Prov 17:22

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

A Letter from the Palace

Last week I received a letter from Buckingham Palace.

In January, my friend Lucy suggested I send Her Majesty a copy of my third novel, Bleak Landing. The book includes a scene from 1939 when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (our current queen’s parents) visited Winnipeg. As I researched and wrote about that event, what intrigued me most was how Prime Minister Mackenzie King and Winnipeg’s Mayor John Queen accompanied their Majesties on their various tours. The poor radio announcer, describing for his listeners the actions of the King and the Queen and Mayor Queen and Prime Minister King, got tongue-tied. Rumor has it he grew frustrated enough to swear on air, although that cannot be substantiated.

One hard-cover, large-print edition of Bleak Landing remained on my shelf waiting for the right recipient. I took Lucy’s suggestion and mailed it to the Queen, along with a nice letter. What did I have to lose but a few bucks in postage?

In the process, I learned about royal gift protocol and what types of gifts royal family members can accept. They may, for example, eat any food they receive. Perishable gifts with a value of less than £150 can also be given to charity or staff. Gifts cannot be sold or exchanged and eventually become part of the Royal Collection, held in trust by the Queen for her successors and the nation.

A list of the Queen’s official gifts from 2018 includes over seventy items, ranging from Lego to framed charters to photographs to statues to jewelry to salt. And yes, books. I wonder if mine will be on the 2019 list when it’s released next spring.

I imagined my book becoming one of a gazillion items collecting dust in a gigantic warehouse where some poor scribe must document each one in a dusty, ancient record book with a quill pen. (I also imagined Her Majesty riveted to my book late into the night, while sitting in her royal bed sipping Earl Grey from her royal teacup.)

I would wait and see.

Four months later came the frame-worthy reply, written by Her Majesty’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey. While the letter makes no promise of the Queen or anyone else actually reading my book, it is filled with the gracious thanks one expects from royalty. When I did a bit of digging on Lady Hussey, I discovered she recently turned eighty years old. A baroness herself, she is godmother to Prince William, and has served the Queen basically her entire adult life. One can only imagine how many of these thank-you letters she has written.

As lovely as it feels to receive a letter from the palace, the royal stationary will never match the value of a much finer letter from a far more powerful source. It’s a love letter from the King of kings, and you and I have access to it every day. According to Hebrews 4, the Word of God is alive—meaning it has power to change you, not just once, but over and over. Nothing and no one is impervious to a Bible. Test it out for yourself and see. If Shakespearean English isn’t your first language, find a modern translation like the New International Version or even a paraphrase like The Message. If you’re not sure where to start, begin with the life of Jesus as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Digest a few verses or a chapter per day.

Then wait and see.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Best Superpower Ever

Last week, I started telling you about a Toastmasters meeting where I was challenged to speak off-the-cuff for two minutes about which superpower I would choose and why. What would you pick?

X-ray vision? No thanks. I don’t need to know what goes on behind other people’s walls or under their clothes.

Superhuman intelligence? Got that one already and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Breathing under water? Nope. These days I have a big enough challenge breathing out of the water.

The ability to rise from the dead? Don’t need that one, either. I already know someone who has that power and he’s promised to do the same for me one day. (See John 11.)

I chose a power not yet bestowed upon any fictional hero I know of. This power could change the course of life on this planet. It could put an end to crime, addictions, poverty, injustice, obesity, poor self-esteem, gossip, and run-on sentences.

It’s this: the power to hear only truth.

Think about it. Now, I’m not talking about knowing all truth. That would make me God. Much of the truth in the world would only break my heart.

But imagine if every time you heard someone speak, whether aloud or your own thoughts, only what is true would register. Anything false would simply not be heard.
Oh, the possibilities.

You’re watching TV and an ad for a new vehicle comes on. Instead of receiving the message that owning this vehicle will make you deeply content and irresistible to the opposite sex, you hear that it will make you deeply in debt and irresistible to auto thieves. Truth.

You tell yourself “I need a smoke,” but your mind hears, “I can skip this one and it will be challenging, but I’ll be fine.” Truth.

You’re flipping through a fashion magazine. Instead of the gorgeous, air-brushed model no one will ever look like, you see a photo of yourself with the caption, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Truth.

You’re on coffee break when a co-worker says, “That jerk thinks he can waltz in here and demand service as though he’s the king and we have to do as he demands.” You hear, “That poor man was so mistreated as a child, he has no idea how to relate to others with consideration and kindness.” Truth.

Can you imagine the ramifications if such an empowered person were a judge? A counselor? A police officer? A medical doctor? A parent? A schoolteacher?

I happen to think this would be the best superpower of all. No lies penetrating your brain or heart. It could really set you free, couldn’t it? I guess I’m not the first to think of it, though. Jesus said, “… you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (See John 8.)

Monday, May 20, 2019

Meet Your Superhero!

Up in the sky, look! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s your friendly neighborhood Wonder Woman!

Or maybe I’ve mixed up my superheroes. It can be tricky.

At a recent Toastmasters meeting, I was challenged to speak, extemporaneously, on what superpower I would choose and why. Fortunately for me, I had answered this question elsewhere and was able to fill the two-minute time slot without too much stumbling. I’m not always that lucky.

Without delving into my answer here, I do want to talk about superheroes because a whole bunch of them—along with a few princesses—are coming to Portage la Prairie! Make sure you and your children don’t miss out on meeting them.

Westpark Children’s Centre (a licensed, non-profit preschool) has already proven itself capable of throwing a superior carnival. Last year was the first time they took this excellent event to Stride Place, where they received nearly two thousand visitors! This year’s carnival promises to be even better, with improved traffic flow inside and out, and streamlined queues to help make your participation in all the activities even better.

For the price of admission, your kids will meet Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Elsa, Anna, Ariel, Belle, and Captain America. They’ll enjoy professional face painting, animal balloons, three different bouncy castles, a petting zoo, and twelve carnival games—each with prizes to be won. They can explore a real fire truck and police car. In addition, upon entry each ticket holder will receive a draw slip for the grand prize—a themed package of summer outdoor toys worth a hundred dollars!

Optional for-purchase items include rainbow auction tickets for a chance to win some awesome prizes, fifty-fifty tickets for a chance to win up to five hundred dollars, princess and superhero-themed glitter tattoos and party favors, photo booth pictures with a character for five dollars (purchase also comes with one draw slip for a prize), hot dogs, chips, drinks, popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, and fancy coffee. The lobby will contain 35 craft and vendor tables.

Whew! Sounds to me like the ninety volunteers bringing us this event (under the leadership of super organizer Susan Hiebert, Director of the Westpark Children’s Centre), are all superheroes in their own right. You know what the best part is? All funds raised will go directly to creating more public daycare spaces in our community. You don’t need superpowers to know what a dire need this will meet. Last year’s carnival raised $26,000 toward the future daycare at Westpark, thanks to everyone who sponsored the event and who came to participate.

So, here’s your chance to be a real-life superhero to your kids and grandkids. Bring them to Stride Place on Saturday, May 25, from 10:00 – 2:00. Tickets cost $15 each (children under one year of age admitted free) and can be purchased at Westpark School, Byte Me Computers, and Stride Place.

As for me, I’ll be practicing my dubious superpowers in the main lobby, selling and signing my books. So please stop to say hello. I’d love to meet you!