February 28, 2014

An Open Letter to Karl Bartos - Bruce Atchison

Dear Karl Bartos:

I love your new Off The Record CD. What a great album! When I heard your "Tuning the World" song, I felt compelled to write this letter and explain in it why some people believe in God while others can't.

The reason is simple. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, the entire human race became infected with the sin virus. God so loved humanity that he sent Christ to become one of us. Because he lived a perfect life, he was able to give himself as a ransom in our place so that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

So what stops people from easily accepting such a wonderful offer? We were all born separated from God by this sin virus. Surrendering ourselves to the rulership of Jesus is the only way through which we can access his gift of eternal life in heaven.

People also don't want the light of the truth to shine on them because their deeds are wicked. We humans are born with a desire to rebel against God. Only by surrendering to Christ's will saves people from the quarantine dimension which the Bible calls hell. As the Apostle Paul pointed out in his letter to the church in Ephesus:

And to you did he give life, when you were dead through your wrongdoing and sins,  In  which you were living in the past, after the ways of this  present world, doing the pleasure of the lord of the power of the air, the spirit who is now working in those who go against the purpose of God;  Among whom we all at one time were living in the pleasures of our flesh, giving way to the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and the punishment  of God was waiting for us even as for the rest. But God, being full of mercy, through the great love which he had for us, Even when we were dead  through our sins, gave us life together with Christ (by grace you have salvation), So that we came back from death with him, and are seated with  him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus.

You also sang about wondering why we are here. This planet is the testing ground. God is calling people to change direction 180 degrees and obey him rather than the Devil. From the first rebellious act we committed as children, we face the punishment of being banished from his goodness.

If you really want to build your spiritual house on solid ground, place your trust in Christ and his generous offer of salvation. It's a binary decision we all must make before the cut-off point of death. Please choose life that you may live eternally in God's loving care.

Bruce Atchison is a legally-blind freelance writer and the author of three memoirs. He lives in a tiny Alberta hamlet with his house rabbit, Deborah.

Twitter handle: @ve6xtc

February 27, 2014

Dear God... by Ruth Sakstad

Dear God,

Thank you for your love that displays itself in so many different ways to me.

Thank you for your love that is patient with me even when I am not always patient with you or myself.

Thank you for your loving-kindness that you shower on me. Your loving-kindness is better than life itself. It is because of your loving-kindness I am your child.

Thank you for the protection your love provides me. I am glad that you protect me from myself and the enemy.

Thank you for the trust you have placed in me to carry your Word and truth to a lost and untrusting world.

Thank you for the hope your love instills in me. Your hope does not make me ashamed.

Thank you that your love perseveres and never fails through the ups and downs of my everyday life.

Thank you that your love never gives up on me even when I make mistakes or give up on myself.

Thank you that your love will guide me throughout my life and that you will never let me down. You are a great and wonderful God and I praise you for that.

Thank you that you are a God of love and everything that entails.

I love you God.

Love because of Jesus,


February 25, 2014

Two Hearts--Two Paths--One God by Vickie Stam

Psalm 31:7 "I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my heart."

For nearly five years, 1127 miles separates us. I prefer to think about it in hours rather than miles; making it seem as if our worlds are not really that far apart. It's almost 18 hours by car which is less than an entire day and far less if I travel by plane; something I'm not overly fond of. None the less, it's comforting to know that a flight from Toronto, Ontario to Charlottetown, PEI is quick. In as little as two hours my feet are beating a path to embrace the sister I miss.

The moment she uttered the words, "I'm moving to the Island" her departure began to unfold. Once again I could see myself clinging to her in front of the door to my kindergarten class, a hysterical 5 year old pleading with her sister, "Karen.....don't leave me!" The loud shrill sent her running faster than a freight train. The back of her head faded among her 12 year old peers within seconds. I didn't have the privilege of witnessing the horror on her face as she took great strides to rid herself of the undesirable task in getting me to school.

Still, this wasn't the first time she announced her decision to move and it always came on the heels of one of her summer visits to Prince Edward Island. I hoped the familiar chatter would once again prove nothing more than wishful thinking, a dream really.

But the sincerity in her voice and the weight of her words washed over me with such conviction I felt an alarming sense of victory already.

"You say that every time...." I hissed in a desperate attempt to extinguish her jubilation. How could she leave me? What would I do without her? Deep down I could feel her much deserved well wishes clawing at the back of my throat; trapped inside the self-centerdness that seemed to swallow me in that moment.

Much to my dismay PEI became real. An unthinkable expanse divided us. I imagined her standing barefoot on the beach, her dark eyes spellbound, her short brown hair tucked neatly behind one ear, her lips curved. What did she see as she gazed across God's mighty water? Was it the waves that beckoned my sister, stealing her focus away from the steel town we grew up in or was it the thrill of digging her toes into the flamboyant red sand? Whatever it was, she was no longer a short drive away.

I silently prayed, "Lord, may our bond remain strong and put your hedge of protection around her....around us." And I was reminded of a verse in Joshua that reads,

"Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! Remember the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Oh me of little faith, how soon I had forgotten his promise, never to leave me...leave us. I penned the verse inside a card, sealed the envelope and dropped it in the mailbox. God's amazing hand of love reached down to quiet the storm that ruled inside my heart.

"Be still and know that I am God."

My sister's moving posed a tremendous challenge for me. Blessed with opportunities to catch a glimpse of her new life has made it easier to understand what drew her to the place she now calls home. Even though I miss her nearness I'm grateful she's happy on the Island. God's love is good! He knit us together. Sisters-two hearts-two paths-trusting in Him.

How has God's love been revealed in your life?  

February 24, 2014

Valentine's Prayers for My Children by Lynn Dove

I believe in the power of what I call "Valentine's Prayers" for each of my children. Praying they would one day find their lifetime Valentine just like I found mine thirty-five years ago!

From the day my children were born, I began praying for their future spouses. Some may call it odd to be praying for two boys and one girl, whom I had never met, nor would likely meet until my two daughters and my son introduced the "love of their life" to me for the first time. The thing is, if I believe that God has mapped out a plan for my three children and if it is His purpose to see them married, I believe He has also chosen a perfect spouse for each of them.

I know that we live in a culture where there seems to be a tension between what God's plan is and our "choices" and I will admit that when my kids started bringing home their friends and I met prospective "dates", I wasn't sure if God's plan and their choice meshed. Still, I prayed that if God was directing their steps, He would also eventually lead them to the "right" one.

By God's design, when my oldest daughter was in university, she started dating a six foot seven young man who had (and still has) the healthiest appetite we had ever seen. He was not a Christian and that concerned me greatly. I questioned God's plan and wondered why my prayer for a Godly spouse for her seemed to go awry. I needn't have feared...

My daughter knew she could not continue a relationship with a non-Christian and urged him to attend Alpha classes with her and weeks later he accepted the Lord. In their ten years of marriage, my tall son-in-law has attended seminary and attained a Bachelor of Christian Ministry and is serving the Lord as a licensed Biblical Counsellor. My daughter and he are Godly parents to my two grandbabies and I praise God for the boy I prayed for when my daughter was only days old.

My son, started attending a Christian school in Grade eight and a few days later I was introduced to his new friend, a sweet girl with a wide smile and a mouth full of braces. Their friendship grew through high school and into university and we praise God that we will be blessed to welcome a new daughter-in-law into our family on August 10th, 2014. She is a girl who loves God with all her heart, mind, soul and strength and who loves my son. She is the answer to my prayers for my son while I rocked him in my arms as a baby.

My youngest daughter has been dating a young man for the past year. He has a warm smile, a hearty laugh and treats our girl with respect. He is showing some interest in learning about God, and I pray one day he will place his full trust and faith in Him. It is, after all, a prayer I have prayed for each of my children from the time they were infants, for all their friends, and for their future spouses. I have no doubt if my daughter is allowing God to direct her steps (Proverbs 16:9), my Valentine's Prayers for her will also be answered!

Readers may connect with Lynn via her Journey Thoughts blog: http://lynndove.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @LynnIDove

February 23, 2014

The Help by Terrie Lynne

Lately I've been thinking about a movie I watched with my daughter about a year ago titled, The Help.  

It's loosely based around two African American women who work as maids for white families during the Civil Rights era in the 1960s. If you go to Wikipedia  you can read a little write up about the movie content. If you haven't seen the movie I highly recommend it.

One of the maids, or as they were referred to in the movie as the help, was named Aberdeen Clark. One of her duties was to take care of a little girl around 3 years old. Every day Aberdeen would speak in her broken English these encouraging words of affirmation over the little girl, "You's kind, you's smart, you's important!"

Our eyes filled with tears and our hearts were deeply touched when we watched that scene. I felt as if it was what I call a "God Moment".  Like a blessing being spoken over that little girl!

 It's such a powerful reminder of the power of words, both good and bad. I've heard it said that when one negative or discouraging word has been spoken to a person it takes up to seven positive or encouraging words to counteract the negative affect in our mind and heart.  I believe the scriptures do refer to the fact that words have power for good or for evil.

I believe the Bible also refers to the  Holy Spirit as " The Helper", the one that wants to come along beside us. He wants to  speak words of encouragement and affirmation into our hearts. Words like, you're kind, you're smart, you're important!

 I hope I can reflect "the helper" that lives inside me when I speak the words,  "you's kind, you's smart, you's important, to a lost and hurting world around me that so desperately needs to hear these healing and encouraging words!

I hope you have been blessed and encouraged too!
Amen. Let it be so!

February 22, 2014

Love, Actually - by Susan Barclay

I've been trying to pre-write my blog posts on the weekends so I can concentrate on other writing during the week. Last week's (personal blog) pieces on all things love - food, books, Scripture, the ideal day and relationship, were all penned before I had any idea what the week would bring.

When I created the title for this post, I thought I'd be telling you how my Valentine's Day had really gone - what we ate for dinner and what actually happened with respect to the items on my list.

Little did I know.

What a difference a few days can make in a person's life. Things started changing Tuesday night and by late Wednesday afternoon we were in the midst of a whole new 'ballgame'. I have to remain mysterious for now because it's not just my story, but I believe I know why God was calling me to trust Him more this year. He wanted me to be ready for what He was about to introduce.

We have lots of ideas about what love should look like - flowers, chocolates, dinners at fancy restaurants, etc. - but real love happens where the rubber meets the road. That Scripture verse I posted last week was the most essential piece 'I' wrote. Quoting from the latter portion of I Corinthians 13:

4 Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or 5 rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. 6 Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. 7 Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. 8 Love never fails!

God has given me a chance to show kindness, self-sacrifice and support to someone who needs to experience these things right now. He is trusting me to pour out His love. At times I feel unworthy; I don't want to mess up. I want to do well. 'Are you sure, God? Are you really putting this opportunity in my hands?'

His answer is a definite 'yes'. And I am excited to see where this journey will lead - not just for me but for the individual He's brought into my sphere and for everyone who's part of the story.


This was posted on my personal blog earlier this week. For more of my writing visit www.susan-barclay.ca

February 21, 2014

What's Love got to do with it? February is Apple Month ... By Jocelyn Faire

Sometimes my quirky sense of humour gets the best of me ... Life is too short to take things too seriously. I wanted to write well on the theme of love, but the line “What's love got to do with it?” kept popping into my head.

February has been seen as the “Love” month for as long as I can remember. But my curiosity wondered why the Co-op store in my Manitoba hometown also had Feb as Apple month. Why would you highlight wrinkling apples after five months in cold storage? While trying to find out if the fruits were still featured, I checked out a website for National Awareness Themes, and Love did not officially make it on the February list, although it appears to be an American based list. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation promotes Feb as heart awareness month. Home base for love is the heart, although it may not be the literal pumping muscular organ. One disturbing statistic I found on the Heart and Stroke website is that:

“Every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke” (Statistics Canada, 2011c).
Although love covers a multitude of sins (isn't that scriptural?) it may not clean out your arteries. So if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, perhaps a hug a day, may keep the love flowing. It is sad to me that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death. Don't you wonder how that statistic would translate for the spiritual heart?

My wish is that I will Live every day of my life, not merely be alive. And loving is a healthy exercise for the heart.

If your curiosity is piqued read the themes for the month of Feb. While we are inundated with things we need to be aware of, thank goodness you don't have to try to remember any of these monthly themes.

So “What's love got to do with it?”

Everything, “the earth is full of his unfailing love.” Ps 33:5 NIV.
Lukewarmness I account a sin, as great in love as in religion. Abraham Cowley

February is known as:
While running late may not qualify for cardio, showing love after Valentine's Day is good for the heart.

February 20, 2014

Broken Hearts by Brenda J Wood

We glamorize Valentine’s Day, pretending that everyone loves it, but do they? Lots of people don’t have a sweetheart or even a good friend to share the day with. Many a heart is broken from loss or loneliness. Why even God has been through that.

God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6, MSG)

If you are one of the disillusioned on February 14th, remember you are not alone. Why not send a card to another lonely soul and remind them that whether or not a ‘special’ sweetheart ever appears, somebody even more important loves you!

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. (1 John 3:1a, MSG)

Prayer: Father God, we thank you for loving us in spite of your own broken heart. Amen

Brenda J Wood

February 19, 2014

Love Talks by Linda Aleta Tame

Imagine having the ability to understand all mysteries.  Wouldn't that be incredible?  Or having all knowledge or faith to move mountains?  Amazing!  But without love, it says in 1 Corinthians 13, I am nothing.  That gives us a pretty good picture of how powerful love is.  God is love after all.

I can think of few events that compare to the loving conversations I've shared with family and friends.  These love talks  have powerfully affected my life, changed my world view, opened the doors to many opportunities, and simply given me direction.  Oh I could tell so many stories, but I'll just share one that involved my mom.

I was seventeen and a brand new single parent.  My darling little daughter had been soundly sleeping in her make-shift crib, a dresser drawer.  She stirred quietly, and I confidently got her up to feed.  I knew what I was doing, I'd done it for five days already in the hospital.  But unlike the nights in the hospital, she didn't immediately go back to sleep, and there were no nurses to take her to the nursery if she didn't.  I was overwhelmed with a grave sense of inadequacy.  It was a heavy blanket smothering me.  A deep sadness rose in me.  Had I made the right choice?  Maybe I would be a terrible mom.

I called for my mom across the hall.  "Mom, if you just help me this one night, I promise I'll never ask again," a promise I never kept.  Knowingly, Mom offered her arms for the squealing pink bundle.  Once little Robin was settled, Mom asked if we could have a little talk.

"Honey, I will always help you as much as I can, but I want you to know something.   You are going to be a wonderful mom.  You are strong and able, but that's not the most important part."

I didn't feel strong or able at all.  I was terrified of what I'd done.  I had even argued with social services, who thought it best for me to give my baby up for adoption, and now I wondered if maybe they were right.

"You will always have your whole family behind you, dear.  Remember that when you feel overwhelmed.  But most of all, remember how much you're loved, and how much you love your precious little daughter.  Love makes it all possible.  You can do this, and I know you can do it well."

Oh my dear sweet mother.  Her words went right into my soul.  She knew me better than anyone else in the world, and she thought I could do it.   My daughter now has six of her own children.  She's a marvelous wife, mother and a genuine, loving woman.  In spite of whatever mothering inadequacies I might have had, there was never any shortage of love.

Robin Shanda

My mother's little love talk sent me on my way to the responsibilities of being a mom.  It gave me the courage and confidence to overcome the difficulties of parenthood, and to fully cherish the beauty of my daughter and later four sons.

Life is about loving.  Love is the greatest of all things. God is love after all.

God is Love  

1 John 4:8

Photo credit :  Hubble Space Telescope Website

February 18, 2014

Love Talks by Dayne E. Mazzuca

Better to say something to the few than nothing to the many

The temptation is to speak to a crowd. People blessed with the gift of the gab (however you package, prime it, or present it nowadays) love a crowd. Of listeners. They don’t like noisy crowds full of elbows and meaningless banter. They love a quietly poised audience, attentive to what might come next. Or… a quietly seated reader anticipating the page turn. 

This is a good thing. Writing. Being heard. Talking. Being heard. Thinking out loud, creating, pondering, inventing. And being heard.

In the Digital Age this becomes more complicated, with its high noise level and permanent crowd presence. The temptation is to speak, even if we have nothing to say. We want to be heard by the many, not the few. We want followers and reposts and hits. We want to go viral.

But going viral is a very different thing than really being heard.

When love talks, it needs to be heard. This means talking to the few, ideally one.

One lone person attentive to our words. This is love in action. This is what we need. We do not need to go viral, or become a best seller (although nothing against success!). If 1,000 people hear, it makes us feel good. But if one single person really hears, it will change both of us, the listener and the speaker/writer, because there’s a genuine life-giving exchange. There’s immediate feedback. We know we’ve been heard and accepted and that we matter. This is life-changing. We walk a little taller and feel stronger, more connected, more loved.

But to tone it down; to write only one letter to a dear friend or relative; to speak meaningful words up close to someone we care about, this is challenging for natural-born communicators such as we are. We can handle rejection when it’s large-scale, impersonal or even professionally delivered. But when we speak the language of love in an intimate setting or tone, and we are not heard… we recoil and retreat and eventually retaliate. It’s not good.

But love is not soft. It is strong and brave and whole. And it can take a risk. It can speak up and say what is on its heart. It can, in fact, change the whole world. If we speak to one person at a time, or to the many recognizing that no matter how big the crowd, or how high the readship stats, they are still people. Individuals who matter, and souls who thrive on listening well and receiving love as if they were the only person who mattered.

Theologically, this is one of the most exciting things about being a Christian. God speaks to us as if we were the only one who mattered. He takes the time. His words are intimate and personal. He is patient and tender; and uncompromising. He is love.

Learning the value of having something to say to the few rather than saying nothing to the many is important as Christian writers, if for no other reason than it mirrors the mystery of our very own relationship with the living God. And that’s gotta make a difference. To someone.

February 17, 2014

God's Many Faceted Love by Bryan Norford

Creation reflects the nature of God. Its varied splendour, its abundance, its joyful activities, and predominantly its faithful and loving relationships. That is a measure of God’s love for all humanity.

Of course, since Eden, humankind has been able to mess it up and introduce characteristics that are contrary to the nature of God, destabilizing the good earth, destroying its abundance, and turning joy into misery.

Even so, God provided a strategy that enables us to rediscover the missing joy we crave: He set out the Law—too often maligned by Christians and hated by those opposed to Him.

The Law was not an arbitrary set of rules to kill our joy—as many assume—but like creation, a further reflection of His nature; guidelines to a less natural, but temporary, refurbishing of His image formed in us at creation but lost at the fall.

The Ten Commandments summarize the components of love. Even Jesus summed up the Law as loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbour as we care for ourselves.

If we love God, we will not place other gods or goals before Him. If we love our neighbour, we will not kill him, steal from him, or covet his wife or anything else he has.

In fact, it was at the giving of the Law that God revealed His nature. As God set out a law that contained the ingredients of love, He also indicated the values by which He would apply that law: with compassion, grace, patience, love, faithfulness, forgiveness and justice. Exodus 34:6–7.

We humans recognize these characteristics because God has shared them as part of His image in us. Distorted though they are, as we express our love to one another with those values, we show evidence of our transformation to Christlikeness.

Does this sound like the love of a valentine? It should. For this is the standard of love God has set. Anything less is a thin veneer of self-serving affection posing as the real thing.

And that fullest expression of love: compassion, grace, patience, love, faithfulness, forgiveness and justice, should show first in our closest relationships, to our wives, husbands, and children, and then to the wider community.

Find God's direction in the Norfords’ marriage devotional, Happy Together, available in paperback or kindle from Amazon. 

February 16, 2014

I Felt the Love Tonight by Shirley Williams

We're pleased to have Shirley Williams from Barrhead, AB share today as our Guest Blogger.

I really love my church family! We’d never make it without Jesus to guide us together through life’s trials. Sometimes we all struggle accepting trials and their friends called pain and suffering. We may not be aware that trials produce spiritual character growth through cleansing, insightful and maturing experiences, that can’t be duplicated through carefree untested times. It seems that through the trials of His children, God performs His greatest works!

Joseph of the bible is a good example. He suffered many years of trials (beginning through his family), and ended up saving Egypt and the known world at the time! Through God’s almighty, merciful hand, he “Saved Many People Alive!” After Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, he told them: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good!” Only someone who had endured great trials and their blessings could say something like that! Joseph’s story is a beautiful reflection of undeserved redemption and hope, through obedience, faith and love. A foreshadowing of God’s great mercy and forgiveness to all mankind, through our Savior Jesus Christ.

Joseph’s story came to mind tonight as I pondered my recent trials, through caregiving for two family members. It has become so demanding, that my own life is at a standstill, as I bounce between them every day. Today was almost unbearable. By the afternoon, I was crying and not able to withstand the load any more.

As we joined our bible study group tonight, I hoped that ‘I could keep it all together!’ The actual reverse happened. When we began singing at the beginning of our meeting, the comforting songs of God’s love swept me away. Before I knew it, I began choking up as a flood of tears began to well up inside. God’s great love began to surround and comfort me at the end of a very long and tedious day. Fighting the tears back, I dismissed myself to the nearby washroom. I sat in a cubicle and leaned on the wall, where I sobbed for a seemingly long time.

Between my sobs, I heard our friends’ angelic voices singing hymns of faith that consoled my aching soul. I remembered that through their trials, they fully trusted God. They are truly loving and wise Godly examples, whom we dearly treasure! Tonight, they all seemed so ‘normal’ and things were not ‘falling apart’ for them. I was happy for them. “I Felt the Love Tonight”, as I listened to their beautiful voices, singing hymns of faith; I understood more clearly of God’s love, hope, wisdom, and assurance.

Caregiving stress drove me to a fragile, humbled state where I needed to be alone, collapse and let myself go, and let go of myself. I wept like a child in the church washroom tonight, while God held me up through the singing of faithful friends. As the tears flowed, so did a flood of memories, as I mourned the loss and changes in my parents during their strong and healthy farming years. I longed for those childlike days of less responsibility and I pondered the brevity of life. Suddenly I realized how fully God was the parent to me now. Jesus comforted and hugged my overwhelmed soul when I needed it the most and “I Felt the Love Tonight!”

As Joseph triumphed through his trials with God saying “God had meant it for good”, may I have the same perspective as I go through my own unique trials in life!” (PTL!). Romans 8:28

Written on January 24, 2014

February 15, 2014

Love is Bigger than Romance - Tracy Krauss

Valentine's Day came and went yesterday and if it wasn't for my romance loving spouse, I probably wouldn't have noticed. (Except for the RED HEARTS, chocolate, and all the other commercial reminders in every store.) Here is the crazy thing about it. I am actually NOT  a very romantic person. My husband readily admits he is the romantic in our union and our children laugh at us because I am always the one balking at 'too much sappy-ness'. He loves all that mushy stuff.

My rule: No PDAs! Gerald's rule: Ignore Tracy and constantly embarrass her in front of others with Public Displays of Affection. I can just hear one of my kids saying, "Come on, Mom. Snuggle up with Dad on the couch and watch a romantic movie."  Sigh. (My movie choice is a twisted paranormal or Sci-fi flick.)

I write romance novels. And I read a fair number of them, too, usually for review. Okay, and I watch (and enjoy) a good romantic comedy when my husband twists my arm... probably not that much twisting involved, although I like to make a lot of noise and roll my eyes.

If I am truthful, I actually AM a romantic at heart. I've just had a lot of practice pretending not to be. I think I'm finally coming out of the closet. You see, my husband knows me better than I know myself. He knows that I actually love it when he brings me flowers or when he constantly says nice things. (I know some of you are finding it hard to believe that too many compliments can get irritating...) He ignores my rolling eyes and cries of 'Sappy!" or 'Lame!" and smiles, continuing to lavish me with such ridiculous shows of affection. AND I LOVE HIM FOR IT. 

I thank God everyday that He put me with a man who loves me and doesn't mind telling me (or the world) that this is so. Despite my whining, how horrible it would be to be stuck in a marriage yearning for affection. I know this is the case for many once the honeymoon phase has passed. Perhaps this is why I find it easy to write romance novels and believe in that kind of love - the kind where the hero only has eyes for his lady; the kind that lasts for more than thirty years. (We're on our thirty-first year of marriage and thirty-fourth year together.)

God knows best. He knew I probably had self esteem issues (who doesn't?) and needed a man who would relentlessly romance me despite myself. My husband isn't perfect, but he is perfect FOR ME and I thank God for putting two unlikely people like us together.

Lest you think I am totally heartless, I will direct hubs to read this post once he gets home from work. Oh - and I've given in to the PDA thing. A waitress asked us once if we were newly weds. We just looked at each other and laughed. My husband's answer: "She's still my beautiful bride."

Tracy Krauss lives with her oh-so-romantic husband Gerald in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC. For more visit her website: http://tracykrauss.com

February 14, 2014

Enough Love for the Day by Pamela Mytroen

Carissa’s jaw dropped as she sat before the computer for their monthly online meeting.  Leslie was at it again, jabbing Carissa with little poisonous darts, trying to bring her down.

 “I’ve talked with several of you,” said Leslie, “and we all agree that management should conduct a review on Carissa’s marketing initiatives. I’m sure it’s all good.”  She brushed her bangs from her eyes. “But her accounts are not moving forward.”

Carissa felt her face flush. “We’re in sales right now. A review will mean costly downtime. We could lose clients.”

“But I’ve heard rumours,” argued Leslie. “Customers are talking.” 

The line was quiet, and of the faces she could see online, most averted their eyes.

“I’m trying new ideas,” suggested Carissa quietly. “We just need to give it some time before we evaluate.”

“I’ll line up a review committee,” said her supervisor. “Thanks for your input, Leslie.”

Carissa felt like stabbing Leslie. If there were indeed rumours, they were the ones Leslie had started. This wasn’t the first time. Maybe she was jealous of the attention Carissa’s marketing campaigns were gaining. The tall bony girl had swaying powers and the naive ear of the supervisor.

She couldn’t fall asleep that night. What would she say the next day? She knew she needed to forgive Leslie. Like that was ever going to happen.

While starting her car the next morning Carissa finally surrendered a prayer. “Lord, help me love Leslie. I can’t do it in my own. P.S. I don’t want to love her.”

A series of red lights dragged Carissa’s mood down.  She slapped the wheel. On her right was a “Bean There” drive-thru espresso and cappuccino bar. A new thought  splashed into her burning heart like cooling rain.

Carissa made a right turn, joined the caffeine-desperate line-up, and ordered the plain black espresso Leslie raved about. Hope warmed her when she set the steaming beverage in the cup-holder.

When Carissa walked into the office, the chatting died. Several co-workers gathered around Leslie’s desk dropped their heads or looked away.  

 “Bean There”? You starting something new Carissa?” asked Leslie, with a sugary smile.  

Carissa took a deep breath. “Yeah, as a matter of fact, I am.” She gave the steaming coffee to Leslie. “For you.”

Leslie’s eye-brows shot up. She shrugged at the other girls. “My favourite,” she said, removing the lid.   

Carissa bit her lip to stop a gush of tears. “Have a good day, Les.” She felt several eyes on her as she walked to her cubicle. But she also noticed the lightness in her step. Forgiveness had washed away the anger. She looked back at Leslie, sipping her coffee, alone. She wasn’t expecting miracles. Leslie would probably throw another dart her way, but for now she was grateful. God had filled her with more than enough love for today.
by Pamela Mytroen

February 13, 2014

Praise The Lord! By T.L. Wiens

Last year I watched my second oldest brother go from a vibrant talented man to a shadow of his former self. Doctors did tests. The final diagnosis-a heart condition with no treatment. No chance of survival.

Last week, my brother returned to the doctor. They did more tests. This time his heart was fine. No sign of the issues that had my brother so weak he couldn't walk across a room.

I saw my brother on the stage playing his guitar, his voice once again strong enough to perform, singing God's praises.

I know this isn't specifically writing related but please join me as my family and I bow our heads and hearts in praise and adoration for Jesus Christ, Lord, Saviour, Healer!

February 12, 2014

Actions Speak Louder than Words by Lorrie Orr

“You love it,” said Miss Patty with emphasis. “Does that mean that you really love it? Or that you merely like the looks of it? The girls nowadays indulge in such exaggerated statements that one never can tell what they do mean. It wasn’t so in my young days. Then a girl did not say she loved turnips, in just the same tone as she might have said she loved her mother or her Savior.” ~  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island                                                                              

No other word is quite like love. Synonyms fall short. Used as a noun and as a verb, the word conveys everything from the way I feel about chocolate (dark, please) to the overwhelming emotional attachment I have to my husband, my children, and my parents. Tone of voice can convey differences in meaning when I say the words “I love…,” however those differences are more difficult to distinguish when I write them.

Writing about love requires attention to the writer’s adage of “show, don’t tell.” Gestures and actions speak loudly in the written form, conveying depths and variations of emotion. Two examples follow:
1. I sat in the humid clinic waiting room with my sick child. The hum of Spanish voices rose and fell. Across the room, a young Shuar mother sat silent, holding her baby in her lap. Her face reflected no emotion, but as I watched, she looked down at the little one, cupped one hand around the back of his small head and with the other, gently brushed his hair off his forehead. “Ah,” I thought, “she loves him just as I love my own child.”
2. “Of course I love you,” she said, her eyes darting to the door. “I have to go, can we discuss this later?” She shrugged into her coat, grabbed her purse and left.
Actions, gestures, and attitudes reflect the degree of love. Without them, the words, “I love you” echo hollow.  

The ultimate gesture of love is provided for us by God, who is Love. All other love pales in comparison. When God says, “I love you,” to me, he’s not just mouthing words. Over and over he shows his love for me, in enormous ways, from the gift of his son, Jesus Christ, to pay for my sin, to the minute details of my life. He wants me to know, to feel, to live his love.

When do I sense God’s love for me? What are the moments when I experience the grace and love of God pouring over me and I feel utterly loved and fulfilled?
* When I’m together with my family. When we sit around the table, eating together, laughing, talking. Watching the little ones. A granddaughter cuddling against my shoulder. Playing games together. Sitting in front of the fire just watching them. I’m overcome with love for my family and with the sense of the love I’ve received from God.

* When I’m in the garden, the warm sun on my back, my hands in the dirt, planting, weeding, coaxing plants to grow straight, marveling in the potential of each tiny seed.

* On star-filled nights when I look up at the sky and try to grasp that the God who created all of these wonders loves me intensely.
God shows his love to me in so many ways. So I love him back. He loved me first, then I loved him. What are the gestures of love in my life that show him that I love him? Obedience, showing grace and mercy to others, spending time talking with him – when it comes to love, actions definitely speak much louder than words.

February 11, 2014

Heart Talk by Connie Inglis

Have you ever done a word study on "love" or "heart" to help expand your writing? I'm sure you have if you've written about any kind of personal relationships. Today I'd like to share a book with you, one which I'm thinking none of you have ever heard of.

When our family moved to Thailand to work with minority language groups, my husband and I were introduced to a book by Christopher G. Moore called, Heart Talk. This book is like no other on the study of the word, *jai 'heart' in the Thai language. It is a fascinating read for anyone doing any kind of cross-cultural writing because it provides insight not only into "love" emotions but into most of the emotions expressed by Thai people.

In this book there are over 700  jai words/phrases that the Thai people know and use constantly. Whether it's talking about positive emotions or negative emotions, good character traits or bad character traits, right choices or wrong choices, the word or phrase usually includes jai. It is no wonder the author calls it, "the central metaphor in the Thai language."

Let me share a few of these "heart" words to help you understand how differently the Thai view life. There are some words that cross over culturally such as jai-yai 'heart big' in referring to a generous person, or jai-sing 'heart lion' in referring to a courageous person. However, there are many that are surprising and sometimes even opposite of how westerners think. For example, jai-nooy 'heart small' doesn't mean a stingy person. It is referring to someone who is highly sensitive emotionally, who is easily hurt or offended by others. Kin-jai 'eat heart' is a verb meaning, "to impress" in a good way; Or, jai-phra 'heart monk' referring to a person who is extremely compassionate and forgiving; Or naam-jai 'water heart' referring to someone who takes into account another person's feelings. This last one could be translated to mean empathy or sympathy in English but in Thai there are two totally different jai words for those feelings. Are you getting the picture?

But I must mention one of the most used jai words: kreeng-jai 'awe heart'--a word that is almost untranslatable into English. Moore calls it, "the heart of hearts of the Thai culture and class system.":

"The phrase reflects a rich brew of feelings and emotions--a mingling of reverence, respect, deference, homage and fear--which every Thai person feels toward someone who is their senior, boss, teacher, mother and father, or those in powerful position such as a high-ranking police officer."

It takes the author 1 1/2 pages to define this type of patron/client cultural system and even then he confesses that it goes so much deeper. Our western culture find this a difficult concept to grasp. Often we are more jai dii phii khaw 'good heart, ghost enters'. Anyone care to guess what that means?

I focus on this book today as a challenge, to all of us. In a world that is becoming smaller every day, where we interact with other cultures on a daily basis, a book like this can help us see the world through different eyes and then help us write about love, about emotions, about relationships in a whole new way. And maybe it will help us show Jesus' love in a whole new way too.

*Unfortunately, due to computer incompatibility, I could not mark tone on the Thai words.