Friday, May 18, 2018

STEALING LILACS: A Tribute by Heidi McLaughlin

The first time it happened I was only four. “Mommy why are we stealing these lilacs?” “Do those pretty flowers belong to us?” I was bewildered as I watched my gentle mother on her tiptoes reaching and snapping the branches from the vintage purple lilac bush.  Soon her arms were filled with bunches of purple and the succulent aroma made her smile from ear to ear. I must have been mistaken, my quiet and tender mother would never do anything wrong.  Certainly not steal. Captivated by my mother’s joy I clung to her hand and bounced along as we headed back to our compact bungalow nestled in a small village in Germany.

World War Two left bomb shelters, broken dreams and poverty throughout Germany. Yes, the rubble was being transformed into its former beauty and culture, but families were still struggling to re-establish their former lifestyle. My young and innocent mother was confined to the bareness and poverty after a devastating war, and I knew she longed for beauty. We were very poor. There was no garden to grow fresh vegetables or soil for my mother to grow the Dahlias, Sweet Williams, pansies or carnations.  Her heart yearned to fill our home with vases filled with cut flowers of every shape, color and fragrance.


When we moved to Canada it felt like paradise to have our own vegetable garden and flowerbeds. Mother and I with our knees close together, poked holes in the soil and she showed me how to gently insert the tiny seeds and cover them just right. Soon our yard represented a painting of asters, dahlias and any flowers that survived the harsh winters and cooler summers of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Often, I saw mother heading outdoors with a pair of scissors to cut just the right combination of flowers that filled many of our crystal vases.  Finally, she had the freedom to unleash her inner desires and create a home filled with beauty, peace and fulfillment.

Over time I observed mother expressing and modeling beauty through various avenues. I was fascinated by the way she hung clothes out in the fresh air, laboriously and lovingly securing each item with the wooden cloth pegs. With perfection, she was able to iron and transform dried wrinkled messes into absolute perfection. For hours she was either on her knees or stooped over a buffing machine to wax and polish our floors until we could see our reflections. Somewhere in the house, there was always the aroma of a flower or the smell of freshly baked bread. She found it difficult to say, “I love you” but every day she reflected her love by creating images and fragrances that let us know we were the most important people in her life.


As the years passed I learned to appreciate and understand her quiet quest for peace and beauty. Now that I’m all grown up, I live in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Each spring the earth awakens with Saskatoon berry blossoms, forsythia bushes and daffodils. My joy erupts when I walk through the surrounding vineyards, and then along a fence where I find a particular purple lilac bush.  Its branches creep outside of its normal enclosure and I just happen to have a pair of scissors in my pocket. Without hesitation I snip off a few branches, carry them home and put them into a vase to watch them burst open in all their splendour.

Through strolls in the meadows my mother cultivated my heart to explore and enjoy the simple things in life. I am so grateful that she modeled how to infuse simplicity with beauty to create a beautiful loving home. My mother taught me well.
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at;, or her website:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Power of Remembering by SUSAN HARRIS

Remember His marvellous works that He hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of His mouth; Psalm 105:5 (KJV)

Remembering delicious wontons makes me believe
God will never let me go hungry

When we remember, when we think back on what the Lord has done, we are encouraged and our faith is strengthened. May we call to mind His goodness to us and to those whom we know. May He resurrect in our memories the miracles, small and great, that we have experienced or seen in the lives of others. As we recall the times when God guided our decisions and directed our plans, or looked at His unparalled works of creation, may we be inspired inspired to trust at a level that we’ve not ventured before. As we remember we are assured that the things that have not come to pass will yet be fulfilled.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Greetings From Entebbe, Uganda - HIRD

On Saturday, we flew ✈ to Entebbe Uganda πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¬where we will be spending the next three weeks on our Uganda & Rwanda mission trip, teaching on marriage & renewal. While in Entebbe, we stumbled upon the amazin Entebbe Botanical Gardens. 
Check out a YouTube clip about the Entebbe Botanical Gardens.
 Our first conference where we will be speaking daily is at Rwentobo, the site of the East African Revival that we have been teaching about from 1 John for the past four weeks at St Simon’s. The Healing for the Nations Convention, led by Canon Medad Birungi, had 25,000 people attend last May.
After the Ugandan Convention, we will spend the rest of the time with Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, the Chair of our Anglican Mission College of Consultors. You will remember how he adopted St Simon’s in 2004, describing what we had been through as spiritual genocide. He commented that when there is a burning house, you rescue the children. We are very grateful for his many sacrifices for us.

During our time in Rwanda, we will be teaching on marriage, based on our new book, first in the Diocese of Byumba in the north, then Kigali, and finally in Southern Rwanda at Butare, famous for its University. There will likely be many unexpected changes to the above schedule during these three weeks. Plan ‘G’ is the key πŸ˜‰
Your prayers are vital for the life change in marriages that we are believing for.
Yours in Christ,
Ed+ & Janice Hird

Monday, May 07, 2018

Tips from the Ottawa Christian Writers' Fellowship Facebook group - Denyse O'Leary

You don't need to live in Ottawa to belong. Just go to and ask.

Traditionally published e-books on the decline

 Christian MARKET Weekly
Unit sales of traditionally published e-books fell 10 percent in 2017, according to PubTrack Digital, part of the NPD book group, which also noted that e-book unit sales hit 162 million last year, down from 180 million units in 2016.  

[Newer publishing models probably mostly account for that. ]

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) announced the winners of the 2018 Christian Book Awards in 11 categories, and named the 2018 Christian Book of the Year as Jesus Always by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson).


While millennials worldwide share some attitudes and values, this group of 18-30-plus-year-olds have some quite different views and needs depending on where they live. In CBA’s third issue of the bi-annual Global MARKET International News & Trends report, find out about global millennial trends that surprise and concern parents, church leaders, and Christian resource producers and retailers.


On Tour with “The Soldier Who Killed a King”

What will stay with me are memories of warm smiles and lives touched by the message of the cross.


Possible interest: Amazon cracking down on people who review a book they haven’t read
It may sound harsh but the restriction is not without reason. At Uncommon Descent, we call such people noviewers 


Children's products a growing category 

Children’s products are a growing category, and CBA would like to see how your store is reaching out to children and their parents. Send a photo and Dr. Mary Manz Simon, noted parenting and childhood education specialist, will share them in her upcoming report on Children’s Product Trends presented at UNITE 2018, July 8-11 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.


Thursday, May 03, 2018

Entertaining Strangers by Rose McCormick Brandon

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13
One Saturday morning we lingered in bed thankful for a slow day. Melody, about eight at the time, ran downstairs and quickly returned to our room upstairs. “There’s a man sleeping on the couch,” she said. “Of course there is,” we said sarcastically believing she was trying to get us moving. She had a reputation as a prankster so this didn’t help her cause. 
“There is someone down there,” she kept saying.
"Sure. Sure."
We took our time getting up and finally the five of us trooped downstairs. And there on our living room sofa lay a complete stranger, sound asleep. We stood over him staring at him like the three bears of Goldilocks fame. 
He awoke with a start, disoriented.
He’d been drunk the night before and was headed for a relative’s house on our street. As he stumbled along he found our front door unlocked, came in, found a comfortable couch and collapsed. 
Doug offered him breakfast. He joined us in the kitchen for a few minutes, still groggy and perhaps suspicious that we might call the Police. He was harmless. And even if he wasn’t he was no match for Doug who suggested we pray for him, which we did. 
Soon he was out the door and on his way. 
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2). I don’t believe our stranger was an angel (read about Abraham’s angelic visitors in Genesis 18), but I do believe his landing on our sofa was not by accident. It was opportunity to pray for and to show kindness to a stranger.  
Prayer: Lord, as I go about my usual business today, make me aware of the needs of strangers and give me an opportunity to exercise hospitality.
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children, One Good Word Makes all the Difference, numerous magazine articles and personal stories for compilations like Chicken Soup for the Soul. Rose writes two blogs, Promises of Home and Listening to my Hair Grow. Contact her at: 

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Writing Life — Passion and Responsibility (By Peter A. Black)

Are you a writer? Or, perhaps you wouldn’t call yourself a writer, per se—as yet, but you do have a growing interest in producing some written work; you sense that you would like to create something written—present some ideas, experiences or stories to share with others.

Some writers, it seems, once they’ve discovered writing, have little interest in anything else.
Once they’ve found their own writing voice, many will never be the same again.

They feel that they’ll never be satisfied unless they’re writing nor their lives be complete, unless they complete their latest WIP (work in progress) and see it through to publication. Writing has become their passion. I’m grateful to have enjoyed more than a bite and the sweet taste of such exhilaration. 
It’s true: creative writing does change the writer.

Whether the work is an opinion piece, biography or fiction, something of the writer gets invested,
Ad hoc selection pulled from my library;
some quite old, some fairly young.
transmuted onto the page. That self-investment might sit within the covers for decades—even centuries, waiting to be discovered.
An author may die, yet whenever their book is opened and its contents intelligible to a reader possessing a working knowledge of the language and terminology in which it was written, the author ‘lives again,’ as it were. Such is the case of “the Bard”—William Shakespeare’s work.

This is often the case with the Biblical Scriptures. For me, the Bible doesn’t come across as a musty, dusty and irrelevant relic. The writers of the various volumes within it and the lives and situations they wrote about stand out in three-dimensions—maybe four! None is brought into relief so clearly as the Saviour Redeemer, Jesus Christ; He emerges as the chief character (cp. John 5:39; Luke 24:26,27).

Writers’ self-investment in their written work has potential to recreate in the reader’s mind the scenarios described or portrayed—the sights, sounds, scents. Readers’ emotional feelings can be stirred and their attitudes undergo modification, their values adjusted for better or worse and for good or evil. They may come to know themselves more deeply, by seeing themselves mirrored in  the characters.

The ideas and thoughts that the author has personally invested in the work or those portrayed through the characters can become the reader’s own.
Therein lies the point at which writers’ passion for their art intersects with their responsibility.

If readers of my work should happen to embrace my ideas and thoughts and inculcate the values advocated through them, are goodness and grace likely to be the outcome in their lives and relationships?
Or . . . Or what . . .? 
Peter A. Black is a retired pastor – well, sort of retired – and lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond – a children's / family book. ~~+~~

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Hope for a Town - Eleanor Shepherd

Google Images
            Megan preferred to take her companion, Buddy to the dog park on her lunch hour. In a small town like Smithville, it was easier to avoid the stares or nudges of people if she did not go when the regular crowds gathered there with their dogs in the morning or the evening.

            However, on this particular day, in spite of choosing the usual time when the park was otherwise unoccupied, a man who said his name was Josh showed up. She had not seen him in Smithville before and assumed that he was on his way through to Green Valley to the south, and had taken the route through Smithville to avoid the traffic. 

            As Megan was returning her water bottle to her backpack after giving a drink to Buddy, Josh spoke up and asked her if she would mind giving her some water for his dog, Esprie. 

            From the accent, Megan assumed that Josh was an immigrant and was surprised that he asked her for water for his dog. Usually immigrants avoided contact with the townspeople, as there had been several incidents where the encounters between the two groups of people had been quite unpleasant. Word had gotten around that the best thing to do, if your are an immigrant passing through Smithville, is to avoid the natives as much as possible and get through there as quickly as you can. Don’t expect any help or hospitality from them. 

            Thus Megan commented, “I am surprised that you, as an immigrant are asking me for water for your dog. That is highly unusual in these parts. Usually immigrants avoid us Smithvillers, especially after the shooting last year.” 

            She was even more amazed at Josh’s response. “You have no idea of the good things that God has in store for you, and who is asking you for the water. If you did you would be asking me for the kind of water that I can provide.” 
Google Images

            “With all due respect,” responded Megan, “you don’t even have a backpack and it looks like all you have with you is your pooch. Where exactly is this source of water that you are offering?” 

            She continued, “You may not know that Smithville has a source of pure water that we bottle and sell and it is the envy of this province and the two neighbouring ones. Where does your water come from?”

            Josh then clarified, “The kind of water that I am talking about is a source that comes from within and refreshes the spirit and keeps on bubbling up and never stops.  

            “Now that,” said Megan is the kind of water that I am interested in. “I get so tired of trying to prove my worth again and again, constantly depending on the rare words of encouragement that come my way from time to time. Can you point me to the source of the kind of water you are talking about so I can break out of this vicious circle of seeking?”

            She was shocked at Josh’s response. He told her, “Go, bring your husband here to the dog park to meet me.” 

            “Megan replied, “I don’t have a husband.” 

            “That’s right,” replied Josh. “You are telling me the truth. You do not currently have a husband. You have been married five times and your current partner is not your husband.” 
Google Images
            “Well, Josh, I can see that you are some kind of fortune-teller or guru or something. You immigrants often seem to be pretty religious, but we have our churches and our beliefs here in Smithville and we are pretty orthodox. We don’t need your crazy ideas.”

            Josh said, “God desires for everyone to know how much He loves them. He has sent me to tell you and everyone else I meet that this is true. He has shown us in His Son that we can enter into a relationship with Him.”               

            “I have heard that,” said Megan. “I think I could believe it if I could meet the Son.”

            “I am He,” answered Josh. 

            At that, Megan left her backpack and even her dog, and running out of the dog park she headed for home, stopping only to tell those she ran into on the way, that she had incredible news. An immigrant at the dog park knew everything about her and made her realize her value to God. Could he be God’s Son, as he said? Please come and see. 

            They came and they believed.  

            He still comes to our Smithvilles.  Leave a message if you want to know more. 

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