Saturday, December 26, 2009

A STRAY DROP OF BLOOD--Guest Blogger, Roseanna White

My guest today is another writing friend, Roseanna White. I've come to know Roseanna over the past year as we're both members of HisWriters writing group and I discovered a kindred heart. Aside from Roseanna's devotion to Christ I so appreciate this young woman's intelligence. I've asked Roseanna to write a short piece to encourage you to lean on the Holy Spirit.


DEPENDENT ONLY ON HIM--By Roseanna White

I've always been one of those people accused of thinking too much. I can't learn something new without trying to weave a story around it. For me, history class was always just fodder for future novels or short stories. But nothing has ever made me think so much as developing my novel A Stray Drop of Blood.

The story's set at the time of Christ, and the pivotal scene is the crucifixion. I had to really stop and examine everything I believed. Everything I've read in the Gospels. Everything I wanted to achieve.

Up until my college experience, I'd never taken much time to question the Christian faith I grew up with. I believed. Soul deep. So why wonder? As a child, it was easy to just accept that the Bible was fact—Jesus is God, all is well, and I'll be living eternally in heaven. But as I entered discussions with people in college who not only didn't share my beliefs but held profoundly different ones, it forced my mind open. I began to see these Gospel Truths in a new way—no less True, but something that could be reasoned through. Dissected. Understood. I began to realize that faith didn't have to be blind. It could be educated.

I was writing A Stray Drop of Blood all through college, as I studied the culture, the texts, the discoveries, and the history of the time. The more involved I got, the more clear my vision became. I didn't just want to do another retelling of a Bible story. Yes, I wanted to incorporate the facts presented in the Gospels. But I wanted to really make people see how epoch it was. How new. How truly miraculous.

We grow up learning that Jesus fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. It's taught as a miracle, so . . . sure. Of course I believe.

But can you imagine if you'd heard that story in everyday conversation? You'd laugh it off. “Sure he did. And I bet he just strolled across the sea too, right?”

It would have been deemed gross exaggeration at the least. But it wasn't—it was true. So what must it have been like to hear this fantastical story and then feel that strange tug within, the one that wants to believe?

Another lesson we're taught as Christians is that it isn't always easy, but if we read the Bible and pray, He'll guide us. Very good, very true. But what about before Christians had the Bible? Before they even had the title “Christians”? What must it have been like for them, to live each day in a secular world, surrounded by ungodly people who scoffed at them for their beliefs? Can you imagine how hard it would be not to falter, not to fall into the same sins you lived in before you came to understand the message of Messiah?

They had to rely on the Holy Spirit, and the more I wrote, the more I wanted the kind of faith that could also totally rely on the Holy Spirit. I want a faith that appreciates what it has but exists on a level dependent only on Him.

Am I there? Some days I feel like it. Others I don't. But one thing I know: humanity hasn't changed, and neither has God. Whether in Jesus' day or two thousand years later, when we cry out to Him, He answers. Then and now, there is amazing power in that stray drop of blood that changed my heroine's life.

*****

Christine again: I hope that Roseanna's words have given you room for thought. It's always enjoyable for me to share other authors and their works so that you may check out their books and be inspired.

I know that Roseanna's latest book, A Stray Drop of Blood. will inspire while entertaining you. Not since Francine River's Mark of the Lion series have I been so enthralled with a Biblical historical novel. I found Roseanna's depth of historical detail of the time of Christ mesmerizing. It is a love story, but so much more.

In Stray Drop of Blood, Roseanna created a character, Abigail, a young Hebrew girl, who comes to live in the home of kind Roman soldier and his wife. At first this seems like an overdone idea. But the author truly breathes life into this story from the very first page. Abigail grows up to become an educated and beautiful young woman. But being beautiful can often place a women in the greatest danger. As a vulnerable Jewish slave in a Roman home Abigail comes under the indolent and selfish gaze of her master's son, Jason.

The author impressed me with how she dealt with an immoral situation on the part of Jason in a delicate manner. At first it appears Jason has ruined Abigail, but then the author turns it all around. This story is not typical. Half-way through the book everything changes with the crucifixion of Christ. Through the eyes of Abigail we see and feel what the sacrifice of Jesus did for us. A drop of His blood sets Abigail free in a way she has never been.

The author has woven a story that not only glistens with historical detail, but draws the reader into a very human drama. The characters, Abigail, Jason and finally Titus, see the change of the world as the Christ dies and comes to life again. Through their eyes the reader learns what it is to be a Christian for the very first time in history. But we also see how these characters are like us. In some ways history has changed nothing. The characters struggle with the same sins as we do today. I applaud the author's ability, by using no graphic images, to show what some would call the sophisticated struggle with human sexuality in all its tender and tormenting moments.

This story is emotionally and intellectually satisfying.Double-click here on the title A Stray Drop of Blood if you wish to purchase it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

THE SMALL THINGS

Like the Beatles sang and rather noisily too—“You say it’s your birthday.” Queue in a really nice electric guitar riff by George Harrison, Ringo on drums, picture John Lennon and Paul McCartney leaning in toward the same microphone, and then belt out along with them, “It’s my birthday too—yeah.”

It’s true. Today is my birthday. If I could, I’d insert a smiley face here. As a bit of a curmudgeon I never bothered much about my birthday. As a December baby there were always so many other things going on and certainly with a different focus. How can one compete with that? I learned long ago that I didn’t want to. As a kid I decided to simply take the Christmas season as the best birthday gift God could ever give me. Growing up in a single-parent family, with little money, my mum and I created a family tradition of decorating the Christmas tree on my birthday and eating Christmas goodies. It made me feel special, especially through those gawky teenage years. You know those times when we don’t feel there’s anything good about us. We feel ugly, stupid, unwanted perhaps. We may even question why on earth God created us. For many of us those debilitating feelings follow us into our later years.

I believe God smiled on my childlike choice to feel special just because I shared the traditional month of Christ’s birth. I think He wants us all to ask—why are we special? What thing in our life—no matter how small—shows that we are unique to God? We all have something. We just need to look. The Lord Jesus encouraged the disciples to bring a young child into their midst one day. It’s often the smallest, most insignificant things that matter to our Lord—the tiniest fibre of motivation in our hearts.

As a mother and now a grandmother, I find that most Decembers my birthday sneaks up on me. The panicked thought arrives on this day, It’s only 5 days to Christmas—Yikes I have so much to do—and oh yeah it’s my birthday.

As of today, there have been 52 Decembers and I look back on my developement as a child of God, and my growing understanding of why the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth. Yet there are many birthdays that I still ponder—what is my purpose, what special thing does God want me to do? Especially these past 9 years as I wondered should I really be spending so much time writing when I could be doing something else, like cleaning the house, like getting a better-paying job, like getting to know my neighbor. But this year the Lord has outdone Himself when it comes to celebrating my birthday with me.

This December I’m still whirling from the fact that He has invited me on an amazing adventure. Admittedly this is a big event in my life. Imagine—at my age—going on my very first overseas missionary trip—and giving me the task of writing the non-fictional story of Pastor Antony Samy and Children’s Camps International. The specialness of it continues to take my breath away. Then there are the extraordinary ways in which He’s been providing—big . . . and seemingly small.

Last week I shared how God had supplied 500 envelopes and thank you cards even before I knew I was going to be a part-time missionary. This week I learned that my support is coming in. I think it’s almost reached the half-way point for the actual trip to Tamil Nadu. Please join me in thanking and praising God for this. Those loving gifts include an extremely generous gift from a church on the eastern coast of the United States—from brothers and sisters in Christ I’ve never even met . . . yet. Balanced on the other end of the scale was a support gift from my 12-year-old niece, Kristen. The five dollars she gave to this missions trip is huge when you think of the cost to her. That too takes my breath away.

These past few Sundays at church as I wend my way through the foyer and halls I am blessed by people who tell me, “we’re praying for you and for what God has asked you to do.”

Some appeared apologetic. “I’m so sorry I can’t give financially . . . I’m already supporting 3 other missionaries, but I will be praying for you.”

I thank them from the bottom of my heart because I know they faithfully will. I know these people—mostly senior citizens living on a pension. When they give, they give out of sacrifice. And I also know how they go out of their way to show kindness to many—the items they create for those who are poor or lonely, the food they make for the hungry. I know the way they reach out in love to everyone they meet. I know these gentle and meek people to be good representations of Christ in their world.

They are people who have discovered the special and unique way that God created them and they are fulfilling their God-given purpose. The prayers of an elderly lady living on a pension or a young unemployed person who cannot give financially may seem a small thing. Yet it is the greatest.

It is the small things that if we look, we can see that God has sent them to make us feel special—to give us a purpose to get up every morning. It is the seemingly small things that we do for God that often matter the most.

Zechariah 4:10 a “Who despises the day of small things? . . .”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

500 ENVELOPES--SOMETHING TO PONDER

Women ponder. Women store those images of special moments in their hearts. Take Mary, the mother of Jesus—how silently she tucked away for all time what God was doing through her son. Not that men don’t too; it’s just that women seem created to do that. Nothing makes us ladies happier than making an art form of memory keeping, whether it is beautifully decorated scrapbooks or written journals.

The other evening at a ladies’ Christmas ‘do’ at the church we talked about Christmas memories. This year I'm pondering things too. But I’ve always been a forward thinker, and I found myself thinking—like Mary—about what God is doing in my life. Perhaps it’s because a lot of my early Christmas memories weren’t all that great that I prefer to think ahead. It was lonely growing up as an immigrant in a new land—grandparents and most of our aunties and uncles were back in the old country.

Although our few Canadian relatives made up for a lot of what was missing. For past happy memories in Canada, I’ll never forget the feel of my great-aunt Myrtle’s fur collar on her coat when she entered our house from the cold outside. As a child I’d reach up to hug her and kiss her and feel the cold soft fur of that collar against my cheek.

Nor will I ever forget my great-aunt Wilma’s soft round form and gentle face with her gray hair rolled up in a style from the 1940’s. She’d bustled around her home baking, cooking, and creating the warmest and most inviting of homes for relatives and anyone she thought was lonely. I learned about Christ from my aunt Wilma.

My mum did so much with a few dollars. She created magical Christmas’s for us kids on a shoestring. The most surprising feat of all—hiding the worst of my father’s drinking from us, although she couldn’t hide it completely. These are the memories of Christmases past that I keep and ponder. But it wasn’t just my mum that kept me from dwelling on what my childhood Christmas’s lacked. From an early age I learned about Christ—that’s when the forward pondering began. It began with the simple wonderment as a child of what the baby born in a manger was all about. As I matured and learned the reason for Jesus coming to this world as a small human being, I began to wonder each Christmas—what is God going to do in our lives this coming year? That’s why this year as I go about the usual happy gatherings at church and with family I’m not just thinking about Christmas.

As I sat beside the ladies at church last Thursday night at the Christmas tea, stuffing my face with cream puffs and fruit-filled tarts, I was struck with awe over a box of 500 white envelopes at home. Two or three packages of thank you cards sitting on my desk created a stir of excitement more than any expensive gift anyone could give me.

What was even more astonishing was that these items were given to me as a gift back in November. The box of envelopes came from my two young nieces. Their mum works for a large stationary company, and this particular box had been damaged. The envelopes were fine, but for some reason the stores couldn’t use it. These 500 envelopes were destined for the garbage. My nieces brought the box out to me, with the question in their eyes—Could I use them?

At the time I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever use 500 envelopes. Around the same time another friend who had a relative work for a different stationary story had other items also bound for the garbage. That day I received—among other things—two packages of Thank You cards.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I discovered God was sending me as a part-time missionary to India. Then I understood the need for those envelopes and cards. My prayer and support letters which couldn’t be sent out via email needed envelopes. As the Lord moves on people’s hearts to pray for this mission’s trip and support me financially, I find myself in need of those thank you cards.

How marvelous that God had put those small things in place even before I knew I would need them. But that’s what pondering is all about. We don’t always recognize God’s provision until later. Then with hindsight, we can see that He was taking care of us all along. Providing what we need.

Looking back, I see God’s hand in my childhood memories—in those who were around to love me and make my Christmas’s special. I thank Him for those people. Most of all I thank Him for sending His son in human form to be my saviour, Jesus.

And this year—with a secretive little smile—I thank the Lord for 500 envelopes and stashes of thank you cards.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

LET THEM EAT CAKE--Guest Blogger, Sandra Byrd

Today I am interviewing Sandra Byrd, the author of newly released Let Them Eat Cake. Like all of us, Sandra has experienced her share of sad times, but God is using her. I hope you'll enjoy hearing how the Lord has guided and inspired Sandra in her calling, and that you will be encouraged to follow the calling God has placed on your heart. The review for Sandra's book is after the interview.

Christine: Tell us a little about yourself Sandra.

Sandra: I live in greater Seattle with my husband, Michael, and our two teenagers. Oh yeah. All four of us obey our dog, Brie, a Havanese-Maltese mix who runs the household

Christine: Do you believe you have a calling to write?

Sandra: Absolutely. There are many verses which speak of this, but here are two I love: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10; "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord ... " Psalm 37:23

Christine: Tell us about your first awareness of God in your life, and how you came to know Jesus.

Sandra: I remember having conversations with the Lord very early in life, as a child, feeling His presence. I grew up in a churched, but not Christian, family. At about the age of 12, that closeness with Him disappeared ... for a while.

When I was in my second year of college at the University of Denver I walked past a phone pole that had a Baptist Student Union flier stapled to it. Even though it seemed as though I had everything to live for, my life was empty. I went to the Bible study and was instantly drawn to the leader and his wife, who became my spiritual parents. At a retreat a few months later I met my future husband. He was a very godly man already and modeled true love for me from the start. I accepted Christ on my dorm-room bed and was baptized four months later.

Christine: What was the darkest hour of your life, and how did God bring you through it?

Sandra: I have had several very dark hours in my life, as have most of us, I suppose. I don't talk about them all publicly because they involve people other than myself and I try to be conscientious about respecting boundaries. But God was always with me. He sent people to hold my hand, to pray for me, to deliver both love and gifts, and to whisper scripture to me. Now that I have passed through those deep waters I hope to be a scripture-whisperer to others still treading.

Christine: What message do you hope your readers will come away with after reading your novels?

Sandra: That God is good, all the time, and that He really does, somehow, some way, work all things together for good. That He has a sense of humor and playfulness and fun. That He loves us unremittingly, that He is faithful and emotional and yearns for our affection. That He is holy and not to be trifled with. I hope I create a desire for my readers to live a fully engaged three-dimensional life: physical/mental and emotional/spiritual.

Christine: My favorite question--What is your most audacious prayer?

Sandra: First, that he would give me, a formerly infertile woman, children.

And now? Please make the Ladies in Waiting series an amazing success. Not for sales or fame. They are the books I've wanted to write my entire life. I just want to see that hope fulfilled. "...a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12b

Christine: Now the hard part—did God answer your prayer?

Sandra: I have two fantastic children. We'll wait and see on Prayer # 2!

Christine: Thank you Sandra for taking the time to tell me a little about yourself. And now this it what I think of your novel 'Let Them Eat Cake'.

‘Let Them Eat Cake’ was a scrumptious surprise for me. Normally, I’m not a reader of contemporary women’s fiction, but in Sandra Byrd’s latest I was truly enchanted—even won over to this genre. If you are looking for something light yet heart-tugging, funny yet realistic, something that draws you in with a gentle but riveting story then I recommend this highly. It’s about dreams coming true in a real way, without the tired, overused type of ending. A happy ending yes, but satisfying on so many levels.

The main character Lexi Stuart is like any other young woman—she needs to move out of her parents’ house, she needs a career, she wants to experience a true and lasting love, and to have a fulfilling life. She wants what we all want—if no longer for ourselves then for a beloved daughter, granddaughter, niece, and so on. But where to begin; especially when everything Lexi has tried so far has failed as miserably as a sunken cake. While Lexi is out job-hunting one day, through a humorous incident she uses her skill with the French language and gains a job in a French bakery. Then voilà, over the following months God surprises Lexi and stirs her growing faith.

As an added bonus—if you love food, cooking or baking, then like me you will find your taste buds working overtime while you visualize the delectable concoctions described on the page. Sandra Byrd has spun a soul-satisfying story with as much skill as a master baker spinning sugar and egg white into a glistening meringue. She even threw in the most delectable recipes. Highly recommended.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

MY NEW CAREER--Official Missionary Prayer Letter

The other day I paced around my living room, staring at my grandkid’s pictures, and wearing my fluffy pink ‘Grandma’ bathrobe. With the phone in my ear I spoke to a travel clinic nurse, hardly able to believe the words coming out of my mouth. “I’m going to India.”

Nine years ago I felt the call to write. At times I felt like Noah. “You want me to do what, Lord? You want me to write books? Who’s going to read anything I write?”

But God did amazing things. While I worked at Trinity Western University I received writing courses for free. He provided me with writing groups, critique partners, mentors, scholarships, literary agents. This past year He validated my writing ability with the ACFW Genesis Award. He allowed a small non-fictional piece I’d written to be published in a Focus on the Family book on adoption. But after finishing two fictional novels—the latest set in India—the elusive contract for publication is still that. Elusive. Remaining unpublished in Christian Fiction didn’t bother me. But I wondered—have I hoodwinked myself with my vivid imagination? Did God really call me to write?

A few months ago my friend Hilary who works with Children’s Camps International congratulated me on my novel set in India. “I wish you could come to India with us.”

My heart thumped. I wanted to go. But I had a part time job in a small local Chilliwack business. “There’s no way,” I said. “That’s the start of the busy season where I work.” I couldn’t lose that income no matter how small it was.

A few weeks passed. The work in the little office grew less and less. Then 2 weeks ago the boss said, “We don’t have enough work, I’m afraid we have to lay you off.”

Usually when people hear that, they gasp with disappointment. I practically laughed with joy. But now what? In the midst of prayer it dawned on me—that at this crossroads of my life I could do anything. Go anywhere. I could even go to India. In awe of who He is, I said, 'Wherever You want me to go—I’ll go. Whatever You want me to do—I’ll do. Just use me."

I contacted CCI. There was still time to join the team. This 2 week trip is designed to educate people about the incredible work God is doing through the indigenous pastors in India. Apparently a young pastor came up from Tamil Nadu 6 years ago to Winkler Bible Camp in Manitoba. There he learned the skills of running a kids’ camp and took those skills home to India. The short story is; God blessed that enormously. Children and their families are coming to know Jesus in droves in the south of India because of these children’s camps. That young pastor’s name is Antony Samy.

I felt God’s call to go, but wondered, What can I do? All I really know how to do these days is write a book.

The president of CCI, Ray Weiler, got back to me right away. In the midst of our conversation he told me, “We’ve been praying for someone who can write a book. We need someone to tell Antony’s story and what God is doing.”

You could’ve knocked me down with a feather. The past 6 years of learning began to make sense. That’s when I felt the courage to say, “Ray, I can write a book.”

I'm humbly asking for your prayers. There is no funding to pay me. Like most missionaries I must raise my own support. But if God wants me to do this, then He will provide the $3700 for this short term missions trip. The trip to Tamil Nadu, the southern-most tip of India, is set for this January 16th to the 30th.

I’ve had my inoculations. I’m applying for my travel visa and have dug out my passport. I am going to India the last 2 weeks of January. There I’ll research an amazing work that God is doing. And when I come home I’ll need your prayers over the following six months, for the creative powers to do justice to . . . ‘Antony’s Story’.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers.

If you would like to support me by prayer, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at Christine.d.schmidtke@gmail.com
If you would like to support my trip financially, you may send the funds to:

Children's Camps International
300 - 571 Main Street
Winkler, Manitoba R6W 1G3
CANADA


Make the cheque out to Children's Camps International and they will send you an official charitable tax receipt. Just slip a separate note into the envelope to say that the funds are designated for Christine Schmidtke. Thank you.

Isaiah 30:8 ‘Now go, write it on a tablet before them. And inscribe it on a scroll, that it may serve in the time to come as a witness forever.’
Antony and Emery Samy on their wedding day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

GO AWAY--Guest Blogger--Jacky Huberts

Back in my Trinity Western University days (when I worked there), I had a whole community of co-workers. They became family. Even after leaving my position there, I still keep close ties to as many of them as I can. Last week I introduced you to one of my old Trinity friends. Today is another. Jacky Huberts. Oh the stories I could tell--the most tortuous being the day our co-worker Dave Heidebrecht and our boss Marty Penninga pulled the wool over my eyes when Jacky went on her honeymoon. But I'll save that for another day. When I can get even. Today is a long-awaited piece from Jacky about motherhood.

GO AWAY--By Jacky Huberts

I’ve learned the most interesting things about myself since becoming a parent. I can actually be a morning person when I put my mind to it. I can multitask better than I thought possible. I can live on less sleep than I thought (although I don’t prefer it. I can cook. Who knew?

There are other things though, that I’ve learned about myself that are not so great. My kids have started to repeat certain things that I say.

My older son told me the other day, “Go away Mom. That’s what you tell me to do sometimes.”

I cringed. Go away. I never realized how often I said that to my boys, until the day he told me that.

Since becoming a parent, I can’t do anything without an audience anymore. Every move I make, I have a little shadow following me. My least favourite place that they follow me to is the bathroom. No mother can go pee in peace anymore. Why is that? What is so intriguing about it? No matter what the reason, they follow me.

Kids are also very good at mooching. Maybe it’s because I have boys, I don’t know. There is not a time during the day that I can sit down and eat something on my own. As soon as I sit, there they are, like little predators ready to pounce on their prey. You’d think I never feed them. No wonder mothers resort to hiding snacks for themselves and gorging on them when no one is around.

These moments have created the famous two words to come out of my mouth numerous times. Go Away! They’re not pleasant, but they get the job done. A mother deserves peace every once in a while, right?

I got to thinking one day though. Who else do I say this to? My husband? My annoying friend? Worse yet, do I say this to God? The answer for me is yes.

Go away; I don’t want to argue with you anymore.

Go away; I don’t want to hear about your problems.

Go away, I know what You are calling me to do, I just don’t want to hear it.

Saying these words to my kids has taught me a lot. These two words are ugly and they hurt.

These two words need to go away.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MOSAIC, MELTING POT, or QUILT

Picture is the logo for Children's Camps International

Being an immigrant gives one an automatic feeling of belonging to something bigger—a feeling of global citizenship perhaps. This was especially true for me being born in Northern Ireland and immigrating to Canada.

But Northern Ireland officially belongs to England, so as a citizen of that country; I feel genuine love and a sense of loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II. Besides, she’s been a wonderful sovereign and deserves my respect.

Thing is, ask any resident of Northern Ireland if they’re Irish and they’ll say, “Of course I am.”

And I too love Ireland, and feel linked that great and charming culture of beating bodhráns, flutes and penny whistles. I am Irish. Period. I can live on tea and potatoes quite happily.

So coming from those six small counties in the Northeastern part of that island called Ireland, I feel Irish, British, and of course Scottish. To the horror of my youngest son, I also love the sound of bag pipes. It was my Scottish ancestors years ago that the English moved onto Irish farms when they supplanted the Irish that were living there. But that was centuries ago. Time to move on.

Add to that the loyalties I gained when we immigrated to Canada. As a kid I grew up in the Niagara Peninsula and my friends were usually first or second generation Canadian. Like me their roots were British, or Italian, or Polish, or from any one of several shifting sections of Europe at the time. I grew up listening to all kinds of dialects and smelling the aromas from the neighborhood of tomato and basil, of cabbage rolls and highly spiced sausage, of home-made wine, and stronger coffee than I was ever used to. So different from spuds, tea and cabbage. Seriously, my mother was a wonderful cook.

Add to that the music I listened to from across the border in the United States. Detroit’s rhythmic and blue sounds of Mo-Town music got me through my teens. Groups like The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and my all-time-favorite, Marvin Gaye and his song 'What's Going On'.

The Vietnam War took place during my childhood. As a pre-teen just as I was becoming aware of the world, I'd watch the six o’clock news and I see American soldiers being beaten while they marched through the streets of Hanoi. That scared the life out of me when I was 12 years old. Those young POW’s were from just across the border, and I felt a kinship.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the Canadian Cultural Mosaic. In the United States they refer to that wonderful blending of immigrant cultures as The Melting Pot.

A mosaic is a beautiful art form to view—all sparking colors and depth of contrast. The melting pot gives the sense of warmth, a full stomach, and comfort. Either way, it’s a good thing. As someone not born on North American soil, I’m just plain grateful to be here.

But I’m also a citizen of a place greater than Canada or the United States. I belong to the family of God. Heaven is stamped as my home on my eternal passport.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

HIS HALO SLIPPED--Guest Blogger--Elinore Relf

It never ceases to amaze me the power of each person's story. Through Elinore Relf's eyes we see the staunch and caring hearts of hard-working prairie farmers, and the transforming power of her husband's experience through a terrible ordeal. But as we see it all through Elinore's eyes, we see a hint of Elinore herself--her humility and inner strenth, her soft-spoken wit that leaves you smiling with just the trace of a tear at the corner of your eye.

Today's story also explains why Elinor has so many gorgeous coats. Each time I admire one in the church foyer, she grins and squeezes my arm. "Oh one of my kids gave it to me."

Elinore's grown-up children are only following their father's example. But you'll have to read the story to understand. (The picture shows Elinore and Bill on their fortieth anniversary, wearing the same dress and suit they wore on the day of their wedding.)

HIS HALO SLIPPED--By Elinore Relf

I sat on the doorstep of our farm home, sweaty and hot after mowing the lawn on a sunny day in July, 1972. Relaxing on the cool cement step, I reflected on the past year. Our 2 oldest children had graduated from high school. The haying was finished and 5000 bales, in excellent condition, stood in the fields, plenty of feed to winter the herd of 60 Holsteins on our dairy farm. The crops were showing promise of a bumper crop. Everything was going well. This was going to be a good year. My husband, Bill, and our ten-year-old daughter, Jo-Anne, had gone to the city to pick up supplies, a delightful reprieve after an arduous day’s baling. They should be home in time for milking—or so I thought. Then the phone rang.

“This is the Regina General Hospital. Your husband and daughter have been in an accident. Bill has a broken neck and Jo-Anne is in E.R. with cuts and bruises.”

“Lord, this can’t be happening. A Broken neck! Please don’t let him be paralysed.”

Jo-Anne was a pathetic sight when I picked her up in Emergency and we hurried to the Orthopaedic ward. Dr. Ailsby had just arrived and we listened intently.

“Bill, your cervical vertebrae is broken in two places (that’s the hangman’s vertebrae). Another quarter of an inch and it would have broken right through. One part has moved ahead, stretching and pinching the spinal cord. You must be careful not to move or your spinal cord could be severed. That would cause paralysis. I’m going to put a strap under your chin and attached it to a twenty-pound weight that will hang down the head of your bed. The weight should make the bones slip into place. Now, I have to meet with the Board of Directors of the Hospital to get their approval for a twenty thousand dollar halo contraption to be flown in from Toronto. It will be the first for Regina. I have just finished training in Los Angeles where they are having great success with halos. If I don’t get their approval you will be in a striker bed for six weeks or longer."

“What happened, Bill?” I asked as soon as the doctor left. “Are you in pain?”

“Pain! It’s like ten thousand toothaches. A three-tonne truck hit us at an intersection. I pulled Jo-Anne down on my knee and leaned over to protect her. Then we were pushed into another car. Guess I was knocked out and when I came to, I was choking. Knew my neck was broken so I put my hands around my neck to hold my head up. Told the ambulance attendants and X-ray technicians my neck was broken but they said I wouldn’t be talking if that had happened. They turned me and pulled me rather roughly and I blacked out. When I came to, three doctors were beside me. I could move my arms but nothing from there down. They were afraid to move me. Had to lie on the stretcher all day until Dr. Ailsby was available.”

We left Bill, knowing he would be in excruciating pain until the dislocated bones slipped into place, especially as they did not want to sedate him in case he moved. At the point when he thought he couldn’t endure the pain any longer, he felt the bones slip into place. Praise the Lord, the paralysis left and so did the pain.

The halo arrived from Toronto, a fearsome looking cage that would be attached to a body cast. Four bolts were drilled into Bill’s skull to anchor the steel contraption. “Put up with our halo for two months and you’ll be as good as new,” they told him.

Bill spent most of the time in a recliner chair as lying down was too uncomfortable. He supervised the farming operations but found it difficult not to run into things with the cumbersome halo that extended 9 inches above his temples. In true Saskatchewan form, the neighbours came with their hayracks and trucks to put 5000 bales in the loft. Their wives came with food and 25 people sat at tables on the lawn to enjoy a roast-beef dinner. We were overwhelmed with their kindness.

Seven weeks had passed and the pain medication took its toll on Bill. One day he started up the stairs but didn’t bend enough at the landing. The halo hit the ceiling and the screws slipped out of the holes in his skull and dug into other places on his head. He stumbled into the kitchen screaming, “Get Dad. Tell him to bring his Allen wrenches and take this thing off.”

Just then my dad and mother arrived. With shaking hands the two old farmers unscrewed the bolts and Bill, exhausted by the pain, exhaled a sigh of relief.
X-rays showed that the vertebrae had healed so well that a hard-collar would be enough protection. What a happy day.

By Christmas Bill was back to normal—no whiplash, no arthritis, no pain. I was overwhelmed when Bill took me shopping and bought me a knee length fur coat.

“Just to let you know,” he said, “how much I appreciate how hard you worked to keep things running smoothly this summer.”

Life went back to normal but there was a difference in Bill. It was months after the accident before Bill felt that he could share an experience that had changed his outlook on life.

“When the truck hit us, I left my body. I walked down a hallway that shimmered with luminous lights. Ahead I could see a door and hear the most glorious music. Heavenly choirs were singing. I was drawn to it and was filled with a peace and joy that I had never experienced before. I wanted to keep on going and never leave. Then I looked down. I saw our wrecked truck. I saw my precious little daughter lying on my lap, covered with glass and blood. I had to get back to her. I saw myself slumped over the steering wheel. I was choking. Then I saw my hands come up to lift my head and support it. I started to breath. I was back in my body again and regaining consciousness. I have gone over it in my mind so many times. How could I see myself, below me in the truck, unless I was dead for a few minutes? I feel that God has given me some more time and I will never take life for granted.”

Fifteen years went by. They were good years. Bill sold the dairy herd, enlarged the farm to two sections, got his pilot’s license, became a ski instructor and patroller, sang in the church choir, became a Saskatchewan Wheat Pool delegate and lived each day to the fullest. He saw our 3 children married and was a devoted grandfather to 6 grandchildren. Dr. Ailsby, his friend and fishing buddy, was with him when they did the test that confirmed Bill had A.L.S. With a heavy heart he sold the farm that had been in the family for 100 years and we moved to British Columbia. Five years after his diagnosis he was on a respirator and finding it difficult to breath.

One day in November, with family near, he said, “Do you see the man at the door? He’s waiting for me... I can hear the music and see the lights.”

This time Bill didn’t turn back.

I still get phone calls asking to speak to William Relf. I tell them, “Certainly, if you have a direct line to Heaven.”

Sunday, November 01, 2009

CULTURAL MOSAIC

My husband said to me the other day that there’s no mystery left in the world.

When I sit down at my laptop to work on my latest manuscript, I can be (happily) interrupted many times throughout the day by emails pinging in from all parts of the globe--from Africa, the next Australia, then jump over to someone living on an island in the Pacific, not to mention the loads of writing friends I have scattered across Canada and the United States. Most of them I haven’t met in person, but that’s okay. As writers, we’re happier writing out how we feel anyway.

The common denominator between myself and all these other folks is first of all, we all love the same Lord Jesus Christ, and secondly we all feel called to write about Him. However, we don’t write songs or books on Christian living—as necessary as those things are. We write fiction—Christian Fiction.

God gives every one of His children talents, and in this bunch of people, He wired us to write stories. Our goal is to tell truth in parable form.

Many of the writers I know are from the United States, but there’s another group that I affiliate with, and they are writers who live in other parts of the world. We call ourselves International Christian Fiction Writers. Because that’s the fascinating thing about Christ, He too affiliates with people from all over. He isn’t bound by differences in culture, in fact He embraces it.

That was one of the things I loved about my old job at Trinity Western University, a Christian university here in Langley, British Columbia. In the summertime, when the undergrads went home, the school put on special Grad studies and conferences for international pastors and church workers. As a secretary, there was many a summer day I’d walk from the cafeteria, past the outside lunch tables shaded by the umbrellas emblazoned with the Coca-Cola emblem, and watch ministers, pastors, church workers of all Christian denominations walk past me. Often I’d catch a trace of their language. Their cultural clothing, especially those from Africa, would take my breath away, and my eyes would fill with tears. Our God is such a great big God—wrapping His arms around all the people He created. I was so happy to be a part of it.

Something like that has just happened in my new profession. I left my job at Trinity to take a lower-paying, less mentally demanding job, so that I could save my energies to write Christian Fiction. And again, I find myself enthralled with the color and texture of the various writers I meet. It's like what we in Canada call the meeting of all our immigrant cultures—a Cultural Mosaic. I was one of those immigrants—a four year old Irish child who came over with my mother and sister in 1962.

So today, I’m proud to introduce you to a group of people who, like me, seek to follow the calling to be one of His writers.

Please check out the launching of the International Christian Fiction Writer’s blog. Our first posting will show up November 1 at 12:00 AM Eastern Standard time.

By turn, each day, one of our group will post a piece on the flavor of writing from in international standpoint. I’ll be taking my turn as well.

So I hope to see you there. I hope you'll support us in prayer or by buying the published books, those who seek to tell about Christ in stories woven from their perspective as Christians in far-away lands.

You can also find our group on FaceBook.

I'm currently writing my third novel, and the theme of that story is the same as for this posting today:

Matthew 5:14,15,16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

So I encourage you, whatever your gifting is from the Father, use it today for His kingdom.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

GENTLEMEN'S CONSPIRACY--Interview of author Nick Daniels

It's a refreshing change this week that I interview a male author, Nick Daniels. Nick's first book 'The Gentlemen's Conspiracy' was just released. In the interview below, Nick tells us about himself and his calling to write Christian fiction. Having lived in various parts of the globe, Nick has a fresh grasp on cultures outside of North America. This comes through in Nick's characters. Each nuance in voice, accent, and mannerism is vividly drawn in his writing. So I hope you'll read my interview of Nick below, and also check out his website.

But now let me tell you about 'The Gentlemen's Conspiracy'. When Nick first sent me a copy of his novel to review, I was afraid I'd find the male viewpoint not soft or romantic enough. How wrong I was. The story is set in London in the early eighteen hundreds and is evocative of that era. While the hero of the story, Daniel Young, pursues the murderer of his best friend, he fears losing the love of his life, Susan. There are plenty of tender scenes set in this mystery, but a mystery with a twist. The hero has discovered a secret society that is threatening his life and that of his beloved Susan. But is this secret society bent only on the overthrow of the British monarchy, or is there something even greater at stake? Is this secret society committed to destroying the Christian faith with subversive philosophies in the area of Geology? The hero must ask, "How old is the world really? And can we believe the Bible?"

As the author, Nick Daniel's has used all his skills as a scientific journalist to weave this fascinating tale, with danger, mystery and love at every twist and turn. At times I found the scientific terms a bit of a challenge, but they were so deftly woven in that they did not shake me out of the story. This book may not be for every women, but those who like something that will tease their mind with possibilities, and want something more than romance will enjoy this book. It may also be something they would give to the male members of their family. I highly recommend it.

And now for my chat with Nick Daniels:

Christine Lindsay: Tell us a little about yourself, Nick, where you live, your family.

Nick Daniels: I'm a Jesus freak, who adores his wife and children, and has all these crazy ideas but not enough time to put them on writing, especially since it's so nice outside in the island in the Pacific where I live, and yes, sometimes I find myself staring at the ocean instead of the computer screen, so most of my writing gets done really late at night when everybody is sleeping and it's too dark to play outside.

CL: Having been to Hawaii once, I’m green with jealousy. So, with such an environment to live in, what do you like to do for fun?

ND: Hiking is a favorite activity but watching thrillers and playing with my kids are what I enjoy the most. Lately, I've been playing lots of different board games, which is weird because I'm in my 30s and I didn't play a lot of board games when I was a kid.

CL: How did you come to write novels, especially this one that is steeped in science and mystery?

ND: I worked as a science journalist for several years and loved Christian apologetics since I was a teenager. One day I was reading a journal article about the history of geology and it occurred to me that there was a novel hidden in that paper. That's how I came up with the premise of The Gentlemen's Conspiracy.

CL: This next question is dear to my heart; Did you ever doubt your call to write; ever feel like giving up?

ND: More than doubts, I think I had to make a choice. I'm a guitar player and played with a band many years ago, but I came to a point where I had to decide between music and writing, and I chose writing. I've always earn my living as a writer, it’s what I do.

CL: Tell us about your awareness of the Lord in your normal writing day.

ND: I pray for creativity every day, and ask God to use me as a writer. He's great at encouraging me, the Holy Spirit's voice always saying: "Finish that book!"

CL: How did you first come to believe in Christ and His promises for your future?

ND: My mom led me to the Lord when I was nine, but it wasn't until I was thirteen that I committed myself to the Lord completely. I had bad company at my school, if you know what I mean, but then I started to hang out with the youth group at church and I said to myself, hum, this is what I want to be like, I want to live for God.

CL: Amazing how many godly mothers lead their children to the Lord. I led my own kids to believing in Christ’s promises. So tell us more about your life following Jesus—What was your darkest hour, and how did God bring you through it?

ND: I've had my shares of darkness, but I would say the darkest came in 1999 when our youth group was infiltrated and divided by a cult. That rocked my faith to the point that I felt angry with God and purposefully did not pray to Him for 3 months. During all that time, God let me know He was still there by my side, arms wide open. One day I just gave up and ran back to Him.

CL: And like the prodigal son, the Lord was waiting for you with open arms. It seems the Lord has blessed you with a ministry in writing, Nick. With the release of your first book, what message do you hope your readers will come away with after reading it?

ND: The main thing is that my readers would finish my novels and think, wow, that was a good read. My themes are rooted in Biblical truths I'm passionate about, so if they enjoy the novel, they will probably grasp those truths and their lives will be impacted.

CL: Now my favourite question, tell us what your most audacious prayer was.

ND: "Lord, use me." And He has!

Thank you, Nick, for telling us something about yourself and your new book. I pray the Lord will use you and this book to encourage people to follow Christ.

You can read more about Nick Daniels on his website Nick Daniels

Sunday, October 04, 2009

GRAIN FOR BREAD--Guest Blogger--Dr. Shirley Hereford






















My mother said to me the other day, that in this life we are either coming out of a valley of struggle, or we'll soon be entering one again.

That's why today I'm sharing something that was sent to me several months ago when I was in a dark valley of disappointment. Dr. Shirley Hereford is a friend I have not met in person...yet. God-willing one day I will. But Dr. Shirley lives in Bangalore, India, and last spring did me the honor of critiquing my novel SHADOWED IN SILK for historical and cultural accuracy. Through that I feel she has become a friend. I find Dr. Shirley to be a fascinating woman. She has a PhD. in literature, specializing in the writings of African American women. Dr. Shirley taught for many years in a private university for young women in India. I consider it an honor to share with you a piece that she wrote for her parish several years ago.


Grain for Bread--by Dr. Shirley Hereford.

In everything, give thanks!
When the domestic help doesn’t come in, give thanks.
When the milk curdles in the white sauce, give thanks.
When your microwave goes kaput, give thanks.
When your computer crashes and you lose precious data, give thanks.
When you’re diagnosed with hypertension and have to lose weight, give thanks.
When your grubby child places sticky fingers on your favorite outfit, give thanks.
When the electricity turns off before your favorite Television serial, give thanks.
When you have a puncture on your way to work, give thanks.
When you are caught in a traffic jam, give thanks.
When your children upset you, give thanks.
When your husband complains about the food, give thanks.
When it rains on your parade, give thanks!

A recipe for disaster! This could be a typical day in the life of many of us, ordinary mortals. Yet, we are still standing, smiling, coping, and bashing on. That’s more than enough reason to be joyful, to give thanks, because things could be worse. Things can be worse.

We all know and acknowledge this cliché but when it comes to the crux of any issue, it still is about me, myself and I. We get so caught up in the moment, the feeling of loss, of helplessness that we aggravate the situation rather than look at alternatives. It is very difficult to look at the other side, because we are sensitive and vulnerable to hurt, betrayal and pain.

Giving thanks for everything is a tough act to follow. When we know “it is the will of God concerning us”, it becomes even more difficult.

Isaiah 28: 23 – 29 is my personal recipe for coping cheerfully. It constantly reassures me that there is someone in control.

The passage talks about a farmer who treats dill, cummin, rye, barley and wheat differently for he has already decided what they will be used for. The use predetermines the treatment it receives.

Wheat has to be crushed to make whole wheat bread. If it remained intact it would be just a seed with all its limitations. I know that the Lord knows my threshold, is in control and will make his strength visible in my weakness. Knowing that I will not “be crushed forever”, believing that my temporary loss can only point to a rich legacy of gain, makes me understand how being proactive can alter my disposition and change the way I evaluate my circumstances.

Things are often beyond our control. We allow ourselves to become victims of these situations. We do have choices, in the way we cope with situations. We need to evalute our options and give thanks “in everything” and for everything.

Try this recipe for living…and count your blessings.

Dr. Shirley Hereford

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DARE TO TAKE GOD SERIOUSLY--Interview of Golden Keyes Parsons

Are there any coincidences? I don't believe so. But coincidentally, Golden Keyes Parsons just posted an interview of me on Golden Keyes Parsons Blog yesterday, while I am interviewing her on my blog today. I chose to interview Golden now, because her second novel 'The Prisoner of Versailles' has just been released this month, as well as the fact that her first novel 'In the Shadow of the Sun King' was a finalist for the 2009 ACFW Book of the Year. I really hope you'll read the following review and interview, and better yet, buy Golden's novel.

I also hope you'll read more about this gifted author on her own website Golden Keyes Parsons. But let me say a few words about 'The Prisoner of Versailles' before I let Golden tell you about her journey to become a writer, how she beat two bouts of cancer, her darkest hour, and so much more.

There’s a scene in ‘Prisoner’ that I believe conveys the pace and mood of this novel. “. . . silently through the crisp dawn air. A slight yellow haze hung in the eastern sky, tingeing the chateau in increasing shimmers of gold. The dim figure of Commander Boveé merged with that of two horses in a bizarre silhouette in front of the stables in the early morning light. The horses pawed at the sticky, muddy ground . . .

In ‘Prisoner of Versailles’ Golden swept me away on a wild gallop from the very first page. I didn’t think it possible for her to best even herself and her first novel, but this second in Golden’s ‘Darkness to Light series’ is even more adventurous and riveting. The reader follows Madeleine Clavell and her children on a path strewn with ever increasing difficulties—from the safety of Switzerland back to the decadent danger of Versailles and to the damp dungeons of the Bastille. King Louis, The Sun King, seeks out, captures his former lover, Madeleine, and tries to steal the loyalty of her eldest son, Philippe, whom Louis is convinced is his son.

Golden uses her vast history of France to deftly weave a totally believable tale using all that is great about French history and fiction—Musketeers, dragoons, courtiers, King Louis’ own mistresses, and even the ‘man in the iron mask’. While being thoroughly entertained, we learn about the persecution of Huguenot Christians in that time period. Again, Bravo, Golden. I am so proud of you.

And now, my interview of this humble and gifted author:

Christine Lindsay: So Golden, I hope you're seated in your favorite writing chair, in your favorite comfy clothes. Is there a cup of tea or coffee on a table nearby?

Golden Keyes Parsons: Thanks for having me, Christine. Would a glass of iced tea do?

CL: Tell us a little about yourself, where you live, your family.

GKP: My husband and I are "retired" pastors. We live in Waco, TX, near two of our daughters and 7 of our 8 grandchildren. Our oldest grandson and his wife live up near Ft. Worth, and our youngest daughter and her
husband live in Dallas. We are a close-knit family and get together often. It's a mob when the whole clan is here, but I love it!

CL: What do you like to do for fun?

GKP: We love going to sporting events of our alma mater, Baylor University. We buy season tickets for the Lady Bears basketball team, and attend all the football games we can. And many weekends are spent watching grandsons play football and baseball. Our nine-year-old grandson just played in the Select Ball World Series and made the All-Tournament team as pitcher. Can you say "proud grandparents?"

CL: How did you come to write novels, especially this series, which I loved in your first book, "In the Shadow of the Sun King"?

GKP: This was my first novel. The second one, "A Prisoner Of Versailles," released from the warehouse week before last. The series is based on my family genealogy concerning the persecution of the French Huguenots in 17th century France. I wanted to tell their story. I started out in non-fiction, and honestly, possessed a rather elitist attitude toward fiction writers. After all, sniff-sniff, those are just made-up stories. But then I took a fiction class at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference, and realized that I could get my point across better, in a more palatable fashion, telling a story. Jesus made his points that way, didn't he? Perhaps someone would pick up a novel who would never read a Christian non-fiction book. The fiction bug bit me, and I don't want to write anything but fiction now. By the way, I find fiction much more difficult than non-fiction to write well.

CL: This next question is dear to my heart; Did you ever doubt your call to write; ever feel like giving up?

GKP: Only every other week. All writers seem to struggle with an inner voice that whispers things like: Who do you think you are? A call to write? You've got to be kidding. If your stuff were any good, wouldn't someone pick it up? How many years have you been trying?

And, it doesn't necessarily stop once one is published. Then, it's: Why is hers a best seller, and yours isn't? What if your publisher lets you go after you fulfill your contract? What if you get fired? What if the sequels aren't as good as the first one?

So, yeah, I've doubted my call to write and felt like giving up. But I have to come back to center and literally pray through it. I have to put a stake down and trust God, that my times are in his hands, and he knows best.

I have a quote on my desk that says, "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit!" And I don't intend to quit until God tells me to.

CL: Tell us about your awareness of the Lord in your normal writing day.

GKP: My prayer is, "Write through me. Help me write better than I know how."
When I get stuck, I ask the Lord to show me what to do. I'm praying constantly as I write, especially when I come to a spiritual part of the story. But to be gut-level honest, sometimes I'm so engrossed in the story, that I'm not praying conciously. Even though sometimes the Lord is not uppermost in my mind, I think he is still guiding my hands and my thoughts. I believe his grace is more than we can even begin to understand, and he overshadows any shortcomings on my part. I'm so glad that his dealings with me are not based on my performance, aren't you?

CL: Oh my goodness, yes. How did you first come to believe in Christ and His promises for your future?

GKP: That seems to be two questions to me. I first believed in Jesus for salvation when I was 14 years old. My believing in him for the future has been a growth process. I still struggle with it at times when everything around me seems to shout the opposite than what I believe I've heard from God. But he has been so faithful in the past. Why should it be any different in the future?

CL: I've heard you mention you've had two bouts of cancer. Would you tell us about that? Would that have been your darkest hour? If not, what was your darkest hour, and how did God bring you through it?

GKP: Oh, wow. This may be a long answer. Interestingly enough, my two bouts with cancer were not my darkest hours. I had ovarian cancer in 2000 and breast cancer in 2007. Both were discovered in Stage One and had not spread. However, the ovarian tumors were very large, and one broke as it was being removed and the fluid spilled into my abdominal cavity. So, I had to do chemo. But I did well through that. I didn't like knowing all those chemicals were in my body, but I was still working, speaking and writing during that time.

With the breast cancer, we believed that God directed us NOT to do chemo, although my oncologist advised me to do so. I did radiation; took a year of herceptin treatment -- a new treatment which is a gene that fights the growth of cancer cells; and am still taking oral medication. I am doing great and feel good.

When I woke up from the ovarian cancer surgery and learned that the tumors were malignant, the peace of God absolutely overwhelmed me, and I simply turned over and went back to sleep. His grace truly was sufficient.

My darkest hour had to do with when an elder in our church came against me and nearly destroyed our ministry and our marriage. God brought Psalm 35 to me and told me what I needed to do -- basically that was to praise him in the congregation and forgive.

It's much too long a story to go into here, but it's truly not what happens to us during this journey in life, it's how we choose to respond. Are we going to respond with bitterness and anger, or with love and forgiveness?

CL: What message do you hope your readers will come away with after reading your novels?

GKP: God is faithful. You can trust him.

CL: Tell us what your most audacious prayer was.

GKP: Use me.

Great questions, Christine; I realy had to think. And thank you so much for interviewing me today. You are a sweet friend.

Christine again: Below is the book cover for 'Prisoner of Versailles' and a link to Christian Book Stores where you can purchase it if you can't find it in your local bookstore. And also below is the cover for Golden's first book in this series 'In the Shadow of the Sun King'.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

GOD'S DELAYS ARE NOT DENIALS--Guest Blogger, Rosella Pettigrew

We are all waiting. Perhaps we wait for our name to rise to the top of a list for a critical medical procedure. Or we wait for that certain school to open up a seat for us. Or for that long-dreamed-of-career to finally open up. Or for love to enter our lives in the form of a spouse, a child, a friend?

Can we really trust that God has a plan for us. This fourth instalment of Rosella Pettigrew’s story means so much to me on a personal level. As I read it today, I wonder, is God using her story to encourage me on my quest—the thing I believe God called me to do? One thing I do know for sure, God has directed me to share Rosella’s story with you today. Perhaps our good and loving God wants you to trust that He has a plan for you.

GOD’S DELAYS ARE NOT DENIALS—by Rosella Pettigrew

Almost 2 years had passed since my acceptance by Sudan Interior Mission (SIM). And still I waited for that crucial financial support. During this time I trained as a practical nurse and worked in a senior care facility, which I enjoyed. Also, I loved being involved in the ministries of my church, as a youth leader, teaching Sunday school, and singing in the choir. However, Africa was my goal.

Yet nothing was happening.

Did God want me to continue to wait when time seemed to be slipping by? Did He want me to continue to trust Him for this particular goal? Maybe I’d heard Him wrongly. But when I searched Him out with all my heart, I still came away with the same passion resonating in my heart that I was to go to Africa as a missionary.

Waiting is so hard. I wanted God’s will in my life. One of the basic lessons in the ‘school of faith’ is God’s way and in God’s time which will then bring the glory to Him.

But what was I to do? I had no financial support, nor did I know where to get any for my life in Africa. How was I to inspire people to give financially from their own pockets to send me out as a missionary? Believe me, patience was not my strong point.

Someone has said, “The secret of patience is doing something else in the meantime.”

I chose to return to Bible College in Regina for a year. I had siblings going there by this time, so it seemed a good reason for me to go back too. We sometimes take detours in our lives. During that first semester a representative from S.I.M. came during the ‘Missions Emphasis Week.

When she saw me she stopped, and said, “Rosella, what are you doing here?”

I shared with her that I felt nothing was happening in terms of support, etc. It was as though I’d hit a brick wall in what I thought was God's plan for my life.

“We’ll see about that,” she said.

So I returned home after the first semester to await the next move. Several S.I.M. representatives contacted me after that, and arrangements were made for me to visit various churches. Now I’m getting somewhere, I thought. The doors will swing open for me to get going.

But as time went by, not one of those contacts materialized into anything that would support me. Every one of them fell through. Finally the S.I.M head office asked me to come to Toronto—perhaps it was easier to get support there. It wasn’t. But while there I worked in the mission home. Maybe my calling was to support others in going, while remaining home myself. I could be a great cheerleader and prayer support for others. But somehow that didn’t fit with the strong feeling in my heart that just wouldn’t let go. I must keep trusting in His call no matter how long the delay.

One day in the latter part of November 1949, I was called to the office and given stupendous news. A church in Washington, D.C. had just had their first missionary conference, and as a congregation they wanted to support someone who needed financial support. Would I be ready to leave in 2 days time? Would I? Would I? Oh, dear Father in Heaven, yes. A great big yes!

The pastor and his wife of this Washington D.C church happened to be visiting relatives in Ontario, and would pick me up in Hamilton, only 30 miles from Toronto. Wow!!! The years of delay had gone by so slowly, but now His answer was speeding so fast, I could barely catch my breath. But I kept up to the pace the Lord was setting. I hung on to His whirlwind of action.

God blessed me with a wonderful group of people who faithfully prayed for me, showered me with love and kindness and generosity. It was the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend when I met them for the first time. God couldn’t have made our first meeting more perfect. The church decided I would be their very first missionary, fully supported. And they also paid for my passage!!!!

Monday morning of that weekend, the pastor called the S.I.M office in New York to give them the news. They asked me to be in New York that Thursday as I was booked to sail on a Norwegian Freighter on Saturday, December 3rd, 1949.

My first phone call after that was a breathless one to my parents, who shared the good news with many friends. What an answer to prayer, and especially those of my mother all those years.

Six weeks later—after the ship stopped in every port along the west coast of Africa—I arrived in Lagos, Nigeria. Upon my arrival I learned that I wouldn’t remain in Nigeria as my original assignment, but that I had been reassigned to Dahomey (now Benin) a pioneer area as far as Christian missions.

When God promises to direct our paths, we can be confident He will carefully lead us. “I will go before you and make the crooked places straight.” Isaiah 45:2.

I marvel at His plan for our lives. His plans for me included medical work, teaching Bible School, developing a literacy program, and being involved in full-time Bible translation work, to mention a few ministries during my 24 years in Africa.

What a privilege was mine to serve my Lord in Africa. Looking back I know the “why” of all those delays.

His way is best. Trust Him.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

THE ROAD GOT TOUGHER--Guest Blogger, Rosella Pettigrew

Christine's intro: Experiences like Rosella Pettigrew's encourage me to persevere as much as reading my Bible does.

Last year at this time I shared what it was like to set out on a road of God-inspired risk. You can read that story by clicking here on Growing Pains. My husband and I did a repeat journey this September. We drove our youngest son, Rob, to a college in the middle of the country, over a 1000 miles away. Rob is pursuing what he believes is God’s plan for his life. Rob doesn't want a job in the trades or a business degree—an education a mother could breathe a sigh of relief over, knowing her youngest child had chosen a solid, good paying profession. But God didn’t wire my Rob that way. Rob is pursuing music.

I didn’t think I’d cry the second year into this, but I did, my tears filled with the same trepidation. Will God provide a vocation for Rob to use the gifts God gave him?

I wish with all my heart I could be like some people who are full of courage, who expect everything to turn out just fine, who never doubt. But I struggle with fear on a daily basis, mostly that things I hope for will simply never appear. I am a person of little faith. But my flickering faith sparks brightly when I read how Rosella struggled to trust in God's plan for her life. Next week she will share more about that struggle. Today we carry on with how God made Rosella into a missionary. After Rosella obeyed God's call on her life to the mission field, you’d expect everything to open up like an easy road. After all, she was moving along with His plan. But it didn’t happen that way. Life got harder.

So I ask myself as I walk along this rock-strewn road of God-inspired risk, can I trust a God who calls us onto a specific road, and who then allows things to get tougher?


THE ROAD GOT TOUGHER, Part 3—By Rosella Pettigrew

So the hard part—I thought—was done. I’d said yes to the Lord. I was willing to leave my home and all that was familiar, and go wherever in the world He sent me. And Mother’s reaction to my news that God wanted me to be a missionary floored me.

“I knew,” she said, “The Lord told me and also showed me where you would serve Him.”

How He had revealed all this to her, I don’t know to this day—through a dream? A vision? Then she told me that she had dedicated me to the Lord before I was born. She had faithfully prayed about that through the years.

We had always seemed to have every visiting missionary in our home who instilled in us a love for missions and the Lord’s work. My dad had a great interest and part in establishing new churches. Sunday services were often held in our home, and he rented halls and invited pastors and missionaries to come and preach the Word of God. He did this for a couple of years until a church was built and a pastor came. So I had a rich heritage. What an awesome God. We were such a poor, ordinary family who experienced God’s blessings in the good times as well as in difficult circumstances. God has always chosen unlikely people to work out His purposes.

But what did I need to do next? Apply to a mission? Ernie Harrison had told us so much about Sudan Interior Mission, a faith mission known as ‘serving in mission’ (SIM). I applied to it.

Since all of this took time, my concern was, what do I do next? I was at home with my parents and looking for a job. Then a call came from our denomination’s head office—would Jeanne and I be willing to go to Northern Alberta to teach Bible in that school district?

I called Jeanne in Vancouver who also would consider it, and pray for guidance. But it wasn’t long before we accepted and packed our suitcases. We boarded a train for Edmonton where we spent a few days with friends before continuing on to a place called Rich Valley (in my estimation, a misnomer).

Our contact showed where we would live, in the house next door, a two-storey building. The upstairs would be our living quarters and the downstairs was a meeting place for Sunday School. Jeanne and I stared at our new home—an unfinished building—the walls were just boards with knot holes for fresh air, no insulation. The bedroom was partitioned off with cardboard. The bed was a fold-up cot which had seen better days. The one side was supported by an attached poplar pole. There were also some wooden boxes piled one on the other for a cupboard. The main room had a table, 2 chairs, an air-tight heater (wood burner) a 2 burner hot plate, a few dishes, pots, kettle. The basics and nothing more.

We were shown where we would get water, at the pump next door. And the outhouse was nearby too. A horse and buggy took us to the schools, and a sleigh whisked us throught the snow and ice in the winter. I had never hitched up a horse to a buggy, never mind controlling the horse. A new experience and my dear city friend was no help. So the job was mine, as well as pumping the water from the well, and chopping the wood. This wasn’t too difficult when we got there in the fall (1946).

But winter came early in Alberta and it got colder and colder. The pump froze, so I took a kettle of boiling water to thaw it to get water. The air-tight heater didn’t throw much heat; at least not that it was noticeable in our cold dwelling. The heater would get red hot so we bought a sheet of asbestos at the local store and attached it to the wall behind the heater. In the middle of winter the temperature dipped down to 62 degrees F below zero. We stayed in bed most of the day in order to keep warm. When we washed our dishes, the spilled water formed icicles on the table. Our motto soon became—Africa, here we come.

The bright spot was teaching Bible in the schools and the local Sunday School. When the weather was too severe we cancelled everything. In spite of the harshness of the winter and some difficult circumstances we felt blessed in being able to share Christ in that part of His world.

In the spring we received word from S.I.M. that they wanted us to attend the April candidate class in Toronto. So it was goodbye to our friends in the town of Rich Valley and area, and move on to our next assignment orchestrated by God.

Rich Valley was a hard place. Living conditions were poor (only one other person agreed to go there after we left). Bad weather was a factor often in whether we had Sunday School or no, and if we taught Bible lessons in school. With no conveniences it took a lot of time to just live there.

Sometimes we wondered what we accomplished. Someone has said, “Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith.” No doubt we would face many, more challenges in the future. But God never failed us.


This is Rosella with her brother and sister when they were children. Her brother, Elmer and his wife, Muriel, spent 37 years in India as missionaries. And Rosella’s youngest sister and husband served in the pastorate for 43 years.

Christine again--Looking back at Rosella's life and that of her siblings, the verse in Hebrews 11:6 keeps coming back to me, urging me to persevere and not lose heart. "...without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

THE BLUE ENCHANTRESS--Guest Blogger, Marylu Tyndall

My guest today is Marylu Tyndall, a successfully published writer who is fast becoming one of North America's favorites. Marylu may be a highly successful writer, but I've come to know her as a very humble woman who strives to use her life and writing to tell others how wonderful a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can be.

Not only is she one of those writers I strive to emulate, but she is such a caring individual who has--like myself--been deeply scarred by her own past choices. Her novels, including her latest, 'The Blue Enchantress' are exciting stories set in the Caribbean in the yesteryear of tall ships and pirates. While Marylu makes this time period come alive with rich detail, she fills the pages with her believable characters that are experiencing the same longings, and struggle with life choices, that consume the hearts of people today. Her character of Hope Westcott in the Blue Enchantress could be speaking from the heart of any modern-day young woman who has made some terrible decisions as to her purity and who strives to change.

In the following interview Marylu shares some of her personal life struggles, including her heart's longings for her kids and the dilemma of unanswered prayer. I hope you are as encouraged by Marylu's story as much as I have been--not only as an aspiring writer, but as a woman going through this journey called 'life'.

Christine Lindsay: Marylu, Tell us a little about yourself, where you live, your family.

Marylu Tyndall: Hum, well, I live in one of the most liberal states in the Union in one of the most liberal parts of the state and probably one of the most innovative places as far as science and technology goes: The Bay Area in Northern California. It's a gorgeous place to live with a mild, Mediterranean climate. An hour west of me is the gorgeous Pacific coast, and 4 hours toward the east, we have the beautiful sierras. I've lived here for nearly 30 years, but my true love is the tropics of Florida where I grew up and where my entire family still lives and where I go and visit as often as I can! My husband and I have 6 children, most all grown up, and 3 cats currently, although we seem to attract strays! (cats, not kids)

CL: What do you like to do for fun?

MT: I love to go on hikes, go to the beach, oil paint, garden, go out to dinner (anywhere as long as I don't have to cook!) and I also enjoy a great book or movie. In fact I used to love to go to the movies. I loved the whole experience with the hot buttered popcorn and the big screen and surround sound, but these days I rarely find anything I want to see.

CL: How did you come to write novels, especially this series?

MT: I never planned on becoming an author. I always loved to write and wrote several stories for fun while I was growing up, but it never seemed a very feasible or practical occupation! About 6 years ago I got the strangest notion that I should write a story about a Christian Pirate. I thought I was crazy but the feeling wouldn't relent, so I finally obeyed and wrote my first novel, The Redemption. I had never tried to get anything published before so that journey was quite an adventure, but I can honestly say that God was the One who opened all the doors to make that possible. My current series, The Charles Towne Belles was an idea that God gave me during one of my prayer times. The theme of the series comes from Matthew 13, the parable of the Seed and the Sower. Each story represents one of the seeds Jesus describes in that parable. My current release, The Blue Enchantress, is the story of the seed that falls among the thorns, where the pleasures of this world and the cares of life strangle out the power of God's Word in a human heart. In this case, the heart of my heroine, Hope Westcott.

CL: This next question is dear to my heart; Did you ever doubt your calling; ever feel like giving up?

MT: At least once or twice a week! I know that may sound strange coming from someone who has 6 books published, but even after God preformed a miracle getting me published, even after receiving the Christy nomination, even after all the books I've written, in my darkest hour when I'm tired and I'm struggling with a scene or I've gotten a bad review, I wonder if I'm truly meant to do this. Surely someone with a better command of the language or a more vivid imagination, or a degree in creative writing should be doing this. Surely someone who's a better Christian or a more benevolent person should be writing these stories, not some overly-sensitive, stressed out, no English degree, worry-wort person like me. But, then God reassures me in some small way, a kind word from a friend, an encouragement from a fellow writer, a good review, and I keep on plugging on, until He tells me otherwise.

CL: Tell us about your awareness of the Lord in your normal writing day.

MT: Each morning before I do anything else, I spend 45 minutes to an hour in prayer and reading my Bible. This is where God gives me my marching orders for the day and where I receive His peace and encouragement. This is the most important part of my day, of anyone's day. If you want to have success in your life, if you want to become a better person and impact the world for God's glory, then model what Jesus did when He was here on earth. He spent time in prayer every morning. Then during the course of my day I practice the awareness of His presence. He sits beside me at my desk and when I need help with anything, whether it be a word or a plot point or a character reaction, I sit back in my chair and ask Him for guidance. Without His help, I doubt I'd be able to write even one book, let alone six. I know to some this may sound crazy, but God's Word says the Lord delights in the details of our lives, that He sticks closer than a brother. So whatever your tasks are during the day, I challenge you to invite the Lord along, talk to Him often, lean on Him for strength, ask His advice. You'll be surprised at how your life will change for the better!

CL: How did you first come to believe in Christ and His promises for your future?

MT: Long story. But the short version is that I spent many years wandering away from God. Although I knew about Him and had learned all the Bible stories in Sunday school, I had a difficult childhood and decided I wanted to pursue my own happiness. I tried all the things this world has to offer in order to find fulfillment, but by the time I was 35, nothing had worked. I was miserable. My second marriage was falling apart, my teenage children were in rebellion, I had a drinking problem and I hated my job. One night in desperation, I dusted off my old Bible and began to read it from cover to cover. Somewhere in Ezekiel in the prophecies about Israel, I realized that what God had spoken of thousands of years ago was coming true in my time. As I sat alone in my bed in the middle of the night, I remember saying out loud "You're real" and instantly I was enveloped by this tingling warmth and a joy that bubbled up from within me. I fell to my knees and gave my life to God. Things didn't improve overnight. My husband and kids were non-believers, but now, 15 years later, my husband (a staunch atheist) and half our kids are committed Christians!

Just briefly (I realize I told you this was the short version) But I need to say that at one point shortly after this, God spoke to me and told me He had something for me to do that would blow my socks off. A year later I got my first book published. God delights in blessing His children!

CL: Would you be able to share with us your darkest hour, and how God brought you through it?

MT: Some of my darkest moments have been dealing with the pain of past regrets and guilt. Because I spent so many years away from God, I did many things--things that make me cringe now when I think of them, things that hurt others and caused pain to people around me, even my own children. My darkest hours have been when those memories resurrect and I fall flat on my face on the floor in utter agony, assailed with the weight of my own guilt. Sometimes I just want to die and I feel so worthless and ashamed. Oddly enough it has been during those dark times that I have felt the Lord's presence even more powerfully than at any other time. It is as if He gently lifts me up, wipes away my tears, shoves away the enemy who accuses me, removes the chains around my heart, and cleanses me utterly and perfectly with His sacrifice and His love. And I am reminded that no matter what we've done, no matter how horrible it may have been, if we turn to Jesus, we are forgiven and cleansed and justified (Just as if I never sinned)

CL: What message do you hope your readers will come away with after reading your novels?

MT: My tag line is "Live in the awareness of your eternal destiny". All my novels are interwoven with a strong spiritual theme but if I had to pick an overall general theme that I hope my readers get, it would be that God loves you more than anything and He wants to be intimately involved in your life, that He is as powerful and miraculous as He has always been, and that the good news of the gospel is that this fallen world with all its suffering and pain and heartache is NOT the whole story. There is another world, more wonderful and real and incredible than this one where there will be no suffering and where you will live forever.

CL: Tell us what your most audacious prayer was.

MT: My most audacious prayer was and is that my eldest son will become a youth pastor and lead many people to Christ. At this time, this 28 year old boy is not a Christian and is involved with the things of this world and wants nothing to do with God. But you know what? I believe our God is a mighty God. His arm is not too short that it cannot save, and there is nothing impossible for Him.! I believe in praying HUGE prayers because we have a HUGE God.

CL: And now the toughie---did God answer it?

MT: Not yet. But I believe He will. My son may not become a youth pastor, but I believe he'll get saved and do something great for God with his life. God has confirmed this in my heart and through His Word, and He is faithful!

CL: Thank you so much, Marylu. This particular blog posting has encouraged me on such a personal level. Like you, I have memories that like to come by once in a while and haunt me. But like you, I too know the power of what Christ did on the cross. Like you, I am a FREE woman, and He has given me a purpose. Thank you again, for sharing your heart with my readers.

Thanks Christine for having me!!!! God Bless.

You you are interested in seeing a list of Marylu's books and her latest release, check out her website www.mltyndall.com