December 28, 2010

True Brotherly Love - Bruce Atchison

We certainly live in a self-reliant culture. For example, people would rather drive than take the bus or walk. Many folks frown upon those who live on welfare payments. In my own experience, I've had friends avoid me after I've asked a favour of them for the second or third time.

On the other hand, I've striven to be as self-reliant as possible, even though I'm almost blind. This character attribute is good in moderation but it can cause us to miss out on being blessed by our brothers and sisters in Christ.

In December of 1977, I went on a short term missions trip with Operation Mobilization to the Mexican city of Saltillo. While there, we went door to door with tracts, held street evangelism meetings, and studied methods of spreading the gospel in foreign lands. From my upcoming How I Was Razed memoir, here's a vignette of how I nearly missed out on being blessed by a fellow Christian.


Since the Americans and Mexicans did not celebrate Boxing Day, we resumed our usual routine. I was blessed again, this time by a kind deed done by a soft-spoken Mexican brother named Adin. "May I please wash your coat?," he beamed. "It looks a bit dirty."

"That's all right, I think it's clean enough."

"Please let me do this. It is my way of serving my fellow Christians."

As I was about to demur again, I suddenly realized that letting him help me would honour Christ. Apart from that, bright yellow tends to show the dirt quickly. I removed the contents of my pockets and handed the nylon jacket to him. As I watched, he rinsed it under a tap over a ceramic scrubbing board and poured a little laundry detergent powder on it. Then he laboriously scrubbed every inch of the coat, rinsed it under the tap, wrung it out thoroughly, and handed it to me. I thanked him several times for blessing me with his selfless act of service, feeling chided by memories of occasions when I forgot to express my gratitude.


How I Was Razed is the testimony of the way I was mislead by a cult church, how I turned my back on God after I felt he perennially failed to heal my eyes, and how he graciously brought me to my senses.

My previous books, When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), are now available online by clicking here or by clicking here to e-mail me directly.

December 26, 2010

Appreciating Advent - Karen Toews

As a child I grew up with a sure understanding of the meaning of Christmas. Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph in a stable in Bethlehem – a baby who was the Son of God, who would later die and rise again for the salvation of the world. But the significance of the meaning of Advent? Either it didn’t get much press (or pulpit) time or I wasn’t paying attention. The lighting of the advent candle did become part of our Sunday morning service when I was older and for a few years we had a pottery advent candle holder on our dining room table - but it was used more as a centerpiece than a symbol for the Christmas season.

This last month a small group from our church met to study about the hope, joy, peace and love of this season. These weekly gatherings were a personal respite from the busyness of building our house and the mind-work and planning such a project involves. Reading the prophecies and New Testament scriptures leading up to the Christmas story has enlarged my appreciation for the reality of the Advent of the Christ who came to change and save our world. Our church’s Sunday service in this Advent season has also added to the practical application of these truths – by inviting us to to write and submit prayers that related to that weeks’ focus. The act of placing these prayers in the basket at the altar of the church was a tangible expression of my personal hopes, and my desires for the joy and peace and love that only Christ can fulfill.

Christmas Day has come and gone but the Gift of the season remains - and this year for me, a bit richer thanks to a closer look at Advent.

Luke 2: 10, 11 "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

December 24, 2010

TINKLE AND CLANG — Lynda Schultz

A flurry of discordant sound announced the arrival of several sections of the bell choir.

“Move it, you three. You’re late and we haven’t got much time,” chimed the Bell Master from his place on the bottom rung of the carillon.

“Nag, nag, nag,” whispered the D flat to his buddy, C, as they climbed into their places on the top level. “What’s the hurry, anyway? Clang’s got his clapper in a knot for sure this morning.”

“Morning? It’s still dark outside,” protested the F major, breathlessly hauling himself up behind the others.

The smaller bells finally got themselves into place, just as Clang struck the note that indicated readiness and silence in the ranks. He looked around, carefully checking to make sure no one was missing. Worse than a faulty note was no note at all.

“Where’s Tinkle?” he boomed from his assigned spot.

Tinkle was the littlest bell of all. Her spot was high up at the top of the carillon.

Like an evil wind brushing through the tower, the rustle of the bells created dissonance as everyone looked around, hunting for Tinkle.

“I’m here sir. Just polishing, Bell Master.” Her clear, high sound rang out as Tinkle took her place at the apex of the musical arrangement.

“That girl takes herself too seriously. ‘Just polishing, Bell Master.’ As if fingerprints made any difference to anyone,” mimicked the D flat.

“You have something to share with us?” came Clang’s voice from down below.

Everyone froze. More than once Clang had said out loud that he wished they never had to have contact with their human counterparts—the evil always rubbed off a bit, like fingerprints on the burnished surface of a bell.

“Uhmmmmm, no sir. I was just, well, wondering what all the rush was about,” stuttered the offender. “It’s not even daylight yet.”

“Well, if—and I know keeping time for you doesn’t usually include knowing what day it is—you had been paying attention during rehearsals, you would have remembered that dawn today is the biggest moment of our year. Today we bring hope to the world.”

From somewhere in the middle of the bevy of bells came the dulcet tones of one of the G’s. “But, boss, do you really think anyone listens to us? It’s nasty out there. Everyone knows what happened to poor Liberty. Those humans are a mean lot and we don’t seem to be making much of an impact.”

There were a couple of chuckles from the group at G’s unintentional play on notes. The subdued merriment stopped as Clang’s clapper sounded for silence.

“I’ll admit that I sometimes have my doubts as to whether anyone gets our message, but that’s not the point. The point is that we have a message that we have been assigned to deliver, we’ve been practicing faithfully for this last year, and we are going to chime out that message no matter what. It’s up to the Master Musician to do the rest. So, are we ready? It’s almost time.”

The bell choir stirred, positioning themselves, clappers at the ready, all eyes on Clang.


“Yes, sir?”

“Don’t forget, your part is critical. Sometimes people don’t hear the high notes, so you can’t hesitate or show weakness.”

“I won’t let you down, sir.”

Slowly the blackness outside the tower retreated before the insistence of the watery light of a winter sun. As it peeked above the horizon, Clang readied himself, gave the choir one last check, and nodded to Tinkle.

The high, light sound rang out loud and clear, followed by a rolling scale of melodious notes that reverberated across the awakening town.

Far below the tower, in the manse beside the church, a pastor looked up from his prayers. He had wrestled all night with his Christmas morning message. What could he say that would bring hope to a world where evil ruled man's heart, where even Christmas was banned with an “X”? How could he make sense of a world where, in the name of preserving peace, war was wrought?

He listened, remembered, and smiled. Hope was in God’s final note—which had yet to be played.


And in despair I bowed my head/There is no peace on earth I said/For hate is strong and mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good will toward men/
Then peeled the bells more loud and sweet/God is not dead nor doth he sleep/ The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/Of peace on earth, good will toward men./ (from: “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”)

December 23, 2010

Jesus Brings Joy - Dorothy Bentley

Right before Christmas, the whole city is abuzz with shoppers, dashing to and fro, preparing for the Big Day. It seems like the air is super-charged with frenzied energy.

For my family, our point of arrival is Christmas Eve, when we go to a candle-light service and bask in the soothing glow of the wonderful story of Jesus arriving as a babe, and sing songs of adoration to the King. Finally, a calm settles over our hearts, the lights along the streets are all a twinkle, and our preparations are all ready -- our shopping and our hearts.

What a holy night. My heart sings with reverence. We return home and allow the children to open one small gift before bed, and we enjoy a special treat. Once they are tucked into their covers, we bring out the remaining gifts and place them around the tree. We load the stockings with little treats, and sometimes string additional streamers and decorations from my husband's childhood, to make the house festive enough for a birthday party. We leave the tree lit, and we fall into our bed around midnight.

There is no other night that feels the same. The presence of the Lord, His holy host, angles in a choir, must all descend upon the earth en mass. The peacefulness and stillness permeates my mind and heart, and even if there are troubles, they all disappear in the face of such glory-- Christ was born.

Christ is born.


He is come.

O Holy Night...

God of Heaven and Earth,

Cover our minds with your peace,

And our lives with your joy.

Merry Christmas.

December 22, 2010

Fabric, Tissue, Dresses by Brenda Leyland

Me and Little Sis,1963

The whir of a sewing machine was a familiar sound when I was child growing up in our little farmhouse in rural Alberta.

Mom seemed to always have some sewing project under construction. But of all the garments she made, it was the pretty Christmas dresses I remember the most.

With the arrival of each December the anticipation would begin to swell. Mom would study the Eaton's catalog and bolts of fabric. It was time to make Christmas dresses for her three little girls. Amidst scissors, tape measure, and stick pins, sheets of ecru tissue rustled with anticipation as each pattern piece was carefully laid out on the fabric. It was always an exciting moment when we’d hear the first snip of scissors crunching their way through tissue and fabric. Soon threads littered the floor and we’d hear a whoosh as the hot iron pressed the wet cloth on a newly sewn seam.

Many dresses passed under the pressure foot of that old sewing machine. I remember the holly red velvet dresses and the one with the peacock blue velvet bodice and skirts of whispering chiffon (my all time favourite). As well, there was the jumper outfit made from bright red velvet and paired with a crisp white blouse. My fifth grade dress was a royal blue shift with three-quarter sleeves, offset by a white pleated organdy collar.

My little sisters and I would sigh, while Mom pinned and twirled us around on the chair, checking hems and seams. The final overview had to be made. It sure was a proud moment to stand in our newest finery on Christmas Eve with the rest of our Sunday school class to recite mostly memorized recitations and warble through partly familiar carols.

It doesn’t matter how many Christmases come and go, recollections of pretty handmade dresses and annual concerts in the old country church are as carefully wrapped in filmy memories as any treasured holiday ornament. The wonder of it is that these gifts of love were wrapped up in the celebration of the One who came to express the love of a generous Parent to our world. Who would have thought that the whisper of tissue paper on velvet would echo that great love to three little girls?

Wishing you a Happy Christmas... God bless us everyone!

This essay was written for my mom, Christmas 2006

December 20, 2010

Tear Sheets: to keep or not - Kimberley Payne

On The Word Guild listserv, Denise Rumble asked the question, “Why do we keep all those tear-sheets? Do you just tear out the pages or do you keep the entire publication? And then, how do you store all of it?”

Two prolific authors share their experiences with tear sheets:

Ray Wiseman shares, “I keep them because I like to look back to review topics I dealt with years ago--sometimes it's fun to have a nostalgic moment and go poking through them.

“I have mission mags from the 70s written from overseas and copies of newsletters--that goes way back before I was a 'writer'. This was good research material when writing *When Cobras Laugh*.

“I have most of the major reports and bulletins produced for Rogers in the 80s and copies of the Partners magazines I wrote for in the 90s--kept strictly for nostalgia reasons.

“When I began writing newspaper columns in 91, I would keep a copy in a scrapbook (only the tear sheet with the date and name of publication). I quit doing that a few years ago and now file a hard copy of every column in a three-ring binder. These are strictly for backup, because I have computer files of everything I have written since the mid 80s.

“Newspaper columns features, and books and other articles I keep on my hard drive--other things I have on disks. This way I can do word searches and find almost anything I have ever written about in 25 years.

“I also have kept a few samples of some of the periodicals I have written for.

“I have kept some things thinking I would need them for promo reasons—I don't remember ever doing that.”

How does he store all of it? “All over the place! On a couple of bookshelves and in a box or two. Just before writing this I was searching for a book and found about five volumes on WordPerfect dating back to the 80s--dumped it all in the recycle bin! I need to recycle a few more things.”

Donna Fawcett shares, “I have found tear sheets to be very useful. I have proof of where and when I had those articles published and have actually been asked to supply issue dates of publications containing my articles--once. That editor wanted to make sure I really was who I said I was.

“They are also encouraging to read after I receive a rejection slip:)

“And I use them at book signings as a promotional tool for credibility. I've had people approach my table as skeptics and walk away with a book because of the tear sheets.

“I store them in a binder after laminating them. I keep the magazine cover and my article and laminate them back to back.”

Do you keep tear sheets? If so, what do you do with them? 

December 17, 2010

Telling and Treasuring--Bryan Norford

All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:18–19.

The sight, sounds, and message of the angel chorus, and the culmination of seeing the newborn Messiah, so overwhelmed the shepherds they couldn’t keep it to themselves. They told the story to everyone they met, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. The shepherds, and the story they told, were the centre of the buzz about town.

The hype that first Christmas probably amounted to much the same flutter as today’s celebration. I envy the shepherds that experience: the story so new and fresh that all wanted to hear it. Now, the message is old and has lost its impact; it’s not the message, but the merchandise that draws attention.

Even for us, as Janet Sketchley noted a few days ago, “We’ve heard about the birth of Baby Jesus so many times that we can get kind of blasé about it.” In fact, if we are not passionate about Messiah’s birth, others will likely show little interest.

Perhaps we can learn from Mary. Also the centre of attention, she treasured these things in her heart, rather than show much outward emotion. Pondering, meditating on things seems a habit of hers, as recorded, not only in this text, but also finding her twelve-year-old son debating the temple teachers (verse 52).

Like Mary, we ponder the things we treasure. The rich man locks his money away, where he can run it thought his fingers. The house-proud woman spends hours buffing her place to showhome quality. Is the greatest story ever told the treasure of my heart?

Pondering this treasure might evoke more joy and a less jaded disposition. Then, just maybe, others will want to know the real story behind the story.

December 15, 2010

Blue Christmas - Tracy Krauss

I had to stop and take stock the other day as I read a post about the melancholy side of Christmas written by a fellow Christian. I understand that not everyone finds the season 'the most wonderful time of the year', but I was surprised at the depth of despair I sensed beneath the surface.  For most people, Christmas can be a time full of stress - the busyness of preparations, added financial strain on an already stretched budget, and a social calendar that is bulging at the seams. But for many others, it is a poignent reminder of loneliness - when so many are bustling about from event to event, there are those that have nowhere to go and no one to share it with. Since so much of Christmas is wrapped up in fond remembrances, it can be painful for those that have lost loved ones.

A friend of mine who happens to be an Anglican Vicar, used to hold a 'Blue Christmas' evening during the holidays. She understood that there are many folks who find the holiday season difficult and who cringe while the rest of us are going about our merry way. I never attended - I'm an unabashed lover of the season in all its tinseled glory - but she tells me it serves a need for those who are feeling blue and need a place to share those feelings without being labeled 'Grinch'. Besides an uplifting service, some singing and a sharing time, they also ate a turkey dinner together.

Upon reflection, I am so very grateful that I have fond memories of Christmas. I'm grateful for family, and friends and a church fellowship with whom I can share. I am grateful for financial security that allows me to cook a turkey and all the trimmings, buy a few gifts and still have enough to share with the local food bank and other charitable organizations. Even in our more 'lean' years, the warmth and laughter of the holidays made each one special in its own way. I can't actually recall every gift I've ever been given, but I certainly remember the friendly rivalry around a game of canasta, or the excitement of my children as they woke us early in the morning to check their stockings. These are the kinds of traditions that stick with you and that make Christmas worth looking forward to. (By the way, we've maintained a strange tradtion in our family that involves the children lining up in order of age - oldest to youngest - before checking their stockings on Christmas morning. We did this in my family as a child and continued to do it with our kids. It became quite humorous a couple of years ago with the addition of sons-in-law now that two of my daughters are married. My girls still wanted to 'line up', but the new members of the family wouldn't cooperate. We had to compromise by entering the living room together!) 

In any case, past all the pretence and the commercialism is the real truth of why we celebrate - JESUS. And for those of us that are believers, that should be enough.

December 12, 2010

Jesus glows in the dark - Nesdoly

It was the day the kids were to get their Christmas presents. Excitement electrified the air in Bill Wilson's bus as he drove around the Bronx, picking up kids for Sunday school.

At one stop, the little girl who clambered up the steps stopped beside him and handed him a ball of newspaper, covered with Scotch tape. "For you," she said.

He took it from her. "Thank you very much," he said, placing it aside and easing the bus back into traffic.

But the little girl kept standing beside him. "Open it," she said. "You have to open it."

"But we're driving," he said.

"You have to open it now."

"It's a woman thing," Bill said when he told us the story at my church on a Sunday in 2007. "I knew it wouldn't do to argue. So I pulled that big school bus as far over as I could on that narrow street, took that taped ball and started unwrapping it."

The kids from the bus crowded around as he peeled off the layers of newspaper. Finally he came to the center and a little plastic creche. It was broken and dirty. She'd obviously found it.

"Thank you," Bill said. "That's great." Cars were honking behind him and on the street a couple of traffic cops approached. He made the motion of putting the gift down, but the little girl wasn't done.

"We have to cover it," she said. She took the manger ornament from Bill, cupped it in both hands and reached it up to him. "You cover it."

Bill did.

"Now look at it," the girl said.

Bill peeked under his hand and saw that from the baby Jesus figure came a greenish glow.

Beaming, the little girl said, "See - Jesus glows in the dark!"


I first posted this story on my blog in November 2007 after hearing Bill Wilson speak in our church. As the founder of Metro Ministries, Bill Wilson, has brought that Jesus-glow to the ghettoes of New York for almost 30 years.

He, himself was abandoned when he was 12. "You stay here," his mother said to him one day as she and Bill came to a street corner. "I'll come back for you."

Bill waited and waited, but she never returned.

Three days later, a man passing by in a truck noticed him. He and his wife gave Bill water and something to eat, then paid the $17.50 it took (in 1961) to send him to camp. Five hours later, Bill was at an Assemblies of God youth camp where his life was turned around.

This Christmas, let's remember that Jesus continues to glow in the dark. And most of the time it's through ordinary people like the man who rescued 12-year-old Bill, that same Bill who now drives urchin-loaded schoolhouses through the streets of New York, and through you and me — people who are willing to stop and listen to a lonely person who needs to talk, to drop a bill instead of change into the Salvation Army kettle, to stifle a sharp tongued response and instead smile at the lady who barges ahead of us in the checkout lineup, and to react with grace to the chatter and seat-kicking of the toddler who sits just behind us at the Christmas concert.

Bill Wilson quotes:

"If you want something you've never had before, you've got to do something you've never done before."

"Whatever makes you mad -- that's what God will use you to change."

"If you see a need and can fulfill that need, that's the call."

© 2010 by Violet Nesdoly



December 11, 2010

Ankle deep in diamonds

Fidgety boys wearing bath robes, smirking under terry towel head gear.
Nervous girls in white dresses holding wire haloes in place.
A serious girl under a pole-lamp, bending over a bassinet.

It had been a grey Christmas Eve in our Saskatchewan village, but when we left the church the sky had cleared. Now, flecks of stars and a gibbous moon cast a slant of silvery light on a fresh fall of snow.

My big sister, Elizabeth, took my six-year-old hand, and as we moved out from beneath the direct glow of the a street light by the church, we were suddenly ankle deep in diamonds. And then, just as suddenly, we were the wise men following the star. We were the shepherds beholding the angel. We were the angel bringing delirious tidings of joy. We were Joseph, filled with concern and anticipation.

The story, awkwardly acted by kids whose names I knew, sealed itself inside me through the wordless speech of that night. I was embraced deep within and awakened to a big new fluid circumstance.

Believing was seeing.
Breathing was praying.
Walking was worshipping.
Holding hands with Elizabeth held me in arms universal.
Never again to be a me--I was we.

December 10, 2010

Smells of Christmas - Bonnie Way

I'm sitting at my desk, opening my email while I roll a Mandarin orange with one hand.  As soon as my thumb breaks the skin, the bright, citrus smell of the orange takes me back to my childhood... a dimly lit dining room, darkness outside the windows, toast in the toaster, and the Christmas tree in the corner, lights on, presents peeking out beneath.  It isn't any particular day, just one of many days like that—a breakfast in December—yet that's what the smell of Mandarin oranges reminds me of.

The first Christmas that we decided to get an artificial tree instead of a real tree, it was the smell that I missed the most.  A real tree fills the whole house with that fresh, piney, outdoors smell as soon as it is hauled inside.  Mom tried burning pine-scented candles to mimic that scent while we decorated our new plastic tree, but it just didn't compare.

My aunt and uncle are usually the ones in charge of cooking the Christmas turkey.  They know what time to put the bird in the oven, when to baste it, when it's ready to eat.  Each time they open the oven door to check on the bird, the smell of roast turkey fills my grandmother's house.  It makes us all start drooling and we stare, stomachs growling, at my aunt and uncle debating whether the turkey is ready to be carved or not.

Smells are a powerful tool for a writer, yet one that we seldom use. I'm more likely to describe how something looks in my writing than how it smells. Yet smells are perhaps more strongly attached to memories and feelings than are sights.  Christmas is, as I've noted, a season of smells.  What smells make you think of Christmas and Christmases past?

~ © Bonnie Way,

December 09, 2010

Christmas: A Culture Correcting Invasion - by Jack Popjes

We are pleased to have Jack Popjes guest post for us today.

As professional change makers, missionaries get a special thrill from the Christmas story. What an invasion! Talk about barging in to change cultures!

After moving into the Canela village in Brazil, my wife and I studied and analyzed the culture and language, and translated the eternal truths of Scripture clearly into the Canela language. We saw God's Holy Spirit using His Word to change people's worldview to line up with the way He wants them to think, speak and live.

Moving into a culture in order to bring change is exactly what God did at Christmas. He moved into the Jewish culture which badly needed to be transformed, having drifted far from the clear truths of God’s Word. Tradition, for instance, had encrusted the keeping of the Sabbath with so many rules, God’s day of rest had been turned in a burden not a blessing. People obeyed tradition instead of the plain Word of God. One of the most blatant examples of tradition trumping God’s Word is the way in which the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day treated women.

Every pious Jewish man on waking in the morning and while still lying in bed, would pray the traditional thanksgiving Berakah: "Blessed is He who did not make me a gentile, a slave, or a woman." Every morning the wives of pious Jews heard their husbands praise God and in effect say to them, "I'm so glad I am not you." What a hopeless way to start the day! A Gentile could convert, a slave could become free, but a woman in that unbiblical, tradition-bound culture was forever trapped in her wretched position.

Jewish tradition, not Scripture excluded women from full participation in worship. Herod's temple had walls that separated women from the men. This was not in the original, God-given designs of either the tabernacle or the temple. The Talmud stated, "A hundred women are no better than two men." No wonder, the synagogue quorum was ten men: women simply did not count.

The Mishnah, a collection of rabbinical teachings stated, "Let your house be a meeting place for the Sages and drink in their Words with thirst. Talk not much with womankind. He that does, brings evil upon himself, neglects the study of the Law and will inherit hell." To say that women were not encouraged to study the Scriptures would be a gross understatement.

In this woman-deriding society, God chose a woman, Mary, to give birth to His own Son. Each morning, while pious Joseph murmured his Berakah, Mary nursed her baby, burped him, and then quietly kissed the face of God.

Jesus, the culture-changing Invader, refused to be bound by traditional rules. One day, Mary, another woman, sat at His feet as a pupil eagerly drinking in all He said. When her sister Martha complained, Jesus corrected her unbiblical thinking. "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Jesus shocked His disciples when He not only talked with a doubly despised person, a Samaritan and a woman, and asked her for a drink, but He also chose that occasion to reveal Himself as the Messiah for the first time.

The Mishnah tradition stated, "Whereby do women earn merit? By making their children go to the synagogue to learn Scripture and their husbands to learn Mishnah, and waiting at home for their husbands to return." Tradition, therefore, taught the only way a woman could serve God, was to have children and bring them up to serve Him.

One day, a woman impressed with His service for God, echoed this unbiblical worldview when she shouted to Jesus from the crowd, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth, and nursed you!"

Jesus immediately corrected that false mindset. "Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it." He taught the truth that anyone—man, woman or child—could hear the Word and obey it. No one was excluded. Not gentiles, not slaves, not women. Women could hear, obey, worship, and serve God directly, not just through the men in their lives.

Christmas is a good time to remember that God invades cultures to change unbiblical mindsets and worldviews, aligning them with His revealed Truth. He commanded His Church to bring God's liberating, life-giving Word to bear against the enslaving, life-destroying cultural mindsets of thousands of societies all over the world.

My wife and I are deeply thankful to God for using us to invade the Canela culture and give its people an option to change their way of life. The joy of knowing that Canela lives were altered for the better as people connected with God is a tremendous reward.

December 08, 2010

Preparing for His Coming—Janet Sketchley

I’ve been working through Beth Moore’s A Woman’s Heart workbook with my Bible study group at church. Gotta say, it’s challenging in places.
Right now we’re looking at the detailed instructions from God—to be followed to the letter—for preparing and consecrating the Tabernacle and its contents and the priests and their garments.
Repeatedly we see reminders that Moses and his workers did exactly what they’d been told by God to do in regard to the Tabernacle. Leviticus 9:6 (NIV*) says: “Moses said, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.’
God, in all His holiness and majesty, wants so badly to be with His chosen people. But the gap between His holiness and human wilfulness is so great that Exodus 33 begins with God saying He won’t travel with them anymore “because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” (Exodus 33:3b, NIV*) (This is right after the golden calf debacle.)
Moses pleads for God to stay with them, and God agrees. He gives Moses a new set of the Ten Commandments, along with instructions on how to build the Tabernacle.
The people of Israel have a lot to do to prepare for God’s coming. And when He comes, it is terrifying as well as exciting.
Here in 2010 we’re working through the Advent season, preparing to celebrate Jesus’ coming into the world as a baby.
There’s something about reading the Scriptures detailing the preparations for God’s coming into the Tabernacle, with the people freshly under his Law, that makes me wonder about the preparations for Jesus’ coming as the Son of Man to fulfill the Law and to inaugurate the rule of Grace.
On the surface, we see the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, and before that to Zechariah about the birth of John the Baptist. But God has been planning since the beginning for this moment.
We’ve heard about the birth of Baby Jesus so many times that we can get kind of blasé about it—especially when we’re overwhelmed by the non-faith aspects of preparing for the holidays.
The Old Testament is a good cure for blasé-ness about God. Perhaps it’s a reminder of the mystery of this Unknowable One who reveals Himself to us.
Let’s pause this Advent season to remember just Who it is that we’re preparing to welcome. We don’t have to fall down in fear at the manger, may the Spirit nudge us to our knees in awe and worship.
Praise God, and “let every heart prepare Him room”.

© Janet Sketchley, 2010

*New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

December 05, 2010

Family Matters

by Glynis M. Belec
I have spoken a few times at homeschool support groups or at community workshops and so forth about the importance of involving family early in the reading process. No matter what we say about the importance of reading, if we don't model the desired trait (reading for fun) our little darlings won't do it. No amount of do as I say, not as I do wisdom will matter. Children pattern themselves after us and for the most part, they do as we do.

I don't watch television much but tonight I caught an episode of Super Nanny - that terrific, wise woman who flies into the homes of the not so rich and famous and, within an hour transforms and reforms wee rascals of every ilk.

On the show this evening I picked up on one sage piece of advice she was giving to the floundering parents - "you child is becoming a little you. Make sure the behaviour you exhibit now is one you want to see later in life."

Hmmm...I thought as I pondered the state of literacy in many children. I think perhaps these wise words from Super Nanny, might have great bearing on some young minds today. I see so many children come into my classroom with such poor reading habits. There seems to be little love for books or just plain reading for fun. The children who I tutor privately definitely have some limitations academically, but the common thread is that they do not (most never have) read for pleasure. In turn, words on a page become a chore and then every subject is affected. Even those with a penchant for problem solving and numbers might flounder because reading instructions is too difficult. I see that too often.

One idea to encourage the love of reading that I have passed on to parents is to set aside a family time 1 to 3 times a week where activity grinds to a halt, televisions and computers are turned off, then everyone grabs a book and reads for an hour. Even little ones will enjoy this special time and it begins a formation of good reading habits. It just warms my heart to see a child absorbed in a book.

I am still amazed how God has taken a mere 26 letters and has given us endless combinations that we call words. What a blessing to be able to call myself a writer and combine words that make sense (well most of the time!)

Onward and upward. Thanks Super Nanny!

No Matter What by Marcia Lee Laycock

About this time every year someone comes up to me and starts talking about the pagan traditions of Christmas. The tradition of a Christmas tree, for instance, is said to have originated with the pagan practice of bringing evergreen boughs, or a “Yule Tree” into the home as a symbol of the new life that would come after the winter.

People also complain that the 25th of December has nothing at all to do with the birth of Jesus. Historians believe He was likely born in the springtime. Some scholars maintain that December 25th was only adopted in the 4th Century as a Christian holiday by the Roman Emperor Constantine, to encourage a common religious festival for both Christians and pagans. Historical documents do not seem to bear this out, however. There is no actual evidence, beyond assumptions, that the holiday was actually instituted by the Emperor. In fact most evidence indicates that it was adopted decades after his death in most parts of the Empire.

Another thing that usually crops up at Christmas is the use of Xmas. Many Christians take offense to this, feeling it somehow denigrates the name of Christ. The word Christmas is a contraction of Christ's Mass, derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse and referring to the religious ceremony of the Catholic mass. The abbreviation Xmas probably came about because the English letter X resembles the Greek letter Χ (chi), the first letter of Christ in Greek (Χριστός transliterated as [Christos]). Xmas is pronounced the same as Christmas, but most people just say X-Mas.

Whether or not you know and believe this information, the celebration of Christmas is now, and forevermore will be a Christian event. These days there is a movement afoot to get rid of the traditional holiday names and greetings all together. “Merry Christmas” has been amended to “Happy Holidays,” nativity scenes are banned from many public places and more and more secular music is taking the place of the long-sung carols.

But none of this can change the fact that Christ is at the core of Christmas.

It was the Christ child who was born to save the world, the Christ man who lived among us and taught us about His Father, the Christ God who died on that cross over two thousand years ago, to accomplish His Father’s will. No speculations about origins, no attempt to secularize the traditions will change that reality.

Whether or not you know and believe in the Christ, He was born in a stable in Palestine, He did walk the earth performing miracle after miracle, He was tried by Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.

Whether or not you believe he was God, He was raised from the dead by his Father after three days and because of Him all of us have access to God and the hope of eternal life.

That’s the story of Christmas. That’s reason to celebrate, no matter what.

Visit Marcia's Website -

November 30, 2010

And in the Future? - Lyn Kublick

My habitat is History. If you have visited my Pack Rat Papers bog you are aware that I tend to dwell in the past. My novels are historical and my mind, like my home, tends to be cluttered with bits and pieces from former times.

I enjoy comparing life a century, or so, ago with the world we live in now. It is thrilling to view the way God has provided people with the ability to design and produce previously "impossible" objects and machines.

He is God the Creator and man was made in His image thereby being endowed with a need to invent. This need to bring something from nothing takes many forms. As this is a writers blog, those who contribute here have a passion to use words, with the Lord's guidance, in ways that bless others. Inventors may "see" new and useful machines which they strive to perfect. Teachers use a multitude of ingenious methods to instruct their student.

The pictures in this post were taken in 1912. That is less than 100 years ago and it is easy to see the strides that have been made in the field of aviation since that time. The spectators at the July 4th celebration in Alturas California must have been as thrilled to watch W. B. Cook circle over their heads as we would be to view a performance by the Snow Birds. In fact they were probably more thrilled because so few of them had the opportunity to experience flight for themselves.

These pictures are on two postcards sent to my grandmother by my father and his oldest brother. They were young men sixteen and twenty-six years old. It is obvious that they were impressed by this demonstration and decided to share it with their mother.

It is to be hoped that we will never lose the ability to be impressed, excited and fascinated with things in the world around us. I am often saddend to hear children and young people say, "I'm bored!" Their search for stimulation is constant and too often a sense of wonder is sacrificed. We have all been born with a sense of wonder. Let's keep it alive.

November 28, 2010

Is It Really the Thought That Counts? – Bruce Atchison

We're taught from childhood that it's not the size of the gift but the charity behind it that matters. This is true in theory but it isn't always practiced in the real world. People tend to judge by the size and value of the gift, even if they're too polite to say so.

When I attended Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, I only received fifty cents a week for my allowance. This made gift giving difficult because, even in 1968, that amount of money couldn't buy much. From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here is how I solved this dilemma.


When December eventually arrived, Mrs. Rogers introduced us to the class Christmas present concept. Each student took a slip of paper from a box and gave a gift to whoever's name was written on it. I drew Steve's name. What good present could I, with only fifty cents a week, buy for him? Having to give gifts seemed degrading to me.

On one trip to the toy store, I spotted a pocket knife. It was affordable and was an item Steve might appreciate. After paying for it, I realized that the present would look very unimpressive, even wrapped up nicely. Then I had a brilliant idea. I searched the classroom for paper to wrap the knife in. After making a suitably large ball, I placed it on a sheet of Christmas wrap and sealed it with tape.

At the end of one class, Mrs. Rogers distributed the gifts. I watched as Steve removed the colourful wrapping, only to find grey paper underneath. He removed that layer and found white paper towels.

After a few minutes of unwrapping the present, Steve triumphantly held up the penknife. His desk was completely covered in litter. "Thanks for the knife. Thanks for all the paper too," he joked. I felt relieved that Steve appreciated what I gave him, even if it did seem puny.


Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief.
Click here to read more about this book and to order it.

You may also e-mail me directly for more information.

November 26, 2010

November Visits with the Cousins - Karen Toews

For several years my sister's family and ours would get together for the November 11th remembrance weekend. Of her two boys and my daughter and son, two are very close in age, and one each being older and younger. Our family would most often make the 10-plus hour drive: from our Alberta home to theirs, in north-eastern British Columbia. Invariably, it would be the coldest weekend of the winter: bitterly cold, with or without snow. And often, we'd have to navigate icy roads either coming or going.

Our school system would often add an extra day off to make the break a 4-day stretch. Considering the time spent traveling, that would usually leave only two full days together. The kids crammed every minute full of games, watching movies, eating, laughing, reading crazy comics. The day we arrival, the two cousins would be watching for our car to drive up: pouncing on each other, hugging hellos, not skipping a beat from the last time they saw each other - which was often weeks, even months earlier.

My sister and family lived in a trailer for a few years. I don't remember its square footage (not huge, not a double-width) but we all had comfy places to sleep - and it had a hallway that was perfect for playing hockey. A spot for a goalie on either end, leaving two forwards to make the plays. More pouncing, cheering, with occasional balls the goalie missed flying into the living room. So much fun, beet-red faces, shirts being stripped off regardless of the outdoor temperatures. Such great memories of hockey in the hall. No Zamboni was on site but there must have been repairs and maintenance necessary after the players shook hands and half of them left for home.

All that action called for copious amounts of good food. Big pots of hamburger soup, mashed potatoes and roasted chicken, grown and raised down the road at the in-laws. Nobody can bake buns like my sister and she'd always have a huge batch of homemade poppycock in a Tupperware tub tucked in the cupboard. To add to the mix, friends of my sister and husband would often drop by, which was sure to add a couple more kids to the melee.

The fun wasn't restricted only to the kids, but we four adults didn't need near as much action to enjoy each others company. Going out for coffee, the whole gang playing walleyball, me watching my sister knit and thinking I might try the same, taking drives to enjoy the vast views, watching videos. To be honest, I don't remember attending any remembrance day services; I guess we were often traveling and perhaps more accurately, those were the years when for whatever reason, at least where we were, attendance waned at those services. In our defense, I think it would be correct to say that since then, our activities on remembrance day have often been shared with honoring those who've fought and died for our country.

Our tradition of getting together also waned as the kids got older and life changed, as happens for all of us. The day came (and lasted for a few years) when my sister and I ended up living in the same community - and the pleasure was ours to get together whenever we wanted - with and without the kids.

Those four kids, all parents with their own children, are so scattered across the continent that the siblings rarely get together, and it's almost never for the cousins. That adds to the reason why memories of our remembrance day visits are especially fond and the telling of these stories so important.

(photo credits - my sister)

November 24, 2010

Motorcycle Mama by Lynda Schultz

In my book of remembrances the exploits of Leola shine through. She's gone now, safe in the embrace of the Heavenly Father she loved and served so well.

Leola lived with her husband, two children, and elderly mother-in-law on a small vegetable farm about 60 km outside of Timmins, Ontario. They faithfully came into church every Sunday and after Leola's husband died, she took her life into her hands and learned to drive their old car herself. She worked in our Sunday School until she could work no more. When the car finally gave up the ghost, Leola bought herself a set of leathers and persuaded her son to come out to the farm on his motorcycle and pick her up for Sunday services. By this time she was well past retirement age. Always prim and proper, she'd change from her leathers into a dress and hat when she got to church.

Leola kept working the farm for as long as she could, even after the cancer diagnosis. But she quietly went about other business as well. She prayed through the church directory every day. She wrote regularly and faithfully to every missionary the church supported. During my years overseas it was no surprise to receive care packages from Leola–she was known among the MKs (missionary kids) as the "Kool-Aid" lady. Considering that her resources were very limited, those care packages, and the postage it cost to mail them all over the world, represented a sacrifice.

This amazing little lady also successfully completed a number of correspondence courses by mail from a seminary in Toronto, including several years worth of New Testament Greek. God had blessed her with a first-class mind.

Cancer became her shadow but she never allowed it to rule her life. In the letters I received from her she often joked about the various stages of the disease and how they, or their treatment, was affecting her. She would come into town for doctor's appointments, stop off at the church to rest between sessions or to practice Tai Chi in one of the rooms. We'd sometime catch her napping.

My last remembrance of Leola was the corn roast she hosted for the church family at her farm. I was home on Home Assignment that year. Her frailty was obvious, but she continued with her positive spirit though now it was tempered with that faraway longing for "home" in her eyes.

A friend recently told me that Leola, knowing that Lil loved teacups, had given her a beautiful pair edged in gold that she had received as a wedding gift fifty years earlier. Lil visited Leola in the hospital just before she died. Leola was unable to speak by that time. Lil worried about those teacups and wondered if perhaps Leola might have wanted to pass them on to her daughter. When she asked Leola about it, this plucky little woman gave Lil a huge smile and bravely nodded her head. "No" she indicated.

When I think of Leola I think of the widow that Jesus used as an example of faith and generosity in Luke 21. This dear woman gave everything she could to the Lord and he commended her for it. Just as she is remembered for her quiet walk of faith, so some of us remember Leola and endeavor to walk in her footsteps. And for such a little lady she left us big shoes to fill.

November 23, 2010

Teaching children to write ~ Dorothy Bentley

This week I began teaching a creative writing class to a group of home educating children. What fun!

As I was preparing, I had to really think hard about where to begin. Should I teach the various aspects of writing, and then have them write a story? No, I decided. I would instead teach them about whole stories, then tackle each part later.

I was surprised how difficult it was to boil down story to its simplest form. Here is what I came up with. At its bare minimum, a story needs a likable character and by the end, a change. I may be wrong, but all the children’s picture books and literature would fall into this definition, from Goodnight Moon, to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I discussed this bare bones plot with the kids, and showed them a clip art picture of a slide. At the foot of the ladder was the character in his starting situation. Each step built tension, or simply moved the story along. Next, I told the children that the highest point of the story would be the most tense, or exciting, at the top of slide. And finally, the slide down was the satisfying ending. Something had changed, and the story was done.

They really seemed to grab onto this concept, and as I read aloud a couple of stories, they had no trouble deciding where each plot point should go.

Afterward, we used toys to come-up with characters, and invented a story plot. I was amazed with their creativity and energy. I have a feeling I will gain more than I give at these writing lessons!

November 20, 2010

Writer's Block - Kimberley Payne

A question was posed on The Word Guild discussion forum, asking, "What do you do when you are itchy to write but feel stuck, blocked - can't go anywhere. How do you get unstuck?"

I remember when I was stuck on where to go with my novel. I took an extra long walk and talked all the way. I discussed with God the troubles I was having and by the time I returned home, I had my answer!

Lisa Wilson does a freewrite. “You know, pick one of those crazy exercises from a book - write for five minutes about what is going on in this picture - that sort of thing. I find that helps to get the 'creative juices' flowing.” She also suggests writing from a different point of view. “If I'm working on a particular project and feel stuck, I'll try writing from a different POV, (even if I know I won't be including it) or start the next scene in a new way than I have before, a flashback, new setting, whatever. Often, I won't include those in the finished project, but these short starts get me going again.”

Ramona Furst recommends spending more time in His Word. “God's message to us. God's reason or intelligence expressed in human speech and words. Our insatiable need/craving for too much of anything is symptomatic of unmet needs & empty places. When I begin to give God all my empty places the fullness of Christ bursts forth with life and form. (John chapter one)”

Ed Hird tells us that agent Chip MacGregor recommends switching from a writing to a talking mode, even standing up and walking around, perhaps taping your comments.

Jane Harris-Zsovan agees with Ed, “I think all of Ed's suggestions will work. For those of us with a visual, tactile, or auditory orientation, sketching, painting, dancing, singing, praying out loud, or even story-boarding will also help.”

Carla Coroy likes to talk to friends. “When I get stuck like that I know that it's time to call one of my friends. I have a few that will always stir up a passion in me through our conversation and when we get off the phone, I'm ready and raring to go!”

Donna Dawson shares, “When I am stuck, I pick up a local newspaper and start reading. You would be amazed at what will jump out at me and get me started again. Sometimes it's an article. Sometimes it's the comics. Sometimes it's the crossword puzzle.”

How do you get unstuck?

November 18, 2010

God In The Bad Times - Martha Anderson

We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory. ~ George Duhamel

November has been designated as a month for remembering so I’m traveling back to my earliest years. I made my entry into this world when the Canadian prairies were sinking into the depression years. The Dirty Thirties, as they became known, brought a change in the weather pattern, resulting in unusually cold winters and extreme heat in summer. Before this change the farmers in western Canada had struggled and sacrificed to carve farms out of the untamed prairies. They had made the most of the resources at hand to build a future for their families. In the ensuing drought during this unusual weather conditions their dreams blew away in clouds of dust, grasshoppers, and Russian thistle.

In a recent newspaper column the writer commented that during the thirties some Canadians wore undergarments made of flour sacks. To her this was unthinkable. As a child I didn’t know there were any other kind. The load of flour my father hauled home each fall and stashed away in a corner of the basement provided more than mounds of bread to feed a growing family of nine children. The bags, washed and sun-bleached, were fashioned into anything from slips and bed sheets to embroidered table cloths, only one of the ways they improvised.

In thinking back to my early years, one particular day in 1937 stands out in my memory. I tried to capture the experience of that day when I penned the following words some years ago: 
In hope, the farmer plows his field
Guiding the sweaty team along the furrows
Shears slice the crusted soil
Turned clods crumble into powdery dust
Blood-shot eyes search the empty sky
For a sign of coming rain.

Coughing, he reaches for the jug beside him
And lifts the warm water to his parched lips
Perspiration trickles from his swarthy brow
He wipes his face with his red handkerchief
While his eyes scan the canopy above, hoping,
Praying for much needed rain
For clouds to hide the relentless sun -
Relief for man and beast from the burning heat -
Yes, a small cloud is forming on the horizon
He watches it darken and expand as it approaches
His heart swelling with a new surge of hope
Rain is on the way

Rain, he shouts, the word sweet on his tongue -
The cloud climbs higher blotting out the sun
Then suddenly the whole world turns black -
No ordinary thunder storm is brewing here -
With apprehension he stares into the darkness
Hope of rain grows faint

The horses trod through the thickening dust
To the yard where he quickly unhooks the traces
And stables the animals in the barn
As he stumbles to the house the cloud envelopes him
Billowing dust stinging his unseeing eyes -
Not a drop of rain

Only drifting dirt and swarms of grasshoppers
Clouds without water -
Dashing his hopes in the dust -
No rain.      

Despite the hardships of those years, my parents daily expressed their gratitude to God for making it possible to feed our growing family and anyone else who came by. It was that confidence in an unfailing God that kept them going through those trying years.

God promises in the Holy Scriptures that He will give us daily responsibilities, but He is the Lord God who will help us bare them, He is the God that rescues from death (Psalm 68).

November 16, 2010

Wake Me Up On The Sabbath - Janice Keats

I had the most interesting conversation with an elderly woman recently. She recalls one particular evening she went to bed and when she awoke the next morning she thought that she had slept for two days. She knew she had gone to bed on a Saturday night, but when she arose the next morning she knew it was Sunday but by the actions of her neighbours, she surmised that it must have been Monday morning.

“I peeked outside my bedroom window and I saw a man standing on his house tarring his roof,” she said. Then she proceeded downstairs for breakfast. “When I looked outside my living room window, I noticed a man in front of his home cleaning his car. Another neighbour was painting his house, and yet another was hanging out clothes. Then all of a sudden I had the compulsion to pull out my washer and begin my usual Monday morning wash. First, I asked my son what day it was. He assured me that it was Sunday. I asked him if he was sure because I wanted to get ready for church and I thought I might have slept through Sunday because all the neighbours were outside doing their chores. With her son's reassurance, she went on to church.

She knew what day it was but it would really make you wonder, wouldn’t it? Have we come to a day in our society where it doesn’t matter how we spend our time on Sundays? It is okay to put off our chores for Sunday? Do people pass Sundays by without realizing its significance? What does the Scripture say about Sunday Worship? Genesis 2:2-3 informs us that God chose a special day of the week to rest and we are to keep that day Holy. As followers of God, we are expected to abide by his wishes. But do we? Why would one neighbour choose to keep the Sabbath holy and not the other? The fourth of the Ten Commandments says: “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Well then, how do we keep it holy? By remembering God, by worshiping our creator, and by honouring Gods command.

1 Thess. 4:7 and 8 says: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God who gives us his Holy Spirit.”  If people believe that they’re not hurting anyone by living a life pleasing to themselves, they are forgetting about God's feelings. When a person rejects the holy living he also rejects God.

Is it too demanding of God to want our love and obedience? God gave each of us a chance to respond to his pattern for living when he gave His son to be the atoning sacrifice so that you and I may have life through Him. Titus 3:4-6 says: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Why not live for God? No time you say? God’s word says to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

God bless you as you worship Him this Sunday..........His Way.

November 15, 2010

Greetings From the 'Not So' Newbie - Tracy Krauss

This is my very first post here at 'Inscribe Writers Online' and may I say what an honour it is to be here among such wonderful friends and writers. Thanks for letting me join you.

I am new to Inscribe, having joined last summer, and may I say what a great place to find fellowship and encouragement as a writer. I attended my first Inscribe Conference this last September, and I just met for the first time with the 'Peace Region' satellite group a few days ago. (Marnie, Meri, Bonnie, Ellen, and Cathy - what a pleasure to meet you!)

I am a fairly new author in terms of publication, but not new to writing itself. I have been writing for more than twenty five years now. However, most of that time I often felt like a 'lone wolf'. I continued to clack away - in the early years on my mother's old typewriter - until I finally entered the 'new era' of computers back in about 1995. What a Godsend not to have to white out each mistake, or even worse, have to type the whole section over again from start to finish. In many ways the comparison can be made to the quill pen and the printing press. Oh, how far we have come!

However, it wasn't until I made the transition into publication that I realized the whole other world available to writers through networking and blogging. This was a real eye opener for me. I guess I was so busy in my own little world of writing that I neglected to connect with all the other people out there who were just like me - compulsive scribblers, aspiring authors, and people of faith with a message to share. Previous to the release of my first novel, I often felt like an anomaly within my circle of colleagues, friends and acquaintances. I actually chose to hole myself up for hours, days, weeks on end - to WRITE! I have a funny story which I share on my personal blog about a time that my husband, myself, and two friends went on a fly-in fishing trip. I spent most of the time typing and had one of the best vacations ever.

So 'thank you' Inscribe, for the fellowship and encouragement that I have already gained through this group, and for the new friendships and opportunites I am sure are still in store.

If anyone would like to know more about me or my writing, you may want to go to my personal blog - Expression Express.  There you can see more about my book AND THE BEAT GOES ON - an archeological thriller which addresses the 'conspiracy' of evolutionary theory vs. creation, or stay tuned for my newest release MY MOTHER THE MAN EATER - coming soon. I'd love any new followers to join me.

When I'm not writing, I teach High School English, Art and Drama. My husband and I were in ministry for a number of years with PAOC (Pentecostal Assmblies of Canada) serving in several northern locations and we have moved all over western and northern Canada, including the NWT, Yukon, northern BC, Sask, and Churchill, MB. We have four grown children.

Blessings to all!

November 13, 2010

Remembering A Conscientious Objector - Stephen T. Berg

While the second world war blazed, my father farmed a patch of Saskatchewan soil. He was conscripted but found exemption by belonging to a recognized pacifist group. At his examination he also made the case that his farm would be an agricultural asset. By mid 1943 there was a conscription crisis—there were too few labourers, land was left unattended—and so he was able to stay on his farm and avoid being placed in an Alternative Service camp.

On these few points there is recollection within our family, on the rest of the story there is ambiguity. That’s probably because my father never made a thing about being a conscientious objector. Only his actions revealed his convictions; on the finer points, he was silent. There was no moralizing, no kitchen-table debates with phantom war mongers, no regimented training in nonviolence, and no banners hung from our house.

And yet, these many years later, I see how my father could have been a local embarrassment. Even on the most innocuous level, being a conscientious objector is like volunteering to be the skinny kid on a Charles Atlas beach. On the other end of the scale, CO’s are seen as traitors to cause and country. After the first world war the Canadian government, pressed by public opinion, rescinded the privileges of an 1873 Order in Council and barred entry to Mennonite immigrants. It was successfully repealed a few years later, but the passions that surround war,  specifically the second world war, again made ripe the possibility of targeted persecution.

I don’t know how those days unfolded for my father, and I don’t know how he felt or what his thoughts were in the middle of the night. What I’m awake to today is that conscientious objectors do not, and did not, take the path of least resistance. Often bearing social outcast status, they took on roles of noncombatant military service, from serving on medical wards to gathering the injured from the front lines. Some were asked, or were enlisted, for medical experiments, some volunteered for prolonged starvation in order to study its effect and apply the knowledge gained to help POW's. The more fortunate ones, like my father, were allowed to stay where they were and work.

All this has settled in upon me and my many years of adherence to "just war" theory in an unexpected way; like some epigenetic trigger pulled, like the apple not falling far from the tree, I’ve been slowly encircled by the notion that the fundamental evil of violence can only be met by nonviolence; that nonviolence is not an addendum to Christianity, but is at the heart; that the life and the death of Jesus exposes the myth of redemptive violence. I have come to see that not only the theology, but the anthropology of the cross, is this: that peace through blood shed is not merely temporary, but finally a lie.

I do not have the strength of my father. But I do hope to embrace his example—that it is possible to have the quiet dexterity of heart and mind to compassionately remember the war dead, without in any way honouring and legitimizing war.

November 12, 2010

We remember - Nesdoly

Yesterday was the day we paused and remembered the soldiers who have fought and fallen in war. It's no longer just old soldiers we think of -- the ones who fought in World Wars I, II, and the Korean War -- but also young men and women killed recently in Afghanistan (152 since 2002). We ache for their grieving families.

I put together a slide show to commemorate Remembrance Day. It includes photos from celebrations we have attended, as well as murals and cenotaphs in places we have visited.

This poem snippet (also painted on one of the murals) speaks poignantly of the memories of these heroes:
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them"
From "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon

(hover mouse over bottom of photo to view the caption and to pause scrolling)

First published November 11, 2010 on promptings.
- By Violet Nesdoly