Monday, March 31, 2008

published: Weak

This article was conceived one night while I sat waiting for my computer to upload files--a night remarkable in my own mind because I was in one of the worst, most petty moods I can ever recall being in! It was written at Starbucks the next evening. The horrible mood taught me something about God's love for me that's very, very powerful, and I tried to get it down on paper.

"Weak" was published by last week, but I'm out of the home office at the moment and thus am late posting this.

Here's the link.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


"The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them."

Proverbs 20:9

I wrote the fantasy novel Worlds Unseen six years ago. At the time, I had some loose ideas about what it could say--besides telling a good story, which was my first priority! It touched on some of my beliefs about life: the spiritual realities behind the physical world, nature's allegiance to its Creator, and the way most of us live our lives ignorant of the world's true history and what it means to us today.

Worlds is primarily about Maggie Sheffield, a very normal young woman who stumbles into the spiritual realities of her world by accident and must learn to deal with them. However, equally important to the story are the two Gifted: a wanderer named Nicolas Fisher, who hears things no one else can, and Virginia Ramsey, a blind girl who sees visions.

Proverbs 20:9 made me think of these two immediately: "The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them." In Worlds Unseen, Virginia and Nicolas are not only Gifted, they are gifts--gifts to the world. Those who believe what the Gifted tell them will arrive at the truth about life, and with it, real freedom.

In the story, though, Nicolas and Virginia are both outcasts. One wrestles to accept his own gift and thus refuses to live among people; the other is feared and ultimately betrayed because of the truth she sees. It's not easy to be the only people in all the world who understand what life really is--especially when the truth shatters everything we have believed.

Nicolas and Virginia aren't without parallel in our own world. They are my fantasy version of the Old Testament prophets, of the New Testament apostles and saints, of everyone to whom God has given clarity of vision and ears that understand. Often, these real-world Gifted were despised and rejected, driven out and even crucified. Isaiah was one such Gifted man. David, king and psalmist, was another. Mary; Anna; the Apostle Paul. John the Beloved, witnessing the Revelation while in exile on the Isle of Patmos, was one. And ever since their days, God has not ceased to send to us people who see and hear, and who will open our own understanding if we let them.

Perhaps you can think of someone who has filled this role in your life. A parent; a sister; a friend; a teacher. A singer or poet. Such people do not create or renew truth. They simply show us, through scripture and by the Spirit of God, what has always been there.

Perhaps, in the darkness of the world around, the one who sees and hears is you.

Like my fictional Seventh World, the people around us live in darkness and deception. We who have the Word of God at our fingertips and the Spirit of God in our hearts are in this world, not just as passers-by, but as gifts. In prayer, Jesus said of His disciples, "As thou [Father] hath sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

You, believer in Jesus, are in this world not as an accident and not as a judge. You are here as a gift, bearing the gifts of sight, hearing, and true reality.

May we use these gifts well: to bring into the darkness a burning, holy light.

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Worlds Unseen is available for purchase or as a free ebook from It's sequel, Burning Light, is due out December 2008.

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This post is cross-posted from Peculiar, where I blog each week on scripture and walking with God.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

first THH newsletter

Herein is a copy of our first "Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled" newsletter :). I won't be pasting it here every time, so if you'd like to subscribe, use the subscription box on the right!

Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled: The Newsletter!

Issue #1, March 14, 2008

Newsletter Contents:

1. Publishing Update

2. Chapter Previews!

3. The Family Fun Story Contest

4. Recipe: German Pancake with Homemade Buttermilk Syrup

5. Writer's Corner: To Be Or Not To Be

A Note from Rachel:

This, our first newsletter, comes to you a day late because I spent seven years hours in emergency yesterday with my little sister Anna, waiting for them to take her in and stitch up her hand. Our parents are out of town, hence it fell on me to make the hospital trip. Despite the obvious frustration of waiting seven hours, the chance to step in and take care of her reminded me again how much I appreciate life in our big family.

I hope you enjoy this newsletter!


Publishing Update

Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled is marching along ahead of schedule! The cover, featuring Deborah Thomson's original, classic cartoon style artwork, is finished. It's very funny! Have a look at .

This week, we've finished the final line edit. We'll now send the book off to our wonderful volunteer proofreaders. We've only made simple changes, but we're excited by how much stronger each chapter sounds! In this issue's Writer's Corner, we've included one of our chief revising strategies.

Chapter Previews!

The first three chapters of Tales are online at . "Ontario: The Journey Begins," "We Wish You a Currey Christmas," and "Freezing at 85 Degrees" follow both our families through the perils of packing, Christmas trees that won't stay standing, and sisters whose internal thermostats wildly conflict. We had fun writing these, and we hope you enjoy reading them!

Starting next week, we'll introduce a new sneak peek chapter in every newsletter.

The Family Fun Story Contest

If you haven't yet heard, we're holding a contest for homeschooled kids ages 8-18. We're looking for your favourite family memories, be they funny, dramatic, touching, or thoughtful. The contest deadline is May 1, and winners will receive an autographed copy of Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled and publication in this newsletter and on our Web site.

Get more information here: .

German Pancake with Homemade Buttermilk Syrup: The Perfect Breakfast for a Snowy Morning!

As March continues to roar like a lion, we want to share one of our favourite recipes with you. This one has been a joy in delight in the Currey kitchen for years, and it's recently become a favourite of the Thomsons as well. Don't be fooled by the name--this is nothing like any pancake you've had before! It's heavy on the eggs, baked, puffy, and marvelous. For our large families, we make two or three pans. The syrup is worth checking out on its own. It's inexpensive, delicious, and simple to make, and you can use it with this recipe or with traditional pancakes.

The recipe comes courtesy of Taste of Home and can be found here:

Writer's Corner: To Be Or Not To Be

by Rachel Starr Thomson

Of all the questions a writer must ask, one that comes up over and oft is: to be or not to be?

The verb "be" has eight forms, some of which look nothing like "be." They are be, being, been, is, am, are, was, and were. These are often called state-of-being verbs.

"Be," in all of its forms, has its place. Most of the time, though, it acts like the common cold. It makes your sentences weak, runny, and stuffed up. Every time you write a form of "be," see if you can use a stronger verb instead.

For example, a weak sentence:

"The ramshackle mansion was on the hilltop."

A stronger verb strengthens it: "The ramshackle mansion sprawled on the hilltop" or "The ramshackle mansion towered on the hilltop." Suddenly, this sentence is more lively and descriptive.

Now, a runny sentence. "Be" is the culprit again:

"It was in the trees that birds were singing and the leaves were rustling under a sky that was sunny and clouds that were puffy and white."

Go after those "be" verbs, and see what happens:

"In the trees, birds sang and leaves rustled under a sunny sky festooned with puffy white clouds."

Finally, a sentence that's all stuffed up:

"I am a person who is happy to be of help whenever there is an opportunity."

Edited, it reads:

"I am happy to help whenever I can."

Not every instance of "to be" needs cutting, hacking, or replacing. Many, however, do. When you revise your own writing, keep a sharp eye out for "be" verbs. Don't let your writing catch cold!


For more writer's reflections, tips, and updates, check out Rachel's writing blog at


We hope you enjoyed this week's Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled Newsletter! Please feel free to forward this to your homeschooling friends!