Creativity and stories retreat

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This past weekend I had the privilege and honour of leading a “Discovering God through creativity and stories” intergenerational (9 and up) retreat at my husband’s church. It was wonderful to see how music, creativity, and stories can bring people together.

 

I started the retreat by giving the adults permission to play. This was important because adults have this sense that they aren’t allowed to play anymore. Yet, Peter Berger in Rumours of Angels states, “When play is at its best, something of the presence of God breaks into our lives and redemptive powers are experienced.” I also shared with them a quote from C. S. Lewis. In Surprised by Joy Lewis says, “…play at its best can lift us out of time and space and place us in a rapturous state in which we taste something of the eternal.”

 

Our story was a Godly Play rendition of the mustard seed. It was delightful to see how enthralled they were when they were invited into the new experience. There is something beautiful about being a part of a story, experiencing the story in an intimate way. When we experience a story from our heart, it becomes a part of our very being in a beautiful way.

 

We had the pleasure of uplifting music from my son’s university chapel choir, a contemporary piece, a breathtaking Syrian orthodoxy chant of Psalm 135, and a meditative Gregorian chant. Interspersed through these lovely pieces of music we looked at and coloured icons, stain glassed pictures, and we played with the idea of how God views us. We ended our retreat with two graffiti walls where we explored what worship means to us and Christ’s question to all of us: Who do you say that I am.

 

It was inspiring to watch everyone relax to the point where many of them didn’t want to stop colouring! It’s common knowledge that music and art affect our moods, emotions, and creativity, but they are also a means of prayer and connecting with the Divine. Perhaps you are familiar with the famous quote from St. Augustine: he who sings prays twice.

 

On Saturday we discovered that creativity, music, and stories are good for our souls. Creativity, music, and stories will refresh your spirit if you are open to allowing them.

 

Our God is a creative God, look in the mirror. You are a beautiful creation!

 

And it’s with this creative energy I move into my writing this week; with an open heart and mind to exploring the world I have built. I look forward to seeing where my characters take me this week!

Pictures by Trina

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Organized chaos

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Organized chaos seems to be my mood of preferred functioning these days. I still haven’t recovered from the shock of losing both our furbabies. However, I am getting things sorted out.

I usually do not operate in an organized chaotic manner. I am a rather detailed list oriented person. I can, when required fly by the seat of my pants or toss a schedule out the wind and be spontaneous. Being off work since July with C-PTSD has shifted this side of me, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the organized chaotic lifestyle, to be honest.

This morning, I woke up and decided it was time to get my life back. So the first thing I did was make a list of what I needed to get done. For those of you who love lists, you will understand the sense of calm, order, and control that making a list can achieve. And the immediate mood boost I had!

By 10 am I was able to tick off nine items that needed doing! I haven’t had time to sit down and actually work on my new fantasy novel yet (5:30 pm), but at least I now have 16 important things ticked off my list. I have a sense of achievement that has helped alleviate some of my anxiety.

This week is crazy, but I’m organized now and feel like I can manage. We have a meeting down island I have to prepare for, and I have a day retreat I am running on Saturday that I am still trying to prepare for. This is my first solo work event since being off in July. I’m not going to lie I am anxious, but I have an excellent team helping me.

There are tons of exciting things coming up, and I can’t wait to share them!

Lists and more lists

Inquiring minds on a mundane Monday

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Inquiring minds have asked me why I call Timothy’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Adventures devotional books and not a collection of short stories. I also received one harsh message stating that I needed to learn how to write a book because Timothy’s Adventure was clearly not a novel.

 

They were, of course entirely correct! It is not a novel. And I do not market it as a novel or a short story.

 

Timothy’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Adventures are devotional books.

 

So today I thought I would do the mundane Monday task of taking a look at some definitions to answer these questions. And clear up any miscommunication or misunderstandings that may still be out there. Often miscommunication or misunderstandings happen because people are not using the same definitions to define a word. So here are the definitions that I used when prayerfully choosing how to describe my work.

 

A book as defined by a quick Google search:

1) A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.

2) A bound set of blank sheets for writing or keeping records in.

 

I would define a book as a collection of pages that may be either bound and printed or kept together in e-format. These pages may contain non-fiction, fiction, pictures, puzzles; abstract lines (as in accounting) as their content or the pages may be blank (as in journals).

 

A story as defined by a quick Google search:

1) An account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.

2) An account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something.

Google defined a short story as a story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel.

Google defined a novel as a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.

Merriam Webster defined a novel as an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.

 

Which brings us to defining a devotional. Google defined a devotional as: of or used in religious worship. This definition is not very useful in the context of my devotional books.

Merriam Webster defined devotional as:

1) Of, relating to, or characterized by devotion

2) A short worship service

Once again this definition was not very useful. Given these definitions, I decided to ask myself how I would define a Christian devotional.

 

For me, Christian devotionals are for personal edification and to assist with spiritual formation. A devotional may be read on its own or alongside the Bible. They have some form of prayer and meditation to guide the reader’s thoughts and prayers.

 

My devotional books are a collection of short story devotionals. Each chapter may stand alone as a devotional taking advantage of the valuable parent/child discussion time. Or you may choose to read the devotionals as part of an ongoing sequence.

 

I shared in another blog post that my son was often disappointed that his devotionals always had different characters. He was sad that he never got to know the characters, which made it harder for him to relate to them. I found he always wanted to know more about the characters, his little mind was imagining the rest of the story.

 

For this reason, I’ve written my devotional books so that children may connect with the characters and their friends. This allows for a meaningful connection with real life and the scriptures.

author.to/BooksbyTanyaPacker

all 3 books

Obligatory review and New Year’s resolution

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To be honest, I’m not sure where, to begin with, a 2018 review. I’m not fond of doing the full year in review, and I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

I’m weird I know, but I believe I should resolve to do better each day in every area of my life. Each night I review how my day went so that I know where I need to try harder.

Looking back over the year there were many blessings. My grandmother, a woman of great faith who had been severely ill for a long time, passed away peacefully in February. She had a beautiful send-off and is now at peace.

My husband and I were blessed with buying a house and moving to a new community. This was a 2 fold blessing. Homes were selling with competing offers before we could get down to view them and moving meant we had to get new doctors. In September my new doctor diagnosed me with C-PTSD, and in November the internal medicine specialist diagnosed me with C-PTSD. It may sound weird to consider this a blessing but with a correct diagnosis comes an opportunity to heal. With diagnosis comes validation on how I’ve felt, and most importantly I am able to find my freedom from the trauma and chains.

My writing has been my biggest blessing through all this. May brought publishing excitement with Timothy’s Adventures hitting stores.

I’m working on getting more comfortable blogging and using social media. I often forget to update Goodreads, so here’s hoping I can remember this year! Reading is important to me both for work and pleasure.

My goals in 2019 are self-care and to continue loving writing no matter where I am. I love my new fantasy plot, the characters, and the world I’ve built.

Here’s to 2019 being full of peace, healing, love, and fun!

Why I haven’t written a blog in a while…

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December was a rough month for my family and not for the usual reasons. We did celebrate Christmas as you may have read that post earlier in the month. It was hard for us because we found out that our beloved Akita, Tala, had inoperable trachea cancer.

I spent much of the month rushing her from one emergency vet clinic to the next while the doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with her. Tala has been my constant companion 24/7 for 8 years. People laughed when I told them I spent more time with her than I did my husband, but that was my reality.

For those who have never experienced the unconditional love of a dog, I know you don’t “get it,” for those that have, I know you will understand why I haven’t written, and I thank you for your compassion and understanding.

I would like to share my son’s tribute to his beloved girl:
“I’d say choosing you was the best thing we ever did, but we didn’t choose you – You chose us. From all the long car rides, playing outside and with little toy cars and bouncy balls, to training you (and having to retrain you whenever I got back from Uni because the parents slacked), to cuddles and being the welcome wagon at the ferry or airport, to being our constant companion and protector, thanks for all the love and laughter you provided all the years. Rest easy beautiful.”

 

 

Early Christmas

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Santa came early to our house this year. But the decorations will remain up till January 6th.

Yes, you read that correctly, Santa came early. My son is already in Ontario with my family, and after a visit with them, he will then head to spend time with his father and his family. As hard as it is to be an empty nester, I’m happy for my son to have this special time with his extended family. Especially his aging grandparents.

I treasure every chance I get to be with him even if we aren’t doing anything. It’s special because he’s here with me. This year we got to decorate the tree and house as a family. He’s been away at university, so this was extra special for me. We spent our 4 days reading together, watching Christmas movies, playing a family board game, and he built his Christmas lego while I tried to work on my new novel.

I learned two valuable lessons early in life. One from my maternal grandfather. He always told me to pop in, even if it was only for five minutes to say hi and I love you. He understood how busy we were but at least those quick visits told him we remembered him and loved him. And the second one was from my mother. She always told us that whatever day we were together as a family to celebrate a holiday that was the day for her.

So, for me, I’ve had my Christmas. My heart is full. The rest of December will be spent working on my new novel and doing some crafts.

We have one more gift left. This one will be the gift of time and love. We will spend December 24th eating dinner with those who have no family.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May you be blessed abundantly.