Prov 17:22

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Two Tricks and Two Very Nice Treats

Has your October been liberally sprinkled with surprises like mine? Thankfully, the treats outweigh the tricks by far.

A Nasty Trick
A follow-up visit to my lung doc confirmed that the three-drug cocktail I’ve been taking for the past year has not yet succeeded in evicting the persistent atypical bacteria called MAC from my lungs. Do you think I should consult a bug exterminator instead?

Best Treat Ever!
Photo Credit: Let There Be Light Photography
On October 7, I flew to Calgary where I spent a glorious 11 days with my daughter, son-in-law, and their brand new son, Linus (my sweet babboo). I’ve never been one of those infant-crazy people who needs to hold a baby, any baby, every chance they find. But when they’re your own, that’s something else, isn’t it? I couldn’t get my fill of snuggling that little peanut and it tore my heart out to say good-bye. He, of course, took it all in stride.

It’s not difficult to make yourself useful in a household with a newborn, so between cuddles I prepared meals, folded laundry, and cleaned things—and still consider it one of the best vacations ever! I felt so blessed to observe Linus’s newborn photo shoot in progress, attend a baby shower at his mommy’s workplace, and hold him through his first church service.

And for my next trick...
Descending the stairs at my daughter’s house carrying a laundry basket in one hand and a ceramic cereal bowl in the other, my feet suddenly slipped. I felt my priceless, antique tailbone go “thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk” and heard the bowl shatter on the floor below.

“Mom?” I could hear the panic in Mindy’s voice, but needed to think hard before my tongue could respond.

“I’m OK,” I moaned. And I was, for the most part. The chiropractor who checked me over that afternoon agreed I’d done a number on myself. But no breaks or fractures—only scrapes, bruises, and humiliation. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I wasn’t carrying the baby!

Another Special Treat
While in Calgary, I received word that Portage la Prairie’s City Council had nominated me for the Chamber of Commerce “Arts/Cultural Person of the Year” award and that two complimentary gala tickets awaited me back home.

Huh? Whatever for? I wondered. Oh well. I knew I wouldn’t win. “Always the bridesmaid” seems to have become my theme for anything the least bit competitive in recent years. But I thanked Council for the nomination, and Jon and I looked forward to a fancy dinner.

Lo and behold.

When it came time for the Arts/Cultural award, MC Preston Meier started reading a list of achievements that sounded suspiciously like some of my own shenanigans of the past 25 years. I began to sweat. Not so much about not having a speech prepared, but about whether I’d trip up the stairs at the front of the stage in my spikey high-heels.

If I had prepared an acceptance speech, I might have told the citizens of Portage la Prairie how truly blessed I feel to live in this community. How thankful I am for those who have mentored and encouraged me along my journey, and what a privilege it is to give back with the abilities God has granted. He gifted each of us uniquely, and there is no higher calling than to serve him and others in collaboration and harmony, bringing his kingdom a little closer to earth each time we do. I would have said thank you, Portage, for being the kind of community that is worth the investment of one’s life and art. God bless you!

I didn’t say all that. But at least I didn’t fall down.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Granny Baker's Doilies

When Stephanie, the director for the Prairie Players’ upcoming production of Arsenic and Old Lace, handed around a list of required props, the word “doilies” jumped out at me and I signed my name beside it. Though I haven’t used them in years, I knew exactly where to find half a dozen or more handcrafted doilies.

I suspect my grandmother (my mom’s mom) learned how to crochet as a very little girl and I never saw her go anywhere without her crocheting in hand. She taught me how to crochet when I was eight or nine. I’ve stuck with yarn, though. I never had the patience for the delicate work required by fine crochet cotton and miniscule hooks. 

Granny Baker produced doilies, table cloths, afghans, slippers, and more. For years, MCC gave her their unsellable sweaters which she’d unravel, knit into mittens or slippers, and return to the store where they’d sell like hotcakes. My children each received one of Granny’s afghans when they married, even though she had already passed away and left the colorful blankets behind for them in trust. I’m confident not one of my siblings or cousins is without at least one item lovingly made by her.

But she was definitely most famous for her doilies. I bet every bride within a 25-mile radius of Amaranth received a set of her doilies between 1940 and 1980. Only God knows the number of stitches Granny Baker’s hands made over the course of her 91 years on this planet. 

For years, I used my doilies faithfully as a pretty way to protect furniture from scuffs or provide a bit of cushion under breakable knickknacks. Once a year, I’d wash the doilies and take them to Granny to starch—a tedious task which involved dipping each doily in a cornstarch and water mixture and then pinning it to heavy cardboard on which several concentric circles had been drawn, using hundreds of straight pins. This resulted in a perfectly symmetrical, stiff-as-a-board piece of intricate lace no household should be without.

I’m not sure when doilies went out of fashion, but at some point, I declared mine mere dust collectors. Not ready to part with these heirlooms, however, I washed them and stored them in a box. I certainly can’t predict whether they’ll ever make a come-back. Pintrest is probably full of great ideas for what to do with doilies and maybe one day I’ll take the time to look. In the meantime, it’s lovely to see them getting used to beautify the set for a story that takes place in 1939. I think Granny would be pleased.

You can see Granny Baker’s doilies—and a lot of other old stuff—on stage at the William Glesby Centre when The Prairie Players present Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” November 11, 12, 13, and 14. The first two nights are the play only and the last two are dinner theatre. Call 204-239-4848 or stop by the Glesby Centre for tickets or more information. You can also buy tickets online at

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Would Jesus Vote?

I voted early this election because I’ll be away on Election Day. I admit, I am too lazy to follow politics as much as I should in order to vote really wisely. And I rely on the opinions of others I respect far too much. I’m easily swayed by one person’s argument, until the opposite side is presented. Did you know the Bible talks about this in Proverbs 18:17? “…the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.”

So I hardly qualify to answer the question, “How would Jesus vote and why?” Instead, I put the query on one of my ever-so-scientific Facebook polls. I asked people to comment in 25 words or less, expecting a rush of viewpoints from which I could write an intriguing column. To my surprise, few responded. Is everyone else too chicken? 

Maybe it’s just as well no one presumes to know the mind of Christ. It’s a good question, though, isn’t it? If you claim to follow Jesus, it ought to be your first concern when it comes to voting. And if you don’t like what Jesus represents, knowing the answer to that question is equally useful so you can cast your ballot in a different direction.

But how does one answer it? My friend Shane made the point that, “a king doesn’t have to vote.” Fair enough. But I do. And knowing Jesus’ choice candidate would help me immensely.

My friend Jon answered, “Green Party. Protect God’s creation and shelter his people.” Good point. After God created the earth, he charged man with caring for it, although I haven’t found any record of Jesus himself mentioning the environment per se. Clearly, he cared about a lot of other things, though, like the poor and children and mercy and justice. 

Which brings me to Vicki, who said Jesus would vote NDP since they’re all about social reform. Valid argument. But for the life of me, I can’t reconcile Jesus’ compassion for children with the party’s insistence that parents should have the freedom to kill their children before they’re born.

My friend Jan answered, “Me!” By that, I suppose she meant God is on her side and has chosen her. A biblical principle to be sure, but your name does not appear on my ballot, Jan, so your answer is not particularly helpful. 

Barb said Jesus would not affiliate himself with any party, but would weigh the hearts of each individual candidate—a trick I have yet to master.

When Jesus walked the earth, he didn’t have the privilege of voting. Israel suffered under tyrannical Roman rulers who made life miserable for his countrymen and nailed him to a cross after a sham of a trial.

But I do get to vote. In fact, it’s my duty. I’ve heard people comment that voting is choosing the least lousy of several lousy options. What if we looked at it a different way? What if we chose to believe that all the options held validity? That each candidate cares about our country and its people as much as we do, that each truly desires to uphold the values he or she holds dear? What if the worst name you could call a candidate is “misguided?” Not evil. Not stupid. Not crooked.

I happen to think they do care, or they wouldn’t put themselves out there. I think they are decent, smart people with worthwhile goals and gifts to bring to the table. The challenge is not choosing who will do the least damage, but whose values best match your own. Perhaps seeing it in that light will make voting feel like the honor it is. 

And if you truly can’t find one redemptive quality in any party or candidate, perhaps you should consider running yourself. And if you don’t vote, for Heaven’s sake, don’t you dare complain! Do what millions of people on this planet are dying to do. Vote.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Two Conundrums of Giving Thanks

There’s a good reason why “gratitude” sounds so much like “attitude.” Modern Science points out that having a thankful outlook all year round keeps us healthier, happier, and generally nicer-to-be-around type of people. But grateful behaviour has its challenges.
The “Counting Your Blessings” Conundrum
Last week during coffee break at city hall, one of my co-workers shared a Reader’s Digest puzzle involving a series of dominoes where you chose one of three optional solutions. Tieny, our Manager of Finance, watched over my shoulder. While I stared with my brows furrowed, trying to understand the question and count the dots on the dominoes, Tieny solved the puzzle—proving once again that math is not my strong suit.

Which can make counting one’s blessings a bit of a challenge. God has brought so many good things my way in 2015, I can’t keep up. A long-awaited book contract. Three of my original plays produced, two of them by professionals. An acting part in a local production. Best of all, a new grandson. (Linus Phillip Lester Erickson arrived October 4.) And that’s just the big things. 

On days when I awake determined to be thankful for every little thing, it starts with the alarm clock. Despite its annoying personality, an alarm clock is a blessing, when you think about it. It means you have a reason to get up. Although I hate to leave it, I’m thankful for a comfortable bed. Then there’s my cozy bathrobe and slippers, a working bathroom, hot shower, grooming products, clothes, breakfast, a warm house, the ability to climb stairs, readily available drinking water, hands and feet and eyes that work, my Bible and the ability to read it, news and communication devices at my fingertips, machines to wash my clothes and dishes, gravity, clean air, sunshine, and garbage pick-up. And all before I leave the house to go to work! 

So many blessings to count, so little time. How’s a mathematically-challenged girl like me supposed to stay on top of it? And with whom should I file such a complaint?

The “Object of Your Thanks” Conundrum
What about folks who have the counting thing down, but don’t know where to direct their thanks? After all, half of “Thanksgiving” is “giving,” and the giving of anything involves a recipient. The word implies that someone stands worthy of our gratefulness. Therein lies the greatest challenge for those who aren’t convinced such a person exists. Is it enough to stuff yourself with turkey and pumpkin pie and “throw your gratitude out to the universe?” Do you really think the universe cares?

God does. In fact, he delights in our gratitude. I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us he wills for us to give thanks in all things. To my way of thinking, if you can’t acknowledge the God who gave you all these good things, it’s rather hypocritical to take the day off and enjoy the feast. To remain true to yourself, you really ought to treat Thanksgiving Day like any other Monday. All or nothing.

But, what do I know? I can’t even add up all my blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving!