Monday, April 30, 2007

do you know your tax ABC's?

Today is the deadline for filing income taxes in Canada. If you're not afraid of the taxman, Paul DioGuardi thinks you should be. You've probably heard ads for tax amnesty services offered by this tax lawyer / former Revenue Canada employee ("Wouldn't you rather be talking about your taxes in a civilized tax office than a court of law?"). He was interviewed for an article in the weekend's Financial Post:

The department (Canada Revenue Agency) likes to leave the impression it views taxpayers as clients, DioGuardi says. "You're not a client. You're a potential victim," he says. "They are misleading people into thinking they're a harmless government entity and they're not."


So if you still haven’t filed your taxes – why are you reading this?

If you have, here is a little tax quiz straight from the FP article to help test your tax literacy. I’ve posted the questions. A link to the answers is below.

TRUE OR FALSE?

1 Nobody ever goes to jail for not filing a tax return. It's just a scare tactic to get people to pay up. True or false?

2 After seven years the taxman can't come after you for anything. True or false?

3 Transfer your assets into your wife's name and the taxman won't be able to get anything. True or false?

4 If the taxman puts a lien against your home, you cannot renew your mortgage or borrow against your home equity. True or false?

5 There is no way for you to find out if the taxman has put a lien against your home. True or false?

6 The taxman cannot seize and sell your family cottage or your retirement savings. True or false?

7 If the husband is in trouble with the taxman, the wife can keep everything. True or false?

8 Unreported income is more serious than not filing your tax return. True or false?

9 You can choose to go to jail instead of paying your taxes. True or false?

10 Going bankrupt automatically wipes out your tax debt. True or false?


Read entire article and check answers here.

Paul DioGuardi's blog.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Canadian Cross Bloggers


Shane, from my town no less, has taken the initiative to create blogroll of Canadian Christian bloggers. If you’re Canadian and a Christian, Canadian Cross Bloggers welcomes you. How to join is explained here.

Check out the new blogroll here (Canadian Cross Bloggers - NEW!) in the right sidebar, following the “BLOGTOWNE - blogs I read” section.

thinking blogger award


I am honored to have received a “Thinking Blogger Award” from Julana (thus the graphic, above, in the right sidebar under "links.") Thank you, J!

Now I have the privilege of awarding five more bloggers with this same award. I choose

Iris Godfrey at Manna Word. Her postings, though infrequent, are always uplifting and worth reading!

LC at Practical Faith because she thinks deep and hard about what God teaches her from the Bible each day. (She is also the lady who web masters what is probably the most helpful site on the web for Christian writers: Inscribe.)

Joyce at Quiet Life - who often posts thoughtful quotes (and beautiful pictures of her outdoor adventures).

Peaceful Lady who writes Seasons, and whose thoughts turn often to Jesus.

Donna, who writes A Spell for Refreshment of Spirit. In “A Spell” Donna, a prize-winning author of fantasy and spec fiction herself, examines the books and characters of other writers for spiritual refreshment.

To award winners:

- Install the graphic somewhere on your own blog.
- Now if you like you may pass the Thinking Blogger Award on to five more bloggers.
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Update:

I see from Donna that there is actually an official Thinking Blogger Award site. From the official site then . . .

The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Friday, April 27, 2007

a letter from the Protestant church of Smyrna

This very sobering letter was forwarded to me this morning by my sister-in-law who, with my brother, spent February of this year in a village near Antakya (Antioch), Turkey. (Warning: there are graphic descriptions of torture) Read it, weep - AND PRAY!

A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna

Dear friends,
This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”

Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.

None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.

On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.

On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.” No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.

These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it’s like a fraternity membership. In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams.

The young men got guns, breadknives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock.

They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*

[Details of the torture--
* Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur’s stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.]

Neighbors in workplaces near the printhouse said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.

Meanwhile, another believer Gokhan and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around 12:30 he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically. As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound.

He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door. One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a grisly scene.

Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur’s throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive.

Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons.

Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.

To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.

After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targetted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.

From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, Politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls”. Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.

In an official televised response from Ankara, the Interior Minister of Turkey smirked as he spoke of the attacks on our brothers. Amid public outrage and protests against the event and in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of thought, media and official comments ring with the same message, “We hope you have learned your lesson. We do not want Christians here.”

It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “he will serve time for Allah.”

The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.

The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.

When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an un-tended hundred year old Armenian graveyard.

Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiance watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for.

Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted. Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate xray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.

Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife Shemsa told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”

Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use. The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of Izmir.

Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them.

In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).

In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”

The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)

When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” (Acts 17:6)

Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverence,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.

The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.

This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.

Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.

We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth.

But we pray-- and urge you to pray-- that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.

Reported by Darlene N. Bocek (24 April 2007)
-.-.-.-.-.-.-
Please please please pass this on to as many praying Christians as you can, in as many countries as you can. Please always keep the heading as “From the Protestant Church of Smyrna” with this contact information: email, http://www.izmirprotestan.org

-.-.-.-.-.-.-

This incident was also reported in the The Australian here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

fun


Farmyard Limo


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Next week: NOISY (Crowds, Party Fun, Children Making Noise, Construction Sites, Amusement Parks, Musical Instruments, Bands...)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

book review - The Heir


Title: The Heir
Author: Paul Robertson
Publisher: Bethany House
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
ISBN: 076420324x




“I couldn’t take my eyes off the casket,” begins Paul Robertson’s debut novel The Heir. “It was expensive and it glowed, resting among the candles and the heaps of flowers. It so perfectly expressed the man inside.”

Death and the man inside (Melvin, the emotionally distant father of Jason Boyer, the "I" of the book) are two elements Robertson uses, along with a school of shark advisors, politicians and journalists, an awed-by-riches wife and younger brother, a charitable family foundation, and a cynical yet idealistic main character to weave this suspense thriller about money, power, corruption, murder and hope.

The white-knuckle plot was a highlight for me. Jason’s chagrin at finding out he’s the main benefactor of his father’s millions soon turns to acceptance. Fred, his father’s right-hand man, pressures him to be quick about filling the power void left by the death of influential Melvin. Then police start snooping around and insinuating that Melvin’s death may not have been an accident after all. There’s another murder. And in just a few weeks Jason has trouble recognizing the person he’s become.

The stakes of keeping all that wealth versus divesting himself of it are high and only raised by the power of the people he will alienate if he does what his gut is telling him to do. Not to speak of how his shopaholic wife Katie will react.

Jason on the lam near the end taxed my credulity, however. He was badly hurt, without food and water, yet like some bionic creation, always had enough in him for yet another chase, yet another showdown. Altogether though, the piling on of trouble and the fact that the reader knows only as much as Jason does, makes for a riveting read.

Robertson’s lean and witty writing style fits the plot well. The story is told in first person through Jason’s intelligent persona and delivered with enough literary razzle dazzle to make it appeal to not only the plot addict but the word junkie as well. For example, note these thoughts of Jason, near the book’s beginning:

Melvin. The name of the deceased hovered in the air for a moment like cigarette smoke, and Nathan Kern’s name was the smell of stale beer that went with it so well.

Later Jason is about to enter an elevator with the corpulent Fred:


Being in an elevator that was trying to lift Fred Spellman to the top of a forty-two-story building also seemed risky, but I saw no other choice. We entered that little room, its door closed on us, and with a mighty effort it began its labor.

"Do you realize the gravity of the situation?" Fred asked.

That was exactly what I was thinking about except that Fred meant Wilcox.

The book didn’t leave me with any memorable favorites in the character department, however. In fact I didn’t much like any of the characters -- including Jason — at the beginning. He grew on me so that in the end, I saw past his egocentricity and his brooding, impetuous personality to the little boy who wanted, above everything else, to have a connection with his dad. Eric, the younger brother, also gained a measure of self-knowledge. I felt the most ambivalent about Jason’s wife Katie who, though beautiful and kind, came across, finally, as shallow.

The themes touched on in this whodunit were somber. Throughout the book Jason wrestles with existential questions like “Why am I here,” and “What is the purpose of my life?” Another of the book’s preoccupations was how money and power affect people. Jason’s search for a connection with his father puts the focus on father-son relationships. Hope and a faith in God are also intimated by Pamela, Jason’s motherly secretary. The sum total is a story that is more than just a light read.

All that to say that when you’re looking for a book to take to the beach or cottage this summer, consider The Heir. But don’t take it alone. Because you’ll finish it way sooner than you wish you had.

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Bonus: Read the complete first chapter of The Heir here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

party time


Last week debutante trees shimmered
in gowns of pink and white
Today all soiled and green-mottled


Last week a crowd of daffodils
nodded sunny time to wind-rhythms
Today heads downcast, stiff, shrunken

But today mahonia's blossoms buzz with bee-banter
purple pansies curtsey in the breeze
and every garden offers
tulip goblets of red, yellow
white, blush, wine

Slow down, I beg from speeding car
Wait, I plead from office window
or Spring's party will be over
before I find time to come

c. 2004 - by V. Nesdoly

Sunday, April 22, 2007

don't miss your date with Destino


The four up-and-coming young tenors who make up Destino packed them in, then wowed that crowd at the Stanley Theatre last night. From their four-part rendition of "Adagio" which opened the evening, to “His Eye is on the Sparrow” by Leontaridis and Amenta, to renditions of operatic classics by Niceforo and Oullette, the concert was a huge hit.

It was interesting to compare the four tenor voices. Giovanni Amenta’s voice has just a hint of huskiness, which makes it perfect to sing emotion-laden tunes like “Close Every Door” from the "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Joey Niceforo’s and Paul Oullette’s voices seemed the most similar to me, although Oullette’s was just a bit more baritonish. Their voices and solo selections were most operatic. (Oullette especially looks so young one wonders, where does he hide that powerful instrument in such a slight frame). Leon Leontaridis’ has a voice that’s round and rich with an incredibly high range for a man. He jokes that people often ask, after hearing their recordings, who is the black woman in the group.

A highlight of the evening was “The Prayer” done with guest Michaela Slinger. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of this 10-year-old songbird sensation. And what poise! She easily held her own when singing with the boys in the Italian section of the song. Mind, she’s had lots of experience, having performed at numerous sporting events, in musical theatre as well as in the World Kindness Concert and in Kindness Rocks.

The ensemble (piano, violin, bass guitar and drums) that accompanied the boys was brilliant in their own right especially Roy Tan at the piano – unobtrusive and flawless.

The pleasure these young men found in their music and in supporting each other was obvious (high-fives during each trek on and offstage). And they liked us too – thanking the crowd numerous times for simply showing up. All in all, it was a very feel-good evening – one you should definitely consider going to if Destino ever tours through your town.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

spring poems


from the MSA* Poets Potpourri Society, a few spring poems to help you celebrate the coming (finally!) of spring.
Here are a few teasers:


Pushing and shouting
Spring arrives
jostling for colour
as Forsythia, Daffodil and Dandelion
hog the yellow crayon

from “Vernal Equinox” by Alvin Ens


Rushing, ever
like school boys home
with report cards
June races into summer
stampeding to exhaustion and boredom
like a dog scurrying
into a summer of holidays

from “June” by Alvin Ens


The rain is softly falling; it's morning at the lake
This time of day is most welcome, the solitude is great

from “Spring at Mill Lake” by Terry Broadworth

Read complete poems HERE.

And here’s a bouquet of four spring Haiku by Shelly Haggard

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Photo: Elder tree blossoms
*MSA = Matsqui, Sumas, Abbotsford

Friday, April 20, 2007

food

- for the body - check out Rebecca’s Recipe Round-up: Quick Supper Fixin’s (Yum)


- for the ear - Destino in concert. Saturday night. We’re going!! (Several of these boys were formerly part of the the Three Canadian Tenors).




To get the flavor of their brand of pop-opera (Popera) check out this link (their website) which streams their music.

This entertainment feature article in the Now newspaper talks more about local-born Leon Leontaridis and the formation of Destino.

(To hear Leon L. – on the right – sing something a little different, play about 5 minutes into this streaming video of our church’s Easter Sunday service)



- for the eye - Tulips. And pansies. You can't beat spring colors!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wildlife



The Thistle Pub

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: FUN (Entertainment, Amusement, Recreation, Games, Sports,...)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

mexican supper - mmmm!


Tamale Beef Casserole*
1½ lb. ground beef
½ cup chopped onion or 2 tablespoons instant minced onion
½ cup chopped ripe olives
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
16 oz. can (2 cups) whole kernel corn, drained
(thawed frozen kernel corn works too)
10 ¾ oz. can condensed tomato soup

Corn Bread Topping
¾ cup cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda
1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, add a little vinegar to sweet milk)
2 tablespoons oil
1 egg, slightly beaten

Heat oven to 425 F.
Brown ground beef and onion and drain excess fat.
Add remaining ingredients (except topping ingredients) and simmer while preparing topping.
In medium bowl combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and soda.
Stir to blend.
Combine buttermilk, oil and egg
Add to flour mixture.
Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Pour the meat mixture into glass casserole dish.**
Spoon topping over hot ground beef mixture
Bake at 425 F for 20 - 25 minutes. or until deep golden brown.
Serve immediately.


If you like Mexican, you’ll love this! Serve with a tossed salad (on Holly Hobby place mats of course – oh brother, I can’t believe I still use those!)

*This recipe is from my very beat-up Pillsbury Kitchens’ Family Cookbook
**Or brown the meat in an oven-proof skillet, spoon the topping over the hot beef mixture and bake right in the skillet thus saving another dish.

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This recipe is for Rebecca’s Thursday Recipe Roundup. Why don’t you join in! Post your favorite quick supper recipe on your blog, then put your link in the comments of this post or email it to Rebecca. (Due by 8:00 a.m. PDT - Thursday April 19th).

Monday, April 16, 2007

old friends


Nothing bothers me more, once the garden starts filling out, than to not know if I’m looking at weeds or new growth. I like the fresh greens of spring to stand out against a setting of black. So Saturday I spent some hours weeding the garden.

The weeds were plentiful alright. They flourish from early March in our temperate climate. It felt good to dig around in all my various beds. I tried to remove some of the moss too. Moss is my biggest bane. It spreads quickly in moisture and shade. It’s been a very wet spring here and my yard has lots of shade.

I also got reacquainted with some of my perennials – and was reminded of the friends who gave them to me.



The pink-to-blue* Lungwort (above left), for example, was given to me by Allison in 1991 (I know because I wrote a note in my flower book). She was the mom of one of my son’s Grade 1 friends and I’ve long lost touch with her. But the descendant of the cutting of Lungwort she gave me still reminds me of the sobering news she shared over spring break that year – that her husband was seeing someone else and they’d be splitting up.

Pink Lamium (above right) reminds me of Mom, who as soon as she saw it, wanted some as a ground cover for the cedars beside her condo.



This mauve speckled Violet was from my friend Jill – who still often comes through with thoughtful gifts, like plants with my name.

So Saturday turned out to be not only about weeding at all!

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*Lungwort opens from pink buds and the flowers turn blue as they mature.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

and the winners are ...

Today was the announcement of the Utmost Christian Writers 2007 Poetry Contest results.

Winners and links to winning poems were posted here at 4:00 p.m. MDT today.

Once again, as in 2004, Jan Wood won the top prize. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of this very talented Saskatchewan poet. Congratulations, Jan!

If you are a Christian poet and neglected to enter, all is not lost, however. Utmost is running two more contests.

Check out the rhyming poetry contest (entries to be received by May 31/07).
Check out the Novice Christian Poetry Contest (open to previously unpublished poets only - entries to be received by August 31/07)

a day i'll never forget


On this day 23 years ago, we were celebrating what had happened one year earlier.


Happy Birthday Sonia!


Also on this date:

- In 1912 the Titanic sank.

- In 1956 Videotape was first demonstrated in Chicago.


- Born:

*Loretta Lynn (singer) in 1934

*Pete Rose (baseball player) in 1941

*Andre Boisclair (Parti Quebecois politician) in 1966.


- More happenings in April 14th - On this day in Canada

Thursday, April 12, 2007

book review - Summer of Light


Title: Summer of Light
Author: W. Dale Cramer
Publisher: Bethany House
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 0764229966


Getting fired from his construction job on the high steel is only the last in a string of bizarre events that finds Mick at home and in charge of doing the shopping, laundry, cooking and every other job that makes up the life of a homemaker. However, during the year that Summer of Light encompasses, Mick pretty much masters all the above while keeping his wandering four-year-old within view, all three kids fed, caught up with homework, at scheduled activities and, as much as possible, unbored. In a book that ranges from slaptstick to tender, W. Dale Cramer entertains and more. As in previous books, he uses the stories of ordinary people - this time Mick Brannigan and his family - to focus on things that really matter, like gaining strength from the look of discovery in a child's eyes, accepting help when it's offered, and finding God amongst the poor and the outcast.

The characters in this book are everyday people one could meet in any town. Mick, the point-of -view and main character, is an iron-worker whose cooking experience when he starts his homemaker stint consists of boiling water and throwing a pack of dry noodles in his lunch bucket. His wife Layne, who has just started a long-postponed career as a paralegal, is both career woman and mother bear, willing to stand up to anyone to defend their kids - eight-year-old-Ben, seven-year-old Toad (Clarissa) and four-year-old Dylan. Aubrey, Mick's uppity neighbor who becomes his photographic mentor, is one of the characters I found most amusing, especially at the beginning. Finally there is the mysterious Man With No Hands who drifts in and out of the action. He seemed to me a sort of Christ figure (reminding me of Cramer characters Harley in Sutter's Cross and Moss in Bad Ground).

The construction site of an Atlanta high rise is soon displaced by the Brannigans' suburban acreage as the story's setting. Both are described in satisfying detail. Putting a domestically inexperienced yet creative man like Mick in charge of a suburban spread complete with three kids, a wily dog, goat and chickens is a recipe for all kinds of hilarious misadventures. The sight of a man's man fumbling with the multi-task challenges of the above gave this (female) reader lots of chuckles.

Which brings up what was, for me, one of the most satisfying aspects of the book - the themes it addresses. An obvious one is male and female roles. Mick experiences a self-esteem crisis when he goes from being an iron worker to stay-at-home-dad (a role that author Cramer himself became familiar with when he quit his job in construction to stay home with his sons). Mick soon realizes there are differences in how men and women do most things, including how they cook and parent. The theme of parenting generally gets lots of attention.

Another theme that threads through the book is destiny - the idea that things which seemingly happen arbitrarily really do have a planner or designer behind them. Reflections on religion and faith follow naturally from that. The Man With No Hands plays no small part in helping Mick face spiritual issues. Though Mick never does fit in with the crowd at his wife's church, Layne gives him room to spend Sundays the way he chooses and he eventually finds his own place at the downtown mission.

Cramer's story-telling style is lively and folksy - like neighbors gossiping over the fence. Resembling other Cramer books, Summer of Light is also spiced with lots of homey wisdom and astute observations about life. For example:


It doesn't matter how many roads you go down, you won't find wisdom there anyway. It's always at the beginning. Wisdom is in the heart of a child.

and


He (Mick) figured every generation of parents in history was equally horrified by the thought of their children doing the things they did when they were kids and it never occurred to any of the parents that those were the very things that made them who they were.
Another stylistic element comes via Mick's newly kindled interest in photography. Mick's search for pictures that tell a story and the need for him to then title those pictures is a way Cramer introduces symbols into the book that are not only literary but graphic.

For a book that satisfies on many levels, Summer of Light is an excellent choice. Don't be surprised, though, when it leaves an aftertaste far more lasting than you'd expect from a book that goes down so easily.

circle



Woodland Table

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: WILDLIFE (Insects, Birds, Fish, Fishing, Bears, Wolfs, any Flora or Fauna,...)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

the weekend so far ...

Friday, April 06, 2007

a friday we call 'good'

Today is the day we call “Good Friday.” It is a day Christians around the world remember the death of Jesus – the Passion. The story of it is written in all four Gospels (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 19). But its foreshadowing looms across the Old Testament. Its repercussions impact all of time, into eternity.

Early in Genesis, right after Adam and Eve have given in to Satan’s temptation, God promises Satan: “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15).

We see intimations of this day again when God establishes His covenant with Abraham, telling him that through his family all nations of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Jesus' place in Abraham's family is outlined in Matthew 1.

It is graphically pictured in Exodus 12, when God institutes the Passover. In order to avoid a visit from the Death Angel, the Israelites are to kill a lamb and smear its blood over the doorposts of their house. God promises: “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13).

My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” writes David in Psalm 22 - words Jesus echoed when He was on the cross.

Isaiah 53 is full of prophecies which came true quite literally on the day Jesus died, about 700 years later:

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray
We have turned every one to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent
So He opened not His mouth.

How do you celebrate Good Friday? We usually go to church. In our town, it is often the day of joint services, when churches of many denominations come to worship together. Jesus would approve. The unity of His followers was close to His heart (John 17:20,21).

A part of the service is Communion. Jesus actually directed the first communion service the night He celebrated his last Passover with His disciples. He called this remembrance of His death by eating bread and drinking wine together, a new covenant (Matthew 26:17-30) because He knew that in a few hours, He would be fulfilling the requirements of the old.

It was at such a Good Friday service nine years ago that I first read the poem “How Shallow Former Shadows Seem” by Carl Daw. It expresses most eloquently why we can label such a sad event ‘good.’

May your Friday also be good.



Thursday, April 05, 2007

sometime on the sixth day




...the Lamb slain from the foundation
of the world... Revelation 13:8

It stands there
blinking, surprised
then begins to ba-a-a-
this wooly,
trusting
easily-led-astray animal
just created

and a shudder goes through heaven.

© 2007 - Violet Nesdoly (Family Reunion)

colorful



Stained Light

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One of the many stained glass windows of Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, B.C.






Next Week: CIRCLE (Circular, Round, Clock, Cylinder, Can, Sphere, Moon, Ball,...)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

spring's bad hair day




A pond at Elgin Park, Surrey, BC.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

prodigal daughter

Please let me hear breathing. Please let someone still be here. Those were the thoughts of my seven-year-old self when I’d wake up at night. For I was scared, since I had not yet asked Jesus into my heart, that if He came back in that “twinkling of an eye” like the Bible said, I’d be left behind. It was the fear of being left behind more than anything that prompted me to come to my Mom one day when I was about eight and ask her to pray with me to ask Jesus into my life.

I had always gone to church and been a pretty good girl, so life didn’t change much after that – although I certainly slept better. I got baptized at fourteen, joined the church we attended, after high school went to Bible school for several years, and pretty much lived up to everyone’s expectations – until I left my Saskatchewan home and moved to Vancouver.

Turning my back on the beliefs and lifestyle I had been immersed in since childhood was not something that happened overnight. In fact I can’t isolate an event or moment when it began. It was, instead, a gradual slide from obedience and faith to compromise and then skepticism as I needed to rationalize my actions and did that by poking holes in what I had always believed.

I continued on in this state through university until graduation and into my first teaching job in northern British Columbia. After two years of teaching, a couple of friends and I decided to travel Europe. We quit our jobs and with Eurail passes in hand, embarked on the “Europe cure.”

It was in month three of that jaunt – October of 1974 – that I decided to take a side trip to L’Abri. I had read about this Swiss home of Francis and Edith Schaeffer years earlier in a book by Edith. I’m not exactly sure what I expected to get from this visit. In a way I was surprised that I even had the urge to seek the place out. For there had been little sign of spiritual life in me for years now. But there was something – a restlessness, a holding back, an inability to fully enter into the godless outlook of my friends – that made me feel marked. It was as if my Christian experience had spoiled me for really enjoying my backslidden state. Perhaps I made this trip as a somewhat grudging assent to what seemed inevitable. I think I viewed it as a way of saying to God, here’s your chance to win me back.

When I got there, I was toured around with other visitors. At lunchtime we were invited to join in a meal. Neither Dr. Schaeffer nor his wife were home. We did sit around and talk to some people for a while. But nothing happened – inside me I mean. Despite the whole effort of making the trip up the mountain, I didn’t feel any closer to God. When daylight began to fade I made my way back to the road and the bus stop.

On my trip back to town I mulled over what had and hadn’t happened. Partly I was relieved that there had been no Damascus Road experience. I wouldn’t have to change anything or go through awkward explanations to my friends. But I was also a tiny bit disappointed – and worried. Was this spiritual numbness I was feeling here to stay? A verse I’d memorized in childhood came to me: “No one can come to me unless the Father ... draws him” (John 6:44). Had God decided not to draw me any more? Had He written me off?

We finished our trip and I arrived back in Canada mid-December. The bone chilling Saskatchewan temperatures mirrored the chill in my spirit. My grand adventure was over. I felt like I shouldn’t go back to B.C. because my Dad was ill with bone cancer. Jobless and broke, I moved back into my old bedroom on the farm. Completely cut off from friends and the life I’d made for myself, without even the freedom of using my car, which was up on blocks in the snowed-in quonset, I had lots of time to think.

Did I really like the direction my life had taken, I asked myself. As I looked at the last years from the vantage point of this place, where even the air made me feel dirty by the way its purity brought out the foulness of my cigarette smoke-permeated clothes, I saw how far I’d strayed. Again I sensed God beckoning to me and knew that this was the time to respond. If I resisted now, there might not be another time.

Still I resented the thought of giving up my independence and my right to determine my own future. Could I really trust God with my life? He'd probably want me to be a single missionary or an old-maid school teacher.

Yet, in the five years I’d done my own thing, had I done any better? I certainly wasn’t happy. Was I prepared to take on the responsibility for the rest of my life as well?

Finally after several weeks of this, one evening I’d had enough. I knelt on the cold floor of my old bedroom and prayed, “God, I’ve been a fool. Can You take me back? Please? I want to be Your girl again.”

Of course He did. And I’ve never strayed like that again. As for my treatment at His hands – I could have suffered way more consequences for my prodigal years. But instead, God has heaped my life with goodness and mercy. He is wonderful. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else’s girl!

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This is part of "Testimony Tuesday," where you'll find links to lots more life-changing stories. Thank you Tim Challies!

Monday, April 02, 2007

april is poetry month


Poems are the wool ends

Poems are the wool ends
which stuff the small crafts
the pincushions and the dolls.

They are the fabric leftovers
of jeans, taffeta dresses
Christmas aprons
and a daughter’s fluorescent play suit
pieced into a quilt.

They are the tiles of a life –
smell of breakfast cinnamon buns
notes of “Pomp and Circumstance”
the womb-wrap
of mother’s arms
arranged in a mosaic.

They are all those accessories
one’s house doesn’t really need
but would be soul-less
without them.

© 2007 - Violet Nesdoly (Family Reunion)

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April is poetry month! Whatever kind of poetry you enjoy, treat yourself to lots of it this month.

The photograph is one of the poems that hangs on my kitchen wall. It was made by my very crafty sister Bea.

late April fool

I knew it was cold this morning.



But what's been happening in the last hour or so is ridiculous!

(Moral: It's always too soon to gloat - especially about the arrival of spring.)

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