Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Another Lonely Night - A Flash Fiction Story

Another Lonely Night - A Flash Fiction Story
By Steven R. McEvoy

It was a cold and stormy night. And yes, even as he though it he knew it was a cliché but that was the thought that came to mind. He was standing with his back to a small copse of trees, staring off into the storm coming from the east. Storm usually came with the west wind, those few that did blow in from the east were harsher, colder, and meaner if weather could be said to have intent. Advent was well under way. And the mans thoughts were oscillating between the readings from that weeks Sunday liturgy, and reflecting on all the decisions that had brought him to this point. In a month he will turn 50. To be honest longer than he ever expected to last. As the saying goes it is not the age but the mileage, and he had felt past due for an oil change going on nearly 20 years now. He had been standing pondering in the storm so long that the snow had piled high on the cape of his oilskin coat. If someone were to come along and he were not to move they would wander right by.

But not many would be out on a night like this, and even fewer would be off the roads and paths, so the chance of him being disturbed were slight. Based on the layering of clothes and quality of his gear he was warm enough except for his face. And yet he continued to stare into the wind. His trifocals were in his breast pocket. And things in the distance were fuzzy, but no blurrier than the falling snow would make it if his eyes were still young. He no longer was certain what the future held. In fact, most weeks he just tried to make it through the week and to mass 2 or 3 times. It was the sacred that kept him going. Getting up each morning and walking to work. Doing the chores when he got home at night. Reading and writing until it was time to rest for a few hours and start it over again.

It is the ritual in the day, the ritual in the weeks, the ritual in the seasons that have become his focus. From prayer first thing in the morning giving thanks for a new day, to prayer before bed, the examination of conscience, to look back on the day before bed. What was the successes of that day, what could be improved upon and what were the failures. Each day striving to become 'the best version of himself'. Each day striving to learn to be and be good at being. He had seen much in his 50 years, and he had had more than his share of problems along the way. But God had always provided. There were so many miracles in his life. From being the oldest of three boys who all made it to adulthood, to fathering three. One was a priest and one was a nun, the other well she reminded him most of himself and had had her ups and downs.

He is not sure when he became a grumpy old man. Maybe he always had an inner geezer. Maybe it was all the damage done in his youth, both physically and emotionally. He had felt for years like he was fundamentally broken inside and no longer was able to keep it buried. His thoughts wandered to the next Sundays liturgy, Gaudete Sunday, or the third Sunday of Advent was just days away. The rose vestments will be worn in church this weekend. Father A does not like the pink. But it is the turning point. We are more than half way through Advent and this Sunday we light the pink candle and celebrate.

Finally, he turns and shakes the snow from is coat. He starts the trudge through the fields back to the main road to work his way home. He is giving thanks for the near silence, just the muted sounds of the wind that has settled won, and the light snow falling. He walks with his head high, almost challenging the storm to pick up again. He strides through the drifts. And he prays. For often that is all he has left. He just prays, for often that is all he can do, and at times all that matters. So he walks home with one glove off and the rosary beads moving through his fingers.  

(Top photo courtesy of Maggie Clark.)

Note: This story was written as a piece of Flash Fiction, written in one sitting and between 300-1500 words. Editing was minimal. It is in part a way to process, and in part a sign of hope. And to be honest the first fiction I have attempted in a long long time.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Love Is Patient, But I'm Not - Christopher West - Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

Love Is Patient, But I'm Not:
Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist
Christopher West
Beacon Publishing for
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 978-1635820065
eISBN 9781929266661

I came across this book last month in an email from Dynamic Catholic. I was immediately captured by the title. I knew this was a book I had to read. And I picked up the eBook the day after that email. And boy did I need to read this book. And I know I will read it again and again. I read this book in one day over three sittings this first time through. And have already put it back in my reading list to reread it in a few months and take my time with each chapter as I do.

The introduction of this book begins with these words:

"I grew up believing that I was only "lovable" if I got my act together. I had to be a "good boy" to be worthy of God's love, or anyone else's. Be perfect (read: be a "saint") and then you'll be loved. Such was the impression made on me by a falsely pious upbringing. 
Having shared my story with audiences around the world, I know I'm not the only recovering perfectionist out there. It's a sadly common but tragically misguided impression of what it means to be Catholic. There is so much wrong with this view, not the least of which is what it means to be a saint. Saints are not perfect people. They are people who know that they are perfectly loved in all their imperfections. They abide in that love and it fills them with the infectious joy of the gospel."
And further on he states:
"While many of the lessons I've learned flow from my experience as a married man, these reflections are not only intended for married people. Regardless of a person's state in life, every one of us is involved in a great variety of human relationships, all of which can benefit from entering more deeply into St. Paul's hymn to love."
And from this starting point Christopher West goes on to give so many personal examples from his own life and his own struggles that You cannot help but be inspired to work for change in your own life.

The chapters in this book are:

One: Love Is Patient
Two: Love Is Kind
Three: Love Is Not Jealous
Four: Love Is Not Boastful
Five: Love Is Not Arrogant
Six: Love Is Not Rude
Seven: Love Does Not Insist On Its Own Way
Eight: Love Is Not Irritable
Nine: Love Is Not Resentful
Ten: Love Does Not Rejoice At Wrong, But Rejoices In The Right
Eleven: Love Bears All Things
Twelve: Love Believes All Things
Thirteen: Love Hopes All Things
Fourteen: Love Endures All Things

Throughout the book are a series of grey boxes, they contain a short quote and then a series of questions for reflections or action. An example from chapter one is:

"Love is patient. Oftentimes, I am not. Lord, teach me to love. 
How do I respond when others inconvenience me or act in some way that I'd rather they didn't? Am I quick to react with dismay, disdain, or aggression? 
What experiences shaped me growing up that may be affecting the way I respond to others' and my own faults throughout the day?"

There are between 1 and 4 of these reflection sections in each chapter. The chapters with only one are at the end of the chapter, those with more are interspersed through the chapter.

At the beginning of the conclusion to this book Christopher states:

"In his Theology of the Body, St. John Paul II spoke of three "infallible and indispensable" means for living an authentic marital spirituality (these apply just as well, of course, to any Christian life): 
A deepening life of prayer Regular confession of our sins Frequent reception of the Eucharist 
At first, this might just sound like "standard Catholic stuff" that you've heard before. Sure enough, it is. But John Paul II's "spousal theology" gives us a fresh, mystical perspective that you probably didn't hear about growing up in the Church. I'd like to conclude this book by taking a brief look at how his "spousal lenses" illuminate this path of authentic marital spirituality."
And then he proceeds to expand on each of those three points. As stated this was a book I really needed to read. And will read again and again. This might become one of those books I read yearly for years to come. The lessons are simple and clear. The examples at times warm and encouraging and at times raw and completely transparent and vulnerable. Thank you, Christopher, for sharing so much or your own story in this book. And thank you Beacon for publishing it for Dynamic Catholic. Last year I was pressured to create a list of my Top 10 Catholic Books List if I were to be doing it today this book would be on it! It is a book I need and a book that will help almost anyone in their relationships, with spouses, children, coworkers, and with friends. An excellent read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Brothers A Prequel Novella - Corinna Turner - I Am Margaret Book 0.5

Brothers: A Short Prequel Novella
I Am Margaret Book 0.51
Corinna Turner
UnSeen Books an Imprint of
Zephyr Publishing, UK
ISBN 9781910806586
eISBN 9781910806616 UK Editon
eISBN 9781910806593 US Edition

This short novella is an extension of the incredible I Am Margaret series. The series is one of my favorite reads over the past few years. And Corinna Turner is fast becoming one of my favorite fiction authors. She currently has works out in three series and soon two stand alone works. I have read almost everything that she has published today, and think the writing is very good. My only fear is that her work will be prophetic. But her speculative fiction in this and her Tomorrow & Yesterday series present a bleak look for the future. But a look that we need to consider. For far too often life has ended up imitating art. But let's get back to this specific story.

This short story is an excellent read. For those familiar with the I Am Margaret series, or for those who just love short stories and want an introduction to this dystopian world. The story is told in alternating chapters by the two main characters Joe and K. Joe Whitelow is a young boy whose birth was unregistered, this means he is not a citizen, he is just spare parts and his number is up. But Joe did not know this fact until they came to collect him. K is Kyle Verrall, older brother of Margaret from the I am Margaret books. He is also trying to flee the EuroBloc and make his way to the Vatican Free State so that he can study to become a Priest and join the underground. He has spent a lot of time planning and preparing for this. But on the night he executes his plan things take a turn he never expected. Now Joe and K are travelling together trying to escape EuroBloc. The chapters sometimes tell current events, and sometimes the two remembering back, to give the back ground of how we ended up here. 

This story deals with an oppressive government. Two strangers that are thrown together and must learn to trust each other. It is the story of learning when to forgive. And it is the story of learning about faith, and for one learning how to share your faith. It is also in a big way about trust. 

This novella is an excellent read. I read it through twice. The day I got it and again the next morning because I could not stop thinking about it. It is more than strong enough to stand alone, but also fills in some back story for the I Am Margaret series. I highly recommend both this novella and the series so give it a try I am sure you will not be disappointed.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
0.5 Brothers (Prequel)

1.0 I Am Margaret
2.0 The Three Most Wanted
3.0 Liberation
4.0 Bane's Eyes

5.0 Margo's (Attempted) Diary & Notebook
How Snakey Got His Name (Short Story)

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:
1.0 Drive!
1.1 A Truely Rapror-Ous Welcome

Other Books:
Mandy lamb & the Full Moon

Author profile and interview with Corinna Turner.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Second Sunday of Advent 2017 A Reflection

2nd Sunday of Advent 2017

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. Today's readings at mass are:

First Reading Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Responsorial Psalm 85: 8-13 Response 7
Second Reading 2 Peter 3:8-14
Gospel Mark 1:1-8

The new church year is under way. We are now a week into the new church year. Christmas is fast approaching and this season of Advent, sort of a mini Lent or Lent Lite, as it was referred to in last nights sermon,  is under way. The first verse of the first reading is Isaiah 40:1 "Comfort, O Comfort my people, says your God." What is our comfort this season. I find that i struggle more in December with my emotions,my anger, my anxiety more than any other time of year. I do not enjoy shopping at the best of times, I especially do not like shopping from mid November through to mid January. I find the business, the hustle and bustle too much. I would rather just stay home with my kids and a book or a good family movie. 

Bot the first reading and the Gospel reinforce the message of 'Prepare the way of the Lord!' I need to prepare for him. I need to be working on myself. on becoming the best version of my self. For far too many Christmases I have felt like an outsider, on the edge looking in. In many ways I am fundamentally broken. I need the restoration that Jesus brings. I need the healing of the Holy Spirit, on my mind, in my body, and my spirit. But in order to do that I need to be receptive. I need to truly repent, to turn around, to allow the work of God to heal the old wounds in my life.

Repentance is mentioned in all three readings today. For almost two years now I have been praying to live more joy. Some days I do better than others, a gratitude journal has helped. But this month it has been a real struggle. What are you struggling with at the moment. What do you need to turn away from, or turn towards. Let this season star changes in you that will last well beyond Christmas. 

Related Posts:

Saturday, 9 December 2017

The Arrow Bringer - Lisa Mayer - The Aletheian Journeys Book 1

The Arrow Bringer
The Aletheian Journeys #1
Lisa Mayer
Arrow Bringer Publishing
ISBN 9781512230864

I do not remember how I came across this book. It is in a genre that I have been reading more of over the last two years. It is catholic fiction, and it is marketed more towards the young adult audience. The book is in part written in homage to Narnia, and one of the main characters was reading it to the other. The book does have that Narnia feel to it. It has that classic good vs evil plot.

The two main characters are both teenagers. First, we have Evangeline - Evie, who has just learned that she has terminal cancer, leukemia, and is then approached in what she believes to be a dream by the Arrow Bringer, a Christ figure. Evie was adopted and has two younger siblings, twin sisters. And everything she had planned for her future will now not happen. The second is Shawn Lawrence, his father was a marine who died in a car accident. Bot of them have had dreams about Aletheia.

And no somehow, they have both been transported to this very different world. Aletheia has always been under the protecting of the Arrow Bringer. But no one has seen him in a long time. And there has arisen a movement that doubts the old stories. We have a King who has lost faith and destroyed the silver arrow, the symbol of the bringers protection. Dragons have returned and are ravaging the kingdom. a powerful figure arrives claiming to be the Arrow Bringer, but he requires abject obedience. Evie, Shawn and their new friends from the kingdom of Aletheia. Both of the people from Earth must battle not only a new world and culture but battle within themselves to determine what they really believe, what they are willing to fight for, and what they might be willing to die for.

This story if packed full of action. We have weapons and weapons training. We have Voyages by sea and battles with enemies with the power to appear out of smoke. We have characters that will be challenges to make sacrifices, maybe the ultimate sacrifice. And we have the reminders of a God who loves and sends his son to serve.

This story is very well written for a first published novel. The characters are fully fleshed out. The action, drama, and tension is well paced and maintained throughout the novel. The settings, and description in the scenery and battles I excellent. One of the scenes in Voyage of the Dawn Trader that always caught my attention is when Lucy and Edmond are looking at the paining and comment that it looks like a very Narnia ship. This reads like a very Narnia book. This is the type of story that the Kings and Queens of Narnia would haven enjoyed readings, or the type of tale that all creatures true to Aslan would have told and retold. And I look forward to my children being a little older and reading it with them. A great read and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Books by Lisa Mayer:
Aletheian Journeys Series:

The Arrow Bringer
Jairo's Battle
The Helper's Blade

Friday, 8 December 2017

Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary 2017

Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary 2017

Today is a holy day of obligation. It is also my father's birthday. As a child I remember often putting up our Christmas tree on this day. I believe that one of the best things about being Catholic is Mary. She is not God, but she is the Mother of God. I think about her in the bible, from the annunciation until the Acts of the apostles. I know that 'praying to' her, asking her to join me in prayer is one of my greatest sources of strength. I also love that my children love to pray with Mary. And today we celebrate her conception, and as a family we celebrate my father.


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it
known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy
help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins,
my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and
sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my
petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Slider - Pete Hautman

Pete Hautman

Candlewick Press
ISBN 9780763690700

Pete Hautman has about 40 books out either as author or contributor. A few of them have hit my radar, but until this one I had not taken the plunge and read one. That will definitely change since reading this book. I have already added two of his other books into my reading pile, that currently sits at 166 titles. I picked up this book based on a recommendation from author Barry Lyga.

This is the story of David a young man who made a mistake and is trying to find a way to fix it. He was bidding on an online auction and added an extra space before the decimal space. Now he is trying to find a way to make the money before his parents find out about his mistake. In this book, competitive eating, family life, and a brother on the autism spectrum collide. David is trying to fix a wrong. But is trying to do so on his own.

David's only real skill and quick way to make money is to enter and win the Super Pigorino Bowl, the world's greatest pizza-eating contest. To do so he enlists the help of two friends as sponsors, loaning him money so he can go into training mode. But he also needs to spend time looking after his brother Mal. Mal is on the autism spectrum, and because of David's need to train, we start seeing some changes in Mal as he accompanies David to the pizza shop in town. And David is learning about the consequences of his actions.

This story does have a lot of humor in it. And is very entertaining. And yet it goes much deeper than the story of a kid trying to eat his way out of trouble. I was surprised a number of times while reading the story. Watching David grow and mature through the book was well written. David as a middle child who feels ignored, because of a brilliant older sister and a special needs younger brother. Watching his friendship with his two best friends Cyn and HeyMan, who are developing a relationship of their own. Made it a wonderful read.

As the oldest of three siblings, and the father of three children, this book helped me see birth order dynamics in a new light. Hautman has captured the family dynamic wonderfully and written a very entertaining novel in the process.  I am glad I read the book and look forward to reading more by Hautman.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Saint Nicholas Day 2017

Saint Nicholas Day 2017

It is interesting reading and reflecting on saint Nicholas today. There are so many different traditions and observances around this man. Depending on the tradition and even country this celebration varies from December 3rd to December 19th. For me it will always remind me of a close friend. he was of German heritage and loved celebrating this day. He nearly always threw a Saint Nicholas Day party, with traditional German treats and food. He had a wonderful collection of more traditional saint Nicholas's, not the Read and white version introduced by Coke Cola marketing in the 1930's. Representations of Saint Nicholas come in many colors and sizes. I myself prefer the more woodland natural tones for this type of iconography.

This year I finished reading the Sword and Serpent Trilogy by Dr. Taylor R. Marshall. In his books a version of Nicholas of Myrna appears as one of the best characters. I highly recommend the book and the series.

If you are looking for a great read for the holiday season or to give as a gift check out this series.

Links to my reviews of the Sword and Serpent Series by Taylor R. Marshall:

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Julia's Gifts - Ellen Gable - Great War Great Love Book 1

Julia's Gifts
Great War Great Love #1
Ellen Gable
Full Quiver Publishing
ISBN 9780987915306

I must admit as a middle-aged man this book would not be my normal reading. I do read a lot of YA, but hardly any romance. And this book is really so much more than that. As a father of daughters this is a book I look forward to rereading with my girls in a few years when they are a little older. Full Quiver Publishing has a tag line of their website of "Theology of the Body Fiction", and after reading this book I understand that goal better. And will likely read other titles by both the author and publisher.

When this book was recommended to me I looked it up. A few authors I respect had given it rave reviews, so I thought I would give it a try. The description of the book is:

"Religious Fiction. As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her "beloved." Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Disheartened by the realities of war, will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer."
Once I started reading this story I was immersed in the world at war. I could hardly put the book down and I read it in three sittings in one day. This book got me thinking about a lot of things. I have heard of other parents that started praying for their children's spouses as soon as the children were born. I also while in university had a list of things I was praying for in a spouse. And in this book Julia took it one step further, not only was she praying for her future husband, she bought him a Christmas gift each year. When she volunteered to go to Europe and serve with the Red Cross as a medical aid worker. When packing she packs the small box with all the gifts that she has purchased 'just in case'.

The story is not a typical courtship or romance novel. It is a story of faith. It is a story of answered prayer, often in unexpected ways. It is a wonderful read. I really appreciated the realism in this story. It captured the essence of war, and the reality of serving at an aid station. There are some very hard parts of the story to read, parts about injured and dying soldiers. The cramped conditions in the medical tents. A suicide. And other elements of war make this book a mature read. Because of that I would recommend this book for older teens, or very mature younger teens.
This is a book that completely took me by surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I made me think back on my grandparents who met during the war, and both grandfathers who had served in the European theatre. It also made me thing of my paternal grandmother who was a war bride and came to Canada after the war. It made me reflect on the future for my own three children, and start praying again for their possible future spouses. It is a fiction book that made me thing and inspired me to pray more and in new ways. As such I can only say this is an excellent read, I am very thankful I took the chance, and gave it a try and I recommend you do the same.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Ellen Gabel:
O'Donovan Family Series:

On Name Only
A Subtle Grace

Great War Great Love Series:
Julia's Gifts

Other Books:
Emily's Hope
Stealing Jenny

Contributed to:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

Monday, 4 December 2017

Meet Me Tonight - Barry Lyga - A Short Story

Meet Me Tonight: 
A Short Story
Barry Lyga

This is the final installment in Barry Lyga’s year of short stories. For 10 of the 12 stories in the collection it is the first time they have been published. And this is one of those 10. It was a little different than the rest of the stories in the collection in that there was no preamble to the story. But first let’s look at the collection first before we get down to this specific story. The year of short stories is a collection of short stories each being available for a limited run of one month. But they are more than just limited availability short stories. They are being released with a purpose, and all the proceeds are going to the ACLU. The purpose of these stories is defending free speech; for Lyga is donating the proceeds of the sales of the short stories to the ACLU. You can read more about why he is doing this on his site. In the author’s note Barry states:
“This story has a somewhat odd, herky-jerky provenance. A number of years ago, I conceived of a novel with a very specific premise. (I’m being coy here because I still plan to write it someday.) The novel would be a set in a special city, with strange perhaps even supernatural characteristics. I wasn’t ready to write that novel. I knew that I needed a hell of a lot more seasoning as an author before I could even attempt it. But as I kept thinking about it, an idea occurred to me: If the city was “magical” (for lack of a better word), then what about the surrounding areas? Might some of that spooky, ephemeral, numinous stuff “leak” into the areas around the city? And what would that mean? If the city was a novel, then surely a small town would be a short story.”
He also states:
“I was also influenced — heavily — by a Bruce Springsteen song: “Loose Ends.” I heard the song first in college, on a crappy fourth-generation studio bootleg. The refrain in particular obsessed me: It's like we had a noose and baby without check We pulled until it grew tighter around our necks Each one waiting for the other, darlin', to say when Well baby you can meet me tonight on the loose end I wasn’t sure precisely what the hell Bruce was singing about, but the image of lovers caught in a noose stuck with me. I stole both it and the name of the song for the name of my town, and then went to work.”
The story focuses around a man named Alex Beckman, he is driving to see his next client and is so tired he nearly goes off the road. So he pulls over in the next town Loose Ends. He checks into a hotel. But the town is not what it appears to be. And soon Alex realized there is something very odd going on in Loose Ends.

The description of this short story is “In a small town that is more than it seems, Alex Beckman confronts the woman he loved and left, a deranged homeless man, an innkeeper who may be living in the past, and most important of all, himself.” Alex if from Brookdale, and according to the authors note it may or may not be ‘that Brookdale’.

This story was very different. I could have been an episode of the twilight zone. Or even appeared in the Amazing Stories magazine. The story at least for this read instills a great desire to Lyga to finish the novel idea that this story spins off from. 

This year of short stories by Barry Lyga was great for fans of short stories, but especially for fans of his works. We received 12 short stories from his masterful pen are a blessing this year, even if his reason for releasing them is a cause for concern. For Lyga it started in the fall of 2016 after the US General Election, for the very next day Barry asked himself what he could do, and as a writer he decided to use his words. For as an author words are his craft. And freedom of speech is core to him being able to write about what he wants to write about. He decided to publish a short story each month this year and to donate the proceeds to the ACLU. You can read about why he is doing this on his site

But be warned each story is only available for a month so you need to get it while you can. And this one is well worth grabbing, especially for fans of the Brookdale books! This is a great short story so pick it up and give it a read.

Books by Barry Lyga:
I Hunt Killers:
I Hunt Killers (2012)
Game - I Hunt Killers #2 (2013)

Blood of My Blood - I Hunt Killers # 3 (2014)

I Hunt Killers Short Stories:
Lucky Day (2014)
Career Day (2012)
Neutral Mask (2013)
Blood Boy (2014)

Brookdale High:
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (2006)
Boy Toy (2007)
Hero Type (2008)
Goth Girl Rising (2009)

Bang (2017)

Archvillain #1 (2010)
The Mad Mask - Archvillian #2 (2011)
Yesterday Again - Archvillian #3 (2013)

The Flash Series:
Hocus Pocus (2017)
The Flash Book 2 (2018)

Other Books By Barry Lyga:
Graphic Novels in Your Media Center: A definitive Guide (with Alison A.W. Lyga - 2004)
Wolverine: Worst Day Ever (2009)
MangaMan (with Colleen Dorren 2011)

Unsoul'd (2013)
After The Red Rain (2015)
The Secret Sea (2016)

Short Story Project 2017
The Ghosts at 95
Loving The University
The Ideas of March
Four Minutes
Pulse vs. the Killing Fiend
Her Decade
The Life Cycle of Stars (Ignition)
Trading Worlds
When I Die
The Autopsying of Michael Edward Morgan
Meet Me Tonight

Contributed to:

Geektastic (2009)
Who Done It? (2013)

Author Profile and Interview with Barry Lyga

Author Profile and Interview with Randall Banner

Sunday, 3 December 2017

First Sunday of Advent 2017

1st Sunday of Advent 2017

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Today's readings at mass are:

First Reading Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:1, 2-8
Responsorial Psalm 8-:1,2, 15-15, 17,18
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel Mark 13:33-37

The Church year has begun. It is a new beginning. A time of hope, a time of preparation and a time of reflection. What hit me most about today's readings was Paul's letter, he often begins with greetings or salutations. But this letter begins with "Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." And that is my hope this season. Grace and peace to you and your family. Grace to grow in Him and his ways. Grace to experience His love. Grace to see the new beginning, and the grace to hope. 

Related Posts:

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Calling the Shots: Ups, Downs and Rebounds My Life in the Great Game of Hockey - Kelly Hrudey and Kirstie McLellan Day

Calling the Shots: Ups, Downs and Rebounds
My Life in the Great Game of Hockey
Kelly Hrudey
Kirstie McLellan Day
Wayne Gretzky (Forward)
Harper Collins
ISBN 9781443452243
eISBN 9781443452267

I was never a fan of teams that Kelly played for. I have been a lifelong Habs fan, and in the last few decades have usually picked a western expansion team to cheer for out west. But I was always a fan of his play. And to be honest he is one of my favorite hockey commentators of all time. I remember watching Hrudey with the Islanders when I was in High school, and following him in LA when I was in university. He was always an entertaining goalie to watch, and on camera either in front of the interview of behind he has consistently been engaging and entertaining. But reading his book opened my eyes up to a lot that I was completely unaware of.

His insight into his own struggles with depression. His openness about his personal struggles is tremendously encouraging. He tells it like it is. He speaks about his own struggles, struggles teams he was on have had. And He speaks about his forty plus years playing and commentating on the game of hockey.

The sections in this book are:
1 Just a Warrior
2 I Hate the Shake
3 It’s All in the DNA
4 Living Large
5 Agent Orange
6 In All His Naked Glory
7 Character
8 The Islanders Love Wayne’s Story
9 It Made My Toes Curl
10 Brown-Eyed Girl
11 I’m Not Doing This by Myself Again
12 Grace Under Fire
13 Tunes
14 Q-tips in His Ears
15 The Worst Goalie in the League
16 Right to the Point
17 The Gretzky High Stick on Gilmour
18 Crushed
19 Delivering Newspapers
20 The Adventures of Bruce McNall
21 I Was Petrified
22 A Fun Night Turned Ugly
23 One Point
24 An A-Hole Move
25 It Killed Me
26 Can You Read Effin’ Minds?
27 Oh, Woe Is Me—Our Goaltender Isn’t Doing His Job
28 An Absolute Stud
29 I Knew I Was Going to Be in Trouble
30 The Goalie Who Cried Wolf
Photo Section

Kelly speaks from the heart in this book. He defends a lot of players, coaches, and management personnel that he worked with in his career. But there are a few people he is very open about his disdain, dislike, or disgust with. Though for at least one of those, he tells a story about years later where his opinion radically changed, because of a different event. He shares a story about his family taking in a young player and having him live with them through his rookie season. He speaks about some of the true gentlemen in the sport and a few of the nobs. But for the most part he focuses on the positive in others and the negatives in his own character or personal struggles.

Over the last few years I have read a few other hockey memoirs, specifically Domi and Clark. And though I enjoyed both of those books, I really believe this is by far a better read. Kelly’s being open about his struggles in many ways makes this book more real, more touching. I Appreciate Hrudey even more than I did before reading this book. This book is an excellent read, for fans of Kelly’s or just people who grew up watching Hockey in that era. Or fr fans of him as a commentator on hockey Night in Canada!

Friday, 1 December 2017

What Does Christmas Mean To You?

What Does Christmas Mean To You?

Tonight my wife and I were out at a concert called Christmas in Concert, put on by Koinonia Christian Fellowship. It was an excellent performance with over 100 performers and musicians, and over 200 people who will help put on the event over the weekend. There were some very powerful performances. But between a number of the pieces, as set changes were made and people switched out were a series of vignettes of families talking about their traditions and what Christmas means to them.  

In some ways it was amazing seeing so much diversity in how families celebrate the season. And in some it was disheartening. For me I love the Church aspect of Christmas, but the personal not so much. If I were to describe my feeling towards the holiday season in general it would be lonely, disappointment, consumerism. I do not even like going shopping between mid November through mid January. I am ambivalent towards the season at best. I love reading advent devotionals. But do not enjoy the holiday bustle and business. In some ways I feel broken inside because I would be happy to just stay in the house with the kids for the holiday season.

So I wonder what does the holiday season mean to you? Can you describe it in three words?

(Old photo's of me at Christmas, the first from when I was 14, and the others from when I was 19.)