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


November 11, 2010

The Day Canadian Soldiers Freed My Country - Jack Popjes

 We are honoured to have Jack Popjes, our InScribe President, guest post for us today.

It’s called Memorial Day in Canada, Veterans Day in the USA, and Armed Forces Day in the UK. Today is the day we honour soldiers who fought to bring freedom to subjugated nations--both those who died and those who survived.

Every time I see an elderly veteran in his uniform, tears come to my eyes as I remember the day Canadian soldiers freed my country. Here is my story of that day. I wrote it many years ago and is included in my first book, but bears repeating in honour of those who gave their lives in war so that I and my countrymen might live in peace.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I squirmed and squeezed my thin seven-year-old body through the jostling crowd until I conquered a spot on the curb. The bright sunshine warmed my face, arms and bare knees as I squinted into the light. I clutched my little paper flag, the Dutch red, white and blue, ready to wave, ready to shout and ready to sing a welcome to our rescuers. It was Tuesday, May 8, 1945.

The approaching rumble of a column of Canadian army trucks started the crowd up the road cheering and singing. The noise grew louder until huge dull green trucks blocked out the sun. Shouting, laughing soldiers waved their machine guns from the backs of the trucks. The applause and cheers of the delirious crowd lining the street nearly drowned out the singing of Wilhelmus, the Dutch national anthem.

Young soldiers whistled at the tall blonde girl jumping up and down behind me. Her homemade rose petal perfume fought the stink of the diesel exhaust fumes and the stench of close-pressed sweating bodies—bodies and clothing that had not been touched by soap for years. Camouflaged tanks grumbled past, pulling long-snouted artillery. Their thunderous booming had kept me awake for several nights. Now the cannons were sniffing the air, eager to rout the enemy from the next city.

The cheers died down suddenly as a column of prisoners of war in grey-green uniforms shuffled past. The Luger pistol holsters flapped empty on their brown leather belts. They held their now-empty hands high, or fingers laced on top of their heads. Canadian soldiers, each with his machine gun at the ready, walked alongside them.

The crowd stood silently watching the infantry prisoners go by, but then began to boo and hiss as a small column of Gestapo officers came into view. Finally! No more strutting. No more haughty looks. No more death-dealing commands. Their once-feared black uniforms glistened with the slime of saliva as people rushed from the sidewalk to spit on them.

The last trucks in the parade rolled past. I cheered myself hoarse, and waved my little flag until a soldier snatched it out of my hand and waved it high as his truck rumbled on down the road. I tasted the salt of tears, not for the loss of the flag, but for the joy of knowing the peace-bringers had arrived and the enemy would never make me afraid again.

November 10, 2010

My Great-Uncle's Story - Bonnie Way

Every year when Remembrance Day approaches, I think of my great-uncle and tell myself that this year, I will get around to asking him for his story. He was the only one of six brothers who fought in World War II, serving somewhere in Italy—but that’s about all I know of the story. It is not something I’ve heard him speak about often, though I’m not sure if that’s a cultural or a personal reticence.

I’ve seen a plaque on his wall—put together by his artistic granddaughter, I think—that shows off some of his papers, medals, and memorabilia from the war. At one time, he handwrote four pages of notes for my younger brother, who was working on a project for his English class. My brother lost those notes. They were only the story in a nutshell, but they would have been a great starting place.

My great-uncle is ninety-nine this year, I believe, and still sharp as a spike. I saw him this summer, when I dropped in on my grandparents while he was there playing cards. He had no problem remembering me, though it had been a few years since I had seen him last, and I think he was walking himself back to his room at the lodge when he left.

Because of his age, I realize that time is running out if I want to tell his story. He and my grandpa are the only ones left of the six brothers. At the same time, a shyness holds me back. Despite the fact that he lives in the same town as my grandparents, I see my great-uncle only every few years. It’s hard to sit down with someone you don’t really know—even if they are family—or maybe especially if they are family—and say, “Hey, tell me about the time you fought in the war.”

Maybe this Christmas—with the skills I’ve learned in interviewing in Writing 100, some ideas from the other profile pieces we’ve studied, and a newfound confidence in my own writing abilities—I’ll find a time to sit down and chat with him, to ask him the questions that I’ve been wondering, to record his story not only for myself but for my daughters and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Who do you remember at this time of year? Whose story do you wish to tell? And what holds you back from remembering or telling?

~ © Bonnie Way

November 08, 2010

Selective Memory--Janet Sketchley

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” John 11:47-48, NIV*

This comes near the end of Jesus’ ministry. He’s been preaching, healing, restoring people who’ve been dead for short periods, and now He’s raised Lazarus after a four-day stay in the tomb.

Many of the people watching Him think the only way someone could do miracles like this is if God is involved. Others can’t get past their suspicions.

Then we have the chief priests and Pharisees. Yes, some are secretly impressed by Jesus, but the party line is clear: “denounce this itinerant preacher who dares rock our boat.”

They’ve recognized His claim to equality with God—and that’s a killing offense. They’ve also seen how the people love Him—and how he makes religious officialdom look bad. He doesn’t play by their rules, doesn’t buy into the monopoly they’ve built on holiness.

But there’s more: they’re afraid the brutal Roman empire will crush a perceived uprising. They’re not just scared for their cushy positions, they’re scared of their beloved nation being pasted again.

I don’t have much sympathy for their self-protection, but protecting their people sounds more noble.

They remembered the exiles, the military humiliations in the past. Now they’d achieved a form of peace under Rome, and they didn’t want anything to wreck it.

But they weren’t remembering back far enough.

What about the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt’s slavery? The God who brought them back from exile in Babylon?

Even the God who sent them into exile in the first place because they had turned away from following Him.

What if... the leaders believed Jesus was who His words and actions claimed? God come down to His chosen people?

I know it couldn’t have happened that way. He came to die, to sacrifice Himself to buy us back. To bring healing and eternal life.

But think about it... what if they’d recognized God in their midst? Remembered what He could do? Relied on Him to do it again?

The threat of Rome wouldn’t have seemed so overwhelming if they knew God was there: God who had defeated so many of their enemies, often at incredible odds. Running to Him would be much smarter than trying to kill him.

They remembered the pain, but they didn’t remember the hope.

Aren’t we the same?

© Janet Sketchley, 2010

* THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

November 06, 2010

Amanda - Glynis Belec

Sometimes I watch you.
I watch the way you look at your child, my grandchild.
I watch and wonder where the years have gone and how it is that you are now a mother.

Then I see the dependent, adoring way your child looks at you.
I remember when you used to look at me like that.
But time marches on
You, my once desperately, dependent daughter have become a fiercely
independent woman.
Did I teach you that?

We had our moments of conflict.
We faced joys and challenges together.
We overcame grief and sadness.
We triumphed.

I love spending time with you.
I appreciate when you ask me for advice.
It makes me feel valued and worthy.

Our relationship is special.
We are more than mother and daughter.
We have become friends.

November 05, 2010

Remembrance Day - Gwen Mathieu

Remembrance Day

A day set aside to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom; to remember those who endured extreme hardship in fighting for our freedom. Wilfred Harold Eugene Ostlund (Uncle Bill) was one of the young fellows who suffered hardship in fighting for our country. In 1940 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving overseas in World War II. On one of his expeditions his plane was shot down. He was the lone survivor of a crew of seven. He was taken as a prisoner of war for two years. He would not talk about his days as a POW. Following is a postcard he sent to my maternal grandmother. His dad passed away earlier:

“Sun April 24 – 1944 Dear Folks – out of Hospital & in with some 50 Eng & Can Fellows – fairly comfortable and a nice bunch – took in show last night sponsored by Can’s. This morning went to church – prisoner of war life is what you make it and lots to do if you have the initiative – am studying salesmanship from books an various other books – tomorrow we receive Can. Red Cross Food parcel. They all say Canadian parcels are the best – 3 cheers for Canada – am getting some lost weight back with an enormous appetite which of course is limited – Love Wilfred” His postcard was sent from Germany, examined by D.B.

Uncle Bill died at the age of 95. Although he had some dark days in his life, he was an overcomer. He had been blessed with a praying mother.

November 02, 2010

The Monuments of Remembrance By Marcia Lee Laycock

I picked up an old magazine in a doctor’s office yesterday. It was an anniversary issue, dated Sept 11, 2002. The magazine, a Canadian publication, was dedicated to the remembrance of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. What I found interesting was the slant the publication gave to almost every article. Each one detailed how remembering the tragedy strengthened those who had been there and the millions who had watched the attack on television.

One article outlined how a family of seven was remembering their dead father by planting a tree. Another covered the details of the ceremonies at ‘ground zero,’ and how the planning of the monument was helping the survivors take another step toward healing. A third article talked about the monuments of remembrance the United States has used to commemorate other tragedies, like Pearl Harbor and the attack in Oklahoma. Throughout each article the message was the same – remembering makes us stronger; remembering helps us heal.

We have known that for a long time. Every nation, every generation has erected its monuments, its symbols of remembrance of both victories and defeats. After the two world wars, Europe was dotted with them, and most have been maintained to this day. We can find them here too, in our own back yard - monuments to the dead, monuments set in stone so the generations to come will not forget. They stand as warnings and as tokens of honour and thanksgiving. We stand before them in solemn silence, and well we should.

Remembrance. Jesus used that word on the eve of what looked like a tragedy, as he served his disciples a simple meal of bread and wine. He used them as symbols, metaphors for his own body and blood which he knew would soon be broken and spilled out. Jesus told us to remember and we have. Our monument is an instrument of torture and death – the cross of Calvary. We use it as a symbol. We hang it on the walls of our churches and on chains around our necks. It is a universal symbol calling us to the remembrance of One who died for a purpose.

But there is another element to the cross. We need not stand in front of it in silence with sober faces. We ought to rejoice before it, because it not only symbolizes death, it signifies life. It not only portrays justice, it blazes mercy. It not only demonstrates wrath, it bleeds with compassion. The cross of Christ is a monument to the greatest victory in history. Jesus said – “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Remembrance heals. Remembrance strengthens. Remember Him.

See more of Marcia's writing on her website -