Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Meet Kimber

Please give a warm welcome to my good friend, Kimber. Kimber and I met at a writers’ group a number of years ago now, and even though she has married, moved away and become the amazing mom of two little firecrackers, we have managed to keep in touch through the magic of social media and the rare personal visit. I look forward to chatting with her about the subject of friendship.

S: Hey, girlfriend! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with my readers today.

K: My pleasure, Susan.

S: Let’s get straight to it. First of all, what is your definition of friendship?

K: Two people who discover a connection, and keep connecting.
S: Excellent. And simple. And what characteristics do you look for in a friend?

K: Mutual respect. Whether it's respect for their outlook on life, their ethics, their artistic gifts, if I don't respect a person, I am not likely to choose them as a friend. After that, I look for a sense of humour - I love to laugh! Good listening skills. And some common ground, some kind of connection - the natural world, motherhood, an appreciation of the arts, mutual delight in food...yeah, food is a big one! Several of my friendships seem to involve a lot of dining out. Ha!

S: Well, you can never go wrong with food, can you? Everyone has to eat! I suppose it was the arts and food that we connected around, then. First through our writing, then through writing about food (remember?) and through our writers’ potlucks. Oh, and your homemade jam – killer!

I just started a diet and this food talk is making me hungry. Let’s move on quick! What is your biggest challenge to developing new friendships?

K: Mmm, those potlucks. And writing and food seem to go together so well. But yes, moving along... So many of my friends are pulled in different directions on a daily basis. Between jobs, or raising young children, volunteer work, all sorts of other commitments, it takes conscious effort to make time to nurture our connections to one another.
S: It’s hard to keep all the balls in the air, I know. Balance seems like one of those buzz-words, but it’s true: we need it. And friends are such an important part of that. Like you said, connecting and continuing to connect. We’re made for relationships and that seems especially true for women.
What is your approach to finding/making new friends? Has this worked effectively in your experience?

K: I don't actually go looking for new friends. The universe just seems to drop them in my lap! I love it! I have a diverse group of friends that range from people I've known for decades, to people I've just met in the past few years. Some are mothers, some are not. Many are a lot younger than I am, several are a fair bit older. It's all good.

S: You are truly blessed. But I don’t think the universe just drops them in your lap – there’s something in your character that acts like a friend-magnet. For one thing, you’re so much fun to be around and have such a zest for life. The way you make every holiday special, the way you celebrate the Oscars. I hardly need to ask, but in your own estimation do you think you are a good friend to others?

K: I learned how to celebrate from my mom. She was an amazing role-model. As far as my being a good friend to others, yes, I think so. I like to stay connected, and it's much easier to do so in these days of social media and email. Staying connected is key; especially when I have friends who live hours (or provinces!) away. I'm a good listener. Plus, the homemade jam you mentioned? I give it out as gifts. (0;

S: You are a wise and crafty woman indeed. Note to self: bribery is not dead!

Again I probably don’t need to ask, given your diversity and quantity of friends, but can you think of any you could call at 2 a.m. and know that they would be there for you?

K: So many! I'm very lucky that way. I have two friends in particular that I know I can call on, night or day, and they would both be there for me. And they live 2 hours away! I have a couple of friends like that where I live now, too. Our mom's group is tight. We have each others' backs.

S: Sigh. That is so amazing. And now the opposite: do you think a friendship can run its course? How do you know when it's time to move on?

K: Oh, definitely. Some people come into your life for a season or two, when you need them or they need you. It's okay not to be friends with everyone forever. I like to let friendships take a natural course. Some of them are dependent on circumstance (e.g. whether you work together, or volunteer together, or see each other a lot). If you or the other person aren't comfortable making the extra effort it takes to maintain a connection, then it's fine to let go. 

S: What's the worst thing a friend could do to you?

K: Be two-faced.

 S: Good answer. It’s horrible when you find out that someone you trusted or believed was a friend is actually gossiping or bad-mouthing you behind your back.

And finally, what is your best advice on the subject of friendship?

K: Oh dear. To have a friend, you need to be a friend. Is that too lame? How about this: seek friends from different walks of life. A diverse set of friends will add depth to your life.

S: Not lame at all; great advice. 

This was fun, Kimber. Thanks again for the interview. And here’s to many more years of friendship!

K: Sláinte!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

A-Z Theme Reveal!

Last year at this time I had all of my April A-Z pieces written and was able to relax for the month. Not so this year, alas!

I do, however, have my theme, and the first 2-3 posts are completed. A-Z, for those of you who may have forgotten, happens every April, and gives bloggers the chance to show their creativity in taking the 26 letters of the alphabet and creating a blog post around each one. Like Lent, the alphabet runs from Monday-Saturday with Sundays off for good behaviour.

So, my theme, you say, for Pete’s sake, get to the theme. Yes, of course, just trying to heighten the intrigue! And now, for the reveal: this year, stay tuned to find out what the Bible has to say from A-Z.

I am currently #470 on the list of participants. If you would like to join us, sign up here!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Book Review: Touching the Heart of God

Author: Paul Wilbur
Publisher: Certa Books, 2015
Genre: Non-fiction, Christian living, Celebrations

First Lines:

"As I travel around the world leading worship, I have the opportunity to connect with some amazing people. People of many languages, nations, cultures and religious backgrounds come together to honor the One True God – the Great I AM. In times of worship together, we have the privilege of Touching the Heart of God as He opens the very eyes of our hearts to know Him more…"

Goodreads Description:

Did you know that you have a huge inheritance and that you serve a King who exposes His plans, purposes, power, and deepest secrets to you as a citizen in His Kingdom? In Touching the Heart of God you will learn about this King and His Kingdom-its order, its benefits, and the privilege afforded to its citizens in celebrating the greatest military and spiritual victories in recorded history.

The God of all creation actually keeps a calendar that celebrates His activity in the history of mankind and encourages our participation in the feasts. Whether you are a Messianic or Gentile believer in our amazing Messiah, you will find new and empowering insights in this book, which will build your faith and provoke your participation.

Paul Wilbur, internationally-acclaimed worship artist, song writer, pastor and teacher, unpacks the "Calendar of the Kingdom" in a way that reunites Christians with their Jewish foundations in a crystal-clear understanding of who we are in Christ and how the Father intends for us to successfully and joyfully walk in His Kingdom. Get ready to be challenged in your thinking and excited about the days we are living in. These are the days of Elijah!

• The Feasts of the have an engraved invitation!
• Your citizenship in the Kingdom of God brings major benefits to your life today!
• How can Christians and Jews walk as One New Man and change our world today?
• Clearly see how the Old and New Testaments integrate for His purpose.
• Is it possible to Touch the Heart of God?
My Review:

In this book, pastor and worship artist, Paul Wilbur, shares his thoughts on the calendar of Jewish feasts and why Christians should be interested in remembering them. He creates a powerful argument for this, in a way that is compelling and loving, without being insistent or legalistic.

The book is divided into two parts. The first deals with Who the King is and what it is that He desires. The second part identifies the various feast-days, why they were created, what they recall, and how they are celebrated.

I have to admit it took me about 40 pages to get on board. The content seemed to go right over my head, or the writing style didn’t grip me. It was only when I started reading aloud to my husband that Wilbur’s words began to make sense. I tell you this in case you experience the same as you are reading; reading aloud may make all the difference. And the content is certainly worth sticking around for.

There is no acknowledgements section, so it’s hard to know if the book had an editor, but it could have benefited from one. There were a few minor typos, but where the book could have been stronger is in its organization or construction. So, for example, everything about the Sabbath should have been found in one place instead of being scattered throughout the text.

Wilbur’s expressed heart “is that the Father will bring us all to a greater place of understanding and unity, for this is the Father’s heart” (p. 14). I believe he accomplishes this goal. My husband and I indeed achieved a greater understanding of the Jewish holy-days and we look forward to remembering them this coming year. In this, the calendar included near the end of the book (covering 2016-2025) will be most helpful.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

*I received this book free from the publisher through the Book Crash review program. My review has not been influenced by this fact in any way.*

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Empty Tomb

Who needs a sermon when you've got an empty tomb!

 All because of Him...

lives are transformed.

Listen to just one story:

 Danny Velasco, hair & make-up artist

Jesus has the power to change and repair broken lives. 
Your case is not too hard for Him.
 Praise God for the resurrected Christ!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Saturday Weigh-In

Wow. Another long period has passed since I last weighed in. And the news remains the same: 8 pounds to lose. Once again, it's not a good time to start - Easter Sunday tomorrow and dinner with my mom. But I will pick up the baton again at the beginning of the week.

Strategies are much the same, with two additions:
  • Check in with Cher, my accountability partner, Tuesday and Friday 
  • Stick with the supper meal plan – lentils Monday, leftovers Tuesday, quinoa Wednesday, fish Thursday, beans Friday, leftovers Saturday, and soup or pasta Sunday 
  • Either walk the dog or walk with Leslie Sansone DVDs at least three times, 30 minutes at a time. 
  • We still have a lot of chocolate in the house. Only one piece a day, preferably dark  
  • Don’t eat past satisfied 
  • No bedtime snacking 
  • Four 8-oz glasses of water daily (this is an improvement for me) 
  • Re-read and implement The 17 Day Diet program
  • Check out The Eight-Week Challenge 
If you've been trying to drop some weight, I hope you've been making better progress than I have. Yes? 

Friday, 25 March 2016

Good Friday

For us, it was a very Good Friday indeed.

For God so loved the world, that
He gave His one and only son,
That whoever believes in Him
Shall not perish, but have eternal life.
(John 3:16)

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Rainy Day Friends

It’s been a while since I shared a few quotes on friendship so a rainy day seems the perfect time to post some more. Whether it’s raining where you are or not, enjoy the day, along with these thoughts:

The point that resonates for me is the “don’t be too busy or tired.” Sometimes I am both and friends can get the idea that I’m just not that interested. If I don’t have time or energy for people something is wrong with the choices I’m making and the priorities I’m setting. Once again it goes back to my word for the year: intentionality.
I love this quote. I think we can all think of times in our lives when we’ve been down or broken-hearted and it’s our friends who have lifted us up and encouraged us. Things will get better, we need to get back on our feet; we will soar again.
With the A-Z challenge coming up soon, I had to share this one. Stay tuned; I’ll be revealing my theme for the challenge next Wednesday (hint: it’s not on friendship!). 

And remember, whether it’s raining outside or we’re crying on the inside, as long as we have at least one true friend, we have something about which to be joyful.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Book Review: Medicine Walk

Author: Richard Wagamese
Publication: McClelland & Stewart, 2014
Genre: Literary Fiction, Native Fiction

First Lines:

He walked the old mare out of the pen and led her to the gate that opened out into the field. There was a frost from the night before, and they left tracks behind them. He looped the rope around the middle rail of the fence and turned to walk back to the barn for the blanket and saddle. The tracks looked like inkblots in the seeping melt, and he stood for a moment and tried to imagine the scenes they held.

Goodreads Description:

Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He's sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they've shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son's duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner.    

What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon's end. From a poverty-stricken childhood, to the Korean War, and later the derelict houses of mill towns, Eldon relates both the desolate moments of his life and a time of redemption and love and in doing so offers Frank a history he has never known, the father he has never had, and a connection to himself he never expected.   

A novel about love, friendship, courage, and the idea that the land has within it powers of healing, Medicine Walk reveals the ultimate goodness of its characters and offers a deeply moving and redemptive conclusion. Wagamese's writing soars and his insight and compassion are matched by his gift of communicating these to the reader.

My Review:

This was our March book club selection. We’d read Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian (non-fiction) last year, and interest in Native themes had been stirred. Medicine Walk proved a moving account that anyone – First Nations or otherwise – could relate to, dealing as it does with the themes of family relationships, betrayal, loss and pain. Eldon’s alcoholism as a way of dealing with emotions such as fear, hurt and disappointment is a method of self-medicating not unique to the aboriginal population.

We were all impressed with Franklin’s maturity and the nurturing care he offers the father who allowed another man to raise him. Franklin’s character and ability to forgive are largely due to the influence of that man, an old farmer who seeks to teach the ‘kid’ the Indian ways that are not part of his own heritage. 

Wagamese creates a great deal of sympathy for Franklin’s father as the reader learns the story of his life. While Eldon has opportunities to be a hero (his mother’s abusive boyfriend, his time in the Korean War, his battle with alcohol, etc.), he never really succeeds, though at the end he finds the courage to share his story (with all its faults and failures) with Franklin. Eldon doesn’t merit being buried in the warrior way, but within the limitations of his character, he is a kind of survivor.

The author has a beautiful way with words and packages them to create images and pictures that stay with the reader a long time after the book is set down. He also evokes an emotional response in the reader. As much as she might like to condemn Eldon for his inability to rise to the occasion or fault him for his failure to conquer the addiction of alcohol, she can’t help but feel for Eldon’s suffering, both on the medicine walk and throughout the tragedies of his experience.

Well worth reading, though the gentle reader is duly warned that the book is not short on the use of profanity.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars