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A Day in the Life of. . .
No Tin Soldiers GUEST POST
Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon - Delicious!
One of Them


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Hurry Up and Wait


     It all started out quite innocently. I love swimming. Take me to a lake and drop me off and I will be a happy camper. So Happy Hubby did that today, except he didn't just toss me out. He came to keep an eye on me, plus he thought he would have a nice afternoon nap under the trees - just like last week. 

     HH doesn't swim. But he naps very well. He was nicely nestled in his gravity chair. But he didn't get much of a rest. 

     I had decided to take along my dinghy-raft - first mistake.

     Before I knew it the wind and my inexperience with ridiculous plastic oars, had me in the middle of the lake. I wasn't in the least bit afraid, though, and was just contemplating whether to head on over to the other side of the lake (in the general direction of where the wind was taking me anyway) or to hop off the raft into the lake and swim back to shore with it in tow.

     Then, without warning, I spot a speedboat heading in my direction. Both officers were very nice, although I think their smirks were holding back gales of laughter when they came upon this little more than middle aged woman having a dual with the ridiculous plastic oars.

     "Having a little trouble?" one asked. I denied the word trouble and mentioned I might be out a little too far. 

     They agreed in unison. We chatted and they advised I get into their boat and they would drive me back to shore and tow the raft behind them.

     Poppycock. I would have none of that. I opted to toss my life jacket in the raft, jump in the lake and swim, one-armed and tow the raft back. I preferred not to look like I needed the assistance of the aqua law officers.

     I gave them a big smile and a few words of gratitude. They said they would follow me in. Urgh. So they did.

     "You're going to get quite a workout," one said. They might have been concerned for my (ahem) maturity. I told them "I might be old but I'm strong.' They had those smirks again and told me to be careful.

     That was the longest swim ever. I made sure I swam towards the little peninsula on the side so I could get out sooner and catch my breath and get rid of the aqua-police before all eyes on the beach were upon this more than middle aged grandma.

     And all the while, there was happy hubby standing up watching me. Wondering what drama I was creating today. As I got closer dragging my dinghy behind I saw it - that shaking head, the raised eyebrows and another kind of smirk - the one I've been seeing for over  38 years.

     Sigh. . .

A Day in the Life of. . .

The 400 word homework assignment for our writer's group wasn't a difficult one, but for me, it was impossible. So this is what I wrote: 

            As I started to pen “A Day in the Life of. . . the nausea arose. I wanted to change the title to “How a Squirrel Brain Functions, but I knew my writer friends would chastise me for messing with the homework – I mean when I assigned homework, I would show little mercy. So how could I expect to do such a thing? But there is NO way in the world that I could ever keep ‘A Day in the Life of Glynis Belec” to under 400 words.

            Janet, the assigner of the aforementioned homework, is a sweet, merciful poet who can surely be persuaded to allow me to alter one small word. I will write under the assumption that A MOMENT in the Life of Glynis Belec will suffice for this assignment.

So I have two choices when I roll out of bed in the morning. I can wallow in self-pity because of the size of my to-do list or the million things that didn’t go according to my plans yesterday and because of that they will surely be worse, today. Or I can kick off the covers and say, “Okay, God, what are we up to today?”

It helps that the dearly beloved man who I promised to love, honour and (covers mouth) obey, 37 years ago, brings a cup of tea to my bedside each morning. He’s done that for so long that on those days when he has to scoot off to work early, I find myself getting annoyed that I have to get my own morning tea. Ungrateful wretch that I am.

This morning, I got my tea along with a kiss and our routine, mutual “good morning”. 
The day began and I reached for my phone and my bible – in that order and I am convicted every time I do that. I chastise myself and the inward prefect takes over.  I promise I will try to do it in reverse order tomorrow. I know the right thing to do is get my bible first, then the social media link up. But then my brain begins to rationalize that it takes a few minutes for my phone to boot up so if I turn on my telephone first then it will be ready for me to quick check things after I have read my morning devotional. Then the battle begins.

Prefect comments on the briefness of my devotion. “Seriously? She says. You only read the Bible for as long as it takes your phone to boot up?

I try to rationalize again about it’s not my fault that Our Daily Bread has such short devotions and assigns short Bible verses for me to read. And I’m a fast reader.

I assure the Nosy Parker in my head that I will read other scriptures throughout the day and I will pray for lots of people and for lots of reasons.

Not good enough. She clucks away and tries to make me feel guilty for not contemplating more on the Word of God. I try to ignore her and then I apologize to God in case she is right. My tea is perfect and I think. I look at my big, black, beckoning agenda and consider my two choices. There’s a lot to whine about in that wretched book. . .should I? Nope. This day is another one for the good guys. Way to go, God!

“What are we up to today?” 

No Tin Soldiers GUEST POST

It isn't real for me, the Great World War, except for some songs. A memory for others, not even a memory for me.

The Second World War: "war to end all wars." It was leftover ration coupons used for playing store with my brother. It was a vague story of cousin Clinton tip‑toeing into my room, with Mom and Dad, to peek at me in my crib before he went "overseas."  It was Mom's first cousin, Ted, sending parachute remnants for her to make into a blouse.  It was Aunts Peggy and Teddy, war nurses, sending dolls made in Europe and storybooks from England. Treats.  It's Aunt Teddy's footlocker, and sepia photographs of young men and women in uniform.
The Korean War is only Alan Alda's M.A.S.H., the Vietnam War in disguise: humour and gore splashed lavishly. Not real. What is real are war's bloody fingerprints.

A New Brunswick man drives his car to the church directly across the highway. Having slogged across Europe as a foot‑soldier, he refuses to walk anywhere again. Another, former prisoner‑of‑war, couldn't sit still in church, unless near a window.

Cousin Ted's voice boomed through practice. A career soldier, rising in rank, he was told to work at deepening his voice, to grow a moustache, to seem older for "his" men.  In Italy, three days after an artillery shell had killed companions and messed him up, he was almost missed by stretcher‑bearers until one last groan reached them. He came back minus large portions of his legs. The deeper fingerprint was something else.
Almost sixty years later, when he drank, eyes tear‑filled, he'd remember aloud how at 20‑something, as an officer, he'd sent about 100 men forward. Only a handful came back.  It was his job. It wasn't a tactical error.   One incident of many, yet the pain continued to eat into his gut, pain alcohol wouldn't burn away.
It continues.  I served as the Base Protestant Chapel Life Coordinator when military padres were too thin on the ground. My husband and I are marriage counsellors periodically for CFB Petawawa.  More fingerprints.
Nightmares: scenes too terrible to share with a spouse.  She, not understanding why he turns away; can't touch her skin without weeping...Isn't he glad to be back?  Another soldier: Why, since her return, she can't eat specific foods, can't bear to smell certain things cooking.

God has created us with "fight or flight" instincts, but we're not meant for war with its primary and collateral damage. That "fight" instinct can be used against poverty, prejudice, social injustice. War is a wound, disrupting, festering, destroying created life's vibrant fibre.

When past monuments were planned, naming the living and dead who'd served in three wars, probably there was concern: people might forget, and a grateful feeling of finality... No more names!  Never again!
All of those military, whether they've rocked in deep despair, minds torn apart by shock; whether they've suffered physical pain; whether they died, or not, all took the same chances when they signed up. They volunteered to go into unknown territory, to heal when they could, be a caring presence when mending wasn't possible; trying to put aside "thou shalt not," to kill, so others could live in peace...
Not easy!  Not tin soldiers! Real people, with all their flaws and fears and pain, their hopes and dreams and nobility.

Today, war's fingers reach out again, too close. We tremble.  Our family lives eight minutes from CFB Petawawa, twenty minutes from Chalk River, very near Pembroke airport. Weapons practice has shaken our windows regularly since we moved here, but shortly after 9-11, when the windows shook, for the first time, our son raced downstairs to see if we were all right.

Earlier, he wondered aloud, "If they call men up, will they start with those near the base?"  He has no idea of how it works. He doesn't know that people, like those named on monuments around the world, conquered their own fears to choose to fight the battles for civilians like him and me. Because of them, we've enjoyed fearless peace for a long time, long enough for many to forget, or never know, war. We thank God for their gifts of self.

Many of Canada's military are deployed. The windows are shuddering once more; soon, another large number will leave from CFB Petawawa.  I pray that there will not be, once again, flags at half-mast for weeks on end.
Often, I wear the “invisible” ribbon. It honours those in invisible uniforms: the families, "keeping the home fires burning," who also pay a price when husbands or wives, fathers or mothers, are on exercises or deployed. 
May the time of the world's "beating its swords into ploughshares" come very soon!  May our Lord prepare us for it, and, grant us true peace. 


(Earlier versions of this article appeared previously in Glad Tidings magazine and The Petawawa Post.  Related photos are available.)


Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon - Delicious!

Okay, so I am slightly biased. I admit it. I have a story in this deliciously inviting book, HOT APPLE  CIDER WITH CINNAMON.  But, seriously, you have to admit she's a pretty girl with her lemon yellow frock. The subtitle - Stories of Finding Love in Unexpected  Places, follows through on its promise. I'm in the middle of soaking up these stories and believe me, your emotions will be stirred. 

My story, Old Ladies' Perfume, on page 145, was an honour to write. I did it as a loving tribute to 'me Mum' who, bless her soul, is not here to read it herself and tell me off. Although it's a story with humour [she was a funny girl] and shared shenanigans [she did some crazy things], it is also a tale of the life lessons that my mother passed on to me. I shed a few tears as I penned my story. I sure do miss my mother. She would really like this book. 

HOT APPLE CIDER WITH CINNAMON is a great book filled with so many different stories guaranteed to warm the heart. I love the way our trusty, patient editor, NJ Lindquist outlined the stories in her introduction. "Some are amusing, some serious, some plain and straightforward, some intricate and thought provoking. Some will make you cry, some will make you laugh, some might even make you angry. No two are alike, even though their themes may be similar. Some will resonate with you as you read them now. Some will come to life for you years from now when an experience you've had suddenly lets you see what the author was talking about. . ."

I am excited to share HOT APPLE CIDER WITH CINNAMON with others. This 100% Canadian literary delicacy with 61 excellent stories will take you to a quiet place and remind you that simple acts of love can make a lifetime of difference. 

Wanna' join me on the reading journey?


One of Them

Yesterday I bought my poppy. Even though I have draw full of poppies I still purchase one every year. And there is even a little plastic do-hickey on the pin so perhaps this time I won't lose so many!

     My 89 year old veteran Poppa Bear has already pulled his blazer from his closet and with a little help, he has managed to strategically place his tattered medals on his navy legion jacket.

     Dad doesn't get out much these days. But he does love to partake in the moments that make him pause and reflect. He has been, once again, invited to attend the pre-Remembrance Day ceremony at the Wellington County Museum on November 5th, to read the names of the war dead from Drayton/Maryborough. Some might wonder why Dad has this privilege for he didn't even serve in the Canadian services, let alone live in this area during the war.

      But he lives here, now. He was a 45 Commando in the British Royal Marines and served in many places including Malaya, Hong Kong, Japan. . . And he lives here now. I am here because a bullet never struck him dead. So he lives here now, with me; with us. And I am grateful and willing to help him anticipate the days of remembrance for him, for my mother who also served, for his mates and for so many others.

     According to statistics released by the Veteran's Administration, our World War II vets are dying at a rate of approximately 492 a day. This means there are approximately only 855,070 veterans remaining of the 16 million who served our nation in World War II. [www.nationalww2museum.org; Nov 03/2015]

     Dad is one of them. 

     War unites men and women who serve. Dad represents those who sacrificed life and limb so we could sit in our comfortable homes and partake in a land of plenty. 

     I am looking forward to helping my Dad traverse the cement pathway with his walker to the microphone. In his heart he will traverse it as a young, healthy marine 'just following orders.' He will salute. He will do his task. 

     I will proudly sit and listen as he reads the names of those, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, off the paper in his finest British accent and I will give thanks to God that, although some days it is hard work, it is not a patch on what my Dad and 15,999,999 other brave men and women had to do so I can enjoy the freedoms I celebrate in this fair country. 

     Thanks for being one of them, Dad! 

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

I recently received my copies of 7 ESSENTIAL HABITS OF CHRISTIAN WRITERS. Every time I open packages of books, that little girl excitement fills me and I grin from ear to ear. Opening this package from the faithful Inscribe crew was no exception. 

I smiled even more when I saw the cover. It's wonderfully attractive with an inviting blue/green palette. The Inscribe logo is nestled nicely in the clouds with rays reflecting down on the pages of an open book. Members of Inscribe are the contributors to this anthology of writerly wisdom and encouragement and their intention is to reflect the Light of Christ through their collective words. The 'whole package' works well for me. 

Not only will readers find pearls of wisdom tucked into every page, there are poems and fiction stories intended to inspire and encourage. 
I have the privilege of calling myself one of the fiction contributors to 7 ESSENTIAL HABITS OF CHRISTIAN WRITERS. 

Check out  page  129, and discover what Gillian learns about her writing career in my story called The Pursuit of Passion. 

This book is definitely for writers, but I also think it's a good book for those who might even be a little curious about how and why writers write and what they contend with as they aspire to write their best. 

Here's a page full of great endorsements, if you want to read what others are saying: 


If you just might be interested in purchasing a copy of 
7 ESSENTIAL HABITS FOR CHRISTIAN WRITERS, then check out my bookstore: 


or on Amazon: 


or the Kindle version is also available on Amazon: 


You are invited to follow along as many of the contributing authors of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers  participate in a blog hop. I encourage you to click on the links below to see what each author shares. Comments would be appreciated, and if you like what you read remember to share the post on your favourite social media sites :)

Ruth L. Snyder  http://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/ Monday, September 14th
Brenda Wood http://heartfeltdevotionals.com   Wednesday, September 16th
Janet Sketchley http://janetsketchley.ca/tenacity-blog/  Friday, September 18th
Jack Popjes http://www.jackpopjes.com/category/blog/ Monday, September 21st
Kimberley Payne http://kimpayne.wordpress.com Wednesday, September 23rd
Marcia Laycock http://www.marcialaycock.blogspot.ca Friday, September 24th 
Steph Nickel https://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com Monday, September 28th
Sally Meadows http://sallymeadows.com/blog Wednesday, September 30th
Tracy Krauss http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com Friday, October 2nd
Glynis Belec http://www.glynisbelec.com/blog.html Monday, October 5th
r post here.

LOVE REBEL - Reclaiming Motherhood. (Book Review)

Love Rebel - Reclaiming Motherhood, an anthology written by five moms who blog, had me nodding and smiling. It’s not a long read, but cuddled between the pages are some passionate stories filled with love, challenges and downright honest recollections of what motherhood is all about.
Anna Eastland, Monique LeBlanc, Bonnie Way, Monique Les & Melanie Jean Juneau team up with editor, Roberta Cottam and designer, Laura Wrubleski to put together this book of encouragement and blessings for those who have ever had the privilege of being called ‘Mom’ (or who are looking forward to that day!)
As I was reading, I started jotting down notes – joy phrases; sage advice; brilliant quotes. I was barely halfway through before I realized I had almost two full pages.  Something rings true as each author ushers me into her life. Perhaps it is the vulnerability and the frankness of the authors.  The stories are all different yet share a common thread -mothers are vessels for the miracle of life. A good reminder to our society where motherhood is too often considered secondary or not as important as career and climbing the corporate ladder.
I think Bonnie Way said it best – “As I gave myself permission to just be a mom, all the little daily tasks of motherhood became a joy, instead of a chore.”
Each powerful story of love focusses on how ‘children are not merely bodies to be cared for.’ I love the part where Anna Eastland stresses that children are emerging intellects; budding souls; creative spirits.  Anna also relays the heartbreaking story of losing her little girl right after she was born. She asks God why He broke her heart in two. She felt Him answer: “To make it bigger.”
Then there are stories of octogenarian relationships that turn into valuable lessons all around; tales of toilet brushes, the sharing of chores, the blessing of baby shoes, a 5’1” 104 pound mother of nine who learns the true meaning of motherly love and how a hard of hearing momma’ adjusts thanks to a healthy dose of humour, a ton of patience and through the love of a supportive family and friends.
Like a little sprinkling of stardust, Love Rebel – Reclaiming Motherhood has tucked between stories,  dashes of poignant poetry and  measures of delightful quotes straight from the hearts of our moms’ children. What fun.
I’m thinking that Love Rebel – Reclaiming Motherhood, is a book that can easily be read over and over (and over).  A breath of fresh air.


Lest We Forget these Children

     Stirring and incredibly revealing, Rose McCormick Brandon's book, "Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children," challenged my emotions. Sometimes I wanted to cry. Sometimes my anger at the cruelty of people made me speak out loud. Other times I felt so sorry for the children who were dropped off at the homes for disadvantaged children and then sent to Canada not knowing what to expect. I had heard a little of the Dr. Bernado homes, but this book and the stories contained therein beckoned me in and shone a light on the plight of so many helpless children. Many children who were sent from the homes in England to Canada expected a better life. Some stories were filled with happy experiences, but more often than not, children were signed on as indentured servants; some seemed just as slaves. Some encountered abuse at the hand of the very people who had supposedly agreed to give them a better life in Canada. The voices are real in this book. There are authentic and treasured photographs of children which makes these stories even more alive.

     The British Home Children, through their suffering and their bravery, have contributed greatly to the history of Canada. Their voices need to be heard and their stories need to be told. Rose McCormick Brandon manages to do that very well in this book. Her empathetic heart and sensitivity to the human condition and what so many children endured over so many years, is remarkable. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic and I actually would love to see this book as required reading in schools - nothing like learning history straight from the heart.rite your post here.

The Writing Process

Who doesn't like a guided tour once in a while? Glad you made it here today. Welcome and feel free to pull up your office chair, kick back and enjoy the journey.
I've been asked to participate in a blog tour. It's my first so I am pretty excited about how all this works and what I will learn along the way. I am looking forward to meeting, sharing, encouraging and more! 

Marcia Lee Laycock, my good friend and fellow writer invited me to participate so I am doing my best to follow the rules (the rebel that I am) and discover another great way to see what other writers are doing. Click hereand hop on over to Marcia's blog once you've finished reading what my writing life consists of these days. 

Who are you?

Such a loaded question. Before I run to my resume to see what I might use as an appropriate answer, I will sum up my most blessed 'who am I' response by saying (with a satisfied smile) I am the wife of a carpenter, the mom of two pretty cool children and, sometimes, a not so typical grinning grandma whose drama queen aspirations are lived out the moment a grandchild enters my arms.  After those most important jobs, I am a freelance writer, children's author, short story/devotional/magazine 'squirrel' writer. I can flit from project to project like a speeding acorn but when faced with a deadline or other tough challenge I can [and love to] sit still for hours and pour out my heart on the page. 

What are you working on?

O brother. Where to begin. I am still finding some great marketing opportunities for my Mrs. B Has Cancer children's book. I write a regular marketing column for Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship (so you would think I would have the inside scoop on marketing). I blog. I write and submit short stories often, particularly to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and more recently I have had a story accepted for inclusion in A Taste of Hot Apple Cider - a sampler to savour before the next Hot Apple Cider volume hits the shelves. I'm also getting a piece ready to submit to that, along with entering writing contests, working on publicity write-ups and press releases for Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship Fall Conference, planning my picture book - A Very Ballerina Day - in collaboration with my photographer daughter, working through the chapters of my women's devotional - HELP! I Need a New Fig Leaf! and more! Oh yes, I am also very excited about leading two workshops in September at the Fall Conference in Edmonton, too, so I am doing some planning and writing for that. I LOVE sharing the wealth and helping new writers find their legs. I am sure if I looked in my 'to-do' pile I would find more that I am supposed to be writing. I'll do that next week.  

How does your work differ from others of it’s genre?

I guess if I had responded to that last question properly, then I would find this one easier to answer. I like to write what I know. 'They' say that is good advice, and it is. I find that my heart is more apparent when I do that kind of writing, although I do enjoy reading up and finding out about 'stuff''. I suppose I also like to write short stories, because they sooth my short attention span! That said, I really do enjoy working on novels for children, although the writing time is longer the satisfaction seems greater. Is that a weird thing to say? 
God has blessed me in another area lately, too. I am a little hesitant to advertise far and wide yet, because I am learning the ropes, but I have a little publishing company that I am just getting off the ground - Angel Hope Publishing. It is quite different from my usual writing but it is lots of fun - well most days. And I find myself learning so much more about the writing process as I plod along learning as I go. The most recent title that I published is "Raise Your Gaze" by Peter A Black. Here's a look at the cover.

Why do you write what you do?

I write because I believe God has created a passion for me to do so in the depths of my soul. When I write, I purr. I relax. I empty my heart. I have been tutoring children for over 15 years now, maybe longer, so I believe I have the inside scoop when I write for children. I seem to have a decent take on how a child thinks and thus, it is easy for me to relate and get that on a page than to write eloquent words filled with exquisite narrative. Might have something to do with my inability to grow up, too, now that I think about it. 

How does your writing process work?

My writing process works when I can find long stretches of time to do so. I plan scenes sometimes. I am a SOP (seat of the pants) other times. I story board on occasion. I love to write long, detailed character outlines - that probably relates back to my Psychology background. I always seem to know where I am going with my story - although I rarely know how I will get there. Sounds like a day in the life of a squirrel to me, wouldn't you say. All I know is that I love writing. 

Thanks, Marcia, for starting this and I am so happy to connect. I'm hoping to have another link here really soon, from a few other writer friends who might like to jump on board here for a while. Meanwhile have a look at Marcia's blog and be refreshed and motivated. 

Finally, if you would like to take a peek at some of the books I have in my store - most are mine. Some are Angel Hope Publishing Titles - feel free to hop on over here to my bookstore, too. 

Little Copper Pennies for Kids - Review

     As I read Susan Harris's picture book -Little Copper Pennies for Kids, I soon discover that it's not only for kids. What I mean is that while the format is certainly appealing to children the information contained within the colourfully, inviting pages brings back memories for me of those bygone 'penny days.'
     The whimsically appealing pictures created by illustrator, Mark Sexton, draw me in and as I flip page after page, nostalgia takes over. "Penny for your thoughts." "A penny saved is a penny 
earned." "Find a penny, pick it up and all the days you'll have good luck..." The rhythmical reminders of my childhood scurry by. Interspersed between the delightful pages of Little Copper Pennies for Kids are interesting facts and historical details about the now out of circulation coin. 
     I have a feeling Susan Harris's book might just be around for a long time - not just because of its great entertainment value but because it is an excellent resource for children (or anyone else) who might want to delve deeper and discover all sorts of interesting penny trivia, facts and even a few penny challenges. 
     The Canadian penny was removed from circulation on February 4th, 2013, but because of well written and popular books like Little Copper Pennies for Kids,the little copper coin lives on!

My Two Cents on Little Copper Pennies by Susan Harris

Little Copper Pennies by Susan Harris is a celebration, commemoration and for me, oft-times a revelation, all wrapped up in one informative yet entertaining package.

Cleverly, Susan manages to take an unremarkable coin and make me care. A mere penny, when you think about it, is naught to get excited about but Susan's creative chapters in Little Copper Pennies beckons me to keep reading and to keep learning. 

Who knew that in 1911, pennies became known as the 'Godless coin' because during the reign of King George V, the phrase Dei Gratia (by the Grace of God) was removed from the penny? Eventually the words were added back due to a public outcry. 

Never heard of rubbing pennies in loose sand with the heel of your shoe to bring back the shine? How about that 1936 Dot Cent that was auctioned off in 2010 for $400,000?

Little Copper Pennies is full of such interesting anecdotes and each chapter ends with fascinating Penny Facts and entertaining and equally challenging Penny Fun. 

Since the Canadian penny is no longer produced and has been taken out of circulation, this book is a fitting tribute. I particularly appreciate the Eulogy toward the end of the book and I can't help feeling nostalgic and even a little bit sad as Susan reflects and summarizes what a precious treasure the little copper coin has been to Canadians over the years. 

Since the usefulness of the copper coin has been declared to be naught, and its demise has been obvious, it's good to have Susan Harris's book - Little Copper Pennies on hand to remind us and to help us remember and recollect our own private memories of the wee cent. 

Susan bids au revoir to the penny but her book will journey on for a very long time. Little Copper Pennies is a delightful read, a handy reference and a book that will definitely give readers an opportunity to contemplate their own relationship with the penny. 

Review: RED & WHITE CD by Sally Meadows

      Sally Meadow’s latest Christmas CD, RED AND WHITE, presents a nice mix of both the familiar and the new. Sally’s first original song, Beneath the Star, drew me in immediately.  
     It seemed a perfect invitation to sit and reflect. So I did. I found myself becoming fascinated by the lyrics and filled with expectation. Sally did not disappoint. To keep me singing along, the lovely medley of familiar hymns [O Come O Come Emmanuel, What Child is This? Away in a Manger, O Come All Ye Faithful and Excelsis Deo,] strategically placed gave me a perfect focus for her peaceful rendition of Silent Night, complete with a delightful background acoustic guitar. Her gentle vibrato is riveting and not overdone.  

      Sally’s next original song, Red and White, stirred emotions yet strangely encouraged me as I wondered about the title. It soon became obvious that Sally is not sharing the trivial trappings of worldly Christmas colours in the beautiful lyrics of this song, but rather, the blood stained Saviour who came as a tiny Babe, yet gave his life for all.  It was like Sally knit all my own doubt, fear, joy and longing into this haunting and reflective piece.
     O Holy Night, another traditional song of the season, contains some interesting runs and phrasing in this charming arrangement. I enjoyed the upbeat tempo and at one point I found myself tapping my foot in delight.
     The Boy Who Will Be King, started out as another familiar carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem but within moments I was transfixed by the new impelling and rousing shift to the complete Christmas story in song, including the later visit of the Magi. It was lovely and made me nod.

     Rarely we hear Christian Songs about the New Year and there’s something to say about saving the best until the last. Although I thoroughly enjoyed all the songs on this CD, I am thinking that Sally’s final song, This New Year, might be my favourite. It’s time for new beginnings, it’s time to follow dreams…oh how that challenged me. The refrain almost made me believe that Sally wrote this song just for me. My heart danced and I knew that I would be listening to Sally Meadow’s RED AND WHITE CD over and over this Christmas season (and probably beyond!)  
     A perfect gift…


Dear Lynne and Craig...

Dear Lynne and Craig McFadden, 

     I am certain when I tapped you on the shoulder last Monday at the Palmerston Remembrance Day service, you thought me a bit of a crackpot. I mean how cheeky of me to ask you if you would mind using your umbrella to escort my 87 year old WWII Veteran Poppa Bear from the van to the cenotaph. 
     Actually there was someone else standing closer to my daughter's van with an umbrella but something prompted me to go over and speak to you instead. 

    You see, in my haste to get Dad from the school - where he shared stories and fielded questions from some very attentive students - to the cenotaph, I forgot to get my two umbrellas out of the car. We had hopped into Amanda's van to go to the cenotaph.

    The pounding rain was persistent. Dad, doggedly determined to lay a wreath for his fallen comrades, would surely be soaked if you had not been there. 

     All I wanted you to do was to get Dad out of the car and then to perhaps allow him to stand with you under your ample umbrella. But as I looked into your eyes, I saw your heart. You didn't hesitate one iota. 

     "Here...take the umbrella," you insisted. 

     "But I can't take your only form of protection from the elements," I replied. You told me I could use it for Dad and you would see me at the end of the service and get it once everything was over. How thankful I was for your offer although my intention was certainly not to cause you to get wet.

      I gratefully took your brolly and managed to get Dad out of the car and to the front of the crowd where he would seat himself carefully on the seat of his walker. 

     I turned and looked. There you stood - both you, Lynne and your brother, Craig, at the back of the gathering crowd. The rain poured down unmercifully as you put up your hood and both huddled under the doorway that afforded little except perhaps a slight wind block. 

     The service was very well attended given the inclement weather. Somehow the pounding rain and chilling wind coursing through our jackets added more meaning to the words of the pastor leading the service. He urged us to never forget the sacrifice and the dread of war. He didn't imply that war was anything to celebrate or glorify. Instead he gave us focus and caused listeners to wonder if they would have readily signed up for the call of duty as some of the young men in the day did.  

     I pondered what I imagined the conditions to be in the trenches, in the jungle and on the battlefields that my Dad and his comrades endured for the years he was in the Royal Marines. The rain and bone chilling temperatures suddenly didn't seem much to complain about.

     I have rambled on. I dearly wanted to write this personal thank you to you, Lynne and Craig. Thank you for being a little bit of a hero last Monday and covering my Dad not only with your umbrella, but with your compassion and unconditional generosity to a very grateful veteran and his family. Be blessed and know your kindness will always and forever be appreciated. 


(There Was Just) Something About Erin

Last evening my not so happy hubby and I attended a funeral visitation that should not have been. A young girl - 28 beautiful years old - was laid to rest. People came by the hundreds to share a brief moment with family and to express their condolences for this great loss. 

Her smile captured our heartsWe met Erin over ten years ago. She worked at a restaurant in Elmira. We had popped in there for one of our Friday date nights. Erin was our server and when she asked me if I wanted the low calorie dressing on my salad I facetiously asked, "Do you think I need it?" Are you saying I should pick the low calorie option? What are you really saying?"

The poor girl. She tried so hard to back track and make amends for something she really did not say. But from that moment on we became friends. Instantly. We laughed and she went to get my salad with the low calorie dressing. We made the Sip and Byte a regular destination for a meal out and we always tried to sit in Erin's section. But if we couldn't, that sweet blonde haired dreamy-eyed sweetheart would make a point of finding a moment or two to come and chat and give us a hug. Once she paid for our meal with her own money. Another time when she found out it was our anniversary she made us a special dessert - no charge. She coughed up her tips again - much to our protest but she was determined. 

A couple of times, Erin met us for dinner and we soon found out about some of her dreams, her shenanigans and her free spirit. Not sure why she seemed to care so much about us. After all, we were old enough to be her parents but she was genuine and spoke respectfully and encouragingly every time we met. She was the one who showed me how to text. Erin took my old flip phone at the time and patiently walked me through the process. We had some good laughs as we did that. 

I particularly remember one time after I had been going through chemotherapy, Gilles and I hadn't been to the Sip and Byte for a while. But when Erin saw me, bald as a baby, she came running up to me and hugged me and cried her eyes out. We all did. I felt like I was holding my own child as she kept reassuring me that things will be okay.  

God did not have Erin here for a long time, but the impact she made on us (and many others we discovered last evening at the funeral home) was mind boggling. It both warmed and broke my heart to see all the young people come in droves to share and show respect to their lost friend. "To our special angel..." I wrote on the huge matted photograph of Miss Erin. I couldn't help but cry as I watched the video of photographs circulate on the big screen TV as we waited to file in to speak to the grieving family. 

"That should be playing at her wedding, not at her funeral," I leaned over and whispered to my sad hubby."

We never met Erin's family but she spoke so lovingly of them. And they were all so strong and gracious, yesterday...Erin came from fine stock! 

I know not why this could happen to someone who seemed to have so much life and zeal for what each day had to offer. But I do know God has plans for all of us and life is so fleeting. How important it is, then, that we get on with things and adopt some of Erin's free spirit.Life, here, is only temporary and there is a better place beyond. I pray that Erin is nestled in the arms of Jesus. 

 As I shed tears all the way home last evening, I told God that I would gladly (well maybe not gladly, but surely) trade my life to get hers back. But life doesn't work that way. God calls who He calls...I don't understand it right now, but I am convinced that one day, when I do cross into that Great Beyond, I will have all my questions answered and I will know...

Rest well our dear, sweet Erin who brought such joy and laughter to our soul. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to know your angel, even for a brief moment in the grand scheme.

There was just something...about Erin.

Destiny's Hands - Review

    Violet Nesdoly’s first novel, Destiny’s Hands, is described as a work of fiction. However the wealth of biblical truths interwoven throughout made me feel like I had stepped inside the pages of scripture. For four hundred years the Israelites were in bondage under Egyptian rule. When the Hebrew Moses appeared suddenly on the scene and promised to free the slaves, the whole country was thrown into chaos as the ten plagues pervaded the land. The manner in which Nesdoly relays the course of events is spell binding and effectual. 

     Bezalel, a young, skilled and gifted goldsmith, ‘just knew’ from an early age that his hands were to ultimately bring glory to God. As the central, intriguing character, Bezalel shifts from being a highly regarded worker creating beautiful trinkets and precious, golden idols under Pharoah - to nomad. The life changing decision that Bezalel initially made, did not come without cost. Because of Moses’ promise to free the people, and Bezalel’s struggle to understand Yahweh’s plan, an incredible journey and intriguing, relatable story unfolds. Bezalel is tempted and tried. He is pressed upon to make decisions and when his loyalty to his people is tested, his choice is clear.  

     The inviting cover and beguiling title of, Destiny’s Hands, initially made me wonder if this might be a biblical romance of sorts.  Granted there were plenty of tender and intimate moments when the copper-haired Sabia appears on the scene. But the true adventure is realized as I journey with Bezalel and experience everything from the incredible parting of the Red Sea, to grumblings and groaning in the desert. Nesdoly has a way of weaving spiritual truth and challenges into the story. I even found myself wondering about how I use my own gifts to honour Yahweh.

     I would recommend this book as a wonderful summer read with one caveat – prepare to be consumed. I had trouble putting Destiny’s Hands down. I was riveted and even a little saddened as I turned the final page – that was until I saw the 13 discussion questions at the end of the book – what a great idea and challenging food for thought. 

If You’re Happy and You Know It, Say You’re Gay

      Lest anyone think I am climbing out of a figurative closet and announcing a gender bender, sorry to disappoint you.  I am gay. Yes. But not of the homosexual variety. Gay, according to my trusty Funk and Wagnall’s Standard College Dictionary means happy and carefree and merry; vibrant and colourful. I try to be a happy soul most of the time so I guess that makes me gay.                

     I'm sure a few short weeks ago some sang Deck the Halls and talked about how we don our gay apparel,  Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…  So you see, we really do know that gay still means happy and colourful, right?                

     I'm sure I am going to get myself in trouble somewhere along the lines by griping about how some words, like gay, manage to evolve over time and before we know it our nice original meanings have been changed around to suit. Speaking of nice, did you know that a nice person – a very long time ago, was someone who was ignorant or unaware?            

    And a troll used to mean to either move around [as in fishing] or it was a funny looking creature with big ears and a bad smell - think The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Now it means someone who thoroughly enjoys sending someone into a tailspin on on-line forums or social networks.

      Remember when a stream was that little body of water that instilled a feeling of peace and serenity? Now it also can mean that horrid constant flow of emails, Facebook photos, images, tweets.                 

Spam was the name reserved for that fatty jellied ‘mystery meat’ housed in that special rectangular can with the equally special key attached? Now it means nasty messages or unwanted, unsolicited and irritating email.

       Windows aren't only something you have to clean every now and again. Tweet is not necessarily the sound a bird makes. Text isn't just a heavy book you have to lug from class to class. The list goes on. I feel sorry for people just learning the English language.

       Some might think some of these changes are awful. Others might think that it makes language interesting.  That reminds me. Do you know that something that used to be awful actually meant something wonderful, delightful and amazing? You know - full of awe. Now we have that lovely awesome word that is flashed around all over the place these days instead. Funny how things change. 

     Speaking of awesome, I'm thinking about the awesome Word of God. I'm also thinking about how glad I am that that never changes. I know some will argue and shout about how interpretation and false prophets and people who rip people off using the Bible, distort and change what is written. But no matter how people try to drag the Word of God through the mire, it always survives. The Word is relevant and awesome  [as in - it fills me with awe] and as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness.

                For that, I am a happy [gay] camper. 


     No one warned me about the fine print. When I signed our marriage certificate thirty some odd years ago, I didn’t notice the Hockey Clause, as my grinning groom lovingly called it; the one indicating ‘absences for hockey purposes will be commonplace as soon as the ice is in.’             

     I soon found out the hard way that, although my hubby loved me, he also loved hockey. But, I decided early that jealousy would do me no good. Ranting and unsportsmanlike behaviour would be futile. Best to settle in and buy new mittens and a blanket.             

     So I did. I will admit that I could have made more of an effort but I really did try to attend some games and tournaments. I couldn’t help that prior engagements like shopping or library visits or a good book beckoned more than a cold arena.             

     For the life of me I couldn’t understand the rules of the game other than some big thugs who were decked out in bulky uncomfortable equipment, and balancing on blades were required  to whack a piece of hard, round rubber into a net and take out anyone in their way.  Icing, to me, was always the best part of the cake. Creases begged for the iron. Boarding was when you rented a room.             

     The dear man I married would raise his eyebrows. His patience never wore thin; although I am sure he wondered how many times he would have to explain what icing meant. And then there was off-side, neutral zones, face-offs, defense. Would it ever sink in? The most important part to me was cheering for the right team when the puck sliced through the air and into the net. Goals I could fathom. Rules didn’t make much sense at first but over the years I started to grasp some and eventually came to understand a little of the thrill of the game and the exhilaration so familiar to my hubby.             

     When our daughter came along it wasn’t long before we discovered how much she loved going to Daddy’s games. So I started taking her to the tournaments. I even cheered loudly, especially when my happy hubby was on the ice. For a few years another hockey wife and I looked after refreshments and hot lunches at the local tournament and made sure all the hockey aficionados were fed and watered and ready to play again. I was getting used to this new way of life.             

     Then our son was born and the bug bit even harder. Daddy taught him the importance of loving his momma and sister first and hockey a close second! There was nothing sweeter than watching little tykes and tearaways skimming and falling and trying and tripping. My son started to love the game and I loved watching him love it.             I must admit that I never really did grasp all the ins and outs of the rules but still remained a cheering fan at both my son’s and my husband’s games. Eventually, due to health reasons and stiffening joints, my hubby had to stop playing. My son still plays recreational hockey with his firemen buddies, although I don’t get to see his games any more. That’s what happens when the children grow up and move away.             

     But last week it happened all over again. “Grandma. Can you please come watch my hockey game in the tournament on Saturday?” my daughter’s darling little lad asked. She had married a goalie who lived and breathed hockey. Naturally, the hockey gene was passed on with Grandpa’s blessing.             

     The first game of the tournament was at 8am. I crawled out of my warm bed and got ready for the cold arena – just like the good old days. Complete with warm mittens and blanket, I headed out. That old familiar feeling came back and I settled into my seat. It was pure bliss as I watched my grandson’s team skate and stumble and rise and fall. The passion in my grandson’s eyes stirred my heart and I found myself grinning like a Cheshire cat as he focussed and chased that crazy little rubber puck around. Every so often a little gloved hand would come up – a wave to Grandma. He scored three goals and I was beside myself. Just a little lad, but such a familiar appetite for the sport. Grandpa stood nearby. Quiet. I watched him watching our grandson flitting and falling and getting up and pursuing his passion. I knew my grinning groom’s heart ached a little. How he must miss being on the ice. But I could also see the joy in his eyes as he watched our little tyke do his best.  

     I sidled up to the man I married. “He’s doing pretty good, huh?” I said. “Yep.”  He was thoughtful. I reached for his gloved hand. We watched our little grandson for a little while longer. 

      “What’s icing?” I asked. I recognized that smile and the raised eyebrows. “It’s the stuff they put on top of a cake,” he winked and squeezed my hand. *****************