Abundant Rain Journal (Review)

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Abundant Rain Journal: A Devotional Journal for Writers of FaithAbundant Rain Journal: A Devotional Journal for Writers of Faith by Marcia Lee Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marcia Laycock’s Abundant Rain Journal is a devotional journal that will be of special interest to Christian writers. Each of the 30 one-page meditations deals with some aspect of the writer’s life.

Laycock’s own experience as a writer makes her very aware of the discouragement, creative paralysis, tendency to procrastinate, and feelings of “what’s the use?” that can easily overtake those who work with words and ideas. She has used that knowledge to create a book of readings that will give Christian writers everywhere an inspirational shot in the arm.

Each devotion is paired with a short question and a blank ruled page inviting the reader to interact with the ideas just read.

As a writer myself I found many of the entries both a challenge and an encouragement. I like how Laycock uses typical writerly experiences like waiting for a shipment of books to arrive, or getting a rejection as illustrations. From her experience of writing in a variety of genres, she is able to relate to the writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry alike. Though I read the book quickly the first time around, I plan to go back and respond to many of the journal prompts. Some of my favorite quotes:

“The gift of language is God’s instrument in our hands” – p. 46.

“As writers, we have all been given a spur–the gift of communication–to use for the sake of others and for the sake of our most faithful God” – p. 50.

“We borrow language, words, images, the stuff of writing. It’s up to us to acknowledge the original owner, to offer back to Him what we have done with what we have borrowed” – p. 54.

If you’re a Christian writer who is looking for a devotional that is sympathetic to your avocation, you’ve found it in this volume. For those seeking to establish a habit of  writing regularly, the journal question that accompanies each meditation could function as a writing prompt. As well, I think this book would make an excellent devotional component for Christian writing groups.

I received a gift copy of Abundant Rain Journal from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

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Freelance Writer’s Almanac – March 2014

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Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com

Today is the first day of March. The word “March comes form the Roman ‘Martius.’ According to this site, it was originally the first month of the year (Roman calendar) named after Mars the god of war.

The flower of the month of March is the Daffodil or Jonquil.

Daffodil

Daffodil – the flower of March

March’s stone is Aquamarine  / Bloodstone (modern) and Jasper / Bloodstone  (traditional) – meaning: COURAGE.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine – modern birthstone for March

Bloodstone - birthstone for March

Bloodstone – modern & traditional birthstone for March

Jasper - birthstone for March

Jasper – traditional birthstone for March

Here’s a rhyme for March’s Bloodstone:

Who in this world of ours their eyes
In March first open shall be wise;
In days of peril firm and brave,
And wear a Bloodstone to their grave.
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Some  sayings associated with March’s weather:

“When March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb.”

“As it rains in March so it rains in June.”

“March winds and April showers
Bring forth May flower.”

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  • March 1-16 – Dogsled race, the  Iditarod.
  • New moon

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  • Alexander Graham Bell was born on this day in 1847 in Edinburgh Scotland. He went on to invent the telephone (The Christian Almanac [T.C.A.] p. 141).

pancakes4

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  • On this day in 1953 Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (creator of the Iron Curtain) died at the age of 73 years.  (TCA p. 145. )
Michelangelo - self-portrait

Michelangelo – self-portrait

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  • Silly putty was invented on this day in 1950 (TCA p. 147).

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  • World Day of prayer (always first Friday)

Wind in the Willows - cover8

  • On this day in 1859 Kenneth Grahame, creator of The Wind in the Willows was born in Edinburgh Scotland. Parts of the book were written as letters to his young son (TCA p. 151).

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  • Daylight Savings Time begins
  • First Sunday in LentLITURGY

    1966 Ford Mustant

    1966 Ford Mustang (photo from Wikipedia)

  • The Mustang is 50! The Ford Motor Co. produced the first Ford Mustang on this day in 1964. It became an instant classic (TCA p. 153).

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  • Salvation Army Day

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  • Organize your home office day

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  • James Taylor (singer) was born on this day in 1948.

earmuffs13

  • Earmuffs, patented as “Champion Ear Protector” by Greenwood, were introduced on this day in 1877.

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Hamentaschen & Purim rattle

Hamentaschen & Purim rattle

  • Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim
  • Second Sunday in Lent – LITURGY
  • Full Moon

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  • Kate Greenaway, English artist and book illustrator was born on this day in 1846 in London. Her illustrated books like Mother Goose created a revolution in book illustration (TCA P. 169).

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  • David Livingstone – physician and explorer was born on this day in 1813.

Robin20

  • World Storytelling Day– On World Storytelling Day, as many people as possible tell and listen to stories in as many languages and at as many places as possible, during the same day and night.
  • Brian Mulroney, former Canadian Prime Minister  turns 75 today (born in 1939).

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water droplets22

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  • Feast of the Annunciation – LITURGY

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  • Robert Frost was born on this day in 1874. (He’d be 140 today.)
Robert Frost

Robert Frost

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  • Coca Cola was introduced on this day in 1886

Vincent Van Gogh - self-portrait30

  • The painter Vincent Van Gogh was born on this day in 1853.
  • It is also the birthday of Canadian singer Celine Dion (1968).
  • Fourth Sunday in Lent – LITURGY
  • New Moon

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  • The English poet John Donne  died on this day in 1631 at the age of 59.

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Lots of other days celebrated in March found at Brownielocks
http://www.brownielocks.com/march.html

Freelance Writer’s Almanac – February 2014

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Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com

Welcome to the Freelance Writer’s Almanac for February 2014!

The flowers of February are VIOLET and PRIMROSE.

African Violet

African Violet

Primrose

Primrose

The birthstone of people born in February is AMETHYST. It means SINCERITY.

Amethyst

Amethyst – February birthstone

1RCMP

  • Canada’s RCMP came into existence on this day in 1920 (The Christian Almanac – TCA p. 77).
  • George Bush & Boris Yeltsin officially declared the end of the Cold War in 1992 (TCA, p. 77).

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  • Candlemas Day – the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (TCA, p. 78)

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Centre Block c. 1884

Centre Block c. 1884

  • The first paper money paid Massachusetts soldiers fighting against Quebec in 1690 (TCA p. 81).
  • Canada’s original parliament buildings burned down in 1916 (TCA p. 81).

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  • Walt Disney released the first full-length animated film – Snow White – in 1938 (TCA p. 83).

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6Sochi Olympics 2014

  • King George VI died on this day in 1952. He would be succeeded by Elizabeth II who is still the reigning monarch of the British Commonwealth today.

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  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (writer of the Little House on the Prairie series) was born on this day in 1867 (TCA P. 89).Little House On The Prairie - cover

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  • Today is the 50th anniversary of Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (1964).

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  • France ceded its Canadian provinces to England marking the end of the French Indian War in 1763 (TCA p. 95).Edward Lear - A Book of Nonsense
  • Thomas Mclean published Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense on this day in 1846 (72 limericks in two volumes) (TCA p. 95).
  • Today is Family Day in B.C., Canada.

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  • Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors who has ever lived, was born on this day in 1847 (TCA p. 97).

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  • Charles Darwin was born on this day in 1809 (TCA P. 99).

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  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Soviet Union on this day in 1974 (TCA p. 100).

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  • Full moon.

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  • The first teddy bear was introduced in America, named in honour of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 (TCA p. 105).

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  • 16-23  This is NATIONAL DATE WEEK (the fruit).

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  • Today is Family Day in Alberta, Saskatchewan & Ontario, Canada.
  • President’s Day – USA.

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  • A ninth planet was discovered in the solar system and named Pluto. The discoverer was Clyde Tombaugh (1930).

19Cracker Jack box

  • The first prize was inserted into Cracker Jack on this day in 1913 (TCA p. 113).

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  • Batman & Robin are 70! The comic Batman & Robin first appeared in newspapers around the country in this day in 1944 (TCA p. 115).

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  • The poet W. H. Auden was born in England on this day in 1905. His poems “For the Time Being,”  “The Sea and the Mirror,” and “The Age of Anxiety”  reflected his move toward Christianity (TCA p. 117).

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  • Billy Graham began a three-month-long evangelistic crusade in London 60 years ago today (1954) (TCA p. 119).

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  • The poet John Keats died at the age of 25 in Rome of tuberculosis on this day in 1821 (TCA p. 121).
  • The first mass inoculation of children against polio with Jonas Salk’s vaccine began on this day 60 years ago (1954) (TCA p. 121).
  • Winter Olympics end in Sochi, Russia

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  • Wilhelm Grimm (writer of fairy tales with his brother Jakob) was born on this day in 1786 (TCA p. 123).

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  • President Ferdinand Marco fled the Philippines after 20 years of dictatorial rule on this day in 1986  (TCA p. 125). What comes to my mind when I hear about this is his wife Imelda and her legendary collection of shoes! The 3000 pair are now housed in a couple of museums (according to this Wikipedia article).

26Red Riding Hood Illustration - Grimm's Fairy Tale

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  • Corrie Ten Boom, her sister Betsy and their father were betrayed into the hands of the Nazis on this day in 1944 for sheltering Jews in their home (TCA p. 131).

Freelance Writer’s Almanac – January 2014

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Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com
Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first post in the Freelance Writer’s Almanac series.

Today we start a new year. It’s interesting to look back and see what happened 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago with a view to remembering, reflecting on, and perhaps writing about these things.

Of course if you choose to write about any of these subjects, you’ll need to give it your own angle.  I have linked a few resources, but to do a proper job, you’ll need to sleuth out more info. Also double-check all dates, because even as I put this together, I found date discrepancies in my sources.

2014 is the anniversary of the following big events:

100-year anniversary (1914)

  • The beginning of World War I
  • Woodrow Wilson signed a Mother’s Day proclamation.
  • The Panama Canal was opened.

75-year anniversary (1939)

  • The beginning of World War II
  • John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was published.

50-year anniversary (1964)

  • This was the year of Beatlemania. The Beatles began their U.S. tour by appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in February.
  • A powerful 9.2 earthquake hit Anchorage Alaska.

25-year anniversary (1989)

  • The Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil.
  • Chinese students protested and were massacred in Tianamen Square.
  • The Berlin Wall was opened to the West after 28 years.

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Carnation - flower of JanuaryThe flowers of January are the Carnation and the Snowdrop

Garnet - the birthstone of JanuaryThe birthstone of  January is Garnet. It means Constancy.

Here are some things that happened in January throughout history. I chose events  and facts that interest me in the areas of history, the arts, faith, science, food, Canadiana and other cool things. But of course these just skim the surface. There are more links to check out at the bottom of the post.

January

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  • New Moon

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  • On this day in 1745 at the age of 27, David Brainerd committed himself to reach the Indian tribes of Colonial America with the gospel of Christ. He died two years later but lives on in The Diary of David Brainerd pdf file (published by Jonathan Edwards) TCA p. 17.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien Day. Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892.

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  • World Braille Day – 205 years ago today Louis Braille was born in Coupvray France (1809). He himself was blind from age three.

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  • National Weigh-In Day (always the first Monday after New Years)

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  • Earth’s Rotation Day. “On 8 January 1851, using a device known as Foucault’s pendulum, Frenchman Léon Foucault demonstrated that the Earth rotates on its axis.”  Read entire article

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  • On this day in 1922, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson received the first insulin injection to help regulate his diabetes. Canadian scientists Banting and Best had isolated the hormone the year before – TCA, p. 33.

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  • Today is the birthday of Jack London (born John Griffith Chaney in 1876). He wrote books about adventure and courage like White Fang and Call of the Wild (two books I loved as a kid). He said: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

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  • Stephen Foster Day. Stephen Foster, musician and song-writer (“O Susanna,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Old Folks at Home” and many others) is sometimes called the Father of American Music.  This year is the 150-year anniversary of his death (January 13, 1864).

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  • How cold is it? On this day in 1733 Yeneseisk, Siberia recorded a temperature of −120 F. The air was so frigid that birds dropped frozen to the ground and smoke couldn’t rise – TCA, p. 39.

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  • The first Super Bowl game was played on this day in 1967.

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  • Full Moon
  • Religious Freedom Day. The Ordinance of Religious Freedom passed the Virginia Legislature on this day in 1786 (TCA p. 42).

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  • U.S., British, and Saudi air raids on Iraq started the Gulf War in 1991.

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  • Winnie the Pooh Day – A. A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh and other children’s books was born on this day in 1882. He said: “Almost anyone can be an author; the difficult business is to actually collect money from this state of being” – TCA p. 47.
  • Thesaurus Day – Peter Mark Roget was born on this day in 1779. His claim to fame was the 1852  publication of the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Roget’s Thesaurus).

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  • French painter Paul Cezanne was born on this day (in Aix-en-Provence, 175 years ago, in 1839).

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  • 81-year-old Myles Coverdale died on this day in 1569. In 1535 he printed the first complete  English Bible, called the Coverdale Bible.

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  • The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broadcast its first programming from London to the world on this day in 1929 – TCA p. 53.

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  • The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe vs. Wade, legalizing abortion from the moment of conception until just before the moment of birth, was rendered on this day in 1973 – TCA, p. 54.

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  • The Russian city St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad on this day in 1924. After the fall of communism, it was renamed St. Petersburg.
  • Sir Winston Churchill died on this day in 1965 at the age of 90.

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  • Robbie Burns Day – Robert Burns, the Scottish National Poet, was born on this day in 1759.
  • On this day in 1915 Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated transcontinental telephone service.
  • This day is the 90th Anniversary of the beginning of the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France, 1924.

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  • The Soviet Red Army liberated the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz on this day in 1945.

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  • I make a birthday cake for someone special at my house on this day!

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  • New Moon
  • On this day in 1939 Adolf Hitler called for the extermination of European Jews.

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Sources and links to check out for more days:

Freelance Writer’s Almanac – coming soon!

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Anyone who has written freelance knows that wonderful writing isn’t the only thing our piece needs to get accepted. It also needs to be timely. Write and submit an article about C. S. Lewis in 2014 and chances are editors will reject it, whereas they may well have accepted it in 2013. Why? Because 2013 was the 50-year anniversary of Mr. Lewis’s  death (in November of 1963). You may have noticed the large number of articles about C. S. Lewis floating around in 2013, and the anniversary is why!

In order to write timely articles like that we need to be alert to what’s coming up in the birthday and anniversary department as well as the annual holidays that repeat year after year. Of course it’s also feels good to be in-the-know about fun facts like when it’s National Pie Day or Poem In Your Pocket Day.

I’ve been planning for a while to prepare a list of upcoming dates for myself. One day it hit me. If I could use such a list, probably other freelancers could as well. And so I’ve decided to start a new blog feature.

On or around the first day of each month, I’ll be posting a Freelance Writer’s Almanac  piece, listing the holidays and special days of the month we’re entering. This will be eclectic and include information about history, the arts, faith, science, food, Canadiana, and anything else I find interesting.  (This post will replace the monthly writing prompt of 2013).

Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com
So if you need timely ideas of things to write about in blog posts, articles, even books, come back January 1st for the first installment of Freelance Writer’s Almanac.

December prompt: light

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Christmas lights and decorations

Some of my 2012 Christmas lights and decorations.

In my part of the world December, and Christmas, take place during the darkest part of the year.  Our December days are short, the nights long. Perhaps that’s one reason lights are such a big part of our Christmas decor.

When I think about the spiritual aspect of Christmas and light, one of the first things that comes to mind is all the Old Testament yearning and prophecies about the coming of a light-bringer.

It starts as far back as Numbers 24:17:

“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel…”

and continues with the prophets, like Isaiah 9:2:

“The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined”

and Malachi 4:2:

“But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings…”

Light was a big part of Jesus’ birth too.

– The wise men from the east followed the light of a star: – Matthew 2:2,9.

– The glory of the Lord shone around the angel that appeared to the shepherds – Luke 2:9.

– The old man Simeon who blessed the infant Jesus at His presentation in the temple proclaimed Him “‘A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles'” – Luke 2:32.

When Jesus grew up He was recognized as light by His disciple John – John 1:4.

– He declared Himself the “light of the world” – John 8:12.

– Someday He will be the light of a heavenly city – Revelation 21:23.

This month, let’s write about LIGHT.

  • Perhaps our piece will be an essay about or poem to the lights of the season.
  • Perhaps we will write about a Christmas memory in which light (candlelight, starlight, moonlight, tree lights) played a special part.
  • Perhaps it will be a story in which the light of realization dawns on a character.
  • Or maybe we’ll want to write about how Jesus has illumined our hearts, lives and homes.

May the lights of December take on added significance as you ponder and write about LIGHT this month.

November prompt – remember

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Langley, BC, Cenotaph after the Remembrance Day ceremony, 2007

Langley, BC, Cenotaph after the Remembrance Day ceremony, 2007 (Photo © 2013 by V. Nesdoly)

We’ve entered November–the month in which we set aside a special day to remember our country’s soldiers. In Canada we call it Remembrance Day.

We commemorate by wearing flocked red poppies in the weeks leading up to November 11th and on the day, gathering at cenotaphs throughout the country to lay wreaths, pray prayers, and honor our veterans with songs, readings, flypasts, bugle calls, bagpipes, and salutes.

But this is only one way people throughout generations remember.

In Bible times people’s memories were jogged by feasts (Leviticus 23). During the Feast of Passover, for example, the Israelites remembered their dramatic release from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:14). During the Feast of Tabernacles (also called Booths or Shelters) they remembered their wilderness wanderings when for forty years they lived in tents and God provided for their needs (Leviticus 23:42,43).

In the New Testament Jesus began a new memory tradition with the Last Supper. On that night His sharing of the bread and wine became the memorial feast for His death and resurrection that we call Communion. (Mark 14:22-25; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Remembering is complex. Memories are triggered by many things: photographs, the reminiscences of others, looking through the attic, smells, songs, celebrations, food …

Memories come colored by a range of emotions from pleasure to anguish, joy to embarrassment. They may leave us with a spectrum of feelings from laughter to tears, thanksgiving to guilt.

This month I invite you to write about something you remember.

  • Possibly a memory related to the special day we celebrate on November 11th will inspire a short story or essay.
  • Maybe the season, with its colors, tastes and smells will trigger memories perfect for a poem.
  • Perhaps you’ll write about an object or celebration that helps you remember.

Whatever you write about and in whatever form, make sure your piece is full of detail and specifics. What senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, sound) were part of your trigger experience? Do your best to transport your reader to the time and place of your memory.

Happy writing as you remember this November!