March 29, 2010

Celebrating His Resurrection - Brenda Leyland

Source
What gives an Olympic athlete the motivation and stamina to endure countless months of hard training, working out till his muscles scream in agony?

What makes him choose to work on his technique or program, even when he hears the laughter of friends floating through open windows on warm summer days? What makes the athlete endure? What gives him the motivation to keep at it?

It's the dream he sees in front of him -- the joy set before him. Perhaps it's the dream to compete with the world's best, to win a coveted gold medal, to beat his own personal best record, or to receive accolades from fans around the world. Whatever his dream, that's what makes him endure his 'cross' of hardship.

Jesus Christ also had a dream. It was this dream, this 'joy set before him' that gave him the courage and the willingness to endure great hardship and suffering.

"...He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:2 (amp.)So what was this great joy? What was worth so much that He considered it a prize, a prize so grand, so wonderful that He thought it well worth enduring the shame and degradation of all that led up to the cross? What was the prize that gave him so much joy just thinking about it?

Was it because He was finally going back to heaven, after his stint here on this planet with all these crazy people? Was it because He was going to get to sit at the right hand of the Father when He returned? Was it for the inheritance and the title of "King of Kings"?

No! No! The realization that the great joy, the great reward He kept seeing and thinking about during this time was.... me .... and you... and every other person ever to be born!

We were the picture He had in his mind's eye when He let cruel men beat his body, rip out his beard, and pound nails into his flesh. He endured all that in anticipation of the joy of knowing that his sacrifice would clear the way for you and me to become friends with God again, for all time and eternity.

We are his reward. We are the ones that gave -- and continue to give -- Jesus Christ joy unspeakable. Don't ever think that you aren't much to God. You are what He saw and dreamed about. You are the prize! You are the one for whom He endured the cross... for the joy set before him... It was YOU! YOU! YOU!

Oh Happy Day!





March 28, 2010

When Heavy Prayer is Needed - Jan Keats













I was fingering through my collection of books one day and I came across an old receipt that was tucked in part way though one of the books. I picked up the fragile receipt and quickly became startled. The first item of transaction was “Prayer, heavy.” When I saw those words I was very surprised. “How could I purchase heavy prayer at Canadian Tire?” I thought. I couldn’t read the second item of purchase. Puzzled I looked and squinted my eyes on the receipt trying to figure out what heavy prayer could be.

What is heavy prayer? What does it look like? What aisle did I find it in? Finally as I looked more intently I noticed another letter in front of the word Prayer. It read, “Sprayer, Heavy.” The ‘S’ was slightly faded off the paper which then became “prayer.” Then I remembered that my husband and I purchased a heavy sprayer several months prior to use on our vehicles. I concluded that this was meant to be a devotional message to share. It certainly was an eye opener.

What is heavy prayer? We know that prayer is conversation with God. We also know that God always answers our prayers whether it is yes, no, or wait. But what is the determining factor when we go before Him? Is our approach to God’s throne dependant upon our need for the moment? Or for an ongoing need?

Is there anything that prevents our prayers from being answered? If it’s faith then what happened to our faith? The devil may have a stronghold on God’s people, much like the days of Pharoah. Perhaps our people have not yet cried out to God to be rescued. Where does the devil work at his best? Among God’s people, of course. Where does he throw in a little confusion and strife and schemes? Among God’s people, of course.

Sometimes along the Christian Journey all kinds of negative thoughts and turmoil may interfere with walking in peace and harmony with the Master.

If we don’t lose heart during the discouraged moments then we have overcome the same temptations that Jesus Himself suffered. How do we then keep forging ahead? Just remember when we fall back, come back! Don’t even entertain the idea of falling back and staying back. Jesus didn’t remain in the garden when He was perhaps at His weakest moment. He prayed to the Father and proceeded to follow His Father’s Will; yes, even death on a cross. Each of God’s children has the opportunity to pray and continue in the journey. That’s where peace is! That’s where joy is! That’s where we belong, in the everlasting arms of the Father!

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
(I Corinthians 10:13NIV)

Keep strong in the Lord! He will light your path along the journey!
When you give your burdens to God. What will He do? He will take it. Pass your burdens over to Him and be comforted by the gentleness of the Father.


Jan Keats



March 26, 2010

PetBunny to the rescue - Bruce Atchison


The PetBunny e-mail list subscribers came to my aid frequently throughout the 13 years that I was a member. One notable example was when my rabbit, Gideon, had his first illness. Being a novice bunny owner, I became concerned with his bizarre behaviour one March morning in 1998. From When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), here is an e-mail message that I posted to the group after the vet visit.

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Dear folks;

I had a bit of a hard time finding a ride to take Gideon to the vet. All the folks who I know were too busy or out. I finally managed to contact my church and assistant pastor Doug Dunbar. He agreed to take Gideon and me to the vet at 2 P.M. I also had trouble locating a rabbit-knowledgeable vet who works Saturdays. After being referred by Dr. Harmon's office, I called another vet clinic and made an appointment. I listened to all the wonderful support you people gave me on the computer as I tried to get Gideon to drink some water. I also downloaded the head tilt article from the HRS web page and printed it out.

Doug was as good as his word and came at exactly 2 P.M. to take us to the vet. He had a bit of a hard time finding the place, but we finally made it. Poor Gideon wasn't too pleased with being roused from his siesta, only to be put in the carrier and bounced around a lot. I was a bit upset at the amount of dogs at the vet's and I was worried that Gideon would freak. Fortunately, nothing bad happened.

After what seemed like ages, Gideon's name was called and I took him into the
examination room. Dr. Pam Gordey had me take Gideon out of the carrier in order to take his temperature. Naturally he wasn't amused. Then the doctor turned off the lights and waited for Gideon's pupils to adjust to the darkness. She shone a light into each eye to see if they still worked and they did. There was obviously no neural damage.

Then Dr. Gordey turned on the lights and had Gideon hop around on the floor to see if he still had a problem. After his tummy was palpated and he was put back into the carrier, I was told that he didn't have any disease because he had recovered so uickly. Head tilt would have stayed for weeks, so it wasn't that. The doctor figured that Gideon must have eaten something toxic and the effect had already worn off. I was told to keep him in his cage and watch him until Monday. Then I'm supposed to call Dr. Gordey with the results of my observations.

Poor Gideon was not pleased with this whole affair and he thumped when he was safely returned to his carrier. The doctor said that if he was healthy enough to thump, then he was quite fit. Gideon appeared to be normal, even having a normal temperature.

Once home, he hopped out of the carrier and dashed to his security zone under the chair in the bedroom. After I had washed the urine out of the carrier and soaked the rags, I found him in the kitchen snooping around. He went into his cage and started eating the celery which he hadn't finished in the morning.

He seems to be his old self again and I have no idea what caused the strange illness which he had earlier today. Just to be safe, I'll sweep the kitchen floor and tidy up the house. I don't have any poisonous plants within his reach, so it couldn't be that. If you can figure out what caused it, please let me know. I'd be most grateful for your input.

Rabbitly yours,

Bruce, with poor confused Gideon.

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As I've pointed out many times in my debut book, rabbits need a radically different sort of care than dogs and cats. The House Rabbit Society website has a host of e-mail groups to which bunny owners can join and post questions. Additionally, my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) book is available at the Inscribe Writers Group page. It contains many vignettes of the amazing and amusing things my bunnies did as well as a wealth of rabbit care knowledge, all told in a conversational style. E-mail me for further information or if you don't have PayPal but still wish to place an order.

March 24, 2010

How big is your desk? by Kimberley Payne

How big is your desk?

This question was asked on the Inscribe Fellowship listserv to generate discussion. Immediately, I leaned back in my chair and admired my 10-year-old cherry-wood desk. I love my desk. It’s u-shaped with the computer in the middle, a hutch with four cabinets to my left, and an open desktop to my right. Under the cabinets I’ve shelved my writing books including such titles as, “Careers for your characters”, “The complete guide to self-publishing”, and “Handbook of English” to name only a few. Beside them, I have my 4-level desk tray of work to do. I generally keep my current projects piled to my left.

In the centre, sits my computer screen with my tear-away calendar with cartoon of the day, telephone, paper clips, tissues and two containers – one to hold my pens, one to hold my pencils. A calculator, eraser, and pen with inscription, For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) complete the centre.

To the immediate left of my screen sits my scanner/photocopier. To the right, the computer tower – to easily slip in CDs and upload pictures. Beside the tower is my colour laser printer. Everything is right within reach.

Elsie Montgomery’s desk sounds similar to mine. “My desk is horseshoe shaped. One side is actually an L that is 6' x 6' with a hutch on one arm and a pin board on the other. There is a keyboard tray slung under the corner where the two arms meet. The other arm is an attached peninsula that is 26" deep and 6' long. On this I have my computer, two printers, and the books/stuff that I use every day. I love this space and can spin in my chair to all parts of it. Most of the time it looks like an explosion in a paper factory, but I have neat days --- few and far between, but sometimes you can actually see the top of it. It is cherry wood and black. I covered the pin board in a leopard print and have zebra and jungle prints stuff here and there. I just need a water tap on one end and I'd be totally happy!”

There are many different styles of desks. A mission-style oak corner desk may be your preference. Or maybe an a-frame espresso desk may be more to your liking. Or you could be like Joyce Harback who doesn’t use a “formal” desk to write. Joyce uses her Macbook on her lap, sitting on the sofa where she has a great view out the window. She says, “I spread papers beside me or on the coffee table, which means they have to be gathered up if we have guests. I have a lovely office downstairs, but I rarely use it. Being in the main family room means I can interact easily with my family as they come and go.”

Besides the style of desk, there are a variety of colours to choose from. You may prefer a walnut-finish or a distressed black finish or maybe even a glass top computer desk.

Nathan shares, “A friend custom-built me a desk out of oak 16 years ago, and I still use it daily. It is 6 feet 8 inches wide and 3 feet deep. Two men cannot lift it. No, there is no empty space on it.”

No matter what the size, style or colour of your desk I think all writers can agree that it’s nice to have a favourite spot to muse. How big is your desk?

March 22, 2010

HOW MUCH HE LOVED - Martha Anderson

Brian faced blistering winds and flying snow as he cut the twine to break the bale for the cattle. His feet slipped on the ice and he fell forward, driving the knife deep into his side.

During the 100-km ambulance ride to Edmonton Brian’s mother, Lillian, agonized in prayer over the uncertainty of her son’s life. “God, I know you gave your only Son to die for me. I’ll give you all I have. Only save my son…”

After her 12-year-old son was admitted to the hospital and stripped of his blood-soaked clothes, Lillian was allowed to see him briefly. As she walked through the door to where he lay, she gazed in shock at the naked body, deathly white from the loss of blood, his hair matted with sweat and blood, and his bloodied hands stretched out wide. His breaths came in raspy gasps as from the gash in his side blood continued to drip.

For a moment Lillian did not see her son. Instead she saw Jesus on the cross wearing a crown of thorns. By the time her thoughts returned to her son, the vision of her dying Savior had embedded itself permanently in her mind.

This picture of Jesus in his agonizing death is the scenario portrayed in the Bible by each of the gospel writers. The slow, torturous death was the cruelest form of execution devils and wicked men could devise. Stripped of all clothing, the naked body, usually protected by thick garments, was suddenly exposed to the scorching heat of the tropical sun and the mocking gaze of evil spectators. Skin soon burned and blistered. One spike through the heel bones of both feet, and one spike through the palm of each hand held the body to the cross. Washers fastened to a metal band around the wrist kept the spikes from tearing the flesh. The body sagged, making normal breathing impossible. For every agonizing breathe, Jesus had to force His body upward, his tattered back rubbing against the rough bark of the log that formed the upright of the cross. In the agony, the victims soon lost control of all bodily functions.

I cannot envision the extent of Christ’s physical suffering. In no way can our finite minds imagine the much greater torment of soul and spirit as Christ took on Himself the weight of the world’s sin and guilt.

Yet the Son of God never lost his dignity. He was never more truly the majestic King of Kings than when he hung on the cross. He died fulfilling His life’s purpose, His final cry a shout of victory: It is finished! His death paid for the sins of the whole world, His resurrection sealed His victory.

It is in remembrance of what Jesus accomplished for us by His death and resurrection that we celebrate this event that has become known as Easter.

March 17, 2010

Which Way Leads Home? by Pam Mytroen





An ice-covered fist, five rocky peaks, stood between Sir Ernest Shackleton and rescue. Warmth, food and hope awaited him and his two men on the other side of the mountains. They decided to try the first pass which appeared “deceptively easy”, said F.A. Worsley. However, when they reached the summit and peered over, they stepped back. The pass fell away in cliffs and crevasse-littered glaciers. The second and third passes proved just as deadly.

They put all their hope onto the fourth and final pass, but it too disappointed. Below them lay more shadowed crevasses waiting to swallow them whole. The men sat on its razor-backed ridge and dangled their legs into the darkening canyon.

Commander Shackleton withdrew for a moment to think. His 1916 South Pole expedition had failed. He had lost his ship ‘Endurance’ to ice. He and his crew of 28 had survived on ice-floes for six months until they took refuge on Elephant Island. The rest of his men waited there in an overturned lifeboat while Shackleton and his small crew crossed the stormiest sea in the world in another small life-boat. They reached Georgia Island which had never been crossed. If they had endured all of this, they could not turn back now. If they died, he reasoned, they would die trying to save their crew.

He faced his men and said, “We’ll slide.”

Worsley thought, “Slide down what was practically a precipice, in the darkness, to meet what? A rock in our path would mean certain disaster. Still it was the only way; to go back was useless, a death warrant; to stay on the ridge longer meant certain death by freezing.”

They sat down and locked together as one man. “Then Shackleton kicked off. We seemed to shoot into space. For a moment my hair stood on end. Then quite suddenly I felt a glow and knew that I was grinning. I was actually enjoying it,” said Worsely. In less than three minutes they safely reached the bottom of a three-thousand foot cliff.

Looking back, these men recognized that the slide was not a good choice. It was the only way down. It was trust.

That night Worsely recorded this in his journal: “There was no doubt that Providence had been with us. There was indeed one curious thing about our crossing of South Georgia...which I have never been able to explain...I had the sub-conscious feeling that there were four of us instead of three...” His ship-mates recorded the same mystery.

These experienced explorers realized that without stepping down into the darkness and trusting, they never would have made it safely home.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14:6).

Have you climbed long and hard only to find disappointment at the summit? There is a Pathway Home. His name is Jesus. He is the bridge across every crevasse.

Take that first step of faith into the dark canyon, lean into Jesus, and you will find rescue.

Pam Mytroen

All quotes other than scripture are taken from the following source:

F.A. Worsley, ENDURANCE, W.W. Norton and Co. 1931, pp 150, 155, and 156

March 15, 2010

Broken Things - Nesdoly











Broken Things

Often when her house is tidy
with the floors all clean and swept
she will slip into a back room
where the broken things are kept.

There she stands amid the clutter
of the puzzles, games and dolls
feels an inner sadness welling
as the tears begin to fall

on her knees to sort and gather –
finds a Ken who has no arms
someone’s pulled the head off Barbie
here’s a bracelet with no charms.

Dolly’s buggy wheel is missing
puzzle pieces need a frame
happy endings ripped from stories
dice and tokens but no game.

So she gathers parts and pieces
seeking one or two to fit.
But the chaos is too hopeless.
How does she make sense of it?

Then she feels the gentle presence
of His hands upon her own.
They are putting things together
better than she’s ever done.

There’s a piece – it goes with this one
here’s an arm, a leg, a face
there’s the ending of a story
here’s a picture of that place.

Oh how fast an hour passes
as they put a few things right
she may come again tomorrow
even slip back in tonight.

There is still so much to sort through.
Will she ever get it done?
“Do not fret my child, I’ll help you.
You and I have well begun.”

© 2009 by Violet Nesdoly

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I have read several stories lately where adult main characters have been molded by something that happened to them in their childhood. That doesn't happen only in books. I wrote this poem for a friend who shared with me some of her childhood memories and how she struggled to make sense of them. If this is your experience, my prayer is that you will bring your painful memories and confusion to Jesus.

"Broken Things" was first published the anthology River of Words, published by the MSA Poets Potpourri Society in 2009.


Web: violetnesdoly.com
Blog: promptings
Poetry portfolio: Violet Nesdoly / poems
Daily devotions for adults: Other Food: daily devo's
Twitter: @vnesdoly

March 10, 2010

Shooting Ourselves in the Feet? -- Janet Sketchley

God came to Balaam and asked, "Who are these men with you?"

Balaam said to God, "Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 'A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.'"

But God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed."
Numbers 22:9-12, NIV*
The people in question were the Israelites, en route to the promised land. For three chapters (22,23,24) the enemy King Balak tries to get Balaam to curse them, but God will not allow them to be cursed.

They are God’s people, and He chooses to bless them.

Then in one chapter (25)—actually verses 1-3 are enough—Israel causes its own trouble.

For me, this is a startling glimpse of God’s perspective. He wanted to do so much for and with His chosen people. He protected them from their enemies, was leading them to a spacious and rich land... and they did the enemies’ job for them!

I wonder what He wants to do in our lives that we’re preventing?

*New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.

© Janet Sketchley, 2010
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For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

March 08, 2010

HACKED by Glynis M. Belec



Today, I spent the day with my daughter. It was unplanned and actually not a very nice reason for me to be at her home. But I had to be there. My grown up baby girl needed her Mom.

I'll back track a little. I was awakened this morning by the shrill ringing of the telephone. My morning voice probably gave away the secret that although it was almost 7am I was still tucked nicely 'twixt the blankets.

Once I realized who it was - a mom of one of my students - I relaxed. That was, until I heard what she had to say. Apparently, she received a heartfelt e-mail from my daughter who was supposedly in the UK and had been robbed. 'She' was asking for money and had sent an e-mail to this mom, who she knows fairly well.

I was slightly confused for a moment until I realized that my daughter was certainly not in the UK and it was her facebook account that had been compromised. She was about to discover what it meant to be hacked.

So the day happened. I got in touch with my daughter right away. She was in tears when I first talked to her. It seems this creepy individual was asking for money from whichever contact he/she could. He was almost successful a few times. I immediately went onto Facebook to see what was going on and that sad individual who was hacking my daughter's computer, had the nerve to strike up a chat with me. I couldn't believe the audacity. I played along for a while. Needless to say, I lost it in the end and revealed that the gig was up and I knew he was some sort of a hacker intent on committing a cyber crime. He disappeared when I mentioned the police. Just like that...gone.

One would have thought that I scared the pathetic person. But the day continued and so did the telephone calls to Amanda and me, checking to see if this was a legitimate request. The hacker did not scare easily and continued to try his luck. Some almost sent money to the suggested bank in the UK but decided to check first. Thank goodness that people called us before succumbing to this request. My daughter has an online, business, too and she was afraid that this numbskull was messing with her clients and all her contact information.

I ended up staying with my daughter for the day, keeping her little ones entertained as she dealt with the police and the myriad of calls that came her way. I also wanted to pray with her, to let her know that although right now she feels upset and frustrated, this will pass. This hacker thinks he has all the power. Little does he know that there is Someone mightier and He is Power and Glory forever and ever!

Technology is a wonderful tool if used wisely and done so with integrity.

As I drove home a little while ago, I contemplated what makes a person commit a crime. Why do people hurt other people? What is it about money and power that cause a person to stop at nothing?
Can't people understand what a beautiful world we would live in if we showed more love; realized the joy in the simple things; desired everlasting peace, had more patience with one another; saw kindness as the best medicine; showed goodness to our neighbour; displayed faithfulness to our family and God; treated one another with the gentleness of Jesus and showed self control in the face of temptation. Can we only imagine?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22




Sin.

"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear," says Isaiah 59: 1-2. "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."

March 05, 2010

A Critique Group? - Gwen Mathieu

Last Fall I started a writer’s critique group. We meet in the Fireside room at our church twice a month. There have been up to four Inscribe members attending along with three non-members.

A critique group has many advantages. One is a chance to build new “writer” friendships. We have a great time over a cup of coffee, laughing and kidding each other but sometimes we are brought close to tears; our emotions bounce back and forth depending on what we are listening to. Even yesterday, I became indignant with a character, in one of the stories read, for being so cruel.

Another benefit of belonging to a group is the discipline it demands. If you tend to be a sporadic writer, like I am, then a group will keep you at the keyboard. Our group spurs me on to edit a few poems and articles I started earlier, to move on with the historical novel I started over eight years ago or to come up with something fresh and just plain write.
Another asset is the encouragement we receive from each other; to hang in there and use the gift God has given us.

A real plus in belonging to a critique group is our listening skills become sharpened and our writing skills are honed. We each come with a teachable spirit and leave with more insight in the craft of writing. A lot of times, as we read aloud, we pick up on the errors before they are pointed out by others. We are challenged to write, to improve, to perfect, to learn.

So, all I can say is, join a critique group!

March 01, 2010

Stretching - M. Laycock

The Yukon autumn was sliding into winter as my friends and I sipped coffee and stared out the window of our warm log home at the heavy frost on the ground. The conversation turned to the subject of wood. Firewood. We all admitted our woodpiles weren’t quite as high as they could be. We all knew what minus 60 was like, that our stoves would deplete the store of fuel in no time.

Then Anne mentioned a local sawmill was giving away slab wood. The slabs were mostly bark with only an inch or two of wood, but they were dry and made great kindling. Enough of them would be a welcome and needed addition to the stock of wood in our yards. But we also knew our husbands’ jobs left no daylight hours to haul wood.


It was Barb who said, “So it’s up to us.” I was the last to agree. I knew how heavy our chainsaw was, having run it once or twice. The idea of spending a whole day running it didn’t appeal to me. But my friends assured me we could do it. Barb rented the truck; Anne packed the lunch; I brought the coffee and snacks. And I prayed.

A few days later I found myself staring at our saw as my husband sharpened the chain and explained how to avoid stalling it. For most of that night I considered how I might get out of this adventure, but the next day the first crack of light found me and my two friends stacking slabs on the deck of a five-ton truck.


As the pile grew, we took turns climbing on top to trim the ends on the far side. My arms, already aching from tossing the slabs, shook as I leaned over and tried not to think of falling off with a roaring chainsaw in my hands. But the pile slowly grew until the three of us, dirty, exhausted, but smiling, stood back and surveyed the stack of wood, piled as high as it could go on the back of that five-ton.

The sun was setting and the temperature dropping as we drove home. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on our husbands’ faces when we arrived with that load of wood. The knowledge that we had made a significant contribution to the comfort of our families that winter made all of us smile. The episode had been a stretch for me, but the accomplishment made me realize with the Lord’s help I was capable of more than I had thought. It felt good.

I once heard a challenging sermon about stretching. “It’s in stretching that faith grows,” the pastor said. “It’s in stretching that we learn to rely on God’s grace.”

Stretching your faith might mean letting go of something you’ve been worrying about. It might mean reconciling with someone who has offended you. It might just mean attending a Bible study group for the first time. It might mean writing a poem or an article even though you’re a fiction writer. It might mean starting that first novel, or hitting the send button to put your words out there for the world to read.

Maybe you’re thinking the same thoughts I did the night before my wood hauling expedition – “I don’t think I can do it.” Maybe you’re right, but God’s grace can do it through you. So pray. Then go ahead and stretch.