Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Language of Letting Go-- Carolyn Wilker



Our Toastmasters meeting theme the day I write this post is Letting Go and the Language of Letting Go. There’s multiple meanings to that phrase "letting go", whether it’s allowing children to grow up and live their own lives, someone in our circle of friends who has moved away who seems to have broken ties, or a loved one who has died and for whom we must say goodbye.

I once read a poem comparing children to kites. The kite flyer, the parent, lets out a little string at a time, such as the day a child goes to school for the first time. The kite, being the child, may fail to rise, get caught in a tree, or rip and tear in the process. A child learns what worked or didn’t work and, with guidance from a loving parent, is willing to try again, until the day when the kite rises and flies freely, that is, a child leaves home.

As each child leaves, the home feels a little emptier, and parents hope that they have taught the necessary skills. I remember having to refocus when our last child was about to leave home. I wrote a poem entitled, Letting Go (pub. 2007, Tower Poetry).

Letting go

you implore

with tear-filled eyes that mirror my own

that I neglect my preparation

for the day of release

when the kite flies free

the mist clears and I see again

the young woman before me

be brave my heart!

you will fly as you were meant to

free and strong

and by letting go

I will have all that matters:

your love

There are exceptions to that rule, such as the child who needs support for a longer time, maybe indefinitely. I also think of a young woman who lives in a group home for intellectually challenged adults. She works at tasks in the community that are appropriate to her challenges. She has been involved in Special Olympics, with her parents’ blessing and support, even before leaving home. She has won many medals in those events and is about to go off to Nationals to compete in a winter sport. Hard as it was to let her go, her parents allowed her to move on. She shines.

On the second aspect, I think of a friend who moved away and after a short interval of communication, even a trip to visit her there, has made no attempt to stay in touch. I admit that this one has been hard, one that I’m still not over. She was one who encouraged me to write, brought me the first brochure for God Uses Ink conference that I attended in 2001.

Thirdly, letting go of a loved one who has died, but not forgetting. I miss those who have been dear to me and who have invested in my life: an aunt, special uncle, a friend, a neighbour, or a grandmother. I have not lost a child, a different heart-wrenching grief that I have witnessed among friends and family. We hurt deep on our losses, like flesh cut from flesh. We feel the comforting arms of friends, the kindness of friends and neighbours. We’ve let the person go, because that life would no longer be a healthy life. We commend that person to God and try to go on. In time, we begin to live again, exchange memories and even to laugh again.

It will be interesting to hear the responses to this theme. I, for one, have learned who my real friends are, the ones who are there to comfort me when I need it most, who understands how it feels to have a child leave the nest, or someone has moved away and dropped connections, or my grief when I have lost one I loved.

What does “letting go” mean for you today?


Author of Once Upon a Sandbox.

www.carolynwilker.ca

Upcoming events:

Storyteller at Steckle Heritage Homestead Farm, 811 Bleams Road, Kitchener, ON, Winter Fun Day, 11-12am

Book signing, March 10 at Waterloo Chapters store, Waterloo ON, 1-3pm

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wasn't That a Party? by Glynis M. Belec

My brain dances all over the place some days. Today I attended an interview regarding three of my students who are scheduled for a psych assessment. As I sat in the office with two psychologists and the parents of my students, discussing various reasons for the assessments and sharing information, I realized something.

If it wasn't for the first party requiring the services of a second party (although that first party is already receiving services from a third party) then that second party would not have a purpose or be able to use her gifts and then the first party would be without direction and then the third party, who passionately wants to help that first party, would have also been without purpose and likely would not have had sufficient fodder for life and therefore would have nothing to write about.
(Phew! That's what happens when I sit with psychologists for a significant length of time)

Loosely translated, God has gifted us all in various and wonderful ways and He expects us to use these gifts but He also puts 'all things' in place and just at the precise time, he works it all for good. I know God has called me to write. My bones long to do so full time; my heart yearns to sit long hours at my computer and simply string together the trillion words that seem to be stored somewhere deep in my soul.

But then I remember all of my remarkable students.  I also realize the incredible privilege I have had over the years to work with every one of these uniquely created souls under the guise of helping them to hone their numeracy and literacy skills. I remember two special lads were 'labelled' borderline 'mentally handicapped' when they were six years old.  Now I grin with pride as I see these (twin) boys - presently in high school - rhyming off their multiplication tables better than any of my other students and jumping to the head of the class in parts of their modified program in areas like spelling and reading. I share their joy. And all these years later, I still get to work with them. There are so many similar stories that I would not have missed for the world! God has me where He wants me.

There seems so many interruptions (caring for my aging father, teaching my students, looking after my home, charity work, church work, health concerns...) but when I stop and consider my life, I inhale and remind myself that my timing is not God's timing and those interruptions are part of God's plan.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm37:4


I admit that I fuss and flutter thinking that if I don't soon get writing, I am going to be too old to write anything of any value. I hear of other writers who have oodles of time to write and speak and create so I ride the envy/pity train for a while until God pulls the chord and reminds me to focus on the haves not the have nots!
 
Then I give thanks and grin from ear to ear as I consider how thick and wide and deep my idea files are getting!


For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day. Habakkuk 2:3

Both authors and ghostwriters liable for fraud, in ghostwritten medical articles? - Denyse O’Leary

Heads up, if you are a working writer, and sometimes ghost articles: Shape of things to come elsewhere?

In “Medical Academics Could Be Legally Liable for Ghostwritten Articles” (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 24, 2012), Josh Fischman reports,
Condemnation by ethicists and loss of grant money are not the only penalties facing academics who put their names on medical-journal articles they didn't write. Personal-injury lawyers have them in their sights now, too.
Researchers at major universities, including Brown, Emory, Harvard, Stanford, Tufts, and Yale, have been accused in recent years of signing their names to medical-journal articles that were written by others, articles that promoted the benefits of various medications and were produced under the auspices of pharmaceutical companies trying to boost their products. Last year The Chronicle reported that a University of Pennsylvania psychiatry professor accused five other academics of signing an article that was ghostwritten for the maker of the antidepressant Paxil and made unsupported claims for it.
It gets worse. The ghostwriter could also be liable:
"By lending his name, the author is contributing to fraud," says Bijan Esfandiari, one of the authors of the PLoS Medicine article. "And the ghostwriter is involved in the conspiracy as well."
Of course, the good news, from a writer’s perspective, is that instead of the usual pressure to suppress the ghostwriter’s existence, there’ll be pressure to make sure everyone knows who she or he is.

You doubt that? How do you think you got to be called a ghostwriter?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allan at Brains on Purpose

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Genetic Tears -- den Boer


I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. (Proverb 5:13)

“My teacher is very patient,” reported four-year-old Amanda after several weeks of junior kindergarten at the local public school. I should have realized there was more behind her statement.

That Friday while I stood at the classroom door among several other parents waiting to walk our children home, the teacher singled me out, “Amanda’s Mom, we didn’t have such a good day today,” she said. “You and I had better talk.” She arranged to have me come to see her when the children would be with the gymnasium instructor the following Monday.

This was a first. Not one of Amanda’s four older siblings in a combined 32 years of schooling had ever behaved in a way which required a talk with their teacher. Over the years there had been minor problems, but I hadn’t been summoned by a teacher since my own school days.

On the way across the playing field towards our home Amanda suggested, “My teacher is not so patient anymore.”

“So what happened?” I asked casually.

“I don’t have to play when she wants me to!” Amanda looked at me with her big determined brown eyes.

“Yes, you do,” I countered.

She continued, “I don’t have to pick a book when she wants me to.”

“Yes you do,” I repeated. “You should obey God, your parents and your teacher. The only time you don’t have to listen to your teacher is if she tells you to do something bad—and I don’t think Mrs. Van Sickle would do that!” I stated emphatically.

After some tears, Amanda said she would obey. I knew she meant it when several hours later I found her in the family room dancing in a circle, chanting, “I will obey God, I will obey God and my mom and my dad and my teacher.”

That Sunday in church a providential children’s message about obeying God, your parents, your baby sitter and your teacher reinforced my instruction.

On Monday morning I entered Amanda’s classroom prepared to tell the teacher about Amanda’s resolve to obey. I watched as the children went through their opening exercises including a jazzed up rendition of “O Canada.”

After the teacher dismissed the children to the gym, she led me to a little table and invited me to sit on a tiny chair. From her own little perch on the other side of the table, she looked at me, “Is there something going on at home that we should know about?”

I wasn’t prepared for this question. “No, I don’t think so,” I muttered. Couldn’t she see Amanda was from a warm and caring, Christian family? Apparently not.

The teacher continued, “She was running down the hall to the library and I said, ‘No Amanda’ and right away there were the tears.”

Was that it? I assured the teacher that the quick-flowing tears were genetic. Some den Boers simply don’t like to be told they are doing something wrong. It makes them cry.

“Ignore the tears,” I advised.

She did.

Amanda has been obeying her ever since.

He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded. (Proverbs 13:13)

Years after this incident, 15-year-old Amanda set me straight. Her tears had been tears of pain and frustration. Her stomach hurt. The teacher had told her to hurry and then, not to run.

Even though the teacher, Amanda, and I, each had a different slightly skewed view of what was happening, through it all, Amanda learned a valuable lesson about obedience.

Excerpt from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress by Marian den Boer. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I am too Lazy to Turn Pages

According to my last royalty statement, my digital sales are higher than my print sales. And this is for my books where the publisher sets the digital price, so the price between the two is pretty much the same.

Which can only mean one thing - readers are beginning to prefer to read on their eReaders.


It was only one year ago that I thought eReaders were the dumbest inventions ever. Why do you need a piece of technology that might freeze, that might get stolen, that you can’t take into the bubble bath with you? The printed book is a pretty good piece of technology in and of itself. Why mess with perfection?


A year ago my husband and I cancelled our landline and got two iPhones. I began reading, ever so tentatively, on my phone. I even bought a couple of Apple books for it. It wasn’t so bad. It was small and portable and light, and is with me everywhere, even when I’m stuck in a line up at the grocery store. The idea, then, of an eReader began to take shape in my luddite brain. I did a lot of research. I knew what I wanted. I wanted something featherweight and easy on the eyes.


Weight is a big factor for me. Years ago I was able to find a used uncut version of The Stand by Stephen King - which I consider to be the best apocalyptic novel ever written bar none, but that’s the subject of another blog - but in it’s paperback form it was thick and unwieldy to read. What I ended up doing was diving the book in half and carefully ripping it apart, and turning it into two medium sized paperbacks. Someone gave me King's hard cover novel The Dome. I never did read it because it was just too darn heavy to hold. Are we seeing a pattern here?


So, I researched, read reviews, and decided that the Kobo Touch was what I wanted. It’s Canadian and weighs in even lighter than the Kindle. It’s also connected to our Canadian library system and the reviews are good. I got it for Christmas.


Since Christmas I have not read a printed book. I am, therefore, the reason that bookstores are closing. I am the reason that my agent in grim tones tells me that, “print runs are down all over, Linda”. You can also blame my neighbor. He’s a retired gentleman who sits on his porch all summer and reads. He has quite a collection of hard cover mysteries and spy thrillers - his favorites. Last spring I was walking by and he called over to me, “Hey!” he said, “I just got a Kobo! I got 800 books in here!”


There is a conference going on right now in NYC all about digital books. Apparently the place is sold out. I’m not there, I’m just following the blogs. But here’s an interesting link on trends:


http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/publishers-otimistic-but-see-hard-work-ahead-in-2012-according-to-survey


So, what does that mean? It means we’re at the very beginning (or some might even say middle?) of a huge change, a change which has been coming since the invention of the World Wide Web back in the early 1990s. It’s quite an exciting time to be a writer!


Now, hmm, all they need to do is come up with a waterproof eReader for my bubble bath.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kingdom Poets Presents Sydney Lea - Martin

Sydney Lea is the author of ten collections of poetry including Pursuit Of A Wound (2001) which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has also published a novel, A Place In Mind (1989), and two collections of essays. Lea is the founding editor of New England Review, where he served from 1977 until 1989. He has taught at several colleges, in Europe and the United States, including Yale, Wesleyan, and Dartmouth. He is the new poet laureate of Vermont.

Jeanne Murray Walker wrote of his new collection, Six Sundays Toward a Seventh, “In this book Sydney Lea invites us to take a spiritual journey . . . By the end of Six Sundays, the narrator and the reader step together into radiant light. What is so moving about Six Sundays is not only its wrestling with spiritual questions, but also Lea's affirmation that life is a spiritual journey and that this journey is of paramount importance.”

I was given the privilege of assisting him as editor for his new poetry collection Six Sundays Toward a Seventh - which is the first book in Wipf & Stock's new Poiema Poetry Series - released the first of January 2012. It is available from Wipf & Stock. The following poem is included in this new book.

Barnet Hill Brook

Here's what to read in mud by the brook after last night's storm,
Which inscribed itself on sky as light, now here, now gone-

And matchless. I kneel in the mud, by scrimshaw of rodents, by twinned
Neat stabs of weasel. I won't speak of those flashes. Here by my hand,

The lissome trail of a worm that lies nearby under brush,
Carnal pink tail showing out. Gnats have thronged my face.

I choose not to fend them off. Except for my chest in its slight
Lifting and sinking, the place's stillness feels complete.

Its fullness too: in the pool above the dead grass dam,
The water striders are water striders up and down:

They stand on themselves, feet balanced on feet in mirroring water.
How many grains of sand in the world? So one of my daughters

Wanted to know in her little girlhood. “Trillions,” I said.
“I love you,” she answered back. “I love you more than that.”

Lord knows I'm not a man who deserves to be so blessed.
I choose to believe that there's grace, that the splendid universe

Lies not in my sight but subsumes my seeing, my small drab witness.
Tonight my eye may look on cavalcades of brightness,

Of star and planet. Or cloud again. And when I consider,
O, what is man, That thou art mindful of him, it's proper

For me to have knelt, if only by habit. Pine needles let go,
And drop, and sink to this rillet's bright white bottomstones.

To tally them up would take me a lifetime. And more would keep coming.
A lifetime at least. And more would keep coming, please God, keep coming.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca

This post will appear Monday at: Kingdom Poets Follow this link to see dozens more, including some of the world's most celebrated poets, as well as some lesser known treasures.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Discovering Fresh Mercy - M. Laycock

I’ve been doing the Joy Dare with Ann Voskamp and many others for the past couple of weeks. Ann has provided a list for us to follow, spurring us to notice three things each day that make us grateful for God’s grace and mercy. Some days it’s easy. Some days not so much. But even on those days the effort is worth it. Looking for gratitude. Looking for grace and mercy. How could you go wrong?

Well, we’re all human and we all do go wrong. I discovered even this process can take me off track in a subtle way. It was day eleven. We were to find three yellow things that struck us as “fresh mercy.” I hunted around my daughter’s small house, where I’m spending my days lately as I undergo radiation treatments. The first pick was sitting on the living room couch - a yellow afghan crocheted by my mother-in-law. The second was just as clear - a yellow turban I use to keep my bald head warm. It was the third item that gave me pause, not because it was hard to find - it was in the living room too - a retro chair my daughter covered herself - but it gave me pause because I realized I was focusing on the items, rather than the mercy or the One who dispensed it.

I found three things that were obvious, things that did bless me. But did I really recognize them as “fresh mercy?” That was the point of the exercise but I realized as I photographed my last pick, that wasn’t where my mind or heart was focused. I was focused on the finding, not on seeing how and why they were gifts from God.

So I took a few moments to ponder each one again. And I found the mercy was there, as easy to find as the objects themselves. I just had to take a few extra moments to recognize it. And the Joy Dare is working. The joy was there too, bubbling up as I recognized how much my God loves me. Enough to provide things like yellow afghans, turbans and retro chairs and then to show me that they are indeed fresh mercies dispensed to one who does not deserve them.

“If I say, “my foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.” Psalm 94:18

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hedged In - Nesdoly

If you are like me, you don't like to feel confined. I don't like to feel physically confined. I remember fighting panic when we vacationed in our tent trailer and I slept in a narrow place between my husband, the canvas wall beside me, and the canvas roof that sloped to just inches of my face.

But David tells us in Psalm 139:5 that God confines us—fences us in, a hedge in front and in back, His hand on top.

If life is good we may scarcely be aware of this constriction. But when circumstances are hard, the job is unfulfilling, other pastures look greener, it is easy to try to wriggle out of the place we're in, to spring ourselves from what feels like a prison.

I read the blog of a special education teacher who wrote of this very thing in one of his 2011 advent meditations. His thoughts came out of a conversation with the furnace fixer, Mr. S., who confided in him, "I don't like my job," and then asked, "How about you? Are you thinking of leaving or are you going to stay?" Here's the rest of the story in Magical Mystical Teacher's own words:

“'I’ve thought about leaving,' I say to Mr. S, 'but where would I go?'


What I don’t tell him, because I’m not sure he’d understand, is that the only thing keeping me here—besides the children—is my sense of being placed here by God. Like the psalmist, I have found that God leads people who are willing to be led. If it weren’t for that, I’d be filling out as many applications as it takes to get out of here as quickly as possible.


However, until it is clear that I am supposed to move on, I listen for God’s instruction right where I am, confident that God will teach me the way to go, and lead me when the time is right."

Perhaps that attitude of trust in God, that willingness to stay or to go in God's time, not ours, is the secret of living without restlessness, anger, resentment, bitterness etc., in our hedged-in place.

Excerpt from Other Food: daily devos, January 14, 2012.

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

Website: www.violetnesdoly.com

Monday, January 16, 2012

Only Love - A Song for the Day After MLK Day - Arends

Ever since we moved, I miss my old drycleaners.  They never put staples in my clothes, their prices were great, and the owner's son, John, always had the best quotes up on a chalkboard in the customer area.  One day I was dropping off some sweaters and read something deeply true from Martin Luther King, Jr ... by the time the sweaters were ready for pick-up, I'd gotten a good start on a song the quote inspired, and eventually I finished it up with my good bud (and brill writer) Brad Crisler.  Today, in light of yesterday's observance in America of MLK Day, I thought I'd share the lyric of the song with you.

Only Love 
words and music by Carolyn Arends and Brad Crisler
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -- Martin Luther King Jr.




No one ever overcomes the dark with darkness
It takes a little light to chase the shadows back
So tell me why I try to fight the hate with hatred
When only love can do that

When I'm in this hole I just keep digging deeper
And when I lose my way I circle 'round this track
Trying to mend my heart with all the things that break it
When only love can do that

Only love, only love
Only love, only love
The more I try to fill me up
The more I lack
'Cause only love can do that

Well I could swear sometimes it seems like I'm in quicksand
Or like I'm sinking fast in water cold and black
I go deeper down the more I try to save me
Guess only love can do that

Only love, only love
Only love, only love
The more I try to fill me up
The more I lack
'Cause only love can do that

Well I have heard it said that you might be the answer
And it occurs to me -- that could be a fact
'Cause it was you who gave your life up for another
And only love can do that

Only love, only love
Only love, only love
The more I try to fill me up
The more I lack
'Cause only love can do that

c 2001 Songs of Peer, Ltd / Mr. Marley's Music (ASCAP)/EMI/April Music
Inc./Waltztime Music, Inc. (ASCAP)

If you'd like to download this song for free, you can get it HERE

Shalom,
Carolyn

www.carolynarends.com

Planning 'Yeses" - Derksen


Recently, when completing a homework assignment in a Beth Moore study, I read a segment she related about a visit with her daughter and her ten month old grandson. She told her daughter, "You'll want to set him up for as many yeses as you can because you're going to find that you will spend much of the next three years saying 'no."

Do we purpose to set ourselves up for 'yeses' when we know that "no" or rejection is part and parcel of the writing experience? I remember my first rejection notice. I had sent my baby...a three year work of art...to a publisher expecting they would be honored to receive such a masterpiece. Well, not exactly, but close. What I received was a notice that said I had a lot of work to do before they would even consider my manuscript.

While that may have been true, and looking back it was, it hurt. I thought about ending my writing career right then and there. I'm glad God had other plans for me. Now I've come to understand the attitude of divorcing ourselves from the manuscript and not injesting the comments as personal.

But do we plan some 'yes' events to pick up our spirits at times like this or even before they happen or do we wait for something to happen incidentally. I'd never thought about this quite this way but for instance...

What if we planned a spa visit before we opened the letter? What if we aligned ourselves with a prayer partner and took the publisher response to them so we could pray together about it after opening it? And it's not just publishers. How many of you have been shocked at the response of an editor who wanted you to delete, delete, and revise...again and again. I've had editors mark up my article in so much red ink that it was hard to see what he accepted.

God wants us to write. That's a given. Otherwise, we'd not be doing what we're doing. Does he want to mold us and make us more Christ-like...even through our writing? Then we need to plan some 'yeses' in your life...some positive events that build us up and point us back to Him. Time to reflect on the idea that God doesn't make mistakes so if He's asked us to write, then......write and learn to be the best example of Christ in our writing that we can be.

Barbara Ann Derksen's books can be found at Amazon.com in paperback format as well as Kindle. Just search Barbara Ann Derksen and you'll find a great mystery series worth spending some of your 'Yes' time reading.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Long Day’s Journey into Light - Reynolds

 In 1941, Eugene O'Neill, often described as America's greatest playwright, wrote an autobiographical play which he described as "a play of old sorrow."  It was so personal that it was not produced until after O'Neill's death in 1953.
It's called “Long Day's Journey Into Night.”  It's a tortured look at O'Neill's own family history, a day in the life of the "Tyrone family," their wretchedness fully exposed with uncompromising honesty: the mother a drug addict, father and two sons also addicted, but to alcohol rather than morphine.  Melancholy clings to the play like poison gas.  From morning through evening, the play follows the family into darkness.
Many people believe that life's like that—a long journey into night, an unending struggle gradually falling into endless darkness.  History without hope.  Death without resurrection.  I suppose we all wonder about it at times.
As we face 2012, there seems ample evidence for pessimism and despair.  Many look ahead with fear.  
On the local scene, there is economic instability, unemployment, bankruptcies, line-ups at food banks, and homeless people on the streets.  We see marriages breaking up, family life breaking down, confusion and confrontation over moral and social issues: sexuality, abortion, and euthanasia.
Nationally, we see lack of confidence in our political leadership, a sense of national disunity, a desperate and meaningless search for a sense of national identity and culture (at best a "cut flower culture" with no roots in any sense of national purpose or destiny), and a national debt out of control and escalating at an unbelievable rate.
In the world around us: war, terrorism, nation states breaking into ancient tribal units, the slaughter of the innocents, starvation, oppression, and ever increasing pollution and climate change.
We know the whole morbid litany too well.  
Understandably some say that human history, life itself, is one long journey into darkness.  Somewhere I read these words quoted from Harper's Magazine:
It is a gloomy moment in the history of our country.
Not in the lifetime of most people has there been so
much grave and deep apprehension; never has the future
seemed so incalculable as at this time.  The domestic
economy is in chaos.  Our dollar is weak throughout the
world.  Prices are so high as to be utterly impossible.
The political cauldron seethes and bubbles with
uncertainty. It is a solemn moment. Of our troubles,
no one can see the end.
We can allow ourselves to be overcome by such reports and all sorts of pessimistic predictions.  But things aren't all bad.  For instance, the quotation I just read was taken from Harper's Weekly, October, 1857.
There is no doubt that the present time is a time of anxiety. We've got to come to terms with some very present realities.  We are being forced to learn that we cannot continue to live as we have been living—so much at the expense of our earth and of others.  We simply cannot keep going, expending, consuming, the way we have been doing.  Not for very long.
There is a need for more responsibility in facing the challenges of our time: less personal greed, more concern for the common good.
The problems are great, no denying that.  But if we are to persevere in seeking solutions, we must surely have some hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that human history does have a purpose, and that God is in fact "working His purpose out.” Surely we must believe that all our struggles are not simply futile effort and our lives ending in the eternal darkness of death.  Surely we must believe that every effort we make in the cause of justice and righteousness makes its own small contribution in the ongoing purpose of our existence.
Our attitude is all important. And there are now already too many who believe that what they do doesn't matter, that it's best to get what they can out of life while they have the chance. There are too many who believe that the purpose of our living exists in games and parties, for whom "entertainment" is their religion.
If our world is to move into the future with any degree or hope, we must have faith that we are part of a purpose whose ultimate end is the good of all.  We must have some basis for this faith, in spite of the arguments of pessimism and the seeming realities of history.
It's not a coincidence that it is Dag Hammarskj√∂ld, Swedish diplomat and Secretary of the United Nations in the 1950's, who speaks a helpful word.  It comes from that remarkable book we call Markings, which he described as “concerning my negotiations with myself and with God."  He directed that it was not to be published until after his death. He wrote, 
God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in
a personal God, but we die on the day our lives cease
to be illumined by a steady radiance, renewed daily, of
a wonder, the source of which is beyond reason. (p. 64)
Our lives "illumined by a steady radiance."  That's not something in a current news report, not your daily brief inspirational message (though it is "renewed daily").  It's not something within us, dependent upon our digestion or our metabolism of the day.  It's from beyond.  It is in wonder and faith, rather than knowledge, experience or reason.
Arise! Shine!  Your light is come, and the glory of the
Lord is risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover
the earth, and thick darkness the people, but the Lord
will arise upon you, God's glory will be seen upon you....
 The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for
brightness shall the moon give light to you by night;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your
God will be your glory (Isaiah 60:1-2, 18).
There's a "steady radiance" for you!
We are entering the season in the church year which we call "epiphany," the season we remember those Wise Ones of old who followed a guiding light to a humble spot where the Christ was born. 
And lo, the star which they had seen in the east went
before them, till it came to rest over the place where
the child lay. When they saw the star, they rejoiced
exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell
down and worshipped Him  (Matthew 2:9-11).
One of my favourite passages in the Bible is the one found at II Corinthians 4:6:
God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
True, we have "this treasure in earthen vessels."  We are afflicted, perplexed, but not crushed, not driven to despair. We may be persecuted, but we are not forsaken.  We may be struck down, but never destroyed. 
So we do not lose heart! . . .  For we look not to the
things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen.  For
the things that are seen are transient; but the things that are
unseen are eternal (II Corinthians 4:16-18).
And, of course, we don't walk alone.  We walk with others of like faith and hope, in community together. 
We need the support of one another.  We need the support of the "community of faith."  Without such support, our own faith dissipates and our hope languishes and dies. Those people who share your search and perhaps sometimes pray for you, how much we need their faith.  Those friends of yesteryear as well as those now near, those loved ones both here and far away, how much we owe each other. 
We come together, at times, sometimes in emptiness, to seek again spiritual fulfilment.  And it is often through these meaningful others in our lives that we find inspiration and strength.
We have the right to expect some illumination. It may well come less from theories and concepts than from the uncertain, flickering and often weak light that some men and women in their lives and works will kindle and shed over the time span given them on earth.
And isn't this the bottom line, that we help, support and encourage each other in faith and hope.  What greater work to do, whether you are Secretary-General of the United Nations or a semi-invalid confined to bed or wheelchair in a nursing home.
We started with Eugene O'Neill and his tortured spiritual autobiography, Long Day's Journey Into Night.  But for O'Neill himself, this play was not the last word.  He dedicated this play to Carlotta, his second wife, on the twelfth anniversary of their marriage.  Listen to his words of dedication:
For Carlotta, on our twelfth anniversary.
Dearest:  I give you the original script of this play
of old sorrow, written in tears and blood....  I
mean it as a tribute to your love and tenderness which
gave me the faith that enabled me to write this play, write it
with deep pity and understanding and forgiveness.  These twelve
years, Beloved One, have been a Journey into Light.  You know
my gratitude. Gene.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Confrontation - Meyer

Confrontation – not a pleasant topic. Certainly, it would be more appealing to talk of reconciliation, of mediation, of restoration, of understanding, and of forgiveness.

Coming to an understanding of the absolute necessity of confrontation adds nothing to its appeal.

I am currently working on the fourth book in a seven-book series that demonstrates with fictional characters the seven steps in healing from the effects of abuse. In the book, Missy, the healing required is from past and ongoing verbal abuse, and the step in the healing journey is confrontation.

Not pleasant… Not appealing…

When Selma Poulin, mental health clinician and board chair of Rising Above Abuse Counseling (http://www.risingabove.ca/) read the manuscript, she asked, “Where is the confrontation?” When my wonderful, faithful editor from New Zealand, and my even more wonderful husband, read the manuscript, they both advised me to cut out the very nice romance I’d gotten sidetracked with and get to the heart of the issue – confrontation. After a suitable amount of whining, I have done just that. It’s hard because I don’t want to experience it vicariously as an author any more than I want to experience it in reality.

One of the hallmarks of an abusive relationship is denial – both on the part of the victim and the perpetrator. Much healing occurs when the victim can recognize the abuse and “break the silence” by telling a trusted friend or preferably a counselor. This fourth step in the healing journey involves for the first time the perpetrator (either directly or indirectly). For some victims of abuse, a direct confrontation is not safe or is no longer possible. Sometimes a letter written to the abuser is sufficient – whether or not it is actually delivered. The victim should never go alone to meet with a past or present abuser, and they should never go unprepared. Much prayer and discussion should happen beforehand.

It is important for the perpetrator to be shown the effects of the abuse.

Think of it as a victim impact statement – something that is being used to good effect in many courtrooms today.

Missy will be released (the Lord willing) on March 26, 2012. I hope you will consider reading it, if not for yourself then maybe for a friend who might need it.

And I did leave in just a wee bit of the nice romance…

Dorene Meyer
http://www.dorenemeyer.com/
Author of The Little Ones, Jasmine, Lewis, Joshua and Missy

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy New Year! - Boge


Okay, so it is already ten days in, so technically “Happy New Year” is just a little bit late now, but it’s my first time this year on the blog so I wanted to wish you and yours a happy new year.
And what exactly will make it happy?
Is it the circumstances that we hope to have this year that will make us happy? Or is it the attitude we will choose to have in the face of adversity that will make us happy in spite of what happens?
I sometimes wonder if we spend too much of our time trying to control circumstances rather than choosing to adopt a godly attitude to the difficult things that come our way.
My grandmother passed away just over a month ago. She lived through the war where she lost her brother. Then she moved to Canada to start a new life where her husband passed away from cancer at a young age. That might be cause for bitterness. But she had learned the secret of believing that God is actually in control of all things, even when he appears not to be. She loved people with her whole heart, read her Bible faithfully (she read the whole Bible through a minimum of 8 times), and was a magnet of love and acceptance to anyone she met.
Why was that?
There were a couple of reasons for sure. First, she had come to the end of herself. Life was not about her. Life was about Christ and life was about others. She loved to serve. And that is a real lesson for me.
Secondly she trusted God. I know that’s a truism. We all say it. But do we really believe that God works all things together for good? We presume that verse means God wants us to have a good life. But that’s not what the passage says and my grandmother understood that. Whether it was good things in her life or very difficult things, she trusted that God was in control and that he loved her and was using even the difficult things to shape her life and to bring him glory even if she had no idea how that was possible given the circumstances.
So I wish you a happy new year. One that is filled with the confidence that ultimately, God is the great film director who is directing every scene of your life as part of the overall masterpiece to a brilliant conclusion.
Blessings to you on all you do this year.
Paul

Monday, January 09, 2012

Words—Delightful, Expressive Words Ruth Smith Meyer


Words have always brought me pleasure. There isn’t much greater satisfaction than to closely look at an emotion or circumstances then choose a word with the ideal nuance or shade of meaning to perfectly portray the situation. Perhaps that is why, as a teenager, I read the entire dictionary. People have teased me about that and some have even scoffed at the idea of such boring reading. During that time, I decided to choose words that I could incorporate into my vocabulary. Each week, I would choose one and see how often I could use it in my normal every-day life.

Take for instance, my delight in words, described in my first sentence as pleasure. Without hunting in my Roget's or other sources, just using the Thesaurus that comes with my Microsoft Word, I can choose the nuance I like from enjoyment, happiness, delight, joy, bliss, contentment, satisfaction, gratification; amusement, recreation, fun, leisure, diversion; desire, preference, wish, liking, inclination, will. All of these are relatively common, but can enhance your conversation or writing.

On line, yourdictionary.com provides added synonyms: felicity, rapture, ease, comfort, gladness, delectation, relish, kicks

Further explanation follows: pleasure is the general term for an agreeable feeling of satisfaction, ranging from a quiet sense of gratification to a positive sense of happiness; delight implies a high degree of obvious pleasure, openly and enthusiastically expressed a child's delight with a new toy; joy describes a keenly felt, exuberant, often demonstrative happiness their joy at his safe return; enjoyment suggests a somewhat more quiet feeling of satisfaction with that which pleases our enjoyment of the recital

Of course, as a writer, there’s practical help in a variety of words. When we have need to repeat the same emotion or description several times in close proximity, choosing different words with like meaning can not only keep your writing fresh, but can add emphasis and depth to any scene or account.

Some people are especially adept at using the English language in refreshing ways. Poets are often among these, but some do so with prose. If you haven’t read Ann Voskamp’s best-selling book One Thousand Gifts or her blog Holy Experience, look for them. She is a master at phrases and descriptions that bring vivacious energy into the ordinary and routine. As an example here are a few quotes from one of Ann’s recent blogs.

I bear the stretchmarks of my 2011.” (Doesn’t that describe a growing year?)

"There's only one address anyone lives at and it's always a duplex: joy and pain always co-habit every season of life. Accept them both and keep company with the joy while the pain does its necessary renovations." (What better advice, expressed in clear terms, could one want for the beginning of a ne year?)

I encourage you to do what I want to do this year--look at my ordinary, ever-day world and describe it in ways that will bring new meaning and understanding of the opportunities each moment presents.

Yeah for stretch-marks and renovations!



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