Shopping with HEART and making SMART choices at Christmas Time.

Shopping with HEART and making SMART choices at CHRISTMAS time.

  1. Make your large purchases with small business, and your small purchases at big box stores. That way you are spreading the love around where it is needed the most.
  2. Buy second hand for yourself when you can, and treat yourself to a brand name product once a year (if you absolutely have to).
  3. Write and wrap gift notes for others, and then buy the actual product after Christmas when it is half the price. The amount saved could be given away to a neighbour, or charity.
  4. Decide to watch programs over the holidays that have zero violence.
  5. Boycott watching anything with guns or shooting.
  6. When you realize that means you can’t watch anything – go outside for a walk or call up a friend, and make a snowman together.
  7. Instead of playing a computer game by yourself, get together with a friend and play a board or dice game.
  8. Shut your phone for off for a whole day, and listen to your family. No cheating.
  9. Instead of giving someone money, give them your time and attention.
  10. Invite someone over for tea and dessert, you don’t always have to cook a fancy menu.
  11. Write a list of people you want to get to know in the New Year, and write an annual intentional date on the calendar.
  12. Support home grown talent by buying their music.
  13. Promote purchases and not pirating.
  14. Smile and make a point of wishing everyone you see a “Merry Christmas” (out loud, and not under your breath).
  15. Make time to look up inspirational vignettes on youtube, like Linus’s recitation about what Christmas is all about.
  16. Set up a nativity scene on Christmas Eve.
  17. Purchase a special Children’s Christmas book each year to read on Christmas Eve, even if all the children are grown up.

Have fun adding to this list. Make it your own. And may we truly strive to uphold what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8 and 9).

Pet Peeves at Christmas

A few discussions this December has me sharing a list of my pet peeves, they are more ridiculous than they are frustrating, I know our culture leaves much to be desired especially around this time of year.

  1. The Chevrolet commercial where an actress says in a mono-tone,”that’s the dream to have wifi in the car”. Apparently I am not the only one who is peeved, you can’t even find the commercial on youtube anymore, so many people have complained about this so called “dream”. In my search to find the commercial in order to leave you a link I saw one person tweet: “we have to dream bigger”. Amen to that. What made the commercial worth watching was our hysterical attempt to mimic the actress.
  2. Alien vs Predator Ad for the 12 Days of Spacemas, really thought this was funny more than aggravating, especially watching the two arch-enemies seated on civilized couches gawking at the neck ties in their hands, wondering what they were for?  Couldn’t find this link either…hmmmm.
  3. Talking with my wise nephew the other day with regards to how Star Wars has taken over Christmas brought my attention to this next pet peeve…..apparently we are more excited about the “force” than we are about the real power which is found in the most wonderful name “Jesus”. No hand phasers necessary folks, just the name of Jesus (spoken in reverence of course). Now that’s power.
  4. All the sappy Christmas movies, emphasis on ALL……if we were take the money spent on “spinning a love story”, and give it to those in need, we’d see love at work, and change happening before our eyes. That being said there are a few of them that have a good storyline, but very few, and there are millions starving. We should be striving for excellence.
  5. The complaining about refugees…. opening our country to refugees is more than a risk, it is necessary, and mandatory, otherwise we simply are not human. I’d rather die loving than leave someone die.

Merry Christmas everyone, and may the love of Jesus truly change us.


The Secret is Out

Our Christmas holiday resembled scenes from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“.  But just like any movie, it wasn’t all bad.  When New Year‘s eve rolled around and my husband and I sat in a near empty movie theater, I found myself relieved, anticipating another great escape.

I don’t completely disappear.  The black walls and the aroma of imitation butter drag my senses back down in my seat now and then.  It never fails, the best scenes are always littered with the assault of crinkled candy wrappers and idle chatter.  Don’t the watchers know this is their chance to hear something new, to find the gift that hasn’t been given, the secret message that revives a sleepy soul?

I watch her lips shape syllables and I drink in the flavor of her German accent.  When the fingers of music reach through the blanket of snow where the billowing steam train winds ’round the mountain, the secret code begins.  Music has always been my Narnia‘s wardrobe, a passage straight from my heart into Aslan‘s arms.

I feel the uneven cobble stones beneath my feet and the brisk night air against my cheeks.  I stand beside them bundled in my own filthy rags, watching our breath mingle with the smoke from the pile of burning books, another of Hitler‘s attempts to choke out our freedom.

I fall in love as they fall, and long for freedom as the air raid siren howls.  I stare at the stars through Jewish eyes.  I hold her pen as she writes on the virgin page…”the man with the accordion heart and the woman cloaked in thunder”.

Soon a thousand charred bricks explode around me, fragments of flesh and bone, a soldier’s blank face and a thousand open graves.  “The Book Thief” stoops beside me, to cradle her best friend’s blonde head in her arms, and salt water springs from my heart.

My eyes scoop them up and carry them to the back of my brain.  I determine to keep them forever.  I will not forget, their story is mine.

Suddenly each brick resembles yesterday’s family headlines.  Bombs don’t always drop from enemy planes.  One of the bricks has her name on it, the one who can’t forgive me.  Another brick belongs to the one who keeps my records of wrong.  Another brick is coated in bitterness, while another is splattered with hate.  I trace my finger around them imagining when we were new, first-born and unspotted by the world.  I step cautiously around them and leave them behind.

I step out from their frozen winter crust into his world of hope.  The snowflakes fall softly, tickling my face.  The secret is out, the gift has been given.  The human spirit is always at war, but love never fails.

On Pet Peeves, Writing and Something Red

Hard to believe I’m typing on my laptop at the airport in Kitchener/Waterloo International, it isn’t something I like to do.  Everybody else might, but I don’t.  It’s just a ridiculous as phoning someone on your cell phone when you’re out for a walk – as if the world will end if that person doesn’t hear from you in the next sixty seconds.

Another thing I don’t like, a pet peeve if you like; people clapping in movie scenes.  There’s some sort of hollow, lack luster insincerity when they clap, the one moment in the entire movie where it’s clear they’re acting.  My shoulders rise, and I shiver the same as when the little girl in the church pew behind me rattles her gum wrapper.

While we’re on the topic of pet peeves, opening packages seems to still be in the running for number one.  Hubby says I need to use my teeth, but I say that’s not lady like.

Our trip to the mid-east of Canada for the Word Guild Gala and the Write Canada

Write! Canada

Conference has been both informative and relaxing for us, although for some, programming the GPS for random interests then driving to them, may not sound like fun at all.

We like to frequent city centers and drive around the historic areas, snapping pictures of old houses and the backsides of dilapidated downtown buildings, usually found from a  back alley view.

It doesn’t matter where you go, there’s always a welcoming Irish Pub, and we found two on this tour, one of which came with a beach volleyball net and a truckload of sand.

I got to buy a fancy dress before we flew out for the conference.  Hubby bought me a matching clutch with bling to match.  St. Jacob’s market on a hot Saturday afternoon afforded me one classy floppy sun hat with a black and white polka dot sash (which I’ve always wanted) and one pair of much-needed sun glasses that fit over my prescription lenses.  I thought for sure the glasses would look stupid, but they are very cool in my opinion.

I didn’t win in the Word Guild Lyric category, but feel very honored in having placed as a finalist.  The writing conference that followed kept my brain spilling over, you could almost see a chandelier (as opposed to single light bulb) above my head and strings of words crawling out of my ears.  I have approximately four hours on the plane ride home to review eight hours of workshop material where I plan to reorganize my writing calendar, so I can meet my new writing goals.

Oh yes, and lest I forget – we continue to be on the hunt for all things red in order to know what accents to buy when our kitchen is complete.  Can’t identify my decorating flare,  although I have a sneaking suspicion it is “eclectic”, but I’ve decided I am going to make a list of my favorite finds and then make and create my own versions instead.  For example; I love the plethora of Eiffel Tower decorative structures we found, but I’ve never been to Paris, so why buy one to sit on my counter?  So I’m going to think long and hard about the some of the places we have been, mix that with my personality and see what transpires.  Some of the photographs we took on this trip could be changed to black and white and I could Photoshop one focal point red?  Whatever comes of my creative brainstorm,  I’ll be sure to write about it and post it, so you can laugh or applaud.

And if I thought I was a writer before, I can hardly wait to see how my writing grows from here……

P.S.  When I get home and feel like uploading photos, I will make sure to share one here!

Is Distraction Waxing Your Heart Cold?

What is it that is keeping you from the Truth tonight, tomorrow’s almighty “to do” list?

Beware of busy, anything that keeps you moving long enough and fast enough to wax your heart cold. Beware of distraction, anything that makes you look good on the outside, but sucks the life out of your insides.

Is truth being traded for a movie, with far too many vulgar words for Christ to watch with you?

Is Truth being muffled by negative thoughts, self-pity and pain, walls of justification?  Those walls may feel like protection but are barriers to peace and forgiveness, that keep the Truth at a distance and allow bitterness to carve a lonely canyon for the sound of echoing broken promises.

Beware, those faults you once found others guilty of could become your own.

Is Truth being crowded out by technology, one more trick to learn or game to play or hour to waste, of the precious time Christ bought for you – with his blood?  This gift of time has always been meant for simple trust, childlike faith, close accounts, repentant tears, light-hearted joy – revelation and communion.

Is Truth being stomped out by our personal muscle flexing, our conquests to conquer, as if somehow we’ll rack up points, get His attention, earn His affection, or at least our peers?  We’re doing what, in who’s name?

He is the Truth, the Way and the Life, He is our super-hero, and everything He calls us to do is to accentuate His work, to bring Him Glory.  It is His name we proclaim, we are not here to make a name for ourselves.

Recommended Truth Reading:  Matthew Chapter 6








Mendocino Majesty and Beyond

Early Saturday morning we made our way back to Mendocino for breakfast and Operation, Exploration, this time in the sun!  We found this amazing bakery/coffee shop “Good Life Cafe and Bakery” that sold fair trade coffee and home-made Quiche, breakfast burritos, and everything else under the sun – gourmet!  Looked like a “family affair”, Mexican perhaps?  We sat on stools by the window so we could people watch while we ate our burritos.  To our left on the street corner, we spied two angels with scythes (long blades usually carried by the Grimm Reaper) high a top a building that resembled a church.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the story, but the birds had no trouble keeping their company.

I noticed a sign across the street in front of a Victorian style, white house.  After breakfast, it was our first stop, and we read the sign; Sallie Mac.  Would you believe it’s French inspired?  Amazing, I found three chandeliers I wanted to buy on the spot, but didn’t.

We rounded the corner and on to main street, through book stores and gift shops, a particular ladies boutique packed full of “one of a kind” designs, made in L.A.  Lloyd found a plaid skirt Julie might like – not.  Hand crafted wood furniture, the finest we’ve ever seen, leather, wool – everyone knits or crochets in Mendocino, I’m convinced.  One particular kitchen wares shop had two vintage french chickens resting a top a high shelf.  I never knew I loved that stuff, I know now.  The only trouble is, my kitchen has no pink in it, one was a soft pink, the other a pale blue.  I’m going to miss their tiny heads and friendly disposition.

Once we had walked through every last shop, garden, gallery, connected path, back alley and side street, we hit the board walk that lead to a well-worn path, just past a white picket fence.  First the path wound its way through sea grass which then became overgrown with a plant that looked like wild raspberry, tangled and twisted, taller than my head and shoulders.  No wonder I had a hard time finding a beach.  No guard rail, no sign, just a tree, not sure what kind, but its canopy looked manicured and majestic, even if it was hanging in limbo between cliff and sky.  Speaking of “majestic”, “The Majestic” was filmed in Mendocino, so was Alfred Hitchcock’sThe Birds“.

the cliffs of Mendocino

There to the left of the tree was a young man-eating a bag lunch.  He looked lonely and I wanted to strike up a conversation, but I concluded if he wanted to talk, he wouldn’t be out here hiding under this tree!  To the right we spied hundreds of hand dug stairs in the side of a jut out cliff, leading down to a small sandy patch, you might call a beach, if your beach towel’s short.  Keeping my bad knee in mind,  we took pictures instead, besides there was no hand rail.  At the other end of the path, back through the white picket fence, lay a preserves shop where Lloyd bought his favorite; orange marmalade – home-made in Fort Bragg.

One more coffee for the road, from the same bakery and a plan to take the “coastal view” out-of-town.  As we got in the Envoy I looked up to see Elvis and Marilyn staring down at us from two upper story, Irish Pub windows.  The coastal view exit did not disappoint and we marveled at the parts of Mendocino we had to leave undiscovered.

Point Cabrillo, California

On our way back north, just before Fort Bragg we took a two-mile hike out to the Lighthouse at Point Cabrillo and got an hour’s worth of California history; ship wrecks, gold, Chinese imported artifacts mixed with native treasures.

Back out on the highway, I kept my eye out for another sign I had seen the night before – Caspar.  We took the turn out and wound our way down to a lovely hide-a-way beach, got out of the vehicle and walked out onto the sand.

Next up, north and out of Fort Bragg towards Eureka California, but we had no idea what lay before us.  Just a mile out-of-town, the coastal 101 took a hairpin turn, and straight down to reveal yet another breath-taking stretch of beach, rocks and tidal pool.  Quickly we pulled off the road and ran out onto the beach, snapping pictures, watching the waves crash ashore and felt the mist tickle our skin.

Just north of Fort Bragg, California

After a leisurely walk in the sand, we returned once again to our vehicle.  Before we jumped back in, I asked Lloyd to take a picture of how the trees formed a canopy over the highway up ahead.  We thought Eureka was just up and round another bend, but like I said before, we had no idea what we were about to experience…..

A natural “tunnel like” entrance to the Redwood Forest
formed by the tree canopy converging