Tuesday, February 28, 2006

missionaries of all sorts

We’re in the middle of the annual missions conference at our church. It always starts with a Sunday morning flag parade. This year the choir sang the flags in. Since I’m in the choir I was part of the festivities. One of the requirements was to wear an ethnic costume. E. and I went thrift store shopping for ours - a colorful shirt for him, a purple sari for me.

On Sunday morning when we went through our song for the first time I could hardly sing because of the lump in my throat (and so I ask myself how will I ever handle the celebrations in heaven when a little church flag parade gets me all choked up). It was wonderful!

(To watch the 5-minute flag parade pull the video bar to 6:50.)

Then today I went to the women’s missionary luncheon. There Elizabeth Sakala a pastor’s wife, from Zambia shared her mother-heart for the women and kids of Africa. Then Helena Purshaga, wife of Alexander, who was put in prison in Russia last June, encouraged us. Finally after yummy exotic food – vegetable rice, some kind of sesame chicken, carrots, a creamy yam casserole and hot samosas speaker Marie Miller, who started out as an Air Canada executive but realized there was more to life than climbing the corporate ladder, challenged us with the thought that no price is too high to pay for one soul.

I also met June. She sat at my table and I wondered what kind of exceptional lady she was when our before-lunch chat kept getting interrupted by people coming to talk to her. I soon discovered this remarkable 95-year-old is a missionary of sorts herself – to street people and recovering addicts. What's really amazing about this is she felt God's tap on her shoulder to do this 14 years ago - when she was 81! One of the things she does now is regularly visit the Teen Challenge house out in Yarrow where she’s a counselor. The men (recovering addicts) love to talk to her and tell her about their lives.

I didn’t hear her whole story but I got her phone number and her promise that some day soon, we’ll get together. I’m going to bring my handy little recorder because I want to write up her story into a little profile piece.

Monday, February 27, 2006

i've touched the blog

of the mom of a couple of East Coast Music Award winners (the slenderest claim to fame I know). Islandsparrow is the mom of two members of the Chunky Danger Band who won the prize in the Top Pop Recording of the Year category for "6-Pack" in Charlottetown a few hours ago. In fact, they even opened the show!

What a great sound! I'm sure we'll be hearing more from them.

(Actually I think Islandsparrow should get an award too, for letting them practice in the basement. My question is, is that orchestral combo that accompanied them last night, part of Chunky Danger? If not, I'll bet now they wish they were!)

huh? what'd you say?

So, do you clean out your ears with a Q-tip? I must admit, all the warnings against it notwithstanding, I’ve done that very thing often, although probably for the last time. Because two weeks ago one of the dire predicted things happened to me. The wax I was trying to clear out got tamped down good and proper, deep in my ear canal.

Instantly I was deaf on one side. For though my right ear felt entirely normal and not like it needed to pop, I suddenly couldn’t understand words that weren’t e-n-u-n-c-i-a-t-e-d clearly or even hear the click of my keyboard or mouse.

Over the next 18 or so hours I gained a lot of empathy for people who are partly deaf. I felt as handicapped as I do when I lose my glasses and began to understand that part-quizzical, part-irritated look on the faces of the hard-of-hearing. Not only can’t they hear but they’re a little bugged at the world for failing to speak up!

I did get the old ear irrigated the next day – well worth the momentary unpleasantness. In fact, I think ear wax has been dulling my hearing for a while because I’m still surprised at how rattley is my keyboard, how raspy my slippers.

As for that wonder earwax - there are all kinds of informative pages about it on the internet. They explain how it’s there to collect dead skin and sweat, is supposed to drain naturally, is a protective barrier which contains enzymes that help prevent infection, and in medieval times was even used as an ingredient in the pigment for illuminating manuscripts.

Oh yes, and I found a blog, run by a doctor no less, devoted entirely to ear wax (and boogers and phlegm)!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

how sweet it is!

Update Saturday:

And what about that Cindy Klassen - not only our multi-medal speed skater, but an outspoken woman of faith!


The Brad Gushue rink from Newfoundland just won the Olympic gold medal for Canada - men's curling!

Photo: TSN

Put up a little prose here today.

Friday, February 24, 2006

promptings potpourri

Bonnie Bruno is branching out! After 28 years of writing articles, stories and books for kids, God is taking her in yet another direction on her writing journey.


Now He has asked me to branch out again, by providing me with the opportunity to write a book of inspirational stories for adults, tentatively titled When God Steps In: Stories of Everyday Grace. My proposal was accepted for publication a couple of weeks ago, and we're in the process of contracting. So, I'm writing this especially to those of you who feel you have a story that would fit the theme of this book--moments when you sensed that God was interrupting your day, as if to say, "Listen closely. Remember this moment."

If you have a story for Bonnie contact her.

Bonnie blogs several times a week at the beautiful MacroMoments.

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

Further to the poetic thoughts about depression (below), Dulciana writes about her own experience and the very likely link that can be made between depression and allergies.

coast to coast

Canadian bloggers are hitting the newsstands!

It all started with Rebecca Writes from the Yukon.

Then Islandsparrow put out this gorgeous and glossy rag from Prince Edward Island, followed by my very own promptings from the opposite coast.

Carol’s Storybook from New Brunswick looks like a warm, thoughtful and friendly read (though the web site seems to be down at the moment), while the Crusty Weekly from Ottawa will be a godsend for all of us who are curmudgeonly in any way.

If I’ve missed you tell me in comments and I’ll add you to the list.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

challenge your writing


Faithwriters.com – a web site for Christian writers – has a weekly writing challenge that might be of interest to some. In a nutshell, you join Faithwriters (it’s free) and then can submit articles, poems stories, plays etc. to the general article bank, or enter them (choosing your appropriate level - "Beginner," "Intermediate" and "Advanced") in the weekly writing challenge.


  • ~ How it works is here.
  • ~Rules and submission details are here.

Each week a set of judges chooses eight winners.

These winning pieces are published (by Xulon Press) in an on-going series of FaithWriter’s books, available through Amazon and the FaithWriters web site. (In fact if you click on the 'table of contents' of the first book, you will see yours truly had several included in it.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

java and a 24-meme

Drink up, Vicki at Windows to My Soul. You'll need that caffeine burst to get through the 24-meme you tagged me for, below...

You Are a Plain Ole Cup of Joe

But don't think plain - instead think, uncomplicated
You're a low maintenance kind of girl... who can hang with the guys
Down to earth, easy going, and fun! Yup, that's you: the friend everyone invites.
And your dependable too. Both for a laugh and a sympathetic ear.


1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4...
“...burst through the brown earth and the ashes and everything.”- The Book of Small, Emily Carr

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can and see what you touch.
A cute snowman gift enclosure card which I saved and left sitting on my CPU since Christmas!

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
The 6-o’clock news on Global

4. Without looking, guess what time it is?
7:30

5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
7:59

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
The click, click of the second hand of the Westclox wall clock and my husband’s computer keyboard from the other room....oh, and there’s the sound of kind of vehicle, maybe a truck, on our street.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
At 3:00 p.m. I went for a walk after a long drive, Abbotsford and back, to take Mum to see her friends for Monday coffee hour at the place she used to live.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
Papers and more papers on my desk.

9. What are you wearing?
Shades of black, with a bit of red in the pattern of my sweater.

10. Did you dream last night?
No. You’re not getting me there - I already told too many dreams on this blog!

11. When did you last laugh?
Very lately... but can’t remember exactly when as I don’t keep a laugh log.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
- Two framed Kim Jacobs puzzles - “Conservatory” and “Sewing Room”,
- Four Ken Gibbs paintings of children, made into cards
- A pen-and-ink drawing of a child’s face with an adult hand on his head. Under the drawing: “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and I do not forbid them, for of such is the Kingdom of heaven.’ And he laid His hands on them.” Matthew 19:14,15
- A black and white Westclox wall clock.
- a messy bulletin board
- a small wooden craft wall hanging with a heart and the saying: “A Friend, Like an old quilt, is both a treasure and a comfort.”

13. Seen anything weird lately?

What about this?



or this


or this?

14. What do you think of this quiz?
Long - very long.

15. What is the last movie you saw?
“Chronicles of Narnia”

16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
Several houses in the Village of Hope in Uganda for the AIDs orphans, a nice townhouse in White Rock for us, and then I’d buy a little time to think about how to spend the rest by putting what was left in the bank.

17. Tell me something about you that I don’t know.
I dislike most melons; they are one fruit I will refuse to eat.

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
No more need for alcohol, street drugs etc, i.e. no more need for help from destructive sources.

19. Do you like to dance?
Yes, when I know the steps.

20. George Bush?
Hmmm

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
It was. I’d stick with the name we chose (Sonia Marie).

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
Again I’d stick with the name we chose for our boy which was our second-born (Benjamin Walter)

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?
Yes. England. Portugal. Hawaii would be nice.

24. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
“Violet, you did exactly what you were created to do; well done! Now, are you ready for your next assignment?”

melancholy

In the last few days several of my blog friends have written about depression (here and here). Clinical depression is something from which I’ve never suffered. But if the description of those who have is to be believed, it is horrible and not to be wished on anyone.

American poet Jane Kenyon had bouts of depression her whole life. In the suite of poems "Having it Out with Melancholy" she explores its many faces:

1 FROM THE NURSERY

When I was born, you waited
behind a pile of linen in the nursery,
and when we were alone, you lay down
on top of me, pressing
the bile of desolation into every pore....


to

3 SUGGESTION FROM A FRIEND

You wouldn't be so depressed
if you really believed in God.

on to:

9 WOOD THRUSH

High on Nardil and June light
I wake at four,
waiting greedily for the first
note of the wood thrush. Easeful air
presses through the screen
with the wild, complex song
of the bird, and I am overcome

by ordinary contentment....

(read "Having it Out with Melancholy"...)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

coming soon



to a news stand near you!


To make your own magazine cover go here.


Hat Tip: Rebecca Writes

blackie's spit


A heron at Blackie's Spit.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

tumbling into sunday

Some days when I get weary of writing and bored of hearing the sound of my own voice, the best thing is to read someone else. And so this week I pulled The Book of Small from my bookshelf.

I was first introduced to Small on a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. It was browsing through the on-board gift store that I first came across this memoir of Emily Carr’s. (Yes, Emily Carr the artist, known for her paintings of the Indians and artifacts of the British Columbia west coast and Queen Charlottes Islands.)

She’s authored seven books in all, most of them memoir, written toward the end of her life when she could no longer see well enough to paint. The first one, Klee Wyck, is about her travels and the people she met up-coast. It won the Governor General’s Award.

The Book of Small, though, is memories of her earliest childhood in Victoria. The book jacket of my 1966 edition explains:

“Who was Small? She was the embodiment of Emily Carr’s childhood – a phantom child. In this collection of vignettes, the reader sees life in Victoria B.C. at the end of the last century, as observed by a little girl of intense imagination – delightful and memorable storytelling.”

That it is indeed. Here is the first page of the book – and a perfect read for a Saturday:

All our Sundays were exactly alike. They began on Saturday night after Bong the Chinaboy had washed up and gone away, after our toys, dolls and books, all but The Peep of Day and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, had been stored away in drawers and boxes till Monday, and every Bible and prayer-book in the house was puffing itself out, looking more important every minute.

Then the clothes-horse came galloping into the kitchen and straddled round the stove inviting our clean clothes to mount and be aired. The enormous wooden tub that looked half coffin and half baby-bath was set in the middle of the kitchen floor with a rag mat for dripping on laid close beside it. The great iron soup pot, the copper wash-boiler and several kettles covered the top of the stove, and big sister Dede filled them by working the kitchen pump-handle furiously. It was a sad old pump and always groaned several times before it poured. Dede got the brown windsor soap, heated the towels and put on a thick white apron with a bib. Mother unbuttoned us and by that time the pots and kettles were steaming.

Dede scrubbed hard. If you wriggled, the flat of the long-handled tin dipper came down spankety on your skin.

As soon as each child was bathed Dede took it pick-a-back and rushed it upstairs through the cold house. We were allowed to say our prayers kneeling in bed on Saturday night, steamy, brown-windsory prayers – then we cuddled down and tumbled very comfortably into Sunday.

Friday, February 17, 2006

dreams


Yesterday I wrote out a five-year plan – a writing prompt activity found in this book. There was release in that for me – goal-oriented person that I am – just spilling out all the things I dream of getting done in the foreseeable future, quantifying, taking stock of my various interests and seeing how they fit into the whole, saying, if I get these things done it will be enough.

Last night we went to choir, which was good as usual – singing the fabulous songs. I always come home with my mind full of music. I went to bed early, slept well.

This morning I had a dream. Two actually. In the first one, I was at a conference and was wanting to use the washroom. The washroom facility was actually a large room with many toilets but no stalls, everyone was in plain sight of each other. It was a humiliating thought to have to use it.

There were a lot of women in saris there and some of them would leave their used toilet paper but on top of the closed toilet seat (I’m thinking, this must be their custom). When it was my turn, I walked toward one of those commodes when, just before I got there the attendant, a young thing, took that soiled piece of paper off the seat I was about to use, so I wouldn’t have to do it. Then I noticed she was singing – a song about Jesus being alive. As I listened, I was struck with the beauty of her song. I wondered how all these immigrant women were taking it. And I realized, what she was doing – drawing attention to Jesus and praising Him – was the only thing that really mattered, no matter what kind of work she did. And then I woke up.

In the second dream, as I was going down the stairs, I noticed some mushed apple on one of them. When I got downstairs, I saw hubby was looking pale and was cleaning up some mess with a bucket. I asked him if he was sick and he said he was. I sent him back to bed and made a mental note not to forget to clean up the stairs. Then Sonia came into my dream, not the way she is now but as a three-year-old. “I love you mummy,” she said, and moved my face with her little hands to look right into hers. “I want to give you a kiss.” Then she kissed me very thoroughly and I saw the big, big smile on her face that is on one of her baby pictures. And then I awoke from this dream, overwhelmed by the sense of being in a family where you look after each other and are loved.

I’m not sure what the juxtaposition of these three dreams means (or whether there even is a meaning – although maybe the fact that my Quiet Time has me in Daniel is why I’m even searching for significance in night dreams at all). And I must say the tone of these night dreams after I’d written out my daydreams was not scolding or chiding in relation to them. I did not get the sense that writing out a five-year plan was a bad thing. But I did take away one simple and strong impression. Jesus and family need to remain a priority in my life over anything I could ever desire to achieve in any avocation or ‘career.’

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

the right light answer...


These are answers that children have given to tests in various subjects at school:

- The future of "I give" is "I take."

- The parts of speech are lungs and air.

- The inhabitants of Moscow are called Mosquitoes.

- A census taker is man who goes from house to house increasing the population.

- A virgin forest is a forest where the hand of man has never set foot.

- Water is composed of two gins. Oxygin and hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin. Hydrogin is gin and water.

- (Define H2O and CO2.) H2O is hot water and CO2 is cold water.

- The general direction of the Alps is straight up.

- A city purifies its water supply by filtering the water then forcing it through an aviator.

- The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 opossums.

- Most of the houses in France are made of plaster of Paris.

- The spinal column is a long bunch of bones. The head sits on the top and you sit on the bottom.

- We do not raise silk worms in the United States, because we get our silk from rayon. He is a larger worm and gives more silk.

- One of the main causes of dust is janitors.

- A scout obeys all to whom obedience is due and respects all duly constipated authorities.

- One by-product of raising cattle is calves.

- To prevent head colds, use an agonizer to spray into the nose until it drips into the throat.

- The four seasons are salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

- The word trousers is an uncommon noun because it is singular at the top and plural at the bottom.

- Oliver Cromwell had a large red nose, but under it were deeply religious feelings.

- Syntax is all the money collected at the church from sinners.

- The blood circulates through the body by flowing down one leg and up the other.

- In spring, the salmon swim upstream to spoon.

- Iron was discovered because someone smelt it.

- A person should take a bath once in the summer, not so often in the winter.

(Thanks to Marilyn in Thunder Bay)

mondegreen

is the new word I learned yesterday. Thanks Dulciana. She posts a list of mondegreens, with more in the comments.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

~happy valentine's day~




















A SURE SIGN

Here’s the mail, sort it quick–
Papers, letters notes,
Postcard scenes,
Magazines;
Our hearts are in our throats.
Something there
White and square,
Sealed with wax, and bumpy–
At the edges flat and thin,
In the middle lumpy.

When you feel the envelope,
Do your fingers trace
Something narrow,
Like an arrow?
Or a part
Of a heart?
Or a Cupid’s face?
Is your name across the back
In a crooked line?
Hurry, then; that’s a sign
Someone’s sent a valentine!

– Nancy Byrd Turner

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Instead of sending you a Valentine, I will send you to it!

- Go here for Victorian Valentine cards at the Lilly Library

- Valentine pop-ups

- And lace-paper Valentines

Have a LOVE-ly day, all who read here!

Monday, February 13, 2006

mondays


I’ve just spent five days, working my way to the top of the week. I’ve slogged through must-dos, tasks and errands, every day fulfilling my obligations and getting a bit closer to the summit. Finally it’s Saturday – almost there, tie up the few last loose ends, take those final steps. Then it’s Sunday. I’ve reached the top of the mountain. I can become a slack rubber band, rest from routine, relax, sit down and survey my life from a tranquil distance.

And then, with a flip of the page it's Monday again. I’m at the foot of that mountain all over again. The full page of last week’s accomplishments doesn’t count any more; it’s been ripped out and I’m faced with a new blank page. But I have no zip, enthusiasm, optimism. I am still that slack rubber band, wondering, where will the energy come from to make me feel taut again, and ready for the long climb up again.

I wish Mondays were banished! But then, I guess one would be faced with the same thing on Tuesday.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

after reading and enjoying

Rescuing Canada's Right -- who's surprised?

You are a

Social Conservative
(36% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(71% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Republican




Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test
Hat Tip: Callmeteem

Saturday, February 11, 2006

blogging

here today.

Friday, February 10, 2006

happy birthday bea!

Ciara at Something Beautiful has the exact thing I'd like to give you for your birthday.

Love you sis!

buddhism

This description in the Missionsfest program attracted me to an hour-long seminar on Buddhism a couple of weeks ago:



The Dalai Lama is known to be “against conversion of people, community or an individual, from one religion to another.” This seminar will deal with the myths and truths about Buddhism. It will challenge your understanding about the Buddhist world and how Buddhists can be reached.

Presenter Tom Tan, a former Buddhist himself, began the hour by telling us his story. He came to Canada in 1974 from Malaysia as a Buddhist tentmaker. (“That’s right - a tentmaker,” he said to us. “And you thought ‘tentmaking’ was a Christian concept!”) His intention was to get a job and in his spare time gain a following for Buddhism.

So he worked in a bank during the day and held meetings and seminars about the Buddhism at night and on weekends. He was also an active participant in one of Richmond’s Buddhist temples.

During the time he taught about enlightenment, however, he personally got involved in fraud. He was caught, tried and sentenced to jail. While in prison he read the Gideon Bible and C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity in his cell and over time gave his life to Jesus.

Tan’s personal experience with Buddhism made all of us pay close attention as he outlined its main elements. Here are points, taken from his handout:


General:
- Buddhism is a missionary force. It is the first of the great world religions to become international.

- It is strong in Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Korea, Japan, India, China, Taiwan, Kampuchea, Laos, Vietnam and spreading to Europe (5 million) and North America (3 million)

- Buddhism has more than 860 million followers today. It is a strong influence in the New Age Movement and Hollywood.

(And I would add, among writers. In almost every how-to book on writing I’ve read recently I have found mention of some aspect of Buddhism: Eastern meditation, the practice of yoga, chanting koans or mantras etc., not to mention actual quotes from Buddhist holy men. This substantiates another aspect of Buddhism Tan pointed out: its syncretism. Buddhism easily adapts to the culture, taking aspects of any particular culture and incorporating them into the Buddhism of that country – thus the inclusion of things like yoga which, I believe, was originally a Hindu practice)

- Buddhists claim that Buddhism is not a religion but a way of life. There is no personal relationship with Buddha.

There are many different strains of Buddhism – understandable, because of the way it adapts itself to cultures, above. The Buddhism which is gaining popularity in North America is primarily Tibetan Buddhism (how popular evidenced by the reception to the Dalai Lama when he came to visit Canada in 2004)


Tibetan Buddhism:
The following are some of the things Tan listed, that have formed and influenced the North American brand of Tibetan Buddhism.

- “Bon” is the native religion of Tibet. It was largely magical, with many rites of redemption from demonic forces with animal and human sacrifices and many superstitions, divinations and occult.

- Tantrism - the word tantra relates to weaving. Thus the theme of tantrism is the interwovenness, interdependence and oneness of all things. Tantrism is a mystical belief system that incorporates magical procedures (by chanting mantras, meditation and the visual aid of the mandala) in the attainment of paranormal power in the quest for Enlightenment. The basic tenet of Tantrism was that woman possesses more spiritual energy than man; therefore the man could achieve realization of the divinity through sexual and emotional union with a women.

- Mahayana Buddhism - a more inclusive and syncretistic school of Buddhism that accepts all native customs and practices, and the occult.


Buddhist Worldviews:
- No absolute moral right and wrong
- Inclusiveness and tolerance
- No concept of a personal or creator God
- No concept of sin as the result of the fall of Adam and Eve
- No concept of forgiveness* offered by Christ on the cross

*Rather, and this is my understanding of how he explained it, sins or failures are dealt with by karma, and if the bad things one does are not cancelled out by doing enough good things, the result is reincarnation in a lower life form)

Keys to Reaching North American Buddhists for Christ:
1. Prayer
2. Personal preparation - spiritually and culturally
3. Paul’s method (Acts 17:22-31)
4. Present the love of Christ
5. Patience

gloria and the buddhist art show

It was reading the story (below) on a listserve yesterday that twigged my memory of the Buddhist seminar (above). I have Gloria’s permission to post her story here, told in her own words. It is a beautiful illustration, I think, of putting into practice some of those “keys” Tom Tan speaks of above:

Well, last night was the Buddhist-display introduction and training where we, at a gallery in which I work, met some of the artists to learn about them and their exhibit. I can't begin to tell you how appreciative I am of your prayers.

How gracious everyone was during the evening although I could not help but discern a certain level of apprehension, surrounded as we, the staff (some who may be churchgoers) were by all the red, by the artifacts, by Buddhism.

Whether the two artists last night were Buddhists I do not really know. But you can imagine, if you can picture it all: there we sat around in a circle munching on the gallery's complimentary gift of foods and drinks, listening all about Tibet, about their prayer flags, about the mantras and devotions, about the nuns' routines, the Dali Lama, about the mountains and the wildlife and the flowers and the chilly, chilly mountain air. Background and ongoing music of Buddhist chants and prayers and devotions infiltrated the empty spaces all around our small gathering as one of the artists spoke to us.

As a Christian, how was I able to show respect?

I used tea and plants, I suppose, and my silver cross hanging from my neck. I'll take you there:

There is a lovely hanging garden of sorts in the gallery and for which I am responsible. Last week end to rearrange the display a little, I changed a few scraggly plants for some fresh ones adding a few little touches of Tibetan flowers and color here and there.

At the last minute I placed in the midst of it all an unlit candle in a glass-and-wooden rustic kind of holder that I use at home for my own prayer time knowing that the Buddhists use the same type (although not having realized this when I bought It.)

I purchased a special Cargo & James blend of herbal green tea, green and mint tea being one of the very favorites of Tibet and, with the help of a few staff members, made a large pot which warmly kept brewing during the hour or so of the gathering.

At the time appropriate, I walked around serving small portions of this special blend to everyone there; mild green tea with its fresh leaves settling at the bottom of each cup. "Of course I don't mind, dear."

I tend to be rather a shy person at the best of times but at this time I became so unlike myself (an iron pillar?) while, at the same time being acutely aware of the importance of what, although beyond what I could understand, was taking place.

My cross around my neck, a delicate but long pendulum of a cross imbedded with a small Tibetan (? I don't know, it was a gift) turquoise stone, swung delicately beside the offering of tea during each serving. As I lowered (bowed?) to offer the small drinks of the green brew to all the seated guests one by one, to the staff and to the artists and to the curator, I began to be so aware of the Holy Spirit touching "all who had entered there." If you can imagine that "lovely spiritual hush" that we have all experienced at the most unexpected of times, it was there. That lovely Spiritual hush.

Thank you for your prayers. I had no doubt that God intended to touch everyone, visitors as well, with Himself during the exhibition.

Jeremiah 1: 17-19
"Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified of them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land . . . They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue you," declares the Lord.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

missing summer?

Do yourself a favor and visit Islandsparrow at A Sparrow's Home to experience a P.E. Island summer in soothing words and stunning photos.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

book review: Rescuing Canada's Right


Rescuing Canada’s Right
Kheiriddin, Tasha & Daifallah, Adam
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, October 28, 2005
ISBN: 047083692X


Reading Rescuing Canada’s Right hit the spot after the Conservative Party of Canada’s minority win in the Canadian federal election three weeks ago. This hopeful and provocative book by Tasha Kheiriddin and Adam Daifallah, two of Canada’s bright, young (and attractive) small-c conservatives challenges: “We must not only make it cool to be conservative, we must make it uncool not to be conservative,” and then lays out how that can be done.

The book’s introduction illustrates the present off-the-rails state of Canadian conservatism. It begins:

Proclaiming oneself a conservative in Canada today is (check one): a] unusual; b] a lonely endeavor; c] political suicide; d] all of the above.

It goes on to explain how Pierre Trudeau and the policies put in place by him have led to the present situation in Canada where the


“...political status quo is not liberal, conservative, right wing or even classical liberal – it is statist. Statism, as defined by the Acton Institute, is ‘a program or viewpoint that looks to the state for resolution of social and moral problems rather than to individual effort...where nongovernmental institutions of a society develop an overextended and unhealthy reliance upon political structures for the solution of problems.’”

Following the introduction, the book is broadly organized into three parts.

Part one (chapters 1-3) is a history of conservatism in Canada to 2005 (not including the election just past, of course).

In part two (chapters 4-11) the authors do a detailed analysis of how and why conservatism has languished in eight areas: 1] the grassroots; 2] think tanks, policy research and pressure groups; 3] the media; 4] the charter; 5] academia; 6] Quebec; 7] new immigrants; 8] leadership development.

Part three (chapters 12-16 and the Conclusion) lays out a vision for a strong conservative movement in Canada by spelling out a conservative position in four areas: families, health care, environmentalism and federalism.

The back of the book contains an Appendix of conservative organizations and contacts, and an index.

I especially appreciated the historical first section of the book. Questions I've had, like where did the ‘Red Tories’ come from, and why have past Conservative party platforms been almost identical to the Liberals, were answered.

The middle section of analysis and proposed redress was revealing and informative, though I felt in places overly hopeful (like we’ll see conservative thought encouraged in curricula and universities in Canada any time soon!). The chapter on the media explained a lot of things I’ve been noticing and I entirely agree with the prescription in the book’s final section - abolish the CRTC! The section which dealt with the charter was also enlightening. It explained how a ‘reading in’ of sexual orientation in Section 15 of the charter has caused it to be a prohibited grounds of discrimination, analogous to race, sex, religion, and age.

My favorite section, though, was the vision proposed in the last four chapters of the book and the template proposed for formulating policy especially as it relates to two areas:

The family: “Pro-family and pro-marriage policies that make it an economic advantage to wed and have children...with the goal of establishing strong families as a counterpoint to dependency on the state.”

(However, the words I left out “These policies should include all families both opposite and same-sex ones,*” highlight the point where social conservatives [so-cons] will disagree. Kheiriddin and Daifallah’s position on so-cons is that they need to concede to the status quo in abortion and gay marriage. And yet they see so-cons as playing a role:“The key contribution of so-cons to social policy is their belief in the importance of family and children” [P. 204]. I would submit that so-cons oppose abortion and gay marriage for the very reason that they are seen as destructive of the family. So at this key juncture I find the authors’ position inconsistent, even oxymoronic. But, I remind myself, this is a book about making conservatism cool, not logically consistent.)

And health care: “Health care policies that permit the development of a parallel private health care system”.

At last someone is talking some sense. The Canadian Conservative Party win on January 23rd followed by finding and reading this book has left me with the hope that a forward-thinking, strong, self-reliant Canadian populace may not be just a pipe dream after all.

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

* emphasis mine

Filed in Book Reviews

Monday, February 06, 2006

watoto


Yesterday our church had a visit from the Watoto African Children’s Choir. From the first beat of drums to the dancing exit - what a treat! These 18 eight to eleven-year-old Ugandan orphans and their chaperones are full of energy, rhythm, playfulness, exuberance and joy.
(Have a listen - see a video)

The choir is made up of kids who live in the Watoto Childcare Ministries orphan villages of Kampala Uganda – started by Canadians Gary and Marilyn Skinner and run by the Kampala Pentecostal Church. Watoto takes in kids who are orphaned (by war and sickness such as AIDs), gives them homes, feeds and educates them, teaches them about God’s love and gives them hope.

And hope they have. The music was interspersed by the kids’ stories – each with its own unique blend of disease, abandonment, child-headed households, begging, and fear with a dramatic turnaround when the kids were taken into Watoto. At one point each child introduced him or herself and said what they hoped to be when they grow up. These kids have no small ambitions. They dream of being doctors, pilots, pastors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, musicians - even president. And this is the dream of the founders and house-parents of Watoto - that these kids will be the next generation of Ugandan leaders.

As mentioned, they’re touring Canada from B.C. to Ontario. I peeked at this choir's schedule and noticed they still have lots of openings. (There are also other choirs touring in other places.) You might want to invite them to your school or church. They won't disappoint!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

slow saturday

We had a bit of a strange day yesterday. It started routinely enough and I had plans to get a lot done. But at 9:15 the electricity went out as a result of a windstorm that blew in overnight. So we went to Mom’s where everything was bright and warm.

She was still basking in the glow of a visit from her brother and sis-in-law and a friend on Friday. The activities coordinator of her building (M.) had organized quite an afternoon celebration for Chinese New Year complete with a dragon dance. "But they had a bar," Mom said, her voice full of disgust.

Yes, the secular atmosphere in her building is a first for my sheltered 91-year-old mum who has lived her whole life to this point in a Mennonite enclave of one kind or another.

"Did you see this, though?" She showed us the Villa’s monthly newsletter that serves as a communication between residents and staff. There in the news item about exercise classes was Mom’s name - twice - as part of the team that set the record for the most volleys and again on the one that broke that record in balloon volleyball. (Mom does these exercise classes sitting down - don’t ask me how it works). She is also on the February schedule to teach the craft of quilling one morning a week.

Another item on the monthly schedule is church – and a Bible study. There is a Protestant service every Sunday afternoon, and now one of the pastors is going to head up an evening Bible study as well. (If you ask me, M. is doing a great job of trying to keep everyone happy - the bar notwithstanding.)

On the way home we detoured past Future Shop where E. wanted to browse for something. But when we got to Whalley it was a tangle of traffic because the lights were out there too (four-way stop procedure at every eight-lane intersection - let’s get out of here! - FS was closed anyway.)

Back at home the lights were still out. We had cold bagels and cheese for lunch with lukewarm coffee from the thermos. I willingly tidied the kitchen glad to have an excuse to pour a sinkful of warm water.

Then E. put on his jacket and pulled his armchair next to the window while I wrapped myself in couch throws and afghans and, with just the feeble light from the window, read and read and read while the wind whistled, scolded and moaned through the trees and around the house.

Finally at 3:25 - flick! The lights came on and all over the house electric motors (fridge, printer, ceiling fan) swung into motion. Somehow I never regained my morning ambition though. Instead I stayed on the couch, dozing in and out of the "American Justice" enjoying the warmth, but also feeling a bit demoralized to think what a little thing it takes to bring my life to a grinding stop.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Your Five Factor Personality Profile

Extroversion:

You have low extroversion.
You are quiet and reserved in most social situations.
A low key, laid back lifestyle is important to you.
You tend to bond slowly, over time, with one or two people.

Conscientiousness:

You have medium conscientiousness.
You're generally good at balancing work and play.
When you need to buckle down, you can usually get tasks done.
But you've been known to goof off when you know you can get away with it.

Agreeableness:

You have medium agreeableness.
You're generally a friendly and trusting person.
But you also have a healthy dose of cynicism.
You get along well with others, as long as they play fair.

Neuroticism:

You have low neuroticism.
You are very emotionally stable and mentally together.
Only the greatest setbacks upset you, and you bounce back quickly.
Overall, you are typically calm and relaxed - making others feel secure.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is medium.
You are generally broad minded when it come to new things.
But if something crosses a moral line, there's no way you'll approve of it.
You are suspicious of anything too wacky, though you do still consider creativity a virtue.

Friday, February 03, 2006

garden notes


Spring seems very early this year. The primulas, which I find in various and surprising* spots in my garden, are starting to bloom. Because of the winter weed patch, though, I can hardly see their colors. So I spent about an hour this morning in the yard, pulling weeds and disturbing the soil a bit so that spring blooms will stand out against the black.

A lot more than blooming primulas is happening in the yard, though:

1. The crocuses are in the middle of their season; some are already beginning to droop.

2. The lilac tree has buds.

3. The parsley overwintered and is a potfull of green lace.

4. The daylily shoots are about 8 inches high.

5. Tulip and daffodil shoots are about 3 inches high.

6. There is action in the clematis – behind the skeleton pinwheels left from last year’s blooms, velvety leaves are sprouting from nodes all along gangly stems.

7. Love-in-a-mist plants are up from self-seeding – I’m not sure if they’re new or just plants that never matured and never died from last fall.

8. Leaves are starting to open at the ends of hydrangea stems.

9. Hard little buds are poking through the shallow earth that covers the tough old hosta root ball.

10. I think we’re sharing a rodent with the next door neighbors. That hole under the fence that separates our garden from their lean-to looks well-worn. I closed it with a couple of hefty rocks. If it reappears somewhere else, we’ll know that last year’s measures will need to be repeated (beware, all you neighborhood cats!).

**************************
* 'surprising' because I move them out of the limelight in early summer after they've done their thing and forget where I've put them.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

promptings' potpourri

Jan at The Happy Homemaker is posting her Second Annual Valentine Bonanza -- one Valentine a day from January 21 - February 14th. (While you're there, check out Jan-s 4x4. Why am I not surprised to discover she used to manage a shoestore -- with the wonderful name Pappagallo?)

Amy at Amy Loves Books tells great stories. Read how one of her inner-city students decided he wanted to play for her church's basketball team.

Mel at Actual Unretouched Photo spins a pretty good tale too. Actually three - which lead to her conclusion:

"That's why I believe in erring on the side of life."

A+ for customer service


Since I first discovered them at Costco, I don’t know how many years ago now, I’ve used The Polestar Family Calendar. These coil-bound family day planners are not only attractive and practical with their colorful covers, line drawings interspersed with wise sayings, and week-at-a-glance format, but they also have lots of back-page goodies like a planning calendar for the next year, family profile pages, pages to list items borrowed, loaned, stored, lots of blank pages, and a pocket back cover to hold stray papers.

I have been gradually getting my 2006 calendar in shape, entering birthdays, anniversaries etc. I was doing that on Saturday when, looking to enter a birthday in October, I discovered my calendar was missing not only October, but September and November as well. It went straight from August to December. That was a bit disorienting (and I hope not a prediction of what this year holds for me). It certainly made the thing unusable.

Where to go to replace it? Since I got the book at Costco way back in September, and knowing they sell out well before the end of the year, I knew that I couldn’t go there to get another. The Polestar company does have a web site, though. On a form at their comments link I described my problem, submitted it and hoped for the best.

I got a nice email on Monday saying they would certainly replace the book. But I could hardly believe it when my new 2006 Polestar Family Calendar arrived in the mail yesterday (Wed.) first thing in the morning! That’s great customer service in my books.

So, I’d like to give the Polestar Calendar company (B.C.-based too, in the Slocan Valley) a plug. Not only do they put out a beautiful and practical day planner, but their customer service is the best!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

a threat made good

I have gone through with a threat I made a while ago and opened a poetry blog. I posted there today.

I will not, in the future, link here when I post there. Neither is it public or listed on my profile page, as I'm still finding my sea legs on it. If you're interested, there is a link to it in my sidebar.

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