Thursday, November 01, 2012

Books of Remembrance

In honour of Remembrance Day, celebrated here in Canada on Nov. 11th, I thought I'd post this devotional from my book Focused Reflections. Enjoy.

   It sounds like a gunshot. The report, echoing back from the marble walls, is the sound of a single soldier coming to attention. The sound comes from the sole of his boot as it strikes the floor in the Memorial Chamber on the second level of the Peace Tower in the Ottawa Parliament Buildings. The soldier salutes, bows, stands in silence for a moment and then opens a glass case in front of him. Carefully he reaches in and turns the page of a large book. Then he closes the case and moves on. There are seven cases, each containing a large book. The soldier comes to attention, salutes and bows at each one. This process is repeated every day at eleven o’clock. The seven books contain the names of the thousands of men and women, Canadians, who have died at war.

It took several artists many years to create the books, which are decorated with heraldic illumination and calligraphy. The paper and binding used were specially made. The steps and stand on which they rest are made of marble imported from the quarries of Flanders Fields. They are embedded with brass plates hand-crafted from the shell casings retrieved from battlefields and bearing the names of the major battles in which Canadians took part. All the symbolism and ceremony surrounding the Six Books of Remembrance is meant to honour those men and women, some long dead, for their sacrifice and acts of valour.
But there are more than seven Books of Remembrance. Revelation 20:11-15 tells us there are books in heaven, too. The exiled Apostle John described them as he saw them in his vision. He wrote: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne and books were opened. Another book was opened which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (v.12) .... If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (v.15)

There will no doubt also be great ceremony, great honour, but also great disgrace associated with the books of remembrance in heaven. That final judgement will herald a new beginning for all of God’s creation. For some, those whose names are written in the book of life, it will be the beginning of an eternity lived in the presence of God. For others, those whose names are not in that book, it will be the beginning of an eternity lived in the absence of God.

But there will be a difference between the ceremony in heaven and the one that is conducted on earth. The ceremony in heaven will happen in the presence of those people. They will be there to see the books opened and to hear their names called. Whose names will be written in the book of life? Jesus tells us  - “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)
Watch a video of the ceremony in the Memorial Chamber.
Visit Marcia's Website to learn more about her writing and speaking ministry

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Two Days After - M. Laycock

The line of people snaked through Pearson Airport with a low hum of conversation, broken now and then by the buzz of electronic devices - hair dryers and razors being plugged in, to prove they weren’t fake. Armed men roamed through the crowd. At the counter, luggage was opened, personal belongings tossed about, nail files and fingernail clippers taken out, purses and brief cases tagged. One woman looked embarrassed at needing a stranger’s help to get her suitcase closed again. Another looked flustered as a long screwdriver was pulled from her handbag. “I forgot it was in there,” she explained. The security guard wasn’t smiling. One man said, “They can search me six ways to Sunday. The more they do, the more secure I feel.”

As I waited in the departure lounge hours later, I realized there were not many people there who looked like they felt secure. Most were fidgeting, some pacing. All were taking careful note of those who would be boarding the same plane. A tall man standing by the window seemed especially diligent. He was not looking out the window, but studying the people. I noticed him survey each person’s bag, his eyes lingering on each purse, each briefcase. He also studied the faces, his eyes not shifting away when they looked directly at him. As we boarded the plane, he stood behind the stewardess, watching.

Security. It is a word we have heard continually, in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. No doubt many will continually wonder, how secure are we, really? Will the security measures taken at airports and borders really make a difference? Will all the efforts to protect the western world from another such attack guarantee it won’t happen again? The underlying reality creeps from beneath these questions - there is no guarantee. Must we then, like the people of so many other countries, live in constant fear? Must we change our daily habits and train our children to do likewise? No doubt our lives have changed as a result of the attack on the United States, but there is one constant that remains.

Hebrews 13:6 says  - “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 112:6-8 says – “Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear.” The only real security lies in trusting God. Putting your faith in Jesus guarantees, not a life without conflict or stress, but a life of peace in spite of circumstances, a calm heart that conquers fear.

Boarding a 757 two days after one was used as a flying bomb did make me realize Jesus is the only guarantee. May we all grow more and more into that realization.

Marcia's devotionals are distributed to thousands. Her devotional book Spur of the Moment is now in second printing. Visit her website

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Living For Real

Have you ever considered, in this virtual day and age we can ...

send a message to a friend without actually talking on a phone;
take a course at college without actually stepping foot on the campus;
find out all the latest news about any country in the world without actually leaving your living room;
check email without actually having to talk to anyone;
play tennis or basketball without actually stepping onto a court;
read a book without actually holding it in your hands;

But ...

there is nothing like hearing the actual voice of a loved one far away;
there is nothing like sitting in an actual classroom with others of like mind and spirit;
there is nothing like actually experiencing the third world, its people, its culture, its tastes and smells;
there is nothing like actually talking to a friend about their life, hearing the joy/pain/sorrow/laughter in his/her voice.
there is nothing like actually being on a court, hearing the crowd, working with your team-mates;
there is nothing like actually turning the page, feeling the weight of a good book

Don't let life actually pass you by. Live it, for real.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Reader Appreciation Award

I am honoured & humbled that Lynn Dove, nominated me to receive The Reader Appreciation Award.
Thank you, Lynn, for nominating The Spur for this award. There are a few guidelines for accepting this award: 1. Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog site. 2. Copy and paste the award to your blog. 3. Pass the award to up to ten bloggers. 4. Notify your selected bloggers that you have nominated them.
Accordingly, I am nominating the following bloggers for The Reader Appreciation Award:

Laura Davis - Learning from the Master - shares her thoughts on faith

Glynis Belec - her personal blog about life and cancer

Stephen Berg - Grow Mercy - insightful thoughts on faith, life and culture

Violet Nesdoly - Promptings - thoughts on life and aging

Kimberley Payne - devotional thoughts on life and faith

Janet Sketchley - Devotional thoughts and book reviews

Karen Toews - Real Food Matters - health and food info.

Mary Waind - Beech Croft Tales - backyard musings

Brenda Wood - Heartfelt devotionals

Bonnie Way - balancing life as a mother and writer

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A Few Things I've Learned - M. Laycock

One year ago today I answered my cell phone and heard my doctor say three terrifying, mind-numbing words: "you have cancer." It wasn't an April Fools' Day joke.

I just finished my last treatment and am feeling good but it has been a year full of challenges - days of having to face a reality I did not want to know, days of such bone-deep weariness that I just wanted to hold my breath and wake up in heaven, days when I rejoiced if I could put my clothes on without panting.

I learned a few things along the way - these are some of them:

I learned that you can be terrified of walking through a door and still turn the knob.

I learned that you can feel tiny and alone and helpless until you look into the faces of the other people in that hospital waiting room who are bandaged, bald and draped in hospital gowns but still manage to smile at you. Their strength feeds you.

I learned there are a lot of people out there who know how to love in practical ways. There are people who are brave enough to care for the desperately ill in ways that shout the word grace into a needy world.

I learned that doctors don't know everything but most are genuine in their quest to do their best to help.

I learned that when all you can do is howl in the middle of a hospital corridor there will be someone there who says it's okay, go ahead and do it.

I learned that being surrounded by suffering can reveal all that is noble and wise and beautiful in humanity. Seeing it is worth the cost of being there.

I learned that when you know there will be things to laugh about in the day, it's not so hard to get out of bed.

I learned that when you are in a place of having always to receive there is a desperate need to give.

I learned there is time to cherish life even when you feel that it's ebbing away from you.

I learned that when God's voice is silent, if you are willing to open your eyes you will see his face, weeping with you. Sometimes the face looks a lot like members of your own family or a friend.

I learned that God may seem indifferent until your eyes open to see a beam of light pulsing along the tendril of a spider plant, making its blossoms glow. Hope is a dimension of light.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Joy Dare - Feeling the Love of God

1 - in the way He has carried me through this past year, into cancer clinics and waiting rooms, and taught me so much.

2- in the care and concern of all the staff at Tom Baker. They have been His hands and feet, His smiles and even laughter.

3 - in the smile and teary eyes of my daughter as she tells me she's going to miss me.

His love is astounding every day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Joy Dare - Behind a Door

Three Gifts behind a door -

1- My brown sweater hanging behind the door in the spare room at my daughter's house.

2 - The selection of coats in the front hall closet at home - no matter the weather, I have a choice of what to wear, all to keep me warm and dry.

3 - My mother-in-law's story about piling the dirty laundry behind the dining room door when her mother-in-law came to visit - and how that was the beginning of my love for her.

The Joy Dare - Three Hard Eucharisteos

1 - being thankful for cancer.
2 - being thankful for this year-long hiatus, this detour
3 - being thankful for people who continue to make bad choices, manipulating, deceiving over and over again.

The Joy Dare - Three Gifts in Working

Three Gifts in Working -
1 - the sense of accomplishment when the job is done.
2 - the joy of working well with others.
3 - having a reason to get up each morning.

The Joy Dare - Laughter

Three times I heard laughter -

at church when my favourite pastor joked about his own foibles.

at home when our manipulative cat got the best of us once again.

on the radio, listening to two women, obviously friends for a long time, discussing one woman's book newly released.

The Joy Dare - Unexpected Grace

Three Gifts that were Unexpected Grace -

A lovely box full of home made cards and a journal. From two friends who just stopped by to wish me well.

Lunch with a friend who was visiting her mom in the same hospital where I'm receiving radiation treatments.

My husband saying, "Let's go out for breakfast."

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Joy Dare - Feb. 8 - Broken, Fixed and Thrifted

A gift broken - the 1 cup measure given to Laura for her wedding. Heavy plastic that shouldn't have broken but hit the floor with a wicked snap.

A gift fixed - the pedal on my daughter's drum set. Fixed by Dad. :)

A gift thrifted - a white coat given by a friend but never worn.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Joy Dare - Feb. 7 - Three gifts Red

My turban - to keep my bald pate warm

My red purse - a gift from my daughter. It's just the right size. :)

My red tunic top - it's roomy and warm - perfect for after radiation treatments.

The Joy Dare - Feb.6 - Gifts outside

1 -
the pond across from our house. I've spent many hours watching the kids play hockey or just skate. Especially love the families - dads teaching their little ones warms my heart.

2 - the midnight sun on our back deck - a gift from a Yukon friend. :)

3 - the wonderfully dry roads as I drive from home to Calgary and back again each weekend.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Joy Dare - Feb 5, Stitched, Hammered, Woven

One Gift Stitched - A favourite pillow, white on white.
One Gift Hammered - The brass tray bought by my father-in-law many years ago -
One Gift Woven - Well, not woven exactly - a shawl knitted with love and prayer by a dear friend.

The Joy Dare - Feb. 4 - Gifts Found While Bent Down

1- The softness of my dog's head, the cold touch of his nose.

2 - The pleasure of watering my plants in my own living room.

3 - The joy of discovering my old slippers under my bed, worn and comfortable.

The Joy Dare - Feb 3 gifts found in writing

1 - The gift of helping others to draw closer to Jesus, through words in story

2 - The gift of drawing closer to Jesus myself as I write as He leads

3. The gift of community with other writers of like mind and readers who connect.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Joy Dare Feb. 2 - Things overheard

A server in the dining hall where my mother-in-law lives, to an elderly lady a little confused - "No dear, this is a chair. Your walker is behind you." Her gentleness as she directed her hands was the gift.

That's all I overheard today because I had my turban on and it tends to block sound. I sometimes tuck it over my ears but then my ears get cold. Can't wait for the hair to grow back. It's coming along, slowly. :0

The Joy Dare - Feb. 1 - Timely Gifts

11:30 - Heading out the door with my daughter to have lunch with her grandmother, then spend the afternoon together.

2:30 - Back to back laptops at Starbucks- L is working "from Home" today. :)

6:30 - Cheese sandwiches for supper with blueberry pie, homemade by my daughter.

The Joy Dare - Day 31 - Paper, Person, Picture

A gift found on paper - this list of prompts to search for the blessings each day. It's been enjoyable, uplifting, helping me "take every thought captive."

A gift found in a person - the generosity of spirit and gift of humour accompanied by twinkling eyes - in my friend Gus who will soon be face to face with his Lord and Saviour.

A gift found in a picture - on Facebook - Perception/Reality - made me laugh out loud and gave me the topic for my next speaking engagement. :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Joy Dare - Day 29

A Song heard - Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns

A Soft Word - "I love you." Okay that's three words - in my husband's soft voice on the phone from home.

Where I saw light - in the eyes of the volunteers at Tom Baker Cancer Clinic - they work so selflessly doing small things like bringing patients coffee and tea while they wait for their appointments.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Joy Dare, Day 28 - Graces in Friends

1 - an email telling me I'm missed
2 - offers of rides when needed
3 - the pleasure of a friend's great sense of humour.

The Joy Dare - Day 27 - Gifts that might Never have been

Day 27 - three gifts that might never have been.

This one is easy - the answer, my three daughters. You can read about it on my webpage.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Joy Dare - Day 26 - Gifts in Time

Before 9:00 - sleep! ;0

Before noon - a volunteer driver who gets me to my radiation therapy appointment on time.

After dark - a small pot of crocuses given to me at a ladies' meeting the other night. Then passed on to my daughter because it was her birthday. They are so gorgeous on the kitchen counter - makes me think of spring, when all these treatments will be done. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Joy Dare - Day 25

One Grace borrowed - a necklace made with a brown stone, a filigree leaf added - to wear to go to be with a bunch of lovely ladies to talk about writing and Inscribe.

One Grace found - that a day alone can be long and a little bit boring but still a blessing.

One Grace inherited - my mother's optimism - she always knew how to put a positive or even fun spin on things for us kids, even when life wasn't at all fun for her. When my dad lost the business they had both built and then they lost the house too, she made it into an adventure - a new home, a new school, new friends ... oh boy! Then she went away to a corner by herself to shed the tears.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Joy Dare - Day 24 - 3 Things Blue

1 - The clear Alberta Sky - I realized I'd been taking it for granted when I asked a Korean exchange student staying with us, What did you notice first about Canada? Her answer - "the sky - it's not grey or yello
w with pollution."

2 - My new shirt - blue chambray, soft and roomy

3 - My husband's eyes, which I'm missing. So looking forward to going home this weekend. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Joy Dare, Day 23 - 3 Gifts Found in Christ

1 - Gentleness - always, with all of us.
2 - Patience - without which He would have given up on me a long time ago.
3 - Love - the greatest of all, the embodiment of who He is. So astounding that He bestows it on us and reveals Himself to us, in love.

There are so many more ... could go on for pages.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 22 -The Joy Dare, Wrinkled, Smoothed, Unfolded

One Grace wrinkled - broken down vehicles causing wrinkles in schedules until friends emerge and come to my aid.

One Grace smoothed - the stresses of the week smoothed away in a church sanctuary listening to the music - a fine guitar, a sweet flute and the rhythm of drums, and then the scripture read in different versions and then ...

One Grace unfolded - the word of God by a seasoned preacher.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Joy Dare - Day 21

One thing in the sky - a wheeling bird, beauty in motion as it plays in the wind.

One thing in my memory - the look in a young boy's eyes when he understood that Jesus takes our sins away forever. "Wow," he said. "Wow!"

One thing that's ugly/beautiful - trees with no leaves, stark against a blue sky.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Joy Dare, Day 20

Three gifts close up -

The beauty in a piece of raku pottery.

The underlying friendliness of the shopkeeper in the second-hand bookstore. Her smile was slow in coming but worth the wait and getting a little closer to see it.

The smell of a fresh tomato.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Joy Dare, Day 19

The Joy Dare, Day 19 -

A Grace in the kitchen - watching my daughter and son-in-law making dinner together, discussing their day, laughing, hugging. A joy to watch the comfort they share.

A Grace in the weather - ice fog gave me the chance to tell Laura and Ty more about the Yukon, the magic of -60

A Grace that might never have been - my 3 daughters - go here to read about this. I shudder to think what my life would have been like without God's intervention.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Joy Dare - Day 17

Three gifts from God's word - blessed by the Psalms -

Psalm 3:3 - But you O Lord are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.

Psalm 12:6 - The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalm 85:8 - I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His Saints.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Joy Dare - Day 17

One Gift that made me laugh - all the funny posters etc. on Facebook. ;0

One Gift that made me pray - leaving my car keys at home ( 2 hours away ); having to depend on Laura to get me to the hospital and back again.

One Gift that made me quiet - the Doctor's words, "this could cause you problems." Hmm ... thanking the Lord for medicinal solutions.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 16, The Joy Dare

Three ways I witnessed happiness today -

1 - sitting in a warm house eating a hot bowl of soup when it's -26 outside.

2 - watching two nurses at Tom Baker Cancer centre working with such joyful efficiency.

3 - seeing my son-in-law welcome his wife home from work - that would be my daughter. :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 15, The Joy Dare

Three more things -

One thing I wore - long johns that kept me warm in this -20 degree winter.

One thing I gave away - a box of chocolates made by a friend. We were blessed with so much we had to give them away!

One thing I shared - more chocolates - with my daughter and son-in-law.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 14

Three ways I glimpsed the startling grace of God -
1 - in my son-in-law as we chatted about his experience with Jesus and his desire to stay close to Him.

2 - in our church family who are so quick to support and love those who are hurting or afraid.

3 - in a very strong woman whose grace in the face of the infidelity of her husband has been astounding. Only through Christ can we attain such heights.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Joy Dare, Day 13 - Things I've Heard

Three things I've heard -

The purring of our cat as she sleeps on my husband's chest while he naps.

His laughter as he chats with someone on the phone.

His footsteps on the stairs.

It's so good to be home, if only for the weekend. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Things above, Things below, Things beside Me

Day 12 -

Something above me - the many levels at Tom Baker Cancer Centre, rooms where patients lie watching doctors and nurses coming and going dispensing medicines and diagnoses and the limited wisdom of limited but seeking minds. The blessings and curses of modern medicine flowing through hallways and up and down elevators, shadowing visitors with flowers and candy or toys and balloons.

Something below me - my shoes squeaking on hard linoleum washed and polished every day by men and women with tired eyes who still take the time to smile or say good morning as I follow the green line to the dressing room and on to the waiting room, the signs about privacy telling us all to wait for the assistance of the nurses.

Something beside me. Yusef, Katie, Matt, Amanda, who step to my side as I lay on the table, their smiles telling me this is all normal after all, as they make sure my body is lined up, "perfect," "Yes that's just right," and we chat about countries we've seen, their comments interjecting like exclamation points of victory as my mind slips back to Spain and Portugal, their "wonderful people." Yes, I think, wonderful, truly wonderful. And filled with mercy and grace.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Three Yellow Things

Three Yellow things that strike me as fresh mercy -

The afghan made by my Mother-in-law - just right for curling up under for an afternoon nap.

My yellow "chemo turban." It keeps my bald head warm on mornings like this when it's -13

The Chair in my daughter's living room - it is almost always empty so it reminds me there is always Someone else in the room.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sour, Sweet, and just right

Day 10-

A gift that was sour - overhearing the mom of a 20 year-old cancer patient say, "all she wants is to be normal again."

A gift that was sweet - watching the nurse bounce toward that young girl, exclaiming how good she looked as she went in for her last radiation treatment.

A gift that was just right - knowing I'm blessed to be able to witness these snippets of other people's lives and being able to be grateful for mine.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Joy Dare, Day 9

Three things:

a gift in my hand - the small carved wooden pin from Honduras given to me by Pene who is returning there with a medical mission team at the end of this month.

a gift I walked by - the patient room at Tom Baker where the chemo drips from too many IV poles. So glad I'm past that part of this journey.

a gift I sat with - a Muslim woman in the waiting room who picked up the Bible sitting on the coffee table. Perhaps I'll get to chat with her at some point.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Hope is a Dimension of Light

It had been a long grey day in a long grey week. The new chemotherapy drug they had said would be easier wasn't. It knocked me to the ground then stomped on me until every bone ached. I was seriously thinking about cancelling the next dose. I didn't think I could do it.

Then, late one afternoon, I opened my eyes. A thin beam of light had pushed through the clouds, through my living room window, and along a slim tendril growing out of my small Spider plant. The tendril had looked so fragile as it reached out, pale and oh so thin. But when that beam of light touched it, it began to glow. Then the light illuminated the tiny white flowers that had just bloomed. The flowers glowed in that ethereal light. It took my breath away. And hope blossomed. I managed to get up off the couch and find my camera. It took a few tries to get a picture that wasn't blurry. But I managed to steady my hands and do it.

Hope. At that moment it was a living dimension - a shaft of real light that slipped into my living room along that tendril of plant at just at the right moment. At just the right moment God reminded me that he was here, watching, waiting with me and smiling as he made that tiny flower glow.

"When Jesus spoke to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

The light of life, the light of hope. It's Him. Jesus Himself. Right here. Right now.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

1000 Things

New Beginnings -

I'm a little late getting started on this, but I've decided to that the Joy Dare with Ann Voskamp and many others. I'll be posting here as well as keeping a hand-written journal. So far this is what I've done -

Day One - she picked a hard one to start off - 3 things about myself I'm grateful for -
1 - an ability to adapt and "go with the flow" - most of the time. :)
2 - a willingness to keep trying, even when I blow it badly.
3 - the deep seed of Christian heritage that has kept me rooted in Christ.

Day Two - A gift outside - clear sidewalks; Inside - a clean house, dishes done thanks to my hsuband; On a plate - this one was easy - Turkey! :0

Day three - three lines overheard that were graces - will have to continue to listen for these -

Day four - One gift, old, new, blue
old - my geraniums that just won't quit blooming, even in January

new - the lovely journal I'll use for this project - a gift from my dear friend Pauline

blue - a soft chambray shirt, found on sale. :)

Day five - Something I'm reading - Sutter's Cross - Dale Cramer's first book - have loved some of his others, especially Summer of Light.

Something I'm making - this journal

Something I'm seeing - birds in a tree near the hospital. They made me smile - all grace, singing.

The photo to the left is of a painting done by my daughter, Laura, given to me for Christmas by my daughter Kate. Do you see the bird?

Day six - one thing in my bag - two gift certificates to local bookstores. Have been pondering what books to buy. :)

in my fridge - leftovers - they are always better the second time around.

in my heart - thankfulness for clear roads and sunshine - in January!

Day seven - three graces from people I love -
1 - Laura's spontaneous hugs and kisses that always surprise me
2 - Katie's text messages just to see how I'm doing.
3 - my husband's smile when I arrive back home.