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In my novel Otherworld, I introduced a little object that has some significance for the main character, Emma Delaney—a small mirror.  Cale Kynsey gives it to her to show her some important things about herself.  But there are things we can learn from the mirror, too.

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When I wrote Across the Deep, it took me a decade.

A decade of sifting through the historical record and the treasure trove of letters and journals left to me and my cousins by my grandfather.  Every new thing I read brought these people to life in new and vibrant ways.

You see, it’s one thing to have a family tree with names and dates.  (Many families don’t even have that much, beyond a couple of generations.)  Even old black and white photographs can only take you so far.  It’s the stories that really matter.

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Do you ever feel like there’s more than just this life?

Like you’re adrift in a dream—maybe even a nightmare—that someday has to end and that you’ll wake up and everything will make sense?  As though no matter how you try to fit in to the world around you it doesn’t quite work?

Maybe I’m alone in that feeling, but I suspect I’m not.

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The log church at St. Elmo, built by William McKillican

This past weekend I made a pilgrimage.  It’s become an annual thing for us—to travel to the land of my forefathers and soak in the extravaganza of Scottish heritage that is the Glengarry Highland Games.  But this year is a special year.  This year marks the 200th anniversary of a different kind of pilgrimage.  200 years ago, William McKillican uprooted his family and followed his congregation to Canada, where he eked out a farm in the backwoods of Breadalbane in Glengarry County, as told in my book Across the Deep.

 

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I’m blogging over on Redwood Park Communities today.  Come and join me.

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I believe in Creation.  (gasp!)  I also didn’t watch the Nye / Ham debate.  But I’ve seen a lot of stuff floating around Facebook and Twitter and I have a few things to say.

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Number one: I’m deeply saddened by the way both Creationists and Evolutionists have been treating each other.  The disparaging comments flying back and forth are an embarrassment and a reproach on both sides.  Shame on everyone who’s making fun of or insulting someone who doesn’t believe the same as you.  I have lots of friends who believe in Evolution and we can get along perfectly well even though we have a difference in opinion.  

Besides, just because someone believes in Creation doesn’t mean they don’t agree with the majority of scientific fact.  (Jesus on a dinosaur, really?  You really think Creationists believe in that?)  And just because someone thinks Evolution is true doesn’t mean they are any less spiritual.  The Scientist views the world through a framework of preconceived ideas, just like a religion.  There is a whole lot of fact in belief, and a whole lot of faith in science.

Let’s face it, this isn’t really a debate about Creation or Evolution.  It’s a debate about the existence of God.  And that’s not a debate that can be won.  The scientific method is never going to explain to a Christian that there is no God.  And no believer is going to prove the existence of God to a die-hard atheist.  

All I know is I believe because I’ve experienced God in a tangible, irrefutable way.  But I can’t measure him.  I can’t put him in a graph.  So unless he reveals himself that way to others, and they’re listening, there is no empirical way to prove him.  

Here is the best way I can show you my point of view.  Not to convince you.  Not to belittle you.  Just to inform.  It doesn’t come from a theological treatise or a scientific journal, but the immortal words of Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, from C. S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair.

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Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself.  Suppose we have.  Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.  Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world.  Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.  And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it.  We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right.  But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow.  That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world.  I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.  I’m going to live like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

Creation or Evolution, Science or Faith, God or No God: I’m going to live like there is one.  Because loving God and loving your neighbour strikes me as better than the strong survive.  And I’d much rather believe there is a Kingdom coming where evil and sadness will be gone than to think that this is all there is.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

As I glance out the window at the falling snow I’m reminded of the saying that no two snowflakes are alike.  Perhaps that saying has become cliche, but sometimes I’m reminded of its power.

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Have you ever laid facedown in the snow and really looked at snowflakes?  My 6 year old daughter Gwen has been doing that lately and marvelling often and loudly how beautiful snowflakes are.  And they really are each unique, each intricate, like they were carved out of a diamond facet by a skilled, careful hand.

You are a thousand times more unique, more intricate than those snowflakes.  And not just in the trillions of specialized cells that make up your bones and ligaments and organs and skin and hair.  Not just in your individual fingerprints or the speckles of colour on your iris.  Your personality, the way you put things together, your talents and strengths and even weaknesses are all part of what makes you different from any other person on this earth at any point from the beginning of time until the end.

As the mother of identical twins, I know that even with the same DNA two people can be as different as night and day.  My Meg is talkative, moody, sparkling, delicate, and social.  My Gwen is shy, cuddly, strong, quiet, and goofy.  Despite the fact that they look the same to others, I can instantly tell the difference between their faces, their voices, even their cries.  Of course no one could ever replace one with the other in my mind.

You are the same.  You have a place, a purpose.  Only you can do the things you do the way you do them.  If you weren’t there, you would leave a hole in the fabric of the universe.  If you didn’t do what you were made for, you would leave your threads in the tapestry of history slack.

So do what you were made for.  Be who you were made to be – the best version of yourself.  And never forget that there is only one you.

In this last excerpt from Sons of Alba, book 3: Son of Courage, Uilleam baptizes Kara.

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Will’s eyes were on her, flooding her with strength, as she shed her cloak and dipped a toe into the cold water.  It lapped around her bare foot, then her ankle, then the other.  Then her dress dragged into the water, soaking it up, becoming heavy.  She kept her eyes on Will as she felt her way over the mossy rocks and mud with her feet.  
He held out a hand for her as she drew near and she grasped it with white knuckles.  Her dress was unbearably heavy now – if he let go, if she slipped, the weighted folds would drag her deeper until she drowned like the sacrificed man.  The thought of his bones, of centuries of bones in the depths of the pool almost broke her resolve.
But Will smiled at her and courage bloomed in her heart.  
“Kara,” he said, his voice warm, “The first to follow Kristr from among your people, may God bless you for your courage.  I baptize you today in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
He questioned her silently with his eyes and she gave a little nod.  Then his hands were on her shoulders, strong and cool, and with one deft movement, he tipped her.  For a moment her body fought to resist him, but she forced it to relax as she lost her footing and lay back in the water.  The cold shock touched the back of her head, raced up the sides like a thin crown, and closed again over her face. 
Beneath the murky depths, she opened her eyes, held her breath.  It was only a moment, she knew, but it felt like eternity, floating there, suspended between heaven and earth.  She thought of all she had been before – of the old gods, of their grisly sacrifices, of her selfishness and her lonely, aching longing for something more.  Once, for all, she cast it away from her, into the depths with the bones, and at that moment, under the water of the sacred pool, Kara Einarsdoter died.
Then Will’s hands pulled at her, plunging her back into life.  She sucked air into her lungs – had it ever tasted so sweet?  Water ran down her face, pulled her hair back, drained away from her with a rushing splash.  She looked into Will’s face triumphantly.
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Feel free to comment as you like.  And keep an eye on this site, as I’ll be announcing the release of book 3 soon.  🙂

This morning the only thing that got me going was my music – which made me think about how useful music is to inspire and to energize.  So I thought I’d share a few of my favourites with you.

 

Energy Favourite: Imposter by Kevin Max

This song is simply great for energizing – I pretty much have to dance when I hear this one.  Good for vacuuming and other physical tasks.  🙂

 

Prioritizing Favourite: Legacy by Nichole Nordeman

Whenever I hear this song it gets me thinking about what I really want to accomplish with my life.  It’s a great message to inspire me to make my day count.

 

Cheering Up Favourite: Wait for the Sun by PFR

This one’s great when I’m feeling down – It reminds me that things will get better.  And by the end of the song I can’t help singing along.

 

Inspiring Favourite: Little is Much by Downhere

Whenever I feel like I don’t have much to share with the world, this song reminds me that it doesn’t matter how small – everything I do can make a difference

 

Uplifting Favourite: Beautiful Things by Gungor

This song reminds me that God can make beautiful things out of the dust – so he can do amazing things with me, too.

 

Encouraging Favourite: Oceans by Hillsong United

This is my very favourite song right now.  It inspires me to move out of my comfort zone into where I can make a difference for Christ.

 

Feel free to listen – hope you enjoy!  What songs motivate you?

In todays excerpt, Uilleam’s new friend Kara quizzes him about his strange new faith.

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It was here she found Wilhjelmr, kneeling beside the pool.  In his reflection she could see his lips moving slightly, his eyes closed.  Was it simple fancy, or did the air around him seem brighter, somehow?  
Though she walked quietly along the packed earth of the trail, his head lifted at her approach.  But he smiled, and her breath quickened at the unfeigned welcome.  She knelt down beside him.  
“What brings you to our hof, Will?” she asked, shortening his name for ease.  “I thought you served the Hvitr Kristr?”
His smile brightened.  “I do.  I may serve him anywhere, even ground said to be sacred to another.  In fact, there is no better place.”
“My father wouldn’t like it.”
He lifted his shoulders lightly.  “I have no wish to cause your father insult, but the work of my God comes first in my heart.”
“Which is?”
“To bring good news of freedom to thralls.”
“My father would like that even less.  You plan on freeing all our thralls?”  She laughed at the thought.
“I don’t mean slaves of earthly masters.  All men are thralls – all women, as well,” he added at the gleam in her eye. “They are slaves to the powers of darkness, if they are not freed by Kristr.”
The very idea rankled.  “I am no thrall. I am the daughter of a Jarl, and as free as any woman can be.”
“Are you?”  Wilhjelmr raised his eyes to the trees, the hof, back to the pool.  
“What do you mean by that?”  Did he know the bones that crumbled beneath those oaks, the blood of centuries soaked into the earth?  Did he know the horrors that poisoned the waters at his knees?  With a shiver, Kara remembered the man who had died in that pool when she was only a child.  She still remembered the bubbles disturbing the mirror-smooth surface, roiling with greater and greater force until the water suddenly stilled again, reflecting the trees as though the man had never been.  
“What do you mean?” she asked again, insisting.  
“I think you feel it, even if you don’t yet understand.”
Why did the empty grove seem so full, so malignant?  She’d felt it all her life, but had never identified it until this moment.  She drew in her breath sharply to repudiate his words, but it came out in a gasping wordless rush.
“You know there is something wrong with the very fabric of your world – something woven in that doesn’t belong.  You know you are held hostage by the whims of your gods.”
“And you are not?” the sense of unease gave vent finally in a storm of anger.  “You say you are free, but here you are, shipwrecked on a shore not your own, and you say you were sent here by your god.  Why would you even leave your home unless he somehow coerced you?”
“Ah, but I did not come here out of fear – a blind terror that if I did not please my God I would face his wrath.  I came out of love.”
“Love?”  She snorted in disgust even as she hung on his words.
“Yes, love.  I love my God.  And he loves me.  He loves you and your people, too, and so do I.  It is not his wish to leave you in darkness and chains, and so his wish becomes my wish, out of gratitude.  Out of love.”
“Love for strangers?”
He smiled, and her heart was in her throat.  He spoke of love – she wanted it, like a greedy child at a feast.  She wanted his god’s love, and she wanted his.  This stranger’s message was powerful indeed.
“My father won’t like this,” she said again, but all humour drained from the words this time.  She thought of Wilhjelmr plunging into the holy pool and her father holding him down until he died.  She fought the urge to move away from the water’s edge.  “Would you really risk everything – your life – for someone you don’t know?”
He smiled sadly.  “If I must.  After all, Kristr gave everything for me.  He was a sacrifice, you know.  A sacrifice who lived.”
His words raised gooseflesh on her arms and neck.  She stared at him, mesmerized.

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Please feel free to share any comments or helpful suggestions!  🙂