Monday, October 31, 2005


According to an article in today’s Writer’s Almanac,


f is the second most popular holiday of the year in the U.S. after Christmas.

j was first a New Year’s Eve celebration, kept by the Celtic people of Northeast Europe.

d became known as All Hallows Eve after Pope Gregory III (8th Century A.D.) made November 1st All Saint’s Day.

k was first brought to the U.S. by Irish Catholics when they immigrated, after the potato famine in the 1840s.

l was first referred to in connection with children going door to door for candy in The Ladies’ Home Journal, 1920.

p finds 92% of U.S. children trick-or-treating by 1999.

I’m just wondering how many adults now take part. In the past few years I’ve noticed a great many more people in costume, in businesses, restaurants etc. And last year some rather large ‘kids’ joined the approximately 100 wee ones who came to our door for their treat!

This year we’re handing out Skittles, Jujubes and Halloween suckers (a sort of molasses toffee which makes my teeth ache) – stuff of which I’m not overly fond, and if left over, we can stuff in the Christmas boxes to orphans that go overseas (vs. chocolate - which I love and is verboten for those boxes).

Sunday, October 30, 2005

poetry carnival

is UP! Thank you, Erin, at poetic acceptance.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

the arc of a life

Closet after closet, cupboard after cupboard, box after box we’ve been tackling Mum’s apartment. We’ve spent many days there, along with helpful siblings. My sis from South Surrey has helped and another came all the way from Fort St. John with her husband in their farm pickup truck. While there last week, we took a whole truck box-full of stuff to MCC, a 60s style stereo set (serious piece of wood furniture) to Value Village and they left with another truck box-full of stuff – chairs, patio furniture, a vintage Singer sewing machine (in its own wood cabinet of course), a tall wood cabinet, a dresser etc. It was a huge help!

By Monday it felt as if we’d finally made progress. I took down all the pictures, emptied stuff still left in some drawers and closets, tidied up the ends. Yesterday we spent the day boxing things like the Tiffany lamp, the microwave and kettle, taping up boxes already packed etc. etc. (when I write it down, it sounds so insignificant, yet somehow we managed to spend hours, busy the whole time – thus the ‘etc.s’). We’ll go again on Monday, the day before the actual move, to make sure that all the boxes and furniture to be moved are labeled, the diningroom table is taken apart, and generally I’m sure we’ll fill up many hours again with "etc."

Of course, after the move, the work isn’t done. Then we need to help Mum unpack in her new place as well as tie up loose ends in the Abby apartment (which we have for one more month). There is furniture for another brother from out of town to take and we’re hoping he comes with a BIIIIG truck so he can take the furniture plus all the boxes we’ve packed for siblings in Saskatchewan. When that stuff is cleared out, we dispose of what’s left (some appliances, more furniture and a lot of kitchen stuff) as best we know how – MCC, here we come - again!

A couple of things I’ve learned through this time:

1. I think now would a good time for me to start going through my own possessions, while my internal junk-meter is still finely tuned.

2. Going through the process of evaluating the detritus of one person’s lifetime has made me more keenly aware than ever of the arc of a life. I’ve handled, in the past days, stuff from every stage of mum’s life – her childhood, youth, falling in love and marrying a man she still adores, busy motherhood days on the farm, Daddy’s death when she was only 61, the ensuing 30 years spent as a single again, filled with hobbies, travel, friends and service....

I’ve seen how wrenching it has been for her to be forced to relinquish treasures – because things are never just glass, ceramic, paper, cloth. To the one who has lived with them, they embody pieces of oneself.

She has tried to leave each child, grandchild and great-grandchild something of herself. This is hard when the recipients aren’t there to pick a thing they would find significant, and those of us who are there demur when she offers us this thing or that, as we work out in our own minds, where it will fit in our own mess of stuff.

This moving business has brought home to me more forcefully than ever:

- Things don’t last or retain their value.

- Some things have value not for the final produce but because of what the process of getting to the final product does for us. For example, Mum used to collect poems and clever sayings and compile them into scrapbooks. I’m not sure what happened to those scrapbooks, but I know I didn’t want them and I’m not sure if anyone did. But that doesn’t mean the effort expended in putting them together was wasted. Because in the process of doing it, Mum was blessed, fulfilled and nurtured in some way and that too has value.

- We come into this world with nothing; we leave with nothing. In between we may amass houses and apartments, dish sets, furniture sets, closets full of clothes, and cupboards full of appliances, tools and books. But each stage after mid-life demands a paring down till we get to the point of next-to-nothing again.

- If all this stuff doesn’t last, if no one wants the things that we feel embody our significance (the crafts we’ve made, teacups and spoons we’ve collected, diaries, journals and books we’ve written, or whatever), does that mean we’re cancelled out?

Of course not. Our significance, in the end, is wrapped up in the mark we leave on lives. In that department, Mum can be pared down to nothing yet the impact she’s made with her values, her creative way of looking at life, her positive attitude and the set of beliefs by which she’s lived will reverberate in the lives of her dozens and dozens of friends and through the generations of her family. I hope that someday the same thing can be said about me.

Friday, October 28, 2005

you can't believe your eyes...

take a look!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

poetry carnival!'s coming, on October 30th, hosted by Poetic-Acceptance.

Enter something (but hurry - deadline is October 29th at noon)! Entry instructions are here.

hat tip: Catez

Langley Woods

Langley Woods

Peacock ferns Eden-lush
draw us into the dim, cedar-canopied wood.
Uprooted trunks sprawl, branches arc,
snapped limbs leap in frozen pirouettes.
Slim apparitions forever grope, reach, grasp
a menagerie of many appendaged moon monsters
sculpted from dripping filigree
and moss macrame.

Victim of the spell
in mother's warning
If you frown like that
your face will stay that way!
the forest's pose is fixed.

But time has softened the arboreal grimace
muffled the keening of the wind
with hangings of verdant chenille,
knitted blankets, sweaters
hats and gloves of lime angora
for the slumbering
arms, stumps and claws.

c. Violet Nesdoly 2004

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

blog success? come out of the fog

I have come late, as usual, to an interesting blogosphere discussion.

This one on Catez's blog Allthings2all is on whether one’s blog is successful or not. It specifically asked for comments addressing "What is a successful blog?" and "Are you a successful blogger?"
As is often the case, I left the site (after reading the post and all 28 comments) thinking pretty much everything had been said on the matter. Later though, I realized something was bothering me; something was missing from that discussion. Let me try to tell you what I think it is.

Let’s start by looking at the word ‘success.’ Success is defined "a favorable or desired outcome of something attempted." Successful is: "obtaining what one desires or intends." Both of these definitions contain the idea of something attempted, desired, intended. Implicit in the concept of ‘success,’ then, is aiming at something, attempting to reach a target, intending to realize a purpose.

You can apply this component of what successful means when evaluating your blog and yourself as a blogger. Here’s how in three steps:

1. Start by listing your purpose or purposes for blogging. You may have one or many.

Here, for example, are some common purposes:
- To keep in touch with family.
- To share the good news of Jesus with people who have no Judeo-Christian background.
- To converse with colleagues in an area of interest (e.g. homeschooling, writing, photography, theology etc.)
- To provide a Christian perspective to world events.

And of course, once you get involved in the blogosphere, you probably very quickly realize that in order to achieve any or all of the above, you also want to
- Increase traffic to your blog.

2. Now in order to achieve these purposes, you need to set goals for each purpose you have listed.

What are goals? Dr. Mark Lee, in an old book I pulled off my bookshelf ('How to Set Goals'), describes two main differences between goals and purposes:
i] A goal is a specific action, whereas a purpose is not.
ii] A goal is a measurable action, whereas a purpose is general.

With these two criteria in mind, here are some goals you could set, for example, to realize the purpose of keeping in touch with family:
i] Put up a weekly post about something related to the family.
ii]. Email family members immediately after posting, alerting them to the update and giving them the post url.
iii] Immediately change your email signature to include your blog URL and always use it in family emails.

Now go through the same goal-setting process with each of your purposes – making sure each goal is specific and measurable.

3. Evaluate. Set up a time frame in which you will evaluate whether or not you have lived up to your goals. Dr. Lee says: "A time frame is the clearest factor in measuring success or failure in goals."

For the keeping-in-touch-with-family purpose, after six months of blogging, say, you can go back into your blog archives and see - did you, in fact, post something family-related once weekly. The email to family thing is something you could note at the time you send the emails - if you’re serious about this, and whether or not your email signature includes your blog URL is easy to check.

If you have five blogging purposes and after your six-month evaluation you see you’ve achieved the goals you listed in all bit one of them, there’s nothing foggy or touchy-feely about it – your blog and you are 80% successful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

anne tyler

Happy Birthday!

Hat tip to my daily edition of The Writer’s Almanac, which informs me that today is her 64th.

Tyler is one of my favorite writers. She is a master (or would that be ‘mistress’?) of description, especially of people. Two books of hers I own are The Accidental Tourist and Saint Maybe. I've also read Ladder of Years.

I was surprised to read "...she grew up in a series of utopian Quaker communes, where she was home schooled and isolated from the modern world....She first attended public school at the age of 11 (that would be in 1952), and her classmates were amazed that she’d never used a phone. "

The brief bio goes on to say of the present-day Tyler: "...she decided she didn’t want to be a public person. She never goes on book tours or speaks on talk shows, and if she answers any questions form journalists, she only does so in writing."

Also quoted is the beginning paragraph of her novel Back When We Were Grownups:

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. She was fifty-three years old by then—a grandmother. Wide and soft and dimpled, with two short wings of dry, fair hair flaring almost horizontally from a center part. Laugh lines at the corners of her eyes. A loose and colorful style of dress edging dangerously close to Bag Lady. Give her credit. Most people her age would say it was too late to make any changes."

I’ve not read this one, but I think I want to!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

party on!

A short item on the news tonight grabbed my attention. Apparently there’s a new brand of tools out there, designed just for women and being marketed through – you guessed it – parties!!

So if you’ve joined the trend of do-it-yourself women, if you’ve lately fantasized about owning your very own plumbing kit, drywall kit or drill bit set (in beautiful colors, ergonomically designed to fit your smaller hands with lots of rubber grip to assist in ‘torque’ -- and I'll bet to guard against breaking a nail), or if it’s simply a matter of your friends being maxed out in the Tupperware, Mary Kay, Party Lites, Pampered Chef etc. department, check out Tomboy Tools.

Of course, I wouldn’t know much about home renovation – judging by these words. Neither would my husband, judging by the trickling toilet tank and the bathroom faucet that’s been leaking now for about a year. So I’m thinking the description of what they do at these parties (besides pushing tools) – "learn drywall and plaster repair, leaky faucet and toilet repair"– sounds pretty good. Hmm, I wonder if the hostess earns bonus credits when she's the one providing that leaky faucet and toilet for demonstration? (But then, what would I do with those credits anyway!)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

six home remedies?!

1. If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto. The blockage will be almost instantly removed.

2. Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

3. For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

4. A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

5. Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.

6. For life, only two tools are needed: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

(Hat tip: sis-in-law Marilyn for these useful hints.)

Friday, October 21, 2005

chewing on the news

Do you have sense of things on our planet getting increasingly worse? I don’t believe this is just my imagination. In fact Wednesday night on the 6:00 o’clock news (Global version) a sidebar feature they call ‘insight’ was exactly on this topic.

I was not surprised when they explored it by talking to several ‘experts’ - a woman from the Suzuki foundation, a professor from some university. They blamed the usual things: global warming, the fragility of the planet, the imprint of humanity, and how we need to smarten up and change our ways before it’s too late.

Of course, if one studies the science of it, there is a sense in which some of the natural disasters – the hurricanes and tropical storms for example – can be laid at the feet environmental conditions arising (perhaps) out of man’s activity, and resulting in things like global warming. (I have not studied this, just hear the rhetoric of both sides and know that in the popular media, the theory of global warming is definitely winning.)

As a student of the Bible, however, I see this acceleration of cataclysmic events (which includes natural disasters which man’s activity is less likely to precipitate – like earthquakes) in an entirely different way. It is predicted: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place; All this is but the beginning – the early pains of the birth pangs – of the intolerable anguish." (Matthew 24:7,8 Amplified).

Which leaves me with a sense of urgency. I have the feeling that the days of living life as I’ve known it, are numbered. I need to be aware of not wasting time. Of not being lulled into indifference or false security because, at this time, my world hasn’t been rocked by an earthquake swept away by a storm surge, or shriveled up in drought.

So keeping in mind this urgency, what, if anything, do I do differently? Here are a few things that come to mind:

1. I need to live with an awareness of the times I’m in, so that I am not surprised or taken off guard by what is happening and will accelerate in the days ahead. I need to expect the times I’m living in to impact me – if not in a natural disaster way, in a societal way.

The Bible tells me that believing in God, Jesus, the words of the Bible will become increasingly unpopular: "Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake...etc. (Matthew 24: 9 and following).

2. I need to live with the awareness that my days on earth are limited. A corollary of that is that I want to maximize the days I have left. In that department, it’s important I have right priorities.

And how do I get right priorities?

One way, I believe, is to make it my mission to discover why I was put on earth and then live that destiny. This thread – of discovering my destiny – has run through much of my life and is perhaps why I chose as my life verse for 2005, Ephesians 2:10: "For we are God’s own handiwork, His workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew that we may do those good works which God predestined, planned before hand for us, taking paths which He prepared ahead of time – living the good life which He pre-arranged and made ready for us to live" (Amplified).

I translate the discovering and living of my destiny into shoe leather in several ways:

- I tell God my intention and trust Him to guide me. Here’s a fabulous verse that explains how that can happen: "Roll your works upon the Lord – commit and trust them wholly to Him; [He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will and] so shall your plans be established and succeed." Proverbs 16:3 Amplified.

- As the above verse implies, I may have as part of the ‘works’ that I roll upon God, thoughts which include goals, plans, and strategies. I don’t, after all, live mindlessly, waiting for life to happen to me. But I do constantly remind myself to hang onto those things – those agendas – loosely, ready at a moment’s notice to relinquish what I’d planned, to be as resilient as Philip, who obeyed when " angel of the Lord said, 'Go south to the road...'" and after he’d completed his assignment of bringing the message of Jesus to the Ethiopian traveler, found himself ‘suddenly taken away’ (Acts 8:26-40).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

first blogaversary

Today is my first blogaversary!

- blog read regularly (before I ever started my blog): The Master’s Artist
- post: about meeting author Jim Coggins at the Fraser Valley Writers Group.
- comment: from John the Stepdad (thanks John! That was such an encouragement.)
- comment from a celebrity - just a few days ago by Bob Bennett (the actual singer-songwriter) on this post. Moral of the story: Always be nice: you never know when your words will come back to bite you!
- Christian carnival entry: "gay nutials: what WOULD Jesus do?"
- trackback - from Dory at Wittenberg Gate (I wasn’t even sure, at the time, what a trackback was!) Thanks Dory!
- most popular picture (like a shrine, it gets visited several times a month – and I wonder by whom, and why...).

- the night my daughter got engaged
- her wedding (1,2)
- our travels this summer (sidebar)

DISCOVERIES in one year of blogging...

About writing a blog:
- it’s a different kind of writing than, say, writing an article for print.
- shorter is usually better (yeah, and will I ever learn?!)
- I really appreciate comments and try to respond to them.
- it’s often still scary to me, even after writing 400+ posts.

About reading others’ blogs:
- There are a lot of really good writers out there.
- Each wonderful blog listed in my blogroll resonates with me in some way (I’d say blogging is at least 80% about voice – too many great voices out there to read them all). Reading blogs is a lot like eating food: on any particular day read what I’m ‘hungry’ for.
- I couldn’t care less if you don’t reciprocate and put me on your sidebar just because you’re on mine. (I understand: It’s not personal, it’s blogging!)
- My blogroll is usually not up-to-date.
- I don’t have time to read blogs every day.

- that I don’t write more about God and my faith. Some of the blogs I read do that and I find myself attracted to them. I’ve thought of giving my blog more of a devotional theme (but I'm too much of a fan of miscellany) or adding a little spiritual tack-on to each post (but though I appreciate when others do that, for me it would feel phony).

So if you haven't picked it up, I want you to know - my relationship with God is the sun around which my life revolves. It is such an integral part of me that perhaps I take it for granted (like my relationship to my husband – which I don’t often talk about but which is foundational to my life and well-being). Also, it is deeply personal and at times I sense myself cringing away from putting it on public display.

However, if there is one thing I want to be aware of in the days of blogging ahead, it is to not squander the opportunity of my blog being a part of obeying my Master’s last words on earth.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

story time!

October's Celebration of Christian Fiction Carnival is up at Christian Fiction Blog - a well-laid-out buffet of twenty-five eight stories in all. Check it out!

Monday, October 17, 2005

book review Challenge the Wilderness

Challenge the Wilderness
by George Tomlinson with Judith Young
Published by Northwest Wilderness Books, Seattle Washington, 1993
Hardcover, 504 pages.

When 25-year-old Dr. Robert Tomlinson arrived in Victoria from Ireland in 1867, he was eager to go on to his final destination, Metlakatla, B.C. But the barge had just left and so, forced to stay in Victoria, he made good use of the weeks he was delayed by falling in love with 17-year-old Alice Woods. Thus began the story of Robert and Alice Tomlinson, pioneer missionaries (and the author’s grandparents).

Told from the point of view of Robert Tomlinson Jr., the oldest son of Robert and Alice (the author’s father), the project was conceived by the author’s mother Roxie. After her husband died she made it her mission to get her hands on and organize the reel tapes, documents, letters, journals and diaries so that the Tomlinsons’ story wouldn’t die.

The book relates incident after incident about the brave, dedicated and hardworking couple Alice and Robert, and their children, with a special focus on Robert Jr. From the canoe trip Dr. Tomlinson made from Kincolith to Victoria to claim his bride a year after they met, to the family’s several moves – from Kincolith, to Kispiox, to Metlakatla, to Meanskinisht (now Cedarvale), and finally to Metlakatla Alaska with other short sorjourns in between – there is never a dull moment.

Having just traveled this rugged country myself this summer, I shuddered at the picture in the book of the primitive suspension bridge, looking like untidily tied together toothpicks, over the Hagwilget Canyon. I understood perfectly when I read that Alice negotiated it on hands and knees. I marveled at the family’s commitment to spread the Gospel, their hardiness as they braved mountain terrain and treacherous rivers when moving from place to another, and their ingenuity and resourcefulness as they carved homes out of the wilderness and in the process built businesses like fish canneries and sawmills to benefit themselves and the natives. I was often amazed at the doctor’s generosity and wisdom. He never charged for his medical help and handled difficult situations with fairness and respect for others. For example at one time when the government surveyors were coming around prior to establishing reserves, Dr. Tomlinson, opposed to that idea, bought up a huge tract of land. He leased it to the natives and when he died, they bought it back for the cost of another survey.

As well as being a fascinating tale of pioneer living in the Canadian northwest, there is also a bonus human interest element provided by one of the Tomlinsons’ friends, the fiery Metlakatla missionary William Duncan. At one point, after Mr. Duncan had a falling out with his church authorities, Dr. Robert and Robert Jr. helped move almost an entire village from Metlakatla B.C. to Metlakatla Alaska in canoes over open ocean.

Not only does Challenge the Wilderness end up being an amazing family saga, but the manner in which it is told, often using fiction techniques, makes it a compelling read.

People who are familiar with the area of northwestern B.C. (from Prince Rupert to Hazelton) will be fascinated by this early history, as will those who have an interest in the aboriginal and wilderness way of life 100+ years ago. Good luck in finding the book, though. I read a borrowed copy (signed by the author no less) and I know its owner badly wants it back. I will consider myself blessed if I can someday find a copy I can call my own!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

here is love

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.

In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

Words: William Rees (1802-1883)
William Williams possibly wrote verses 3-4
Translated from Welsh to English by William Edwards (1848-1929) Baptist Book of Praise, 1900
Music by Robery Lowry (1826-1899)

We sang this hymn in church this morning. I was captivated by the lines: "And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice / Kissed a guilty world in love." Amen!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

from slut to savior

The banging on the door below awoke her. Then it stopped and a minute later Nimra knocked and tiptoed in.

"Rahab," she whispered. "It is Achab. He wants – "

"Tell him ‘No,’" Rahab interrupted. Her eyes were still closed, but her voice was firm.

Her servant stood beside the bed. "Are you sick? What’s wrong? This is the third time he’s come."

"Just ‘No’!" Rahab said again. She buried her face in her pillow as she listened to Nimra’s footsteps patter down the stairs. Then she took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart. What was she doing - turning away her best customers? Yet since that day...

She got out of bed and began dressing. But in her mind she was far away, living those events yet again.

The two men had appeared at her door like any other travelers. But very quickly she’d realized they were different. "So who are you then, and where are you from?" she’d asked with a coquettish smile.

"From there," the younger one said, waving his hand eastward.

"Ammon? Moab?" she persisted.

But the other glared and slapped a hand over his mouth, as if motioning his partner to say no more. Then she knew. They were Hebrews, members of that fierce nomad tribe with the powerful god that she’d heard stories of all her life.

"Come upstairs," she said, and led them up to this room where she worked. But that afternoon, work was the farthest thing from her mind. For here at last were real flesh-and-blood members of the mysterious people of Yahweh.

How fitting that they should come to her, she thought, as they talked. She almost felt that Yahweh was her God too. For often, after a client had left, leaving her feeling empty and defiled, she would face what she was –– whore, prostitute, slut –– and in her unhappiness call out silently to the most powerful god that she knew: "Yahweh. Help!"

Guards at the door seeking those men had cut the conversation short. While Nimra went down, she’d hidden the men under piles of flax on the roof. After dark she’d helped them escape through the window, but not before they’d given her an amazing promise. For they were, she discovered, spies, who were doing a reconnaissance of Jericho before they came to attack. Because of her help, they told her they would save her and her family. All she had to do was hang a red cord from the window and make sure her whole family was together in her house.

She’d hung the red cord immediately though she hadn’t said anything to her family. If they saw the cord, they hadn’t asked about it, though she was sure they suspected something.

Weeks had passed. And though the city gates remained locked for fear of the Hebrew army –– nothing. As day followed silent day, she wondered, when would they come? Or would they even come at all?

Now as she put the final touches on her hair, she heard her mother talking to Nimra. A minute later her mother entered the room.

"Good morning, Rahab. You look beautiful. Busy today?"

‘No," Rahab said quietly.

"Rahab, is it true what I’ve heard? Are you sending away the officials and the king’s men?"

"Yes." Rahab looked down.

"Why? You have a talent with men. It’s your destiny. You can’t change what you are. A harlot is an old and honorable profession. And," her voice became pleading, "your father needs your money and influence to save our family."

Behind her mother’s words, Rahab heard other sounds - footsteps and faint, unearthly horns. Both went to the window.

Below them unfolded an unbelievable sight. Rows and rows of men marched by. Then came horn blowers, and the horn blasts grew deafening as they passed. Behind them were pairs of men with poles on their shoulders and sitting on the poles, a golden box. As the box moved, it caught sunlight and reflected blazing glory. "Yahweh." The name slipped from Rahab’s tongue as she looked at it, and then away from the blinding light.

Following the golden box were more marchers. As Rahab scanned their heads, one glanced up, first at the cord, then to the window. His gaze caught and held hers. It was one of the spies!

They have come, she thought, feeling pure and light and indescribably happy. She paused for a minute, then turned toward her mother. Now she would tell her family. They would be saved, but not by her harlotries.

Read more about Rahab here.

This flash fiction is an entry to October's Celebration of the New Christian Fiction blog carnival. Dee Stewart is hosting this month. Her challenge to participants this month was: "Since this is a celebration of New ChristianFiction, CF Blog would love to read a fiction excerpt from you or your favorite author--preferably you." I certainly wouldn't say, though, that I am my own favorite author.

Friday, October 14, 2005

promptings' potpourri

A thanksgiving story in four parts (1, 2, 3, 4), lived and told by this friend.

Go read it!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

more bible interpretation

A couple of days ago I posted (hmmmm), for readers’ comment, one of the Bible study principles on the e-lecture of a Bible Study writing course I’ve enrolled in. Here is the exact wording of the principle from the lecture:

There is only one interpretation yet many applications. Each part has one meaning. (See Hebrews 13:5. I may apply it to one situation and you might apply it in a different situation, but it says what it says.) Some reasons for differing interpretations: person has not done their homework; all people have bias and blind spots (it is good to study with others); some are strong observers, other are discerning interpreters, some need help with application. Also, unconfessed sin will cloud the person’s judgment.
Thanks to all who responded - your comments are much appreciated and helped me think this through.

One of the parts of the first assignment is an invitation to respond to these principles ("Do you disagree with any of these principles? If so, explain your thoughts."):

Here is what I handed in yesterday:

I struggle with this concept as it’s laid out here. On one hand, I agree with the explanatory statement: "It (the Bible) says what it says." I understand this to mean we take the words at face value and don’t attempt to twist them to say what we would like them to say.

And I also believe that in each bit of Scripture is contained something God is attempting to communicate to us. In that sense, then, when we study and interpret the Bible we come with the assumption that in any particular passage, the words are an expression of a particular truth in God’s heart – i.e. the passage has been given to say something to us from God and we are on a quest to find what that something is, that "one interpretation" — the right interpretation.

However, we are all finite and see things colored through a variety of lenses including different experience, training and level of obedience. This leads to a variety of interpretations for many reasons – including the negative things listed in the explanation ("person has not done their homework; all people have bias and blind spots," sin in the life, as well as people’s varying study strengths and ways of looking at things). However, to imply that a variant interpretation comes about simply because of some lack in the person who interprets differently is, I feel, dismissive of honest efforts to understand and interpret accurately.

One doesn’t have to look far to find varying interpretations among people who are known for their piety, scholarship and integrity. The meaning of the word "perfection"in 1 Corinthians 13:10 is a good example. The NIV Study Bible lists four possible interpretations – each with wide-ranging doctrinal ramifications. The writer of that commentary does, at the end of the list, tell us which interpretation he/she favors, but doesn’t criticize the other interpretations or imply the people who came up with them were biased, lazy or sinful.

I think as interpreters of the Bible, we need to do the very best we can to come up with the right interpretation. We do this by considering the context, searching out the meaning of the words used in the original languages, and then applying the other principles of Bible study mentioned (God talks about Himself in terms we can understand; Scripture interprets Scripture, interpretation must be consistent with the rest of the Bible etc.). But still we may come up short, not understanding perfectly what God is saying. He has summarized our condition pretty accurately:

Isaiah 55:8,9: "‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.’ says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts then your thoughts"

I Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known."

Thus I think we also need to be teachable and, fully aware of our own inadequacies, to listen to others’ interpretations – not to accept them blindly, but to ‘ the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things are so" (Acts 17:10-12), and also to see if they bear witness with the Holy Spirit who is our teacher and counselor, and is in us.

So, while the ideal is one interpretation, the reality is often different. I personally feel it’s important to cultivate humility and to be open to learn from the insights of others.

(Again, comments warmly welcomed.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

thanksgiving weekend

Thanksgiving weekend just past was a combination of miles traveled and a wonderful time with various branches of our family.

After getting Mom’s medication all sorted out Thursday afternoon, we hit the highway for Kelowna and a night at my brother’s house. From there it was on to Cranbrook the next morning (eight- hour drive) and what a gorgeous drive it was! The road from Kelowna to Cranbrook must be one of the most scenic in our province as it winds through mountain ranges, beside lakes and along streams. All the leaves are turning and so the roadsides are a visual delight, with the dark pine forests, sprinkled with the just-turned-yellow aspens and poplars.

We got to Cranbrook in time to help my sis, Doris, decorate the hall for the wedding celebration of Ian and Shivon (Their actual wedding day was October 9, 2004, two days before the birth of baby Isabella Ruby.) Ernie lost no time getting acquainted with her and spent much of the afternoon, entertaining the little princess.

Doris hosted us for the night in her new home. It’s about a 5-minute drive out of Kimberley in a woodsy development with quite the contrasts - beautiful, modern, well-appointed houses (like radiant heating in the tiled bathroom floors) in a setting so wild, my sis who loves running, doesn’t dare run the trails because of roaming bears and moose.

The next morning after breakfast in Kimberley, Doris left to do errands while Ernie and I explored the town (which features a Bavarian theme). Here are two storefronts on the Platzl, and a mural painted on one of the building walls at the other end.

After a few hours of R&R in the afternoon, we drove to Cranbrook for dinner at Eagle’s Hall. It was one of those celebrations with a small town feel to it – lots of families and kids underfoot, dressed to the nines and dodging in and out in games of tag and general horsing around, then setting themselves up to play in a corner of the hall with plastic cars and silken-haired rubber ponies some Mom had had the foresight to bring along.

The dinner was delicious, the program fun, Doris’s slide show of the kids a tear-jerker, and the dance was lively stretching, as it did, all the way to next morning. (Right is the bride's twin sister. Below me and my sister Doris.)

Sunday E. and I drove to Kelowna to visit his parents and have Thanksgiving dinner on Monday with more family (26 of us in all). You gotta love it – turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, bean salad, spinach and strawberry salad, spaghetti squash, yams, buns, a variety of other salads, pumpkin pie and a yummy pumpkin cheesecake Julie made, the recipe of which she promised to make the first entry of her blog – (sound of fingers drumming) Julie, I’m waiting!!


In the next few weeks I’m taking an e-course on how to write Bible studies - this from someone who has written them and taught many Bible studies for 20+ years.

As part of the ‘lecture’ which precedes the assignment, our teacher has listed some principles on how to study the Bible. In a way I take them as a set of presuppositions. They include things like:
- All Scripture is inspired by God.
- The ability to understand the Bible belongs to anyone who has the Holy Spirit – even a child.
- God talks about Himself in terms that we understand, not necessarily in terms that are literal descriptions of Himself.
- Revelation is progressive (i.e. progressive throughout the Bible)
- Scripture interprets Scripture.
- Any interpretation must be consistent with what the rest of the Bible teaches.
- The meaning of Scripture is unified.

I don’t have a problem with any of the above, as she explains them in her notes. However, I am struggling with this statement:

- There is only one interpretation yet many applications. Each part has one meaning....Some reasons for differing interpretations: person has not done their homework; all people have bias and blind spots; some are strong observers, others are discerning interpreters, some need help with application....

I’d be very interested in getting the reaction of anyone who would care to comment, to the above statement.

Monday, October 10, 2005

happy (canadian) thanksgiving!

...especially to all the surviving turkeys out there. (!! speakers !!)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

the packing blues

On Monday morning hubby, sis, who has Mondays off, and I went to Mum’s to start the marathon of packing needed to move her.

It was obvious when we arrived, this move has taken its toll on her already. She looked exhausted when she met us at the door and just a little sympathy brought tears...oh dear... Also, she just isn’t feeling well.

We told her, sit, Sit, SIT. Let us do the work.

We got her enthroned on her recliner and brought her boxes to go through. Meanwhile while I tackled the storage room, sis went through the bookshelf in the small bedroom and hubby kept us in coffee and floor space by taking bags of garbage and recycling to the building’s dumpsters and loads of stuff to the MCC

When we left about 5:00, though Mum had held up pretty well, she was still uncomfortable, with a nagging dry cough and feeling extremely exhausted.

Yesterday afternoon she called me. She’s still feeling rotten. She described the symptoms and asked could I accompany her to the doctor, today.

After her call, I got out my medical self-help book and looked up "congestive heart failure". On reading the description, it sounds like mum has pretty much a textbook case. (And this is no surprise. Mostly, though, the symptoms are quiescent– extreme weariness, wheezing and shortness of breath on exertion, and fluid retention, kept under control with diuretics. However when these flare, like they seem to be doing now, it’s not a little scary for a non-nurse like me.) And it appears the best thing to do for this condition, after fluid control, is rest.

We were planning to go my niece’s wedding celebration in the Kootenay’s this weekend (about a 12-hour drive one way). Mum had originally planned to go with us. She cancelled out of that Monday. But now with her feeling as rotten as she does, I wonder if we, or at least I may not be spending the weekend camping out in her apartment in Abbotsford and, on this Thanksgiving weekend, eating turkey roll sandwiches while I take a break from nursing her and going through yet one more cupboard!

Or maybe not. Today she was feeling bit better. Now we’re waiting on blood test results to see whether or not we need to fill a prescription. Oh, isn’t it grand to not know what tomorrow holds exactly, and just trust the Lord? It’s not what control freak me finds terribly comfortable. But it is good practice in holding onto what seems to be the anchor verse for my life:

Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7 - NASB)

Monday, October 03, 2005

review: How to Write e-book

I’ve recently finished reading How to Write - Communicating Ideas and Information by Herbert E. and Jill M. Meyer.

Here’s my evaluation of the book in pros and cons:

1. This book is great at breaking the task of writing into three distinct and easy-to-follow steps:

1] Organizing for the job.
2] Turning out a draft
3] Polishing the product.

2. Each of these steps is explained and illustrated with examples. No guessing - everything is clearly laid out.

3. This book is meant to not only be read but used - i.e. followed along - steps 1, 2, 3 etc., each time one has a writing project.

4. The book has wide appeal. It would be useful for home schoolers, bloggers, people whose work involves writing reports, recommendations etc., journalists, and many more.

5. It's slim – 110 pages.

6. It has amazing endorsements and comes highly recommended by people who should recognize good writing advice when they see it:

Reading How to Write is like discovering the trick behind a magic act. Once the act is understood, it isn't nearly as awesome as it had seemed. It becomes almost easy to learn and execute. How to Write can be read in less than an hour and should be kept thereafter between the dictionary and the thesaurus. - Harriet Gerard, Hearst Feature Service

1. The main writing example in the book is the development of a trend report. It has as its subject, advances in telecommunications. We all know how rapidly that field is changing. Thus, the example already seems a little dated.

2. The method of writing explained is mainly applicable to the writing of nonfiction, i.e. writing about ideas and information. I am not sure it would be as useful to the writing of fiction.

Aside from those two minor matters, this book is definitely a keeper.

Which brings me to my last PRO -

It’s available as an E-book for a mere $1.99!

Buy it, it’s worth it - would be worth it at three times the price.

The e-book How To Write was given to me as a gift from the publisher and Mind&Media for review purposes.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


When I got an email a few weeks ago with the subject line "Wish to write a column about you," I was understandably skeptical. But in the interim I’ve discovered that Kevin Collier, the writer of that email, was/is for real. On October 1st he posted this profile of yours truly in the ezine Kid Magazine Writers. It focuses on the children’s-writer aspect of my writing journey. Thanks, Kevin, for being so kind!

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Jeri Massi calls, "Every Story has a Moral," (short story featured in the latest issue of Infuze) a comedic fundamentalist fable. With character names like Jack Daniels, John Deere and Valvoline she gave me a lot of chuckles while at the same time slipping in (what else) a serious moral.

Go read it!

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