Monday, April 30, 2012

a good week (#933-950 of 1000 gifts)

"Happiness not in another place, but in this place ... Not for another hour, but this hour." - Walt Whitman

This has been a good week in many ways. Here are some of those ways.

933. The rabbits are out and about again!

934. A wonderful talk at our women's group (last Women By Design of the season).

935. Lunch with a friend.

936. This sign gave us a chuckle.

937. Hubby's veggie chili.

938. Light coming through blossoms.

939. Shopping at Mark's.

940. Another camouflaged hydro box.

941. Birdsong sung by the likes of this Redwing blackbird.

942. Spring shapes, like the arching sprays of this spirea. Is this gorgeous or what?

943. So enjoying this book by Luci Swindoll. Sage advice from an (almost) octogenarian. E.g.: "I believe making lists is one of the most important secrets to a happy life" (Kindle Location 1242). I couldn't agree more!

944.  Talking about lists, I was thrilled to make The Word Guild's 2012 Writing Awards shortlist (twice).

945.The gossip bench.

946. Condiments: ketchup, dressing, mustard, horseradish, vinegar... I love condiments!

947. Registered for this conference at the end of May. Excited!

948. Spring pastels.

949. Ended our walk yesterday by trying out Pho Vietnamese Restaurant in Langley. This is #69 on the menu. Beautiful and tasty!

950. Being able to make lists on Facebook. Suddenly I 'like' Facebook! (Okay, lists aren't new, but I finally got around to setting them up.)


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, April 26, 2012


Earth crawler


Thursday Challenge

Next Week: TOOLS (Cooking, Construction, Cleaning, Gardening, Repair,...)

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

book review: A Passion for God by Lyle Dorsett

Title: A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer
Author: Lyle Dorsett

Cover copy:

"Pastor A. W. Tozer, author of the Christian classics The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy, was a complex, intensely private, deeply spiritual man, and a gifted preacher whose impact for the kingdom of God is immeasurable. In this thoughtful biography, bestselling author Lyle Dorsett traces Tozer's life from his humble beginnings as a Pennsylvania farm boy to his heyday as a Chicago pastor- when hundreds of college students would travel to his South Side church to hear him preach and thousands more heard his Sunday broadcasts on WMBI- to his final pastorate in Toronto.

From his conversion as a teen to his death in 1963, Tozer remained true to one passion: to know the Father and make Him known, no matter what the cost. The price he paid was loneliness, censure from other, more secular-minded ministers of the times, and even a degree of estrangement from his family. Read the life story of a flawed but gifted saint, whose works are still impacting the world today."

My impressions:

I sought this book out when I heard about it. I was for many years a part of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination, where A. W. Tozer was regular fare. I have read his books and many are part of my library. Now I almost wish I hadn't read this biography. For it has taken the gilt off Tozer for me.

My greatest disappointment in reading about Tozer was that he was, well, every bit as human as all of us are. His humanness displayed itself in the somewhat thoughtless and cold relationship he had with his wife. Oh, I know it was a different era, and men treated their wives differently during those days. Still ...

I felt sorry for Ada, about whom Clara Moore (the young wife of a youth pastor who served alongside Tozer in the 1950s remembered: "Mrs. Tozer coming to church freezing from the long cold walks in the winter" because Aiden refused to buy a car (A Passion For God, Kindle Location 1775).

Author Dorsett summarizes, "The conclusion is inescapable that the more time Tozer spent with God, and said yes to invitations to travel and speak, he drove a wider gulf between himself and Ada .... Neither the seven children nor the men who know Aiden well believed he was intentionally hurtful. On the contrary, everyone was convinced he loved his wife. But he hurt her deeply and apparently did it throughout their marriage" (Ada's 1973-1974 letters are cited as source material here, KL 1782).

After Tozer died in 1963, his wife remarried. Several years later she summarized her view of Aiden and their relationship: "'My husband was so close to God, a man of such deep prayer, always on his knees, that he could not communicate with me or our family. No one knew what a lonely life I had especially after the kids left home.'

How ironic and sad that Ada Tozer experienced such loneliness when Aiden was overheard commenting to a pastor not long before he died, 'I've had a lonely life'" (KL 2152).

Of course the book details as well Tozer's many good points—his piety, his intelligence, his popularity, his magnetism, his disdain for public opinion, and his wisdom. He was exceedingly well-read, refusing to let the sensitivities of some curtail his reading list. He was much criticized for reading early Catholic writers, for example. But he kept reading them anyway: "These saints from Tozer's angle of vision, knew the Lord intimately and he learned from their writings about drawing closer to Christ—even if he did not agree with everything they believed" ( KL 2074).

All in all, I would say that A Passion for God is more a realistic than sanitized, picture of a modern saint whose influence continues into our time.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

creativity everywhere (#919-932 of 1000 gifts)

"Nature does not ask permission. Blossom and birth whenever you feel like it" - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I missed putting up my 1000 gift post last week so this week a double portion. Lots of gifts here, and I could name many more.

919. More and more blossoms, like a wedding veil.

Trees in bloom

920. Trees of tulips (magnolias really). These pink ones are gorgeously plentiful.

Pink magnolias

921. More birdsong. Our walk is alive with it these days.

Joyful sparrow

922. Some very helpful information for my WIP.

923. Last Saturday's mission trip training. It helps when some of your teachers are comedians! On the serious side, I especially enjoyed the thoughts about the need for cultural sensitivity to the people in the place you visit, and sensitivity to your missionary host, offered by this dynamic duo.

924. Last Sunday's walk along the Nicomekl Creek Trail, where we came upon Brydon Nature Park Lagoon—a serene setting with no lack of spring-busy ducks and coots.

Brydon Park Nature Lagoon on the Nicomekl Creek Trail

925. Love the way my city decorates their utility boxes. Perhaps it's their attempt to shame the surrounding meadow into putting out a little more color of its own.

Quite the blooming box

926. After our walk by the creek, we wandered into a Thai restaurant for a yummy lunch.

927. Monday's reading with my poet buddies.

928. Pointers from a real gardener on what to do with spring blooms. I especially like the tulips with stems cut at varying lengths, displayed within a tall glass vase (3rd from right).

Spring flower demo

929. Captured—the first new spring family of the season!

Goose family on an outing

930. A new camera! If you've read here any length of time, you know I love photography. My first digital camera—a birthday gift six years ago—has been my constant companion since I got it. But it's beginning to show its age. I've been researching DSLRs for months now but holding off on the purchase (so much to learn, so much money).

Lately I've rethought my yen for a DSLR. I love the lightness and tuck-in-your-purse size of my old digital and have been asking myself, Do I really want a big heavy camera? Will I be able to use it the way I customarily use a camera? Saturday I decided to forsake the DSLR route, at least for now, and bought another Panasonic, a zippy little DMC-ZS15. So far I'm loving it!

New camera tryouts: Top: original shot, Bottom: detail of the engine.

931. Yesterday's walk at Crescent Beach—one of my all-time favorite places in the Lower Mainland.

Crescent Beach - April 22, 2012

932. Late last week got the suggested edits for my book, which I'm still working through. Editor's words in the covering email: "...let me tell you how much I enjoyed your manuscript. I found this to be utterly captivating and well-written!" He liked it. Whew! He's the first person who has read it since I rewrote, and he liked it. So relieved!!


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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Saturday, April 21, 2012

book review: Swipe by Evan Angler

Title: Swipe
Author: Evan Angler
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, May 2012,  Kindle & paperback, 288 pages
Reading Level: Ages 8 and up
  • ISBN-10: 140031836X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400318360

Evan Angler’s middle-grade novel Swipe takes place at a future time when society has been through ecological upheaval, shortages, plague, and war. But leaders General Lamson and Chancellor Cylis have remedied all that with many innovations including the mark, a nano-dust arm tattoo every 13-year-old gets on his or her birthday. This makes each a full member of society, able to get a job, earn money, shop, bank, and vote.

For Logan Langly and his family, life goes along smoothly in the small town of Spokie until the day Logan’s older sister Lily goes to get her mark and never returns. Now Logan’s 13th is just around the corner and he’s jumpy. What if the same thing happens to him? Add to that the fact that he feels like he’s being watched and things in his room get moved while he’s out. Despite his obsessive checking of the whole house morning and night, he never catches the culprit.

Enter Erin, the new girl from Beacon City. Her dad works for Dome, the futuristic equivalent of the CIA. She hates it that she had to leave her mom and home because of Dad’s job. She snoops through his stuff with a view to helping him solve his case in Spokie speedily so her family can be together again. With her code-cracking, internet savvy smarts, she’s soon up to her neck in mystery as she joins Logan in his quest to find out if there truly is someone following him, why, and whether Lily’s disappearance was sinister or just an explainable mark intolerance.

I loved the book’s setting which gives us Angler’s answers to questions like, What if fuel runs out? What if land is at a premium? What if all the trees are dead? What if paper is rare to non-existent? What if people are discouraged from thinking for themselves?

Main character Logan is sympathetic and likeable, though a little wimpy. Strong girl Erin makes this a PC book that will help it pass muster with the feminists (and their mothers) in the crowd. The book’s intended middle-grade audience will relate well, I think, to the dynamics between characters at school and in social settings, like a futuristic rock concert complete with wailing mitts.

The boyfriend-girlfriend angle is played up too. The book probably portrays that aspect of tween to early teen relationships realistically, though given the fact that kids as young as Grade 3 (“ages 8 and up”) will probably read this book, some of the scenes seemed more appropriate to YA than mid-grade fiction (kids fantasizing about relationships with the opposite sex, hugging and kissing with attendant thrills described, time spent alone in bedrooms with someone they ‘like,’ though nothing happens and the “dates” are not much more than long walks).

The mark is an obvious reference to the Mark of the Beast from the Bible (Revelation 13:16-18), but other references to faith or a specific religion are pretty much absent. The book does explore themes of conformity, family, secrets, courage, loyalty, truth, and what the future could be like.

There’s lots to like in Angler’s lively and quirky writing style. For example:

“But Erin was worked up. And for no good reason she thought of bedtime reading and Shakespeare in pajamas, and then her heart broke in two and it sank and burned in little pieces in the acid of her stomach and suddenly she was very worked up and she said, ‘Are either of you even trying anymore?” (Kindle Location 998).

“Peck assumed the look of a man choosing his words so carefully that none came out” (KL 4298).
“He’d never walked so deep into a building so big and so swallowing” (KL 4637).

For a surprise-filled adventure set in a futuristic world with realistic, likeable characters, Swipe is a good choice. It releases May 1st with an ending that sets readers firmly on the path to Sneak, Book 2 in the Swipe series, due out in the fall of 2012.

Read a  sample

Author's website

Swipe trailer

(I received this book as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review. This review was first published at

This book is included in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books - April 21st edition. Go visit, for links to lots more reviews.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012


One of Spring's loveliest faces


Thursday Challenge

Next Week: EARTH (Water, Mountains, Parks, Trees, Ocean, Beach,...)

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012


"Let's Party..." a souvenir we didn't bring home


Thursday Challenge

Next week: SPRING (Rain, Puddles, Boots, Umbrellas, Sunny Days, Leaves in Trees,...)

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book review: Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Author: Todd Burpo

Cover copy:

"A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven. Heaven is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how reaally big God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit shoots down power from heaven to help us. Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle."

My impressions:

This book has been on the NY Best Seller list for weeks and weeks and I decided to read it to see what all the fuss is about. It's the story of four-year-old Colton Burpo who experienced a near-death event during emergency surgery for an infected appendix.

After he recovered, Colton's memories of seeing angels and a visit to heaven stunned his parents. Over time more and more details trickled out as Colton volunteered information, and his parents questioned him for more. Todd Burpo, Colton's father and the book's author, often relays Colton's details of heaven together with scripture passages that explain or substantiate what the little boy described.

Like all books that describe heaven, I believe we need to read this one with a wait-and-see attitude. For certain, we need to refrain from building our theology of heaven and the after-life on such reported experiences. However, it is interesting to me that several books reporting experiences of heaven say similar things.

For me one test of the value of such an experience is what difference did it make in the life or lives of the people who lived it. When Todd and Sonja Burpo were asked that question, here were some of the things they mentioned:

1. Colton's illness taught them how to be humble and accept help from others.

2. Todd Burpo: "Another way Colton's story has changed us is this: we are bolder. We live in a day and time when people question the existence of God. As a pastor, I was always comfortable talking about my faith, but now in addition, I talk about what happened to my son. It's the truth and I talk about it, no apologies" - page 153.

3. In addition, Colton (now 11 years old) has a new boldness and certainty about God and heaven, reflected in the book's title, which he suggested:
Book editor: Colton, what do you want people to know from your story?
Colton: I want them to know that heaven is for real. (Heaven is for Real pp. 153,154).

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Monday, April 09, 2012

spring—it's busting out! (#904- 918 of 1000 gifts)

"Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness ... in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." - Kahlil Gibran

We are being visited by spring! What a wonderful break from winter, and just on time for the long weekend. As spring establishes herself, the gifts of color and new life multiply. I just love this time of year!

904. A postcard from my Alma Mater Bible school that reminds: "What's my purpose?... I want to find a purpose before finding a career. That purpose can only be found in Jesus, through a life of service to Him" - E. a 3rd year student.

905. Finished reading and reviewing Rumors of Water. I love how a good writing book gives me a shot in the arm.

906. A matins singer.

907. A joint Good Friday service involving many of the evangelical churches in our community. This year's was one of the best ever. I especially enjoyed the worship set led by Pastor Cory Alstad of the North Langley Community Church. (It's interesting how different churches have different musical repertoires. Now there's a reason for a pilgrimage...)

908. During the time the communion elements were distributed, Valentina Beyard did sand art. That is, she drew with her fingers using sand as 'paint.' Light shone up through the transparent sand table, and her creations were projected. We watched fascinated as her hands and fingers flew across the screen, creating scenes of Jesus' life, holy week, and the crucifixion. (Watch Valentina do sand art at last year's Christmas production.)

909. A Friday outing to Boundary Bay Park in Tsawwassen with hubby.

910. A Saturday outing with friends to Aldergrove and Cultus Lake.

My garden is blessing me with

911. Gigantea Chionodoxa (there must be a simpler name—just quoting the packaging in my stash of garden instructions).

912. Siberica Scilla.

913. Hyacinth.

914. The Easter bunny visiting my little display. (My photo frame has hundreds of photos which keep cycling at about 3-minute intervals. It was serendipitous indeed to notice the rabbit; I had to take a photo.)

915. My sis arrived for Easter dinner with a basket she put together for me: Geranium, Ranunculus and two kinds of mint! (I love that girl!)

916. There is poetry all over the place this poetry month. I even found the star of my Easter feast, an orzo salad with spinach, olives, and feta cheese through poetry. Children's poet Linda Ashman shared the recipe on Jama Rattigan's Poetry Potluck 2012 (where each day of the week she features another poet and a recipe from her/him — yum!)

917. This morning the park was alive with more birdsong than ever.

918. This robin was looking particularly dapper. 


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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