The Importance of a Merry Heart

A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) If a broken spirit dries the bones, then a joyful spirit lubricates and makes the bones healthy. Real joy comes from your spirit -the innermost part of you.  That joy  benefits not just your spirit, but also your soul, (where the mind and emotions are), and also will positively affect your physical body.  Outwardly perfect circumstances do not make the spirit joyful. A merry heart does not depend on everything being right. The bible says to rejoice in the Lord always, not just when the circumstances are perfect. As you  rejoice in God even when you don’t feel like it, you perform an act of faith. When you do this, you are send the Lord a sacrifice of praise.  Not only does the rejoicing change how you feel, but miraculously the circumstances in which you live also begin to change.

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It’s a Brave New World

It is both a scary and a brave thing to let go of a dream that you have had for a long time- even one that you suddenly realize has been a false one. But the longer any thing has been a part of you, the harder it is to let it go. Releasing it feels like you are losing a part of yourself. It is so familiar, that it has taken up squatter’s rights and buried itself inside of you. You do not recognize yourself without that dream to cling to. However after you see that dream for what it truly is, you begin to get a bit of distance-even for an hour or two. At first it may feel like grief. Some days will be better than others.You make a step forward only to go back two the next. Eventually, if you hang on, you advance two and only retreat one. Then you start to heal, although you didn’t even know that healing was necessary. Slowly things start to fall into place not just for you but for those whose lives you touch-your family and your friends, and you finally realize that “God is [indeed] in His heaven – All’s right with [your] world”.

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The seed fell to the earth.

It broke and died

And got buried.

It waited

Three days to explode forth,

Changed and charged with new life.

It reached its potential,

Producing many seeds,

Which in turn

Would fall to the earth,

Break and die

And be buried,

Changed and charged

With the Seed’s life

And power.












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Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I continue to be intrigued by books about writing. Some interesting things came from reading this book. Although I am sure I would get more things from this book if I were to reread it, there is one thing that immediately stands out to me after an initial reading. Gilbert speaks of curiosity and the importance of following its lead. She retraces the route that she took in following her curiosity from an initial idea and following through its lead to her research which she showed became the background of one of her books. In this book Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert skilfully weaves her main points around incidents mostly from her own life and it works well.

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The Courage to Write

The Courage to Write {How Writers Transcend Fear} by Ralph Keyes

When my daughter quickly produced this book from the library after I mentioned it to her, I knew I was supposed to read it. It had been recommended by Eva Shaw, my online course teacher. Having now finished reading this book, I know I needed to read it.

The terrible gripping terror that took over whenever I even got close to finishing a first draft or began to consider the possibility of sending material out for publication was insurmountable. I truly thought this was my experience alone. I did not realize that it is universally the problem that everyone who writes faces.

Ralph Keyes covers not only the reality of the fear but also how to handle the fear and to use the fear to write honestly.  This has made this book invaluable to me. If I had known this thirty years ago, perhaps it would have changed the direction of my life. Perhaps I would have finished my novel and truly found my writing niche a long time ago. Perhaps it is better to be beginning now at this stage of my life rather than to never get going and regret it.

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New Year’s Resolutions or Declarations

The New Year is here, whether or not I was ready for it. Though it seemed it should have been a Sunday, the beginning of the week, it arrived on a Friday and kept me confused about what day of the week it was for a whole week before and continued for this week after New Year’s Day. If I had not made resolutions for the New Year, it did not matter, the new year arrived anyway. It should not have snuck up on me, as I had 365 days to get ready for it from the last New Year, and yet like many other people, I still was not entirely prepared. I knew what I was going to serve for New Year’s dinner and who would eat it, but not what I intended to make my focus of change in the New Year.

I do not lightly make New Year’s resolutions for I have no intention of abandoning them by the end of January or later.  I don’t actually make resolutions, as such, but for a number of years have written down a declaration of what God has been speaking to me concerning my participation in the upcoming year. At a church service held on New Year’s Eve, I had the opportunity, along with others that attend, to share my declaration of what the Lord had spoken to me.  When I left home for the gathering I still did not know what to share.

This year, as usual, we were to have supper with everyone before the service. My husband and I got to the church to open the door and put the coffee on before everyone else arrived. I was able to sit down for just a few minutes before others arrived and then I felt that the Lord spoke to me the following:

“Continue in the things you have learned and been assured of! Remember My grace is sufficient for everything you ever need.  I plan to do a great thing in 2016. Get ready to receive it. Never doubt My ability or my intentions toward you. Look after those who are needy and those who are strangers around you. Remember that many have entertained angels unaware. I will bless those who will bless  others. Demonstrate love and I will demonstrate my love through signs and wonders at your hands.”

At the last moment I had received the declaration I was to make for the New Year. My focus for 2016 suddenly became clear. These things I did not, and still do not, take lightly. I am to show God’s love to those who are in need and are strangers. It is truly awesome to me that God has promised to do something great for me.  I know I cannot do anything to make the Lord’s promise come about, except to believe His words.  My New Year’s resolution is to do what God has given me to do. I can do it because He has promised to help me do it. I just need to look about to see the opportunities He has given me to share His love in the way He wants me to.

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A Missing Peace

As I searched through one of the junk drawers in my house, I came across a small brass ball that was threaded on one end.  I am not quick to part with something that has remained in the same place for some time, as through squatter’s rights applied to inanimate objects, so I was about to return it to its place and look for something else.

I remembered running across this item numerous times in the last while, feeling it was a part of something important, but nothing came to mind. As I came across this inscrutable object once again, I still couldn‘t imagine what it was and though I was tempted to throw it back in the drawer, I did not.

As I reached to turn on the lamp that stands on my desk to have a better look, I bumped the lamp shade, causing it to wobble. At an earlier point the filial that holds the shade in place had been lost.   Once again, it bothered me, because I am really very fond of the lamp and find it disturbing to have a piece missing from it.  Soon after the filial first disappeared, I had even made a point of praying that I would find it. That was months or perhaps even a year ago. The only time I thought about the missing lamp piece since then was when, I bumped the lamp and the shade wobbled, as it did now.

This time I was suddenly inspired.  I considered that wayward object in my hand wondering if it could possibly be the piece of the puzzle that I had been missing.  When I placed the brass ball on the treaded part, on which the shade rested, the pieces fitted together easily. This errant brass ball from my desk drawer was actually the missing lamp shade filial I had looked for and prayed about. It had been sitting only a few feet away from the very spot where it belonged, but I didn’t realize it.

Why had I missed the connection between the threaded brass ball and the missing filial? Something or someone needed to cause both things to enter my mind at the same time so I would compare their attributes. I had made the shade wobble, while thinking about the brass ball in my hand. Other things in life are also like this.

Two things come together to make joint sense of formerly out-of-place things. Some of these situations are small and seemingly inconsequential, except to the person looking for the missing piece, like the filial and the brass ball, or a missing puzzle that you keep overlooking. Sometimes it is something that is more permanently life changing, like two people meeting at the right time and place, and recognizing their compatibility with each other. Sometimes it is the very job that one is suited for coming available exactly when it is most needed or someone giving you the very book you needed to finish researching a significant new project.

People have referred to these answers as merely coincidences, as kismet or as Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way refers to it, as synchronicity. I believe it is an answer to prayer. God is interested in the things that concern His children. If we believe in Him sufficiently to ask His help, He answers. Unfortunately sometimes we are simply not listening.


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The Soup Kitchen

Today is Soup Kitchen day. I spent my morning, as I have every Wednesday for the last year and a half making soup and sandwiches to be given out at lunchtime to those who attend. I don’t do this alone as it is a church project, sponsored and manned by our local church. Everyone from the church who is available on Wednesday mornings helps with lunch in some way. Some cook, some serve and still others clean the building or greet the patrons of the soup kitchen. While doing our various jobs, we joke and talk together, catch up with one another’s news and plan what meals we will do over the next few weeks. Later when the lunch time is over we will sit down and have our lunch together, but first we focus on getting everything ready for our guests. The lunch we prepare is free and we don’t ask people what their individual situation is, so likely we get people of all means-some more needy or needy in different ways than others. I look forward to the soup kitchen every week. It is a routine that though it has procedures that are the same and need to be done in order are far from monotonous or uninteresting. For one thing we make the soup from scratch. There is something rewarding about chopping vegetables, adding seasoning and tasting the soup that has a very therapeutic effect on me. Today I really appreciated the blend of colours of the vegetable soup. The orange carrots, green cabbage, creamy white turnip and golden corn were cheerful contrasts to the cold weather and white snow outside. The onions in the chicken broth started their enticing aroma, pervading the hall,and getting us ready for the soup kitchen long before the first visitor arrived. Although all of the people who attended today had come before, some I had not seen for a while. Most of the people who come I know by their first name only. Some I know by their preference for white or brown bread. Some I know only by sight. All seemed to enjoy the lunch and most voiced their appreciation, which was a bonus, but I already had my reward-just being there.

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A Dog Named Maggie

Maggie, our new dog, has come to live with my family and disrupt our lives as do all new pets, people and decisions – at least at first. Maggie is a year and half old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She is a rusty orange in colour and resembles a miniature Chewbacca (from Star Wars), right down to her furry feet. We thought that we had  properly anticipated what it would be like to introduce her to the 90 pound Labrador Retriever that also lives with us. We had thought about where she should sleep and what we would feed her and nothing worked out as we planned. The friendly Lab only wanted to play, although her playing was a bit different from Maggie’s. We didn’t anticipate that the cat would react with such absolute disdain to her, nor did  we expect Maggie to engage in nighttime caged howling, which was steady and consistent for the half hour we put up with it. Maggie’s noise sent the Labrador to the basement and other members of the household to their earphones.  Despite a closed door and a whole room between us and the howling Maggie, my husband and I could very much hear her, even with a fan running. Finally, after rounding up an old dog bed and bringing Maggie and her blanket into our bedroom, the noise stopped.  After running back and forth on the floor a few times, Maggie made a leap up onto the bed and settled down to sleep peacefully through the night on our bed right between my husband and I, where she has slept every night since.

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A Sign from Heaven

Since Christmas Day, I have been thinking about the wise men in the original Christmas story who traveled with only a star to guide them from their homeland to the birthplace of a new king. When these strangers came to the land of Israel they seemed to leave off following the star,  assuming I guess that the king, who’s star they had seen, would be in the king’s court in Jerusalem. Although the star seems to have faded from sight for the moment, it did not give up on them for after the wise men’s visit to King Herod in Jerusalem, the star appeared again and led these strangers to the exact location of the Baby Jesus. Perhaps the star disappeared because the wise men decided to use their own limited wisdom to find the new king instead of following the celestial sign. If the wise men had stuck to the star as their exclusive guide possibly Herod would not have made his dreadful decree.  I do not know what might have happened. But, whenever something good and wonderful occurs such as the birth of the One who would bring peace to mankind, it is to be expected that evil will try to thwart it. Even misled, but well-meaning individuals can be used in this way, as well as those with more evil intentions. Through a dream God showed Joseph how to protect His Son from the evil intentions.

I wonder how often I have messed up God’s plan for me by not paying enough attention to God’s leading and by getting off track by something that seemed reasonable. When evil made it’s move through Herod, God intervened, by leading Joseph to move to Egypt. I need to always trust God to show when His plan for me or for others is threatened and be willing to do as He says to correct it.

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