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.