On this page, ENGAGE with me personally. I’ll post articles I hope you find winsome, as well as bits of news and musing about my current activity. I welcome your comments.

Subscribe to my email newsletter to receive a free e-copy of Wet Thaw, two award-winning short stories by me. Or you can connect by Facebook or by email: deb@debelkink.com.


 

THE MOSAIC OF HUMANITY

 

Pantakrator Mosaic, Leon V1, 10th century, Hagia Sophia

 

When I was a teen, my artistic mother created a mosaic on the powder room wall: three gracious sisters in Grecian robes scooping water from a rush-lined river. Mom sketched the outline, selected the ceramic tiles for colour, snipped them to fit, and grouted the pieces into the pleasing design that still decorates my childhood memory.

More recently I stood in awe beneath domes decorated with the glorious ancient mosaics of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a city once known as Byzantium spanning East and West on the shores of the Bosphorus Sea in Turkey. A church was first established there by Constantine in AD 325 on the foundations of a pagan temple. The current Christian cathedral took its place two hundred years later, with the Ottoman Empire co-opting it in the fifteenth century. Today, secularized Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite damage by time, clime, and desecration, Sophia’s restored and redeemed mosaics are considered by art historians to be instrumental in the study of iconography.

The beauty of mosaic art lies in the grand sweep of the composition, not in the intricacy of its tiny tiles (or tesserae). Similarly, the beauty of humanity lies in the historical vista from Adam and Eve through every person onwards. Although each fragment, each story, has its irreplaceable function, I must admit that the tessera of me sometimes feels insignificant in the great montage of this earthly existence. Of course, focusing in on a detail of the overall pastiche (whether ceramic or flesh and blood) allows for close examination of an excerpt, but the main point is the interaction—the belonging—that makes up the whole.

Now, I was born—and thus belonged—to a nuclear family of five kids; we added our colour to the wider tableau of two dozen cousins clustering around the Christmas tree at Grandma’s house. I patched myself into a fellowship of urban schoolmates and a fabulous youth group. When I began sharing marital life with my cattle-rancher groom, I didn’t stop belonging to my birth family, my townie comrades, or the wider church, but I was adopted into a new community by in-laws who took me as their own and rural neighbours who inundated me with casseroles and community. Three more pieces were added to the mosaic with the birth and nurturing of children, and I was grouted into other scenes as well—writing groups, sewing circles, classrooms, and international friendships. The individual chips all fit together and contribute to the overarching artwork designed by God and built upon variegation.

It was into this mosaic of humanity that Jesus Christ—the Artist Himself—appeared from eternity to become one of us (according to Hebrews 2). He took on our nature—our clay. He assumed the characteristics that fit Him into the form and function of the world and its people, sharing in our experience, partaking in our sufferings. The Son called us to Himself as His siblings, children of God, and He made of believers a family belonging to one another. He said to our Father (v. 12):

“I will tell of Your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”

In this loving way, God saves us from the destruction of the Evil One—that iconoclast scheming to desecrate the image of Christ in us. Ultimately we belong not to the mosaic but to its praise-worthy Maker. One day before the end of time, each tessera of this life will be fully restored within the original pattern lovingly sketched out for the universe. Meanwhile, to maintain active fellowship with Brother Jesus, we must pay close attention to what we’ve heard in the Word lest we drift away from the Artist—that Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of our souls.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

THE LAIRD ESTATE

It’s amazing to me how the geographical setting of a novel I’m writing can birth its way into my brain, almost convincing me it actually exists. In The Red Journal (just published last week), a mansion museum is the setting for much of the action. While I was imagining and plotting this aspect, I really needed a “map” to help me envision the museum, and so Lorenda Harder designed this sketch to my specifications. I included it in the front of the novel so that all my readers can get a good look at it, too!

Tagged , , , , , , , , |

2 responses to “THE LAIRD ESTATE”

  1. Lorenda says:

    It was easy for me to envision creating this sketch of the Laird Estate. Your descriptions are so amazing! I am beginning to read it again and look forward to filling in more details in my mind and making even more connections.

  2. Lorenda, sorry that I missed this comment from you. Several readers have already told me how helpful (and lovely!) your sketch is as they read the novel. Thanks again for your close and artistic work, which really has a late Victorian feel to it–suitable for the backstory of THE RED JOURNAL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

IT IS COMING!

My latest novel, THE RED JOURNAL, will be launched on October 2, 2019, but between now and then you can pre-order the ebook version for only $.99 (in real money).

Readers have already been commenting on the story:

A remarkable wordsmith, Elkink weaves a vivid portrayal of the quest of two strikingly different women seeking to infuse meaning and purpose into their lives. 

                                (Sara Davison, award-winning author of The Seven Trilogy and The Night Guardians Series)

***

The Red Journal is a simmering  pot of characters and plot elements. Take off the cover and savor the storyLibby’s life is about to change radically as childhood memories, a mysterious mansion, a pregnant grad student, and her promiscuous girlfriend sweep her along. The Red Journal is rich with symbolism.                                

           (Wayne Stahre, author and owner, The Habitation of Chimham Publishing)

 ***

A tour de force of characterization. Two women, their lives so disparate, and yet so intertwined, their journeys so diverse. All tied together with a tangled mystery that in the end reveals truth and brings clarity. An exploration through time and levels of meaning.   

                                                                       (Donna Fletcher Crow, The Monastery Murders)

Pre-order your ebook copy now!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GRAPEVINE

GRAPE BUNCH (acrylic on canvas) by Lorenda Harder

My Interview with Author JOHNNIE ALEXANDER 

I just read a terrific novel, Where Treasure Hides, and I tracked down author Johnnie Alexander (a fellow Mosaic Collection author) at home in Oklahoma to chat about her life and writing.

DEB: Thanks for joining me today, Johnnie. You’ve published quite a few books, but your debut novel blew me away. Though I don’t usually read WWII stories, I loved your integration of fine art and the condition of the human heart. Please give my readers a thumbnail sketch of the plot.

JOHNNIE: Thanks for the invitation, Deb. In Where Treasure Hides, my Dutch-American heroine, Alison Schuyler, protects art and children from the Nazis while the man she loves fights his own battles against Hitler’s evil regime.

DEB: Your antagonist is chilling—and yet so accessible.

JOHNNIE: Yes, Count Theodor Scheidemann—a Nazi officer and art collector who is obsessed with Alison—is a multi-faceted character. He’s power hungry so he wants to be part of the Nazi elite, but he despises the brutality he witnesses. For example, he is sickened when interrogators break the fingers of a notable artist. This man will never paint again, and any future creations are lost to the world. That kind of loss angers me, too.

DEB: How do you see your message in this book—and in your fiction generally—encouraging your readers?

JOHNNIE: I think wise people have a long-term, even an eternal, perspective on the consequences of their words and actions. It can feel so empowering to exhibit anger or to make a snappy retort—but that’s a false power. The wiser option (and I’m not perfect with this though I try) is to take a longer view.

DEB: Johnnie, how does your Christian faith fuel your passion to write and the content of your writing?

JOHNNIE: Recurring themes in my stories revolve around a family’s spiritual legacy and heritage. I deeply believe in two seemingly contradictory ideas—that the decisions I make today affect my children and grandchildren and that, because of God’s steadfast love and merciful grace, the past does not define my future (a message of grace and hope for the hurting).

DEB: Lovely. I’m curious—is there anything in life you’d like to do that you haven’t done before?

JOHNNIE: I wanted to raise alpacas. Check. I wanted to take horseback riding lessons. Check. I wanted to learn to weave—took one class. Check. I wanted to be a Lothlorien elf . . . but I’m too short.

DEB: Haha! So you like Tolkien?

JOHNNIE: Oh yes. Even though his creation of Middle Earth is imaginary, I believe it exists and it’s where I should be living.

DEB: So if I asked you which novel in all the world’s vast library you wish you had written, would you say Lord of the Rings?

JOHNNIE: Actually, my favorite novel of all time is Les Miserables. I love the redemptive depth of that story. Jean Valjean confronts difficult, life-changing decisions several times during his life yet, after his initial conversion, he never wavers from his true purpose—to live for God’s glory. Through the years, he has different identities—he’s a prisoner with only a number, a respected mayor, an almost anonymous gardener, and a wealthy benefactor. But the identity that matters most is that he is a child of God.

DEB: I see you have eclectic literary tastes in reading. What is one difference that your own writing has made in the life of a reader?

JOHNNIE: This isn’t a dramatic difference, but one reviewer said she shouldn’t have taken Where Treasure Hides on her family’s camping trip. She couldn’t put it down and “ugly-cried.” (I love that story!)

DEB: Well, I empathize with her—it’s an excellent novel and makes me look forward to reading more of your work. Thanks for joining me today, Johnnie.

_________________________________________

Bio

Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget in a variety of genres. An award-winning, best-selling novelist, she serves on the Serious Writer, Inc. Board of Directors, co-hosts Writers Chat, and interviews other inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. Johnnie lives in Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her at www.johnnie-alexander.com, Facebook, and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.

 

 

2 responses to “AUTHOR INTERVIEW: JOHNNIE ALEXANDER”

  1. Elma Neufeld says:

    Would love to read this when it becomes available. I still prefer the paper copy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GRAPEVINE

GRAPE BUNCH (acrylic on canvas) by Lorenda Harder

My Interview with Author STACY MONSON 

I’d like to introduce you to award-winning novelist Stacy Monson, who resides in the Twin Cities and is part of Mosaic Collection, the international author’s group I recently joined. Her contemporary, faith-based stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. 

 

DEB: Welcome to my corner, Stacy! I see you’ve published four books, with a fifth coming out soon. Was there a catalyst that launched your writing journey?

STACY: An Oprah Winfrey show on midlife opportunities! I’ve written stories my whole life, but always in secret. One day I was home early from work and Oprah was talking about changing our focus from midlife crisis to midlife opportunities.

DEB: Do you have personal experiences with any of the events in your novels?

STACY: Let’s see—one heroine was a supermodel, one lost a leg in a car accident, and one is dyslexic. I haven’t had personal experience with any of that!

DEB: That’s funny. : ) I read your book Open Circle, which you set in a southern Minnesota town where the social worker is struggling to keep the only adult day program open for the seniors she loves. It’s a homey read—gives me lots of good feels. What would be your favourite quote in that book?

STACY: “The sun is shining, the grass is growing, and the cows are giving milk.” It’s just such a simple way to look at the day and be thankful.

DEB: Yes, your voice comes through in even that short line. It makes me want to ask you about your personal life. I know you’re a long-married mother and grandmother but, come on, tell us something really personal about you that might not come up in casual conversation. Go ahead—get it off your chest!

STACY: Um, okay . . .  I am a professional grade procrastinator, I am addicted to sugar and gobble down jelly beans when I know I shouldn’t, and someday I want to ride in a hot air balloon and a helicopter. Oh, and I love, love, love long bubble baths. While eating chocolate. And reading. With a candle lit.

DEB: Yes, I have a mental picture of you now, but you’re in the tub surrounded by foam! (Oops!) So tell me about how and when the idea of your first novel grabbed you.

STACY: Shattered Image (in the Chain of Lakes series) took root back in high school—when I was going to concerts and wondering about singers’ lives offstage. Also, I was a huge John Denver fan, and I loved the story about how he met his wife. I wrote that first draft in high school and then eventually threw it in the fire (literally) while my mom was saying, “You don’t want to do that. You’ll want to read it someday.” And I said no, I wouldn’t. And now I do. How do moms know so much? The final product is a take-off from that original story.

DEB: Tell me a bit about that novel.

STACY: Kiera Simmons’ career as a high-profile fashion model ends abruptly when a failed relationship nearly lands her in jail. Now she forges a quiet life helping teens understand their eternal value in a world saturated with the distorted messages of society. Peter Theisen is on the fast track to everything the celebrity life promises, with each step of his meteoric rise in the music world orchestrated by his ambitious manager. Their sweet, unexpected romance is threatened by her past and his future, a life-changing diagnosis, and financial devastation. As they struggle to find their way back to each other, and to the One who matters most, the allure of wealth and fame may jeopardize everything.

DEB: Sounds as though I need to order Shattered Image as my next Stacy read! Now that you’ve published so much, do you find an organizing theme to your body of work?

STACY: All of my stories wrestle with identity. Who are you when all you’ve been known for is your face in front of a camera, or you’re a dancer who has lost a leg? Who are you when all your life you’ve been told you don’t measure up, you’re stupid, unable to learn, won’t amount to anything? Who are you when you find out the father you adore isn’t your biological father? All of these are instances when that person’s identity has been formed by societal norms, or other people’s opinions, or who they think they should be. The underlying theme in every story is that our identity is based on who God says we are, who He created us to be. Trends come and go—God doesn’t. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

DEB: Let’s wrap up this interview with one last question. Can you give any hints about what you’re currently working on?

STACY: My first book in the Mosaic Collection (and the first in My Father’s House series) is the journey of a young woman who discovers that nothing she’s known about herself or her family is true. She leaves it all behind to search for the truth and discovers things about herself and those around her she could never have imagined. Again—it’s about identity!

DEB: Thanks for giving us a peek into your life, heart, and writing. Now, I need to go order that book of yours . . .

 

_________________________________________

FRIENDS:

  • Consider subscribing to my monthly (or so) newsletter, where I give away FREE STUFF  and tell you about what’s going on in my writing life (with occasional juicy bits about my private life. : )
  • Please SHARE THIS POST ON FB so that others can get to know me and my writing as well. 
  • JOIN in the fun with our Facebook Readers’s Group.
  • And don’t forget to check out Mosaic Collection to read about the other authors in this international group!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

PERFECT COMMUNION

 

(Andrei Rublev, 15th century Russia)

I love to sew. My latest wardrobe addition is a calf-length street kimono of black burn-out silk velvet brilliant with peacocks and flowers. It is striking, if I say so myself, and garners compliments from all my friends. Not that I made it for their approval; after all, I myself relish the petal-soft brush of the fabric on my skin, the glimpse of its luxurious hues reflected back at me from my mirror. But outward beauty allows me to communicate to my fellows how I feel and who I am inside. My urge to create beauty in order to be known is a shadow of the creative nature of Him who made me.

God, the Eternal Three-in-One who enjoyed perfect and complete divine communion within the fellowship of Himself, yet wanted to be intimately known by humanity. And so the Father clothed His Son in the robe of flesh that the Spirit wove together in Mary’s womb. In His artistry, God projected the express image of Himself through Christ to show us His essence in something we could scarcely stand to glimpse—the promise of eternity transferred through the incarnation of His beloved Son.

I often think of how Jesus, leaving His home of heaven to tread upon our terrestrial dirt, must have suffered profound loss even while He gained the perspective of physicality. Wouldn’t He have just plain missed the Father in His great stoop earthward? I know it’s not quite the same but I, too, have recently suffered profound loss, although in human relationship. The velvety intimacy I once enjoyed, so integrated with my vision of hearth and home, has been tucked away in a drawer I can’t seem to open, out of my sight, its saturated colors invisible to me for a time. I just plain miss my loved ones.

In Hebrews 1:10-12 (ESV), the writer tells of a promise the Father made to His Son that, by extension through spiritual adoption and my sisterhood with Jesus, has implications for me as well:

You [Jesus] laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.

One day, after folding up the worn-out cloak of creation and changing it for something new, the Son will reign as King forever. And I will be there for an everlasting future with Him in communion with the others He has likewise dressed in His robe of righteousness.

Human creativity is only derivative, and our brokenness is only temporal. The One who first brought cosmos out of chaos holds the warp and weft of the universe together by the power of His word. When our relationships in the earthly realm fall apart like moth-eaten garments, we can trust that He who dresses the fields beyond Solomon’s splendor allows no act in this life to go without ultimate meaning in His sight. That locked-up drawer will one day open, but this time we’ll put on perfect communion.

When my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its way to realms of day,
This my song throughout the ages: Jesus led me all the way.                                                                     
(Fanny Crosby, 1875)

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

VAGABOND COME HOME

Mondays at noon hour I took piano lessons. On one particular Monday in 1966, I passed beneath the recently inaugurated Maple Leaf that flapped from the school’s flagpole, and I left behind the playground noise to cross the road and open the gate to the woodland pathway of my music teacher’s estate. Delicate lily-of-the-valley spring blossoms poked up through the Manitoba undergrowth, their tiny white bells giving off a luscious scent. Raindrops shook from the canopy above to tickle my hair. I mounted the steps of the two-story brick cottage and heard the footfall of Miss George—about the age of my maternal grandma but oh! so different—before she opened the door. Her sturdy legs were encased in beige stockings, and she tapped her toes to an internal rhythm.

My grandma had never greeted me at the door of her farmhouse; I’d never heard the floorboards squeak beneath her step. By the time I was born, the creeping paralysis had ascended from her non-tapping toes clear up past her shoulders, leaving her completely immobilized from the neck downwards.

“Go on through to the bathroom, Dear,” Miss George said, “and remember to pat-pat-pat dry.” I lathered up with a floral button of Yardley soap and dried as per instructions on a lace-trimmed guest towel that would never have withstood the rigours of my three brothers. This was a feminine household of two spinster sisters whose people hailed from England and whose parlour boasted a sepia photo of an elegant foremother disembarking a Victorian carriage.

In contrast, the most notable picture in my family was of Grandma in her wheelchair, fuzzy slippers showing unscuffed bottoms. It’s almost ironic that her own fleeing mother—my great-grandmother—traversed sea and soil by boat and train and Red River cart, chased by rising Russian nationalism from her home on the banks of the Dnieper River in 1874 to settle in a sod house on the banks of Manitoba’s Scratching River.

So Miss George’s British heritage seemed glamorous, unburdened as it was with wheelchairs and oxen-drawn carts.

I lined up my blouse buttons with Middle C and stumbled my way through “Baby Elephant Walk,” and then Miss George said, “I have something to show you. Follow me.” Curiosity flaring, I trailed behind her up the stairs to her enchanting antique trunk full of surprises.

Miss George had already let me hold a bone china teacup so fine my finger shadows showed through. And last week I’d blasted away on the fox-hunting horn after she prompted me to purse my lips—a thrilling cry that summoned my imagination to distant fields. Today she pushed aside tissue paper and withdrew a mass of crinoline netting and an emerald green gown.

“It’s silk taffeta. My aunt brought it over on the steamer.” She shook out the wrinkles and held it up to my shoulders, the smell of moth balls making my eyes sting. “It would fit you if I laced it up tightly.”

“I can try it on?” My voice squeaked.

She corrected my grammar. “You may. And then we’ll run on the lawn.”

She coached me in the proper method: I was to sprint while lifting the skirts, then stop abruptly and drop the hems to trap the air as I sank into a sitting position. That taffeta billowed out about me like the royal robes of a princess in some foreign land. The word “immigrant” began to hold more magic for me.

Soon I was a teenybopper wearing fishnets and groovy go-go boots. During the summer of 1967, hippies in transit between Yorkville and Gastown overran Winnipeg’s streets and parks. They strummed guitars and sang their songs of freedom—of four strong winds and seven seas that bound them to move on. A little too young to be swept along in the momentum of their pilgrimage, still I wore their love beads and dreamed of hitching a ride on the open road.

Maybe I was rebelling against my grandma’s enforced stillness. Or maybe my genes were imprinted by my great-grandmother’s journeying, initiated generations before her in the Low Countries of Europe during the Reformation. Patriotism had gained no foothold in my pacifistic ancestry of wayfaring conscientious objectors. None of my uncles (unlike those of my classmates) had served militarily in Italy or landed at Dieppe; no war photos of decorated officers sat on my piano.

My parents encouraged my growing wanderlust. Dad spun tales of running away to join the circus and of riding the rails with the last of the Great Depression hoboes; Mom shared newsy bits about shirttail relatives in Belize. I was primed for travel, and before my teens were over I’d already crisscrossed Japan from Tokyo to the southern tip of Kyushu: I’d slept on tatami mats in a millennium-old monastery, negotiated the sacred tea ceremony, and plucked out a tune about cherry blossoms on a koto. Since then I’ve tramped thirty nations—touring wineries in Chile and avocado plantations in Mexico, rambling the streets of Barcelona, trekking the Garden Route of South Africa. Amazed, I’ve wended my way through twisted alleys in Istanbul and promenaded broad boulevards in Paris.

Something about the familiarity of home makes “away” so alluring, but something about the contrast of the foreign brings home racing back to the heart. And so increasingly my affections have turned to the geographical majesty of my own land, Canada offering exotic adventure within her expansive borders and leaving me agog at our own inheritance.

Indeed, my very first pen pal was an Inuit from Inuvik who mailed me an ookpik. It matched my hand-stitched Arctic sealskin mukluks and foreshadowed a flight I made years later when co-ferrying a Cessna aircraft up to Pine Point on the edge of Great Slave Lake. We soared over Peace River country, over muskeg and boreal forests and the mighty Hay River, navigating by way of waterfalls and lakes.

I’ve strolled Pacific Ocean beaches collecting sand dollars brought in by thundering waves off Vancouver Island, and I’ve meandered beneath stands of great cedars that West Coast Aboriginals used to carve into totem poles. I’ve stood on glaciers, and climbed Rocky Mountain paths, and clambered up hoodoos in the Alberta Badlands. I’ve pushed my way through grain fields blowing in the prairie winds and slept beneath the stars on the walking dunes in the Great Sand Hills of Saskatchewan. I’ve paddled and portaged, like the voyageurs, on waterways emptying into Hudson Bay. I’ve hiked the Niagara Gorge to the roaring of the falls and sauntered beneath scarlet maples that shook me like a cry of bugles going by, then eaten my pancakes with the Quebec syrup bled out of those trees. I’ve dabbled in the tidal pools of the Atlantic Ocean near the pier in Halifax, where my own great-grandmother first set her sole on Canadian turf after her long passage—the passage of a people in transit.

And though I continue to vacation in far-off places, my own soul has found sojourn, my restless wandering satisfied in settling itself into home.

 

7 responses to “VAGABOND COME HOME”

  1. Lori says:

    How captivatingly you write! It makes me want to go out for a walk in this great land of ours. How blessed we are and how thankful for my heritage. Thanks for sharing your memories – and so eloquently.

  2. Nettie Balzer says:

    Beautiful! I lived it with you while reading the story. You make things come alive – loved it!

  3. Elma Neufeld says:

    I loved reading this (and I’m sure I will again) Truly spellbinding!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WIN YOUR SIGNED COPY!

I can’t believe it’s been five years since my debut novel was published, and to celebrate I’m giving away THREE postage-paid, signed copies (with gold-foil award seal) to readers who most creatively answer (at “Leave a Reply” below) the following question: If you were going to Paris this spring, what would be your first tourist stop and why? 

Get your creative juices going and check out Google to drool over the wonderful City of Lights! I can tell you right now that MY first stop (after a bakery for a raspberry tart and café crème–YUM!) would be to . . . let’s see . . . maybe Sainte-Chapelle because of the way, the last time, the multi-colored sunlight fractured the air above my head, the stained-glass kaleidoscope surrounding me like a halo of rubies and sapphires and emeralds (as it did to the novel’s main character in chapter 18). Or maybe I’d visit the Louvre to gaze upon the statues that became the novel’s icon (chapter 19). Or tromp though (chapter  14) the basilica of Sacré-Coeur or glory in the sheer decadence of Opéra Garnier or . . .

I can’t decide! HELP ME!

29 responses to “WIN A COPY”

  1. Susan Munro says:

    My first stop after arriving in Paris would have to be a wonderful little cafe with outdoor seating. I love to people watch and can’t imagine a more wonderful way to start my vacation.

  2. Elma Neufeld says:

    Revisit the Louvre! I missed much of it the last time even after four days of many hours each day.

  3. Ingrid Bizio says:

    My first stop would be Sacre Coeur Cathedral, because the last time I was in Paris (1978), the ONLY time I was ever in Paris, I was only there for a day and never got to see it. I have always wanted to go back but never got the chance!

  4. Ingrid Bizo says:

    Sacre Coeur Cathedral, because the last time I was in Paris in 1978, the ONLY time I ever was in Paris, I was only there for one day abd visiting didn’t get to see it. I’ve always wanted to go back but never got the chance!

  5. Kerrie says:

    I would first get myself some chocolate and bubbly Champagne! Then I would arrange a whole day to wander the grounds and palace at Versailles! It is so beautiful there! Then I would hope that my friend Deb, who is a Paris expert, would take me on her personal tour of the City of Lights! We could stroll along wearing stylish hats and experiencing the wonders of Paris!

  6. Arlene Schapansky says:

    We do have a connecting flight to Paris next month on our way back from Rwanda. Unfortunately we won’t have time to visit, but my first stop would be to see the 700 year old Sainte-Chapelle. I would love to experience the stained glass windows, see the relics, and take part in hearing music echo throughout the building.

  7. Lynn Krivak says:

    As a lover of all kinds of art I would visit the Louvre for a third time, without hesitation. This time however I would seek out “The Three Graces”, as your delightful novel had not been written yet; and my main priority has always been paintings, as I focus most of my work on painting. There is so much to see at this wonderful palace of art I am sure I will need ongoing trips in my future!

  8. Choosing a first stop for a dream vacation to Paris, the city of love and lights seems almost surreal. How to choose one famous spot I’ve longed to visit over another for the honor of being first iconic tourist destination. I believe I treat myself to a tasty French pastry near the Eiffel tower as I waited for the company of Deb,a fellow Canadian, well versed with the sights, sounds and tastes of this delightful city. I would feast my eyes on the tower from a distance before standing beneath it – or climbing it. I’d listen the music of French speaking voices and allow my taste buds to savour the delicacy placed before me. Simply enjoy being in the moment.

  9. Talitha says:

    I’m 100% with Susie on this one! I love visiting cute little cafes all over the place! That would absolutely be my first stop and then I might go check out some of the more touristy places next

  10. Ellen says:

    The Rodin museum because the one time I was in Paris, I walked a couple of miles to get there and it was during business hours, but they had closed early. 🙁

  11. Pat G. says:

    I think I would need to find a grassy spot not too far from the Eiffel tower, so I could enjoy a simple picnic lunch and soak in some of the sights and sounds around me, before heading off to visit the Louvre. After a long flight, I need a little bit of time to get ready for hours and hours of sightseeing. Beware, I might forget all about time once I get inside the Louvre!

  12. AND THE WINNERS ARE . . . (but first, I must say that I couldn’t subjectively choose the best three, so I put all your names into a hat and pulled out) . . . LYNN, TALITHA, and PAT! Congrats, girls–I will be contacting you for your addresses.

    • Pat G. says:

      Wow! Thanks so much, Deb! I never tire of reading, and I look forward to getting lost in The Third Grace. Hmmm….will this fuel my interest in a “real” trip to Paris? I’m ok with that!

  13. Pat says:

    Deb, my book arrived yesterday, and I’m excited! I look forward to reading it; will keep you updated! Thank you! Your generosity is beautiful.

  14. Lynn Krivak says:

    Deb I am thrilled to have received an autographed copy of your book complete with such a lovely personalized inscription inside. Thank you so much for this gift. I will treasure it and enjoy re-reading your novel. What an honour to have this copy of “The Third Grace” in my library ❤

    • Lynn, I see I neglected to answer this comment of yours. Sorry about that. I’m thrilled that you were thrilled. : ) I’m going to do another contest one of these days soon . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Talking Mouth          RETELLING TIMELESS TRUTHS

Maybe it’s because I talk a lot that I feel my words are cheap. They slip out between my flapping lips in copious quantity, some to enter the ears of intended hearers and many to slide into oblivion. Add to this the fact that I myself often ignore what I’ve just said (causing me to repeat it) and you have a recipe for blather. The idea that my words lack worth was reinforced by the constant shushing I encountered as a chattering girl and, incidentally, still hear on occasion. Maybe my disdain for my blabbermouthery taints my estimation of my writing, too, so that I think what’s been read once is done and gone and should be laid to rest.

I don’t assign this judgment to others’ words, spoken or written. I treasure and revisit the expressed thoughts of my friends and mentors, of strangers I want to know, of icons who’ve proven wise. Why don’t I extend this gentlewomanliness to my own words? After all, the same God of these people is likewise recreating me in the image of His same Son, bringing me into maturity and granting me wisdom, equipping me to serve through words.

I’ve learned over time that my underlying (fleshly) motivation in communicating has been my need to feel I’m heard and understood; publishing brings validation. So I’ve tended not to submit a once-published work for reprint or to excerpt a passage for reapplication. After all, it’s been read already; that is, an audience has heard and understood me on that particular subject, so my immediate need is assuaged.

However, God allows me a compulsion to speak or write not in order to satisfy my own agenda but to bring Him glory.

This has led me to rethink my strategy on recycling work. My written words are much less copious than my casually spoken ones—more closely edited, weighed, and checked for meaning and impact. I don’t write off the cuff; rather, great deliberation goes into the crafting. Why would I abandon these valuable stories to float in cyberspace or (in paper) to line the bottom of some old lady’s drawer?

And so, fingers crossed, a couple of years ago I entered the highly subscribed Tom Howard/John H. Reid contest with a short story that a decade before had won recognition from the Canadian Church Press after its publication in Faith Today Magazine. Along with this vintage tale, I sent in a more recent one that had received the Graham Greene award from Athanatos, an apologetics organization. That is, I knew both published pieces had been judged as literarily worthy. Lo and behold, I received honourable mention for both stories (and subsequently have reissued them yet again through Kindle under a lovely book cover as a gift bribing readers to sign up for my newsletter).

These wins for older work, then, are personally encouraging to me and beneficial for promotional purposes. However, reusing previously published stories is possibly even more important on a ministry level. After all, as Paul pointed out in Romans 10:14, how will people call on God unless they believe in Him, and how will they believe without hearing, and how will they hear without our telling and retelling His story?

Published words, though years old, have as much life left in them as they have truth conveyed by them. Tastes change and trends bring new connotations, so some of my stories need revision. But a well-written, once-printed piece often has more timelessness and timeliness than I first intend, and God’s truth is always applicable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

IMG_4312

“IF YOU’RE AFRAID OF BUTTER, USE CREAM”

I myself could have uttered these famous words attributed to Julia Child, who brought France to the tastebuds of America. Now, Germanic genetics have often been blamed for my own love of high-fat dairy products, but Julia’s quote makes me suspect that untraced Gallic blood might run in my veins.

I recently found a local supplier of 52% BF cream, which is almost too thick to pour. I use it in moderation (smirk); it’s possibly the reason my doctor has put me on cholesterol medication. But when it comes to food, the French are never wrong.

Two decades ago, my daughters and I spent a few months in the Rhône-Alpes area of eastern France—my first extended visit to that country. We tucked ourselves into a furnished flat set on the shores of Lac du Bourget (not too far from Mont Blanc and the Swiss border) and attempted to fit in with the locals—especially gastronomically.

We breakfasted on yoghurt that came in little glass jars, produced at a family-run plant just down the road. We lunched on heavenly fondue savoyarde, dipping pieces of baguette into melted Comté, Beaufort, and Gruyère perfumed with regional white wine and a whiff of garlic. We gorged on traditional Reblochon and ancient Tomme de Savoie. We learned the terms chantilly (whipped cream) and crème fraîche (slightly fermented cream fabulous in coffee). And we couldn’t wait for the Saturday market, where local farmers laid out pucks of chèvre—goat cheese dusted with ash, marbled with mould.

A century ago, Englishman G.K. Chesterton observed,

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese [but] Cheese is the very soul of song.

Sigh. Writing this post has made my mouth water, but France has brought more to my heart than to my lips (or hips!). I’ve felt a metaphysical connection since the first time I visited Paris in 1989, where I finally understood why people eat Roquefort (long before I was introduced to that heavenly crème fraîche). Over the years and through my travels, I’ve made several sound friendships with French women whom I consider my soulmates partly because, I admit, of their love for high-fat foods.

So now, at the risk of spiking my cholesterol reading, I’m going to brew a cup of coffee and add a dollop of my 52% cream. It’s the only thing that will stop me from drowning in saliva and tears of yearning.

Tagged , , , , , |

2 responses to “BUTTER FAT”

  1. Elma Neufeld says:

    I very much enjoy reading all your newsletters. This one makes my mouth water, it came along with a rush of wonderful memories. You invited me to join you and my granddaughters in France for a few weeks. One memory was on the Saturday we went to the market to shop for all the different cheeses for a fondue. Your friend Christel prepared and served this up for us the way the French do it. What an experience that was, I’ll always remember it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *