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Hand-knitted blankets for refugee shelters;
Free surgery for a child born blind;
Snowdrops trembling in frozen gardens;
An enemy’s handshake, a peace treaty signed:
Bright threads of hope in an age of confusion
Woven together with love, to bind
Each broken heart; in the depth of winter
Hints that spring must not be far behind.

But what of the darkness no candle can conquer,
When prophets are silent for hundreds of years,
Death and despair stalk the earth hand in hand
And a cry goes up that nobody hears?
It takes faith to grasp an invisible rope:
Believers pray, while the skeptic sneers.
All Nature groans, until in silver clouds
The Prince of Peace appears.


The pale, scented lilies of Gethsemane
Were bending low beside the Kidron brook,
When heavy-hearted followers from Bethany
Approached the tomb with myrrh, afraid to look.

An angel bright said, “Meet your Friend in Galilee.
Here you’ll find no mortal man’s remains.”
The lilies raised their trumpet heads triumphantly,
For Jesus Christ had shattered Satan’s chains!

From Homeward Tracks ~ © Hazel Spire 2003 Read More 
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Just before Jandy left Iran, she had given her friend Maryam a Persian Bible in a plain brown cover - not to pressure Maryam into converting, but in response to her questions in an earlier scene, when the girls were decorating a Christmas tree. She had told Jandy that Jesus (called Isa) is mentioned in the Koran, and his mother's name in Persian was Maryam, the same as hers.

Both girls believe that angels are sent by a Creator God to protect and to bring messages, like Gabriel's news that Mary would have a son. The nature of that son - human, divine, or both - is a bone of contention between Christian and Muslim teachings. Maryam wants to discover the Truth for herself, and her parents are happy with that. In fact, they too are curious about what eyewitnesses wrote about the life, death, and resurrection of this man. Even cousin Ahmad had secretly asked to borrow the Persian Bible.

Despite opposition from uncle Gholam and aunt Simin, Maryam had been studying the gospel accounts during the girls' separation from each other. When the Darabis flee Iran and show up in Texas, she will have more questions for Jandy. Whether Maryam becomes a Christian or not, they will remain friends and stand together in the face of prejudice and misunderstanding from the residents of Hickory Bend. Read More 
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When I first sat down to write this blog last week, Christmas carols danced in head like sugar plum fairies. Frozen rain kept us indoors, and beyond the window lay a sparkling winter wonderland. Now the white has melted, but an Arctic wind has arrived, so I'm content to stay in - though I might bundle up and take Jet for a brisk walk to the pond this afternoon or tomorrow.

As I anticipate the year ahead, only God knows how much of our lives will change or remain the same. We've lost a cousin and several local residents in the past couple of months. But His presence makes tough times bearable, challenges winnable, and good days even more joy-filled if we walk by faith. It's time to shake out all the little sticky notes deposited in my Joy Jar throughout 2013. Below is a complete list, arranged not chronologically, or in order of importance, but alphabetically. Some are condensed to save space.


back in the saddle again (teaching)
bagpipes; tartan
Beatles memorabilia; secret sisters
Berean Fellowship (Independence, KS)
BBC online
black-and-white movie with Dirk Bogarde
black-eyed peas with cornbread
book sales at Hastings & at school
celebration of Angy Rowe’s life
chatting with cousins on Facebook any time
chocolate log; apple cake; Nutella
classical guitar by Rodrigo and Albinez
clear PAP test & only 1-2 needed the rest of my life
coffee-book smell at Watermark store
compliments and hugs from students
country eggs; egg cup collection
crafty ladies (and men)!
dipping into a poetry book, inspired to write more
Egyptian art; Impressionist paintings
e-mail; e-tickets
European Journal on channel 35
Felix M’s barcarolles
finding lost earrings/book/CD/passport/file/poem
finished a jigsaw puzzle
former neighbors reunited on FB
four days of revival
full church; full stomach
gentle rain; good soaking rain; any rain after a drought
getting paid to play with paint, job falling into my lap
Girls Scouts Thinking Day in Caney
good night’s sleep every night; interesting dreams
God painting the sky
green views from all windows of this house
Hal Lindsey Report (news lining up with prophecy)
handwritten cards and letters from friends
hot chocolate, hot cross buns
husband who can fix things AND organize taxes etc.
JM at church said his dream job is to be a preacher
journals old and new
libraries both large and small
King Crimson, Fairport Convention, Lettermen on YouTube
Last of the Summer Wine on channel 11
Loreena McKennitt CD
mashed potatoes, potato soup
maids (my appliances)
melting snow
mission projects with women at church
movie, The Blind Side
music by Da Faya & others on Classical Arts Showcase
nap with a good book under warm covers
new Writer’s Market – possibilities!
nostalgia of old seaside/railway paintings
open piano book, smooth ivory keys
Operatica CD; piano duet CD
pas de deux from Scheherazade
photography; 30-day Photo Challenge
Prairie Writers and Sedan Book Club
recipes old and new
redbuds in bloom
rekindling the writing flame; satisfaction of a day’s writing
research for London ABC book
SAMUEL and other children’s Bible stories
Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood
Scott Joplin rags
Sedan Business Women
sense of humor; sense of smell
singing alto in the community choir
smell of books, old or new
sparkling snow
spring breeze; sunshine
sun through stained glass windows
Team Kids excited about their Bibles
time spent with our daughter Rachel
Vacation Bible School
walks, runs & couch time with our rescue dog, Jet
warm shredded wheat; warm clothes in an icy wind
wedding anniversary, 35 years
well-written TV scripts
I will start a new jar in 2014!
 Read More 

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By small daily increments, there will be...

Less junk food, more veggies
~ start at the store.

Less caffeine, more water
~ for calmer nerves and smoother skin.

Less judging, more grace
~ give advice only if solicited.

Less yakking, more listening
~ but speak up if necessary.

Less whining, more appreciation
~ via words written & spoken.

Less procrastination, more manuscript submissions
~ set deadlines.

Less regret, more laughter
~ though a good wallow once in a while is OK.

Less sleeping late, more tasks completed
~ take a nap when done.

Less TV, more creative pursuits
~ though some may be simultaneous.

Less fear, more faith
~ based on what God has done in the past. Read More 
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Isn't it fun to meet people on the same wavelength, those who understand your craving for color, texture, and busy fingers? They can't just sit and watch TV but must keep the hands moving. They knit, crochet, or quilt for everyone in the family, passing on heirlooms like their grandmothers before them? Then there are those who share your faith, or your heritage (in my case, British), or your aspirations to write for publication.

After leaving behind a supportive network in the Dallas area, I was excited to find a venue for taking classes and rent studio space at Art Shares, just a short drive from my new home in SE Kansas. We're visiting local churches, praying about where God wants us to serve.

I've voted as a Kansan, joined Sedan Business Women, and eaten out with the Red Hatters of Oz! I'm also going to check out Prairie Writers in Independence. Read More 
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