Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Confessions of a Type A Christian

Does waiting in a long line kill you; figuratively speaking?
Are you a perfectionist, overachiever, workaholic, or all of the above?
Do you hate wasting time?
Do you often talk over and interrupt people in order to rush the conversation?
Is everything urgent?
These general characteristics describe a typical Type ‘A’ personality.
I’m embarrassed to say, that I have to answer, “Yes, yes, and resounding, yes,” to all these questions. What about you?
I know that God created me and is aware of all my natural tendencies, I also know that..."Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” [i]
I wonder what that conversation consists of when Christ is advocating for me.

Devine help is available for my frantic need to accelerate. Christ told us, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”[ii]
There it is.   So why do I continue to rush right past my quiet-time spot, head for the coffee machine, climb the stairs to my office,  pick up my to-do list, quickly scan multiple emails, wince as I observe a busy week of calendar appointments, and dive headlong into another hectic day? I try to fight my own battles and juggle priorities in my own strength; all of which causes me to suffer high levels of stress and feelings of defeat.
I say, “I’ll just finish this one task, and then I’ll take time for my devotions.” 
Prayer, for people like me, feels like an interruption instead of a privilege. When I do stop to pray and read the word, I have difficulty not thinking about my long list of current commitments.
I recently was sharing the theme of this blog at my bible study. I asked my group, “How can I finish the article, because awareness is only half of the solution?” Our bible study hostess, a wise and spunky 92 year old woman, said, “Tell them, ‘To be continued.’”
So I will continue to ask our Heavenly Father for the discipline and consistency to stop my frantic ways and look for opportunities to worship and listen to HIS voice.
"Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."[iii]

I’d love to hear from others who struggle with these tendencies.

[i] Romans 9:34b NLT
[ii] Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
[iii] Psalm 46:10 NASV

Carol Ford’s is a co-author of As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers and has short story in Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon. She is a career coach and speaker.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Parallels of St. Patrick's Day

The simple wild three-leaf clover. Wearing green. Corn beef and cabbage. Beer and cheer. (I've never tasted beer - and don't intend to- but I love corn beef.) These are but a few symbols associated with the Irish tradition, St Patrick’s Day , celebrated today in honour of St. Patrick who died fifteen hundred and fifty-five years ago.  

Photo credit by Rattikankeawpun of Free Digital Photos
The boy Patrick (birth name Maewyn was a British lad who was kidnapped at age 16 and brought to to Ireland, where among other things, he tended sheep in the rugged, chilly mountainside.  Eventually he escaped to France where he converted to Christianity, returning to Ireland as a missionary to share the good news with the people who had enslaved him. Patrick used a simple object lesson to explain the Trinity to a people who found it difficult to conceive “three in one”. The common three-leaf shamrock attached a single stem clearly  illustrated the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He attained the status of bishop while alive, and that of patron saint after his death. There is a lot more surrounding St. Patrick, myths and legends which may be challenged, an influence that is undisputed.

I couldn’t help but notice some parallels of St. Patrick’s and  what is found in the Bible. Like with David the shepherd boy who went on to be king and a man after God’s heart. The shamrock was as ordinary as the lily of the valley that Jesus referenced in being worry-free. The heart-shaped leaf that conveyed the Heart of the Father to the hearts of the people. Forgiveness and reconciliation to a people who could have seen as less than worthy. And how the celebrations extends beyond the Irish, embraced by the “gentiles” of anyone who wants to celebrate. Even if it’s just that one happens to like corn beef a lot.

(This blog was originally posted on March 17, 2016)

SUSAN HARRIS  is an author, speaker and teacher.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Blessings and Challenges—Carolyn R. Wilker

This past week our youngest daughter gave birth to a baby boy, the first boy in four grandchildren for my husband and me. The baby appears healthy, and his parents are doing well, if only a little tired from being up at night for feedings and learning the care of a new baby, their first child. To be sure, there is much to learn, from breast feeding, and keeping him comfortable to his overall care. My daughter was glad for a spare arm the third night home so that she could attend to another important matter. During the time I was there, her husband announced his need for a nap, for he has been as attentive to the baby’s care as our daughter. It was good to see that. They’d celebrate a little along the way, first with grandparents and then with individual family members, those closest to them. Other visits, they determined, would wait awhile until they’d settled in to life with their firstborn. They were grateful, as well, for a dinner they didn't have to prepare for the next evening.

Holding my new grandson

The night before our grandchild's birth, was the scheduled Toastmasters Area 62 speech contest night. After winning my club contest in the International Speech contest, the first place competitor goes on to compete against other Toastmaster club members in our area. I didn’t know as I prepared for that evening whether I’d go in with anticipation of the baby’s birth or the news of the birth. Either way my daughter and son-in-law said I should go ahead and compete that evening. It turned out baby wasn’t quite ready to make his appearance that night and so I went with anticipation. At the end of the night, coming in second, fellow club members congratulated me on my speech. To one of them I said, “Three times a charm?” Maybe not quite a charm, but I had done my best yet in stiff competition. Fellow Energetics club member, Scott, won his contest in the Evaluation Speech that same night, and he goes on to the division level and my worthy competitor goes on too. Much preparation and practice goes into such a contest to know the speech well and to deliver it well. As well, no small amount of healthy anticipation and sweat.

Second place is still good

Also this past week, our book group celebrated the printing of Good Grief People that we'd been working on since last spring. We held the book in our hands, and revelled in its completion over coffee/tea and a bit of lunch at a coffee shop at a point midway from our homes. We addressed the launch that we’d booked for a date in early May, and other ways we’d promote the book to our potential readers. As challenging as it was to write our stories and dig deeper to the emotional level, we hope it will be a blessing to those who grieve and feel alone. We’d poured ourselves into the writing, critiquing and editing as well as proofreading, and the publisher/writer sweat a few buckets in the formatting of the manuscript until finally all was well and the book went to print. And so that meeting was a celebration of  all the the work as well as preparing for the next step.

celebrating the book's completion, minus one author for whom we're raising our cup, or a thumbs-up

our book

Three significant times this week, I said, “Thank you” to God, for the safe delivery of our grandson, for the culmination of the contest and performing well, and for the completed book. For all three, there was thankfulness and blessings, and for all three were challenges. We know that God is with us in the challenges as well as the celebrations, and it’s important to acknowledge that God goes with us, if not before us, each of those times. Again, “Thank you,  God.”

Carolyn R. Wilker, author and editor

Sunday, March 12, 2017

He Restores My Soul by Ruth Smith Meyer

“A time when you felt restored (invigorated, revitalized, refreshed) by God.”

That is the question I was asked to speak about to start our lent  five-minute sharing.

There are so many times I have felt God restoring my soul, my strength, my vision.  I hardly knew where to start. Maybe I could mention a few ways God uses to restore me. I thought I would also pass them on to you.

First of all—nature often restores my soul.

 A beautiful sunrise or sunset,

the mountains and hills,

a wooded path 

a body of water,

a flower

or fallen leaf

...bring me a sense of peace and wonder at how God created such intricate beauty. 
If he cares for nature, he surely cares for me. 
Then my soul is, once more, restored.

I often feel God’s restoration through other people. Just about a week ago, I had a desolate Wednesday night, feeling very alone. I awoke Thursday morning still feeling that way.

I barely got dressed when the doorbell rang. I hastened to answer and there was Simon, my neighbour.

 “Neighbourhood Watch!” he announced with a grin. “Laurie, our neighbour across the road asked if I’d come to check on you. Your garbage bin was still at the road from yesterday morning and your garage door was open all night.  We just wanted to make sure you were all right.”
I felt very embarrassed that I had left the door open all night, but what a good feeling to know my neighbours were watching out for me. I felt it was a definite sign from God that He too, was watching me. I wasn’t as alone as I felt.

I often feel God restoring my soul through His word. Many portions do so, but one of my favourites—parts of the first four verses of Isaiah 43. I read them years ago, the morning after our barn fire. I read them after my first husband Norman’s diagnosis of cancer and again after my second husband Paul’s diagnosis, I read them after the loss of my job and when Paul’s pain seemed almost unbearable.  I read them when I didn’t know how much more I could handle.  Those words always comfort me and restore my soul.   
This is what it says:  “But now the Lord who created you says: Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, your Savior, you are precious to me and honored, and I love you.”

Another way  I am restored is through what I can only name as dreams or visions. For instance, one morning after Norman died and I was overwhelmed at all the things I now had to do on my own, and how many years I may have to live that way, I called out with tears to God and cried,  “Oh God, I know you know what is going on here. I do trust you but I just can’t understand how you think I can manage without Norman.  I just don’t understand, God, I just don’t understand!”

Then I had a very real sense of arms around me, of being lifted up into God’s lap and I heard his tender empathy for me, his understanding whisper as a parent to a child, “I KNOW you don’t understand.”

And somehow, my willing surrender to trust, my absolute faith in my Heavenly Father was fully restored.

These are just a few ways I have felt God restoring me.  Looking back, it seems that to feel revitalized and refreshed, I need to pause and take time to listen, to really hear and feel, in order to receive that restoration.


Ruth Smith Meyer presses onward through life as she writes, speaks and lives day-to-day.  She is pleased to have been part of the newly released anthology, Good Grief People, published by Angel Hope Publishers. 

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Rising Faith: Just as I am -HIRD

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My grandmother and mother knew that I would become an Anglican priest.  I dismissed this expectation, being convinced that I would become an electrical engineer like my father.  In my family system, there were no adult males that attended church.  In 1965, my mother had a spiritual encounter at a Billy Graham event at the Pacific National Exhibition.  Fifty-two years later, my mother’s family faithfulness has had a huge impact on my life.  I am a more loving, forgiving person today, because of my mother’s faithful example and prayers. 
Similarly, Billy Graham’s family faithfulness at age 98 has had a huge impact on countless people.  President Eisenhower memorably said: “Billy Graham is one of the best ambassadors our country has but he told me, ‘I am an ambassador of heaven.'”  How has Billy Graham continued for the past sixty years of Gallup polling as one of the ten most admired people in the world?  My hunch is that it has to do with humility and not taking himself too seriously. Henry Kissinger commented: “To my surprise, I found myself not only impressed but deeply moved by how he touched some profound spiritual yearning…I have an immense regard for Billy Graham. He is a strong but humble man, with a generous and compassionate heart that is open to every human being of every religious faith and to those who profess to have none.”  It is not easy to finish well as a high-profile public figure.  Everything that they say and do is constantly scrutinized.  They and their families are living in a public goldfish bowl.
Family faithfulness does not mean that a person never makes mistakes.  Faithfulness means being willing to humbly admit one’s mistakes and being willing to grow and change.  During a Newsweek interview in 2006, Graham commented: “Much of my life has been a pilgrimage—constantly learning, changing, growing and maturing.” Part of the way that Billy Graham has coped with unceasing public attention has been through his self-effacing humour.  In his autobiography Just as I am, Billy was always transparently telling hilarious stories about his foibles and mistakes.  He is famous for having personal access to every American president since Harry Truman in 1950.  The opening sentence of Billy’s autobiography is “It was July 14th 1950, and I was about to make a fool of myself.”  Unschooled in presidential protocol, the 31-year old Billy Graham innocently told the reporters the content of his conversation with the President.  Truman was so offended that he dismissed Billy Graham as a counterfeit.  Later Billy Graham visited President Truman, apologizing profusely for his ignorance and naivete.  “Don’t worry about it”, replied Truman, “I realize that you hadn’t been properly briefed.”  Billy Graham vowed that such a mistake would never happen again if he was ever given access to a person of rank or influence. 
I have been privileged to serve on the Executive of the Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope.  During this time, I have met both the Billy Graham family and the Billy Graham team.  Are they perfect? No.  Do they make mistakes? Yes.  I do sense a family faithfulness, a willingness to humbly admit where they need to grow and learn.  I am grateful that in the March 3rd to 5th Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope, tens of thousands came to hear the Good News and that thousands experienced rising faith for themselves. 

Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector,
St. Simon’s North Vancouver, Anglican Mission in Canada
 -an article for the March 2017 Light Magazine and March 2017 Deep Cove Crier

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Hope is an Empty Bookcase by Steph Beth Nickel

Although I don't typically observe Lent, this year I joined Kathi Lipp's challenge based on her book Clutter Free.

It's so much more than simply a way to organize one's household.

The challenge entails re-homing or tossing 10 pieces of clutter per day for the 40 days of Lent. For some, it's as simple as emptying the garbage from a purse or going through a stack of papers.

But for others, like myself, it means boxing up hundreds of items and getting them out of the house.

I have set myself a goal of getting rid of 400+ books and magazines. Although I'm only eight days into the challenge, I'm almost there. (I very much look forward to paying a visit to our public library this weekend and unloading several cartons of books.)

For years I've felt "less than" those whose houses always appear clean, tidy, and relatively clutter free. Resentfulness and envy factored into the mix as well. Clutter is so much more than just having too much stuff.

Kathi Lipp believes the root causes of accumulating more than we need are fear, guilt, and shame. While I wouldn't have come to this conclusion, the more I examine things from her perspective, the more I see there is truth in what she says.

And just how does hope factor in to the process of decluttering?

Here is what I look forward to, what I hope for, on the other side of this process (one that is sure to last long past the Lenten season):

1. Others will benefit from those things which I give away.

2. There will be space to put away the things I choose to keep.

3. I will be less distracted by our stuff.

4. I will be more inclined to invite others over.

5. Our home will appear larger.

6. We will be able to accommodate family and friends who choose to come for an extended stay.

7. I will think twice (or three times) before I purchase something I don't need.

8. I will become more content with what I have.

9. I will be able to concentrate on what truly matters.

10. I will set a good example for my family.

11.I will be in a position to offer hope to others whose excess is weighing them down.

And ...

12. If we ever move, it will be far less stressful.

How about you? Could you find hope in an empty bookcase, kitchen cupboard, or spare room?

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Join us in Ottawa April 1 for great one-day conference - Denyse O'Leary

Hi Christian writer,

The theme for this year's Ottawa Christian Writers' Conference is Called to Write—Taking the Next Steps—Canada 150 & Beyond.

I am pleased to report that online registration is now available for our Saturday, April 1st event at the Word Guild website. Here is the direct link:
Attached you will also find a brochure that outlines the schedule for the day, and the workshops that are available. In the morning, a total of six 45-minute workshops will be on offer. Since two workshops will always be running simultaneously, you will need to choose the three workshops that you feel will benefit you the most.

The afternoon features a plenary session with Ken and Yetta Dekker. Ken is the author of The Wealth Formula, which outlines practical ways to make your finances work for you. This will be followed by a panel discussion with professional writers about the state of Christian writing in Canada. Finally, we will hear an address from Don Hutchinson as he launches his new book, Under Siege: Religious Freedom and the Church in Canada at 150 (1867-2017)

What are the next steps for you as a writer? Are you fulfilling your calling? Join us on a path that marks Canada's 150 celebration and beyond.

David Kitz
Ottawa Christian Writers' Fellowship—a chapter of the Word Guild
Building a community of Christian writers in our nation's capital

Note: Get your annual membership at the conference at half price ($32.50) with registration. A professional critique of your work costs only $25 with registration, all proceeds to The Word Guild (more at the link above.) See you there! - Denyse O'Leary

Thursday, March 02, 2017

"A Wider-World Romance" by Peter A. Black

Today I share a modified edition of an article from my column, P-Pep! The original was published February 23, 2017, in The Standard Guide Advocate, a newspaper serving a number of communities in Lambton County, Ontario.
As I write, with tired eyes and my head in a whirl, I feel the pressure of someone who should be closing things down for the night. But, several minutes ago I inhaled a second wind.

Among the hundreds of volumes on my disorganized, overflowing bookshelves sit two books
that I first read forty years ago. They aren’t buried behind double-banked volumes like so many others, for I can spot them when I make a 180 degree turn on my computer chair. Tonight they caught my eye—again. They patiently await that second reading.

One is titled Great Possessions. The other is a three-books-in-one volume, collectively titled Adventures of David Grayson. They were originally published separately as: Adventures in Contentment, Adventures in Friendship, and The Friendly Road

I’m convinced that Ray Stannard Baker, who wrote those books under the pen name of David Grayson, was a romantic in a wider, less limited sense of the term. Generalising, here’s what I reckon fits that wider sense:

Romantics are possessed of a healthy curiosity, and so they enjoy discovery and pursue adventure, seeking to expand their horizons of knowledge and understanding of their world and of the human condition. They love life and are most often lovers of people, and they care about relationships and value friendship.

That is the essence of Grayson’s first-person voice in the series, as I recall from those four decades ago. And that for me betokens the nature of a ‘wider-world romantic.’ 

The wider-world romantic individual romances life itself. 

I pecked away at this article the day news broke of the death of Stuart McLean, OC – one of Canada’s true romantics. McLean – humorist and well-loved storyteller, emeritus journalism professor at Toronto’s Ryerson University and the host of CBC radio’s The Vinyl Café – was a recipient of multiple awards.  

My wife and I will miss his intensely engaging and hilariously funny stories about the fictitious family of Dave and Morley and their kids – Stephanie and Sam, and also the family’s friends and neighbours.

Tributes have been pouring in from Stuart’s colleagues and fans. These repeatedly speak of his ability to listen to people, even strangers, and how his stories connect with everyday folk and unite Canadians across the country. His warm sense of humanity resonated in the hearts of his concert and radio audiences.

Gender, sexuality and sex generally fulfil a necessary role in the propagation of species in the biological realm, yet I maintain that romance exists apart from them. The biblical account of God’s bringing the universe into existence, and in particular, the earth and the world in which we live, speaks to me of romance in the broader sense.

Many segments of the Christian community observe Lent—the six-week period of heart preparation and personal reflection culminating in Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection Sunday).

Lent provides a focus point for consideration and appreciation of “The Divine Romance.” This romance, in which the Almighty Creator’s self-assumed desire for relationship and fellowship with human beings through redemption, is very much the story of the Bible.

 It is clearly encapsulated and expressed in the narratives of Jesus’ birth, His life, compassion and love, and His sacrificial death and resurrection.
The Divine Romance in a nutshell:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes  in [trusts and relies upon] him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17 NIV).
That’s the ‘wider-world romance’!

Peter A. Black 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. ~~+~~

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