A Christmas Letter from Jesus

From-Jesus-with-LoveWith social networking, texting etc. etc., writing Christmas Cards along with the annual Christmas Letter may go the way of the dinosaur.  Canada Post is certainly feeling the effects of fewer and fewer Christmas stamps being sold and I would guess Hallmark probably notices that e-cards are getting way more usage than the printed variety.  It’s yet another sign of the times.  Still, I couldn’t just let the season go by without writing my annual Christmas letter and enclosing it in with my Christmas Cards to those friends and family who are not online as much and still appreciate receiving a personal, handwritten note.  It may be redundant, it may be old news to my Facebook chums but it’s tradition and I just can’t stop…yet.

The personal touch…that’s what Jesus was all about.  I suppose if He had been born into this time, He would have utilized social media to get His message of Hope out to a world-wide audience, but somehow I just can’t think of Jesus sitting in front of a computer screen, tapping out His parables and not going out into the public once in a while.  In fact, the more I think about it, the more ludicrous it seems.  Still, I wonder what Jesus would have written in His Christmas Letter* if He were writing one to us today:

Dear children,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking my name out of the season.  Maybe you’ve forgotten that I wasn’t actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate my birthday on what was actually a time of a pagan festival.  No worries, I do appreciate the sentiment though and being remembered anytime.

I don’t really care what you call the day.  If you want to celebrate My birth just GET ALONG and LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  Now, having said that, let Me go on.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of the Santas and snowmen and put up a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn.  If all my followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for a Town Square scene, because there would be hundreds of them all around town!

Please, stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a “holiday tree” instead of a Christmas tree.  It was I who made all trees.  You can remember Me anytime you see any tree and at any time of the year.  Decorate a grape-vine and leave it up all year if you wish and remember I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my “wish list”.  Choose something from it.

1.  Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home.  They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year.  I know, they tell Me all the time.

2.  Visit someone in a nursing home.  You don’t have to know them personally.  They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3.  Instead of standing by the water-cooler with your colleagues complaining about your boss and how stingy he was with the Christmas bonuses this year, why don’t you go into his office with a gift card and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year.  Then follow-up.  It will be nice hearing from you again.

4.  Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts they really don’t need, spend time with them instead.  Tell them a story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here.  Hold them in your arms and remind them how much I love them!

5.  Pick someone who has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6.  Instead of griping about a retailer in town saying “Happy Holidays”, be patient with the people who work there.  Give them a warm smile and a kind word and even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry Christmas” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one.  Think about those who have to work over the holidays and bring them a plate of cookies to tell them you appreciate them for their hard work.  Take it one step further…when you go out to eat after church on Sundays, rather than look down your nose at all the people who “missed church” because they had to work, when that waitress takes your order, pray for her and thank her for her service to you and then leave her a good tip…not the chintzy ones you have been leaving.  My children should always be generous!

7.  There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only have no “Christmas Tree”, they have no presents to give or receive.  If you want to make a difference this Christmas, support a local charity that provides clothes, food, and shelter to those who are homeless or who help families in crisis.  Don’t just send them a cheque at Christmas either, support them year round.  If you can’t afford to support them with a monetary donation, give them your time.  Volunteering your time is just as helpful!

8.  Support a missionary, especially one who takes My Love and Good News to those who have never heard My Name.

9.  Finally, if you believe that I am the real “reason for the season”, how about spending more time with Me rather than spending time complaining about how commercial Christmas has become?  Live every day like you believe that I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE, and remember I am with you always!

All My Love,

Jesus

 

(*similar forms of this letter circulate online each year, the sentiment is similar in each one.)

A Christmas Quiz!

Jesus, Joseph and MaryHow do you like my new Christmas Theme? I thought it was pretty festive!  A good way to start the “Countdown to Christmas” here on Journey Thoughts.

My friend, Kathy Howard, a fantastic author and women’s Bible Study leader, gave us a quiz in class several years ago about “How Well Do You Know the Christmas Story?”  I have kept the handout and I’ve added a few more questions of my own that I challenge you to answer without using your Bibles or the internet.  (I’ll supply the answers and scripture references at the end of this post.)  You will likely discover as you piece together the “facts” about Jesus’ birth that what we socially accept is mostly Hollywood glamorization and blatant commercialism that does not align itself with Scripture at all.  So, how well DO YOU know the Story of Jesus’ Birth?  Share if you dare :)

1.  As long as Christmas has been celebrated, it has been on December 25th?   True or False

2.  Joseph was from:

  • Bethlehem
  • Jerusalem
  • Nazareth
  • Egypt
  • Saskatchewan
  • None of the above

3.  Who insisted that Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem?

  • The Angel
  • Mary’s mother
  • Herod
  • Caesar Augustus
  • Alexander the Great
  • no one told them to go

4.  How did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem?

  • camel
  • donkey
  • walked
  • Volkswagen
  • Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
  • Who knows?

5.  Mary and Joseph were married when Mary became pregnant?  True or False

6.  Mary and Joseph were married before Jesus was born?  True or False

7.  Mary was a virgin when she delivered Jesus?  True or False

8.  What did the innkeeper tell Mary and Joseph?

  • There is no room at the inn
  • I have a stable you can use
  • Come back after the Christmas rush
  • None of the above

9.  Jesus was delivered in a:

  • stable
  • manger
  • cave
  • barn
  • unknown

10.  A manger is a:

  • stable for domestic animals
  • wooden hay storage bin
  • feeding trough
  • barn

11.  According to the Bible, which animals were present at Jesus’ birth?

  • cows, sheep, goats
  • cows, donkeys, sheep
  • miscellaneous barnyard animals
  • lions, tigers and bears
  • we don’t know

12.  Who saw the star in the east?

  • shepherds
  • Mary and Joseph
  • Magi (aka Wise Men)
  • both shepherds and Magi
  • none of the above

13.  What “sign” did the angels tell the shepherds to look for?

  • A star over Bethlehem
  • A baby that doesn’t cry
  • A baby in a stable
  • A baby lying in a manger
  • None of the above

14.  What is a “heavenly host”?

  • The angel at the gate of Heaven
  • The angel who invites people to Heaven
  • An angel choir
  • An angel army
  • None of the above

15.  What did the heavenly host of angels say?

  • Joy to the World
  • Alleluia
  • Unto us a child is born
  • Glory to God in the highest

16.  Did the baby Jesus cry?

  • He never cried
  • He cried just like other babies
  • He cried when the little drummer boy banged his drum

17.  We Three Kings of Orient Are…Who were they?

  • Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar
  • Astrologers, Seers, Fortune tellers
  • Scholars from Persia
  • Royal Astronomers
  • Kings
  • We’re not 100% sure

18.  How many Magi came to see Jesus?

  • Probably less than 10
  • three
  • We don’t know for sure, but there were probably dozens in their entourage

19.  Where did the Magi find Jesus?

  • in the manger
  • in the stable
  • in an inn
  • in a house

20.  Which Gospels give details about Christ’s Birth so we can answer these questions and get the TRUE facts?

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Matthew and Mark
  • Matthew and Luke
  • Matthew, Mark and Luke
  • Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Answers:

1.  False.  For the church’s first three centuries, Christmas wasn’t in December—or on the calendar at all.  If observed at all, the celebration of Christ’s birth was usually lumped in with Epiphany (January 6), one of the church’s earliest established feasts. Some church leaders even opposed the idea of a birth celebration. Origen (c.185-c.254) preached that it would be wrong to honor Christ in the same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. Birthdays were for pagan gods.

Not all of Origen’s contemporaries agreed that Christ’s birthday shouldn’t be celebrated, and some began to speculate on the date (actual records were apparently long lost). Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215) favored May 20 but noted that others had argued for April 18, April 19, and May 28. Hippolytus (c.170-c.236) championed January 2. November 17, November 20, and March 25 all had backers as well. A Latin treatise written around 243 pegged March 21, because that was believed to be the date on which God created the sun. Polycarp (c.69-c.155) had followed the same line of reasoning to conclude that Christ’s birth and baptism most likely occurred on Wednesday, because the sun was created on the fourth day.

The eventual choice of December 25, made perhaps as early as 273, reflects a convergence of Origen’s concern about pagan gods and the church’s identification of God’s son with the celestial sun. December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman “birth of the unconquered sun”), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness” whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival.

Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion. Eastern churches, however, held on to January 6 as the date for Christ’s birth and his baptism.

2.  Joseph was from Bethlehem (Luke 2:4)

3.  Caesar Augustus  decreed that a census be taken and all people return to their places of birth.  (Luke 2:1)

4.  Who knows?  The Bible does not say anything about a donkey.  Luke 2:4 simply tells us that Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to Galilee.  Many biblical scholars think that because of their economic status they probably both walked but that is just speculation.

5.  False, Joseph and Mary were not married when she became pregnant.  (Luke 2:5, Matthew 1:18-25).

6.  True.  Joseph and Mary were married before she gave birth to Jesus.  (Matthew 1:24)

7.  True.  Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus.  (Matthew 1:25)  However, she did not remain a virgin after Jesus’ birth.  Scripture tells us that Jesus had brothers and sisters after He was born.  (Matthew 13:55)  Read a great article on this topic here: http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-siblings.html

8.  None of the above.  The Bible does not say any words spoken by the inn keeper.  In fact, Luke does not even mention an inn keeper, merely an inn and the fact that there was no room.  (Luke 2:7).  To get really specific, there is also no mention of a stable.

9.  Unknown.  Just like no words being recorded by the innkeeper, there is no mention where Mary delivered Jesus.  Matthew says Jesus was born in Bethlehem and Luke 2:7 says Mary gave birth to Him and laid him in a manger.

10.  A feeding trough for animals.  Perhaps it was this fact alone that has brought about the popular assumption that Jesus was born in a stable or barn because of a manger being close at hand to put the Baby in.  Using deductive reasoning, culture has also determined that if there is a feeding trough, there must also be animals nearby.  Countless Nativity or crèche scenes depict that as fact.  It is merely speculation and assumption.  Scripture doesn’t back up those theories in any way.

11.  We don’t know.  There is no mention of animals of any kind around Jesus after His birth.  Refer to my explanation #10.

12.  The Magi.  The star is only mentioned in conjunction with the Magi.  They told Herod they had seen the star.  (Matthew 2:2)

13.  The sign the angels told the shepherds to look for was a baby lying in a manger.  (Luke 2:12)

14.  A Heavenly Host (Hebrew Sabaoth “armies”) refers to a large angel army (Luk.2:13; Rev.19:19).

15.  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  (Luke 2:14)

16.   Absolutely the Baby Jesus cried!  Baby Jesus was fully human.  He cried when He was hungry, tired, wet, and in pain just like any other baby.  (Hebrews 2:14)

17.  We’re not 100% sure.  Matthew 2:1-12  reveals nothing of these visitors’ ancestry.  Over the centuries, legend has assigned them names:  Gaspar, or Casper; Melchior, and Balthasar.  Balthsar has a Persian sound.  If indeed these men were scholars from Persia, they would have been familiar with Daniel’s prophecy about the Messiah or “Anointed One.” (Daniel 9:24-27).  The designation “Magi” refers to a Persian religious caste, but when this gospel was written, the term was loosely used for astrologers, seers, and fortune tellers.  Matthew does not call them kings; that title was used later, in legends.  They may have been royal astronomers, advisers to kings.  http://christianity.about.com/od/newtestamentpeople/a/Three-Kings.htm

18.  We don’t know for sure.  The Bible does not tell us how many Magi visited Jesus.  The tradition of “3” probably developed because they presented 3 kinds of gifts.  According to scholars the Magi’s journey probably lasted up to two years with an entourage of dozens or more people.

19.  Sorry to wreck your Nativity scenes, but the Magi were not present the night Jesus was born.  Scriptural evidence shows Jesus could have been as old as two by the time they arrived.  If that is true then Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have been staying in a house.  (Matthew 2:11)

20.  The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give us all the details of Jesus’ Birth.

Dancing with the Stars

268685-dancing-with-the-stars-online-gameIt is no secret around this house that I am a HUGE fan of the T.V. reality show, Dancing with the Stars.  I don’t think I’ve missed a moment of every season.  My family will also tell you that I LOVE to dance – yeah, I’m a rebel Baptist :)  However, as much as I love to dance, I’m not that particularly coordinated, and certainly not a ballroom dancer by any stretch of the imagination.  So I live out my dream of dancing vicariously through the T.V. show and applaud loudly each performance.

That said, on Tuesday after a good visit with my daughter and my two adorable grandbabies, as I was heading out the door I did a pirouette that would have made all the judges on Dancing with the Stars oooh and ahhhh.  Oh, wait…that was me groaning immediately after I broke my foot and ankle on my daughter’s less than Welcome mat.  Never saw it coming.  Stepped out the door, caught the edge of the mat and a split second later I was on the ground writhing in pain.  Didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out it was more than a twisted ankle.

I managed to crawl my way back into the house to collapse onto the front entrance floor and my daughter went into “care giving ” mode.  My 2-year-old grandson ran up to me and gave me a hug, “Grandma, do you have an owie?”  Through my tears I tried to act bravely so he wouldn’t be traumatized.  “Grandma, fell down but I’ll be okay.  Keep hugging me and I’ll feel better,” I said.

My son was called and took me to the Urgent Care center in our small town and several hours later I was back home trying to negotiate a tiny step into my house while balancing on crutches; my right leg in an air cast.  The doctor wants me back in two weeks for reassessment but until then I’m doing the “cast and crutches” dance and I’m a horrible partner.  This being my first broken bone, I have never used crutches or hobbled about in a cast.  It’s been a whole new learning experience and one I hope I never have to repeat.  Needless to say, I will never take my right foot for granted ever again!

I had a very busy week planned and for all intents and purposes, all those plans have been abandoned.  My sweet husband stayed home for a day to wait on me hand and foot…literally.  My three kids have been “on call” in case I need something because I can’t drive with a bulky cast on my foot.  Talk about a lead foot :)

Sleep has been challenging while wearing a cast but kicking my husband when he snored last night might be considered assault…poor man.

I have a large dinner party planned for Sunday.  Yes, I’m sort of freaking out a little, but I’ve told everyone that I’m not cancelling and I may be “directing” rather than “serving” but that’s okay!  Not sure what I’ll wear, but combined with a colourful Christmas sweater the whole ensemble may have a really festive look if I attach a few bells to my cast!

This morning I couldn’t help but giggle when I thought about my life verse:  “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Prov. 16:9  Seriously? Where were you Lord, on Tuesday?

I think He’s smiling and telling me that no matter my circumstances I just need to Keep Dancing!

 

 

For Such A Time As This (2)

Rest of the storyPaul Harvey coined a phrase, “The rest of the story”, and indeed with my son’s adoption story there is more to it.  I was too ecstatic with the thought of bringing my son home from the hospital and getting the adoption finalized to give too much thought at the time how God had brought this all about.  And it is only a story God could so masterfully have put together, so here’s ‘the rest of the story’.

While my husband and I were lining up an adoption agency and going through the home studies etc., our next door neighbour, Dana* was going through her second bout with cancer.  A beautiful young woman, she had two children already and Laurelle (my daughter) would babysit the little girl.  My neighbour discovered to her dismay that with the cancer treatments she was too exhausted to give the children the care and attention they needed, so she hired a day nanny to come in on a part-time basis and help with some of the household chores and look after the children.  After my neighbour went into remission and was recovering nicely, she still had the nanny come to help  periodically.  I would often chat with my neighbour; I knew her struggles with cancer and she also knew of our dream of having more children and wanting to adopt.

My friend, Colleen, who was my Bible Study leader at church, had a cousin who acted as a birthing coach to young unwed teenaged mothers who were facing crisis pregnancies.  At the time, Margo* was counselling and meeting with a young soon-to-be Mom who had already decided she wanted to place her child up for adoption after the child’s birth.

One day three women met together over coffee to make Christmas crafts together.  Colleen (my Bible Study leader), her cousin Margo, my neighbour Dana, and her nanny.  (“Wait a minute”, you’re saying…”that’s four women…not three…do the math!”)  Well, the cousin and the nanny were one and the same person.

As the three are chatting, Margo, who had invited Dana to join her that day to make some Christmas crafts and to meet her cousin, gets to talking about what she does when she’s not playing nanny to Dana’s children.  She talks about a young Mom who is about ready to deliver her baby and is looking for a couple to adopt her baby.  Colleen, thinking about us, mentions that she knows of a family at her church who is looking to adopt.  She starts to share a little bit more about us but does not mention our names.  Then Dana pipes up and says that she has some neighbours living right next door to her who are also looking to adopt.   When she shares that her neighbours have a little girl who sometimes babysits for her children, Colleen and Dana look wide-eyed at each other, and realize they are talking about the same family…us!

Without knowing it, we have just received our first and second “endorsements” for approval as prospective adoptive parents, and the next time Margo meets with the young expectant Mom, she excitedly tells her about us.

Now, we are blissfully unaware of this conversation until we receive that phone call from Colleen a couple of weeks later saying “A baby boy has been born in Calgary, the family is looking for an adoptive family, are you interested?”

You can read what happens next: http://lynndove.com/2013/11/22/for-such-a-time-as-this/

And that’s the rest of the story!

*names are changed

For Such A Time As This

Brett will turn twenty-one today and everytime he celebrates a birthday I remember vividly the day God brought him into our lives!Corrie Ten Boom Quote

My oldest daughter, Laurelle was in preschool when I was told I was expecting again.  My husband and I had been trying for years to conceive after the birth of our daughter and finally we were referred to the infertility clinic who diagnosed us with secondary infertility meaning they didn’t understand why we weren’t getting pregnant and basically said we’d likely not ever have more children naturally.  Well, when we discovered I was expecting, we rejoiced.  Little Laurelle was told she was going to be a big sister and she went to her preschool and drew a picture of her family…stick figures mostly, the three of us holding hands and a tiny little baby stick figure growing inside “mommy”.

A week later I miscarried.

I phoned my husband at work and frantically told him I was bleeding and we raced to the doctor who sent me for an emergency ultra sound.  The tech didn’t need to tell me, I knew by her expression that at seven and a half weeks into the pregnancy my little one was gone.  We were attending a church in Calgary at the time and while Charles picked up Laurelle from our friends who had sat with her while we went to the doctor, I wept and cried at the foot of the Cross.  I asked all the questions of God that any Mom asks when she loses a child.  Why?  Why?  Why?

Fast forward…My husband and I discovered I was expecting again.  This time, Laurelle was nearly eight and we had all but given up thinking we would ever have another child.  I journaled excitedly that Laurelle would be a big sister and we would welcome a new baby into our home on November 25th, 1992 (my babies’ due date).  Two days later I miscarried.  For the next few weeks my journal was filled with writing about my journey with heartbreak, grief and overwhelming loss.

After the loss, my husband and I started to talk about adoption.  It was something we had talked about before but this time we actively pursued the idea.  We contacted a Christian adoption agency and registered with them, and after several months of classes, home studies and the like we were approved to be put on the list for expectant mothers to see and review our profile as a prospective adoptive family.

We had moved to the country by then and we were attending a church in Cochrane.  For months I had been involved in a Bible Study for women at the church and of course the ladies all knew of my desire to have more children.  In the middle of a blizzard in November I got a phone call from Colleen, my Bible Study leader.  “A baby boy has been born in Calgary, the family is looking for an adoptive family, are you interested?”

Words cannot adequately express our excitement or how we reacted at that moment.  Within hours we had been in contact with the birth family, our adoption agency, (who would be representing us throughout  the adoption process) and the very next day I held my new son in my arms for the first time…and it was love at first sight!

When we brought our son Brett home, I walked around the house with him in my arms and “introduced” him to his new surroundings.  Practically overnight we had to scramble to borrow baby furniture, and buy baby essentials and as I showed Brett his “new” stuff I was overwhelmed with thankfulness and emotion!  Laurelle tagged along on the house tour and finally said, “Mom!   Will you please let me hold my baby brother?!”   (Did I say it was love at first sight when she held her baby brother for the first time?…well it was!)

Months later I happened to be looking back in my journal.  Brett was sitting in his little “bouncy chair” as we called it, giggling and laughing at his big sister while she made faces at him.  I turned in my journal and suddenly my heart skipped a beat.  I had turned in my journal to the pages written after I had miscarried for the second time.  Grief and loss expressed poignantly in pen and ink on the pages.  Then I turned back to before the miscarriage, when I had written about my excitement at being a Mom again and that we would “welcome a new baby into our home on November 25, 1992.”  Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at Brett.

We brought him home on November 25th, 1992.

Pack a Shoebox with Si Robertson

Operation Christmas ChildEveryone knows that I am a huge Duck Dynasty fan.  I’m also a huge advocate of Samaritan’s Purse and in particular the Operation Christmas Child shoebox campaign they do every year.  Bringing JOY to a child at Christmas!

Fill your shoebox with a well-balanced variety of items from the following categories:

  • School Supplies – Items such as pencils, pens, pencil crayons, note pads, and picture books
  • Toys & Other Gifts – Items such as stuffed animals, small musical instruments, hair clips, toy jewelry, t-shirts, socks, and candy (loose, individually wrapped hard candy in a sealable bag)
  • Hygiene Items  – Please place soap in a sealable bag
  • Personal Note  – Include a personal note and/or a photo in your shoebox (not inside the donation envelope)

Do not include:

  • Toothpaste (due to customs regulations)
  • Food and any chewy, crumbly, or soft candy: Including gum (due to customs regulations)
  • Used items (due to customs regulations)
  • Playing cards (other card games such as UNO are allowed)
  • Liquids or items that could leak, melt, freeze, or break – Shampoo, creams, lip balm, bath gels, mirrors, or glass, etc. (these can damage other items in the shoe box).
  • Items that can scare or harm a child – War-related toys, knives, and toy guns, etc.

But hey…

Watch this short video and see how Uncle Si packs a shoebox and then, hey…”PACK A SHOEBOX, JACK!” :)

 

 

The Little Engine That Could

I remember when I was a little girl one of my most favorite books was “The Little Engine that Could”.  Now for all of you X, Y, Z and subsequent generationers (…is thatuntitled even a word?), you may never even have heard about this book!  Basically I believe that every Disney, Pixar, Family Channel movie etc. is founded on the same basic principle and message of this classic children’s book.  “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!” the Little Engine repeats over and over and over.  It is the story of the littlest choo choo train accomplishing a task that other more powerful locomotives refused to try.  It is the consumate underdog story of someone (or in this case something) who can accomplish BIG things if he will only believe in himself.

“A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill “I can’t; that is too much a pull for me,” said the great engine built for hard work. Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. “I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I–think–I–can, I–think–I–can.” It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

Now I’m a big fan of “underdogs”.  I love stories where the least likely of all the characters becomes the greatest of heroes.  There is something so satisfying to have the “little guy” win against all odds even when pitted against the most powerful opponent.

Sometimes I think in the book publishing world, I’m this “teeny tiny little fish” swimming in the current with all these huge blockbuster “big fish” and every once in a while it is so satisfying to swim past them, even if it’s just for a few hours.  For a couple of days last week, Shoot the Wounded was actually on two best selling lists on Amazon.ca  I felt sort of like the movie character “Jack” on the Titanic being “the king of the world”…well,.. for a few hours at least…then the boat sank…

Good thing I know how to swim!

My “Wounded Trilogy” has received praise from around the world and just recently the third book, “Love the Wounded” won not only the prestigious “Seal of Approval” but also the Silver Medal for Faith-based fiction from Literary Classics for excellence in children’s and young adult literature.  Although the accolades are wonderful the most heart-warming for me are the comments from my readers and most recently an excited call from a dear friend in Edmonton who said she “couldn’t put the books down” and now she wants to give a copy to each member of her youth group.  Wow!

I remember when I wrote “Shoot the Wounded” that I would be thankful if one person read it and I would praise God for that.  Well, He has gone far and above what I could ever have hoped for; taking my little stories to heights I could never ever imagined.  You could say that He pushed that little engine up the hill and I’m just hanging on enjoying the ride!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13