Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas cheers

The turkey's half gone, kids are cleaning up the kitchen with Dad. The living room is full of Christmas rubble mixed with the gifts and the running debate is whether or not to have the pumpkin pie now. I think the "elders" are winning and we'll let our stomachs rest for a bit.
We are oh so mindful of the empty chair at the table as our middle daughter is celebrating the birth of Christ in a far and foreign land, and we are also oh so mindful that even though we miss her we know she is not alone, for the Child born more than 2000 years ago is with her, as He is with us all each day.
Gloria. Gloria in excelsius deo!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thoughts on Christmas Kitsch

I sat at the table for five hours watching people walk by. Every now and then someone would stop and pick up one of my books. I’d chat with them, telling them the book was a collection of devotionals. Sometimes I’d share how the Lord had used it to make a change in someone’s life. Usually they’d smile and move on. They’d move on to buy trinkets at other tables loaded with kitsch – painted plastic santas, crocheted snowflakes, angels made of dishtowels, and snowmen made of styrofoam.

As the day wore on I got a little discouraged. And, as discouragement often does, it started to move into bitterness tinged with anger. Why were these people so eager to grab things that had so little value and would last for such a short time? Why weren’t they more interested in buying something that could nourish their souls? It made me want to scream, but I kept quiet and tried to keep smiling when someone glanced my way.

As I drove home later that day I ruminated. I love that word – it means to turn over and over, as in a cow chewing her cud. And that’s what it felt like as I drove along – my stomach was churning; I was stewing over what had happened, and I wasn’t being very complimentary to those people who had not bought my books.

Then that still small voice whispered from somewhere beyond – “And what about you?”
Me, Lord? Um … What do you mean?

I didn’t really have to ask. I knew what He meant. I too make choices every day, choices that are just like those kitsch-hunters. I choose things that are of little value and momentary pleasure over the riches and everlasting joys of Christ. Every day. I was humbled there in my car, and had to do an attitude adjustment. I had to ask God to forgive me for my “holier than thou” thoughts. I had to thank Him for those who did buy my books and thank Him for what he was going to do in their lives through my mere words. And I had to ask Him to forgive me for all those times I’ve chosen the kitsch of the world over Him.

The verses in Deuteronomy filled my mind - “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” (Deut.30:19-20).

There’s an awful lot of kitsch in this world, especially at this time of year. It’s tempting to allow ourselves to be distracted from the real story of Christmas. As the season unfolds, may we all avoid running after what cannot satisfy. May we all choose life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Birds in the field

It was a grey, misty morning last Sunday. And my mood was a bit like the day. I had a lot to take to the church - a dish for pot-luck, my Bible, binder and other paraphenalia for my Jr. High Sunday school class, and a few shoeboxes for the Samaritan's Purse Christmas Child project. So I was kind of growly because I had all this stuff to hawl in and my husband wasn't there to help. My youngest daughter, Meagan took one load but then disappeared, leaving me to make two more trips.
On the second trip I heard the familiar sound of geese, but the fog was so dense I couldn't see them. It sounded like they were very low. I made the second trip about half an hour later and either some of the fog had burned off, or I was just more attentive because I immediately caught sight of a small group of geese about to land in the field that boarders the church. Then I blinked. That field was moving.
I stood still and watched two more flocks land, joining what must have been hundreds, maybe thousands.
As I said, geese are a common thing here - but there was something stunning about seeing them, the mist slipping around them, making their long necks seem disengaged from their bodies. And the noise was amazing. For some reason I thought of the pot-luck lunch that would follow the service and that made me laugh out loud. The sound was similar to what our fellowship hall sounds like during pot lucks.
Anyway, it was a blessing from the Lord that lifted my spirits above the fog - or maybe I should say through it.
:)M

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fighting the Frets

My daughter is in Asia now, trying to cope with culture shock and begin to do the job she went there to do. Her emails sound good, though I can read between the lines a bit and know that she has many moments of wondering what on earth she has done. She said she dreamed about us the other night and then when she woke up didn't know where she was.
I had a similar experience in Papua New Guinea. We were at 'jungle camp' - our orientation time before going on to the place where we lived for that year - I was dreaming about snow - and as I woke up thought I heard sleigh-bells. Then I thought, if it's winter, why am I so hot? When I was finally conscious i realized the sleighbell sound was the incessant insect noises in the jungle - cicadas etc. Made me laugh out loud. :)
Part of me is still fretting for Laura - the 'what ifs' keep rearing their heads - but I'm fighting it with prayer and reminding myself that she has the best companion anyone could hope for - Jesus Himself.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Counting the Hours

My daughter is in the air somewhere over the Atlantic. I'm counting the hours until she arrives in London, then will count again until she reaches her destination in Asia. Praying helps. Join me if you're so inclined. Her name is Laura.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Midnight Musings

It's late and I should be asleep because we have a very busy day tomorrow. I teach Sunday school while my husband travels to a small community south of here to preach in the new church plant. He'll arrive back at our church in time to preach there, then we have a memorial service at the home of a friend. Her brother just died but because of tension in the family they aren't going to be at his memorial service so they are having a small gathering to try and do one on their own. So sad to see such pain upon pain.

Then we'll be on the road again, north this time to attend a gathering of a few pastors & wives. It's about 2 hours from here so we probably won't be home till midnight.
And here I am wide awake. Serves me right, though - Spence brought me a piece of chocolate cake about 7:00 and I ate it. Bad thing to do if you want to sleep!

Anyway - Laura is in Toronto - leaves for Bangladesh on Tuesday. She seems to be getting nervous. So am I. She'll have a few hours layover in London but a direct flight from there to Bangladesh so that's good.

In some ways I'll feel better once she's there.

I'm reading a great book by Carol Kent - When I Lay My Isaac Down.
Wow. It was loaned to me but I'm going to go buy a copy - it's one those you want to have on hand to lend to friends and read again yourself.

Maybe i'll try and sleep now. 'Night. m

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New Book


Hi everyone. Here's a look at my new devotional book. Cover designed by my daughter :)


With an emphasis on those special occasions when an apt word needs to be spoken, Focussed Reflections provides inspirational thoughts that can be read over and over. Many have requested this addition to Marcia Laycock’s first devotional book, The Spur of The Moment.

Order yours today! – A great gift idea

1 copy $15.00 plus $3.00 shipping $18.00
2 copies 30.00 plus $6.00 shipping 36.00
3 copies 40.00 plus $6.00 shipping 46.00
4 copies 50.00 plus $8.00 shipping 58.00

Send cheque or money order to:

VineMarc Literary Services, 5007 42A Street, Ponoka, Alberta Canada T4J 1M3

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ORDER FORM (please print)

Name: ______________________________________ Number of copies _____

Address: ____________________________________ Cost: _________________

___________________________________________ Shipping: _______________

Telephone: __________________________ Total: ___________________

E-Mail ________________________________________________________________

Would you like your copy signed? Yes ____ No ____

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Chicken Pizza for supper

Yes, that's what we had, and something didn't agree with me - not sure if it was the chicken or the pineapple - but here I am at 1:30 a.m. wide awake. I should be working on my novel - in fact I am going to when I'm finished this but just thought I should confess.

My daughter leaves for Bangladesh in less than two weeks and there are moments when it's all I can do to keep from wanting to tie her up and lock her in her room. I'm having a battle with fear, with all the "what-ifs" rampaging through my brain, lighting fires of panic as they go. Trust has become a big word in my vocabulary. But then I have moments when I think I'm a terrible mother for allowing her to even think of doing this. Shouldn't I be trying to keep her safe at home? But then I think of my own mother and what she said to me when I told her I was running off to the Yukon when I was about Laura's age. She said if she were my age she'd want to do the same thing. Dito. but it's so much easier to do those things yourself. Watching your kids do them is almost too hard. Trust. I keep hanging on to that word.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Subculture?

I had a new experience this past week - I discovered a subculture that I did not know existed. Call me sheltered. :)
I was awaiting a call from a tennant when I realized my cell phone was almost dead. It was almost noon, so I decided to plug it into my car's power source and hit a drive-through while I waited. I must tell you, I hate eating in a car, so I rarely do it. But on this day I had no choice, so I pulled into a parking area beside the fast food joint and settled in for lunch.

I noticed there was an abundance of large white birds that go by the misnomer, Seagulls, hovering around. When I glanced to my right, I discovered why. A young man was sitting in his truck, chomping on a burger and tossing fries out his window. A couple of minutes later another vehicle pulled in on the other side of me. Then another, and another. Many of them periodically tossed bits of bun or fries out their windows. By the time I'd managed to slowly devour my chicken burger, there were about 12 of us, all facing the same way - the view was decidedly ugly by the way - all studiously avoiding eye contact with one another as the gulls swarmed.

I was stunned. People acutally do this! Then I noticed each of the vehicles held only one person. Could it be they just don't want to sit alone in a restaurant? Or were they all in a big hurry? They seemed to take their time as they tossed bits to the birds. Would it take so much more time to go in and sit down?

It gave me a rather surreal feeling, as though I was involved in something, but not part of it, observing a ritual without knowing its meaning.

Is there meaning in the fast food parking lots of North America? I shudder at the thought.
:)M

Monday, August 08, 2005

When Things Come Together

Sometimes we can try too hard.

I asked my daughter if she would do the cover for my next devotional book. She agreed with enthusiasm and asked what I wanted. I tried to express what I was thinking. Laura took the idea and started playing with it. She works for a printer who was gracious enough to let her go in and use the computer there, with its up-to-date programs.

Laura played and played and played some more. Her first efforts were discouraging, both to her and to me. Then she hit on one I thought would work. She didn't seem overly thrilled with it, but I wanted to get everything off to the printer, so we were both feeling a bit pressured. We agreed we'd go with what she had done.

She started to walk out of my office, then shyly said, "Mom, next time I think it would be better to try a different concept."

"Huh?" I replied.

She tried to explain what she meant. I wasn't getting it.
"Show me," I said.

She sat down at my computer and opened one of her folders. She started clicking through photos and graphics and finally picked a photo a friend had taken at the beach this summer. Then she started putting the cover together, explaining what she was thinking as she did it.

It was one of those moments we mothers have now and then when we realize through some miracle we have birthed a wonderfully gifted child whose talents we have barely glimpsed. I stood with my mouth agape. In about 30 minutes Laura produced a cover that, to use a cliche, knocked my socks off.

"Will Steve let you use this photo?" I asked. It was Laura's turn to be surprised. "You like it?"
"I love it. I want it. Can we use it?"

Steve said yes and the rest, as they say, is history. Or will be, once the book is printed.
As we looked at the final product we both laughed at how we'd struggled. She was trying to please me and I was trying not to discourage her, but neither of us were happy.

Somehow I think it's like that with me and God sometimes. I try hard, but know I'm not quite hitting the mark. He keeps encouraging me to keep trying. And then, every once in a while things come together - my efforts, His will and grace, His purposes. It's usually when I finally say, "God, show me." I'm always surprised when He does. It's always exciting because I want to shout - "I love it. I want it. Can I use it?" Oh me of little faith.

I imagine He just smiles and nods and knows that's the way it's meant to be. Someday it won't be such a struggle. Someday I'll know His mind and heart as completely as He knows mine. Some day it will all come together.

Friday, August 05, 2005

God's Connections

This tale goes back a while. A few years, in fact, when my husband said one day, "I'd like to go to India." To be honest it made me shiver. India. It brings disturbing thoughts to mind - uncomfortable thoughts about crowded streets and unbearable heat, desperate hands reaching and pleading eyes that won't let me sleep.
But God seems to have given us connections.
There's a man over there who considers our church his "home church" in North America. He's been in churches all across Canada and the U.S., but he picked us. We're the winners in that match.
There's a woman who recently wrote in response to one of my columns. I didn't know at first that she lives in India. Surprise surprise.
Bud, the President of our church's Association, goes to India every year. He likes to take pastors with him. He starting talking to my husband about it a few years ago, just after he voiced that simple sentence that made me shiver.
At our last church conference Bud showed some pictures and talked a little about the group he goes with - Partners International. After the presentation, Spence made a bee-line for him just as he was making a bee-line for Spence. They started talking at the same time. Spence was saying, "Put my name down," as Bud was saying, "I think you should go."
Spence wants me to go too. I know what Papua New Guinea did to me, so this was my first prayer - "God. I'm not sure I can handle India."
But then there's a woman who recently wrote in response to one of my columns. I didn't know at first that she lives in India. Surprise surprise. And then I clicked into a website today to check up on an old friend and quess what's on the website - her jounals about a recent trip to India. I had no idea. God did.

So I'm praying again. "God. Help me handle India."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Quiet Town in Canada

As i drove to work in the early morning light I flicked the radio on and heard that there had been another bombing in London and it made the quiet steets of our little Canadian town seem oh so precious.
When I left for lunch, strolling down a tree-lined street that seemed to sway with a dappled light, I thought about the millions of people in this world who live in unsafe places, ugly places, and just plain uncomfortable places, and I said thank You again.
When I went home to my family and sat down to eat a hearty meal, my husband asked me to say the blessing. I choked up a little.
And I wonder, why am I so blessed?
:)M

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

ah summertime

I was thankful to be working in the basement lab today. Summer has arrived and I'm sure there were lots of people outside enjoying the heat. I wasn't one of them. In fact I hated to leave the airconditioned building to climb into our old truck and head for home at lunch time. (My husband had to go and visit a woman in the hospital in the city, so he took the airconditioned car). At the end of the day I came home and turned every fan on in the house, made deviled eggs with cold ham and we ate in our downstairs, which isn't airconditioned, but is much cooler than the upstairs with its huge West-facing windows.
I do like summertime. I just don't like the heat.

I also don't like hearing about everyone going on vacation. We won't have one this year - or rather, the "vacation" will be a working one. We'll be finishing off the rental properties that are being built in Red Deer. We have three weeks to do two downstairs areas - that's a total of 6 bedrooms, two living rooms, two bathrooms and two laundry rooms. If I were a betting person, I'd bet against us getting it done on time. But we'll see. We have had some friends say they'll help, but again, we'll see.

Been thinking about the word covetousness lately. :)

It's back to the basement lab tomorrow at 8:00. I'm beginning to feel like I sort of know what I'm doing, but I'm sure Barb and Shirley are getting tired of me asking, "So, where does this go, now?"

At least it's cool down there.
:)M

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

When is more too much?

I had a silly thought last night - I should start another blog dedicated to women going through menopause. I'd call it A Glass Half Full. I'd really like to do it. The problem is I can barely find the time to do this one and my writers' blog, let alone start another! Oh well, maybe I'llput the idea on the back burner just in case my life slows down. Ha!
Time to lay my head down.
:)M

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The idea of the gathering made me a little nervous. It was an informal BarBQ to which all the members of the ministerial were invited. My husband and I brought our steaks and salad and arrived before anyone else. I'd met a few of these people - the Baptists, Lutherans and the Alliance pastor who was hosting the event. But I hadn't met the new woman minister at the Anglican church nor the wife/husband team at the United. I confess it was their presence that made me a little nervous. I wondered how things would go if anyone dared to venture onto the stage of theology. The views of some were vastly different than others.
The food was great and our host was gracious. As the dessert was placed on the table, he suggested we all share a bit about ourselves - where we were from, how long we'd been at our present church, etc. It was then that the evening started to shine. Each one in turn talked about their life's journey and it was fascinating how all of us had wandered and wavered but eventually found our way into the Lord's service. The closing prayer of the Lutheran minister was apt. as he thanked God that each of us had been given a place in service here in Ponoka.

The ways of God are so often beyond us - I would never have chosen that group of people for this place, but they are all, in very individual ways, well suited to the ministry here. It was a delight to see his pattern woven together once again in a beautiful tapestry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

All things new

Whew! My head has been spinning a lot these days. Just started a new job at an optometry clinic and they have been teaching me aspects of all areas of the business so it's been a bit overwhelming. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, 'all things new!'
I can see the Lord is going to be teaching me a lot in this place as I learn new skills and work with several new people. It's scary and exciting at the same time but I'm blessed to have at least two co-workers who are also sisters in Christ.
I'm going to have to figure out a way to rearrange my life so I still have time to write, blog, read, think creatively and still maintain my equilibrium at home and at church.
Anyone who is so inclined, please keep me in your prayers!
:)M

Friday, May 06, 2005

Little words

Sometimes little words can make all the difference. Take Colossians 3:3 for instance - "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."
That little word with struck me - I've pondered the mystery of being in Christ, I know I've been saved by Christ, and now, this little phrase, with Christ. It speaks of our sibling relationship with Him. He is my brother, though he is a King.
With Christ - beside Him, as I work, when I laugh, when I cry, even when I sin. He never leaves my side, though that last little word, sin, will put a wall between us until I ask Him to remove it.
And then that other phrase, in God. In God! The thought is overwhelming. It makes me think of stories of people who have been picked up by tornadoes. Yet at the same time it makes me think of being rocked by a gentle sea.
Little words. Much to ponder.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Grand Spectacle

At a certain time of day, early in the evening, I make sure the curtains on the windows in our living room are open. I don’t want to miss the spectacle. Yes, right here in Ponoka, there’s a grand spectacle every evening. It’s a spectacle of promise.

We are fortunate enough to live on a street that is one-sided. There are houses on the east side, but not on the west. That side is still an undeveloped bush, full of birds, squirrels and deer. It’s there that the spectacle of promise happens. As the sun begins to drop, the light slants, hitting thousands of small catkins hanging from the trees. When the sun hits them, they glow, making the entire bush light up. It’s the promise of spring; the promise of new growth; the promise of the colour green.

As I have watched the glow become more and more intense day by day, I have been reminded of all the promises God has given us. They, too, are promises of new growth, rebirth and second chances. They are filled with words of love and protection, encouragement and comfort. They confirm the power of all believers to accomplish God’s purposes. They speak about God’s faithfulness, mercy and forgiveness and His desire for a continuing relationship with us. They outline the path to peace and everlasting life.

None of God’s promises are hidden. He has made a spectacle of them, displaying them for all to see. They glow like the catkins on the trees across from my house. They are promises that will never be broken.

The Apostle Paul knew this when he addressed the people of Corinth – “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2Corinthians 1:20

There is no duplicity in God. Just as we know those catkins will develop and bloom into bright green leaves, we can know that God is saying “yes,” to us. “Yes, I am here. Yes, I love you more than you can comprehend. Yes, I want you to get to know me. And yes, soon, very soon, we will be together.”

One promise that sums up all the others can be found in Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All the promises, all the trials, all the events of our lives, are meant to culminate in what is good. For the believer, there is no doubt it will happen.

As spring creeps to its fulfillment, as we watch the earth bursting into new life around us. we can be confident that the same kind of life is growing in us. The same kind of renewal is possible. God is saying “Yes!” May we all shout “Amen!”

Friday, April 01, 2005

Don't be a Fool

Don’t Be a Fool!
I wonder if people ever said those words to Jesus?
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. You’re just a carpenter from Nazareth. What can you do?
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. Do you think the Romans will just stand by and let you build a kingdom?
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. You’re making the Pharisees angry with your clever answers.
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. You’re making them angry with your miracles too.
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. Don’t go to Jerusalem. The Jews are waiting to kill you there.
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. Keep the people quiet. They’re calling too much attention to you.
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. Don’t let Judas walk out that door.
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. Tell Pilot what he wants to hear.
Don’t be a fool, Jesus. Call down the angels and show these evil men who you really are.

Don’t be a fool. But He was. For us.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Day for Dying and The Day After

My dog died the other day. We got a call from the vet that she’d been hit by a car. She was still alive when we got there and we had to decide whether or not to try and keep her that way. She was an old dog – somewhere around eighteen, we think, and she was in pain, so we did what was merciful.

Then I got home to find an email from an editor saying he was rejecting a manuscript I’d sent him. The words took a while to sink in. I was expecting my dog to die soon. She was very old. I was pretty sure that manuscript would be rejected by that editor. It isn’t ready to be published. But it was still a bad day. A day when things die always is.

But now that the day is over and I look back on it, I see there were some good things in that space of twenty-four hours. I was able to put my hand over my dog’s beating heart one more time and cry a little before having to go on with a day full of things that needed to be done. I was able to be thankful for the fifteen years that little ball of fur and bone was underfoot. I was able to be thankful for friends that make you feel better just by sitting across a table sipping tea; for days full of mundane things that are so beautiful in their rhythm that you hardly notice. And for that word, ‘hardly,’ because I did notice, just a bit; for the hope that gives me. And for editors whose rejections leave you still believing in the dreams you have for words strung across a page.

There are always things to be thankful for, even on a day when death becomes a reality. There is always hope for a new day, hope that the darkness won’t always seem impenetrable. There is always hope because our Redeemer lives. It was a dark day when He died - literally, according to the scriptures - but Jesus didn’t stay wrapped in death. He rose and walked among his friends again, spoke to them, encouraged them, ate with them. He not only gave them hope for a new day, he gave them life forever after, life lived in the presence of God.

The Apostle John wrote that “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30,31). We no longer live within the day on which death seemed victorious. We live in the day that came three days after. We call it Easter. And Jesus said – “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29b).

Monday, March 14, 2005

Just returned from speaking at a women's retreat in Saskatchewan. Great time. It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks when we open our mouths in obedience.

As usual, I'm sure I learned much more than the ladies there. Preparing the four sessions wasn't easy. I found the theme, A Circle of Friends, a bit hard to write to. But then God started opening things up to me - like the passages in Thessalonians from which my husband has been preaching for the past month or more. He was quite surprised when I told him I was using some of the same passages to talk about friendship. "Friendship?" he frowned. It's there - the whole book shows us how to treat friends, when you look at it that way.
And there were all kinds of other little things God brought my way - a verse that I read in the course of my devotions, a book sitting in a discount bin, even a joke or two.

It was obvious He was involved during the weekend, by the reaction of some of the people there. And one of the delights was meeting people who had connections to people and places I mentioned. The greatest delight was hearing people say - "I thought you were talking just to me. I needed that so much!"

I'm hoping to download some audio here if the recording turned out okay - I haven't had the chance to check yet. That's if I can figure out how to do it! :)

Blessings on your day. M

A Bite of Poisoned Apple

If you've ever been aware of a monster inside you, read this (Start with March 2)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Pictures of Greatness

I picked up a copy of a national newspaper last week, as I do now and then, to fill in the gaps in the news that television coverage leaves. As I read through the articles I thought of the Sunday School class I was about to teach. The class was all about greatness – how our culture sees it, and how God sees it.

The articles were about people who were being lauded as great – a man who conducts seminars on how to become a millionaire overnight, another whose company makes "the Porsche of snowboards," and movie stars who, when they decide it’s time for a vacation, buy themselves a tropical island.

I pulled all of these articles out and handed them around to my junior high class on Sunday. The boys liked the one about the snowboards. We talked about why these people were considered worthy of having their names, and faces, in the paper. What had they done that was so great? It didn’t take the kids long to conclude that making snowboards wasn’t exactly worthy of the Nobel Prize.

Then I showed them the article on the front page of the newspaper. It pictured four young men in RCMP uniform. There were other articles about them, articles that talked about their short careers, their families. The front page mostly talked about how they died.

I asked the kids why these men where considered worthy of being in the paper. The answer was obvious. They had died in service to their community and to their country. It added a whole other dimension to the discussion about greatness.

It’s sad that it took the tragedy of their deaths for those young men to be recognized. It’s sad that we forget about all the other men and women in our communities who are doing their jobs every day, serving us in police forces, hospitals, ambulance services, fire departments, town councils and a myriad of other jobs. Why do we only call them heroes when they die?

It seems our culture loves to mock what is good, loves to ridicule what is right, moral and ethical. And when it does, it condemns itself. The apostle John wrote about this when he said – "Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:17-20)

There is only one way to love the light – become part of it. When we allow God’s Spirit to enter into our hearts and minds, He will convict and guide us into that light. Only then will we recognize and truly honour what is truly great.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Nest Yourself

My daughter called the other day. She's living in the city, about an hour north of us and is in a state of inbetween. Not a fun place to be. Been there. Didn't like it.
She has begun the process of applying to go to Bangladesh with a mission group. But meantime she has to decide if she should stay in the city, at a job she doesn't really enjoy, or maybe move home, save some money and take any kind of work she can find here.
I was praying for her this morning and turned to Psalm 84 - it was mentioned on Sunday, so I was following up.
It's a beautiful Psalm, full of the longing in the heart of a believer. I especially like the lines - "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young - a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God." (v3)
So I wrote a note to Laura - nest yourself near the Lord and it won't matter where you live, you'll always be able to fly.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Supplying the Need

When I lived in the Yukon, it was necessary to do a lot of canning and preserving at the end of the summer. Food was expensive and fresh vegetables were often in short supply. So I did a lot of canning and so did my friends. Canning jars were always a very desirable commodity.
We were coming close to the end of the growing season when I visited my friend Brenda one day and she mentioned that she was concerned that she might not have enough jars to put up all of her garden. I wanted to help her out so I made a mental note to bring her some the next time I went to town. A few days later my husband had to take some things to the community dump.
Now, at the risk of putting myself in an unfavourable light, I must confess I have been a dump shopper. In Dawson, everyone was. In a place were everything was through-the-roof expensive, you learned how to scrounge. Well, we arrived at the dump that afternoon and lo and behold there was a box of jars sitting right on the edge, sparkling in the sunshine. They looked like they’d been freshly washed. Some of them even had lids.
I immediately scooped them up and told Spence we had to make a stop at Brenda’s house. She wasn’t home when we arrived so I left the box of jars on her doorstep, intending to call her later. I got distracted and didn’t get around to making that phone call so it wasn’t until many weeks later that I remembered them. I was having tea with Brenda again and asked if those few jars had been enough to make up her shortfall.
Brenda started to laugh. In fact, she just about fell off her chair, she was laughing so hard. All she could manage to say was – it was you! It was you!
You see, it was Brenda who had taken the jars to the dump. She had told everyone that she was running short and had received so many contributions from friends that she had too many and decided to share her wealth. But no-one else seemed to need them. Knowing how people shopped at the dump, she made sure they were nice and clean and left them there. She was quite shocked to find them sitting on her doorstep when she got home that day!
We still laugh about those jars!
Unlike my failed attempts to supply my friend’s needs, Jesus never fails to do just that. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Phil 4:19 says – "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
Sometimes, He even gives you a good laugh while He's doing it.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Oh Lord, Help

To read today's devotional from My Utmost for His Highest, go here

OC says - "The delight of sacrifice is that I lay down my life for my Friend, Jesus (see John 15:13 ). I don’t throw my life away, but I willingly and deliberately lay it down for Him and His interests in other people. And I do this for no cause or purpose of my own."

This makes me think of Henri Nouwen, a man who left notoriety and "influence" to work among those who didn't know or care who he was. His book on leadership details the growth of humility in him as he made that transition, and the growth of Godliness too. His sole purpose was to get close to Jesus.

My husband and I were just dicussing an elderly saint in our congregation who just went to be with her Lord. She was a prayer warrior par excellence and we kept hearing people say things like, "Who will pray now that Mildred's gone? Who will stand in that gap now?" She wasn't a perfect person. She was fiesty and often cranky as only a woman who's lived a large chunk of her life alone can be, but she was a saint called to pray and pray she did. My husband pointed out that God gave her the opportunity - she was a young widow who never remarried, never had children - just dogs and cats! :) She spent her time wisely.

I'm humbled and in awe of people like this. I realize that each person's route will be different, but when I read about people like Chambers and Nouwen and think of people like Mildred, it drops me to my knees. I'm so far from it, so caught up in my own purposes.

Oh Lord, help!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Restoration

Dave Long linked to this post today
It made me think and want to write. So here I go -

For many years I was a lapsed Catholic. Having been raised in all the tenets of The Church, having tried to do all the right things, say all the right prayers, keep all the right ordinances, I left it, convinced I just wasn't good enough for God.

Then one day a friend blew his head off with a shotgun. My neighbour's baby drowned in the river that ran past my door. My friend's husband fell out of his canoe and was swept away. And all that I thought was safe and secure crumbled when I tried to reach for it.

My husband sought the answers first, and in seeking them found more questions, but also found the God of his childhood. I was afraid to look again. Afraid He still wouldn't let me find Him. But I took a risk one day, overlooking the Stewart River in the Yukon, and asked Him to show Himself. He laughed. Then He gave me my heart's desire - the baby the 'experts' said I would never have. And my heart melted as I moved into a culture of faith, a community of believers.

As I learned the truth in His word, I became angry at The Church. They'd lied to me. So I thought. It was all their fault. It was easy to lay the blame at the foot of that altar.

Flash forward twenty years or so - I found myself holding the portfolio of Communications for our church's association. They paid my way to Montreal for the national conference and I found myself in a nunnery. Once housing seven hundred women of God, it was reduced to hotel status with a small wing left for the aged Sisters of Charity still in residence. I passed the statues of the virgin on my way to breakfast, glanced sidelong at the portraits of Christ pointing to his heart, exposed. I tried to be angry but only felt sad. I smiled and said "Bon matins," to the nuns. When I passed the chapel one evening and heard them singing I had to hold myself back from walking through the doors. It shocked me that I still wanted to be with them.

Then one night we were invited to go to the Notre Dame Cathedral at the heart of the old city. There was a "light show" there, we were told. We sat in the old pews, heard a lecturer describe the building of the Cathedral as portions of it were lit around us. The sculpture, the art, the richness of history, and yes, of faith, left me breathless. But it was when the screen we'd been watching suddenly folded back to reveal the altar that my heart almost stopped. It gleamed, shone, soared toward the heavens, and in the silence forced our eyes to look up. Look up and behold our God.

I sat still as people around me began to leave. Our host announced we were welcome to draw near for a closer look. My husband took my hand and we walked toward the altar. I kept my eyes raised until we were standing directly in front of it. Then I saw The Lamb.

Carved in bas relief, He sat on the throne with the multitudes around Him. Angels covering their faces with their wings, angels hovering above and around, saints throwing down their crowns, saints bowing. The multitude worshiping. And at the centre, The Lamb.

"Look," I whispered to my husband. "Look."

And I wept there, in that Catholic cathedral, because I had found Him, once again. I wept because He had chosen to reveal Himself to me in a place where I was convinced He could not be found. He restored my heritage to me, its richness, its beauty, its essential truth. At the centre, The Lamb.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bringing Jesus to Life

This is The Spur for Feb. 16. Enjoy! :)M

“Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” The woman was hunched over, her hands clasped around an imaginary ladle, as she stirred an imaginary cauldron and continued to recite the lines from the famous witches’ scene in Macbeth. We, about twenty-five grade ten girls, were completely transfixed.

When our teacher, “Mrs. B,” suddenly stood straight and announced, “That, ladies, is Shakespeare, and you are going to love him,” we were totally convinced. Somehow she managed to keep us there for the rest of that year. We did learn to love Shakespeare and we learned to love “Mrs. B.” as well. She was a demanding teacher but her style of teaching made her classes a joy. Macbeth wasn’t the only play she recited, complete with voices and facial expressions. She became the characters for us and brought the plays to life.

God calls us to do the same. We are to become the image of Him, of His love, His mercy and His grace, so that people begin to see Jesus through us. In the book of Ephesians, chapter 5, verses 1 and 2, the apostle Paul says – “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” I don’t know about you, but that seems like a tall order to me. It’s hard to imagine that we could even attempt such a feat. We fail too often, sin too much. We are all too human. Left to our own devices, we cannot even begin to be the image of Christ. Yet God asks us to try. And in the trying, He pours His love, His mercy, His grace, into us and empowers us to do His will. And little by little, we are able.

We can become the gospel to those around us, as my teacher became the characters from Shakespeare’s plays. We can become His voice, His hands and His feet, as we listen to His Spirit and obey. Listen and obey – two small words that can mean the difference between a life lived for self and a life lived for God.

The frustrations of life, that make our sin nature take over, will get in our way. We will fail from time to time, but God has not asked us to do the impossible. He has asked us to allow Him to do the impossible through us, that He might be glorified.

Like my teacher of long ago, each one of us can bring Jesus to life for those around us. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15 &16).

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Second-Hand Messages

OC says - "We show how little we love God by preferring to listen to His servants only... we do not desire that God Himself should speak to us."

This is the result of unhealthy fear, of believing God wants to dispense punishment instead of grace. We know we are guilty and we forget about His forgiveness.
We also know, intuitively, that when He speaks it will require a response. We'd rather stay silent, hiding in places we think are safe.

Our ignorance of our God is apalling, yet we insist on maintaining it. With understanding comes responsibility and we run from it.
God help us all.

Friday, February 11, 2005

A Little Imagination

OC says – “In every wind that blows, in every night and day of the year, in every sign of the sky, in every blossoming and in every withering of the earth, there is a real coming of God to us, if we will simply use our starved imagination to realize it.”

We all let our imagination run away with us from time to time. Some of our greatest inventions and highest achievements are the result of someone’s imagination soaring to impossible heights. Some of our greatest failures and basest sins are the result of the same. It all depends on where we allow our imagination to take us.

Being a Christian takes a lot of imagination. The writers of the Bible continually call us to use it. For instance, the Prophet Isaiah encouraged the people of his day to “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name” (Isaiah 40:26). Isaiah paints word pictures for us, and our minds begin to imagine. In his devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says Isaiah made the people “begin to use their imagination aright.”

Chambers’ premise is that our imaginations are starved of the things of God. We focus so much on all the other imaginings that we miss the inspiration that is around us every day. We’re imagining our bank accounts growing, while nature displays its riches in a sunset. We’re imagining how great we’ll look in that new dress, while the snow falls and makes the world look new. We’re imagining the new car we’ll get when we’re promoted, while the wind sings songs in the trees. When our imagination keeps us focused on ourselves, on our needs and desires, we become blind to what God wants to show us. When we look for Him, we are stimulated by what is around us and our thoughts turns to God. We see him in everything we look at, in every turn of events, and we begin to know Him.

He has put himself on display for us. All we have to do is look, use a little imagination, and turn to Him. The Apostle Paul refers to this as taking “every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our imagination will try to run away on us, and it usually leads to places that starve our soul. It takes an act of the will to bend the imagination toward God, to turn our thoughts away from ourselves.

He has put himself on display for us. All we have to do is look, use a little imagination, and turn to Him. The Apostle Paul refers to this as taking “every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our imagination will try to run away on us, and it usually leads to places that starve our soul. It takes an act of the will to bend the imagination toward God, to turn our thoughts away from ourselves.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Getting Hold of God

OC says - "The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer."
He then goes on to say that getting hold of God happens through everyday life, through the "commonplace things and people around us."
Oh so true! God reveals Himself to us every day but we don't see Him. Sometimes, as someone so eloquently said, He is in a 'distressing disguise.'

There are a lot of people in my home town who walk around in distressing disguises. They are patients at the psychiatric hospital. Some of them have wild delusions about being Jesus. Their illness is evident, but sometimes amazing truth comes from their lips. They are often very perceptive and very forthright about what they sense. Sometimes I wonder if God isn't speaking through them. He does use the simple to shame the wise. Maybe He's telling us to get hold of them in order to get hold of Him.






Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Scenery of my own Sacrifice

I had a hard time with OC's devotional today. I find it hard to believe that God wants anyone to be abased. But then, He was.

My daughter just told us she is beginning the process that will take her to Bangladesh with a mission group. It makes this mother's heart beat a bit faster when I think about it. Will that be the scenery of her sacrifice?

And what or where is mine?

It makes me think of this job, and my feelings about it, especially when I first started. I had been working as a unit clerk and admissions clerk at the hospital. A job among professionals. It thrilled me to be there, to be among others who, in my estimation, were a notch above "the common." (I guess I'm revealing my snobbery here!) When those positions were cut back, since I was on the bottom of the totem pole, I was out.
Taking the job as a clerk in a small shop for just above minimum wage was definitely a blow to my self-esteem.
Yet this job has allowed me to write to my heart's content. I've finished a novel (almost) in the past year, and written and edited quite a lot more. I'm absolutely certain God put me here for that purpose.
The sacrifice of position for ministry wasn't my choice, but it was accomplished.

I think of Henri Nouwen, and his experience of going from a prof. at Yale to the L'Arche community where, as he expressed it, he went from being a man of reknown to a man working with people who only cared if he could make their cereal in the morning. The lessons he learned about God and himself in the process were invaluable.

And then there's the cross - Christ's scenery of sacrifice. Makes all others look just a shade more than mere.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Always Home

My husband and I just returned from a weekend in the city of Edmonton, where we attended Breakforth Canada, 2005. It was a good time, listening to some topnotch speakers and some rather loud music. :)

I attended most of Jill Briscoe's sessions on the Holy Spirit - excellent teaching. To learn more about Jill and her husband, Stuart go to www.briscoeministries.com

Jill talked about being stranded in Newfoundland on 9/11 and some of the conversations she had there with a few of the hundreds taking shelter in a Salvation Army chapel. One of her stories was about meeting a famous model. She’d noticed the beautiful young woman and had felt the Spirit nudging her to connect with her. But when she tried to get close enough to strike up a conversation, there were always so many people, mostly men, around the model, that Jill couldn’t get close enough. So she prayed. The Holy Spirit told her to smile. So for the next couple of days that’s what she did. The young woman’s eyes seemed to wander her way a lot. Every time, Jill smiled. Finally she came to Jill. “What on earth do you have to smile about?” she asked. Their conversation quickly turned to spiritual things. When the model said that all she wanted was to go home, Jill replied, "I am home." She explained how that could be, though she was thousands of miles from the place where she lives, her family and friends.

As I heard Mrs. Briscoe tell that story, it made me think of an experience I had many years ago. I had been traveling in Europe, mostly Spain and Portugal, and had just returned. It took just over thirty-six hours to go from Madrid to Esnagi Lake, an isolated place in northern Ontario, where a job was waiting for me. The afternoon I arrived, I went for a swim and fell asleep on an air mattress. When I woke I was disoriented. I stared at the line of dark pine trees trimming the high cliffs. A loon let out its plaintive cry. I knew immediately I was not in Spain, but where was I? Then my foot slipped off the mattress and hit the cold water. Instantly my mind clicked into gear and I thought. “Ah, Canada. I’m home.”

There is one sure way to know where you are, to know you are always ‘home,’ no matter your location on the globe. Keep at least one foot in the water – the water of life. That is Jill Briscoe’s secret, the one she shared with that famous model while stranded in Newfoundland. Mrs. Briscoe stays connected to the One who is home to her, the One who can be home to all of us, Jesus Christ.

In John 14:23 Jesus says – “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

When God makes His home in you, you are always at home with Him.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Pushed

I'm a little pushed for time today. We're heading off to a worship conference and I've got a pile of critiquing to do for my online course, plus trying to put the final touches on a birthday present for my daughter. So ... hope you all have a blessed weekend. Remember the Lord.
:)Marci

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

What were they thinking?

According to this source - www.powells.com/portal/LiteraryNotes.html
It's Australia Day - celebrating the founding of that country. The source outlines how Australia was colonized by prisoners shipped from Britain. As I read the short blurb, it occurred to me that the British strategy was rather strange. Think about it. They were wanting to colonize and control - would putting a bunch of rebellious prisoners on an island in the South Pacific seem like a good way to do that? What were they thinking?
But then, when I think about it, isn't that what God did too? He created our planet, put us here, and allowed us to choose how to live. We haven't made very good choices throughout history. Sometimes I wonder what he was thinking. But he had a purpose, a plan, and it's still unfolding. Just like those early Australians, we're prisoners who've been given a second chance, an opportunity to get it right.
God does have a plan. And it's very well thought out. I thank God he chose us - chose me - to be part of it.
Blessings on your day.
:) M

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Uncomfortable in Alberta

OC says - "Narrow all your interests until the attitude of mind and heart and body is concentration on Jesus Christ."

This makes me just a little bit uncomfortable. It makes me picture a doleful monk or severe nun. But I don't think that's what Oswald, or the Lord, intend. We are meant to live in this world, and live well. Living well means doing what OC says - Have only one focus and that is to know and glorify Christ. Do that through all the other aspects and potential distratctions of life, and you will live well indeed.

Easy to say. Not so easy to do. And we are so good at deceiving ourselves. We act with selfish motives but then justify it with a veneer of religiosity. That's when it is all the more astounding to find that God has blessed anyway - blessed us and others through us. His purposes are so far above ours, yet he invites us to be part of them in the midst of our foolishness.

Makes me think of the scene described in the Bible when John points Jesus out to two men. They follow him and when he asks them what they want, they ask - "Rabbi, where are you staying?"

I imagine Jesus smiling then, when he answers, "Come and see." (John 1:35-39)

It's a perfect example of what happens every day. We're scurrying around, concerned with all the unimportant things, and Jesus invites us into His world, into His ministry, into His very home. He invites us to live well, with Him.

May we all accept that invitation!
:)M

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Sharing Air

My husband preached a great sermon on Sunday. I admit I'm biased, but in my humble opinion his sermons are usually great. But then he's been in this church for 17 years, so I guess there are a few others who share my opinion. BTW - you can hear them by going to www.churchoftheopenbible.ab.ca

Anyway - at one point he used an illustration from his time in the military when he was being taught to dive. He was paired with another man and told to do a descent to 35 feet. The catch was, they had only one tank of air and one breathing apparatus between them. I thought how my attitude would change toward that other person, if it were me, sinking lower and lower into the water. At 15 feet he's just another guy. At 25 feet, he's the guy I'm sharing my air with. At 35 feet, he's the guy who's got control of the air 50% of the time.

Crisis usually creates dependance. It is often critical who you choose to depend on. At 35 feet under water, Spence was forced to depend on that other man. He had to trust that he would hand the mouth piece back after taking his turn at breathing. He thought about that every time he took the apparatus out of his own mouth and handed it over.

Normally, here on earth, we don't often think of ourselves as being in a place of dependance. We walk around breathing normally and functioning easily. Until something goes wrong. An asthma attack makes us realize how precious each breath is. ALS makes us realize how wonderful it is to be able to feed ourselves, walk and talk. A stroke makes us realize how much we need to talk and communicate clearly. A car accident makes us realize how fine the line is between life and death.

A friend of ours has ALS. Some call it Lou Gerig's disease. Every time I talk with him I realize how dependant we all are on God. Doug depends on Him for every labored breath and knows that unless God intervenes, his last breath probably isn't very far away. But Doug knows the guy who's holding the breathing apparatus and he knows that when he decides not to hand it back, it won't be an end, but a beginning.

We know trusting other people is risky. We know a little too much about human nature to feel really comfortable trusting anyone with our life. But knowing the One who holds your life in His hands is a sure way to avoid panic attacks. Because once you know Him, you love Him and are assured of His absolute love for you.

And He's already proven He'd die for you.

Blessings on your day. :)Marci

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Two Nevers

OC says - "Never try and help God fulfill His word."

Oh, how we try! We imagine it our destiny to help God. And this, in its essence, is arrogance and lack of faith. It leads to what OC warns against in his next few words - "Never pump up joy and confidence, but stay upon God."

When we believe we must help God, we must pump ourselves up, put on the masks that tell everyone everything is wonderful. Failure is not an option. Obedience is pure duty. We must "pump up joy" because there is none flowing naturally.

We've all met saints like this. They burn out quickly. They may even fall completely away from the Lord because, in their failure, they blame God.

"Stay upon God" - it's the abiding principle again. The one that is so hard for us to understand, so hard for us to live in. And the more we struggle to do it, the harder it is. Staying, abiding, is all about rest, not struggle. When we rest in God we understand that He doesn't need our help, but he wants to include us in what He's doing - to bless others through us, and thereby shower us with His love and mercy.

Oh how deeply we - I - need to learn this lesson!

:)M

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Serving or Pouring?

OC says - "The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him."

What then, is "pouring out our lives?" Perhaps it is living in complete obedience - not just in what we do, but in who we are, in whom we connect ourselves to. He has told us to remain in Him. Perhaps the pouring out is part of that process.

OC is right. It's all too easy for us to get caught up in serving and forget to remain. Without remaining, we cannot know what obedience is. If we do remain, obedience becomes as natural as rain that is drawn from the oceans, transformed in the atmosphere, and falls in order to sustain life. Perhaps the pouring out of ourselves must happen within that pattern in order to have value.

Blessings, Marci

When hearts beat faster

The phone jangled and made me sit up straight. I'd almost nodded off, aware that my husband had just crawled into bed beside me. He leaped for the phone. I started praying. As a pastor's wife, I'm used to midnight phone calls but they are never good news. I could hear the panicy voice on the other end.
"Dad. I just rolled the Tracker. But I'm okay."

We were both dressed and out the door in seconds. I was still praying, now asking that He keep us safe as we skidded down the hill where we live. The streets had been turned into skating rinks by a freezing rain.

We arrived on the scene without going into the ditch ourselves, and were relieved to find that our daughter was okay. She'd driven all the way from Edmonton (one hour north) and was only two miles from home when, on a down-hill slope, the vehicle went into a skid. She was going so slowly she didn't even bump her head. If the embankment hadn't been so steep, the Tracker probably wouldn't have rolled, but there it was, on its side. Katie's fiance arrived moments later and after making sure the paramedic did a thorough job, agreed to let Kate come home with us while he went back to work. The Tracker belongs to him, but he was more concerned about Kate than the vehicle. He's a good man! :)

I made a cup of tea once we were safely home, and we laughed at how our cat wound herself around Kate's legs and leaped into her lap when she sat down. It seemed like she was thankful to see Kate in one piece too.

My heart rate had finally returned to normal by the time I crawled back into bed. I wondered about the amazing way our bodies are designed. The adrenilin that rushed through us was probably enough to give us the strength of the Incredible Hulk. I know it was enough to keep me awake for some time.

Anyway, all that to say, Thank you Lord, for keeping Kate safe!
:)Marci


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Diving Deep

In discussing Romans 6:4, OC talks about "white funerals" today. Interesting my mind immediately went to images of baptism in our church, where those going through that symbolic ritual wear white. It's also interesting that God allows us so much leeway in this. As OC says, we can continue to "skirt the cemetary" or we can accept that we must face our "last day on earth." The dying to self, denying sin the right to reign, is part of our battle here on earth. But we like it here too much. We like our sin too much.

Tho' even thinking those words makes me shudder, they are true. I think part of the problem for me is that I focus on the dying instead of the "alive to God in Christ" part. (Romans 6:11). Focusing on being alive in Christ is the motivator that makes dying to our selves and our sin seem like a paltry thing. But it's kind of like looking at an unfamiliar fruit - we've been told it's good, but we've never tasted it for ourselves. Until we do, we won't know it's the best thing we've ever tasted. So it's a step of faith, or a dive of faith you could say, staying with the symbolism of baptism.

May we all dive deep and often!
Blessings on your day. Marci

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Don't Let This One Pass You By

Just read a post at Dave Long's Blog - www.faithinfiction.blogspot.com telling us about Bad Ground and issuing a Call to Action -
Something special happened last week - Dale Cramer (who’s given an interview you can read here) had his book Bad Ground honored yet again. This time Publishers Weekly selected it as one of their best books of the year. (Unforutnately, it’s an internet exclusive that’s only available to subscribers.)Publishers Weekly reviews, on average, twenty-five or so novels a week. That’s 1300 novels a year. From this massive list they ended up selecting 47 novels. (Plus lots of comics, nonfiction, religion titles, etc.)Some other titles on the list? F*i*F mentioned Heaven Lake by John Dalton, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and The Preservationist by David Maine. The Narrows by Michael Connelly. Ha Jin’s War Trash. Booker Prize-winning The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. Books by Peter Straub, Neal Stephenson, Philip Roth, and Nora Roberts. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.
Frankly, it’s pretty rare air. So, I’d like to take a moment to congratulate Dale and his editor, Luke Hinrichs. Awesome work, gentlemen.Moment over. Now, I’d like to get serious.Dale’s book isn’t selling so well. I’m not sure that’s a confession I should be making here, but I am because, honestly, it should scare the crap out of us as writers (and publishers).Here we have a book that had phenomenal prepublication reviews, was following up a decently received first-novel, has a superb title, a stark, evocative cover, and a decent, if not overwhelming, marketing and publicity campaign.The Christian book buyer responds with stony silence. And because they do, the B&N, Borders, and Wal-Marts of the world pass by it. They skim the cream off the top of our industry, cherry picking books by pure dollar signs and not quality or merit. And so Bad Ground threatens to go quietly into the night.Something failed this book. Perhaps it was us. Perhaps it was the industry. Perhaps it was the CBA book buyers. Or the Christian book buyers who clamor that they want well-written Christian fiction. Most likely it was a combination of all.But listen, I do not want to let this book go quietly into the night. And so I’m going to ask a very dangerous thing.If you have the means, I would like to challenge you to buy this book. Order it at your local B&N or your local Christian bookstore. Buy it online. Wherever.
I have been writing F*i*F for over a year now. I have specifically made this a place that doesn’t hawk the wares of my company. I’m risking your trust now because A) I believe this is a book that you will like. and B) We need this book to do well.Listen, if we sell more BHP books, I will benefit from that. That’s the 800-pound-gorilla here. I can't do anything but admit it. But I think you know me. I hope you trust me.Plus, supporting Bad Ground is not just good for BHP. It’s good for a whole lot of people.It’s good for readers who want variety, who cherish both literary and storytelling excellence.
It’s good for writers who are doing things that don’t quite fit the standard mold in CBA. Because it will succeed and we can point to it and smile and convince our sales people that, "Yes, your wonderful book is one that also can find critical and popular success." And then perhaps we can publish your, just slightly out-of-the-ordinary book, too.It’s good for other publishers. Expanding the breadth of books that the industry can support will only help other publishers broaden their lists.Frankly it’s good for the industry. The other books on Publishers Weekly Best of 2004 are mostly massive bestsellers. It seems odd that the Christian industry manages to ignore its honor.So that’s today’s post.If you have the means, consider picking up a copy.If you want to help in a different way, post a mention of Dale’s honor to your blog. Mention it at other discuss boards to which you belong. Spread the word, if you can.
This is, after all, a CBA author going toe-to-toe with the biggest names in the industry.

That's almost the whole of Dave's post - so now, go buy the book! :)Marci

The Cost of Obedience

Today's entry in Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest has an interesting twist. Usually, when we think of obeying God, we imagine the results will all be positive. But OC quotes the scripture from Luke 23:26 - "They lay hold upon Simon ... and on him they laid the cross." OC's point is that sometimes our obedience will cause others pain.
I saw an example of this in our church not long ago. My husband was led to do a healing service, asking those who wanted healing to come the front and be anointed with oil. This is quite unusual in our church and my husband did not do it lightly, believe me. He knew it would cause some uncomfortable repercussions. He thought all of them would fall on him, but not so.

When he called the elders to come to the front to assist him and pray with him, one of them said no. His justification was that he did not believe this was "proper." He believes that it should be done, if at all, in a person's home, in private. (He didn't know that two people had come to Spence and asked him to do what he was doing. I doubt that that would have changed anything). It was a very awkward moment for everyone. It was hard for Spence to then focus on praying for those who came forward, but he managed.

The whole thing was an act of obedience on Spence's part but it did cost that elder - he said it was a very bad day for him - he felt humiliated and no doubt very angry. He and my husband have talked through it and it's fine now, but at the time it was hard.
I have a lot of respect for both men - my husband for doing what God told him to do, and that elder, for standing by his convictions. (I don't agree with him, but that's beside the point)

The week following that Sunday was also hard for everyone. My husband wondered if the repercussions would cause him to lose his job. But then he was praying one day, while driving and he said a verse came into his mind and stayed there all day. "Do not be afraid. Only obey."

I'll close with Oswald's last words - "Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him."

The Cost of Obedience

Today's entry in Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest has an interesting twist. Usually, when we think of obeying God, we imagine the results will all be positive. But OC quotes the scripture from Luke 23:26 - "They lay hold upon Simon ... and on him they laid the cross." OC's point is that sometimes our obedience will cause others pain.
I saw an example of this in our church not long ago. My husband was led to do a healing service, asking those who wanted healing to come the front and be anointed with oil. This is quite unusual in our church and my husband did not do it lightly, believe me. He knew it would cause some uncomfortable repercussions. He thought all of them would fall on him, but not so.

When he called the elders to come to the front to assist him and pray with him, one of them said no. His justification was that he did not believe this was "proper." He believes that it should be done, if at all, in a person's home, in private. (He didn't know that two people had come to Spence and asked him to do what he was doing. I doubt that that would have changed anything). It was a very awkward moment for everyone. It was hard for Spence to then focus on praying for those who came forward, but he managed.

The whole thing was an act of obedience on Spence's part but it did cost that elder - he said it was a very bad day for him - he felt humiliated and no doubt very angry. He and my husband have talked through it and it's fine now, but at the time it was hard.
I have a lot of respect for both men - my husband for doing what God told him to do, and that elder, for standing by his convictions. (I don't agree with him, but that's beside the point)

The week following that Sunday was also hard for everyone. My husband wondered if the repercussions would cause him to lose his job. But then he was praying one day, while driving and he said a verse came into his mind and stayed there all day. "Do not be afraid. Only obey."

I'll close with Oswald's last words - "Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him."

The Cost of Obedience

Today's entry in Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest has an interesting twist. Usually, when we think of obeying God, we imagine the results will all be positive. But OC quotes the scripture from Luke 23:26 - "They lay hold upon Simon ... and on him they laid the cross." OC's point is that sometimes our obedience will cause others pain.
I saw an example of this in our church not long ago. My husband was led to do a healing service, asking those who wanted healing to come the front and be anointed with oil. This is quite unusual in our church and my husband did not do it lightly, believe me. He knew it would cause some uncomfortable repercussions. He thought all of them would fall on him, but not so.

When he called the elders to come to the front to assist him and pray with him, one of them said no. His justification was that he did not believe this was "proper." He believes that it should be done, if at all, in a person's home, in private. (He didn't know that two people had come to Spence and asked him to do what he was doing. I doubt that that would have changed anything). It was a very awkward moment for everyone. It was hard for Spence to then focus on praying for those who came forward, but he managed.

The whole thing was an act of obedience on Spence's part but it did cost that elder - he said it was a very bad day for him - he felt humiliated and no doubt very angry. He and my husband have talked through it and it's fine now, but at the time it was hard.
I have a lot of respect for both men - my husband for doing what God told him to do, and that elder, for standing by his convictions. (I don't agree with him, but that's beside the point)

The week following that Sunday was also hard for everyone. My husband wondered if the repercussions would cause him to lose his job. But then he was praying one day, while driving and he said a verse came into his mind and stayed there all day. "Do not be afraid. Only obey."

I'll close with Oswald's last words - "Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Cold on a Monday

You know I lived in the Yukon for 12 years, and often my mind and heart goes back there, but my blood doesn't seem to remember it. It was only about -20 here today and I shivered from the minute my toes hit the wood floor in our kitchen till I finally got home a couple of hours ago, put on yet another sweater and made myself a cup of very hot tea. The bad news is that it's getting colder as the week goes on. Ah Canada!

Today was a bit of a milestone day - I sent the first sixty pages of my novel off to an acquisitons editor. Exciting. Scary. Fun. Even if I did sit at the computer till 1 a.m. doing the final, final, final revision! Does it ever end? The good news is, no. :)
I'm trying not to let my mind go careening down the tunnel of possibilities - yet - but I really hope they like it enough to want the whole ms.

The suspense leading up to my win at FiF and InFuze in December just about killed me - watching all those stories being posted day by day, hoping to see mine there and being disappointed every day. I hope this wait isn't that bad. I told myself today that I have to just forget about it. It's gone. What happens happens, let God control it all. But here I am blogging about it!

Anyway - I hope to get back to posting some thoughts on Oswald Chambers soon - maybe tomorrow.
See you then. :)M

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Oh, By The Way

I Won!
I think just about everyone I know already knows this, but I just realize I didn't post it here. I won the Christmas contest sponsored by Dave Long from Bethany House -www.faithinfiction.blogspot.com and Robin Parrish at InFuze Magazine - www.infuzemag.com
The Story is posted at InFuze - scroll down to the bottom where you'll see a button for Short Stories. Click there and Missing Christmas will appear.

I was truly shocked to win. In fact, as the top ten were posted each day I had been quite bummed out that my story hadn't placed. On the final day I wasn't able to click in to read the winning story until my lunch break at work. I sat and stared at the title and my own name for several minutes before it registered.

Dave emailed to tell me I'll be receiving three - count 'em - three! books.
Now all I have to do is finish Moby Dick before they arrive!

And speaking of Moby, I'm loving it. Great writing - no wonder it's a classic. The readers' group I belong to will be meeting tomorrow to start discussing it. None of us is finished yet, so it will take more than one session to get through it. I've compiled my list of want-to-reads for the group - it's quite long so it's going to be hard to choose if anyone else has a list as well. The group is quite diverse - some wanting to read only CBA, some wanting more classics, some willing to read whatever (I'm in that category).

It's snowing here again. Good for the farmers' fields. :)

Blessings, Marci


Monday, January 03, 2005

First Things

First things - to love my God and my family as well as I can. To hold nothing too tightly that should have no claim on my soul. To give even those I don't agree with the dignity they deserve. To laugh often with my husband, my children, my friends. To cry with them sometimes. To cherish waking every morning in their company. To enjoy my church with all its character and characters. To write every day and thank God for the privilege. To remember there are women in the world who don't name their children until they are two years old because they know their children may not live that long. To forget quickly the darts that sometimes sting and forgive even more quickly the words that threaten to scar. To give willingly when I can and receive with grace when things come my way. To hold honesty and integrity in high regard in others and to pursue it in my own life. To make no claim or reward without giving God his due. To rest in knowing all things, all life, all breath are held in the palm of His hand and controlled by the twitch of his fingers. To smile when I think of Him.