Monday, February 28, 2011

red-letter weekend (#329 - 338 of 1000 gifts)

The house is quiet again, the toys in their green bin waiting for the trip downstairs, the bedding washed, dried and ready to be put on the bed for the next batch of company. We've just had such a fun weekend with assorted adults and two little munchkins around.

Every time I see my little grandboys, I think - This is the best age!

L., the oldest who is almost three, is currently into fish — especially after our trip to the Vancouver Aquarium on Friday. The bag of plastic fish that I bought for him on our way to the exit (through the gift shop, of course), was perfect. He carried those twelve or so water creatures, now out of their bag and threatening to spill out of his too-full arms, with him everywhere, making sure that especially the shark was never out of sight.

Other gifts I numbered this week:

330. My Brother printer — which may be on its last leg. It's starting to make some clicking noises (as if gears are slipping) which reminds me how much I appreciate this obsolete model workhorse and hope I don't have to replace it.

331. Morning coffee.

332. Sales at Mark's Work Wearhouse.

333. The Vancouver Aquarium - what a wonder-filled place!

334. Cuddling with little L. while we explore sharks on the internet.

335. Getting in touch with my child-self (playdough and coloring books will do that).

336. My Macbook, which lets me keep up with online stuff even when my office becomes a nursery.

337. Having the whole family here for the day. Saturday felt like Christmas!

338. An exciting and deserved win for Saskatchewan at the Scotties.


If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some members of this gratefulness community post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here.

Also linked at "On, In and Around Mondays"

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Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Friday, February 25, 2011

book review: Voices of the Faithful

Daily meditations that take readers in one week from China, to Africa, to the Caribbean, to Central Asia are what set apart this book of devotional readings. Popular speaker and writer Beth Moore ties them all together in an introduction and short essays that precede each month’s theme. In this way readers explore topics like God’s character, prayer, persecution, spiritual warfare, Christmas around the world, and others.

The first-person vignettes about life in the mission field make for fascinating reading. Take, for example, the opening paragraph from the March 8th story about an incident in Africa:

“After several months in language school, we drove to a neighboring country to visit our future home. A few hours into our journey, a car occupied by four men brandishing an automatic rifle and a pistol pulled us over. Three of them got into our car, forcing us into the backseat” – p. 83.

Or the beginning of the October 30th entry by a worker in the Pacific Rim:

“On a trip to Thailand, my husband had a vivid dream. An angel repeated, ‘You must pray for your house; it is not protected. God had my husband’s attention. He spent the next two days, from time to time interceding for our house and family, asking God’s protection. He stayed longer in Thailand while the kids and I went back to our country” – p. 355.

The main purpose of each daily reading is to help the reader focus on some aspect of the Christian life. They illustrate how similar we are as people in the things we desire, struggle with, and fear. Though the settings are varied, the take-away for Christian living is universal.

In addition these devotions educate about customs, local conditions, beliefs and the missionary enterprise around the world. The provide lots of prayer fodder.

The contributors are identified in some way at the bottom of each devotion (sometimes by name, other times more anonymously as “A worker in (name of country).” Each reading ends with a brief prayer.

The book is a project of the International Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention) and proceeds of all sales of the book are earmarked for it. An appendix-like section at the back focuses on missions with information about Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministries, a message from the president of the International Mission Board SBC as well as hints on how to pray for international missionaries and people groups, and suggestions for how churches and individuals can become involved in missions.

I am finding the devotional stories interesting and inspirational – a quick read at the beginning, middle or end of the day. Considering they were written by a collection of nearly 300 people, the writing style is amazingly consistent. My only criticism is with the size of the font chosen for the prayers. It’s tiny!

Altogether this is an excellent devotional to use for a year and then pass on to someone else. But be warned, the writers’ enthusiasm about living for Jesus is contagious. A whole year of readings gives the book ample time to change your life.

Book Facts:

Title: Voices of the Faithful: Inspiring Stories of Courage from Christians Serving Around the World
Author: Beth Moore, International Mission Board
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, December 2010, paperback, 480 pages.

ISBN-10: 0849946247 
ISBN-13: 978-0849946240

(I received this book as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review. Article first published as Book Review: Voices of the Faithful: Inspiring Stories of Courage from Christians Serving Around the World with Beth Moore and Friends, compiled by Kim P. Davis on Blogcritics.)

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Thursday, February 24, 2011




Next Week: CARS (New, Old, Sedans, Convertibles, Station Wagons, Sports,...)

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Monday, February 21, 2011

spring creep (#316-328 of 1000 gifts)

We are well. The weather is sunny. Spring is creeping closer. It's easy to find gifts...

Serpentine Fen - Surrey, BC - Mount Baker in the background

316. A Valentine dinner with my sweetheart at a new-to-us Greek restaurant.

317. Splitting dessert (a banana caramel cream cheese xango — basically cream cheese with banana filling in a toasted pastry tortilla with caramel drizzled on top —sinfully good!)

318. Morning walks — they get the day off to such a great start.

319. A redwing blackbird's song (the sound of spring).

320. Sighting the cormorant again on our everyday walk beside the Nicomekl.

321. Unexpected emails from old friends.

322. Red cabbage.

323. Days getting noticeably longer.

324. J. I. Packer's book Knowing God (an oldie by a goodie).

325. More big juicy oranges.

326. Curling - a whole week of the Scotties coming up!

327. Missions conference at church. Yesterday was the flag parade. Love the colour, the motion, the anticipation: "I looked and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb..." Revelation 7:9.

328. A walk at one of our favourite spots — the Serpentine Fen.

Looking down from one of the observation towers.


If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some members of this gratefulness community post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here.


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Thursday, February 17, 2011


A layering of trees - Butchart Garden, Victoria, B.C.


Next Week: MOVEMENT (Shaking, Falling, Bouncing, Jumping, Curling, Sagging,...)

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Monday, February 14, 2011

sheri's shop ( (#305 − 315 of 1000 gifts)

I arrive early for my appointment. While I wait, I flip through hair-do magazines and listen to the lady in the nearest chair as she converses with Sheri, our hairdresser. "Did I tell you about my granddaughter? She's in Thailand, working on an elephant reserve."

Sheri's questions keep the conversation about elephant girl going even as she snips, finger-measures, snips, finger-measures.

Meanwhile the lady in chair two who has been blow drying her own hair stands up, signifying she's done. "You like it?" she asks Sheri, tossing and flipping her variegated blond mane to view it in the mirror.

"It's nice, very nice!" says Sheri, leaving her station for the cashier desk.

On her way out of the shop, Sheri engulfs blond mane in a big hug. "You read your Bible," I hear her say. I can't help but think this is a carryover from an earlier conversation.

She returns to customer one and blow-dries the woman's auburn hair into a fashionable backsweep as they kibbutz back and forth. When she's done, customer one also gets a Sheri-hug before going out the door.

I've always come here before when there were few other customers around and thought of Sheri as my own little hairdresser find. (The first time I came, she told me,  "Jesus came to me in a vision. It was when I was still in the old country." She's from Iran.) Today I see that all her clients love her as much as I do.

Now she puts on music before she calls me to the sink. Last time I came a Maranatha singers-type rendition of worship music from the 70s was playing. Today she chooses something instrumental and soothing.

I show her the magazine photo of the style I've chosen. "Do you think I should?" I ask.

"Of course! Change is good. You'll regret it if you don't."

We're just the two of us in the shop now and we talk about life, church, Jesus. She even says yes to my hesitant request to help sell the lavender sachets I've brought with me — our women's group fundraiser to help the facially mutilated women of northern Uganda pay for reconstructive surgery.

Once my hair is done, she asks about my eyebrows - as always (I think she has an eyebrow fetish). I give her the go-ahead. This time she doesn't use only the thread that drapes around her neck and over her shoulders like tangled dental floss, but also grabs tweezers. After a few minutes of efficient threading and plucking by her, agony for me, she hands me the mirror. Two perfect little wings now sit where my shaggy nondescript brows used to be.

Before I leave I get my own Sheri hug. As I step from the mauve-walled room into the winter afternoon's gathering dusk, I say a little prayer of thanks for her. For I know that the warmth and light that emanate from Sheri's little shop aren't powered by electricity alone.

306. Big juicy navel oranges.

307. Blooming heather

308. Pussy willows.

309. The smell of new-worked earth. (Never mind that it might still snow, someone got the jump on spring and did a little digging in one of the plots I pass.)

310. Talking to three beautiful people on Skype.

311. How work gets done and things get stroked off my list when I focus.

312. Crunchy penut butter.

313. My Canada, where we do have our political tiffs, but nothing like what we've seen on the news from around the world in the last several weeks.

314. Snowdrops.

315. A wonderful man and best friend with whom to celebrate Valentine's day!

If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some members of this gratefulness community post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here.

On, In and Around Mondays (which partly means you can post any day and still add a link) is an invitation to write from where you are. Tell  what is on, in, around (over, under, near, by…) you. Feel free to write any which way… compose a tight poem or just ramble for a few paragraphs. But we should feel a sense of place. Click on the button below to find other On, In and Around Monday posts, or enter your own.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

want to read a good story?

"I used to have this image of my family that just wasn't tied to reality. I thought we had it all put together very nicely," writes Gordon Atkinson, a writer for The High Calling organization.  

"We communicated well, loved each other, and generally did things the right way. But cracks had been appearing in that image for some time. My depression a few years back. My daughter Shelby’s own bouts with depression and her struggles with school and friends. But still, no big issues. On the whole I thought we were doing pretty well.

"Then I got a call from my wife on the first Monday night in April. I was with some friends of mine who gather once a month for beer, pizza, and long conversations. 
'You need to come home right away. I think Shelby might be pregnant.'"

So begins Part 1 of "Through Pain and Grace Toward Redemption" — a riveting true story of how the Atkinson family weathered a storm, the likes of which regularly shipwreck families and marriages.

The story is in four parts, and you, fortunate reader, can read them in quick succession (and aren't forced to wait a week in between installments, like I was).

Part 1   
Part 2  
Part 3 
Part 4

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Thursday, February 10, 2011


The bay-window in the farmhouse where I grew up


Next week: TREES (Saplings, Gnarly Trees, Snow Covered, Bonsai, Dead Tree, Shade Tree,...)

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Monday, February 07, 2011

february green (293-304 of 1000 gifts)

After the deep freeze of Saskatchewan, I found much to appreciate this week in the ever-dripping climate of southwest B.C. There was also much to like at our church's ladies retreat (one hundred and fifty-some of us gathered at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa for pampering, mountains of food, worship, and spiritual inspiration via Cheryl Koop).

And now it's back to a week of real life. Some of the blessings of the week just past:

293. The warm, damp climate of home.

294. Facebook for family togetherness.

295. The tranquility of my home.

296. An incredibly good bowl of broccoli soup.

297. Retreating with the church ladies in a jewel of a setting.

298. A hotel room overlooking the lake.

299. Friends who save you spots.

300. Green.

301. More green.

302. Still more green.

303. Communion with "sisters."

304. The internet - making international errands easy to run.

If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some members of this gratefulness community post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here.

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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