Prov 17:22

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

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Blast to the Past

Hubby and I are preparing to attend our high school reunion seven hundred kilometers away.

Our high school experience was unlike most. We attended Sunshine Bible Academy, a private Christian boarding school in the middle of South Dakota. How a fourteen-year-old Manitoba girl landed so far from home is a long story. Suffice it to say I was there of my own free will and my parents’ good graces.

Back in the 1970’s, attending any Christian school usually meant living in a dorm. When you not only attend classes with people but live together, you bond more than you do in a typical high school experience. You become family. During my time, enrollment was higher than space allowed, so we frequently had three girls to a room. It felt like a college experience, except we were much younger. We learned a lot about sharing space and getting along.

Lights out was at ten, but my roommates and I had our own rule. When our digital clock said 11:11, we had to stop talking and go to sleep. Whichever of us noticed first (usually me, the non-night owl), would call out, “It’s ONE-ONE-ONE-ONE!” and that was our cue to shut up. To this day, if I happen to look at the clock when it says 11:11, it makes me grin. Most nights, I’m fast asleep by then.

Sharing a common faith also made our high school years unique. We had chapel every day and Bible classes along with our regular curriculum. Classes opened in prayer. I was never much for sports, but I recall our girls’ basketball team being known in the district for the team that sang in the showers after a game—in beautiful harmonies, even when they’d lost. We tended to walk away from music competitions with most of the awards.

I remember spending spring breaks on traveling choir tours—two kids to a suitcase. One year a spring blizzard cut our tour short, leaving us stranded in the same town with strangers who had only intended to billet us one night and ended up keeping us for three. I could only see things from my own disappointed view. I wish I could go back and be a more gracious, helpful guest. 

So many memories at this place!

Graduation day felt heart-wrenching because following the ceremony, we’d all return to our home towns spread across the continent. We had little reason to think we’d see each other much, if at all. The internet didn’t exist. Some of us stayed in touch for a year or two, then it dwindled to Christmas letters and cards until an address change caused a letter to bounce back unopened and you thought they were lost for good.

Then, along came Facebook.

In the last decade, I have reconnected with more high school friends than I did throughout the previous three. Because I’ve seen their recent pictures, I might even recognize them! I have a better handle on their lives, their families, and their work than I did in the eighties and nineties when most of us were raising our families. Now we are grandparents!

With forty years of life experience behind us, I know we’ll have far more to share than one weekend can possibly provide. I wonder if we’ll be able to stay awake later than one-one-one-one?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

What's on YOUR Bulletin Board?

The receipt of a pretty card from author Deborah Raney in Kansas (whom I deeply admire for her garage sale hunting and home decorating skills almost as much as for her books) prompted me to contemplate my bulletin board. The one with the twisted frame. It hangs flush to the wall across the top, but its bottom right corner sticks out two centimeters from the wall. Every time I pin something to it, the whole shebang tries to hit the floor. I’ve become adept at catching it.

I betcha Deborah Raney would never hang a warped bulletin board in her house.

They say you can tell a lot about a person by what’s on their bulletin board. Well, okay, maybe “they” don’t say that. I’m saying it. I wonder what my warped one says about me.

If I care to wax philosophical, I can see that everything on my bulletin board fits into one of three categories: organization, encouragement, and inspiration. In the organizing category fall two things. The wildlife calendar came from author/photographer/singer, Sally Meadows in Saskatchewan. Next to it, I’ve pinned a flow-chart I created to guide myself on how to manage limited writing time so as not to miss a deadline. It’s brilliant and I should probably follow it.

In the encouragement category hang two actual hand-written cards of appreciation that arrived in the actual mail from actual readers, both senior citizens. (Not because my readers are all senior citizens, I tell myself, but because senior citizens are the only people who still hand-write anything.) I treasure those cards.

The top left corner features a certificate of congratulations from our member of parliament, the Honourable Candice Bergen, on the release of my first novel. It even has one of those fancy gold seals like the kind I frequently use at my city hall job. Except Ms. Bergen managed to stick hers on straight.

Near the top right hangs a card I received from my daughter years ago that still makes me laugh and comes in handy when decision-making. It features a vintage black and white photo of a lady dressed in finery, about to deliberately step off a curb into a mud puddle. The caption says:

Ever notice that "what the hell" is always the right decision?

It’s a quote from an unknown Hollywood scriptwriter, so that should tell us something.

In the inspiration category hang quotes from the prophet Isaiah and from Max Lucado, and now, the card from Deb Raney.

One of my favorite items, though, is a place card that says, “Reserved for Terrie Todd.” At a writer’s conference in 2013, I was invited to sit at author Jerry B. Jenkin’s lunch table. (He’s written hundreds of books, among them the bestselling Left Behind series.) I earned the privilege in a writing contest, but I keep the place card to remind me of another, far more important meal yet to come. A place is reserved for me there too, but I did not earn this one. Jesus bought it for me, with his life. It’s called the marriage supper of the Lamb and you can read about it in the book of Revelation. There’s a seat for you, too. Have you replied?

On good days, that special reminder calls me to do my best and make my time on this planet count for something. On difficult days, it serves to remind me there are far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.

What’s on your bulletin board?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Worth a Thousand Words

If one picture is worth a thousand words, this post is the four hundred and forty-first picture I’ve painted since starting this blog. Sounds impressive until you realize my favorite

Gayle in her by Barry Loewen

photographer has been known to take that many photos and more in a single day.

That’s why I’m thrilled to tell you her brilliant work has been on display at our art gallery since September 11.

Local photographer Gayle Loewen is no stranger to the Portage and District Arts Centre. In 2016, her boardroom exhibit, Wonder and Majesty, wowed visitors. This year’s show, in the larger main gallery, promises more wonder and majesty. And that’s exactly what Gayle has chosen to call it. You won’t want to miss your chance to see these new, gorgeous works in a variety of sizes, styles, frames, and prices. There’s something for everyone, and more of it!

I gasped when we unboxed "Rustic Lilies"
I offered Gayle a hand one Sunday afternoon and became privy to the prep-work involved with one of these exhibits. Her living room brimmed with cardboard boxes, each protecting a treasured work. I helped unbox them so Gayle could snap a photo of the photo for her list and so we could accurately label each box with its contents. I lost track of how many times I gasped aloud at the revealing of each stunning piece.

Then we turned our attention to a stack of prints in various sizes. I even got to help Gayle narrow down her choices of which prints to frame and include in the exhibit. About three hours of work times two people, and that’s only a teensy fraction of what all goes into one of these shows!

So, you’ve got three options. You can skip the exhibit, stay home, and read this article twice to reach a thousand words. Trust me, you’d be cheating yourself. The old saying is wrong. Gayle’s photos are worth far more than a thousand words.

The other two options involve attending the show. You can casually browse, allowing all that wonder and majesty to sweep you away without spending a dime. Or, you might purchase a wonderful limited edition to grace your own home or office. Either way, you’ll walk away inspired and so glad you came.

Gayle says her great desire is to capture moments that celebrate life, to affirm the value of people, to share the wonder of creation, and to inspire joy every day.

"Island Evening" will take your breath away

Let her artistry inspire a little joy in your life. Stop by the Portage District Arts Centre and check out More Wonder and Majesty in the main gallery. The Artist’s Reception takes place on Sunday afternoon, September 16, starting at 2:00. If you miss that, you can see the exhibit any time from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday though Saturday until October 20. Open late Thursdays to 8:00 p.m., the Arts Centre is at 11 – 2nd St. NE (under the same roof as the Glesby Centre).

Admission is free. Don’t forget to sign the guest book!