Friday, August 24, 2007

how Sunday Adelaja learned to pray

Well, we're seeing the finish line in this move. The last days have been long, tiring ones of packing. Who knew one small house could hold so much?

Carrying on with this week's blogging rehash, I've been putting up old posts which, according to Sitemeter, garner the most hits. Today we've come to number one -- and it's really no contest. It is the testimony of Pastor Sunday Adelaja, which I first posted on September 16, 2005 - "How Sunday Adelaja learned to pray."

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As I’ve mentioned recently, Pastor Sunday Adelaja was a guest speaker at our church last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

For those unfamiliar with him, he pastors the biggest church in Ukraine, 20,000+ members, called the Embassy of God. He and his church members were prominent in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in late 2004, early 2005.

As someone who yearns to see a turnaround in my country Canada, I listened to his recounting of what happened in Ukraine with a lot of interest. If I learned anything, it was that you have to pay a price.

The changes in Ukraine have a history. They were birthed in much prayer. In one message, Pastor Sunday told us how he spends one week out of every four in isolation, fasting and praying. This is to intercede for the country, the church and to get God’s direction and strategy.

The Embassy of God sponsors a spring and a fall festival each year. These are ten to twelve-day stretches when up to 1000 people (from his church and from all over Europe – countries from the former Soviet Union, Holland, Germany etc.) will gather. There they will spend the entire time in fasting and prayer. They will pray up to ten hours at a stretch.

On Tuesday night, Pastor Sunday told us the story of how he learned to pray. (These are the exact words from his message – which I transcribed [see, I knew my medical transcription experience would prove valuable for some kingdom purpose!]).

In the words of Sunday Adelaja:

Now, anywhere you see a visitation, a genuine visitation, somebody has been found who stood in the gap. That’s why I said, we prayed, not just some sweety-sweety prayer. We must learn to pray the kind of prayer that James was talking about, that, you know, the fervent prayer of the righteous cannot but avail much. It must bring results. It must produce the rain of righteousness.

In our church, you know, in Ukraine, when I went to the Ukraine in 1993, the first time when I went to visit, I was coming from Belarus. I started in Belarus. And when I entered Ukraine, where I am today, I felt like there was a dark cloud over the whole city, over the country. And I would say, "My, are there no churches in this city? Why is it so bad?" I could feel the heaviness. Maybe some people went to Russia in the ‘90s. In the early ‘90s. You could see the cloud. It was even worse than Belarus at that point.

Then I was walking the streets and I was praying, "Oh God, raise up men to pray this thing through." And I never knew a year later, God was going to send me there. So when God sent me there, I knew the first thing I needed to do was to pray through.

Now God had taught me to pray through while I was a student, just years before then, during communism. I was a student. There was no church. We couldn’t have any relations with the underground church so we were just isolated on the campus, the student campus. And at the point when I knew I was giving up, I was defeated, I couldn’t hold on any longer, communism was shrinking me and brothers and sisters who came as believers were all backsliding. You know, people were being sent to the psychiatric hospital, people were being sent to mental hospitals because they were Christians and others were leaving the country, and so when it was so difficult, there was another believer. We made a covenant and we said, "We are going to meet every day. No matter what we do. No matter where we go. No matter what happens. We are going to meet every day until God does something or heaven opens."

So we made a covenant with ourselves to meet together, not to talk, not to preach. Not to do anything else. Just to intercede and pray together for two hours minimum. Minimum from two, three, four.


That was the most difficult one year in my whole life. I could pray before then for two hours, but to do it every day? Everything fought it. My professors would ask me to come to class. I was a student, then, in the university. My classmates would come and you couldn’t pray openly. You were being watched. You were being monitored. To find a place of isolation – oh yeah, my God, we needed to go through hell just to keep that covenant. But we did.

When it was one year, after we were praying two hours every single day, heaven broke loose. It was like we were no more under communism. The Spirit of God descended on us like mad. People began to get saved through us. God broke the chains and led us supernaturally to the believers, to the Russian believers in the underground church. We got a breakthrough. We began to fellowship together, preach together.

That was how my ministry began in 1991. The Holy Ghost began to appear. When I woke up in the morning, I would lie on my bed, cover myself and I just prayed one hour, straight in tongues, no English, no Russian, just wake up, and... (here he began praying in tongues to demonstrate and in the next 20 minutes or so, a fire of prayer swept through the room).


The links for audio files to Tuesday evening message and the other three sessions are 'here.' (Update July 2007: the link that was above no longer works and has been removed. Please visit the Embassy of God website to hear Pastor Adelaja's messages, though not this one, "Preaching and Teaching" - left sidebar) The Tuesday message is long though, 1 hour and 45 minutes. And be warned. The approximately 20 minutes of prayer in tongues is there (it may offend some), along with after it, an explanation by Pr. Sunday of what actually happens in their prayer sessions and how they switch from praying in the Spirit, to praying with understanding, to applying and praying Scripture.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

modern ghost town

The ghost town of Tranquille, just outside Kamloops is a source of never-ending fascination. My August 28/06 story about visiting there is my second most popular post.

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We got back yesterday from a great little weekend away. We drove to Kamloops Saturday morning to spend some time with this fun couple.



One of the things we fit in, on top of a little walking, a little TV watching, some great eating and an evening spent listening to music in Riverside Park...



was a trip to a modern ghost town.

Tranquille was, as the title of this book tells us, a whole little city by itself.

According to this article about Tranquille’s history, gold was discovered at the site where the buildings now sit around 1857 and the city came to life. Then in 1905 when the British Columbia anti-tuberculosis society began looking for a site to build a provincial hospital, Tranquille turned out to be an ideal location with its dry and mountainous climate.

The plot of land was bought from its original owners, the Fortune family, in 1907 for $57,000. It was used as a tuberculosis sanatorium for 51 years. The sanatorium was nearly self-sufficient, with its own dairy, gardens, water supply, even a newspaper. It only used Kamloops electricity. Underground tunnels connect many of the buildings with pipes in them to distribute the steam for heating.

In 1958 when treatments for TB had changed, the facility was closed as a sanatorium. In 1959 it was converted into a home for mentally handicapped people. At one point it employed up to 600 staff. That part of its history ended in 1985 when the B.C. Government’s policy became to disperse former patients throughout the community into group homes (and onto the streets!).

In 1991 it was bought by a company who planned to develop it into an Italian resort called Padova City. That never happened and today the entire city sits - empty. There are signs around its perimeter warning prospective trespassers that it is private property and guarded 24 hours.

We walked up a road that goes behind the property and I got a few shots of the backs of buildings.





A drive later took us to a vantage point from which we could see the whole spread. Kamloops lake is in the background.



A bit of digging online brought me to the site of “Wraiths” of some kind who have been on the property. Their description of exploring the grounds along with photos of the inside of these buildings was fascinating, but is no longer online.

There are a few more photos here and here.

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Updated May 17/09
YouTube that was formerly below was deleted, as it was "Removed by owner."

Updated October 28/07
Stale link removed..

hot


Fire dancers

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Next Week: YELLOW (Sunshine, Flowers, Butter, Birds, Fruit, Vegetables, Candies,...)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

west jet funnies

Maybe a West-jet plane being in the news last week (involved in a near-miss on a Los Angeles runway) sparked the interest in West-jet, and resultant google searches. At any rate and for whatever reason, "West Jet Funnies" from November 7, 2005 is my third most popular post in the last while.

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It’s Monday and a slow blog day. I got an email of WestJet funnies some time ago and saved it for such a time as this.

I don’t fly often but did fly WestJet last year; it’s true; the flight attendants are very entertaining. They didn’t use any of these on our flight, though and I’m thinking their book of funnies must be some fat! (Or maybe one of the qualifications to be a WestJet flight attendant is to be naturally funny.)

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WestJet is an Airline with head office situated in Calgary, Alberta. WestJet airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:


On a WestJet flight (There is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"
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On another WestJet Flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."
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On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have."
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"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."
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"Thank you for flying WestJet Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."
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As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at the Vancouver Airport, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"
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After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Ontario, a flight attendant on a West Jet flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."
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From a WestJet Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard WestJet Flight 245 to Calgary. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."
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"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."
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Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than WestJet Airlines."
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"Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."
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"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants.. Please do not leave children or spouses."
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And from the pilot during his welcome message: "WestJet Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"
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Heard on WestJet Airlines just after a very hard landing in Edmonton : The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."
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Overheard on an WestJet Airlines flight into Regina, on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Regina. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"
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Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."
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An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"
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After a real crusher of a landing in Halifax, the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."
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Heard on a West JetAirline flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing. If you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."
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Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of WestJet Airways."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

personalysis

The meme-thing I posted on July 10/05 dubbed "The World's Shortest Personality Test" is number 4 of my most visited posts.

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You are dignified, spiritual, and wise.
Always unsatisfied, you constantly try to better yourself.
You are also a seeker of knowledge and often buried in books.

You tend to be philosophical, looking for the big picture in life.
You dream of inner peace for yourself, your friends, and the world.
A good friend, you always give of yourself first.


hat tip - Rebecca

Monday, August 20, 2007

communion thoughts

Yesterday I went through the house with a clipboard, making an inventory of all the things I still need to do before we're ready for our move on Friday. It's a long list. This will be a busy week in the packing department.

So in the interests of getting lots of that done done this week, I've decided to warm up some old posts instead of writing new ones. I'll be reposting my five most popular, according to sitemeter stats. Today it's number 5 - a poem "Communion" which I first posted when my blog was about one month old in November 2004. (It seems 'communion thoughts' is a popular Google search every Saturday night. Thus I get a hit or two or three every weekend.)

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COMMUNION

"Communion Service,
next Sunday morning at 10:00,"
church bulletin said.
I imagined sitting there,
wafer and tiny goblet of juice in hand
trying hard not to think
of what I'll make for lunch.
It wasn't even a prayer, just a thought
I wish it had more meaning for me again.

Early Communion Sunday morning
the book opened to the spot
kept by the crocheted cross
"The Bread that I present to the world
so that it can eat and live
is myself,
this flesh-and-blood self."

(Ew gross!
It offended the Jews then,
'How can this man
serve up his flesh for a meal?'

People still say,'Your religion
is too bloody.')

"But Jesus didn't give an inch.
'Only insofar as you eat and drink
the flesh and blood of the Son of Man
do you have life within you.
By eating my flesh
and drinking my blood,
you enter into me
and I into you.
... bring a hearty appetite.
... make a meal of me."*

Oh God of heaven, Jesus, Lord
On personal invitation
I'll chew the bread, imbibe the wine
Your presence my distraction.

I cannot with my literal mind
Pretend to understand
What happens when I eat and drink
Inscrutable, heavenly plan,

It’s mystery
And intimacy,
Communion
God with man.

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*Peterson, Eugene H. The Message, the New Testament In Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs CO., Navpress, 1993, John 6 – pp. 234,235.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

cd review: Under the Gaze


Before I got my Mac it was simple to ignore the Apple iTunes store. Not any more. It's way too easy now to click on over and start browsing (with that direct link from my iTunes app), thus putting myself in the way of all kinds of temptation. That's what happened last Saturday night -- and before I knew it, I was the proud owner of Carolyn Arends' 2004 release "Under the Gaze." After all, I said to myself, how often do I find myself loving every single clip of a whole CD?

I'm not exactly sure what classification this album falls into. It's part folk, part pop and has a definite roots feel to it (accompanied as Carolyn is by Spencer Capier - roots musician par excellence -- Plays Well With Others -- and his managerie of acoustic instruments from fiddle to sitar with lots of guitar and mandolin in between). Arends' voice is plaintive. It's been called a "little girl voice" and she's been compared to Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Her voice also reminds me of the female Rankin Family singers.

Arends' lyrics are the real treat for me, though. This 12-track album (13 if you count the short and most adorable hidden track) begins with what I think of as an appetizer song, "This is the Moment" (you've been waiting for) -- an upbeat tune that exudes anticipation and hope.

Here are some other highlights:

- "Any Given Sunday," a song about the church, complete with sly humor ("you can count on singin' every kind of music /.... most of it's in tune").

- Personal songs "Getting Ready for Glory" (a song about Steve Bell's grandmother); "Your Laugh" - a love song to and about her husband; "Only Time Will Tell" - a story song about a friends' baby born with a hole in its heart - chokes me up every time I listen to it.

- "Not a Tame Lion" and "Under the Gaze" (fav lines: "Every hair is measured / Every prayer is treasured), "Half a Million Reasons" and "Who You Are" - songs about God and the big picture of where we humans fit with Him.

- "May You Live," a song of blessing, ends the album. Tight harmonies on this one remind me, again, of the Rankin Family.

If you want an uplifting, rootsy, and very listenable album with poetic lyrics that never cease to surprise and delight get yourself a download or the actual CD of Carolyn Arends' "Under the Gaze." You won't regret it.

Listen to clips and view album lyrics (and the story behind each song) from this link (click on [AUDIO/LYRICS/LINER NOTES] beside Under the Gaze).


Carolyn Arends - official website
(She's in Calgary - First Alliance Church - this weekend)
Carolyn Arends - on MySpace
Spencer Capier - on MySpace
Christianity Today interviews Carolyn on "Under the Gaze"

the joy-springing child


You seek My presence and they who seek shall find it. It is not a question of human searching, so much as human consciousness, unconditional surrender to My Will in the small, as in the big things of life. This is what makes My Guidance possible.

You know the difference between taking a glad, loving, joy-springing child with you along a way, when the child anticipates each direction, accepts naturally each decision as to each turning -- and the child who resists, and, rebellious, has to be forced, even though in its quieter moments it may say, "Yes, I do want to go with you. I cannot be left alone, but I hate this way."

It is not the way, but the loving rejoicing in the way and the guidance, that matters with My disciples. You are ready for guidance but you do not rejoice as you should, both of you, in the little daily stones of the way.

- from God Calling by Two Listeners, edited by A. J. Russell


Photo: Buttercup and Bindweed

Thursday, August 16, 2007

cruising

Picture yourself dabbing jam on a rich croissant, taking a bite, following it with a sip of hot coffee and a nibble of grapes and orange slices all the while plowing through the waters of Burrard Inlet, past Stanley Park, under the Lion's Gate Bridge, and around into English Bay.

That was us yesterday morning. Friends from Victoria bought tickets for us to join them on a brunch Harbour Cruise around Vancouver's English Bay.

It was a stunningly gorgeous day and turned out to be one of the highlights of our summer so far. Below are some scenes of Vancouver from the water.

All aboard the Harbour Princess



E. - playing Titanic again.



Last winter's storms played havoc with parts of the sea wall and the forests of Stanley Park.


Granville Market



Loved the cute little water taxis buzzing all around us...



and the continuous trail of canoes and kayaks.




House boats off Granville Island.



My dream job - NOT!



Science World - one of the legacies of Expo 86.



Interesting sculpture. Notice the silver heron taking off midway down.


Tom and Marnie - good friends.


The cruise ship terminal with the sails of Canada Place in the background.


Float planes landed and took off in the water beside us.

The cruise was over too soon. After a walk, we went home and slept off all that food and fresh air.

But, you can never get too much of the sea! The end of this beautiful day found us at at yet another beach - Crescent Beach, doing another one of our favorite things - eating Greek food at Pelagos Restaurant.


(More pictures on my Facebook album here.)

young


These





will become these (Tansy).

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Thursday Challenge

Next week: HOT (Beach, Campfire, Barbecue, Food, Sun, Temperature,...)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

lessons from camp

Amanda (of Wittingshire) spent a week at Bible camp this summer where for two hours each day she taught a class of Junior High girls. She says of these girls:

About half the girls knew who Moses was and could find various books in the Bible. The rest were, to a greater or lesser degree, at sea.

And they had a lot on their minds. Some of them, I learned, chronically missed their mothers, who had to work long hours because absent fathers didn't pay enough child support.

One girl had a father at home, but he didn't like her to go to church. "What do you want to waste time with that for? That's such a load of bull," he'd tell her....

Another girl announced that her grandma had a new boyfriend, and that they had the bedroom next door, so she had to listen to them at night....

I spent all week praying for those girls, but as so often happens, the people I want to bless ended up blessing me. In this case, it happened mostly because of a girl who was different from the others. She had Down Syndrome.

You'll love Amanda's funny and thoughtful account of her week of camp, and its sequel. Read it here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

attack on the most vulnerable

Last week I saw a disturbing documentary about elementary-aged kids playing something called the choking game. In it, they either hold their breath, choke themselves or get someone else to choke them in order to get a short high. The tragic thing is, sometimes this game ends in death.

In the documentary, several of the most unlikely kids were found dead of strangulation. Investigators and parents, at first unaware of the deadly game they were playing, labeled the deaths suicide. It was only later, when the children's participation in the choking game came to light, that it was considered these deaths might have been accidental.

Then today I heard a most tragic thing. About a week ago a six-year-old boy was stripped of his clothes and pushed into a lake by three other boys (seven, eight and nine years). He didn't know how to swim and drowned. It happened in a village north of Winnipeg.

A news article describes the tragic setting -- the village of Pauingassi, which has long had a problem with kids sniffing gasoline and adult alcoholism, abuse, violence and neglect.

What links these two things in my mind is the fact that they are both attacks on kids that are rank with the odor of destruction and death. In fact, the fingerprints of the destroyer are all over them. Satan is attacking the kids! It makes me angry. Let's resist this destruction with more watchfulness and prayer!

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Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8


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Remember that no prayer goes unanswered. Remember that the moment a thing seems wrong to you, or a person's actions to be not what you think they should be, at that moment begins your obligation and responsibility to pray for those wrongs to be righted, or that person to be different.

Face your responsibilities. What is wrong in your country, its statesmen, its laws, its people? Think out quietly, and make these matters your prayer matters. You will see lives you never touch altered, laws made at your request, evils banished....

You may never see the mighty work you do, but I see it, evil sees it. Oh! it is a glorious life, the life of one who saves..."

- From God Calling by Two Listeners, edited by A. J. Russell


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Information on the choking game:

- on Wikipedia
- from a teacher site
- chokinggameinformation.com

Monday, August 13, 2007

modern and streamlined?!

You Are Yogurt

Modern and streamlined, you prefer a breakfast that's quick and healthy.
You live a fast paced life, and you get breakfast only when you're lucky.
And while you are strapped for time, you are still a hardcore foodie.
You often eat the best that your money can buy. You figure you're worth it.


They lie. I would never miss breakfast, though it is true I'm somewhat rushed and distracted when I eat it -- at the computer, catching up on emails, writing a blog post or some such.

HAT TIP: all over the place, but I did this off Rebecca's blog.

summer worker


So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field...

1 Corinthians 3:7-9


Photo: Bee and Goldenrod

dancing word writers ink


I found the Dancing Word Writers Ink site ("Dedicated to equipping and encouraging Christian writers through chats, workshops and articles") a while ago when one of the members of a writer's forum I belong to was interviewed on it.

I bookmarked it then and did some more snooping around on it last night. I'm thinking it's well worth a checkout by potential or developing writers.

The site covers the gamut from live Author Chats (next live author chat is with Canadian writer Sigmund Brouwer on August 24th) to "Writers Soapbox," with a focus on adult and children's fiction. I enjoyed browsing through reviews of new kids' books and the section "Tips from the Red Ink Club" -- about style and the mechanics of punctuation and such.

The site also has lots more spotlight-on-author stuff, and a good archive of Workshop Transcripts on topics like doing research, plotting, self-publishing etc. (Workshops are hosted by one of the web site's editors along with a guest.)

It does cost $5 a year to get access to every part of the site (I paid my dues and so am not sure which sections are open to everyone and which aren't).

If you're a writer, who would like a little more professional development stuff to read...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

blackberries (the kind you eat!)




















My berries cluster black and thick

For rich and poor alike to pick.
I’ll tear your dress, and cling, and tease,
And scratch your hand and arms and knees.

I’ll stain your fingers and your face,
And then I’ll laugh at your disgrace.
But when the bramble-jelly’s made,
You’ll find your trouble well repaid.

—THE SONG OF THE BLACKBERRY QUEEN
by Cicely Mary Bar

Wild blackberries are like the ones you buy, but better. ("Wildman" Steve Brill)

The wild blackberries are here! Lots of good grazing on our walks lately.

Here are some blackberry facts and lore:

1. Also known as "black caps" and bramble berries blackberries are a healthy food; packed with anthocyanins!

2. 1 cup of blackberries has about 60 calories.

3. Ancient Greeks believed blackberries to be a cure for diseases of the mouth and throat, as well as a preventative against many ailments, including gout. Its bushes were also thought to magically cure whooping cough. Blackberry tea was said to be a cure for dysentery during the Civil War

4. The blackberry leaf was used as an early hair dye, having been recommended by Culpeper, the English herbalist, to be boiled in a lye solution in order to "maketh the hair black".

5. The blackberry is also the symbol of envy, lowliness, and remorse. This is because its thorns can catch you, trip you up, and hold on to you.

Blackberry bushes and other brambles can take over a habitat and choke out other plants, the way a greedy person may try to take things from others. So people in Shakespeare's day called lawyers bramble bushes, because they grab on to you and don't let go until they've drawn blood.
- from "Wildman" Steve Brill


Blackberry picking (and eating) tips:

1. Select plump, firm, fully black berries. Unripe berries will not ripen once picked. A ripe blackberry is deep black with a plump, full feel. It will pull free from the plant with only a slight tug. If the berry is red or purple, it's not ripe yet.

2. Keep picked berries out of the sun and cool as soon as possible.

3. Wash just before using.

4. Blackberries keep in the fridge for one week max.

5. Blackberries are freezable. Freezing instructions here.

6. Try blackberries in a cobbler.

7. Or make them into Bramble Jelly.

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When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. - Psalm 104:28

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Blackberry facts, lore and tips gleaned from:

PickYourOwn.org

"Wildman" Steve Brill - more lore on his blackberry page

Friday, August 10, 2007

random thoughts on moving


* Our house is becoming a real live Tetris game.

* It feels like a crime to be spending good money (and lots of it) on boxes. The alternative - get them free off of Craigslist. I tried. But I was too late (probably would have got a bunch of mismatched liquor boxes, she tells herself to feel better).

* Craigslist - it works. We got rid of Mom's old recliner, B's bed and the headboard & footboard for the three-quarter bed (albeit for free and some for a song - but we didn't have to haul anything away!).

* Moving day two weeks from today. Things still to do:
1. Get someone to haul away the geriatric fridge from the shed.

2. Eat through the stuff in the freezer (blueberry smoothies, anyone?).

3. PACK PACK PACK

4. Would I ever like to get another look at where we'll be living. What's with this deciding on a huge purchase like a house after one 20-minute look? No second thoughts here, just want to at least have some idea if all the things I'm assigning to the "Den" will actually fit, which bedroom will be my office, should we put the table in the kitchen or dining room, will our 80s entertainment center fit where we think it will, yada, yada...


5. I'm excited. Praying, Jesus - no Second Coming till we get a chance to live in our new home, please. Yeah, I'm that carnal.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

a better blog?

Are you interested in giving your blog a shot in the arm? Darren Rowse at Problogger is eight days into his 31 Day Blogging Project (31 Days to Build a Better Blog) where he's giving bloggers a task-a-day to make their blog better. (Today's task, for example, is to clean up the sidebar - ouch!)


He has also invited readers to write posts with blogging tips and he's posting links to these. The number of linked posts is already over 150! I guess there's no excuse to keep running with the same old, same old - even though that's what I plan to do for the time being.

...oh yeah, I read one of those links. "How NOT to make money blogging." It looks like there's one in the batch I can identify with.

skill





Cinderella (Sand Sculpture - Harrison Hotsprings, BC)

Annual sand sculpture competitions take place every year in May and September.

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: YOUNG (Baby, Child, Teen, Youthful, Childlike, Kittens, Blossoms,...)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

sonific - terrific!


At least that's what I think. I'm sure if you read here sometimes, you may have noticed I have lately added music to the site via Sonific. They have just updated their platform to make it possible to create playlists. Very cool!

Anyway, I have it set so that when you open the door here the music comes on (albeit softly - only 20% of maximum). In spite of that, I'm sure some of you would prefer silence. If that's the case, please feel free to shut off the player. It's located just under the list of archives in the right sidebar.



You turn off music by clicking on the




If you'd like to hear something else than what's playing, you'll be taken immediately to the next song on the playlist by clicking on the

stories of everyday grace


Notice the new widget in my sidebar "When God Steps In"? Click on the link and you'll be taken to the WGSI blog and the announcement of Bonnie Bruno's latest book, When God Steps in: Stories of Everyday Grace (Standard Publishing), to be released in September. In it appear fifty life-changing true stories, as well as fifty of Bonnie's black and white nature photographs.

Bonnie is an often-published writer and amazing photographer, so I know the book will be well-written and stunning, (Hmmm... might make a nice Christmas gift?)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

book review: The Cure by Athol Dickson


Title: The Cure
Author: Athol Dickson
Publisher: Bethany House, 2007
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
ISBN: 0764201639

When Riley Keep makes the long trek from Florida to Dublin Maine with fellow wino Brice on his back, his conscious motivation is to find, for his friend, the alcoholism cure that’s rumored to be available there. On a subconscious level, though, he’s surely seeking a lot more by coming home. When the cure works on him and he no longer needs to obsess on where he’ll find his next drink, he discovers that his estranged wife Hope is now the mayor and his teenaged daughter likes the lobster fisherman that’s been hanging around Hope better than she likes him. The Cure, Athol Dickson’s second novel, is the story of Riley’s challenge to live life, weighted as it is by former tragedy and guilt, without the aid of the booze that has cushioned him for the last few years. It is a twisty tale of addiction, deception, guilt, greed, cowardice, murder, courage, redemption and the possibility of new beginnings.

The Cure’s main characters are many-layered. Facets of Riley’s and Hope’s characters are revealed through the soul-searching they do in response to story events. (I must admit, though, that Riley’s persistent naïvete – he had been, in another life, an educated and wordly man – did stretch believability at times.) Willa, the keeper of the homeless shelter, is another interesting and mysterious player. Minor characters are not as well rounded, but still interesting and true enough to life to raise reactions like respect (Dylan), disgust (Bill Hightower) and fear (Lee Hanks).

The story’s setting is as bleak and brooding as that in Dickson’s first novel River Rising. There are moments of relief but mostly the grey colors and cold temperatures that greet our homeless alkies when they get to Dublin are reinforced by the growing suspicion and animosity of the townspeople. The clammy winter fogs give way at the book’s climax to a smoky and terrifying conflagration. It all serves to underline the story’s serious subject matter.

Dickson’s skill in plotting was a highlight for me. In that department he demands the reader’s attention as he throws out snippets of information via the various characters’ memories, which one then has to hold onto until more is revealed. Even in this he is cagey. For though we are privy to the thoughts of Riley, Hope and Willa, each seems to be avoiding or suppressing the details of some awful past event. This builds up the reader’s curiosity and increasingly overshadows the story with tragic mystery. The arrival of ever more homeless people in town and the gradually tightening noose of interests competing for control of the cure heighten suspense. Everything untangles at the end. But even there Dickson doesn’t opt for the obvious. It makes for a satisfyingly complex tale with its fair share of surprises.

Dickson’s writing was another of the book’s treats. He cuts straight to the action in efficient prose that never gets in the way of making the reader feel part of the scene. His ability to zoom in on key moments with precise description reminded me of macro-photography. Here, for example, is a bit from early in the story:

“Eagerly he pulled the bottle from the sack. It was full, the seal unbroken, its contents golden like the sunrise but much more beautiful, a complete quart of the finest single-malt Scotch whiskey. He held it a few inches from his face, squinting without his long-lost eyeglasses, recognizing the label from when he was a college professor with a wife and daughter, and his friend Brice was a plumber and they could both afford such things, and he pulled away the cap (it had a cork!) and thrust the bottle to his lips and took the Scotch into himself.”

At the same time he has entered deeply enough into the psyche of his main characters that he is able to plumb the psychological impact of the story’s happenings on them. The result is a thoughtful, sometimes philosophical commentary on a range of themes from addiction to the human condition:

“But could he do that without drinking? He had no model for a life like that, no example of the possibility, no system to avoid the awful truth about himself….Sober or not, nothing really changed, and if honor, life, and freedom could not coexist on either side of his addiction, then they must not really exist at all.”

For a frighteningly real walk in the shoes of an addict, The Cure is hard to match. But it is also a story of hope in the way it shows that not only can the chains of addiction be broken, but the dilemma of how to again fill a life separated from the companionship of alcohol can be faced with divine help: “…crosses to be lifted and carried, and follow me, and follow me.”

For a gripping, thoughtful, and worthwhile read, Athol Dickson’s The Cure is not to be missed.

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Faithful Reader interview of Athol Dickson about the writing of this book.
Infuze interview of A.D. - about the craft of fiction-writing.
Sample: Chapter 1
Athol Dickson's blog

Monday, August 06, 2007

writer's submersion - acclimatize yourself to the depths

J. Mark Bertrand writes at The Master's Artist blog:

What novelists need more than anything is the capacity for immersion. They need enough imagination not only to create the story but also to sustain it. The manuscript must be finished, and this can't be done in one sitting, so the novelist will have to immerse himself time and again like a diver. When he comes up for air, the work is temporarily abandoned, and can't resume until he dives to the same depth where he left off. The writer needs time, yes -- but he needs lung-power too.

Bertrand goes on to explain how this ability to immerse oneself in writing actually begins with the ability to immerse into story as a reader.
Lung capacity is not innate. You build it up over time. Avid swimmers do this without much thought -- it's a by-product of their passion. The same is true for readers. Grow up with books and you develop a natural ability to submerge yourself in the story. You seek out challenging reads for the sheer pleasure of testing yourself

Mark suggests this reading disability is being fed by dumbed-down fiction. I'd say it also happens because of the way we prefer to read most everything these days -- in bullet-sized bites. Reading stuff on the internet surely feeds that tendency.

The solution he suggests for the reader is self-discipline.

He gives a solution for writers too:
My guess is that the writers who have trouble with immersion probably suffer as readers too. This is why one of the best bits of writing advice is to be a better reader. It's the closest thing to a panacea in the craft. But a second is discipline to force yourself to write for hours. Struggle along, even if the results are not exhilarating, so that in time you will build creative capacity.

Read all of "Lung Capacity for Novelists."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

our poverty


As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency, then He can choose you to go with Him to Jerusalem, and that will mean the fulfillment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

We are apt to say that because a man has natural ability therefore he will make a good Christian. It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring with us but of what God puts into us; not a question of natural virtues of strength of character, knowledge and experience - all that is of no avail in this matter. The only that that avails is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God and made His comrades (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

...We do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens. We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right. The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship.

- Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Friday, August 03, 2007

stargazer

My stargazer lily is in bloom. The amazing thing is, I did nothing except water it to help it along.

I got the lily last year as a gift from my friend. It bloomed magnificently but I wasn't sure what to do with it after that. I thought of transplanting it into the garden, but I haven't had a lot of luck with other lilies there. They seem to diminish year by year, as if something is eating their roots. In the end I didn't do anything - just left it in its pot.

I was thrilled when I saw shoots coming from the ground in spring. We had a rather rambunctious winter with some sharp cold spells and I feared the plant might be dead. But it shot up higher than ever and now is in glorious bloom. I can only think it enjoys having its roots hugged.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

the biz

... of writing:
If you're a writer, or wannabe writer, Editorial Anonymous is a blog you'll want to read. EA is wisdom from a children's editor who answers questions from readers about all things writerly from agents to queries. Plus you'll love how she does it - concisely and with acerbic wit.


... of reading:
Cousin blogs Novel Journey and Novel Reviews are great blog additions (new to my blogroll, though they have been around for a while) for the readers and writers of Christian fiction among us. Novel Journey specializes in news, interviews and vodcasts from the world of Christian fiction (note, for example, the recent interview with Beverly Lewis, winner of the 2007 Christy Award for Series books).

Novel Reviews (for which I've been accepted as an occasional contributor!) is strictly reviews of above fiction.


... of cooking (and eating):
Newest Recipe Roundup (Grilling recipes) is up at The Happy Wonderer.

toys



Grandma's Toyland

These toys were part of a Christmas display in Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, B.C.

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Thursday Challenge

Next week: SKILL (Cycling, Skiing, Sports, Weaving, Photography, Craft, Wood Working, Trades, Driving, Flying, Teaching,...)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

bbq & grill recipe roundup...


is happening tomorrow (August 2nd) at Ellen's blog The Happy Wonderer. Don't miss it!

If you have a recipe for barbecue or grilling, or for a marinade or rub for grilling meat, fish or vegetables, post it on your blog and then add your link to her comments tomorrow and she'll transfer it to the roundup page.

Personally, I'm grill-challenged. We have not fired up the barbecue at all this year, due to the fact that it's missing one of its burners. But when we do, one of our favorites is barbecued salmon. My husband does this, so I'm not sure I have it completely right but this is pretty much how it goes:


Barbecued Salmon
Cut fresh or thawed salmon into steaks.
Place them in a barbecue cage.

During cooking, baste the salmon with the following sauce:

1/2 cup butter
juice of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves (or to taste).

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Keep on top of the Recipe Roundup at Rebecca's Recipe Roundup Information page.

book review: Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor


Title: Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret
Author: Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor
Publisher: Moody Press, Chicago, 1932
Genre: Biography
ISBN: 0802400299


If you worked for someone who told you he was forgetful so you'd better remind him when your pay was due -- would you? That's the situation 18-year-old Hudson Taylor faced when he worked as a doctor's assistant during his medical studies. But this one-year-old Christian decided no, he wouldn't do that. Instead, he determined to pray for God to remind his boss of payday. The result was a few gruel-thin meals but also the development of a faith in God's ability to provide always in time. That faith was already in good shape by the time Taylor first went to China in 1853 at the age of 21.

The book Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, authored by his son and daughter-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, is full of just such down-to-earth and inspiring stories. The narrative, which encompasses Dr. Taylor's whole life, is made even more lively with many sections in Hudson Taylor's own words taken from letters he wrote.

This is the kind of book that impresses more with its subject than the way it is written, however (though there certainly is nothing wrong with the way it is written). Again and again, Mr. Taylor showed himself to be a man of amazing faith and obedience. Physical comfort and ease didn't count with him as, once in China, he went on journey after missionary journey penetrating ever further into territory untouched by the Gospel. Early on he realized that his western appearance was a barrier to communication. So even though no other missionary did this, he began dressing like the Chinese people, even to growing his hair so he could wear the traditional pig-tail.

In spite of Taylor's faith and spiritual maturity, he was not God's pet. For God dealt with him like He deals with many others -- through difficulty and silence. At only 28, Dr. Taylor and (by then) his wife came home on their first furlough after six years in China, burned out and badly needing a break. There followed five years at home. During these "hidden years" support for the work faltered while his passion to see the Chinese people saved only grew. It was during this time that he sensed he was to launch out in even more faith and start an independent non-denominational mission society. This became the China Inland Mission (still operating today as Overseas Missionary Fellowship).

His life then became even more of a template of faith and prayer. He and his supporters prayed hundreds of missionaries out to China and kept them there with more prayer for monetary support and protection through politically turbulent times. Though personal tragedies dogged his steps and at one point he was bedridden and paralyzed, his faith in God remained strong. His passion for the salvation of China never cooled. And successes came -- sometimes by the hundreds and sometimes by the ones. Here is a story he relates in a letter written in 1874:

Last week I was in Taiping. My heart was greatly moved by the crowds that literally filled the streets for two or three miles, so that we could hardly walk, for it was market day. We did but little preaching, for we were looking for a place for permanent work, but I was constrained to retire to the city wall and cry to God to have mercy on the people to open their hearts and give us an entrance among them.

Without any seeking on our part, we were brought into touch with at least four anxious souls. An old man found us out, I know not how, and followed me to our boat. I asked him in and inquired his name.

"My name is Dzing," he replied. "But the question which distresses me, and to which I can find no answer, is -- What am I to do with my sins? Our scholars tell us that there is no future state but I find it hard to believe them . . . Oh sir, I lie on my bed and think. I think and think and think again, but I cannot tell what is to be done about my sins. I am seventy-two years of age. I cannot expect to finish another decade. 'Today knows not tomorrow's lot,' as the saying is. Can you tell me what to do with my sins?"

"I can indeed," was my reply. "It is to answer this very question that we have come so many thousands of miles. "Listen and I will explain to you what you want and need to know."

If you're wanting a breath of spiritual fresh air, or would like to have your life touched and challenged by a giant of faith, or just want to read a good true story, the classic Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret will not disappoint.

The book is also available to read online.

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