Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

40 Adventures for 40 Years, Part 8



Sadly, our list of forty things went ignored for three solid weeks. This past Sunday afternoon I said, “c’mon, let’s pick one item from the list we can do today.” The weather was lovely. We were staying home. The answer seemed obvious.

#12 Draw a Hopscotch on the sidewalk and watch what happens.

A city sidewalk runs about twenty feet in front of our house, which not all the homes in town can say. And it’s fairly busy, especially on a lovely summer evening. We’d already “borrowed” two fat chunks of sidewalk chalk from our grandsons in anticipation of this day. I grabbed my phone so I could prove we did this together, and out we went.

The other man’s sidewalk is always smoother.

Our stretch of sidewalk is old and sort of crumbly. We were tempted to go around the corner and draw our hopscotch on the smooth, new sidewalk in front of the neighbour’s house. But then we’d need to beg them for seats in front of their picture window to fulfill the second half of our project: watch what happens.

So we picked the smoothest looking section we could find in front of our own picture window. Jon grabbed the push broom from the garage and started sweeping away the sand and stones while I stood watching, wondering if passersby were saying, “look at that selfish old woman, making her poor one-armed husband sweep the sidewalk while she just stands there.” I should have found a shovel to lean on to really complete the picture.

Then Jon took the camera so I could start drawing. I’d downloaded a diagram from the internet to make sure I got it right. I couldn’t believe how quickly we went through our chalk! Betcha it would have gone farther on the neighbour’s smooth new sidewalk.

For the rest of the evening and in the two days following, we watched the various reactions as people walked by. Most ignored it. But the ones who not only noticed it, but hopped it, did so with huge smiles on their faces, and made me smile too. My favorite was a mom with two little boys. She stopped to show them how it was done and then they tried. So cute. (I’d post pictures or videos, but I didn’t take any. Seemed rude and wrong somehow.)

We’re having so much fun watching people hop our hopscotch, I want to go out and buy a supply of chalk so I can keep it there all the time. Such a little thing, so much joy. I hope I never ignore another hopscotch beneath my feet. No matter how crumbly the sidewalk.

“Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.” Ecclesiastes 6:9




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Quarter Inch from Crazy



I’m doing it all wrong.

Thanks to our friend Harv, I recently had new laminate flooring installed in my home office. Which prompted some rearranging of the furnishings. Which prompted some rearranging of the wall d├ęcor.

I thought I’d go a little funky displaying my canvas book covers. I Googled “cute ideas for hanging picture frames crooked” but the only images that appeared were crooked picture frames and none of them were cute. I charged ahead anyway, and this is what I ended up with. It was much cooler in my head.

I know, I know. It basically looks like someone banged on the other side of the wall until everything went wonky. And I’m just OCD enough that I won’t be able to stand it for long. It helps that the wall is behind me as I work.

But my wall provides a metaphor. As an author, I often feel I’m doing it all wrong. I don’t plot out my books ahead of time. I don’t create clear story arcs. My main characters tend to be unlikable. Every week, my inbox is filled with articles about how to do it right until I become overwhelmed with how thoroughly I’m doing it wrong.

I don’t have my own website, only this blog. I don’t use Twitter, just Facebook. A friend reminded me recently that I “ought” to be on Instagram. I’m not. I’ve turned down every speaking invitation I’ve received since my first book came out. Not that there have been dozens, but experts would tell me I’m committing career suicide. Which is ironic, because it kills me to say no

It’s that right now, with my physical limitations, I know it’s logistically impossible to pull that off, maintain my day job, keep writing, and still get the rest I need.

So I say no a lot. And I torture myself, because I ought to do all these things. I ought to say yes and I ought to trust God to provide the strength and resources I need to keep saying yes.

Unless.

Unless God can be trusted to get my stories into the hands of those who need to read them, regardless of my shortcomings.

Unless, if a story is good enough, it will soar without my having to constantly push it in front of people’s faces. (Ever notice that the authors we love to read most are rarely the ones dishing out the how-to advice?)

Unless what Jesus said to Paul is the same thing he says to me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Unless what he’s already accomplished with my books is more than enough.

Here’s the thing. There will always, always be more you ought to do. At some point, you must know your limitations and focus on what works for you. Yes, do your part. But trust God with his. And go write a really good book. Hopefully, without a wall full of crooked picture frames behind you.

What are you doing wrong? I'd love to hear about it. And here’s the rest of my office.

I love that I write WWII era novels on a WWII era desk.

Didn't change my book nook. Still love it.

Had to unload and move the bookcase to do the floor!

Monday, June 5, 2017

40 Adventures for 40 Years, Part 7: Finding God at the Circus



Summer’s here, when the farmer in my husband comes out to play—er, work—and we have barely seen each other for three weeks, let alone conquering anything on our list of forty. But yesterday we did something that is currently holding the record as my favorite and merits a blog post all its own. Sure beats that jigsaw puzzle still on our dining table at any rate.

#7 See Cirque du Soleil.

Because I’ve always wanted to go, I placed this on the list early in our list-creating process, not knowing whether there’d even be a cirque coming to Manitoba this year. I was thrilled when in January, tickets went on sale for the steampunk-themed show called Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities in Winnipeg. It premiered in Montreal three years ago and is still going strong. I booked our tickets immediately.

If you’ve been to any Cirque du Soleil show, you know how mind-blowing it is and how much it makes you want to run away to join the circus. And if you haven’t seen one, there’s not a lot of point in my trying to describe it for you. For a little taste of this one, you can watch a great little You Tube video here. 

No words adequately describe what you’ll see when you go, but here’s a few that flitted around in my head as I watched:

Beauty. Grace. Wonder. Strength. Balance. Agility. Crazy Creativity. Skill. Courage. Team work. Brilliance. All words that apply to God.

Wait, what? God? At a circus?

Oh, yes. You might not expect to find God there, but he was everywhere I turned. And here’s why. I can’t be a witness to that kind of outstanding, dazzling creativity and not be convinced yet again that humans are created in the image of an amazing artist.

It’s like this. Look around the room you’re sitting in right now. What do you see? Furniture? Technology? Art? Correct me if I’m wrong, but each and every thing you see was created by someone, yes? You probably don’t know who, and you likely don’t stop to think about how smart that person is or how they’ve added to your life, but I’m pretty sure you acknowledge that a designer exists and that they came up with something good.

Now tell me, what is the most complex thing in the room?

If you answered “computer” or any other man-made object, you’re wrong. You are the most complex thing in the room. You, and other people, will always be the answer to that question, in any room you ever enter. I am the most complicated creation in my room at the moment. How can I imagine I don’t have a creator?

And so when the spell-binding Cirque du Soliel performers mesmerize me with their displays of what the human mind and body can achieve, I have no choice but to look to the one who made them. Who made me. Who looks on his marvelous creation with a smile and says, “It is good.”

Kurios will be in Winnipeg through July 9 and you can order your tickets here. Two things you need to know in advance: onsite parking costs $15 and you should allow at least an extra 30-40 minutes before and after the show for getting parked and getting out. Some folks parked at IKEA and walked over—not a bad plan. Also, the tent is air conditioned and even if it’s hot outside, you might want a sweater or jacket. I did.