Wednesday, February 28, 2007

thursday photo

Thursday Challenge: ENTRANCE

Let's Play

I spotted this yellow cottage on a side street in Chemainus B.C. when we visited in early January this year. I love the whimsical shape of the door and the horseshoe shaped doorframe.
Next Week: OLD (Buildings, People, Antiques, Books, Food, Vehicles,...)


To a yummy lunch of roasted chicken, curried veggies, couscous and butter tart add three inspiring speakers and you have an unexpectedly grace-filled afternoon. That was yesterday at our church’s missionary conference ladies’ luncheon.

Nancy Bersaglio began with stories of how they have known God’s presence and protection in Zambia. She told of one evening when her 17-year-old daughter burst into their room after they’d just gone to bed with, “There’s a snake in the house!” They got her safe into their room and after a bit Serge, her husband, peeked out the door to see a spitting cobra in the middle of the next room.

Everyone left the house through the window, Serge called an exterminator company but when that lot came back with guns and poke sticks (or whatever they use to hunt snakes), the critter was no where to be found. What followed was an hour of searching every nook and cranny of the house for that snake. They did eventually find him - coiled in daughter’s laundry hamper. “She has kept the t-shirt, stained with snake blood as a souvenir,” Nancy told us.

Then we heard from Monika - a beautiful pastor’s wife from Poland, who told her story through an interpreter. For some reason her husband was required to take some training in Paris and he really really wanted her to be there with him. The problem was, they have two young children. And so with great sadness, Monika packed her babies off to their two grandmas and took the bus to Paris, crying all the way. “But when I got there,” she said, “I discovered why I needed to be in Paris.”

A 97-year-old Jewish woman (Jacques Chirac’s mother) had already gone through eleven interviewees when Monika applied for the job to be her ‘nurse.’ She was hired and over the next few months witnessed to this woman, who eventually came to faith before she died.

Finally we heard from Tamara Lowe. What a treat! Tamara and her husband do “Get Motivated” seminars for business people. They speak to stadiums filled with thousands about success techniques for business. However, they never fail to tuck into each seminar a session called “The Spiritual Side of Success.” In that session Tamara gives her testimony and explains how to become a Christian. (This is billed as an optional session – but, according to Tamara, people rarely leave.)

Tamara’s topic to us yesterday afternoon was how to share our faith. She started out by telling us what she was like as a 17-year-old new Christian – she told everyone the good news!

Soon after she came to know the Lord she moved into a house with a family. Every day on coming home she’d have stories to tell about people whom she’d shared with that day who had decided to follow Jesus too. One day after telling how a woman she’d struck up a conversation with on the bus had asked Christ into her heart, her hosts said to her, “Tamara, you’re doing this all wrong. This is not how to share your faith. You should do it like us – just the live the Christian life. People will watch and be curious about why you’re different. When they ask you about it, then you have permission to share the gospel.”

“Oh,” she said. “How many people have you led to the Lord this way in the last while?”

The answer was predictable. None.

Unfortunately, that douse of cold water put out the fire in this young woman for about ten years. But she’s back! Yesterday she gave us these tips on ‘Fishing’ packaged neatly in the acronym SHARE:

S-tart conversations about Christ.
(Some conversation starters: Are you very interested in spiritual things? Have you ever made the wonderful discovery of knowing Jesus Christ personally? Want to hear some good news?
H-ave an agreeable attitude (enthusiastic, joyful, listen to the other person)
A-nswer objections (study to know what you’ll say to the common objections)
R-epentance prayer
E-ncourage and equip (take discipleship responsibility for this baby Christian if possible).

She also introduced us to a very neat evangelism tool called EvangeCube.

I left the afternoon feeling energized and challenged. Now the question is, will I accept the challenge? Will you?


"It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us. If we do not want medieval haloes, we want something that will make people say – What a wonderful man of prayer he is! What a pious devoted woman she is! If you are rightly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the sublime height where no one ever thinks of noticing you, all that is noticed is that the power of God comes through you all the time . . . . The test of the life of a saint is not success, but faithfulness in human life as it actually is. "

– Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

book review - In Search of Eden

Title: In Search of Eden
Author: Linda Nichols
Publisher: Bethany House, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0167-7
Genre: Contemporary fiction

It took author Linda Nichols a prologue and one chapter of In Search of Eden to convince me that Dorrie’s quest to find the baby she gave up for adoption eleven years earlier was one I shouldn’t miss. By the time the present part of the story opens in Minneapolis (Chapter 2), her journey has already taken her to Chicago, Montana, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Seattle. Clues finally lead her to Abingdon, Virginia. There things don’t start well when she’s stopped by the resident cop as she drives into town. She eventually manages to find a job, a place to live (above the funeral home) and though more than once discouragement tempts her to give up her search and move on, she spends the summer. That is long enough to make a whole village of new friends and experience a grace that is both subtle and earth-shaking.

I found the characters in the book believable and interesting. I was sympathetic to main character Dorrie / Miranda (she changes her name partway through) from the beginning and she grew on me even more as the plot’s ups and downs tested her mettle. Eden, a spunky 11-year-old who loves all things western and mystery was equally well done.

I’m usually also drawn to villains in a story. I thought I had found such a person in Noreen, Miranda’s mother, until near the end when she morphs from a Cruella Deville into someone unexpectedly heroic. However, it was obviously Nichols’ intention to redeem her and all the other gray characters, as she makes clear in a ‘Dear Reader’ letter at book’s end:
“I also hope we can all stop working so hard to make everything perfect, including ourselves, and instead love and be loved by the bumpy, imperfect people around us.”

I liked the way Nichols tells the story. I especially enjoyed the beginning when, without much introduction she rolls out vignette after vignette involving the various characters. This placed a demand on me to splice the story strands together – something I found satisfying. Sub plots are deftly woven in and out of the main plot. The whole thing added up to a lively and compelling read. The only plot bit that gave me mental whiplash, because of how far-fetched it felt, was the identity of Johnny Adair revealed at the end of the book

I thought the small-town setting suited the story well – dealing as it does with warm and homey matters of family and the heart. There were times when Nichols’ descriptions of Abingdon and its people reminded me of Jan Karon’s Mitford books. In a couple of instances Nichols’ settings also work like a movie soundtrack influencing the emotional tone as in this description of Miranda’s trip into West Virginia:

“The mountains rose up on either side of her, jagged and sharp. They blocked out the sun . . . and the woods beneath them looked wild and lonely and cruel. . . . It began to rain and darkness fell.”
Nichols’ writing style achieves a nice balance of poetry and efficiency – descriptive and detailed but not flowery, good conversation, no ambivalence about whose head one is in. In fact I felt she excelled at getting inside the minds and emotions of pretty much every character, even the very minor ones. The title is another little stylistic coup with its double meaning possibilities.

The way the story explores family relationships, forgiveness, mother love, and adoption will give it appeal to readers in a wide range of ages. It is written out of a Christian world view but is never preachy. However, even though God is not mentioned much overtly, His fingerprints are all over this story from nurse Wanda’s hurried prayer of blessing on Dorrie’s baby at the beginning, to the words of wisdom cited by the mountain woman: “When you see those graves remember ... that’s your history, not your future,” to the answer found within the mystery box Eden finally decides to open at twenty-one.

For a thoughtful and satisfying read that will leave you feeling warmed and hopeful, In Search of Eden is a good choice. The paperback edition I read came with a set of discussion questions at the end, making this book excellent for reading clubs too.

Monday, February 26, 2007

cover the earth!

Yesterday was one of my favorite Sundays of the whole year in church – the first Sunday of missions conference. This is when everyone is encouraged to come dressed in traditional costumes and there is a flag parade. As a member of the choir for the last two years, the costume part is not optional. Last year, my first in the choir, I trekked to my local Salvation Army thrift store and bought a beautiful purple sari just for the occasion. Yesterday I put it on again and joined everyone else in ethnic duds – from Canadian hockey jerseys to the get-up of African chiefs.

So imagine the scene. As we’re singing these words

"Cover the earth with Your glory
Cover the earth with Your glory
Cover the earth with the sound of heaven
All of the earth is before You
All of the nations adore You
Cover the earth with the sound of heaven
Cover the earth...As the waters cover the sea, cover the earth... "

- by Houghton / Cruse Ratcliff

people are parading the flags of the nations of the world to all parts of the auditorium. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it – it’s here, you can see it for yourself (the flag parade starts about 4 minutes in)*.

After that, we sang "O Sifuni Mungu" – a song in Swahili (originally done by First Call). Don’t miss pastor’s instructions on how to accompany your singing with some African dance steps, as they would do it in Uganda. Just imagine – heaven will be even better!

(*The video clip is far from DVD picture and sound quality but it gives an idea.)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

a mere reflection

You may be very discontented with yourself. You are no genius, have no brilliant gifts, and are inconspicuous for any special faculty. Mediocrity is the law of your existence. Your days are remarkable for nothing but sameness and insipidity. Yet you may live a great life.

John did no miracle, but Jesus said that among those born of women there had not appeared a greater than he. John’s main business was to bear witness to the Light, and this may be yours and mine. John was content to be only a voice, if men would think of Christ.

Be willing to be only a voice, heard but not seen; a mirror whose surface is lost to view, because it reflects the dazzling glory of the sun; a breeze that springs up just before daylight, and says, “The dawn! the dawn!” and then dies away.

Do the commonest and smallest things as beneath His eye. If you must live with uncongenial people, set to their conquest by love. If you have made a great mistake in your life, do not let it becloud all of it; but, locking the secret in your breast, compel it to yield to strength and sweetness.

We are doing more good than we know, sowing seeds, starting streamlets, giving men true thoughts of Christ, to which they will refer one day as the first things that started them thinking of Him; and, of my part, I shall be satisfied if no great mausoleum is raised over my grave, but that simple souls shall gather there when I am gone, and say, “He was a good man; he wrought no miracles but he spake words about Christ, which led me to know Him for myself.”

George Matheson

Friday, February 23, 2007


It’s nearing the end of my favorite week in February – the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. This is a week-long bonspiel featuring women’s rinks from every province and one from the territories. This year has been especially fun for us in B.C. because we have two rinks – the Kelly Law one representing the province, and Kelly Scott’s rink, the present Team Canada (who also ended the week at the very top of the standings! Now they only have to get through playoffs to extend their reign as Team Canada).

Photo: The Kelly Scott rink - champions in 2006.

TSN, bless their hearts, have been telecasting three draws a day. Of course I haven’t watched them all. Life does go on. But most afternoons and some evenings you would have found me parked on the couch for several hours watching these very athletic but otherwise ordinary Canadian women (from lawyers to housewives) sweep the house, while mine stays neglected. Oh well, I did find something to do to keep me busy during the hours spent. I’ve now shredded at least five years’ worth of old home records.

How to curl.

Curling facts.

keeping it all straight

Thursday, February 22, 2007

thursday photo challenge

The Thursday Challenge* looks like fun, so I've decided to join in. This week's word is FAST.

Barrel Racer

Next Week: ENTRANCE (Archway, Door, Doorway, Entry, Gate, Passageway, Porch, Sign,...)


*I found the Thursday Challenge through the beautiful Hireath blog.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

can't seem to get warm

We’re in a cold snap right now. This heron looks like I feel when I go outside to brave the brisk winds.

(Photo taken at Mud Bay Park, Surrey, B.C.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is. Drudgery is work that is very far removed from anything to do with the ideal – the utterly mean grubby things; and when we come in contact with them we know instantly whether or not we are spiritually real.

[...] It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it. ... When the Lord does a thing through us, He always transfigures it. Our Lord took on Him our human flesh and transfigured it, and it has become for every saint the temple of the Holy Ghost.

- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.

I read this yesterday and thought immediately of a vignette in Jamie Langston Turner’s book Winter Birds. Near the beginning, Aunt Sophie explains why she chose to live with her nephew Patrick and his wife Rachel versus other family applicants interested in looking after her in her old age in exchange for her estate on her death.

The first night of my visit with them, I had watched Rachel slice red potatoes for supper . . . . She handled the potatoes as someone working her way through a delicate puzzle. She first sliced each potato into four segments, then studied each quarter, as if measuring it into equal parts before laying her knife against its red skin. She sliced each quarter into three parts, then gently scraped them to one side of the cutting board before beginning the next quarter.

[...] Rachel took up the saltshaker and gave it four deliberate shakes into the water before turning on the eye. When it grew red, she wiped her hands on the apron she was wearing over her blue jeans, then opened a cupboard door and stared inside before reaching up to remove a can of green peas. She cranked it open with a handheld opener, then emptied its contents into another pan, rinsed the can, and threw it into the garbage.

[...] I hate small, constricted minds (the pictures on the walls were cliche prints of Negroes working as happy slaves and the cookie jar was in the shape of a fat, jolly Negro mammy), but I had seen Rachel slice potatoes and wipe her hands on her apron. I also saw her place a cube of butter in the pan of peas, open a can of biscuits, and take meat loaf out of the oven. It wasn’t the food itself that drew me but the slow grace of her actions, as of moving against resistance, like someone under water, someone capable perhaps of surprising, like a large mermaid.

Doesn't that put a new light on making a simple meal?

Additionally, the above reminds me of the Daily Sacrament Contest. The task is to explore, in short story form, the everyday in light of the eternal--or the sacred in the surroundings of the commonplace. The prize is $250 and publication in Relief. Entry is free!

Monday, February 19, 2007


A plumbline is the picture that comes to mind when I think of Sunday morning church. That’s often the time I see where my life is out-of-plumbness with God’s word. Of course the impression is doubled when pastor’s message reinforces my personal devotions.

In them I’ve been ambling through Mark and getting the sense of what Jesus was (and was discipling his twelve to become) all about.
- To Simon and Andrew, for example, He said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” - Mark 1:12.
- To His disciples, on a morning after an amazing day of ministry, when He was finally found in a secret place praying, and told that the crowds were clamoring for more: “Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” - 1:38.
- To his mother and brothers seeking to put a filial claim on His time, said as He motioned to His disciples sitting around Him: “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and mother” - 3:35.

There is an urgency about His life that was not to be waylaid, a sense of focus that was not to be diffused. He was not sidetracked by apparent success, a potential career path, popularity, or superficial family constraints.

Pastor’s sermon yesterday – a continuation of the 'why' of missions – extended the above. After addressing several other points, he directed us to Luke 8 and the parable of the sower. This is really what our lives are to be all about, he encouraged us – sowing the ‘seeds of the kingdom’* everywhere, indiscriminately, lavishly, not worrying about whether or when or how they will bear fruit, just sowing.

I have so not done this in my life. Instead, I’ve been a very strategic sower, carefully thinking through what are the chances of the seed, should I sow it here, to succeed. And if I thought they weren’t good? Well, I would probably hold that seed back – partly I must admit not even so much concerned about the welfare of the seed, certainly not about the eternal welfare of the person from whom I withheld, but more about how sowing that seed would make me look!

And so I have stacks of “seed” I’ve never sown – a whole box full of tracts and gospels and Four Spiritual Law books just sitting in my closet, not bearing fruit.

That is going to change. As a start, I’ve put a few of these in the pocket of the jacket I wear when we go walking – determined to leave each one somewhere or with someone (and become a little subversive Canadian Seed-sower).

And if, this morning, I had any doubts about whether this really is God’s message to me today – guess where I’m at this morning in my reading of Mark. Chapter 4! It’s obvious that pastor’s Sunday sermons aren’t the only plumbline in life.

*He defined ‘seeds’ as things like witnessing, preaching, inviting people to church or cell group, offering to pray for them when they’re in distress, leaving tracts, etc.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

books, books, books

Looking for something to read? Surf on over to Semicolon for her weekly compilation of book reviews. While you're there, you could add a link(s) to the book(s) you've reviewed in the past week as well.

I also blogged here today -- a parody, if you're into that sort of thing.

Friday, February 16, 2007

snowdrifts of the welcome kind

Snowdrops blooming in one of the forests where we walk.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

sassy in stripes

A Kildeer Plover, taking a break from feasting on goodies found in the seaweed salad – tidal bank of the Nicomekl River.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

another kind of valentine

Amidst all the roses and chocolates and cards that will be exchanged today – did you know that there is another valentine for you, just waiting to be picked up?

This valentine offers not sexy, infatuation, physical falling-in-love sentiments – although it does have that eyes-for-only-you feeling about it. It goes beyond offering the love of even the truest platonic friendship. It’s the most significant valentine you will ever accept because it comes from someone who knows you better than you know yourself. He made you and knows your most private need, as Helen discovered when she was only fifteen. He wants to spend every day with you, as Debra and Iris so eloquently explain.

It’s a valentine from Jesus who says, I chose you, I adopted you, I love you.

If you haven’t picked up your valentine - find out how to do it here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

how sweet it is

Happy Valentine's Day!
- to my favorite guy in the whole world.
(Of course, we would normally be in this situation without an umbrella, wouldn't we?)

book review - Abraham's Well

Title: Abraham’s Well
Author: Sharon Ewell Foster
Publisher: Bethany House, 2006
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780764228872

“I was born before cars. I was born before the War Between the States. . . . I have seen babies born, I have seen death and I have walked the Trail of Tears – Nunna daul Isunyi – the Trail Where We Cried.
“I have been a slave and I have been free. This is my story, the story of my family, the good and the bad of it.”

If I remember only one thing about Sharon Ewell Foster’s historical fiction Abraham’s Well, it will be Armentia’s voice. This part-Cherokee, part-Negro slave tells her story in first person. It is the story of an actual historical event – the forced removal, in 1838, of Indians and mixed race people from their homes in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky, to Oklahoma. Armentia and her family walk, with thousands of others, one thousand miles from North Carolina to the Oklahoma Indian Territory. Armentia then takes us with her to the plantations and farms of her various owners. Finally, after emancipation, we return home with her to a mixed-blessing freedom.

The book is an interesting study of a developing character. Armentia’s childhood memories are vivid and good. When the Trail of Tears brings that idyllic time to an end, we see an impish child become cowed and silenced by things like the Gestapo-like soldiers shooting an old woman because she won’t stop singing. After the family reaches their destination, life hands Armentia more cruel surprises and she becomes an expert at denying her feelings, even to herself. However these trials mature her. By the end of the story, she looks back on her life with a stoic acceptance that is not marred by bitterness.

A host of other characters make their way through the story as well. Many of them are family members – her mother, father, and brother Abraham are key. A few are actual people from history. Though none stays with Armentia to the end, they keep surfacing in her memory as people who are still with her in some way.

Besides character, this book majors on themes. A main one is slavery and its flip side, freedom. It is interesting to note how enslavement affects people in the story differently. Some are debilitated and paralyzed by it. It enrages others. In still others it fuels a flickering but stubborn hope that tomorrow will be better.

Armentia’s parents are in that last category. Hope is nourished, in Armentia’s mother especially, through her Christian faith and evidenced by the Negro Spirituals she sings. Though Armentia suppresses this optimism throughout most of her youth, it does finally bear fruit. And so despite much of the story being gloomy, that ever-present hope keeps it from becoming depressing.

Foster’s writing ability shines in the captivating and the archetypal wise-old-woman voice of Armentia. She taps into the Cherokee side of Armentia’s heritage, giving her words a poetic lilt that make her seem kin to natural things:
“But years ago, before fences and wires, when people lived to be old, it was quiet. It was quiet enough to hear the frogs croaking, to hear a bird’s wings flapping and to know what kind it was. It was quiet enough to hear that there was water nearby, quiet enough to hear the wind talk.”
The odd Cherokee word sprinkled here and there and God referred to as the “Great One” add authenticity. Not surprisingly, natural things like water and birds, and ancient things like wells keep reappearing till they have amassed the weight of symbol.

Abraham’s Well will introduce you to a character you won’t soon forget. The little known historic event it portrays will open your eyes to an ugly episode in American history. But by book’s end, like Armentia you will be stronger and wiser for having taken the journey.

Monday, February 12, 2007

monday mural - more Chemainus

"The Chemainus Hospital" - painted in 1988 by Doug Driediger, Calgary Alta. It depicts the Chemainus Hospital built in 1899 -- a time when nurses still wore uniforms and caps. I wasn't around back then, but I too can remember when they did. Call me old fashioned, but I miss that.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

'The Quarrel' at PT

“At Sinai God made a covenant with the Jewish people. At Auswchwitz, he broke it.” This provocative line is from the program of the play “The Quarrel” which we saw yesterday afternoon at Pacific Theatre. The 80-minute play was stimulating on several levels.

The story is of two Jewish men who were friends in their youth and meet again in Montreal in the autumn of 1948. The play consists entirely of their conversation. From it one soon gathers that these once best friends parted after a quarrel when Chaim left the Yeshiva at which they were both studying. Having turned his back on faith at that time, he is now a self-absorbed poet. Hersh, on the other hand, has stayed true to the teachings of Talmud. In fact he now runs a Yeshiva of his own.

Their conversation soon becomes heated as each tries to convince the other of the tenability of his position. Also woven through the interchanges are memories of their past – together and apart. And so besides being a play about beliefs, it also becomes a play about friendship, family, loyalty, the holocaust, a father’s love and more.

The script was wiry and energetic, full of arguments for living the secular life on one hand, and the life of belief on the other. It also had its moments of raw emotion. Especially moving was Hersh’s (Dan Amos) memory of the last time he saw his father. If those weren’t real tears . . .

I really enjoyed the set. The theatre is two facing banks of seats with the stage in the middle. The set must thus be designed to work from both sides (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this but I don’t know what it is - theater in the round? Anyway, there are no curtains, no set changes). The stage furniture consisted of a park bench on the side to our left and a tree to our right. Coming from the tree and spreading out on the floor in a jagged circle was this collage of black and white photographs - faces mostly.

The usher made sure that people whose seats were on the opposite side, didn’t walk on this part of the floor: “It’s very fragile,” she said. Even the actors stepped carefully around it. I had this curious feeling, though, that not stepping on those faces was due to more than its fragility. How can one step on faces -- even pictures of faces -- and not feel something has been violated? That collage was a reminder of all the people that are part of a life, even if they’re not physically present. It also called to mind that verse from Hebrews about lives being lived before a cloud of witnesses.

The play impacted me on a personal level as well. The conversation between Chaim and Hersh reminded me of conversations we’ve had with our son. He uses many of the same arguments Chaim did to justify his current belief system and lifestyle.

"The Quarrel" runs at Pacific Theatre till February 17th.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

spring comes

in mauve

and purple

Friday, February 09, 2007


About 10 o’clock this morning the doorbell rang. I opened the door to a man in brown, holding a clipboard. At his feet was a big box which, after he left, I promptly opened to find it was full of this.

Yes indeed, it’s finally here, my hot-off-the-press book of poems, Family Reunion! It is one of the perks of being named Utmost Christian Writers Poet Laureate. Many, many thanks to my editor Nathan Harms for his help in putting this together. What a fabulous prize and honor!

(Yikes, a hundred books looks like a lot. But then, I guess I have the rest of my life to dispose of them.)

frivolous friday

Some things are just too good to keep to yourself. I got this Doo-Wop Horses link in an email some days ago. Here’s what you do:

Click on the link below and wait for the entire screen to load up with all four horses and a fence in front of them. Then click on each horse. Make sure your sound is on. Re-click on any horse to make it turn off or turn it back on again. Try clicking left to right, right to left or any order. Relieve some stress – although it might create some more when you drive your family crazy.

Doo-Wop Horses

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I could introduce you to my hairdresser

A Mallard and Red-breasted Merganser in conversation - Nicomekl River, Surrey, BC.

promptings' potpourri

Check out these relatively new (Canadian) writer blogs on the block:

Canadian Authors Who Are Christian - a group blog written by members of the Word Guild including writers like Linda Hall and Denyse O’Leary.

InScribe Writers Online - a group blog written by members of InScribe Writers Christian Fellowship.

Then there’s the InScribe website. It’s not new and if you haven’t checked out this collection of rich resources for writers, what are you waiting for? (For example, add some new blogs to your basket from this blog-link page.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

throwing off the michal spirit

At the end of last Sunday evening’s night of worship, I noticed Heather leave her spot in the choir. A minute later I caught sight of her twirling, leaping, pirouetting as she did her own little dance at the side of the stage. What kind of praise needed to come out in such an extravagant way, I wondered.

I was reminded of Heather yesterday morning when I read about the woman who poured costly perfume on Jesus’ head. Jesus loved it. The disciples not so much. They murmured amongst themselves saying, what a waste and couldn’t it have been sold and the money given to the poor? I sense in their reaction almost an embarrassment – for themselves and for Jesus. How did He manage to attract such bizarre and fanatical behavior? Their reaction was not unlike that of another critic of expressive worship, David’s wife Michal.

I have been guilty of the Michal spirit myself. We used to go to churches where worship was pretty much non-expressive. Aside from the odd tear perhaps and very proper clapping when the leader invited it, we sang beautifully but stone-faced. None of this hands in the air, jumping around business we experienced when we started attending a Pentecostal church almost seven years ago. But here the people get free from wild and zany ways, addictions, hopelessness and bound-up lives. And there’s all kinds of ways that freedom is expressed from kneeling to lying on the floor to hands in the air, clapping, and dancing. Not everybody worships that way of course. But you’re free to if you wish.

At first I struggled often with a Michal spirit. What was this craziness? How undignified! What would my calm-and-cool worshiping friends think? I’m not sure when it stopped bothering me. Maybe it was the cumulative effect of all those testimonies I heard from the baptismal tank. My attitude also changed when I studied the Bible accounts of extravagant worship and came to see what they really are – sincere attempts by mere mortals to express some measure of praise and adoration and thanks to God for who and what He is. I’m sure my attitude was helped when I decided to no longer judge their motives as being showoffy and exhibitionist. They’re not worshiping me, after all, or others in the church, but God. He’s more than sufficient to see into their hearts.

I’m loving my extravagantly worshiping church more all the time. It sure didn’t hurt either when after watching Heather Sunday night I happened to glance, yesterday, at the February issue of the B.C. Christian News. There on page 3 is Heather’s testimony. It’s also online here. Reading that is almost enough to make a staid mama like me cut a caper!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

salad for the color feast

Amanda from Wittingshire feels starved by winter white and hungry for color. So I post these posies for her. They sit on my dining room table and lend color to my gray-toned and fog-blurred winter days. Though I didn’t buy them for myself, judging by the lift they give me, buying flowers to brighten up winter isn’t a bad idea.

Monday, February 05, 2007

monday mural - the bull gang

Many Chinese men enticed to Canada’s west coast in the 1800s worked at menial labor jobs. In this Chemainus mural (based on a photograph from the Victoria Lumber & Manufacturing Company) twenty three men from the “Chinese Bull Gang” are straining to move a huge timber through the lumber yard to a sailing vessel. Planks made a smooth track for the cart wheels.

Chinese Bull Gang - painted in 1984 (by Ernest Marza, Victoria, B.C.)

(Click on photo to enlarge. )

For more Chemainus 1984 to 1987 murals, go here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

playing heaven

I was glancing through a back-issue of Vocatio yesterday and noticed this article about sabbath-keeping (sabbath being a day of rest, not necessarily Saturday) by R. Paul Stevens (Winter 2003 edition of Vocatio – a publication of Regent College, Vancouver). Here are some bits:

The kind of God we actually worship is revealed by whether we keep sabbath.

Being sabbath’s lord did not mean Jesus could break it at will; rather it means that the Lord fulfilled sabbath’s meaning and intent.

[...] First and foremost sabbath is the redemption of time .... time is being recovered as a gift from God rather than a resource to be managed... (quoting Rabbi Abraham Heschel) “There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord.”

[...] Sabbath is humankind playing heaven....When we “play” heaven – by co-creating with God, by delighting in creation, by making things fit a heavenly model and by worshiping – we anticipate the joys of being full “grown-up” men and women in Christ in heaven (where we truly become children again!).

[...] Some form of weekly or regular sabbath is not an optional extra for the New Testament Christian.... If we cannot put our work down and truly rest, we are probably taking ourselves too seriously. And probably we are not taking God seriously enough. Truly we do not “keep” sabbath but sabbath “keeps us,” keeps us focused on the really real, on God’s purpose, on God’s priorities for our lives and on God himself.

The article is an excerpt from a book: The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity by Robert Banks and R. Paul Stevens.

Photo: Ward's Marina at the Stewart Farmhouse - Surrey, BC.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

comment moderation ON

I've been hit by a blizzard of spam comments yesterday and today. Thus I've enabled comment moderation until the spammers get a life.

is he lost?

Santa, seen on the banks of the Nicomekl River this week. E. figures he came back for Ukrainian Christmas and just couldn't face the North Pole again so soon.

Friday, February 02, 2007

if thy head offend thee, cut what off?!

I woke early with a pounding headache. It was a usual morning, for morning headaches have been my companion for years. But this can’t be normal, I thought. What is wrong with me?

I’d ascribed these headaches to a variety of causes - hormones, stress, mysterious migraine, my own weird physiology. I’d looked up daily headaches and morning headaches on the internet and come up with a variety of explanations for them from hypnic to rebound, few of which, excepting brain tumor and aneurysm , were particularly malignant or curable. Yet my niece’s recent concern over her Dad’s morning headaches (she’s a budding oncologist, his headaches turned out to be high blood pressure) was the tipping point for me. Maybe it was time for me to face this annoyance cum fear and sleuth out the reason for my almost-daily morning companion.

I scheduled my doctor visit for just over two weeks ago. After quizzing me about this symptom and how I treated it (with pills of course, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, ASA, used only when necessary and trying not to exceed recommended daily dosages, but sometimes reaching that several days running), she suggested we treat this as a rebound headache. Simply put that means I was pretty much an addict to pain medication. My body, accustomed to getting it, was crying ‘ouch’ whenever medication levels in my system dropped too low. The RX - stop all pain medication cold turkey and take 1 little pill nightly to cushion me into sleep. “The next couple of weeks will probably be rough,” doctor cautioned me as I left with my prescription clutched tight.

The next morning I woke without a headache and had none all day. That was easy, I thought. Not! For in a few days the headaches were back again. Some mornings they were just a nagging ache on the right side, like an old toothache. On others they felt like a band stretched tight across my head, reminding me most of a particular headache I’d had before. That day I’d been fasting, taking in only water and juice. The caffeine withdrawal headache I felt by noon that day made my head feel like it would split. Could my precious java be the culprit?

I decided to take particular note of if and how caffeine intake affected my malady. Most days I kept to the same routine - a humongous mug of stiff coffee first thing in the morning, another smaller one in the early afternoon and no more for the rest of the day. However, on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago, my routine changed during a one-day conference where coffee was always on. I had numerous small cups of it throughout the day. Next morning I woke headache-free.

That day I had my usual morning dose but at lunch with friends only decaf was available. By the time we got home it was too late for some real brew so I went to bed having had a relatively light caffeine load. You guessed it. Next morning my head killed.

It took me a few days to screw up the courage to test my caffeine withdrawal theory. The thought of replacing my morning mug of jolt with wimpy herbal tea didn’t excite me in the least. But what about the reward of no headaches? I decided it was worth at least a try. If the headaches continue, I’ll give you back your caffeine, I told the whining side of myself.

Monday January 22, at 2:00 p.m. I drank my last cup of coffee.

Tuesday morning I brewed a pot of cranberry tea and steeled myself for what I knew was to come. I was not disappointed. By noon, I couldn’t believe one head could hold so much pain on the inside while still feeling cool and smooth on the outside. And because doctor’s orders had me off painkillers, I had to face that pain monster without armor of any kind.

But by evening, the headache was waning just a little. Next morning, it was still there, but not nearly as bad. Gradually over the following days it subsided more and more. And guess what - NO MORE MORNING HEADACHES!

By the way, that morning pot of cranberry tea is growing on me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

nature's own totem pole

An eagle (probably a juvenile Bald Eagle) at Blackie's Spit.

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