Facing My Failure

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This time of year makes me a bit jittery. It’s that time when people ask, “Do you garden?” I take that question personally. I guess it’s a hold-over from my Yukon days, but I always have the feeling the person is really asking, “What are you good for, anyway?” The question always makes me squirm because I’m not good at it. I inherited my mother’s black thumb. I’m death to fruits and vegetables and most especially flowers.

Not that I haven’t tried. For twelve Yukon summers I dutifully planted rows of cabbage and broccoli, peas and lettuce. I even built a greenhouse and kept a fire burning in it at night to keep a few tomato plants alive. Once I replanted three times when late frost hit, only to have it all wilt from an early one in August. With a season of twenty-four-hour sunlight, the plants that survived grew furiously. So did the weeds. A neighbour once drove by, honked and called out – “tendin’ the weed bed, are ye?”

I wanted to give up, but at the end of each summer, I harvested what had managed to survive. I was thankful there was a grocery store in town. We surely would have starved if we’d had to live on what I could grow!

When we moved south, I anticipated the “game” would go on, but was delighted that there were so many grocery stores to choose from! When spring arrived I dutifully got out my spade and tested the ground in the back yard. But, oh, woe is me, it was full of roots! The large old cottonwood in the corner of the yard had spread its thick underground fibers far and wide. My husband took a turn at the spade but could find not a single spot suitable to till. Such a pity.  

Having an excuse eased the guilt, but I feared my failure was apparent to the world. When friends asked if I wanted their harvested leftovers I always said yes, with thanks, but had that nagging suspicion they were pitying me. I knew I was a failure. So did they.

Then one day, a friend asked if I’d like some potatoes. Seems she’d planted way too many and they all grew wonderfully (of course!). My family and I spent a morning digging up part of her potato patch. It was one of those special times – a glorious morning with the smell of earth freshened by rain and the delight of children’s voices in the crisp air. But the most wonderful part was the look on my friend’s face as we loaded the boxes of food into our vehicle.

“I just love being able to do this,” she said. “Thanks for coming out.”

The power of her words hung in the air around me for days as a simple truth sank in. There were things I loved doing that could be a blessing to others. I don’t have to be good at everything. It’s okay to be a failure at gardening. It’s not my gift.

1Peter 4:10 says – “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” My friend did a great job of that the day she invited us to her potato patch. On that day I started admiring the work of people with green thumbs, without feeling guilty. They have that gift. I have others.

Do you know yours?

A Journaling Pilgrimage for Writers of Faith

Hello everyone. There are only 8 days left before we begin the Abundant Rain Pilgrimage for writers of faith. To register please email vinemarc at Telus dot net with a “Yes, I’m in” in the subject line. Registration is complete upon receipt of payment of $45.00 sent to that address by etransfer or paypal. If you wish to send a cheque please email me for instructions.

The zoom link will be sent as soon as it’s set up, just prior to the meet and greet on the 2nd.

Here’s the link to purchase Abundant Rain –

Canada – https://amzn.to/3KmGRmh

USA – https://amzn.to/3vAZq0E

Looking forward to walking with you on this journey!

Something of Interest, Perhaps

My friend Travis Williams designed the signature banner on my website. He’s a great designer and very generous with his time and talents. So I’d like to ask you to check out his new website, where he’s highlighting his recently published book, Uly Quits His Job. It’s a fun read, about a quirky character trying to find his way in the world (which just happens to be Georgia, USA). Just click this link – https://booksbytravis.com/

BTW, you can download a FREE copy of the book right now!

A Telling Comparison

I squirmed in my seat as I watched the drama unfold on our TV. The scene was disturbing, to say the least. I don’t remember the plot of the movie but I remember that scene.

A well dressed white woman opens the door to her luxurious apartment to find an indigenous woman standing in the hall. There is a long awkward moment before she finally invites her in. She sits on the edge of a dainty chair. The white woman looks down at the woman’s feet, clad in ragged sandals. Her feet are bleeding. The white woman disappears for a moment and returns with a newspaper. The indigenous woman raises her feet without a sound as the white woman places the newspaper under the bloodied sandals.

I could not help but think of that scene when, later in life, I read John 13 for the first time. It’s another scene that perhaps should make us all squirm, as no doubt it did the disciples of Christ that night. Jesus “laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet …” (John 13:4.5, ESV).

The contrast between these two scenes is stark. One reveals a shocking callousness, a hardness of heart, while the other reveals a shocking concern, a compassion that speaks volumes about the one holding the towel.

Imagine the scene that played out in that upper room over 2,000 years ago:

The silence as Jesus, the revered teacher, removed his outer tunic, revealing the short inner one, which in the minds of the disciples meant Jesus stood naked before them.

The gasp they no doubt gave when he tied the towel around his waist, the act of a servant.

The sound of the water being poured into the basin, the disciples no doubt wondering what on earth he intended to do.

Their astonishment would have been complete when he likely got down on his knees before them and washed their feet. No wonder Peter protested. This was a scandalous act, incomprehensible to them, that their master should make himself their servant. It was a demonstration of the love He then commanded from them – a scandalous love that went beyond any convention, beyond their normal experience.

It is telling, too, that the scriptures record that “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper …” (John 13:3,4, ESV). It was because Jesus knew who He was that He could, without hesitation, humble Himself before His disciples.

It is only when we understand who we are, children of this same God, and indwelt with His Spirit, that we too are capable of such humility, compassion, and love.

In His Spirit we are able to follow the example of Jesus, rather than the example of a callous woman who showed no sympathy.

The comparison is telling. Which one will you emulate?

When Jesus was Silent

Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash

I almost leaped to my feet, but instead turned my head to stare at my pastor’s wife. “Say something!” I screamed the words in my head. But Ella did not speak.

The pastor of our tiny mission church had just announced that he would be away and, as had been the custom in the past, his wife would take the pulpit the next Sunday. A man, (a new-comer to the congregation), stood to his feet and exclaimed that allowing a woman to preach was not Biblical. A fair bit of discussion ensued, ending with the pastor inviting that man to preach in his place.

As a strong ‘women’s lib.’ proponent at the time, I was incensed. It was not until years later that I realized God’s will was being done and my pastor’s wife had the maturity and discernment to see it.

When I first came across the passage in Matthew 26 where Jesus does the same thing, it pushed that same justice (or was it vengeance?) button, and I could feel the anger rising. “Say something, Jesus! Do something!” That was the cry of my heart.

We all have a streak in us that cries out for justice. Or perhaps, on occasion, its more ugly cousin, vengeance, rises up.

But Jesus was silent before His accusers. In this, as in all things, He obeyed His Father, so prophesies about Him would be fulfilled – “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7, ESV)

For we who have a limited, earthly perspective, the silence of our Saviour seems outrageous. As David Guzik says in his commentary on Matthew 26, “Jesus could have mounted a magnificent defense here, calling forth all the various witnesses to His deity, power and character. He was silent but not helpless.”

Charles Spurgeon puts it well: “His was the silence of patience, not of indifference; of courage, not of cowardice.”

Jesus knew speaking up would not change the minds of his accusers or change the course of the path before Him. None of that mattered, because He knew who He was and the destiny He was to fulfill.

It is not until the high priest finally confronts Him bluntly and asks if He is the son of God, that Jesus responds, “You have said so.” And He goes a step further, telling Caiaphas that one day even he will see Jesus’ true identity. David Guzik states: “Instead of defending Himself, Jesus simply testified to the truth. He was indeed the Christ, the Son of God. He answered as briefly and directly as possible.”

Jesus had no need to defend Himself to those who did not recognize Him. He knew the day was coming when even the High Priest would bow his knee.

Every believer is able to follow His example, to pray for that same patience and courage in the face of ridicule and even persecution. We too know who we are – children of the most high God who can depend on His promises to fight our battles and guide us in the way we should go, as He did for the Hebrews in the book of Exodus.

We can be assured that, at just the right time, the Holy Spirit will lead us to testify to the truth, that Jesus is “… the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29, ESV).

Until then, perhaps it would be wise to be silent.

The Famous Canadian Women Treasure Hunt

Welcome to our Famous Canadian Women Internet Treasure Hunt! We’re so glad you’re here to play! 

You are doing well! You have signed up at Leoshine’s website and got the key to cracking the code. (If you still need to do that, we’ll hold your place here while you do!)

You have found real treasure – one of ten pictures that represent the name of a famous Canadian woman in the Aeolian script specially developed by Travis Williams for the Sci Fi/ Fantasy Leoshine, Princess Oracle written by N. MacCameron and due to be released in May.

Your next task is to solve the puzzle, crack the code, decipher the script to learn which Famous Canadian Woman you have found. Keep track of each name you decode so you can put it in the form that comes at the end.

You get bonus points if you can say where in Canada this wonderful woman lived(s) and how she contributed to the world as a better place. 

Once you find all ten treasures, follow the last link to the answers form. If the deadline – March 13th 2021 11:59pm MST – comes before you find all of them, send what you have! Prizes will be announced on March 14th 2021. You could win an audiobook of Leoshine, Princess Oracle by N. MacCameron, an eBook of Discerning Grace by Emma Lombard, or a digital background of the map developed by Rachael Ward .

If you play after March 14th 2021, great! There’s a prize for you too! Keep playing through to the end!

Thank you for playing! Secret codes are great, aren’t they? By following them, you get treasure! You have fun! You meet new people!

Click on this link to go to the next blog. Be sure to have a look around. It’s written by an inspiring woman!

A Little Fun For You All

Hi everyone. I’m varying from my usual post today to introduce you to a friend, Nicola MacCameron and her new fantasy novel, Leoshine, Princess Oracle.

I did a little editing on Leoshine, and I often became so engaged in the story that I forgot to edit!

Nicola is a very creative young woman and I think you’ll see what I mean when you join in the fun and get going on the Leoshine Treasure Hunt! And don’t forget to sign up for the party. I hear there will be prizes! 🙂

So don’t delay – join the fun today!

Is There a Cosmic Bowling Game Going On?

And are we the brunt of it?

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

None of us knows what will happen a year from now, or a month from now, or even tomorrow. Circumstances can hit at any moment and bowl us over like the proverbial pins we love to knock down for amusement. Sometimes it can seem like there’s a celestial bowling game going on and we are all the brunt of it.

A friend woke up on New Year’s Day to find their basement flooded and water spewing out of a split pipe. A young woman carrying twins is told to abort one because they cannot both survive. A community is wiped out by fire while another shudders under an abnormal deep freeze. Wars erupt and millions die of a virus that seems impossible to stop. If I did not believe there was a God beyond us who is in control of it all I would often be in despair. But then that young mom gives birth to those twins. A flower blooms unexpectedly in the desert that amazes all who see it. A man’s terminal cancer inexplicably disappears.

It is the safe arrival of those beautiful little babies, one of whom would not be alive but for a mother who said no, that keeps my head up and my heart soaring. And that single flower blooming in a far-off desert. And that father who is able to join his family for another Christmas dinner. And as long as there are such things in the world there is a will to go on, there is hope. As Sam Ganges said to Frodo when they were at the height of hopelessness – “… because there’s good in the world, and it’s worth fighting for.” That goodness spurs gratitude which lifts our eyes above our circumstances to the face of a loving God. That love ricochets through the universe, touching the hearts of those who are on the verge of giving up, as someone near them reaches out a hand to help them stand again.

After every natural disaster we hear of heroic deeds that are lauded through media around the world. The bravery and resilience and nobility of man is evident to all at such times and sometimes someone even wonders where such things come from. Beauty, nobility, creativity, heroism, pure unadulterated kindness. Are they sourced from the depths of mankind or from the depths of something, someone, beyond us?

As we launch into 2022 such questions bear pondering and answering. Some of us will frown and shake our heads because the answers seem unsearchable, unknowable. Some of us will smile because we’ve felt the love of a great and merciful God and seen His hand at work and known that He stands with us no matter what circumstances befall us. We smile because we can know where the nobility and kindness come from; we can know this God who is the source of it all.

As we launch into 2022 perhaps the only resolution we should have is to get to know Him even more as we take yet another step into the unknown, with hope.

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Other places to read my work:

On Medium.com find me at https://medium.com/pondrings and https://medium.com/koinonia and a few other publications along the way.

And on InScribe Writers Online

And be sure to sign up for my newsletter, Home Words, to receive sporadic updates and a free short story.  😊

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Re-making Christmas

Perhaps a little too much tradition blurs the reality

Like many others, no doubt, our church is getting ready for the Christmas pageant to be performed by all the kids in Sunday School. Last Sunday the decorations appeared – tinsel-covered Christmas trees and a large barn-like structure complete with the animal trough surrounded by a donkey, a lamb and a cow that looks suspiciously like a Jersey. As we took our seats my husband leaned toward me and whispered, “Good North American nativity scene.”

I chuckled. Yes, we have remade Christmas in our own image. There would not have been spruce trees anywhere near the birthplace of Christ. A fig tree would be a more accurate depiction, and perhaps an ox would have been more appropriate than the cow. Often we are relying more on tradition than accuracy as we prepare for Dec. 25th. Jesus was likely born in the spring, not the winter season.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditions of Christmas: the tree and all its baubles and tinsel, the wreaths adorning the doors, the cards that stuff our mailboxes both real and virtual, the Santa hats that adorn the heads of sales people and shoppers alike.

And I was glad to see the display at our church, nonetheless. With the religious symbols of Christmas sadly absent from most of the festive displays our communities these days, I was thankful that here, at least in the church, we are still making an attempt at remembering the birth of the Messiah.

Perhaps it would do us all good to remake Christmas more accurately in our hearts, as we focus on the Scriptures that tell us what really happened that day over 2,000 years ago. Yes, there was a census, the reason Mary and Joseph had to travel to Nazareth, the city of David, which fulfilled one of the prophesies about Jesus (Luke 2:1). Scholars debate whether His birthplace was actually a stable or more likely the place in many homes where their animals were housed in bad weather. (Luke 2:12). And there were shepherds, the first to hear of the birth, (Luke 2:8), the first to spread the good news to as many as would listen. (Luke 2:15). There was an unusual star, one so bright it caught the attention of astronomers who made an arduous journey to find the one prophesied about long before. (Matthew 2:2-10). They did not arrive in time for the birth but they did supply Mary and Joseph with the means to care for themselves when they had to flee to Egypt to avoid Harrod’s death squads. (Matthew 2:13).

Some of the details have perhaps been remade into tradition, but there is one fact that scripture tells us is true. The Son of God, “The Word, became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14, NIV). He had come for a specific purpose, to reconcile mankind to God.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NKJ).