Honouring Smokey

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The maxim drummed in my ear, a refrain that was indefensible. Over and over it revved in my brain, Once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern. Three times is a habit. And over and over I wondered why I never thought of it it until this week.Smokey little

Why didn’t I include Smokey’s picture in my farm books?

The last sentence of the last page of each book reads, “She got the idea for this book while playing with her kitten, Smokey, who was also born on the farm.” And below the line is a picture of my other picture book, Little Copper Pennies for Kids. Not of Smokey. Once.C

In the English edition of Alphabet on The Farm, K is for Kitten. Instead of the orange kitten, I could have used Smokey’s picture. Twice.

Search Quotes (dot com) was relentless. “You can’t make the same mistake twice. The second time you make it, it’s no longer a mistake, it’s a choice.  Deal with the consequences!”

That was in 2104. When the French edition, L’alphabet à la ferme, was released this year, the last sentence of the last page was the same, except in French. Three times.

In the French edition, the letter C first featured Chevre (goat) but I immediately thought that a kitten should be there and so “C comme Chaton” replaced the Chevre and the little orange kitten smiled out of the page. Wretched me. Why wasn’t the chaton Smokey? Four.

English Stack (dot com) further conspired against me, ably using the second language to underscore my faux pas.  “In French, there is the expression “jamais deux sans trois” (literally: “never twice without a third [time]“).”
Smokey groomed 1
Except I had eleven times to my credit if I considered the proofs. Oh la la! I did not  possess the stop-before-the-habit-is-formed gene so now I had to face the consequences.

My feeble attempt to redeem my error to immortalize my cat in publishing is the fact that on June 17, he appeared on CTV at the Yorkton station and I hope to embed the clip on YouTube.  Another endeavor is a poster ordered from Vistaprint which I will hang on a prominent wall in our house. On June 21 he will attend the book launch of L’alphabet à la ferme at St. Henry’s Elementary School in Melville, a French Immersion school. I’ve been invited to share at the Christian Club’s ladies meeting in August and was asked to bring him along.

French posterI love my cat and I’m indebted to him for the inspiration he has been literally in getting three works published in two languages. I honour you, Smokey, and you will live on.

Once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern. Three times is a habit. Eleven must be for redemption.

Read how Smokey became a pet and inspired my writing in a free download at  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RNV3P10 . The chapter is entitled How Not to Kidnap a Cat in the book  10½ Sketches: Insights on Being Successful Right Where You Are. Smokey has also been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?  August 2014 edition. The Cat Did What_front cover
Alphabet Profile Pic for Facebook 2

Is Wait a Heavy Load?

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Usually when a person waits for another it implies that he/she is at standstill. At rest. She ceases to move for the other individual is the one in action. He lingers while the other catches up. May 1.16

The familiar, often-quoted verse in Isaiah 40:31 covenants – “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;” (NASB)

What could your body do with fresh strength?  What would happen to your mind and spirit if you literally waited on the Lord?

Often our waiting is contaminated with doubt and wondering, complaining and groaning, which does nothing good for us. But we can make the decision to wait with expectancy. To literally wait for the Lord as He strides to meet us. As He exerts the energy and we conserve ours. He may have to backtrack or He may have to go forward, but either way He will bring us to the place we are supposed to be at – a place of balance and peace.

When we wait in the natural, such as for an exam result, we do not study during the interim. Instead we pack away the notes, close the text books, and wait. The principle in waiting is that we do not consider other options, or move with new ideas. So too, as we  wait for Jesus, for His directions, instructions and companionship, it is best that we stay put. To not go anywhere. He is coming. Our ”do-it-now” is to stick around and watch. A paradox in this crazy, busy world which operates opposite to the Kingdom. Our environment has programmed us to jet set in action, noise and chaos, and  waiting has become a negative akin to laziness. But our God gives us permission to shrug off the opinions, concerns and worry, and wait. To hope in Him. To remain where we are, reading His Word and  drawing from its refreshing. Praying. Giving thanks. Hoping in what He is bringing for us. Trusting in where He is taking us. Finding new strength and life as we wait for Him. On Him. Scooping up peace in the very place we don’t care to be. Being perfected in the place we deem imperfect.

Our Lord never gets tired, and He does not want us to be tired either. It’s our ideal equilibrium. And when we accept His gift to rest, we find that waiting is no longer a heavy load.

Sautéed Kale, Anyone?

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When the graphic designer of my new picture book, L’alphabet à la ferme, sent me pictures to choose Kale 1for the k word, I honestly did not know which picture of kale was  more suitable. I had zero knowledge of kale. I could not identify it, had certainly never bought it, nor ever expressed an interest in the vegetable.  That day the lethargy evaporated. If kale was going to be in my book, I vowed that I would become as close to an expert as I could on the subject. Fortunately this post has a word limit which debars a thesis on kale, so you will be spared the gushing of the kale-enthusiast I’ve morphed into, but I will share a few facts that changed the obscure leafy vegetable to a coveted daily dish. And I’ll share my recipe too.

ALPHABET FR FRONT 13-MAR-2016Low on the glycemic index, kale belongs to the Brassica family with vegetables such as  cabbage, broccoli, and collards. Kale is laden with nutrients that puts it high on the list of the world’s healthiest foods, packed with vitamins A, C and K, and calcium. Thus including kale in one’s diet provides nutrients that support healthy skin, hair and bones, as well as healthy digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease. Other health benefits include improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering the risk of cancer, lowering blood pressure and lowering the risk of developing asthma. (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270435.phpApril 16, 2016)

Which writer does not need a healthy body or lovely hair for the camera?

My first attempt on the power food bandwagon was to try making kale chips. This was Kale 2quickly abandoned as the only beneficiary was the trash can. I also did not care for raw kale. Then a simple recipe from my childhood got me eating this super green 5-7 times a week. Because kale appeared similar to choraiya bhagi, aka aramanth leaves, that grew in Trinidad, I thought of sautéing the kale the same way as we did the choraiya. This proved to be the winner.

A serving of kale equals 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked, and one cup of raw kale has only 35 calories. My recipe, however, is based on what I eat at one meal. Because seriously, how do you measure a cup of unruly, curly kale? Anyway, I hope you enjoy this dish.

Recipe for Sauteed Kale

Cooking time – 6 minutes Kale 4 ingredients

Ingredients:

3 stalks kale

1 tsp olive oil (or any cooking oil)

¼ small onion thinly sliced

1 clove garlic crushed  (or 2 cloves if you like)

1 tsp cracked pepper (optional)

½ tsp salt (or to taste)

 

Method: Kale 3

 

1. Wash kale and pat dry. Trim off the woody stem leaving only the leafy part.

2. Cut leaves into small pieces.

3. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a non-stick skillet (or 2 tsp if using an iron pot).

4. Drop onions in oil and sauté on medium heat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. When onions becomes soft, turn down heat between medium and low. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. (Note – garlic burns easily so be sure to lower the heat and turn mixture often.)

5. Add kale and salt to onion-garlic in skillet and sauté for one minute uncovered. Kale should begin to wilt and turn bright green.

6. Cover skillet with lid and let kale steam in its juices for 2 minutes. Then remove from heat.

The website https://www.caloriecount.com indicates the calorie count of the ingredients as:

40 calories per tsp of olive oil

zero calories in the salt

5 calories in the cracked pepper

24 calories in the onion

4 calories in one clove of garlic

Kale 5 cookedKale can be eaten as a side dish with any meal or as a filling in a pita wrap.  Delicious. In Trinidad we ate the choraiya bhagi with roti, or as a side dish to split peas and rice. Yummm.

Just rambling – I tried to slice the onions as best as I can but I realize I do not have onion slicing skills for good photography. I also use a small iron pot I brought from Trinidad to cook my kale. The quarter tsp measure is available in stores.

K is for kale. Who knew writing a children’s picture book would spin off such rewards?

SUSAN HARRIS is the author of eight books. Her newest release is L’alphabet à la ferme Alphabet Profile Pic for Facebook 2from Borealis Press and the first of her books to be translated in French. The English version, Alphabet on The Farm has 50% different pictures from the French edition. 

 

 

 

ALPHABET FR FRONT 13-MAR-2016

Waiting for Tomorrow’s Miracle

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When Jesus was laid dead and cold, finished in the tomb, no one imagined that He would defy the impossible. Guards were posted to secure His body from being stolen. Measures were taken to defy what He had said, “After three days I will rise from the dead.” Just in case.March26.16

Many are locked in situations that seems finished, hopeless, guarded by doubt and fear. It looks final, despairing. Faith words look fanciful.

Today is the day before the miracle, the Saturday before the Resurrection Sunday. Friend, the waiting is nearing its end for tomorrow the imprisonment will be over. Tomorrow… when the dead will become alive with buoyancy beyond our choicest dreams. Let your expectation be spurred by what is coming. Just in case. Anguish to anticipation,  encouragement in place of wretchedness. Let the  Word plough through despondence to shoot up a sprig, a blossom, a sentence that will dispel the abjection.  May hope and thanksgiving spring up to strengthen us to wait for the miracle of tomorrow. For it will soon be here.

Happy Easter.

(Photo by arztsamui)

Move That Dream – Insight #9

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Insight: A handful of people, a small minority with the right connections, get placed at the top. For those of us who have no connections, merit must get us to the top, and we must do our homework in order to get to where we want to be. The journey is not separate from the destination.

The book of Proverbs is rich with urgings on working ethically, setting goals and reaping profitable results. It cautions against shortcuts. The analogy to the tiny, industrious ant is inspiring, for we are tiny and often appear insignificant in this overwhelming world. Laziness causes a person to neglect work, to fail to tap into the window of opportunity by fair means, and laziness is a sin.

Although we have our ideas and make our plans, we must be open to the will and purpose of God. “Thy will be done” is more than a repetition of a well-known prayer. It is recognition that God will ultimately accomplish His sovereign desires in us. The unexpected may happen. And that must be considered when we set goals. But if we are walking in His ways, He will cause us to desire His will. His thoughts becomes our thoughts, and His desires, ours. Then we can be sure that the dreams we dream are His.

 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. Proverbs 21:5

 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

(An excerpt from Move That Dream in 10 1/2 Sketches: Insights on Being Successful Right Where You Are)

Low Res 10 Sketches Cover Lo 31 Oct. 2014

Review of DEAR DEB by Margaret Terry

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Margaret Terry writes with transparency that is compelling. Her letters in “Dear Deb” are an unfolding of her life, more of an autobiography, told in short chapters and not necessarily in chronological order.Dear Deb

As she sets out to support an acquaintance who wants nothing material during her journey with cancer, Margaret finds the perfect support tool. She gives the gift of words, and in so doing lifted her relationship with Deb from acquaintance to loyal friend. But it does not end there. I feel convinced that new friendships continue to be formed invisibly, between Margaret and strangers, each time a new reader devours the letters in this memoir.

Margaret’s is a voice of honesty, self-examination and acceptance. Non-fiction is my favourite genre but I’ve often stopped short at the distasteful choice of words by many gifted writers. Not so in “Dear Deb”. My teenage daughter read the book too, and any book we both can enjoy deserves twice as many stars in my opinion.

Margaret is a mistress at creating imagery. Rich similes and metaphors, and word pictures that show and tell, propel the reader to sense-the resemblance between her father and her son, the pleasures of Rooney Lake, the stories read while the rain thudded on the cottage roof. As a child the dream of owning a Barbie is at hand when she finds a $5-bill. But when her father’s shoes are not at the door, and her mother struggles to feed the little girls, young Margaret makes a noble decision. Poignant and raw is a wife shifted to divorcee, a single mom giving what she best knows how to – love her boys unconditionally. Always giving…

Though she and I are different, we are similar, and I found me in the episodes as I alternated between smiling and wiping tears.

The takeaway for me, is that greater than physical needs, is the desire for someone to be emotionally available. I felt that Margaret has done this beautifully, giving not just words but a piece of herself to everyone who comes across the pages of “Dear Deb”. I also came away thinking that in giving Margaret received more than she imagined.

http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Deb-Secrets-Letters-Miracle-ebook/dp/B007D1THT4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435601847&sr=8-1&keywords=dear+deb

Margaret Terry
http://www.amazon.com/Margaret-Terry/e/B009OM6F54 http://www.amazon.com/Margaret-

Time Management #7 -Conclusion- STRIKETHROUGH TO BREAKTHROUGH

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Recap of the series:

1. You can learn to manage time. Reflect on things you have done (which at first you were doubtful you could achieve) and let them motivate you can make similar successful strides towards effective time management.
2. Prioritize the urgent and important. Weigh decisions and using a decision making matrix. Discover hidden time.
3. Set limits. Remove time wasters and say “No” if necessary.Welcome 1
4. When life circumstances change, re-prioritize.
5. Consider new trajectories.
6. Invest Time – with God and with projects.

Technology has added variables that help with my time management. The “Notes” function on my smart phone sometimes replaces the paper and Outlook carries my schedule. I received my first planner in 1988, and now in 2015, I still use my old trusted habit of scraps. But whether it’s a pen or a keystroke, each strikethrough still marks a breakthrough.

NOTE TO MY READERS:
Thank you for being a part of my series on Time Management. I know change has been effected as indicated via email and messaging. Please continue the good work. And there is no homework today as you are now in charge!
Every blessing.
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Susan Harris is successful because f the grace of God. She is a speaker, former teacher and the author of six books, including 10½ Sketches: Insights on Being Successful Right Where You Are, Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Right Where You Are, and the acclaimed, Little Copper Pennies series. She has written articles for anthologies, magazines and several guest blogs. She is a monthly contributor to The Word Guild blog (Canadian Writers Who Are Christians) and Canadian Christians Who Write. Susan is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, The Word Guild, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, and Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals. Susan has held key management positions in churches and in corporations. She currently resides on the Canadian Prairies with her family and the beloved cats which have been the inspiration for her publication in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and her latest picture book, Alphabet on The Farm.

Time Management #6 STRIKETHROUGH TO BREAKTHROUGH

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INVEST TIME

ID-100266921I was a pre-teen when I began to tithe 10% of my meagre allowance, but happily, I started to tutor at age fourteen and my “income” increased and so did my tithe. My mother was convinced that we were successful because of obedience to God, and that belief steered me to tithe every resource I had. And so began “tithing time”. Giving 10% of my hours to God in prayer and Bible reading. If I added church attendance, my time to the Lord surpassed the requisite weekly 10% goal of seventeen hours I had set for myself.

I tithe hours to God up to this day, and during my time with Him I draw inspiration. Jeremiah 33:3 promises, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (NIV). The word “unsearchable” means ” not lending itself to research, hidden”. This implies that research has not captured themes and topics that can be written. The KJV replaces “unsearchable” with “mighty”. It astounds my mind at the potential of “great and mighty and unsearchable things” there are to write about. And that Father God give the heads-up of this not-yet-known intelligence to any who ask and seek. Yes, I’ve proved that my insights and fresh material come in prayer, through my tithe of time with Jesus.

HomeworkYOUR TURN: Dare to see God multiply your time. Tithe 10% of your day to Him. Write down those “things that have not yet been researched” as they come to mind.

COMING UP ON MAY 25 – The Conclusion

Time Management #5 – A New Trajectory? STRIKETHROUGH TO BREAKTHROUGH

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A NEW TRAJECTORY? This Or That Way Directions On A Signpost

Branching out in another area that you had not planned may be just what you ought to be doing. But only you can determine if that trajectory is worth your time, if it is what you ought to be doing today. My Christian ministry has been prayer-focused for as long as I could remember, and as the year 2014 approached, God dropped the idea of the 1-Minute Prayer plan (https://www.facebook.com/pages/1-Minute-Prayer/368981386624849). The goal was to prayer for one minute each day in the first week of the year, two minutes a day in the second week, and so on, leading up to praying for 1 hour at the end of the year (prayer in the last week of the year was accelerated to reflect a total of 60 minutes on the last day of the year). The format included a short reflection, To-Do, and Prayer Starter, and was an immediate hit with many – new pray-ers, busy people and even more mature Christians. 1-Minute Event Photo

This year the format was changed. Each post contains a theme, a Scripture verse, and a prayer along the theme, designed to be read in approximately one minute. 1-Minute Prayer fuses my love for writing and passion for prayer. I may not be writing in the traditional sense of publishing new books in this season, but writing the posts for Facebook is new ground for me. With all the busyness of the job and family responsibilities, I am able to write and create and respond differently, yet powerfully.

An insightful aspect into time management is to be able to respond to an unconventional nudge, to explore an option that at first glance may not have a connection to the dream in your heart. I’m a writer so I’ve used examples of writing, but the concept id transferable to your skills sets, hobbies and desires.

Homework Find Susan Harris’s Books at http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Harris/e/B007XMP4QS/
YOUR TURN – To do: Examine any promptings or thoughts to see if the Lord may ne nudging you in an unconventional direction. Don’t disregard anything, especially the simple or the different trajectory of thought and ideas. Play with the leading. Jump in and create original writing. Make a list of what you are doing and if they overlap with your goals and dreams. Re-assign your time if necessary.

COMING UP ON MAY 21 – INVESTING TIME

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Susan Harris is a speaker, former teacher and the author of six books, including 10½ Sketches: Insights on Being Successful Right Where You Are, Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Right Where You Are, and the acclaimed, Little Copper Pennies series. She has written articles for anthologies, magazines and blogs, and is a monthly contributor to The Word Guild blog. Susan is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, The Word Guild, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, and Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals. Susan has held key management positions in churches and in corporations. She currently resides on the Canadian Prairies with her family and the beloved cats which have been the inspiration for her publication in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and her latest picture book, Alphabet on The Farm.

Time Management #4 STRIKETHROUGH TO BREAKTHROUGH

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When Changes in Life Requires Re-prioritizing

I wrote full time from February 2012-May 2014 and the majority of those manuscripts became published works. Then from June 2014 up to early April 2015, I returned to an employer to cover a short-term contract. During this time with the employer, a new publisher re-released “Little Copper Pennies” and “Little Copper Pennies for Kids”, as well as a new book, “Alphabet on The Farm”, all in 2014. 515vxr2OZQL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-67,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1] Alphabet Profile Pic for Facebook 2 “Chicken Soup for the Soul” bought one of my stories that same year as did the PAOC, “Testimony” magazine. My own imprint, White Lily Press, released print version of “Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections On Living Intentionally Right Where You Are”, and “10½ Sketches: Insights on Being Successful Right Where You Are” as an e-book in January 2015.
High Res Final  Cover 25 Mar 2014 (1) Low Res 10 Sketches Cover Lo 31 Oct. 2014
But all of these manuscripts were written prior to picking up my current job. I no longer have as much time to write now as I did when I was writing full-time. My priority after work was my teenager’s home-based education. Then I headed straight to prayer, my go-to for new directions and new energy. Often, my husband arrived from work while I’m still praying, and it was time to fix a meal and eat. Only when my daily responsibilities are finished, could I write. And yet, I could not write up to midnight on weekdays (as I was prone to do when writing full-time) as it impeded the functioning on my day job, so I relegated most of my writing to the weekend.
I had to do some major re-prioritizing when my life circumstances changed. I was angst at times because I could not write or promote my books or do signings, readings and school presentations as I did in my pre-job days. Yet I considered myself as effective in my time management while on contract as I did when writing full time because I moved with my changing priorities.

Ecclesiastes 3 lists fourteen polar opposites of “a time for”. One pair of opposites is: Time to write and time to not write. Knowing when to write, or when to refrain, can help you be more satisfied with the way you steward your time. Knowing what you are to do I the season of life you are in is critical to effective time management.

YOUR TURN: Homework
Think on these questions: What “time” is in in your life? What are the key responsibilities and emphases in your life right now? Are you unfairly comparing yourself with someone and therefore not feeling satisfied with “where you are”? Assess your time management with your current life priorities and ask the Lord to bring you to a place of acceptance and rest with where you are.

COMING UP ON MAY 18 – A New Trajectory?

Find Susan Harris’s Books at http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Harris/e/B007XMP4QS/

https://www.facebook.com/SusanHarrisCanadianAuthor

https://twitter.com/SusanHarris20

Susan Harris is a speaker, former teacher and the author of six books, including 10½ Sketches: Insights on Being Successful Right Where You Are, Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Right Where You Are, and the acclaimed, Little Copper Pennies series. She has written articles for anthologies, magazines and blogs, and is a monthly contributor to The Word Guild blog. Susan is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, The Word Guild, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, and Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals. Susan has held key management positions in churches and in corporations. She currently resides on the Canadian Prairies with her family and the beloved cats which have been the inspiration for her publication in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and her latest picture book, Alphabet on The Farm.
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