Sunday, December 26, 2004

Words Fail

We woke up to a picturesque Alberta winter scene this morning - big flakes of snow had piled themselves up against our windows and doors and they were still coming down when we piled ourselves into the car to head to church. A lot of people decided they'd let the snow be an excuse to stay home and enjoy another day of Christmas. I can't say I blame them.

Because there were only a few kids in each Sunday school class, we combined a bunch and I got to sit in on the adult class which was also combined. There are normally two adult classes - one taught by a very young man who will one day, I believe, be a theologian of no mean mind. The other is a grey-haired fiddle-playing rancher who uses story-telling to teach what he sees in the scriptures. I enjoy sitting under both of these men, but it was a special treat for me to be there today when the older man took over the class.

He talked about how he doesn't like Christmas much, until he can disassociate himself from the hussle, and focus on what the season really means. He took one of our church hymnals and turned to a familiar carol. He read the words. Slowly. Then flipped to another and read the words. Slowly. He repeated this process over and over and, slowly, we all were wrapped in a spirit of wonder and comfort and joy that was topped off when he played the last carol on his old violin. The man is missing a thumb but he makes that instrument sound so sweet. I wasn't the only one with tears in my eyes.

When he tried to close the class, well, words failed. There really wasn't any need to say anything more. We quietly and, yes, slowly, made our way into the sanctuary for the service, our spirits uplifted, our hearts prepared.
All glory to God.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bringing Christmas Home

I came across a little book of poetry a while ago, called Poetry and Spiritual Pracitce. (available by contacting The St. Thomas Poetry Series, (http://www.stthomas.on.ca/poetry.cfm )
It's a great little book and I was delighted to find a poet included in its pages whom I'd admired before. His name is John Terpstra. (check out his webpage - www.knowres.on.ca/john )
The poem is called The Little Towns of Bethlehem. I tried to post it, with John's gracious permission, but it won't cut and paste with the format in tact and I don't want to post it without, because the formatting is important. I'll have to just tell you that the poem mentions the names of several small towns across Canada - To give you the idea, I'll quote the first four lines -

For unto us
in Aklavik
is born a child, in
Attiwapiskat

When I read the poem I was struck by how it brought the Christmas story home to me, because of the use of the familiar names. I even live a stone's throw from a couple of them.

I pray that the Christmas story will be brought home to all of you this week and in the coming New Year.

Blessings to you all, Marci

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Missing Christmas

Hi folks. Here's a short story that I wrote for a contest sponsored by Dave Long, acquisitions editor at Bethany House (www.faithinfiction.blogspot.com ), and Fuse Magazine ( www.fusemagazine.net) .

Dave suggested that everyone post the story somewhere so we could all read one another's work. So here's my Christmas offering to you all. There are more stories at my website - www.vinemarc.com
Blessings, :)M

Missing Christmas
By Marcia Lee Laycock

Sulking and soaking. For me, the two always go together. I know when I’m not fit to be around people, especially the people I’m mad at, so the bathtub is the best place to be. I run the water as hot as I can stand it and stay there until I feel like I can be civil again. That night, the night before Christmas, I thought I might be there till dawn.

Tim had dropped the bomb when he came home from work two days before we were to go home for the holidays. Somehow he’d managed to mess up making the flight reservations. How could he mess up something so important, so essential to my sanity? Bad enough he’d talked me into coming here, to the end of reason and any sign of civilization, just so he could have a "real northern experience." Bad enough he didn’t once compliment me on how I’d bravely been enduring the minus fifty degree temperatures. Bad enough we still had five more months to endure life in this town on the edge of the universe. Now we were stuck here for Christmas.
Even if we drove south till the temperature was warm enough for planes to fly, there weren’t any seats to be had. And what was his excuse? He thought he’d told the travel agent to book it, but he had only asked her to give him the details. When she didn’t hear back from him, she assumed we’d changed our minds but didn’t bother to check. There are too many people in this town who definitely aren’t the brightest bulbs on the tree.

And speaking of trees. To try and pacify me, Tim dragged a tree home the day before Christmas. I caught him going out the door, downed from neck to ankle, a toque on his head and wool scarf wrapped about six times around his face. When I asked him where on earth he was going, he said something unintelligible and walked out the door. Three hours later I heard him stomping around on the porch. I poked my head out, the cold hitting me like a slap. All I could see were his eyes. They were laughing. He tugged the scarf down long enough to tell me to wrap up and come out for a minute. Curious, I pulled on my parka and went outside.

He stood there like a little boy who’d just bagged his first bird. Only it was a Christmas tree he held on to. Or rather, it had been a Christmas tree. My mouth fell open and I sputtered through a mouth full of scarf. Tim pulled his away from his mouth and grinned.

"Just call me Charlie Brown," he said.

The tree was almost bare. Tim described how the needles rained down with every blow of the axe. What else did he expect at fifty below?

Then we tried getting it inside. The few needles left on the branches showered the linoleum in the kitchen until it looked like a forest path. We stood it in a corner and stepped back. Tim glanced at me sideways just as I did the same and we both burst out laughing.

"I’ll go buy an artificial one," I said. Tim didn’t argue.

I trudged off to the only store in town, but of course they were sold out of Christmas trees, artificial or otherwise. Then I went to the grocery store to buy a turkey. No turkeys left either. No cranberry sauce, no fresh vegetables. They had some Caribou steaks on special. Whoopdeedoo. By the time I got home I wanted to scream, "Baaah Humbug!" That’s when I locked myself in the bathroom and tried to soak away the frustration.

The next morning I wished Tim a halfhearted "Merry Christmas," then told him his present was waiting for him at my parents’ house. The house that would be decorated so beautifully, with a six foot tree. The house that would be filled with the smell of roast turkey and pumpkin pie. The house where all our family would gather to sing carols by the fireplace. My pity party was complete when he told me my present was waiting there too.

I was choking down tears when the phone rang. A cheery voice said, "Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas." I handed the phone to Tim. I heard his voice go up a few notches the longer he talked. He kept glancing at me, then finally said. "We’ll be there," and hung up. When he told me we’d been invited to his boss’s house for dinner, I just turned and walked into the bathroom.

He gave me an hour to soak, then tapped on the door. "They have eggnog," he said. "And it’s warmed up to minus forty."

I sniffled a bit, dried off and opened the door. "Okay. Why not?"

We dressed in our Christmas best and arrived at the house just in time to see a dog sled scrape to a stop. Tim’s boss, Jerry, waved us over. "The Yukon version of a sleigh ride," he said. "Hop in."

Tim and I crawled under the down blanket and I let him wrap his arms around me as the sled jerked forward. The dogs trotted easily and the sled slid with a sighing ssshhh over the snow-packed ground. Jerry gee-ed and haw-ed and within minutes we were on the river. It seemed like we were floating now, whooshing around ice sculptures heaved up by the force of water and carved by wind. I rested my head on Tim’s chest and watched the reflection of a rising moon glint on nature’s statuary. By the time we got back to the house I was breathless with the thrill of the short ride.

Inside, Jerry’s wife, Sonya, handed me a hot spiced apple cider and, as we joined several others in the living room, I realized I almost had what you could call the Christmas spirit. The smell of roasting turkey helped. Sonya had decorated with impeccable taste, but my heart sank a little when I saw there was no Christmas tree. There was a rather odd shape draped in a sheet in one corner, but everyone seemed to ignore it, so I didn’t ask. I even sang along with the others as someone led the carols accompanied by some light finger-picking on guitar.

The meal was wonderful, the laughter and constant chatter enough to bring the spirit of the season into full bloom. But I was not prepared for what happened when Jerry tapped his glass and told us all to follow him back into the living room.

Sonya was behind me as we went. She leaned forward and whispered. "This is always the best moment."

I followed the group and stood on tiptoe to see what the big secret was. I couldn’t see anything remarkable. In fact, all I could see, as everyone formed a semi-circle, was that we’d been led to the corner with the strange shape draped in a sheet. I held my breath.

Jerry turned and Sonya excused herself through the crowd to hand him a book.

"This has become a tradition for us ever since we moved north," Jerry explained. "We gather our friends, feed them, entertain them, and then we read a bit." He flipped the book open and adjusted his glasses. This is the book of Luke, chapter two, verses one through twenty. "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree ..."."

As the story unfolded, I watched the faces around me. Some were intent, some looked bored, but there wasn’t a sound in the room - just the words of an ancient story told with simplicity and grace. It thrilled me to know the story was true. Tim stepped to my side as it came to an end.

Jerry closed the Bible, looked around at everyone and smiled. "Now we unveil the tree."

Sonya slipped through the crowd again and the lights went out. I heard the soft sound of the sheet falling to the floor. Then the room burst into white light. Before us stood, not a decorated Christmas tree, but a spindly birch. Thin branches reached up toward the ceiling. Each branch sprouted groups of bright green leaves. The leaves glowed with the twinkling of tiny white lights.
I stopped breathing and started crying at the same time. The sight filled my eyes with a color they’d been hungering to see and filled my soul with a light that made me forget about myself. I reached for Tim’s hand.

"We don’t like to cut down an evergreen for the sake of tradition," Jerry said quietly. "So we grow one." He waved toward the birch. "It seems to suit the spirit of Christmas, the Spirit that teaches that the birth of Christ was a point of new beginnings."

Sonya stepped to her husband’s side. "Jesus was an ordinary man, nothing special to look at, the scriptures tell us, like this little birch, but he was also the Son of God and he brought new life and light to a dark world."

Jerry’s eyes gleamed in the reflection from the tree. "Merry Christmas," he said.

The words echoed from all the lips in the room, including mine.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Promise of Christmas

Hi everyone. Here's this week's Spur - it's sort of an expansion of a previous comment. :)M

The Promise of Christmas
By Marcia Lee Laycock

Chaos reigned supreme. That’s how it seemed as we rehearsed our Christmas play. The first rehearsal didn’t really happen. The second one was only a bit better, and three quarters of the cast didn’t make it to the third. Those of us who were supposedly "in control" wondered if we were going to have a play at all.

That was nothing new. Every year it seems to happen. Kids run helter-skelter, some don’t show up, some can’t find costumes or those made for them don’t fit. The choir director is tearing her hair out This year seemed a bit more chaotic than usual. But somehow it all came together in the end. The night of the performance seemed to go well. I say seemed, because I was too busy trying to keep my "cast" quiet and focused, to notice if the play was working. One of the magi discovered he could use one of the shepherd’s headbands as a slingshot to wing the beads off his crown clear across the front of the church. That delighted the kids in the front row who dashed out to pick them up. Mary couldn’t stop squirming because her costume was made of wool, and Joseph kept changing his mind about which robe fit best – right up until he walked out onto the ‘stage.’

I wasn’t sure it had really all come together until the audience stood to applaud at the end. When many congratulated us on a job well done, all I could say was, "It’s a miracle!"

And that’s the promise of Christmas – it all comes together in the end. I’m sure the followers of Jesus, watching the drama of His life and death, felt the same way we ‘directors’ did. To those who thought they were in control, it looked like chaos reigned. From the moment of His birth, He and His parents had to run from those who wanted to kill Him. As He performed miracles, religious leaders plotted against Him. Even the disciples themselves didn’t understand His message. They were disappointed that He didn’t chase the Romans out of the country; He never did set up an earthly kingdom. Then, the cross. It looked like everything they tried to accomplish was doomed to fail. But in the end ...

In the end, the stone was rolled away. The baby born in a stable and crucified on a cross was raised glorified, to the glory of His Father.

And there is another promise yet to unfold. As the birth of Christ is overshadowed by the cross, which was blasted away by his resurrection, even that will be outdone by His return. One day, God has told us, "Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength’." (Isaiah 45:23,24)
It will be a miracle and it really will all come together in the end.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Wise Men with Sling Shots and other Seasonal Things

Well, the program went well, as always. It was a bit chaotic up at the front where the kids were lined up in costumes. The three wise men wanted to socialize at every opportunity and one of them discovered that he could wing the beads that had fallen off his crown way over to the middle of the church if he used a shepherd's head band as a sling shot. Mary was squirmming - her costume was made of wool - and Joseph couldn't decide if he should dress in brown or blue, so kept changing every few minutes.
But the audience seemed oblivious to all of that and the applause at the end was long and loud. Next year I think I'll suggest we have the banquet after the performance. All that turkey rumbled around in my stomach due to nerves!
This pangeant, as all pangeants do, reminded me of my "first" Christmas. I was 32 years old. No, I didn't grow up in a bubble - well, come to think of it, maybe I did - a bubble of unbelief that was suddenly burst when my first daughter was born in 1982. That was my first Christmas as a believer and I remember a woman leaning over my shoulder as I held my 10 day-old baby and watched the kids in the Christmas play - she whispered, "See what you have to look forward to now?" Her words still echo in my mind. I have eternity to look forward to - an eternity of hearing the angels sing Gloria - Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Time for the Angels to Sing

Winter has arrived here in Central Alberta - a dump of snow and minus 20 something today. I think my once-northern blood has thinned out. I seem to feel the cold more than I used to . Or maybe I'm just getting old!

This Friday is our church's Christmas banquet and tableau. We're doing a shadow play this year with adults reading from scripture while the kids depict the scenes behind a large screen with a spotlight on it. Quite effective. We also have a few of the littler kids doing things in the front - that's my department - trying to get them to go and come as needed. As usual the first two rehearsals were chaotic, but I think it will all come together in the end. :)

That's kind of the promise of Christmas, isn't it? It all comes together in the end. The end, which we celebrate at Easter, seems like a nightmare and a victory for Satan, but in fact it was a dream come true. The dream originated in the heart of our amazing God and he will go to whatever ends necessary to make it all come to fruition.
No wonder the angels sang!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

A Culture Committed to Distractions

OC wrote - "If I brood on the Cross of Christ, ... I become dominantly concentrated on Jesus Christ's interests."

We've just come back from a week-long trip to Southern California. It was a rather spontaneous trip to visit friends we knew in Papua New Guinea. The visit was good, catching up and just relaxing. Clif is a translator and passionate about his work. It's a joy to listen to him talk about translating the scriptures and teaching the people.
That was in rather stark contrast to his surroundings. He expressed a lot of restlessness and dissatisfaction with his environment there in a subburb of San Diego, and it's no wonder. He is now living in a culture committed to distractions.

For instance, we went to an enormous electronics store where you could buy any kind of gadget made on the planet or stroll through the building watching live tropical fish in huge tanks placed throughout the store. Distractions. All kinds of them and they do their job well.

When we were home - and very glad to be back in small-town Alberta - my husband commented on how focused our culture is on distractions. Even here in backwater AB, they are there in abundance and we get sucked into them without even resisting. The Christmas season is of course a prime time for it.

How much would our society change, I wonder, if we spent time focusing on the interests of Christ instead?
I think we would be far more people oriented rather than thing oriented, far more focused on things of eternity rather than on things that will rust and decay.

A good thing to ponder as we dive into December.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Living There

Experience can change your mind.

When my husband and I moved to Saskatchewan, we thought we’d moved into a hair dryer. The wind that blew off the prairie that August was incessant, hot and dry. I remember standing on the back step of our tiny trailer, looking out at the flat stubble-covered land and thinking it was the ugliest, most desolate piece of country I’d ever seen. We lived there for three years and over that time I saw the land transformed as the seasons followed one after the other and my eyes grew accustomed to subtle changes. Then one day I stood on that same back step, looking out at a waving wheat field and realized how much I was going to miss watching the play of light, the continual shift of clouds and being able to see to forever.

When we first arrived in Papua New Guinea the people all looked alike. For a while I was nervous about going to the market because I was afraid I would not recognize the woman who worked for us and not buying vegetables from her would have been very rude. When we left Papua New Guinea I sat in the airport and watched the people I’d come to know. I picked out women from the south and men from the islands off the coast. That one was from Buka and that one from somewhere in the highlands. I wondered how I could ever have thought they all looked alike.

There was a time when I thought the Bible contained nothing but myths and rules. I thought it was designed to control people’s behaviour and restrict their will. Then I started reading it. I was amazed at the history, the wisdom, and most of all the portrait, painted in words, of a man whose life, though lived more than two thousand years ago, was having a dramatic affect on my own.

Experience changed my mind in Saskatchewan, in Papua New Guinea, and in consistent reading of the scriptures. I discovered that in order to know a place and a people, you have to live there, among them. In order to know God, you have to read His communication to you.
There was a group of people in ancient times who discovered this. They were called the Bereans. The apostle Paul visited them, teaching and preaching about the Messiah. The Bereans "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).

God has given us a wonderful promise concerning the scriptures. He said – "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth ... so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

There is a way to claim that promise. Living there makes all the difference.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

How Much Will We Sacrifice?

OC asks - "How can we talk of making a sacrifice for God?"

Yet often our thoughts go in that bent. When we decided to leave the Yukon and go to Saskatchewan for Bible College, it meant selling the octagonal log home we had built on the banks of the Klondike River. We thought it would sell immediately. Titled land is hard to come by there and we had five acres. But all the people who'd said, "if you ever want to sell ..." seemed to have vanished. One month before we were due to leave it still hadn't sold. Then two weeks. Finally we decided to rent it and made an agreement with the new butcher in town. Two days before we were to leave Spence drove into town to mail away the last of our boxes, including all our kitchen utensils, pots, pans etc. He mailed them and went to drop off the key to our renter. The man said he was sorry but he'd just rented a place in town instead! Spence said he was in a daze, sitting in the truck wondering if he should go back to the post office and get our kitchen back. Then a friend walked by and told him to take Katie, our 5 yr.old to the park to see the floats, clowns etc. gathered there after the Discovery Days Parade. Spence said it was the last thing he wanted to do, but Katie begged and he relented, pulling into a parking spot in front of the park (a miracle in itself considering the number of people in town). When he got out a woman was standing on the sidewalk and said, "Oh, I'm really glad I ran into you. Art (her husband) thinks we should buy your house."
Spence found him (another miracle in that crowd), and he said he'd come by at five o'clock that evening to talk. He said he'd had a dream and he thought God was telling him to buy our property.
Five o'clock came and no Art. Five thirty came and went. At six o'clock Spence got down on his knees and prayed. He said he just let it all go and told God that it didn't matter what happened. "You are my God whether I stay here and look like a fool, or go to Bible College as planned. It's all up to You. Just show me what to do now." He opened his eyes and heard Art's truck coming up the drive. He walked into the house with a cheque in his hand.
Spence realized later he'd been thinking how great a sacrifice we were offering to God - giving up our home and property, prime real estate, for Jesus. Weren't we great?! Then the "sacrifice" that had seemed like such a jewel became more like something sticky he couldn't shake off of his hand. He just wanted to get rid of it. Then he realized how foolish it was to think of it as such a prize, such a sacrifice. It was nothing. There was nothing we could give God that had any value. Nothing we could do for Him that would make Him love us any more than He already did.
His gift of salvation and relationship is free. We don't have to pay Him back. We don't have to sacrifice. We just have to love Him in return. How great a God He is!
:)M

Friday, November 12, 2004

Doing the Shuffle

OC asks - "... can I stand inthe light of 1Corinthians 13, or do I have to shuffle?"

Another hard question. I had to memorize 1Cor. 13 once. Yes, the whole thing, word for word, commas included. I was taking a class at Briercrest Bible College and memorizing was a requirement. I scored 100% on the test but that was not the only benefit. I was leading a women's Bible study at the time, on the campus where my husband was also a student. The scripture had such a powerful affect I almost quit teaching. I realized I'd been doing it out of all the wrong motives. The only right motive being love. It was one of those times when the words of the Bible seared my heart and soul and left me changed forever. I had to re-evaluate everything, take a long honest look at what I was doing and why. It wasn't easy.
I think maybe I need to do it again.

How much do we really do out of the pure motive of love? When I think of my day, sometimes it seems like there isn't a lot in it that is driven by that motivation. When I think of the life of Christ I realize there was nothing he did that wasn't motivated by it. Gives a whole new slant to wwjd.

Praise God that in our weakness He is our strength. The wee bit of love we manage to give out is poured through us from His Spirit. Maybe that's the problem. We don't understand how much He is pouring into us, how much He wants to pour into us. All we have to do is be willing to let it flow and find places to let it pour out.

Then we would be able to stand in the light of the words of God and smile. Maybe even sing and dance a little. :)



Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Long List of Fools

Hi everyone. Here's my Spur for the week.

A Long List of Fools
By Marcia Lee Laycock

Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God's fool, and all His work must be contemplated with respect. - (Mark Twain, a Biography)

Mark Twain was in good company. There have been scores of men and women throughout history who could be called God’s fools. I could list them, but it would take many pages, many books. Their accomplishments in life would fill a hundred libraries. Some of these fools have made us laugh and cry. Some of them have given us life-saving medicines and work-saving inventions. Some of them have changed nations and stabilized governments. Some of them will forever remain unknown, yet they have given us life itself. Their accomplishments in the heavenly realm would no doubt fill even more libraries. All of them are worthy of respect.

But what about those who don’t look like achievers, but failures? What about those who live lifestyles we don’t agree with, or go by doctrines other than our own? What determines who is worthy of our respect?

I think Mark Twain had it right. Respect is due to all of God’s creatures, regardless of their position in life, regardless of their opinions and lifestyles. Every one of us is made in God’s image, made to glorify Him. Even those who choose not to do so are worthy of respect as creatures created in His image. Jesus set the example for this by his greatest of all acts of love. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

God doesn’t love me because I love Him. He loves me because I am His creation, His child. He loved those who spit at Him on the via Dolorosa. They were His sons and daughters. He loved those who hammered the nails into His hands. They were His soldiers. He even prayed for them, in the very throes of his torturous death. And He asks us to do the same. That’s part of the foolishness of Christianity. Indeed, it is its very foundation. Those who practice it will perhaps be called fools, and worse, but their obedience to God’s law of love is paramount.

Respect is due all men and women. And what is the chief sign of respect? That we share our hearts with one another; that we honour one another with our thoughts, our feelings, our hopes and dreams. When we do that, with open hearts, we may find we’re not so very different. We may find we are, in fact, all fools of one kind or another.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Seeing God through a Pinhole

OC writes - "...if I obey Jesus Christ in the haphazard circumstances, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God ..." (To read the full devotional go to www.gospelcom.net/rbc/utmost)

What an apt image. And how true. I remember when we returned from Papua New Guinea and received word that two of my daughter's friends had been adbucted from a home that was only a few doors away from where we had lived. The girl was gang-raped while the boy was tied to a tree and forced to watch. The horror of it shook me so deeply I found it hard to breath. It was one of those moments when, like a child whose parent has just let her fall, I turned in anger and confusion to rail at God. How could he let it happen? Why didn't he protect them? The thought of that quiet, gentle little 14 year-old going through such a nightmare was more than I could bear and still retain any idea of a loving Father-God.

But I did take a breath, and my heart did return to a normal rate and then I was able to pray. Then I was able to obey and trust. Then the shock and anger and confusion faded and I was left with that pinhole. It wasn't much, but it was enough. I could see that God was still there, still good.

And He was weeping.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Grip of the Pierced Hand

OC says - He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, and says - "Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine." If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart."

In our 'modern' age that last sentence is not acceptable. Outraged voices will cry out that God does not break our hearts. He's there for us. He wants to make us happy, to give us peace. A closer read of the Bible might tell us otherwise. Didn't He break Peter's heart when the cock crowed? Didn't He even tell him it would happen? Didn't He break his mother's heart by going to the cross? Didn't He break Mary and Martha's heart by delaying long enough to allow Lazarus to die?

It seems to be evidence that Oswald's premise is true - "God breaks up the private life of His saints and makes it a thoroughfare for the world on the one hand and for Himself on the other."

It's not about me. It's about Him. And if it takes a broken heart to accomplish his purposes, then He will do it. The key is in the character of God. He won't do it out of malice or anger or vengence. He will do it out of love, because He is the best for us and to reach Him, to know Him, to understand Him, we sometimes have to experience pain.

I don't like it any more than anyone else, but I pray I will have the courage of faith to accept it when it comes my way, knowing His grace is sufficient, His love is sure, His glory paramount.

Blessings on your day. Marci

Friday, October 29, 2004

A Breaking, All-over Light

OC said - "The Spirit of God brings it with a breaking, all-over light, and I know, though I do not know how, that I am saved."

This describes exactly what happened to me as I sat in my truck on a look-out point over the Stewart River on the road to Mayo, Yukon. I was confused, upset, and talking to God even though I told myself I didn't believe in Him. I had no idea what happened - how it was that I knew with such absolute certainty that I had just been forgiven, simply by asking to be. But I knew that it was so and my life changed from that moment on. (To read a few more details go to www.vinemarc.com/articles.htm

The "breaking, all-over light" dawned slowly, but as it rose in me, it began to shine out. People told me I actually seemed to physically change appearance. Two women who had known me as the miserable grouchy postal clerk argued as to whether I was in fact the same person. They were both right. I was, but I was not. Glory to God.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A Sign of the Times

Hello out there. Here's my Spur for this week -


NO TRESPASSING – KEEP OUT!
We’ve all seen the sign. Sometimes it’s on a fence protecting a farmer’s field or on a closed gate shutting off access to someone’s home. Sometimes it’s on the door to a teenager’s bedroom.
And sometimes it’s written in big bold letters across our hearts. We don’t want to let anyone in. We keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. We create an aura of self-confidence that leads everyone to believe we’re in control. It’s safe that way. No-one can hurt you if they don’t know you.
We do this even when we do need other people. When life falls apart due to circumstances, sickness or accident, instead of reaching out for help we tend to withdraw, to cover up the mess and try to keep the facade in place. God forbid that we show any sign of weakness.
God does not forbid it. He desires it. He wants us to be open and vulnerable with one another and with Him because it is through our weaknesses that we become aware of His strength. The apostle Paul proclaimed this openly – "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me... For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2Corinthians 12: 9,10).
If we insist on closing ourselves off to others, we in effect close ourselves off to God. He wants to use those around us to help heal our hurts and clear away our confusion. He wants us to reveal our weaknesses so that we will know, and others will see, how His grace is sufficient. He has designed us to live in community in that way so that He can reveal His love and glorify Himself.
Unfortunately the very places where we should be able to drop our defenses are the places where we are the most guarded – at work and at church. We don’t dare let anyone know we aren’t perfect. We don’t dare let anyone see that we’re struggling in some way. It might mean loss of respect and reputation. It might mean rejection. So we pretend.
And we deny the power of God.
My husband used an illustration in his sermon last Sunday that depicted God’s reaction to our pretenses. He described a young boy pitching his tent in the back yard. He sets it up and then he posts that no trespassing sign. How does the father react? He laughs. He knows to whom the lawn belongs. He knows who owns the tent. He knows whose son is inside it. It all belongs to him.
Trying to deny our weaknesses is just that futile. We were created by Him. We belong to Him. He knows us. He wants to pour His love and grace through us but He can’t do it when we post that no trespassing sign. He longs to see another one written in big bold letters across our hearts – WELCOME. COME ON IN.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

OC says - "We give credit to human wisdom when we shuld give credit to the Divine guidance of God through childlike people who were foolish enough to trust God's wisdom and the supernatural equipment of God."

Foolish enough to trust God....
A pastor/friend emailed this morning and told how he was stopped in his tracks this past Sunday. He had his sermon all ready, laid out and diligently memorized, but then he sensed God telling him not to preach it. He announced that to his congregation at the beginning of the service. By the time the few songs and hymns had been sung, he knew what God wanted him to say instead. Kevin was foolish enough to trust God.

This is a very timely reminder for me. I'm preparing a talk for a women's group on Nov. 16th. Speaking is pure joy to me - like the famous line in Chariot's of fire, when I speak I feel God's pleasure. I'm very much aware of him standing beside me at the podium. It's a humbling experience. I spoke at a women's retreat a few years ago and had, like Kevin, prepared diligently, but no matter how I tried, I could not find good openings for the sessions. I was speaking four times and wanted to open with just the right anecdote, or joke, or whatever. But nothing seemed suitable, so the openings were all blank when I went to the retreat. They were still blank when we gathered together to worship before the session, and they were still blank as the MC introduced me. As I stood up and walked to the podium the opening for that session came to me as clear as a bell. The same thing happened at each session. I think God was just wanting to let me know who was really in control!
Foolish enough to trust God - to know his wisdom is so much higher - to know his equipment is the only kind that will supply what we need.
May we all be so blessed. :)M

Friday, October 22, 2004

Barren yet Full

OC says - "...but only simple perfect trust in God, such trust that we no longer want God's blessings, but only want Himself."
A friend who suffered from severe epilepsie came to this place of perfect trust when he was praying that God would heal him. He was stopped cold inthe middle of his prayer when God asked if he'd be willing to live with the seizures and rely on Him alone to deal with life. Dave took some time to get to the point where he could say yes, but when he did, he said he discovered what contentment really meant. He is content to live with epilepsy because Jesus is all he needs. It is a place of total barrenness yet total fullness in Christ.
The challenge may be greater for those of us who do not face such difficulties. We can live on our own steam, without pain or embarassment or fear. Yet we do not know that full barrenness.
This reminds me of a poem I wrote many years ago, just after we moved from the Yukon to Saskatchewan and I was coninually faced with a landscape that seemed empty. This is what I wrote -

MOVING TO SASKATCHEWAN
First, I chose a field among my northern hills,
a few acres of hay to stand in;
tried to imagine tall and waving wheat, a sky
not held by hill or mountain, a taking wind
tasting of dust;
tried to place myself
at the centre
of what I'd heard was there.
but on arriving, was not
prepared for absence
of comfort from
curving hill,
softness of hovering trees,
constancy of muted light and falling
sheltering shadow.
Then stood on prairie's edge, peering,
studying lines of intersection:
sky,
to land, to fence, to road, to
train track, to elevator, to
sky
. to land, to fence, to road...
and
in the seeking found
a fascination
in seeing,
in emptiness
what is completely full.

Blessings in barrenness to you all. M

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Gulp

Oswald asks - "Am I willing to let God do in me all that has been made possible by the Atonement?"

A question not to be answered lightly. And yet, as he says, we long for the answer to be yes. He also says, "stop longing and make it a matter of transaction." Longing to be made holy is like looking at the lifeboat and wanting to get in, but staying on the deck of the sinking ship.

It makes me think of Peter when he leaped out of his fishing boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. He did more than long to be with him, he leaped out of his comfort zone. Peter knew the boat wasn't as safe as standing in the middle of those waves with His Lord. That's total trust. Like Peter, we may get flashes of it, but it always seems to falter. I'm really glad Peter started to sink. Because I know that's what happens to me, but I also know that, like Peter, I can always raise my eyes again to the face of Jesus and see that he is extending his hand out to me, to draw me up again.

That's the kind of reality we need to grasp if we are to give our lives wholly to Christ. Let God do in us all that he intended from the beginning of time - wow - awesome thought. And what has he made possible? That we can live in grace and peace and contentment and love, even as He did. We can become like Him. Awesome thought #2!




Saturday, October 16, 2004

Snow Day in November

Snow Day in November? Yup. 7 cm of the white stuff on the gound this morning. I guess it's too late now to bring my geraniums in. Sigh. That's Alberta for you.

I wasn't supposed to work today - thought it was going to be a relaxing day of doing laundry and cooking a turkey for a dinner at our church tonight. Then the phone rang. I have four bosses where I work and they all live out in the country. Most of them don't like driving when the roads are icy, so they will often call me when winter blows in. But that's usually Dec.- March. November is a bit early!
But I was glad to get the extra day. Had hoped to do more work on my novel, but the disc I've been using seems to have gotten corrupted, so I've spent a rather quiet day reading instead - and waiting on the few customers who've braved the weather to come out and shop.

Anyone out there read Ghosts by Adrian Plass? He's a Brit and I love the wording in this book. Appeals to my Anglo Saxon blood I guess. It's also a good read on several other levels.

Unfortunately when I dashed from the house this morning I neglected to grab my Oswald Chambers journal, so I'll have no comment on that right now.

Hope the weather's better wherever you are! Blessings on your day. :)M

Friday, October 15, 2004

When the Spirit Comes In

Chambers says - "When the Holy Ghost comes in He does not consider my predilections, He brings me into union with the Lord Jesus."

And the scripture says - "While we were yet sinners..."

And this is the most unreasonable part of the Gospel. That the Spirit would come in even though my predilections are to reject what God wants, to disobey him, to continually fall on my face in sin and in short, to be entirely human. That God would nonetheless instill in me His own Spirit ought to make me fall on my face in adoration. He loves me that much. He wants me to know Him that badly. He's willing to go before His Father and say, "Look, this one belongs to me," even though I'm a dismal failure at being his follower.
How can we not love such a God?!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Going, going, gone

Some thoughts on Oswald -
I like his interpretation of the phrase, "Go ye" - he says "Go simply means live." Of course he qualifies that - it means to live in a state of abiding in Christ. When we do that, God "undertakes to establish the goings."
I think too often we get distracted by all the details -whether it's worth while to go on a short term mission, should I take this job or go back to school - etc. etc. All the questions and conunbrums of life can bog us down so that we forget to live in Him. We can not only live in Him, we can relax in Him. It doesn't really matter what the going looks like, as long as we are abiding in Jesus as we go, turning to Him for the strength, courage, and joy to live our lives each day. When he said that "All power is given to me," he said it knowing how hard life is, know how easily we get distracted. But we have his power and grace and love at our disposal. How can we lose? All we have to do is live! And then one day we'll be gone, gone into His presence completely. Yahoo! :)

****
Anyone interested in taking a course on writing devotionals? I'll be running a course starting in January through Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship. Contact me for more details.

And have a blessed day, "going." :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Spur

Hi everyone - here's my weekly column, The Spur for today -


Filling In The Blank
By Marcia Lee Laycock

"He/she was born to ........" (fill in the blank with the appropriate words). It might be any number of things – run, sing, play hockey, write poetry, act on a stage, administer a large company, serve in the military, police a small town, run a small business, care for a family, etc. etc. etc. Many of us spend our lifetimes trying to discover what the words in the blank space should be. We switch jobs every few years, not because there is something better to go to, but because we’re bored with what we’re doing. When we fail to discover what we’re born to do, the grass always looks greener in someone else’s back yard. Some of us never do discover those few words that describe the niche where we belong. Many are just concerned with trying to "make a living." We have to eat, afford a decent place to live, buy the clothes and other necessities that we need. Concern about what we were born to do tends to fade quickly as we face the cold realities of life.

In a world where choice is not only taken for granted, but considered a right, it is easy to be overwhelmed and even fearful of not making the right decision. Just ask any grade twelve student who is about to graduate. Many of them just decide not to choose. They don’t go to college, because they aren’t sure what they want to become. They don’t pursue a trade because they don’t want to waste the time if it’s not for them. So they float – live at home and work at one of the local burger joints. There are a lot of people out there who spend their whole lives floating. They make enough to survive. Some make more than enough. But those blank spaces remain empty.

Perhaps we are all looking in the wrong place, trying to fill the wrong blank space with the wrong words. Perhaps the importance of making a living and finding your niche in life should be a secondary consideration. The apostle Matthew tells us what Jesus said about this matter; there was a large crowd listening to him and he gave them some of the most profound and significant teachings of his entire ministry as they sat listening on a mountainside. He said – "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:25-34).

Perhaps, then we should all fill in the blank with the same words – He/she was born to glorify God. Perhaps that is the niche we were all born to fill. Perhaps once we discover that, all the other details will fall into place, just as Jesus said they would.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Putting the Axe to the Root

Oh dear. I knew Oswald was going to do it to me again. He always does. Today he's talking about putting the axe to the root of whatever is holding you back from coming to Jesus. He says, "The Holy Spirit will locate the one impregnable thing in you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him."
It reminds me of the time my husband and his associate and his wife took a counselling course. I took one look at the sylabus and said, uh, uh, not this chicken. I was conspicuous by my absence. The course was intense and in a way it was probably best that we didn't take it at the same time. It took me two years to finally take that step. It was intense and painful and humiliating in some ways, but the joy and freedom that came made it worth it all.
"For the joy set before Him..." oh, if we could only keep our eyes on that - on Him - it would be so much easier to take hold of that axe!
Blessings M

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A Bad Disposition

Oswald Chambers' assessment in his Oct. 5th devotional is sobering. It's a different way to look at the whole idea of why sin came into the world. It came in because we allowed it. Indeed, we embrace it.
Chambers' statement hits the nail on the proverbial head - "The disposition of sin is not immorality and wrong-doing, but the disposition of self-realization - I am my own god. This disposition may work out in decorous morality or in indecorous immorality, but it has the one basis, my claim to my right to myself."
That was the curse of the pharisees as much as it was the curse of the theives and prostitutes Jesus associated with. And it is our curse today. The whole New Age philosopy is based on it.
It is a constant challenge to ward this off, to examine my own heart, my motives, my soul. I do so desperately want to be my own god. All of us do. That's what dying to self is all about, and it's a daily thing.
Thank God we don't have to fight it alone. Thank God He has given us His Spirit to help us do it. He has put His Spiriti in us and by that power we can defeat even this most base instinct. Praise His name!


Monday, October 04, 2004

Pot Shots at Pastors

There were fourteen of us in all, sitting on the couches and chairs around our living room, which is a bit too small for that many people. It was tight fellowship. In more ways than one. We had come together as pastors and wives from different towns and communities of Central Alberta. Wayne, the pastor who acts as our group leader, started things off by welcoming a couple who have just resigned from their church. He asked how they were doing. They described their loneliness, the discomfort of feeling that they didn't belong anywhere anymore, not even in this group, anymore. Their story broke my heart because they were our assistants for a few years. We know their hearts, their integrity, their desire to serve the Lord. Knowing they've been stomped on is hard to swallow. Knowing they're still hurting makes me hurt.
Then the next couple talked about why they were stepping back from youth ministry. Again, the story is grim. The next couple told us they are thinking of resigning from their church, more for the sake of their children than because they're tired of the battle themselves.

One of the more senior pastors mumbled - "Want to get shot at? Become a pastor."

It seems like there are few more difficult vocations. Then he began to tell us what has been happening in his church. They've gone through the gauntlet too, and are still under attack from some quarters, but then he told us about two men he led to Christ a while ago, and how they have been praying and gathering a small group around them to go door to door in the town where they've lived all their lives. The change in these two men is so obvious even the most skeptical have been taking notice. "God is doing something," the pastor said. "We've decided we want to stick around and see how it's going to turn out."

Then it was our turn and my husband admitted how many times we've come close to quitting. Sometimes it has just seemed too hard. But we've held on for fifteen years and it's been worth it. As he talked I remembered one Sunday morning, sitting in the front pew watching him preach. I didn't hear much of his sermon. I was too angry. I railed at God that morning. I asked Him why He didn't open the eyes of these people so they could see what my husband was doing right in front of them? Why are they always so self-focused? Why do they pout like five-year-olds and take out all their frustrations on a man who's just trying to serve them? Why don't they deal with their issues and do what the Bible says? On and on and on.

In the end I was silenced when I understood the Lord to say - he's not the only one who's been treated unjustly. And that's all the sermon I needed to hear that day. Jesus got through to me and I had a better understanding of what He went through as he stood before the Sanhedrin. Somehow that made our petty problems seem pretty insignificant. Somehow it made all the hurt a little more bearable.

But if you're thinking of taking a pot shot at a pastor, stop and ask yourself if you are really doing what God wants you to do. Ask Him what he thinks about the matter. You might be surprised at his answer.

Nothing in the Way

To read the devotional for Oct. 3, click on - www.gospelcom.net/rbc/utmost

Chambers says - "This is your line of service - to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself." This is the struggle of daily life, and I suppose always will be until we are with Him, fully redeemed. The good news is that Jesus intends it to be this way. He intends we struggle toward Him, to "win the prize" as Paul put it. It's in the struggle that we learn about Him. Our failures can sometimes knock us back, but if we keep focused on the Lord, we can't help but move toward Him again. His Spirit in us will always make it so. We are forever connected to Him, like the branch grafted into to the vine. My 'company' name came from this idea - VineMarc - a play on words with the first part of my name and the idea of being marked by the Vine. Some days I don't feel like that's true. But then there are others ... and every day I'm aware of Him, His mercy and compassion drawing me. All to His glory.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Cunning Skeptic

To follow along, click on - www.gospelcom.net/rbc/utmost

"Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned Who Jeus was, you were a cunning skeptic about His power."

Oh so true. I was a cunning skeptic for many years, denying the grace and power of God until the circumstances in my life demanded that I take another look. I'll never forget that summer - two friends committed suicide, a neighbour's baby drowned, a friend drowned in a canoeing accident, and another in a care accident. And in the midst of the whirlwind I got married! God got our attention soon after and began demonstrating His love for us immediately. He gave us a 'miracle' child, plopped us into a wonderful group of people who were just as excited about being new Christians, and then moved us to a Bible college in Saskatchewan to continue the journey. There has never been a dull moment since.
Whenever that cunning skeptic rears her ugly head - and she still does from time to time - all I have to do is look back. It truly helps me "face facts in the valley" and my faith grows.
God is so good!
Blessings on your day. :)Marci

Friday, October 01, 2004

Link to Utmost

Hi - for all those who might want to join me in reading Oswald Chamber's devotional, here's the link - www.gospelcom.net/rbc/utmost

Oswald Chambers ... again

I've been rearranging my office lately. We were given a wonderful large corner desk so we had to redisign the layout. That meant I had to deal with some boxes, cull some books (oh no, not that!) and generally get organized.
As I did so I discovered a journal my daughter bought me a few years ago - it's Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest - with big pages for writers like me to fill. I've been through this book at least twice before and decided to go through it again. Chambers is one of those writers that hits the nail on the proverbial head time after time. He's thought-provoking, challenging, and convicting.
So - I'm going to post my journal entries - hopefully each day. Hope you enjoy them.

Today's devotional is called the Sphere of Exaltation. Chambers says - "We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that' is where we have to prove our mettle."
I find that last sentence encouraging and comforting, to know that we haven't just been plunked down here in the struggle. We were made for it, made for this exact place and time. This lines up with 1 Corinthians 10:13 - we are never tempted beyond what we can bear.
Chambers goes on to talk about the building of character and again it's encouraging to know that what we go through is doing that, even when we don't realize it.
The great joy is in knowing that some day we will be rebuilt - in God's image - and will be with Him forever. Amen!
:)M

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Light of Eidon - a good read

I'm almost finished Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock. Great read for anyone who likes fantasy. I'd like to just curl up by the fireplace after supper tonight and finish it off, but my husband has booked us for two visits tonight, so I may be burning the midnight oil instead. I have a stack of books on my table by 'my chair' in our living room. My chair - which I actually share with our six-toed callico cat named Moxi - is a small recliner right by the fireplace. I put a small table/bookcase there so I could line up all my 'next reads' but the bookcase isn't big enough so the books are stacked on top! Maybe I should slow down and stop buying/borrowing books for a while. :)

My talk at the Sonrise Church went well last night, and I even sold a few books. I sold a few at the Inscribe writers' conference too, and three more here at the shop this month, (I'm at work right now) so I'll be able to make a nice deposit into my book account. I'm saving up to do a second edition of The Spur.

Today feels like winter is trying to get through the cracks. The wind is whipping the leaves off the trees. It will be mostly gray on the trail when I ride on Tuesday, I'm sure. I meant to take my camera last week and forgot it. Too bad because it was a beautiful day - calm and golden with sun and flashes of falling leaves. We rode on the ridge above the lake, then through the woods for about four miles in a loop back to the Edwards' farm. I am so thankful to them and to the Lord for giving me these wonderful days to ride. I hope we have a few more before the snow comes. Brrrr - don't like to think about that yet!
blessings to you all. :)M




Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A Woman Who Learned What Was Needed

Hello folks. This is the basis for a talk I'm giving tonight at a Christian Reformed Church in my community. Please pray for the women who will be there.

How many times this week has someone asked, "How are you?" How many times have you answered, "Fine, but busy." It has become my standard answer these days and sometimes that bothers me.
There’s a familiar story in the Bible that many point to when we talk about the hazards of being too busy. It takes place at the height of Jesus’ ministry on earth. He was travelling about the country with an entourage – twelve disciples and a crowd of hangers-on. He often stopped in a place called Bethany, where two sisters opened their home to him and made him welcome. It’s in the home of Mary and Martha that this scene occurs.
No doubt the house was packed. Martha had been working hard to make sure everyone was well taken care of. But Mary was just sitting at the feet of the Lord. Martha complained. Jesus rebuked her. "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed." (Luke 10:41)
Now it’s at this point that most people jump in and say that Martha was too busy, that she should have been doing what Mary did. I’ve always thought that was a bit unfair. Someone had to wash all those dusty feet as they came in the door. Someone had to prepare all those meals and find a place for everyone to rest. Why did Jesus rebuke Martha for doing what she was good at and what needed to be done?
We see Martha again in the book of John, chapters 11 and 12. We see her accusing Jesus of not being there when she needed him, then we see her opening her home to him again, and throwing a party for him. In the last scene, there are only two words that describe her – "Martha served ..." (John 12:2). Yet no words of accusation come from her lips, and there is no rebuke this time. It makes me think Martha had learned something, something vital.
I think Martha learned that what she was doing with her hands was not nearly as important as what she was doing with her heart and her mind. It wasn’t her busyness that was the problem. It was her attitude toward her service and toward Jesus himself. By chapter twelve, it would appear she’d got it right. She served, remaining in the background, and she made way for her sister to do what she was meant to do, in anointing their Lord. She made way for the Son of God to be glorified, not only in her home, but in her heart.
Sometimes we allow our busy schedules to rule our lives. Sometimes we need to stop and take time to enjoy our families, our friends, our God. But more often, we need to shift our perspective within that busy schedule. We need to focus on Jesus, to make sure, no matter what our hands are doing, our hearts are glorifying Him.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Four Day Marathon

I think I'm still in recuperating mode after my four day marathon, but am starting to feel like I have my feet under me again. The meetings in Calgary went well. I'm the sole - perhaps token? - woman on the Western Region Council, but I enjoy the spark of the intellects and theologians at the table. Our association's president was there too, a man I admire and respect a great deal. It's always a pleasure to be in his presence.
The writers' conference also went well. I even sold a few books. :) Our main speaker, Deborah Gyapong, from Ottawa, did an excellent job and the workshops seemed to be well received. The closing session was done by Sigmund Brouwer and I was escpecially challenged by his message, which was, essentially, forget about being a Christian writer, just learn the craft and write as well as you possibly can. Sigmund signed a copy of his latest book for me, The Last Disciple, and his inscription choked me up a bit. We've known one another for about ten years and he's become a friend I value, not just because he's a great writer but because he's also honest, down-to-earth and a great encouragement to me.
I have today to breath easy, then I'm off to speak at a women's event Wednesday. Other speaking engagements coming down the pipe too, so it's never a dull moment.
:) blessings on all your endeavours. M



Friday, September 24, 2004

Four Day Marathon

Just got home from two long days of meetings with our Association's Western Region Council. It was a whole new group except for myself and two others, so the meetins were long but good. I arrived home at about 6:00 p.m., just in time to wave goodbye to my husband as he went off to visit a man in a nearby prison. At 7:00 I had to be at a baby shower at our church, then back home to do laundry and pack again for today. I leave in about half an hour for our two day writers' conference. Since I'm the president there's a bit of stress involved, but I think all the ducks are in a row, so I'm not feeling too pressured.
Please pray for me and the speakers and those attending, that God will speak and guide and direct.
I'm off and running .... :)M

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Lines In My Head

Sometimes I have a line in my head that just won't go away until I do something with it - that is, put it into a story, or a poem or something in black and white. It happened this morning as I was driving around town looking for more places to drop off the CrossWalk newsletter. I was driving down one of the main streets that's lined with good sized Elm trees. (Yes, Becca, we do have Elm trees in Alberta! :)
Many of them are coated in gold now and even though it's kind of a dreary grey morning, they look beautiful. The line popped into my head and now won't leave. So I'll have to do something with it at some point today.

I notice my posts have so far gone unnoticed so I guess I'll have to start spreading the word if I want this to be a worthwhile thing. I could just continue to write into a vaccuum, but I would like some feedback and maybe some dialogue to go on now and then. And I don't want Becca to get tossed around in the bag all by herself! :)

I picked up an old stand-by yesterday. It's a journal my daughter bought me for Christmas a few years ago - to go with the devotional My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I've read that book about 4 times now and Chambers hits me between the eyes every time. I've written in the journal each time I've read the book, and it's interesting to see the different perspectives, different thoughts, even some noticable growth over the years. Most journals of that type don't leave a lot of room to write, but this one has big pages so I should be able to get a couple more years out of it if I keep writing tiny. :) Yesterday's thought was about Satan's intention in tempting us. It isn't just to make us sin, it isn't just to cause havoc, it's to wipe out God's plans to bring Glory to Himself. Puts a whole new weight on why I need to resist. There's too much at stake to play around.

Well, I am at work, so I guess I'd better find something to do here. I probably won't post on Sunday, unless something hits me and just won't let go!

Blessings on your weekend. :)M


Friday, September 17, 2004

Lines in the Sand

Check out this article at www.christianity.ca
Click on http://www.christianity.ca/faith/theology/2004/09.001.html

Rejection

Rejection makes my heart sink. It seemed to pile up a bit yesterday. I distribute a Christian newsletter every month, which carries my column, The Spur. The publisher sends me a bundle and I take them around to medical clinics, hairdressers etc. - anywhere people are sitting and waiting and might have a few minutes to read. I went into a new shop yesterday and the woman refused to let me leave them. Then I went into a dentist's office where I've been dropping them off for the past year, and one of the secretaries came out after me to tell me they no longer want them left there. Sigh. I smiled on the outside, but it left me with a sad heart.
Then I came home from work yesterday to find a couple of critiques on part of my manuscript. They were good critiques but they weren't very complimentary. So it's back to the drawing board.
At least with the ms. I can work on it and improve it. But how do you get people to at least consider Christianity? It seems the doors slam before there is a chance to hear.
The good news is that I know God can break through any barrier. He certainly did it with me. I was a door slammer once. So I guess I'll just pray for those two ladies who don't want to hear. Who knows what God might do?
Have a great day. :)M

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Writers of Faith

Hi - if you are a Christian and love to write fiction, check out this blog - www.faithinfiction.blogspot.com
:)M

At Work

It's one p.m in the afternoon here and I'm at 'work.' I qualified that word because so far it hasn't been - no customers yet. Which means I've been able to work on my novel. (I have the best bosses in the universe!) I put the last chapter together this morning and it feels good to know that much is completed, though there is still a LOT of work to do on the book as a whole, so I'm not celebrating yet. In fact, I think I'll hold off any kind of celebration until I have a signed contract for this one. This is the fifth - or is it sixth? - novel I've started. Four are now complete in rough drafts. I'm hoping this one will make it into print. Then I'd like to try marketing two others that are fantasy books. Fantasy is a hard sell in the CBA, but the first book was almost purchased several years ago so I think I'll try again.
I'm sitting in the back room of the shop - it's a small craft shop called the Walrus and Carpenter. Ten points if you know where that name comes from! The building is almost one hundred years old and on days like this it feels like it. The cold creeps in between all the loose boards and when the sun is shut out by low clouds it seems quite dingy and grey in here. I spent 12 years in the far north (Dawson City Yukon) so I have a thing about light. I need it or I'm in danger of thinking and doing things for which I cannot be held responsible. :) So I have every single light on in the building right now, tho it's the middle of the day.
I love being able to just flick a switch and have the lights come on. We lived in a log cabin with no electricity up north, so our only source of light was kerosene lanterns and one much prized propane light that I used for reading and writing. Anyone out there ever cooked by flashlight! It's a challenge! But hey, I'm glad we did it - the memories of that time are all bright, filled with good friends and much laughter.
Just had an inspiration. So I'm going back to my novel now. Toodlie do. :)M



Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Spur

Hi folks - Since it's Wednesday, I'll post my weekly column, The Spur. Let me know what you think. :)M

The Spur for Sept. 15, 2004

Finding Myself at the Top of the Ladder.
By Marcia Lee Laycock

"Do you know where I am?"
"Where am I going now?"
I’ve been hearing these similar questions lately, asked with the same heart-wrenching look of confusion and a trace of fear. I’ve seen and heard people say these things before. I’ve seen them enter into the disturbing realm of dementia and thought, how sad when the elderly so often seem to revert to a child-like dependence.
Lately it’s been a bit more close to home. One of the people asking me these kinds of questions is my own mother. It’s hard and it leaves you with a gnawing sense of helplessness that makes you want to scream or weep. Sometimes, paradoxically, it makes you want to laugh.
I have reached that stage of life where those who have always been the anchors are now in need of someone to hold onto and I am suddenly in confusion too. This is a new place for me, one I’m not sure I’m ready for, because, truth be told, there are times when I’m not sure I know where I am or where I am going. I feel inadequate to answer those questions.
I am reminded of a poem by Luci Shaw that expresses this feeling so eloquently:
"... There is no one above you
to compass the wideness of space. You
are the final clasp that buckles
earth to heaven. Somehow, you
must hold up the ladder, heavy with life."
(from When Your Last Parent Dies; Writing the River by Luci Shaw)
Suddenly finding yourself at the top of the ladder of life can be terrifying. But there is, after all, someone to hold onto. We don’t have to hold up the ladder all by ourselves. And when we are asked those disturbing questions, we can answer with assurance and comfort. We can tell them it’s okay, because there is someone who knows where we all are and someone who knows were we all are going.
There’s an old hymn that says it well – "Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms, leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms." The arms of Jesus are waiting to hold us and waiting to point the way. The writer of Proverbs exhorts us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight" (Prov.3:5,6).
There is another very comforting thought about being at the top of this "ladder, heavy with life." The next step is into the arms of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Just playing with this to see how it works. This is the cover of my devotional, self-published in 2002.:)M Posted by Hello

First Post

Hi everyone. This is my first post on my first blog. I'm not sure exactly what I'll be posting here, but probably a mixture of mundane day to day things, odd thoughts and perhaps even an epiphany or two.

Just got home from my weekly horseback ride. I go out to a friend's farm each Tuesday and we saddle up for a couple of hours. Today was a bit short because I was late getting there and we both had things to get home to. It was a lovely ride, tho' - the trees here in central Alberta are just beginning to turn yellow and gold. We rode mostly on trails through the bush so it was refreshing, with that tingle of early morning fall, the grasses still wet and poplar leaves dripping with a heavy dew. We saw a bluebird today - a good sign that the strategies to bring them back to this area are working. No cougar tracks, thank goodness! Two foals have been killed in that area in the past month.

I'm off to have lunch now with a friend who just returned from her nephew's funeral. He was only 21, and his wife is expecting their second child. Such a shock and so sad.

Hope you join me here often. I'll try to post something each day.

Cheerio! Marci