Summertime Reading

I have told my students that to be a great writer, you must be a great reader.  Summer is MY time to read.  I remember my fourteenth summer when I decided to read the good-booksentire Edgar Rice Burrough’s “Tarzan” series and then the “Mucker” books as well.  I think that year began the summertime tradition of reading as many books as I could before school started again.  There was the summer of “Anne”, reading the Anne of Green Gables series and a great summer of “Janette”, buried in Janette Oke books.  Oh and who could forget the summer of “Peretti”, where I was left on the edge of my seat reading his supernatural thrillers?!

Now don’t get me wrong, I also read during the rest of the year but summer gives me the time to really immerse myself in a series or read stand-alone books by the same author.  Also it is the most relaxing thing to do while camping, or sitting at the beach, or on those rainy summer days.  So I’ve decided to make a fun little poll for READERS ONLY!  Here is a list of 81 of my favorite “classic” books.

How many books from this list have you read?  Just for the record, every book I’ve listed, I have also read.

 

I’m the Cause of Broken Children

I’m the cause of broken children and I’m proud to say it!Imparting-Faith-Spread-18

From the very first moment I held my children, my goal was to raise and create an atmosphere in our home that fostered broken children.  I even prayed for it!

From the time I started to teach and minister in my church, my hope was to see and rejoice in the fact that I had a hand in working with broken children.

It should be the goal of every parent.  It should be the goal of every faithful teacher.  It should be every grandparent’s goal.

Be the cause of broken children!

Broken children…broken before the Lord.

Each one of my children have gone on their own journeys with the Lord.  Each one of them said “Yes” to Jesus at a young age and then those tumultuous teen years hit and as much as we tried to mentor them in their spiritual walks, each of them eventually had to find their own way.  It was a bumpy road for each of them.  It’s STILL a bumpy road and I spend a lot of time praying for my children and now my grandchildren as they discover their own faith, rather than just accept their parent’s beliefs without questions.  Asking questions is healthy.  Experiencing God on their own is healthy.  Even struggling to find a church family to better  “fit in” is healthy.  It may mean leaving the church they grew up in and for me that was a tough thing…letting them go.

Selfishly, I didn’t like it when my oldest daughter and son-in-law decided to attend another church after they were married but God had a plan for them with another church family.  They are “planted” and growing in their church.  My heart sings for joy as they serve the Lord there.  My son and his fiancé are also attending another church and both actively serve there.  Although I miss my family all gathered together on one pew with me, I thank God that they are being used by Him for His purposes and building His Kingdom.

My youngest at eighteen is trying to figure out her path.  She readily admits it’s a struggle.  She attended seminary for a year and probably ended up with more questions than answers at the end of it.  Still, I see God nudging her and caring for her even when she doesn’t seem to notice.  He has protected her and loved her and continues to pursue her.  She doesn’t acknowledge it right now, but she will, as long as she keeps her spiritual eyes and ears open to Him and not to the world’s louder callings.  It may require a radical “breaking point” for her before she truly understands how much He loves her.

So, I rejoice for broken children.  For when they truly break before the Lord, only then will they truly be healed!

 

 

 

 

O Canada

canada-day-comment-013

On July 1st, my husband and I are planning to drive his restored 64 Valiant to a Show and Shine in Red Deer.  It is particularly exciting to participate in this year’s car show since my husband made a point of creating the interior and overall “theme” of the car to honour Canada.  It is fitting on Canada’s Birthday to drive the “Canada Car” and enjoy the ride.  From the little Maple leaves embroidered into the upholstery to the illuminated license plate that flashes “Maple Leaf Forever” whenever the brakes are applied, it truly is a cool car.

That said, I will miss seeing the celebrations from Parliament Hill on T.V.  I enjoy watching the festivities each year and I am always moved to tears when our National Anthem is sung.  It is interesting that in a country that prides itself on its multiculturalism and diversity of religion that at least when we sing “O Canada” (Canada’s National Anthem), we remember Who brought us together as a nation.  Sure, many have sought to remove “God” from our anthem; the ongoing battle of separating church from state continues, but on Canada Day that is all but forgotten.  We sing the words with passion and with national fervor!

As I watch the thousands and thousands of people singing ‘O Canada’ on Parliament Hill in front of the Peace Tower, I can’t help but liken the scene to the one described in Philippians, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (vs. 9-11).  It is a prayer and a promise.  One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I wonder if we Canadians who sing the National Anthem even realize that we sing a prayer to the Father with these words: “God keep our land glorious and free!”  It is impossible to separate church from state when we implore the God of the Universe to “keep” our land glorious and free!

I am always taken aback when I see people stand to sing our National Anthem at sporting events, beers in hand, some of them, and belt out the lyrics at the beginning of a game calling upon God to bless our Nation when later they are calling fire and damnation upon a referee when he makes an unpopular call.  Does God listen to those prayers?

‘O Canada’ was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem on July 1, 1980, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880.  The music was composed by Calixa Lavallee, and French lyrics to accompany the music were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier.  Many English versions have appeared over the years in fact in 1901 a Toronto doctor; Dr. Thomas Bedford Richardson penned these lyrics:

“O Canada! Our fathers’ land of old Thy brow is crown’d with leaves of red and gold. Beneath the shade of the Holy Cross Thy children own their birth No stains thy glorious annals gloss Since valour shield thy hearth. Almighty God! On thee we call Defend our rights, forfend this nation’s thrall, Defend our rights, forfend this nation’s thrall.”

(Notice the prayer…)

In 1908 Mercy E Powell McCulloch won a competition with these lyrics to go with Lavallee’s music:

” O Canada! in praise of thee we sing; From echoing hills our anthems proudly ring. With fertile plains and mountains grand With lakes and rivers clear, Eternal beauty, thos dost stand Throughout the changing year. Lord God of Hosts! We now implore Bless our dear land this day and evermore, Bless our dear land this day and evermore.”

(Again, notice the prayer…)

However in 1908, the lyrics by Robert Stanley Weir, a lawyer in Montreal, after a few minor amendments, the first verse of Weir’s poem was finally proclaimed as the official English version of ‘O Canada’ in 1980:

“O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North, strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, We stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

I don’t know if many Canadians realize that there are several more verses to ‘O Canada’.  I particularly want to draw attention to the last verse.  It leaves no doubt that ‘O Canada’ is more than a national anthem; it is our nation’s heartfelt prayer to God every time we stand to sing it.  Here is the original poem of 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir:

“O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love thou dost in us command. We see thee rising fair, dear land, The True North, strong and free; And stand on guard, O Canada, We stand on guard for thee.

Refrain O Canada! O Canada! O Canada! We stand on guard for thee. O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow. Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow. How dear to us thy broad domain, From East to Western Sea, Thou land of hope for all who toil! Thou True North, strong and free!

Refrain O Canada! O Canada! etc.

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise, To keep thee steadfast through the years From East to Western Sea, Our own beloved native land! Our True North, strong and free!

Refrain O Canada! O Canada! etc.

Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer, Hold our dominion within thy loving care; Help us to find, O God, in thee A lasting, rich reward, As waiting for the Better Day, We ever stand on guard.

Refrain O Canada! O Canada! etc.”

Amen.

http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/symbl/anthem-eng.cfm

 

The Journey of Blogging

Twitter background 3I had no idea when I started to blog my “Journey Thoughts” that anyone else, other than a few family and friends, would actually read my little blog. I was so busy trying to publish and market my book that my blog was all but forgotten. Once in a while I’d add a little anecdote, an update, or share a snippet of my life experiences while walking with the Father. It was only when I got an email from a teacher in South Carolina who said that my blog “moved her” emotionally and spiritually that I realized God had given me a ministry opportunity here.

One day I “Googled” my name and I discovered that someone had nominated my “little” blog for the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards in not one, not two but THREE categories! Imagine my surprise! Suddenly my “Journey Thoughts” had a much larger readership than just family and friends.  Since that first nomination, Journey Thoughts has been nominated every year since in the Canadian Weblog Awards.  It has won a Canadian Christian Writing Award and I have thousands of followers from around the world.

A father in Saudi Arabia said he had read a story I wrote for Chicken Soup for the Soul to his daughters and they now follow my blog regularly.  I thank my loyal readers, followers and those who share my blog with others on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google and more.

With popularity also comes much responsibility.  I take blogging seriously.  I have noticed in the blogosphere that there are millions of bloggers out there.  There are some blogs that I take time to read regularly.  They uplift and encourage me with their content.  There are others that I enjoy because they write about family, food and fun…I get some of my best “Grandma” ideas about crafts and kid-friendly recipes that I share with my grandbabies.  Still other bloggers talk about the craft of writing, being an author, publishing and marketing and I go to those blogs regularly for advice and inspiration.  There are also blogs that are more confrontational and political in content.  I notice that these blogs tend to have quite an audience and a stream of commenters, some who are very opinionated and occasionally offensive.  When I see that sort of thing I tend to avoid those “worldly” blogs that do not honour or glorify God.  That’s just me.

In a world that is struggling to find hope in what some see as a hopeless world, I have had readers say that my posting scripture or talking about the grace of God is “just what (they) need” at “just the right time”.  I find that interesting.  God leads people to my blog at just the right time.  I am humbled.

I belong to a group of Canadian writers who have been regularly praying for “Word Warriors”, a name someone coined to describe those of us who write from a Christian world view perspective.  I love that!

So I invite you to check out just a few of my favourite “Word Warrior” blogs and please pray for all of us who blog so that the name of Jesus will be lifted high.  Pray that we will glorify Him in all we do, say and WRITE!

InScribe Christian Writer’s Online

Connie Cavanaugh

Kathy Howard

Michael Blackaby

Matt Walsh

 

A Year After the Great Flood

It’s raining.  It’s been raining pretty steady for a few days now and although we’re told that June is the “wettest” month of the year for Albertans, we can’t help feeling a little worried.  It’s on the hearts and minds of so many…the flood of 2013!  In a way I wish the media would stop talking about it and as water levels rise, they seem to go into a frenzy speculating a repeat of 2013’s flood.  Some consider that the worst flood in over one hundred years.  One hundred years!  If it took one hundred years before, why is everyone sure it’s going to happen again this year??  Come on people, stop the fear-mongering already!

That said, the rain IS falling and as we plan outdoor activities, like camping and BBQ’s, the rain is a nuisance, a necessary nuisance to farmers and to my water-starved perennials, but a nuisance nevertheless.wedding-rings

My daughter and her husband celebrate their nine year anniversary today and I remember so well the day they were married, June 18, 2005.  On that day it rained…hard.  I mean it poured!  There was flooding that year too and we had to change wedding plans mid-stream (pardon-the-pun), as the rain prevented some guests from coming and the professional photos had to be taken indoors rather than outdoors.  Despite the rain, it was a lovely ceremony and a lovely celebration!  Of course my daughter would have loved the day to go as she had planned it, perfectly…including the weather, but the rain did not dampen our spirits one bit!

My husband and I were married in June as well, and it rained the morning of our wedding thirty-five years ago!  Again, it was a lovely day, despite starting off a little wet.  In fact, in both my case and my daughter’s case, the sun did peek out for our receptions and we have wonderful memories of our wedding days.

So, I look out the window, see the rain falling and my thoughts are not on the falling rain, but on making more summer memories.  Yes, I know after last year’s flooding and the aftermath of that, people seem to be in crisis mode.  I get that.  For the good citizens in Bragg Creek, High River, Exshaw, Calgary, Black Diamond and more…high water levels can cause concern but my prayer is that it will be another one hundred years or more before we see anything like we saw last year with regards to floods.

I’m praying for beautiful, sunny weather for all the summer weddings coming up in June through August.  I’m praying that all the couples who marry this summer will build their married lives securely anchored to the Rock.  That they will build their homes on solid spiritual foundations that will weather any storm that life may throw at them.

“”Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”  Matthew 7:24-25

 

 

 

Stumbles

This weekend we have the pleasure to have our two grandbabies over for “sleep-overs” when their parents go to a conference out of town.  It will be the first time I have BOTH my “babies” overnight and I’m a little excited!  That said, I also know it will be an exhausting weekend.  I’m just not as young as I used to be…I can admit that!

Last week, my grandson was over for a few hours and his three year old giggles and grins just melted my heart.  My husband thought it would be fun to throw a big float toy into our pool and tow Jaxon around so he could pretend he was a pirate on a boat.  “Again!  Again!” he yelled at my husband as my husband pulled the rope to tow him around the pool.  Jaxon would have played that game for hours but my husband petered out.  He’s not as young as he used to be, but he won’t admit that🙂

Our house has always been a place of giggles and splashes!  We have an indoor pool that served for a time as our church’s baptistery before our church had its own building.  I often remark that the water is “Holy” water.  We’ve hosted birthday parties and youth pool parties, grad parties and my son even got tossed in the pool by his buddies at his engagement party!  It’s not really a party until someone gets tossed in the pool I guess.

Several years ago my youngest daughter, Carmen and two of her friends were doing an assignment for school that required a video camera, a pair of “magic” flip flops, and a willingness to fall into the pool.  The premise for the project was to do a commercial for a product not yet invented.  The three fourteen year old girls had at first decided to invent an “Invisi Boy”…an invisible…and so perfect…boyfriend.  They decided against the idea when they realized he was too hard to invision!  Hahahaha!

I gave a suggestion to them, knowing how my youngest child Carmen had (still has) a propensity to trip over anything and everything, that they should “invent” a pair of shoes that when they wear them they immediately become “graceful”.  That seemed to go over extremely well, especially when they started to think about how funny filming the pratfalls would be.  Of course it was my Carmen who thought about using the pool as a greatest pratfall prop.  She immediately volunteered herself to be filmed “accidentally” falling into the pool because of her extreme clumsiness.  I think they had to do at least fifty takes to get the action just right.  Poor, poor water-logged Carmen!

They chose a pair of flip flops to be the miraculous transforming shoes to give them grace whenever they put them on.  Again, their first choice was a pair of high heels but Carmen vetoed that idea immediately realizing the chances of her appearing “graceful” in heels was slim.  She stood more of a chance in flip flops!

And so for the next two hours all I heard was splashing and giggles and on occasion uproarious laughter from the three girls.  Kaylee, the videographer capturing the wild antics of Carmen and Breeana as they “acted” in the commercial.  I never did see the final edit, but no doubt it was hilarious!

I actually tripped over a pair of Carmen’s flip flops this morning in the front entranceway and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud remembering how ones like these were supposed to be the “magically transforming graceful shoes” from yesteryear.  As I picked them up and put them safely back in the front closet I was reminded of the many stumbles I have taken in life.

How many times have I tripped up?  How often have I tried to go my own way, trying to balance precariously on shaky footing only to trip and do what I call an “epic fail”?  My epic fails may not be seen on YouTube, but I am very aware that I have an audience and at times that causes me great shame.  God watches me and He sees me when I fall, mess up, and face-plant in the dirt.   Yet He does not leave me in the dust.  He kindly rebukes me for trying to walk the path of life on my own and then His Love transforms me!

So I stumbled upon this scripture this morning: “See I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  Romans 9:33

Now if I can just prevent one of the grandbabies this weekend from pushing me into the pool!

The Author of Life

Once upon a timeMy house is slowly but surely crumbling into disarray.  I see dust bunnies scurrying with wild abandon under my coffee table only to gather in little “burrows” in every corner of my room.  My foster pup, Samson, hasn’t been put out in hours…his little feet are pitter pattering on the floor…he’s trying to get my attention.  Does he want to play or is he desperate to relieve himself?  I haven’t put on my makeup, brushed my hair…gasp…I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet!  I haven’t washed the dishes in the sink, or thought about what to make for supper and I haven’t set foot outside in days.  Was this the life I pictured when I decided to write books?

I am buried in the plot created in my own mind.  I can’t let it go.  When I sleep I think about it, when I am awake I think about it.  I have created a world of characters that have become real to me…I’ve even thought I should see if they have profiles on Facebook.  That’s how real they seem.  I have seen the inside of their homes, I have met their parents, I know their thoughts and I know what they are feeling.  I feel like I know them better than my own children at times because I know what they will say or do before they say it or do it, and if I don’t like it I can change their actions by a simple use of a delete or backspace key.

It is the oddest feeling of supernatural power being a fiction writer.  I can make the characters be good, evil, mute, emotional, dull, irresponsible or responsible.  I have ultimate power over their actions….mwhuuuuhahaha….I feel almost…divine!!

It’s a scary thing this power!

I am so happy that I am limited to enact this “divine power” in the somewhat safety confines of the pages of a book.     What would the world be like if I had this kind of influence, if I had this kind of absolute power over real people I came into contact with every day?  If I made a mistake that destroyed their character I couldn’t just delete the words or backspace for a do over.

Today I rediscovered Psalm 139, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways….I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I may consider myself to be a writer but He is the Author of Life!  He leads us, He directs our steps, He loves us and He weeps for us when we go our own way.  He also never makes mistakes!  (Psalm 145:17)  God does not use delete on us, (even if sometimes our actions may deserve it), instead He picks up the storyline, exactly where we may have left it and helps us rewrite the plot, not so we get the glory but so that He does!

So while I continue to fumble for the correct words and phrases to use as I write Heal the Wounded, the sequel to Shoot the Wounded, and erase and backspace to my heart’s content until the characters and plot line are just right, I am thankful that the Lord perfected MY LIFE STORY from the beginning of time.  “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

(This post was originally published on March 9, 2010 and won a Canadian Christian Writing Award that year.)

Since that posting, I not only finished the sequel Heal the Wounded to my debut novel Shoot the Wounded, but wrote and published the final book in the Wounded Trilogy, Love the Wounded