Why I Will Celebrate Canada Day

Yes, I will celebrate, but with that pull of sadness that reminds me I’m not home yet. It’s a pull that tugs hard when I hear about the mass graves being discovered, the wars raging in too many countries, the injustices filtering the mercy so needed in our courts, the death count rising after a disaster directly resulting from greed.

It’s a pull I felt when a neighbour saw me as only a means to satisfy his sexual urges, and again when a teacher saw me only as a vulnerable child she could manipulate. I felt it when I was the victim of bullies and misunderstood by those who just didn’t take the time to listen.

We all feel it, here on this fallen earth. And the sadness and anger run deep.

But we must celebrate. We must remember those stories of bravery and glorious humanity in the midst of war and chaos. We must cherish the smiles of those who took the hands of all the children whose innocence saves us from insanity. We must praise those who take responsibility, who stand up and say, “I’m sorry. Forgive me.”

Because there is still goodness in this world. There is a thread of a Spirit that won’t let go of us, no matter how heinous the crimes and depraved the imaginations. That Spirit stands with us in the midst of the flames and destruction and the pain they cause and opens a way for healing. He gives us people, and sometimes whole countries, that still strive to choose what is right over what is expedient.

And that makes me want to wave a flag and sing an anthem that still mentions God with a note of thanksgiving.

Yes, I will celebrate Canada Day, though her history makes me weep, because I also feel the pull of her goodness and beauty that reveals the One who still stands with her and cries out, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28, NIV). Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live” (Isaiah 55:3, NIV).

I will celebrate because to deny that goodness allows all that is evil to take another step forward in victory. And we must not allow that to happen.

News I Would Rather Not Know

Like most of us these days I receive a lot of news bulletins on my phone. A quick swipe to the left and I have access to all the latest happenings in our country and beyond. There are some days when I don’t bother, others when I wish I hadn’t. There are days when the news gives me information I would rather not know.

Yesterday was one of those days. The first item in the news feed read: More than 200 Bodies Found at Residential School in BC. I stared at the words, shock rendering me immobile for a moment. Then I clicked on the title and read the article and tears began to flow. Over 200 children buried in unmarked graves, their parents never notified. How could such a thing be true? That even one child would die and be discarded in such a manner should be unthinkable to us all. But 200? The word genocide cannot be dismissed.

Perhaps this news hit me hard because my grand-daughter’s eyes have a lovely slant to them. And this crime was committed at a Catholic institution. I was raised Catholic and what I read in that article went against everything I thought that institution stood for. I was raised to believe the sanctity of life was paramount, to the church and to God. How could those who were raised with that belief commit such a heinous crime?

My best friend in my high school years was an Ojibway girl who lived on a nearby reserve. She introduced me to some of her friends who were from remote communities in northern Ontario. Places like Moononee, Fort George and Attiwapiskat. Those kids were part of what is now known as the ‘Sixties Scoop.’ Hundreds of children across the country were taken from their homes and put into residential schools or foster homes without the consent of their parents. I often wondered at the time, in my innocence, why many of those kids seemed unhappy, why many of them were constantly in trouble, why many of them tried to run away from the places where they lived. Those children are now my age, in their 70’s and 80’s but the pain of the trauma they experienced still lives with them. Until recently, they were given no counselling to help them process it, let alone an acknowledgement that it had even occurred.

When I talked with my daughter about this news yesterday, her comment was insightful. “Why weren’t we taught about this in school?” she asked. “We learned about the Nazis and the holocaust. Why didn’t we learn about what had happened in our own country?”

Why indeed. I would like to believe, in my innocence, that it is because of the shame and the guilt. But sadly I suspect it is because of something more insidious, something more evil – racial prejudice.

Romans 12:15 tells us to “weep with those who weep.” Perhaps we should do more. Perhaps we should stand with those who are weeping at the mass burial sites. Perhaps we should voice our indignation and our horror. Perhaps we should demand that this history be taught in our schools. Perhaps we should demand that memorials be erected so that, like the cry to remember those who died in the world wars, a cry of remembrance might be raised each year for those innocents who died for no reason. Lest we forget. 

James 2:26 tells us that faith without works is dead. Yes, perhaps we should do more.

Nahor? Who’s he?

Image by falco from Pixabay

In a recent sermon at our church the preacher gave an excellent message on Genesis 22:1 – 24, which is primarily the story of Abraham and Isaac. The preacher’s insights were profound and timely for our culture and our current circumstances. (You can listen to it on Faith Community Church’s page on Facebook, if you wish). But it was at the very end of his sermon that I sat up and paid attention. Not that I wasn’t already, but I resonated deeply with his comment on verses 20-24.

Those last few verses aren’t about Abraham. They’re about his brother, Nahor.

We all know the story of Abraham, how God promised he would have descendants more numerous than the sands on the seashore and that all nations would be blessed through him. But Abraham and Sarah reached old age without having even one child. Sarah laughed when a stranger told her she was about to bear a son and Abraham went along with her when she told him to take her servant to bed. Logic said that was a reasonable thing to do. But then Isaac was born and they learned the faithfulness of their God.

Abraham’s obedience when God told him to take his son up onto a high place and sacrifice him as a burnt offering has long been a source of astonishment to me. That he would even consider saying yes to that command makes my jaw drop. But it was through that obedience that Abraham learned something about himself and his God, something he could have learned no other way. God is not only faithful to fulfill His promises, no matter how impossible they seem, He also cares deeply about those to whom He has made those promises. God wasn’t just concerned about the future plans that would unfold through Abraham, He was concerned about Abraham and Isaac, then and there.

Then we come to those verses about Nahor. They are in fact a genealogy of Nahor’s children – all twelve of them! The preacher did not dwell on how that fact must have rubbed Abraham the wrong way, but I could well imagine. Because I’ve been there. Perhaps you have too.

He’s the neighbour with the bigger house or fancier car. He’s the colleague who gets the promotion. He’s the man who reaches old age without having gone through a single medical crisis. He’s the one who publishes a single book but gets invited to speak around the world. He’s the author whose books hit the best seller’s lists even though the writing is mediocre at best.

Yes, those last two have been all too real for me.

So I sat up and took notice when the preacher said that after Abraham’s time on that mountain “he looked at his brother and all his children and then he looked at Isaac and smiled. It was Abraham who was given the greater portion.” It was Abraham whose progeny would bless the world. With just one son.

It is a lesson I must repeat to myself over and over again. God has a plan for my life and my work. Trusting Him with my life, even when it seems the blessings are flowing in other directions, will bring a lasting smile to my face. Trusting Him with my work, even when it seems it’s swimming in a very small pond, will bring a lasting peace and the knowledge that striving for what is fleeting is pointless if God is not directing it.

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16:6, ESV).

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To read more of my work visit https://marcialeelaycock.com

Easter – Joy upon Joy

Easter Stories and More marks the eighteenth anthology in which my work has been published. It’s always such a joy to be part of a group effort, especially when you respect the work of the other authors in the collection. It’s always such an honour to be counted with them in a collection that you know will inspire and strengthen faith.

This one is especially dear to my heart because Easter is dear to my heart. What could be more exhilarating than celebrating the triumph of good over evil, the restoration of mankind to its God and, on a more personal level, the joy of resting in the assurance of one’s own salvation?

I thoroughly enjoyed writing the two monologues written in first person: The End of a Pilgrimage, which was written for Inscribe’s blog and Torn, written in response to the call for submissions for this anthology. Putting yourself in the place of a Biblical character brings the story of the life of Christ into a sharp perspective and causes you to dig deeper into the scriptures to discover more of the truths lying buried there.

The poem I submitted to Easter Stories and More, Easter Walk, was inspired by a stone I picked up as I was walking one spring day a few years ago. The stone was scored with two dark lines – one vertical, one horizontal. I wondered what had made the marks and as I walked my thumb traced the lines, my mind pondering again the mystery of the death and resurrection of our Lord and all that it meant to me.

It left me with a renewed sense of peace and thankfulness for His sacrifice and for the sacrifice His father made, in sending His only son to rescue such a ‘motley crew’ of humanity. It also left me rejoicing that Easter is my victory too, because He included me in it, called me into His family and secured my life with His death.

I hope you too are able to rejoice in that victory.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55, NASB).

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March 24 – Ruth L. Snyder https://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/

March 25 – Sally Meadows https://sallymeadows.com/blog

March 26 – Eunice Matchett https://albertastoryteller.com/

March 27 – Lynn Dove https://lynndove.com/

March 28 – Pat Gerbrandt https://patgwriter.wordpress.com/

March 29 – Denise Ford https://walkingwithdustyanddee.com/

March 30 – Marcia Laycock https://marcialeelaycock.com/thespur/

March 31 – Bob Jones revwords.com https://revwords.com/

April 1 – Valerie Ronald https://scriptordeus.wordpress.com

April 2 – Kimberley Payne https://www.kimberleypayne.com/blog/

April 3 – Marnie Pohlmann https://marniewriter.com/blog/

April 4 – Allison Lynn https://allisonlynn.blogspot.com

Lynn Simpson https://lynnjsimpson.com/ 

Blog Tour for Easter Stories and More

Easter Stories and More is a new anthology written by Inscribe Christian Fellowship members, and I’m excited to be one of its contributors. The book is filled with Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Photography.

I have four pieces in the anthology – two written from the point of view of a Biblical character, a devotional about loss and redemption, and a poem inspired by a rock I found one day while walking.

Easter Stories and More can be purchased at Local bookstores, online vendors, e.g., Amazon, Nook, Kobo, or from any of the authors. My contact info is vinemarc@telus.net.

Below is the list of other authors participating in this blog tour. Please check them out to learn about them and their contributions.

March 24 – Ruth L. Snyder https://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/

March 25 – Sally Meadows https://sallymeadows.com/blog

March 26 – Eunice Matchett https://albertastoryteller.com/

March 27 – Lynn Dove https://lynndove.com/

March 28 – Pat Gerbrandt https://patgwriter.wordpress.com/

March 29 – Denise Ford https://walkingwithdustyanddee.com/

March 30 – Marcia Laycock https://marcialeelaycock.com/thespur/

March 31 – Bob Jones revwords.com https://revwords.com/

April 1 – Valerie Ronald https://scriptordeus.wordpress.com

April 2 – Kimberley Payne https://www.kimberleypayne.com/blog/

April 3 – Marnie Pohlmann https://marniewriter.com/blog/

April 4 – Allison Lynn https://allisonlynn.blogspot.com

Lynn Simpson https://lynnjsimpson.com/ 

Deliberate by Marcia Lee Laycock

ismael-paramo-ZBNr4T_4FLE-unsplash

You chose the way, crawled toward that day,

destiny drawn in blood before time began,

designed the way of sorrows,

staggered down that Via Dolorosa.

You forged the nails

for your own crucifixion,

grew the tree hewn

to bear your bloodied body, 

the bush that thrust out thorns.

You guided the hands that wove

the robe on which they gambled at your feet,

knew the Centurion who stabbed your side,

before his mother spoke his name.

You created the rocks that split,

the light that became darkness,

the angels who

turned their faces away.

You did it all.

Deliberately.

To rescue me.

****

Clinging to the Rock

Dwarf Fireweed. photo by Marcia Lee Laycock

The far north is a place where things are pared down, taken to the lowest common denominators of life. Rock, water, sun, insects and wind. And of course, in the winter, snow and ice. It is a place where the word survival is never far from one’s thoughts.

It was a marvel to me how the tiny delicate flowers of Baffin Island could survive. There is very little soil there, yet they spring up and cling to solid rock. Vibrant dwarf fireweed, saxifrage, anemones and the ever-present Arctic cotton. As my friends and I walked across it, the tundra seemed to be in motion as the tiny ones swayed in the constant wind, lifting their heads toward a far-away sun. We stepped around them, our heads bent in homage, our camera shutters clicking.

As I moved across that barren landscape I couldn’t help but think of the barren landscape of cancer I had been wandering in. The similarities were stark. After the diagnosis, there wasn’t much to hang onto at times. The winds of fear and loss seemed always in my face and the sun seemed oh so far away. But as I thought about beginning the first round of chemotherapy, I stared at a bright yellow anemone and took heart. If this little one can survive in this, her desolate place, then so shall I in mine, I reasoned, by doing what she does season after season. Cling to the rock.

My Rock was more solid and everlasting than those slowly disintegrating across the tundra. My Rock spoke and comforted and held my hand. My Rock carried me when my knees buckled and cradled my head when I just needed to cry. My Rock hid me in its cleft and set my feet on a firm foundation.

And when I “lift up my eyes to the hills,” and ask, “Where does my help come from?” He answers – “My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over you will not slumber … The Lord watches over you, the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:1-8, NIV).

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Now in Paperback format on Amazon

An Appropriate Quote

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.com

By Marcia Lee Laycock

I read the email with a bit of anticipation and a bit of dread. It was an invitation to another Christmas party. In those pre-Covid days, that meant another pot-luck item to prepare, another Chinese auction gift to bring. It was almost enough to make me want to shout, “Bah Humbug!” But the instructions in this email were intriguing and piqued my interest. For the gift exchange, we were to bring a favourite quote, done up in some kind of creative way. The favourite quote part would be easy, I thought. I have a huge file of quotes on my computer. With the state of my health, I knew the creative part might be a bit more difficult, but I decided to try and rise to the challenge.

I clicked into my quotes file and began to read, and read, and read. Nothing seemed exactly right. I was thinking Christmas but couldn’t find anything seasonal. I thought inspirational, but nothing seemed to hit the mark. I thought humorous but couldn’t find anything that made me laugh out loud. So I gave up, swallowed some more cough medicine and went to bed. The next day I opened the file again. A quote seemed to beam its way to me immediately. It was short but thought provoking, and when I thought about it, the words, from poet Anne Sexton, were very appropriate for the Christmas season. She said: “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.”

I realized back then, that in the midst of the rush to shop, to bake, to decorate and make it to all those Christmas parties, God was calling us to do just that. I wonder if His call is perhaps even more urgent in these days when there isn’t such an urgency to bake because we’re not allowed to have people in our homes. The need to decorate seems equally pointless, and Christmas parties? Well, it may be some time before we’ll be able to attend one again.

Perhaps God wants us to stop and hear His voice in the tumult. It is a still small voice, but one that echoes with everything we need. It is the voice of a child crying from a manger, the voices of angels proclaiming and shepherds jabbering about a baby born to be King. It is a voice weeping for those in pain and sickness. It is a voice mourning for those who refuse to hear Him. It is a voice shouting victory over the forces of evil and death. And it is a voice calling us to know Him, to know His love for us, love that grants us one more day of life, filled with all its challenges and blessings.

Listen for Him. He has promised that anyone “who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev.3:20, NIV) Not only that, but He has also promised to stay with you forever, to guide and protect you, and to give you peace.

So, “put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” You might just hear the true voice of Christmas.

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Christmas Books Available

To order contact me at vinemarc@telus.net or go to my Amazon page

Wishing I Could Be Jesus

Image by coastventures from Pixabay

I recently attended a funeral for a young man who died too soon, leaving a wife and three young girls. The sadness overwhelms at times and it makes me wish I could be Jesus, just for a few minutes, just long enough to say, as He did, “arise.”

But then, I realize that He doesn’t need me to do His work for Him. He has already done it. He has already said that wondrous, mysterious word and brought that young man into His kingdom, given him time to have a productive, full life here on this earth, and then brought Him home, to the place where he has wanted to be, as a believer in Christ.

Often, especially during these difficult days when we constantly hear about a worsening pandemic, the world seems off kilter and full of so much pain and suffering it overwhelms us. And we want to be Jesus. We want to snap our fingers and make it all better. But He is and has already been at work. He has a plan for this earth, for each one of us, a plan that goes far beyond what we could ever imagine.

God told the Hebrew people exactly that when they were in circumstances that were full of pain and suffering – their captivity in Babylon. Living as slaves, they no doubt often cried out to God to bring them relief from all the suffering and pain they experienced and saw around them.

This was His answer – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

At this time of year some of us are in circumstances that are made even more difficult by all the joy and/or jollity around us. Our lives have been turned upside down. And sadness overwhelms.

Here are a few things we can do when that happens:

Look up. When we see all those decorated Christmas trees, look up. Look for the star or the angel on the top. And know Jesus is with you.

Look around. There are others who are struggling. Is there something you can do for them that will lighten their hearts, and yours?

Look ahead. Jesus has promised a bright future and given us a way to know we are secure in his hand.

Yes, there are times I wish I could be Jesus. But then I remember – He is the Messiah, the Living God, our hope and our comfort. We don’t need anyone or anything else.

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A similar version of this devotional in included in Marcia’s book, Love in the Room, a collection of devotionals just for Christmas. It can be ordered from Amazon or by emailing the author – vinemarc@telus.net

Just Adopted

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

“You’re just an adopted brat. Go away!”

I turned away in tears, stung by my older brother’s taunt.  It wasn’t the first time he’d flung those words at me and over the years I’d begun to believe it. I was the “caboose” of the family, born after my mother was sure she was finished child bearing. I always felt like I didn’t quite belong.

Until we made a trip to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and a hoard of cousins. I loved going there, especially being with the cousins, some of whom were even my age. On one afternoon one of the uncles gave us all a nickel each, to spend at the local corner store. The group of us trooped in, chose our candies and took turns paying at the counter. The kindly owner joked with each one, until I stood before him. He frowned a bit, then said, “Well, you’re obviously a Lee, but which one are ya?” I told him my name, and my father’s name. He grinned. “Of course. I should have known. You look just like him.”

I skipped all the way back to my grandfather’s house and I never believed my brother’s taunts about being adopted again. Finally I knew where I belonged. I was my father’s daughter and nothing could change that.

The struggle to believe it, however, did not end. There were still times when I felt like I didn’t fit in, as though I were a foreigner in a strange country. I wandered through many places, careers and relationships over the years, searching for a place to truly belong, until one day when I was challenged to take a serious look at Jesus Christ. When I asked Jesus to forgive me, everything changed. At that moment I was adopted into a different family – the family of God. I’ve never forgotten the joy of knowing I belong to Jesus, knowing I am loved unconditionally.

When I think back on that time is still amazes me how simple it was to make that step, yet how much I resisted doing it, for so long. When I finally turned to God and asked for his forgiveness it was not with a humble heart, or a broken spirit. I was still flippant and defiant. But in His amazing grace and mercy, Jesus still opened his arms to me and welcomed me home like the long lost child I was.

That’s amazing grace, the kind of grace that extends love and forgiveness to anyone who asks, even when their attitude isn’t right, even when their life is a mess. One of my favourite verses in the Bible says – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV).

While we were still sinners, still disobeying him, still cursing him – even then, He is willing to forgive.

So now I’m not “just adopted.” I’m welcomed in, owned, loved and accepted.

Eternally at home.

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Thanks for reading! I’d love to connect with you – just leave a comment here or one my website – https://marcialeelaycock.com

TODAY – I’ll be joining a few other Canadian Christian authors who are highlighting their books LIVE on Facebook. The event begins at 5:00pm MST. I’ll be talking about a few of my Christmas books – at 5:45pm MST. Pop by and say hello!