Thursday, June 29, 2006

garden moments - last week of June

There were several...


Mystery Plant

The magenta flowers on gray-green stems and foliage are pretty when massed. This plant seeds itself too. My problem is, I don’t know what it's called. (And though it's in many gardens around here, I’m wondering if it isn't really a weed.)






Love-in-a-mist (Nigella)

I first planted these from seeds Mom collected from her garden back in the days when I was into drying and making ‘everlasting’ arrangements. For that you use not the flowers but the seed pods, which are really quite lovely in dried bouquets. Since then I’ve come to look forward to the few days these romantic-looking flowers are in bloom. In fact, now that I seldom make dried arrangements, I often pull out nigella as soon as it’s finished blooming so as to avoid all those seeds ripening. Love-in-a-mist is beautiful, but even it can’t be allowed to take over the garden.


Surprise!

A flash of orange turns out to be primula, over-summering under one of the hostas and flowering about two months late.

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

- Latest picture of Rebecca's Yukon garden.

surreal

Life is surreal these days. Yesterday morning I got a call from the hospital saying Mom was having a bad day and they’d be transferring her to the palliative care ward.

Though they hadn’t yet moved her by the time we got there about 1:00, they wheeled her in while we were still talking to the nursing staff. After they settled her in her room, we went in and I asked her about the previous night and the morning. She didn’t remember any of it.

In the last few days she has a different look on her face, a wooden look, almost as if she is wearing a mask. Sometimes it seems she has a hard time focusing her eyes. I have the feeling it’s from her medications. They’re giving her something quite strong to help her with breathing.

Talking gets her very tired so she talks very little and when she does, her voice is so weak as to be almost inaudible.

It was the day when the volunteers were on the ward. They came around offering coffee or tea and cookies to the patients and their visitors. We’d just finished our Starbucks so we declined the drinks - but the homemade chocolate chip cookie I had was delicious. I even convinced Mom to try a bit.

For most of the time we were there, I sat beside Mom’s bed, sometimes holding her swollen cool hand, sometimes knitting, while old ‘40s and ‘50s tunes tinkled from the piano in the lounge where the volunteers had set up their tea party. (We actually encountered the piano player when we first came up on the elevator to the unit – an elderly lady volunteer with a shrink-wrapped sandwich lunch in the basket of her walker)

We hung around till the supper trays came, when I fed Mom. Eating wearies her too. In order for her to swallow properly I had to turn up her bed, which puts pressure on her midriff. It’s nasty to watch her struggle with ordinary things like eating, talking and shifting around in bed.

We read her Daily Bread to her before we said goodnight.

Today was to be a day E. and I helped my sis. move. I will pass on that, though, and take the bus to the hospital to be there in time for lunch.

It’s hard to concentrate on anything but what is happening right now – or opt for avoidance. When we got home around 6:00 after dinner at A&W, I dashed off an email to my family list, then vegged with HGTV’s 'Real Estate Wednesday' shows for about an hour and a half. I’d like nothing more than to simply sleep through the next few days!


**********

Hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the day of trouble?” - Job 38:22


If we look back upon the past, many of us will find that the very time our Heavenly Father has chosen to do the kindest things for us, and given us the richest blessings has been the time we were strained and shut in on every side. God’s jewels are often sent us in rough packages and by dark liveried servants, but within we find the very treasures of the King’s palace and the Bridegroom’s love. - A. B. Simpson (quoted in Streams in the Desert)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

book review - Mark of the Cross


Title: Mark of the Cross
Author: Judith Pella
Publisher: Bethany House
Genre: Fiction, Historical Romance
ISBN: 0764201328

We first meet Philip de Tollard, the 18-year-old illegitimate and outcast son of a British nobleman and hero of Judith Pella’s Mark of the Cross, on his way to a neighboring estate to work as a stable hand. On that journey he encounters Beatrice, the beautiful and spirited teenaged daughter of his new boss. From the story’s beginning in the spring of 1263, this 450-page book follows the tragedies and triumphs of these two for the next ten years.

The story is firmly rooted in the culture and history of the 13th century. The feudal system, crusades and knights, jousting and chivalry, castles and convents, servants and nobility are all part of the milieu.

Pella has divided the story into five main sections to follow the tale of Philip and Beatrice as they are first thrown together, then torn apart. The sections take us from England to France to Italy to Palestine and back to England as Philip and Beatrice follow their seemingly separate fates. In the process they mature. Philip goes, through the plot’s twists and turns, from being an impetuous and hot-headed though idealistic youth to a ruthless and decisive leader. And Beatrice’s selfish and sensuous tendencies are channeled, through her own set of trials, into selfless and compassionate healing pursuits. The question is, will they ever find each other again?

Though the two main players are complex, other characters are not as interesting or fully drawn. Few, however, are ambiguous. In that way, the book has the feel of a fairy tale, with the good characters thoroughly good, the evil completely evil.

For me the book’s strength is in the little known historical period it explores. To do that, Pella roots her tale in the middle of actual events, to the extent of making some historical figures minor characters. Mostly the story is told without undue explanation (with the reader given credit for background knowledge or knowing how to research if intrigued to find out more). The point at which Pella’s enthusiasm for historical details appears to take over, breaking the narrative spell, is in her explanation and opinion of relics on page 160, where she strays from storytelling to lecturing and dispensing editorial comment.

The storytelling style is distinctive, with a certain formality of word choice and sometimes convoluted sentence construction used in both conversation and narrative (“Mayhap” for “perhaps,” “coin” for “money,” “While the hunting party waited in a small glade, the huntsmen and handlers went forth with the limers and harriers to set upon the tracking...”). The text is also sprinkled with the vocabulary of the time (“destriers”, “braies,” “chausses,” “braw,” etc.). I assume Pella chose to tell the story this way to give readers the feel of a different time in history. I appreciated the historical accuracy, but the archaic storytelling style annoyed me at first. I did eventually get used to it, though, as Pella never strays from that path from beginning to end.

Some of the themes the story tackles – like class difference, and the meaning and purpose of marriage – also spring from the historical context. Others – like betrayal, revenge, love, friendship, the relationship between father and son, and having a relationship with God – are timeless.

If you are looking for a romantic story with a Christian slant, would like the vicarious experience of being a knight or lady, and prefer the graphic description of hand-to-hand combat over battles with guns, bombs and planes, Mark of the Cross may be just the fat beach-book for you.

(Thank you to the Internet Marketing Department of Bethany House for providing a copy of the book for review.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

chitchat

E. and I rode the skytrain into Vancouver late yesterday afternoon to meet with my sis who is here from out of town on business.



After enjoying the view from her room in the Fairmont Waterfront while munching on an appetizer of fresh cherries,

we strolled down Cordova to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner.

On the way back I got a picture of the Gastown Steam Clock, at the tail end of its belch.

Later in the lobby of her hotel – which sports this gorgeous flower arrangement -- I spotted (the honorable) Peter MacKay, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs – with someone (female). Hmmm. E. said it’s probably his executive assistant.

Monday, June 26, 2006

humble beauty


Let circumstances bring you where they will, keep drawing on the grace of God in every conceivable condition you may be in. One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be humiliated without manifesting the slightest trace of anything but His grace.

- My Utmost for His Highest - Oswald Chambers


Photo: Vetchling

Saturday, June 24, 2006

hidden and secluded



Pillar Coral - (Wikipedia)

The polyps which construct the coral reefs, work away under water, never dreaming that they are building the foundation of a new island on which, by-and-by, plants and animals will live and children of God be born and fitted for eternal glory as joint-heirs of Christ.

If your place in God’s ranks is a hidden and secluded one, beloved, do not murmur, do not complain, do not seek to get out of God’s will, if He has placed you there; for without the polyps, the coral reefs would never be built, and God needs some who are willing to be spiritual polyps, and work away out of sight of men, but sustained by the holy ghost and in full view of Heaven.

The day will come when Jesus will give the rewards, and He makes no mistakes although some people may wonder how you came to merit such a reward, as they had never heard of you before.

– Selected.

From Streams in the Desert - Mrs. Charles E. Cowman (quote from the original, not updated, version)


For more on coral reefs and polyps, including pictures, check out here, here, here and here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

this week's garden moment

is veronica (blue) and sea thrift (pink) in a tangle of color and line. Sea thrift would look more brilliant, of course, if I took the time to dead-head!














Other gardens I've come across:
Rebecca -- from the Yukon.
Islandsparrow - from P.E.I.
Candyinsierras -- from Nevada (HT/Rebecca)
Kim from Hireath -- from Hireath of course (HT/Rebecca)
Dulciana - from Georgia

congratulations!


My friend and poet buddy Alvin Ens published a second volume of his poems, I Am the Poem, in 2005. I just got the news that his book won a 2006 Word Guild Award in the "Special Books" category. That award, along with dozens more Canadian writing awards, was announced at a special gala in Toronto on June 14th.

Congratulations, Alvin!!

A sampling of Alvin's poetry:

- Let Your Light So Shine

- Clearly

- The Loop

- Find the Mind

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

pushing up daisies



Rest In Peace - cultivator in the orchard at the Stewart Farmhouse, Surrey, B.C.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

no condition is permanent



It feels like we are in a holding pattern right now – circling, circling but not given permission to land just yet. Or like a boat in dry dock – up on blocks instead of in our natural element, directing our days of puttering around in the water.

Mom has been in hospital a week today. Her condition remains unstable. She is on oxygen and getting some medication by mask. These seem to help her breathing. The doctor stopped by while we were visiting on Sunday. When I quizzed her about what is next and do we need to see about getting other arrangements in place, she hemmed and hawed, then beckoned me outside and told me the cold hard fact - Mom may never leave the hospital.

Of course Mom, as mentally chipper as she is, demanded, as soon as I reentered the room: “What did she way?”

I told her. And she knew. Somewhere in her gut she has known for a while.

Of course a miracle could happen. We pray that it does. But until then, it’s one day at a time, waiting, and handling whatever comes at us.

We will be giving notice on the assisted living apartment. Then E. and I need to clear it out. We’ll put things in storage.

In my ‘work life’ - man am I ever glad I don’t have transcription to worry about! But I do have a few writing-related things to get in order. That’s where it’s so important to listen. To get my assignments from God each day and do them. To act on those urges even though the calendar says I have lots of time.

In that vein, I look back and see that it was so a God-thing to get my kids’ devotional book proposal out when I did - in that little window of opportunity the few weeks when Mom was feeling better. I have also finished writing and nearly done tweaking my next FellowScript article, due July 1st. And yesterday I started putting together (that is, choosing, putting in order and doing edits on) my next book of poems (related to something I haven’t mentioned on here: in April I was appointed International Christian Poet Laureate by Utmost Christian Writers. One of the perks of that appointment is the publication of a book of poems, hopefully by Christmas 2006).

Yesterday this verse grabbed my attention:

“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed. A refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9

(times = a particular time or season)

I feel like I am in one of those times or seasons at the moment. When such a time is on me, it feels like circumstances will never change, that such a time will never end. It’s in times like this I recall one of the sayings of a former pastor: “Just remember, no condition is permanent.”

In the meantime, I need to continually defer to God as my boss, my schedule and agenda-maker, my refuge. In that way, I know that someday I’ll look back on these days, weeks, even months and recognize them as a good time.

Photo: The boat hospital - Ward's Marina (at the Stewart Farmhouse), Surrey, B.C.

Monday, June 19, 2006

twenty-five years ago today ...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

my dad


In His Shop

In his shop Daddy improvised
like a jazz musician.
Virtuoso of rivets, solder, screws
he repaired hinges with leather
lengthened a steering shaft
for the tractor-drawn binder
braced wobbly chairs with welding rods
reincarnated metal seats
into lawn furniture.

Lightning from his welder
like brain synapses
crackled creations into being.
Pounding hammer
tapping chisel
whining file perfected
riffs of leather, metal, wood.

© 2003 Violet Nesdoly

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

My dad died almost 31 years ago. He was a quiet, shy man. My regret is that I didn’t get to know him better. Here are some things I remember about him:

- When we were little he would set the youngest of us on his knee, then the rest of us would crowd round as he drew pictures and we guessed what he was drawing.

- He talked to the animals – the cows, pigs, Prince and Queen the horses, of course the dog Toby.

- He could always figure out a way to fix things.

- He was easygoing – to a point. But push him too far and you’d be in big trouble.

- He played the saxophone. Hearing saxophone ensembles always remind me of him.

- Laundry for our large family (nine children) was a big job. Mom got up at 4:00 a.m. to get it started. Often Dad would get up shortly after she did to hang the clothes on the line for her.

- He worked hard on our small mixed farm and rarely took holidays. Spending a day at the river fishing was as good as a week away to him.

- He established a ‘family altar’ in our home. It was called schluss – a German word that means ending. Sometime shortly before bed he called us from our various activities to read a Bible story from Egermier’s Bible Stories, and then we prayed, oldest to youngest. (As we got older oh how we tried to get out of schluss).

- Most days after lunch he went to his bed, lay down, read his Bible, then took short nap, with the Bible laying open on his chest, rising and falling to the rhythm of his snoring.

- He died of complications of bone cancer in 1975. In his last painful months he did something he had always been too shy or reserved to do before – told us in words that he loved us.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

in the morning


My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You
And I will look up.
- Psalm 5:3

Friday, June 16, 2006

gay agenda for b.c. schools

Joel at Proud to be Canadian declares in his - 'Church of overt leftist liberalism in full evangelical mode in BC' post:

"Certainly no kid of mine will ever go to public school in BC."

to find out why

(Also note helpful links posted prominently at the bottom of his piece.)

garden moments

A garden is always changing, never a static place. One plant blooms, then fades, but even as it does, another takes over. I have special garden moments, though, when I wish I could stop time and keep things the way they are. This one, when dianthus in her unapologetic pinkness and fragrance takes the stage, with cool blue-green hosta as a backdrop, is high on my list of favorites.

I remind myself that life is like that too. Interrupting the humdrum of ordinary come special moments of beauty. I look back on such times in my life, when the kids were little, for example, and B. would spring into my arms and cling to me with his hands around my neck, feet around my waist. Or when S. in her imaginary world was a singer or dancer or mommy to her dolls and bears. Then there’s that family reunion we had some years ago which I must admit I was dreading, but when it happened, it had a perfection that still glows through the years. The little family supper we had a few weeks ago, with Mom here as well as L&M and C.& J. and the kids was another, as was the night out last Saturday.

The challenge is to see, appreciate and live those moments fully. And to realize that just as the day lilies will take over from now-tattered clematis, and impatiens will light the corner where dianthus once shone, there will be more bright faces and happy moments even if the present looks entirely gloomy and barren, even desperate.

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

Other garden moments:
- from Rebecca - her June 12th Yukon garden
- from Nancy - what to do with a harvest of rhubarb.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

another milestone


This beautiful bouquet sits on my diningroom table – fourteen red roses from Ernie to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, which is officially on Monday. He brought them home early in case we follow through with our original plan to spend the weekend with the kids.

Twenty fifth anniversaries were big deals in my parent’s generation. I remember when the 25th anniversary was a time the couple or their kids hosted friends and family to a dinner or tea and then they got gifts! Maybe that still happens, I’m not sure. I just know we’re so not into that. In fact, our plan was to keep it entirely low key. (Our dream is to celebrate with a trip to eastern Canada – Quebec and the Maritimes. We’ll see.)


But last Saturday Ernie’s siblings all drove up for the day and took us out to dinner at the Boathouse (in White Rock near the pier).



My sis D. who was in town, also joined us. What a fun evening. Oh yes, and they got us a gift – a beautiful hurricane lantern-style candle holder with (you guessed it) a silver base. Thanks so much, guys!

(And thank You, Lord, for these 25 years. Great is Your faithfulness!)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

new territory

I haven’t talked much about what’s happening with Mom in the last while – but stuff is. The edema (fluid retention) in her limbs has been getting a little worse every day. It is also in her chest cavity so that she can’t breathe well. Even a walk around her apartment leaves her breathless and wheezing. On Monday I asked that her meals be delivered to her suite.

We’ve had her back to our family doctor, the heart specialist and our local hospital’s Heart Function Clinic. There she was being worked up to be part of the home I.V. program and get her diuretic delivered intravenously instead of orally, seeing as how the massive doses of Lasix she is on by pills don’t seem to be having any effect. I was told that the home I.V. program’s intention is that the patient or a family member give the treatment in the home. (This would mean that I would need to learn to do this? Yikes!)

I also put in a request, Monday, that she be moved to a higher level of care.

Yesterday her assisted living place called an ambulance for her and she was admitted to hospital (and I wonder if she’ll ever live in her little suite at the Villa again).

Also, the nurse in charge of placement called me back saying that if she requires ongoing medication by I.V., no extended care places will accept her. In other words, she’ll need acute care - that is, hospital (or perhaps palliative?) care.

Whew! On one hand I’m relieved that I won’t have to learn and give home I.V. I am not a nurse and the thought of doing something like that totally scares me. On the other, I feel sad and not a little bewildered and overwhelmed. We’re in new territory here.

The temptation is to worry, fret and be consumed with ‘what if’s.’ In this regard, the My Utmost for His Highest reading this morning, based on John 15:4, is perfect:

It does not matter what my circumstances are, I can be as sure of abiding in Jesus in them as in a prayer meeting. I have not to change and arrange my circumstances myself. With Our Lord the inner abiding was unsullied. He was at home with God wherever His body was placed. He never chose His own circumstances, but was meek towards His Father’s dispensations for him. Think of the amazing leisure of Our Lord’s life!

...Think of the things that take you out of abiding in Christ – Yes Lord, just a minute, I have got this to do; Yes I will abide when once this is finished; when this week is over, it will be all right, I will abide then....Determine to abide in Jesus wherever you are placed.

- Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest


(Also, if you have a minute, could you lift us up to the Father?)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

flower fashion


Magnolia's wedding gown
is creamy white velvet


with a lacy veil
of water parsnip.


The Rose sisters
wear classic tailored suits
of pink jersey.


Aliums have chosen
ruffled sundresses
of yellow cotton.


Love-in-a-mist
is crisp and cool
in blue seersucker


But the Pansies
in their elegant but flirty
black satin dresses
steal the show.

Monday, June 12, 2006

interview with author Sharon Hinck


Today I get to talk to Sharon Hinck, author of the The Secret Life of Becky Miller.

Welcome, Sharon! Now, what I’d really like to ask is, what Becky Miller-type adventures have you already been on today. But since we’re dealing with virtual time here, I guess I’ll have to stick with my script. So, shall we begin.

Violet: The Secret Life of Becky Miller is your first full-length novel, but surely not your first published writing. Talk about your writing journey to this point.

Sharon: I’ve loved reading since I was about four, so it was natural for me to love writing as well. It wasn’t until grad school when one of my writing profs suggested markets for my articles that I began to pursue publication. Then it was parenting tips, devotions, first person non-fiction, humor kinds of things. I was the artistic director of a Christian ballet company for ten years, and during those years my writing shifted to newsletters, patron letters, scripts, and press releases. About three and a half years ago, I joined a local writer’s group and began my first novel.

Violet: Becky and her friends and family (in all their variety) ring true. From the way you paint characters and portray friendship and family, I get the impression you are a people-person. How do you reconcile the people-loving part of you with the many solitary hours required to write a book?

Sharon: This is an AWESOME question. I’m an odd blend of the melancholy introvert artist (the tormented Russian side of my genes) and a sanguine extroverted bubbly type (I have no idea where that came from). It’s actually a little tough, because I need extremes of both –– time alone in my mental cave wrestling with the monsters and shaping words for stories, and also intensive time with people interacting, debating, laughing, and sharing.

When I wrote my first manuscript (not yet published) we had family discussions around supper each night about the plot and characters. It was a fun interactive way to test ideas. However, I’m also learning that as I writer I need to listen to my own instincts...and sometimes need to get a little LESS input. :-) It’s a very challenging balance.

My writing groups help me get some of the social interaction I crave, and speaking for church groups and book groups also gets me out of the house and away from the invisible crows that flap around my head telling me how wretched my writing is.

Now that my first book is releasing, I’m having a harder time creating space and silence for writing. Honestly, I’ve begun to ask my author friends how they find time to write once they are published. Marketing, promotion, signings, speaking opportunities, answering reader mail, and stressing over whether the book will fly (okay, that one is optional...but one that eats up a lot of my time) all fill my day. One of the strange ironies of this business.

Violet: I really enjoyed the vignettes that began each chapter. How did you come up with that idea and what were you hoping to achieve with those bits?

Sharon: Those were GREAT fun to write. :-) I got the idea from the old James Thurber short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” - where we get a glimpse into the grandiose daydreams of a downtrodden “everyman.” Women talk about feeling like they have to be covert secret agents to keep track of their preteen’s activities, or a race-car driver to manage the car pooling, or have the balancing skills of an Olympic gymnast to manage all their roles. I just took those metaphors a little further. In addition to adding some fun to Becky’s story, I hoped they would give a window into Becky’s subconscious feelings about her life.]

Violet: The faith questions you grapple with in the story (for example, what is my Big Thing for God and what does God really require of me) resonated. Do they reflect experiences from your own life? What are some of those?

Sharon: Yes –– and more than I intended. I identify with Becky’s good-hearted desire to make a difference, and I also understand her sometimes ridiculous self-imposed pressures and expectations. But one of the spiritual themes that emerged as the story developed -- and that I hadn’t planned on--was that God uses us in our weakness. I don’t like that truth. I want to be big and strong and admirable. Instead, God invites me to offer my weak, flawed, and wobbly self and whispers to me to trust Him. Even when I can’t see it, He is allowing my life to bless others. And often the grand schemes I come up with do less to serve others and only exhaust me. And the quiet daily choices can make a huge difference.

Those are all concepts I believe in my head, but haven’t yet absorbed into my bones. In fact, my friends delighting in calling me out on my workaholism and perfectionism. “Hey, Sharon. You oughta read this book. It’s called The Secret Life of Becky Miller. It might help you realize how much you’re driving yourself.” LOL! With friends like that...
...I’ve got plenty of fodder for future books. :-)

Violet: Becky Miller falls into the mom-lit genre. According to this Writer’s Digest article, more and more publishing houses are seeking out such manuscripts. Did you write Becky Miller knowing that mom-lit was in demand, or was the meeting of your story and the current market a happy coincidence?

Sharon: I actually had read several general market mom-lit novels a few years ago that resonated with me, and there wasn’t much in the CBA at the time (although some fine ones came out while I was busy writing BECKY MILLER). Since I’ve written first person humor accounts for magazines and book compilations, the voice of mom-lit was a good fit for my writing style. However, I also love speculative fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, adventure. So by including Becky’s wild daydreams, I got to add a twist to my mom-lit.

Violet: Well done on Becky Miller! What’s next?

Sharon: Thank you, Violet! And thanks for letting me visit your awesome blog.
In March, 2007, RENOVATING BECKY MILLER releases from Bethany House. Becky and her family decide to simplify their lives by purchasing an old farmhouse to renovate. Yeah, right! Plus, Becky’s mother-in-law is having health problems and comes to live with them. Stresses abound at work, Becky’s best friend is acting weird, and the Miller family is on the verge of losing everything. Becky loves fixing things, so she sets out to fix her mother-in-law, her children, her church, and her friend. But God is planning some renovations in Becky’s heart.

The following year, IN THE KEY OF MOM will come out, also from Bethany House, about a concert flutist who is the single mom of a teen daughter. New characters. Still “mom-lit” but from a different sort of angle. I have a fourth book contracted that is still in development, so I’ll be busy for a while. And I suppose, like Becky, I’ll continue to wrestle with trying to figure out all the answers and coming to a point of deeper surrender where I trust God even when He doesn’t explain everything to me. :-)

Hugs,
Sharon Hinck

Violet: Congratulations on that multi-book contract! I, for one, am looking forward to more of Becky's adventures. And thank you for coming on my blog, Sharon. I hope June turns out to be a super month for your supermom!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

profound words

from musical fellow-blogger Dulciana after a week of VBS where she was the music teacher. She led the kids in a train-making project using found music -- i.e. incorporating the sounds of everyday life. Though the project is done, she keeps hearing music -- everywhere!

Her profound conclusion:

...we can transcend the everyday even while being a part of it, on both an artistic and a spiritual level. Music does not have to exist in some realm separate from everyday life. It exists in the most mundane of noises if you can hear it. Similarly, the experience of God’s presence is not just a state of mind reserved for cathedrals. We can connect with the pervading presence of the divine in the most mundane of experiences like raking or gardening or cleaning the house. In fact, these may be some of the best ways.

(Well said, D!)

copyright tips for bloggers

An excellent article with links to more...

Hat-tip: Carol's Storybook

Friday, June 09, 2006

blog book tour

Monday - circle Monday! Then come back here to read Sharon Hinck in conversation. Sharon’s the author of The Secret Life of Becky Miller. It’s just been released by Bethany House. (You might want to get a copy – it’s good.)

The tour thus far has been varied -- and interesting. Here is a sample from yesterday's interview by Lisa at Heart Of Africa:

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

SHARON: I need to write for an audience of One. When I began writing novels, I worried about the time I was spending on something that might not ever see tangible “success.” But as God reassured me that He valued our time together over a keyboard, I decided to accept that IF my writing was proven to be a waste of time, my time was His to waste, and I would be at peace with that.

So, check out other stops on her tour here, then come back Monday.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Sometimes you've just got to get away from it all.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

another window garden



Rebecca who writes from the Yukon has just posted a picture of her garden taken from an upstairs window. I thought that was a great idea, so I tried the same thing.

This is actually five photos, put together by a neat photo editing program that came with my camera. It makes panorama pictures out of a series of shots.

Naturally my garden has the jump on hers in maturity - it being in the temperate west coast of Canada. Because my garden is made up of mostly perennials, my plants don't need to concern themselves with my habitual procrostination either. They begin to stir at the first sound of nature's alarm clock.

In a few weeks, I'm sure her garden will overtake mine, in practicality if not foliage... as hers is mostly edible. (I'm afraid I'd need to be pretty starved to be tempted by a salad of hosta, dahlia and impatiens!)

Monday, June 05, 2006

do you suppose

this little guy thinks he can't be seen?




(From our walk around the Nico Wynd Golf Course today.)

the weekend

was flavored by this profile piece on Brandilyn Collins (rising star of Christian suspense fiction). After reading it I was drawn to check out the story of how she got where she did, posted on her blog Forensics and Faith. Sixty fiveposts later... oh my - what a story! (It starts on February 24, 2005 and goes into June. Good thing I printed it out. But have you ever tried to read a consecutive story printed up by month in blog format? It’s a bit like putting a puzzle together!)

Then there’s the story of her healing from Lyme disease - short but compelling and faith-building.

I found lots of good practical stuff to take away from Brandilyn's stories, for my writer-life and my life in general. (If you’re an aspiring writer – in whatever genre but especially fiction – read her story. You’ll learn lots!) One thing she talks about doing over and over, especially in times of stress, sickness and confusion, is praying the Psalms.

Now I’ve heard of this before but haven’t done it consistently. I think I’m going to start.

In fact, I started this morning. I wrote down the list of Psalms she suggests (at the bottom of this post) for when in distress/sickness/pain and for praise, always.

I went to the first reference on her list, Psalm 25:11-16 and read it from the beginning. Though the verses 11-16 are bang-on if you’re ill. I’m not at the moment. But those first verses of the Psalm are exactly the cry of my heart today:

I need this especially in relation to Mom. If you’ve read here before, you know that she’s 92 and her health is failing. She had a crisis over Easter, which she has weathered and she’s still in her little apartment in assisted living. But she’s fragile. Yesterday afternoon she phoned, full of distress. She’s having trouble breathing, very wheezy and so tired she didn’t go for lunch, didn’t feel like going for dinner.

I went right over, we had a talk and soberly looked again at the possibility that this is the time to get her on the list for a facility with more care. Of course the trade-off would be less independence, an even-smaller room, perhaps a room-mate who is in who-knows-what cognitive state. What to do?

So this morning with yesterday in mind and still wondering whether calling Mom’s worker is really the right thing to do, I’m praying these words from Psalm 25 “...O my God I trust in You...Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths...” when the phone rings. It’s Mom. She’s says, “Don’t phone yet...”

Anyway, go read Brandilyn’s book story. At least you won’t have to wait for the next installment, like her readers in real time did.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

weed trees

There is a cottonwood tree growing in the park behind our fence. When we moved here in 1983 it was small and kind of cute. I actually thought it and the few alders beside it might be in our yard. But when we dug to find the property markers before putting up a fence, they were just outside.


At first we hardly noticed the clump of trees except that it gave a little welcome summer shade. But as time went on the trees grew and shaded our back yard to the extent it got hardly any afternoon sun at all. My garden didn't like that. The strawberries became few, small and sour. The peas got mildew. The tomatoes grew gangly and blighted. Finally in discouragement I gave up my vegetable garden altogether.

Then came the year those trees housed a thriving colony of tent caterpillars. Our neighbors got the city to take out a row of infested volunteer alders behind their property. But when we made the same request we came upon the intransigence that has characterized their reaction ever since: What!! Cut down trees?! NEVER! Not unless they endanger life and limb.



Over the years as the alders have weakened with age and split in the cold and wind, we’ve convinced the powers-that-be they are a danger. One by one those weed trees have been removed. But the cottonwood remains.

Today it towers over the fence, its limbs leaning greedily omtp our yard. By now I’ve adapted my garden so that it’s full of hostas, impatiens and other shade-loving plants. And though each season we have to deal with the tree’s litter of cotton sticks in the spring and leaves in the fall, we can handle that. It’s the roots that are the issue now.



I can’t dig a foot down into the garden without encountering their ropy network. And they’re not only under the garden but under the entire lawn. Numerous times each summer we’ve found leaves sprouting from root nodes that poke through the lawn. When these are dug out they leave long scars in the grass. This week Ernie pulled out another. It was about five feet in length, three inches in diameter at widest and came within about a yard of the house's foundation.

The tree that started out so small and innocent-looking and now would take over our yard if we let it, reminds me of the sins of the self-life. A little pride, a little jealousy, a few hurt feelings, a small grudge, a bit of complaining, the odd lustful thought. Aren’t these natural? Just part of being human? Certainly not very threatening,

But any one of these things can take over and get so big that, like I changed what I put in my garden, we alter the way we live to accommodate them (look for ways to promote ourselves, avoid or not talk to certain people, snub others or put them down, cultivate friendships with negative people, dwell on thoughts of revenge, etc.). And still they grow, till they threaten the very foundation of life with neurosis, physical illness, broken relationships, addiction and financial ruin.

I wish there had been a way to deal with that weed cottonwood tree back when it was a sapling. There wasn’t and now we have no choice but to be watchful so that we limit the damage it causes. However, it’s possible with God’s help to deal more effectively with sin. The Holy Spirit and the Bible can help us identify it. Then we need to deal with it in the sapling stage, before its roots weave their network through our lives and threaten our very foundations

Friday, June 02, 2006

wild roses

The smell of wild roses is in the air these days.

Wild roses are plain-looking, compared to their hybridized cousins. But I've yet to find a domesticated rose with as sweet a smell.

These were the tiniest wild roses I've seen but with the typical big wild rose perfume. (Now I'd really be impressed with technology if a way could be found to communicate smell along with image!)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

contemplating heaven


I think Jesus would be puzzled by our preoccupation with heaven as something that is exclusively hereafter. “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,” Jesus said, “Nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21, emphasis added).

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

This is eternal life: that they may know You...and Me.

There is something about heaven and eternity that we have to grasp because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else. We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance.

It’s this: Heaven starts now.

[...] Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship. It is first and foremost a presence: to know God and Jesus Christ.

Eternity begins now.

Christianity’s most shocking claim is that Jesus is the only way to God. No one gets to heaven apart from Jesus. No one enters eternal joy apart from Christ. That’s our claim. I have seen people react to it with anger, contempt, disgust, incredulity. How dare you say that ! That is so arrogant and narrow and imperialistic. That reaction might be warranted if heaven were only a place and eternity only a duration of time. But heaven is a unique knowing. It is personal, intimate knowledge, not of some thing but of Some One – the only true God and Jesus the one He sent.

This is eternal life.

Mark Buchanan in Things Unseen – Living in Light of Forever, Multnomah Publishers 2002.

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