Thursday, April 28, 2011


Even old trees like to put on a little glam for Spring


Thursday Challenge

Next Week: BEAUTIFUL (Attactive, Wonderful Colors, Hair, Smile,...)

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Monday, April 25, 2011

"...all things have their beginning by the love of God" (#413 - 430 of 1000 gifts)

"And in this he showed me a little thing: the quantity of a hazel-nut, lying in the palm of my hand. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: 'It is all that is made.' I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: 'It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God'" - Julian of Norwich, Showing of Love (From the Library of A. W. Tozer, p. 247).

And so I continue my list of the tokens of God's love, these from the past week:

413. The camaraderie of poets — our first Blue Moon Reading of the year.

414. Even green trees are in gorgeous flowering bloom.

415. Cool spring temperatures so the blooms last, and last and last...

416. The gusto of the final (we hope) spring storm.

417. Powerful software that one can adapt to a variety of projects. (I've been using it on trial but finally decided to actually purchase. After watching the video tutorials, I'm getting all kinds of ideas of projects I can put together.)

418. Spring's lavish abundance.

419. Pink.

420. Yellow.

421. And more yellow; sunshine shredded all over the lawn.

422. Son is home from his travels — all in one piece and full of enthusiasm for Spain. I can dig it! (Takes me back to my Europe trip way back, when we used to say such things.)

423. Cream.

424. A stellar Saturday warm as summer. I love how the neighbourhood has that summertime buzz.

425. Rust paint. Hopefully it will add years to our patio table.

426. Abandoned nest...maybe it will have occupants soon?

427. Resurrection Sunday worship. Loud and enthusiastic praise that would like to tear the roof off the top of the church!

428. A Sunday walk along Bedford Channel.

429. A stand of trout lilies. They're shy and keep their heads down.

430. Advance polls. We have already discharged our civic duty and cast our vote in the federal election (main vote May 2nd).


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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Friday, April 22, 2011

book review: Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer

The clatter of the police’s “Black Mariah” not only disturbs the peace of Caleb Bender’s Amish farmyard on a January morning in 1922, but also changes forever the lives of 15-year-old Rachel Bender and her siblings.

Caleb is hauled off to jail that morning for keeping his children out of school. When, a few weeks on, the school-aged children of Caleb and other imprisoned men are apprehended by the state and forced to attend the local public school, the men relent and are freed when they agree to allow continue to comply with the law. But later that spring Caleb finds an ad for farmland in Mexico irresistible. Perhaps a home in a new country will give him the freedom to raise his family according to his conscience. In Paradise Valley Dale Cramer tells the story of the Benders’ move from their Ohio farm to a lush valley in the mountains of Mexico and their new start there.

Cramer has given us an interesting cast of fictional characters through whom to experience this historic event (based on Cramer’s own family history). For 15-year-old Rachel the uprooting takes place just as her childhood friendship with Jake Weaver begins to blossom into something more. For 20-year-old Emma and her Levi it’s a reason to push up their wedding date. For 18-year-old Miriam it’s a cause for despair. Once in Mexico there are a host of new challenges including thieving neighbours, mountain bandits, complicated births, and a whole wagonload of cabbage with not a single Mexican buyer.

We experience the settings of both Ohio and Mexico in all their lush fullness via the skill of Cramer’s award-winning writing style. Here, for example, is the market scene in Saltillo Mexico:

“The open-air market was really nothing more than a great long wide street, made considerably narrower by the booths and tables and carts and barrows of peddlers lining both sides of it, hawking their wares. There were vegetables – tomatoes and squash and onions and all sorts of peppers – and fruits, from apples and oranges to melons and even bananas. There were live chickens and live goats, and hanging from hooks under a little awning, dead plucked chickens and dead skinned goats, fish and rabbits and beef and wheat. Almost anything could be found here.” p. 213.

As is customary in his fiction, Cramer explores important themes through Paradise Valley’s plot and characters. At the beginning this Amish family faces the challenge of what to do when personal beliefs conflict with the laws of the land. Values of hard work, cooperation, fear of God, and personal integrity are tested in a variety of situations. Invariably the Bender patriarch proves himself the family anchor as a personification of conviction and integrity.

Paradise Valley is both great entertainment and an enlightening glimpse into Amish history. Cramer does as good a job of getting into the heads and hearts of his teenage female characters as any of the myriad female authors of bonnet fiction I’ve read lately. The presence of danger continually lurking just over the mountain ridge gives the book an edge of suspense. The mysterious Mexican character Domingo is a welcome contrast to the mild Amish people. I especially appreciated Cramer challenging Caleb Bender’s non-resistance with Domingo’s straightforward questions.

Domingo, after explaining what could have happened if the outlaw El Pantera had absconded with Caleb’s daughters asks: “Would you fight now ... Herr Bender, would you not kill El Pantera to save your daughters from such a fate?"

Caleb’s response sheds light on the non-resistance tenet of Amish beliefs: “No, I would not. Though it cost me an unthinkable price, I could not defy Gott. ... We do not live by power or might but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts. It is better to suffer in this brief life than for all eternity. ... I will accept whatever Gott allows” pp. 218-19.

In the list of Cramer’s books that are part of the front matter, Paradise Valley is the first, and so far only title under the heading “The Daughters of Caleb Bender.” Does that mean more Daughters of Caleb Bender books are in the works? Let’s hope so!

(For book clubs, a "Paradise Valley Discussion Guide" is available.)

Title: Paradise Valley
Author: Dale Cramer
Publisher: Bethany House, January 2011, paperback, 359 pages
# ISBN-10: 0764208381
# ISBN-13: 978-0764208386

(I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review. Article first published as Book Review: Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer on Blogcritics.)

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Thursday, April 21, 2011


Mossy floor

Thursday Challenge

Next Week: SPRING (New Life, Green, Melting Snow, Pleasant Weather,...)

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Monday, April 18, 2011

more spring eye candy (#403 - 412 of 1000 gifts)

I have gathered more spring in photos for my gift count this week:

403. Yellow daisies! 

404. Magnolia ("Tulip trees")

405. Vinca - a ground cover, and so pretty.

406. Mahonia.

407. A Sunday drive to the Stewart Farmhouse. This is a side building. I love the pretty spring garden beside it.

408. Ward's Marina at low tide.

409. And on to Elgin Park and the path along a part of the Nicomekl that we used to walk about once a week. I love this place!

410. The salmon berry blossoms are out.

411. As are the wild triliums!

412. And the hot cross buns! Hubby brought some home just now - fresh and oh so spicy!


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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Friday, April 15, 2011

book review: Gray Matter - A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer...One Patient at a Time by David Levy and Joel Kilpatrick

Gray Matter is the story of Dr. David Levy, a San Diego neurosurgeon who has brought prayer into every aspect of his practice. Co-written with Joel Kilpatrick, it is a fascinating read that explores many aspects of body-spirit well-being.

Levy/Kilpatrick take us from a typical session of prayer with a patient now, after years of experience, back to the first rather humorous day when Levy decided this was something he should do. That day he hung around the nursing station, pretended to read the chart and make phone calls, and generally lurked until the coast was clear and he could pray in private with the patient and her daughters.

Gray Matter tells how Levy gained courage and boldness when he saw how prayer brought peace to patients, lightened the atmosphere in the operating room, and improved his own state of mind.

Over time, Levy also became aware of the varied emotional and psychological aspects of health. He tells many stories of people who seemed bound to their illnesses by bitterness over past events. Whenever these patients were open to it, he led them through counseling and prayer to forgiveness and often a renewed acknowledgment of God in their lives.

Not all stories in this book follow a smooth course. Levy shows a true caregiver’s compassion as he agonizes over cases that don’t go well. During these times we watch his faith grow. An example is the situation with three-year-old Annette, whose parents despaired after she became comatose post-surgery. As Levy/Kilpatrick tell it:

“The next time I went to the hospital, I knew I needed to change the atmosphere in Annette’s room. Anger with God is not a small problem in the pediatric ICU, one of the most depressing places on the planet….

‘I was hoping that things would have changed by now,’ I said to them (Annette’s parents) honestly.‘…The fact that I don’t know what to do is embarrassing to me, because I am supposed to know. But I know one thing. I know that God is good no matter what we see in this room. I have decided that, no matter which path we take medically with Annette, we should keep showing up and continue to declare that God is good. We will cry together and laugh together and make decisions together. And we will declare that he is good no matter what happens.’” p. 208.

Soon after that they removed the little girl’s breathing tube and ventilator, expecting her to die. But she survived. Needless to say, her parents were forever changed spiritually by that experience.

These well-told true incidents (though the names and identifying details of individuals have been changed), with their detailed descriptions of medical procedures, will be of special interest to those in the medical profession. This book gave me a renewed appreciation for the skill of doctors like Levy who, with the help of technology, can do amazing things with, in Levy’s case, the tiniest of rogue blood vessels which can so unexpectedly end a life.

But mostly, the book is a demonstration of how impacting, constructive, and beautiful can be the life of an obedient modern disciple of Jesus who is willing to step out and do what in our society seems almost unthinkable and acknowledge God, through prayer, even in the midst of practicing modern medicine.

(Article first published as Book Review: Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer... One Patient at a Time by David Levy and Joel Kilpatrick on Blogcritics.)

Book: GRAY MATTER: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer . . . One Patient at a Time

Author: David Levy, M.D. and Joel Kilpatrick

Publisher: Tyndale House, February 2011, Paperback, 320 pages.

  • ISBN-10: 1414339755
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414339757

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    Thursday, April 14, 2011



    Today is my daughter's birthday. Happy birthday Sonia!!

    This is a bunny cake I made for her birthday 20 years ago!  (I did take the photo way back then, and scanned the print.)

    Thursday Challenge

    Next Week: COMPLEX (Complicated, Tangled, Intricate, Mess,...)

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    Monday, April 11, 2011

    once again with feeling (#391 - 402 of 1000 gifts)

    Once again with feeling: We are loving spring!

    391. The softening weather (although we are still having our share of nippy days).

    392. Bananas and yogurt, sweetened with jam.

    393. Spring in my own garden.

    Gigantea Chionodoxa 
    (How do I know? Because I kept the packaging.)

    394. Siberica Scilla

    395. Baby hostas

    396. And in my neighbour's pots 

    397. A long lunch with a friend.

    398. A book of poems to savour — from Australia.

    399. Burt's Bees lip shimmer.

    400. April 10 - yesterday. My Mom's birthday. It's hard to believe in June she will be gone five years. She was a wonderful mother. I miss her.

    401. Canada's Jeff Stoughton winning the Men's World Curling title in Regina on Sunday. What a wonderful week of curling it was!

    402. Just cleared my bathroom sink with Drano. YAAAAY Drano!!


    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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