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

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.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

love of fare

A post pulled out of the January 2005 archives especially for the 6th poetry carnival.

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I realized I loved poetry again a few years ago (the first time was way back in high school, where Mr. Willems made Wordsworth and Shelley come alive). I needed some venue for expressing those metaphors that would suddenly present themselves as perfect comparisons of what I was experiencing, those lines that would inexplicably pop into my head.

I made my first foray into writing free verse poems while reading Writing Personal Poetry by Sheila Bender. It put me on the road to a rewarding and exciting relationship. Since then I’ve written scores of poems, collected binder-fulls by others and increased my collection of poetry books from a mere handful to close to 100 (counting all the slim chapbooks with just a few poems in them - but that too proves my still-novice status, as some of my mentors own whole bookshelf-fulls of poetry books).

One of the most growing things I did as a poet was become a member of a loosely organized poetry community. Utmost Christian Writers came online in November 2003, and when web master Nathan Harms set up a forum, I was one of its first members. There we post our work for comment and critique - and do lots of other chatting too of course. Being a part of that community has done more to keep my interest in and love for poetry alive than anything else.

"Love of Fare" came about through interaction on the forum. One day one of the members posted a poem in which the speaker was using food as a substitute for love. She wasn’t happy with the title she’d chosen and asked for suggestions. In jest I suggested "Love of Fare." One of the other forum members let out a hoot (virtual of course) and asked whether he could write a poem using that as a starting point. Of course I gave permission, but then thought, why don’t I take up that challenge too. Here is the poem that resulted. It still expresses pretty closely my relationship with poetry.

LOVE OF FARE

At the poetry fair
verbiage fills the air
as I sample each poet’s concoction

Haiku-rich canapes
free-form salads, parfaits
of thick verse, sonnets baked to perfection

Wine of symbol and sound
liqueur lyrics abound
I’m becoming an addict of diction

Till I stumble around
very drunk on profound
poems that make my head spin in confusion

But wait, here is a booth
of poetic uncouth
Out of place at this fair, my objection

Then I look at the name
and find mine is the same
it’s my very own poetry section

So where are the trays
and the tasty displays
piping hot and fresh-baked for consumption?

What seemed clever and bold
now tastes cliché and cold
bland and lacking in wise introspection

As I’ve wandered this fair
I have gained, tasting here
a fine palate of discrimination

Now to retain my space
in this prestigious place
I’d best spend some more time in the kitchen

- V. Nesdoly

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(By the way, I have my own poetry chapbook for sale. Check out Calendar here.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

book review: Bless the Lord


Book: Bless the Lord - The 103rd Psalm
Illustrator: Johannah Bluedorn
Genre: Children’s picture book
ISBN: 1-933228-02-4

Bless The Lord is a visual feast!

In this 32-page hardcover book, Johanna Bluedorn illustrates each line of the 103rd Psalm (King James Version) with original watercolor paintings - thirty in total. The illustration style reminds me of Victoriana with its attention to detail, its use of borders and its decorative touches. But the picture themes are country – home, community and rural scenes, vibrantly depicted against rich backgrounds of brown, blue, green, purple and yellow. The text is set in calligraphy. The book ends with Psalm 103 in song – four pages of music composed by the artist’s father Harvey Bluedorn*.

What I especially like about this book is the way the illustrations expand on the text. These are the kinds of pictures adults and kids alike would enjoy studying – with their ‘find Waldo"-esque type of detail – opening the door to all kinds of discussion possibilities when the book is shared with a child.

The 11 x 8½ -inch pages are printed on sturdy paper – a good thing too, because most copies will probably get lots of use. I also like the fact that the book doesn’t have a dust jacket. Instead the title graphic is superimposed on a collage of four scenes reproduced from inside the book, with another four on the back. The volume is thus not fussy to handle and is handsome enough to sit on any coffee table. My only regret – I don’t have any wee ones around the house right now with whom to share this book’s delights.

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* Find out more about the Bluedorn family here.

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Disclaimer: The book Bless the Lord was sent to me by Mind & Media as a gift from the publisher who donated the books for reviewers.

watchwoman

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem
They shall never hold their peace day or night
You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Isaiah 62:6,7

When I came to Isaiah 62 in my quiet time reading a few days ago, I also read the sidebar commentary. In a little piece called "Watchfulness and Restlessness: The True Spirit of Prayer" I found a tidy summary of what watchmen are:
They: 1] "...are positioned high on the walls, prayerfully focused... on activities in the city, among nations as well as developments in heaven itself;" 2] (Are) Alert to the character and ways of God, they review His promises which are unfolding both for Jerusalem and for the nations..." and 3] They take stock with a spirit of urgent restlessness, refusing to keep silent before God."
Something inside me jumped in recognition when I read this – and somehow I thought I was doing it all wrong because I often don’t feel that placid peacefulness after prayer that I expect I should; instead, it’s a continuous restlessness.

It’s waking up in the middle of the night and ringing up God: Don’t forget my son, and keep Your hand on my mother and touch my sister.

It’s banging on His door throughout the day and firing off emails any time day or night: I need to talk to You about my friend who has cancer. What’s happening between you and the neighbors? And then there’s my country...I’m seeing a lot of things that concern me – and also in my city.

It’s being high maintenance and knowing He doesn’t mind – like calling up a spouse 50 times a day to talk over whatever is on my mind at the moment.

It’s the feeling of well-being when someone says, "Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that...", and settling down, only to realize a minute later, I forgot to mention....and getting on the phone again.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

the martha in me

...did I ever post this poem in my blog? I can't remember. But just now I read ragamuffin diva - where she talks in her most eloquet prose of this exact same thing.

So, here's my version:

The Martha In Me

She (Martha) had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Luke 10:39,40a

Too often Martha takes charge --
I schedule service with conditions
workboots clomp on everything
threatening my control
I curse the one who's late
ignore the longing in my daughter's eyes to chat
dismiss the women with Watchtower at my door --
not aware I've stamped out
embers of His presence

--while Mary sits confined to a corner of my heart
shaking her head in sadness and disbelief:
Girl, when will you learn
to serve Him you must first
let Him serve you.
You will not hear His zephyr voice
above the drumbeat of agenda
motion's clatter or ambition's roar
Open yourself to interruption, serendipity
stillness. Be flexible, available
to sit down or jump up
at His impractical bidding.

--V. Nesdoly 2003


...now go read ragamuffin!

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fiction celebration - window shopping edition

If you love fiction (reading or writing it), here is your invitation to participate in the next Celebration of the New Christian Fiction Carnival. It will be hosted right here at promptings on Tuesday, November 15th.

With Christmas just around the corner, my thought was that November would be a good month to put the spotlight on books or software that you'd recommend to fellow readers or writers. Tell us about fiction you've found irresistible, or software and how-to books that have led you to the next level in creating such irresistible fiction.

In other words, the November Fiction Celebration will be a fictional craft fair and a place to do a little window shopping, in time to get someone else's favorite on your Christmas list -- and hopefully find it under your tree Christmas day!

Of course posts of or about fiction unrelated to the suggestion above are always more than welcome as well!

To enter, email the following:

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- Name of blog
- URL of blog
- title and URL of the post you're submitting

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to me by Sunday November 13th.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

life's little trials

The movers arrived at 9:10 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The load-up was uneventful and we arrived noonish at Mum’s new home about 5 minutes before the truck did. The unload also went smoothly -- until we noticed the bedrail was missing (this is an extra we bought at the medical supply store, not easy to miss and which we'd left on top of her bed in preparation for the movers to load). The mover boys combed the truck, neither remembered seeing it and so we dropped the matter thinking it must have inadvertently been left in the apartment.

About three hours later while helping Mum unpack, I realized the seat cushion for the La-Z-Boy was also missing. We actually saw the movers take this out of the apartment so knew we wouldn’t find it there.

In due course we phoned the moving company about both things and the very personable lady who answers the phone said she'd have more on this the next morning after she’d seen the movers’ filed report. I must admit, though, that after they’d searched the truck twice to find the bedrail when we first discovered it was missing, and it still hadn’t turned up after later after they delivered a few more pieces of furniture to our house, I wasn’t optimistic.

Now we did have insurance so I knew that the cost of replacing the things would be at least partly covered by the movers. The bedrail would be easy to replace - just go to the medical supply store and get a new one. The cushion was another thing altogether. How do you replace a cushion that is upholstered in the exact same fabric as the rest of the chair?

Tuesday night, tired as I was, I had a hard time sleeping. As I lay staring into the dark, my annoyance over those missing things grew and I struggled with resentment, anger and assigning blame.

I also realized that this felt like a bit of a test. It seemed like a test of whether I actually would live out what I say I believe about things like "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God..." (Romans 8:28). So all night when negative thoughts started burning inside me again, I splashed the cold water of praise and thanksgiving on them..."God I know You're in this. I praise You that nothing is out of your control and that You know exactly where those lost things are. If there is some reason why we would need to replace these things, I accept that. If not, I call them back..."

Early Wednesday morning in my devotions, I came to the passage: "It shall come to pass that before they call I will answer; While they are still speaking, I will hear" (Isaiah 65:24). I hugged that to myself as I went into the day.

As I expected, a call to the movers didn’t turn up anything. I was out doing some errands later when the cell phone rang. It was Ernie calling to say he'd phoned the caretaker in Mum's old building and indeed the two items had been left in the foyer! The caretaker had rescued them, not knowing whose they were and would now put them back in mum's apartment for us to pick up. Nice ending!

But alas, I think I’m being tested on trusting God in the not-so-nice things again. I came home from unpacking at Mum's Tuesday night with a sore left arm, which has blossomed into a case of exquisitely painful bursitis of the shoulder. (And this just before a busy weekend and with still a lot of cleaning to do in the old apartment...) I know – I don’t have to, neither will I ever figure out the whys and wherefores of all these little trials of life. For tonight, though, I have a perfect excuse to indulge in a quiet evening at home.

Meanwhile Mum seems to be settling into her new home quite nicely. Tomorrow we’re doing stuff like going to the bank, changing her address at the post office and shopping for a small table.

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