My Photo

Somewhere in my very full life, I write music. To learn more and hear some of my work, please visit

♥You Are Invited♥




Be a superhero with Heart4Children Canada

Bring Madeleine Home

Subscribe in a reader


make tea not war

"There's no doubt in my mind that maybe two years from now or five years from now or ten years from now, we are going to find out what we know intuitively, that thimerosal, the mercury in the vaccines, absolutely causes autism and other learning disabilities." -- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

"Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos - the trees, the clouds, everything."
-Thich Nhat Hanh

"We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are."
-Adelle Davis

"The body, simply put, can heal itself of nearly all chronic degenerative diseases or conditions in much the same way it heals a cut or a sprain. The human body is a self-repairing system, after all. What you have to do is give it the right nutritional tools so it can unleash its fullest healing potential. And that comes from natural medicines found in the world of nutrition."
-Mike Adams

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."

Romans 12:1, NIV


Visit scrapnqueen's Craftsy Pattern Store »

My items on eBay

Talena Winters is a participant in the, Inc. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to



Powered by Blogger

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

I have had very little personal experience with Muslims in my life. There is the very nice couple that runs the bottle depot here in town--back in my scrapbooking days, Leila would come to our crafting days and we would talk kids and more, but usually avoided religion. Not on purpose, but hey, I knew she was Muslim, and she knew I was Christian, and what more needed to be said? We are still neighbours and on friendly terms. As Canadians, "religion" is one of those topics we tend to skirt around in the interests of maintaining peace.

Before meeting Leila, the only other Muslim I remembered speaking to was when I was in India. I was in a train station, waiting to depart from Goa to return to Bangalore (near which we were living). The cement floors and stone walls covered in turquoise paint provided a welcome relief of shade and some coolness out of the blistering sun, but the stifling humidity was everywhere.

There were narrow, hard, backless benches bolted to the floor in rows throughout the waiting area, and I was seated on one in about the middle of the room. Jason was nearby, but I don't remember what he was doing. He certainly did nothing to "rescue" me when a young Muslim man in a white skullcap and layers of light-coloured clothing engaged me in conversation. I was more than willing to talk, but very much unprepared for the answers.

I remember being taken aback that he knew anything about Jesus at all. However, it did not take many minutes into the conversation to realize that we had very different ideas about who Jesus was. I knew less than nothing about Islam, so was not able to give very intelligent answers to his claims about Mohammed and the Quran, so I asked a lot of questions to find out more, which only encouraged him. However, any corrections I tried to make in his understanding about who Jesus was had about as much impact as a butterfly landing on an elephant. In the end, we agreed to disagree and he went on to proselytize other train station patrons, neither of us having moved one iota from our original position.

I remember being frustrated that I had been unable to communicate with him about the Person who meant the most to me, because we were using the same names and words, but they meant completely different things to both of us.

This week, I read the illuminating and inspiring account of Nabeel Qureshi, a devout Ahmadi Muslim who, because of his love for Islam, and his hunger and search for truth, eventually gave his heart to Jesus. The price he had to pay for this decision was terrible. This story reflects the why of Islam, why its followers are so devout and love it so much, following the tenets of their faith--as a Westerner might say--"blindly." It also humbly presents the journey he went through, the apologetics of both Christianity and Islam that contradict each other, and how he was eventually led to see the truth of Jesus' message.

Muslims reading this book will likely be led to do their own research into the basis of their faith (possibly looking at some aspects of it for the first time from its sources), and Christians will finish with a broader, deeper understanding of Islam, its adherents, and how to lovingly reach out to this people group that so desperately need to hear about the unconditional love and grace of God. They will also gain a deeper understanding of the historicity of Jesus, and difficult doctrinal concepts such as the Trinity.

Far from being a boring book of apologetics, though, Nabeel weaves in the arguments for and against Islam and Christianity through the engaging narrative of his own spiritual journey. I highly recommend this book.

Excerpt from: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity

I lay prostrate in a large Muslim prayer hall, broken before God. The edifice of my worldview, all I had ever known, had slowly been dismantled over the past few years. I lay in ruin, petitioning Allah. Tears blurred my sight. The ritual prayers had ended, and now it was time for my heart's prayer.
 "Please, God Almighty, tell me who You are! I beseech You and only You. Only You can rescue me. At Your feet, I lay down everything I have learned, and I give my entire life to You. Take away what You will, be it my joy, my friends, my family, or even my life. But let me have You, O God."...

The cost for a Muslim to accept the gospel can be tremendous.

Of course, following Jesus meant that I would immediately be ostracized from my community. For all devout Muslims, it means sacrificing the friendships and social connections that they have built from childhood. It could mean being rejected by one's parents, siblings, spouse, and children.

This becomes exponentially more difficult if the Muslim has no person to turn to after following Jesus, no Christian who has reached out. I know of many Muslim women who recognize their need for Jesus but have nowhere to turn if their husbands abandon them, or worse. They often do not have the financial means to survive the next day, let alone fight for their children in court. They would have to do all this while reeling from an emotionally violent expulsion from their extended families.

What many do not realize--what I did not realize when I was making these decisions--is that these costs are not considered consciously. They form part of the knee-jerk reaction against the gospel. I never said, "I choose to remain Muslim because it would cost my family if I were to follow Jesus." Far from it, I subconsciously found ways and means to go on rejecting the gospel so I would not be faced with what I would have to pay.

But I was not the only one who would have to pay for my decision. If there were traits my family was known for in the Muslim community, they were my parents' joyfulness, our close-knit relationships, and the honour we had garnered by faithfully following Islam. My choice to follow Jesus meant razing all three.

My decision would shame my family with incredible dishonour. Even if I were right about Jesus, could I do such a terrible thing to my family? After everything they had done for me?


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Save the Internets!!


Saturday, July 05, 2014

My Amazing Boys

Lately, I have finally been getting to know the more advanced aspects of the fancy-pantsy camera I bought last year, so I have been experimenting with taking pictures. A LOT of pictures.

Here are a few photos I took of the boys in June--Jabin and Noah were home sick from school one day, but were still game for letting me play with my camera.

Here are some of my favourites from June:

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, June 27, 2014

Life Happens

Over the last few weeks, I have had opportunity to reflect on both the ferocity and fragility of life.

For instance, we have two three-week-old kittens from our orange tabby Angel, and when she finally moved them to a place we could see on Monday, we were unsurprised that they were like miniature versions of their mama. While we definitely hope to get her fixed before she goes into heat again, the very nature of nature ensures that life goes on. Life is ferocious (and so are mating cats). Life happens.

Yet those little wee ones are so fragile right now, and need such constant care to ensure their preservation. Angel is being a good mama for such a young cat (just around a year old herself). The instinct that teaches an animal how to care for its young is totally amazing. Life happens.

Almost three weeks ago, two of my hens decided to go broody almost simultaneously. While that has severely curbed our intake of eggs lately, I console myself with the fact that the flock will be expanding all on its own, and next winter we should have more stock to draw from to keep a steady flow of yolky goodness coming in our door. The "girls" set up camp right beside each other, which may have made three weeks of doing pretty much nothing at all a little less lonely for these social birds. Try to reach past them to grab an egg that one of the other hens left nearby, though, and you will find out just how ferocious these broody mamas can be. It certainly was not the best timing as far as my farmyard management is concerned, but life happens.

Just last weekend, I butchered the surplus five roosters that made it through the winter from last year's hatch, and our yard has been so much more peaceful ever since. Since I was processing them myself, I used killing cones for the first time instead of the usual "chop-off-the-head" technique, which requires an assistant. While the post-mortem convulsions were much more contained this way, I did not care for the how I had to yank their heads way down, and try to get my knife through these winter birds' thick skin quickly enough to not actually cause them undue pain before their demise. Definitely not my favourite way to butcher, but even the thickest throat can be cut by a knife sharp enough. Even the most obnoxious, haughtiest rooster is not too ferocious to meet his final end. Life happens.

This is the first year I feel like I "get" this gardening thing, but even so, I have put in a few new beds late and haphazardly, just to get started perennials into dirt before they fry in their little pots, and all my early-spring efforts are for naught. Oh, well--as one book I read this spring put it, plants "want" to grow, and they really need very little encouragement from us (for the most part). They can be fragile when in pots, and when you first plant them, but their desire to survive is just as ferocious as any other creatures, so they mostly make it (unless deterred by insurmountable obstacles to growth, like digging pets, for instance.) Life happens.

My favourite Destroyer of Gardens.

I am so thankful for the beauty that surrounds me every day. I've been enjoying watching the Spring Azure butterflies alight in droves on newly-watered gardens, and wildflowers of all kinds explode in a metropolis of life around me. Either one could be crushed by a clumsy foot, but yet they are ubiquitous. Because life happens.

The Life Cycle of Dandelions

Spring Azure butterfly

Didn't God make his creation something truly amazing?

Whiteface dragonfly

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, June 13, 2014

Children of my Heart

In the past, I have mentioned briefly on this blog an orphanage in India that we help.

The time has come to expound.

Pastor Isaiah and Mani with some of the children from Faith Children's Home

In September of 1997, I went on a life-changing trip to India. I was joining Jason on his third trip to volunteer at a small Bible School of Discipleship in central south India, close to Bangalore. (This was before Jason and I were a couple.) When I set foot on Indian soil, all I really knew about the country was that yoga originated there, and I liked the pretty dresses that the ladies wore. I didn't even know that they mainly ate spicy food! Way to be prepared, right? However, I knew God had called me there, so I went.

Jason was working as the Assistant Director. I did glamourous things like weed the garden. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what I did that helped at the school that year--most of the things I tried to do, some other person insisted on doing it for ME. But God used that year as a pivotal season in my life, both in my character growth, my world view, and in the relationships that I would carry with me to the future.

That year, there was a pastor there that had come to the school for further edification and training. His name was D. Isaiah Kumar. As the oldest student, the other students liked to tease him a bit, which he took good-naturedly, most of the time.

After the school year was over, and we all returned to our homes, Pastor Kumar kept in contact with me, sending pictures of his wife and daughter and updates on his ministry. Very soon after returning home, he started an orphanage in his small village.

As the years passed, Jason and I would send what little we could afford to help Pastor Kumar in his ministry, but several years ago, God began to lay on my heart the need of these kids--they needed better funding, and someone who could advocate for them to a wider audience. At the time, I did not feel that I could be that person, as my own life was so very crowded. However, I began searching for an umbrella organization that would take this orphanage under their wing.

For various and sundry reasons, every organization I contacted said no. After four years of following up on every lead I could find, I was becoming seriously disheartened.

Then, several months ago, I received an email from Pastor Kumar that he was considering closing the orphanage, as he had no funding (except some donations from his small congregation, which were not enough to cover even half of the expenses of the orphanage), and was in such debt to the local vendors that they were not extending him any more credit.

God used this to smack me upside the head. I amped up my efforts of knocking on the figurative doors of organizations, and simultaneously started the ball rolling for a major fund-raiser and started looking into registering my own charity for the orphanage.

Of course, God had the whole situation in hand. Through a mutual friend, the answer was provided when our long-time acquaintances Gordon and Laila Craddock agreed to take this ministry into the fold of Heart4Children Canada*, a small ministry they started fifteen years ago to help the children of the Ukraine. About a week ago, it was passed by their board of directors, and Faith Children's Home is now part of Heart4Children Canada, with Jason and I as the Canadian directors (for the orphanage)!

While this was in the works, we had already made contact with some of our Indian friends, and had a trusted emissary go to the orphanage and assess the situation there, so we have a pretty good unbiased opinion about what the immediate needs are. While Jason and I plan to go to India ourselves sometime in the next several years, for now, this was invaluable intel about where to start from.

We are so excited to be part of this ministry. There are currently fifteen children being supported by the orphanage, and I have been poring over their photos and learning their names and falling in love with every one of them. Making a difference in the life of even one child is so powerful, and here are fifteen children who can grow up to affect the future of their country positively by being given this better chance at life.

For those of you who read this blog, please consider helping in the following ways:

1. Commit to pray for these kids, Pastor Kumar and his wife Mani and their children, and the staff at the orphanage.

2. Send financial support. You can send a cheque directly to Heart4Children using this form. We need one-time donations for some immediate projects such as better accommodations for the children (the house they have been staying in does not have sufficient space for 15 children), and a computer to enable quicker, better communication between us as well as providing ease of access to teaching materials for the children. We also need people to commit to sending in monthly support to help feed the kids, pay for school books and tuition, and more. Even a small monthly amount can make a difference.

Donations can also be sent via email transfer (for Canadians-please contact me for payment email address and question/answer) or via Paypal (account being set up, I will edit this with the donate button later when it's done. For now, you can contact me for my Paypal account address, and I will forward on your entire donation amount.)

All donations over $20 will be issued a tax-deductible receipt after December 31.

3. Keep tabs. I will be sending out an e-Blast every couple of months to present current prayer requests and to help supporters get to know the children that their dollars are helping. You can sign up for that newsletter here, and edit your subscription at any time:

Subscribe to Heart4Children Canada's e-newsletter

 You can also Like Heart4Children Canada's Facebook page.

 4. Get involved. Many of you have known me for a long time, and know of my heart for India and for children. While we didn't want to advertise our "secret" charity work before, now, we need to in order to help these kids. Please prayerfully consider whether or not you, too, could help spread the word about Faith Children's Home and Heart4Children Canada by doing a presentation at your church (I could send you a Powerpoint presentation, and I am working on a video), or raising support among your circle of friends. Think of ways you could raise funds to support this orphanage--your time is a valuable gift, and it can be used as effectively as your money to help these kids.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at talena [at] wintersdayin [dot] ca, and I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.

Thank you for reading, and for caring for these kids!

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:27

*Heart4Children Canada's website is currently being rebuilt, so at the time of this writing, donations cannot be processed through there, which is why there are other methods suggested in this post.

Hanging out at the playground beside Pastor Kumar's house

The current orphanage location. We need to find somewhere more appropriate and cleaner.

The children love to worship and praise God!

There's always time for a little fun!

Labels: ,