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Issue 2, August 2013

INSIDE... Devotional Rosemary Hagedorn

Essay Barbara Agarwal

Fiction Lela Marie De La Garza Monique Berry

Poetry Brian Mcilwain I. B. Iskov June Rose Dowis Rebecca Rose Taylor Steven Jacobson

Praise Writers August 2013


Praise Writers ISSN: 2291-5307 Frequency: Quarterly Founding Editor | Designer: Monique Berry

Contact Info

Special Notices Praise Writers has one time rights. See website for subscription details. No photocopies allowed.

In this Issue Contributors (See their bios on page 15): Barbara Agarwal, Brian Mcilwain, I. B. Iskov, June Rose Dowis, Lela Marie De La Garza, Monique Berry, Rebecca Rose Taylor, Rosemary Hagedorn, Steven Jacobson.



4 The Good News

11 Rocks, Tree Stumps, and Crevices

By Brian Mcilwain

By Rosemary Hagedorn

5 I Am By Brian Mcilwain

6 And We Ask Why By Rebecca Rose Taylor

7 Sewing Jesus By I. B. Iskov

10 Abounding Child By Steven Jacobson

Fiction 13 The Widow’s Mite By Lela Marie De La Garza Francis had faith enough to give all she had...

14 The Red Sea Gets a Face Lift By Monique Berry A story as told through the eyes of the Red Sea.

10 Homeward Bound By Steven Jacobson

12 Before and After By June Rose Dowis

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Essay 9 Some Thoughts About Women By Barbara Agarwal

From the Editor Welcome to the second issue of Praise Writers. Ever since I launched the first edition, the following themes have invaded my thought life: vision and success. The subjects popped up in sermons, talk shows, conversations with friends, and quotes and scriptures like the following: “If there be anything of good report ... think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Peter Benson “A negative mind will never give you a positive life.” Unknown If I watch and listen to too much negative news, I find myself questioning His existence. My prayers always begin with, “Lord, where are you?” As a Christian, if I want to see Him in everyday life, I need to discipline my thought life and keep the environment behind my eyes clear. I need to cast off the scales of darkness and put on the armour of light, which is praise. And I must say that it is working! I hope the positive content within the pages will help you see your way clear to finding Him in every step of your walk. Have a blessed time reading Praise Writers.

Founding Editor

Praise Writers August 2013


Image credit: iStockPhoto. Opposite

The Good News By Brian Mcilwain He lives amongst the mountaintops and valleys down below in tiny villages of quiet peace and places we don’t know.

He listens to the prayerful pleas to soothes our aching souls and seeks the faith of righteous men to help fulfill their goals.

He moves on summer breezes and gentle streams that flow and dwells deep within the hearts of men where angels fear to go.

He caresses warm with tender touch to free us from our pain and whispers words of hope renewed with new life to regain.

He walks amongst the sinners to bring the truth to light and offer grace to all who seek the courage for the fight.

He leads us on his holy quest to spread good word on high and brave the world so all can hear… God’s love will never die.

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I Am By Brian Mcilwain Soothing morning breezes dancing lightly As musical interludes of songbirds’ serenade, Timeless, carefree, beyond reproach Natures welcoming arms envelop me Into her heavenly realm, Sun drenched flora burst forth in Rightful obedience to natures call, The winding road travels silently underfoot As morning dew steals quietly into day, Prayerful, I walk in constant reflection Awash in God’s infinite love and understanding, With grace abundant my cup runneth over As his presence transcends the majesty upon the day, With tear filled eyes, on bended knee I fall, Humbly I whisper, My Lord, my God, I am … because of you.

Praise Writers August 2013


And We Ask Why By Rebecca Rose Taylor Complexities everywhere, questions and quandaries, sadness, hurt and despair circulate shutting out the happiness and humanity of situations. And we all wonder why do terrible things happen? Why did I not get the answers that I want? How can this be? And we know there is God in Heaven and do not understand why he allows some things to occur. How good people are called to be angels before their time. How nature rears her head and changes life for ever. Why machines fail leaving a path of destruction. And what can do we do but join together and pray to Him that He gives us answers and help. That He finds a way to show us how to move forward That He reminds us of how strong we are, how to shoulder burdens and test our boundaries. That He helps us remember to believe in hope, love and the future.

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Image credit: Opposite

Sewing Jesus By I. B. Iskov My Jesus in cross stitch is displayed on Franca’s living room wall next to rosary beads and a bible. Filling holes with strands of thread I bring Jesus back to life— a miracle masterpiece on canvas. Praise Writers August 2013


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Some Thoughts About Women By Barbara C. Agarwal


omen have strengths that amaze men. Their magic is a mystery, not measured by muscle but might. Women bare hardships and they carry burdens; yet, they cannot hold happiness, love, or joy. It is their nature to share them. Otherwise, women feel somehow incomplete. Women struggle with boundaries because love has none. Women confuse men terribly. They often smile when they want to scream. They sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy or laugh when they are nervous. Men should be happy when they “talk too much”… for who can know the depth of their joy or of their sorrow in those antitheses of their silences? They stand up to injustice. They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution, but there is always room for compromise in a loving woman's heart. They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding. Planning celebrations begins immediately and daily—small and large in their minds. Yes, women are the authors of happy home rituals and preparations of every feast. They grieve with heartbreak at the loss of a dear friend or a family member, yet they are strong when others might think there is no strength left in them. They know and believe that a long hug and a quick kiss can heal a child's scraped knee or a partner's unseen wounds from that world out there. (You are safe always in the nest you allow her to build in your life.) Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. These may be changing all the time: A woman can be a kaleidoscope of one. Women bring joy, hope and love. They have crimson compassion and plaid ideas. They give moral support to their family and friends—sometimes even to strangers. And, unlike men, their love need not be "negotiated." Women don’t believe that “someone must ‘love you back.’ Women just put their love out there; what you do in return really does not matter. There can never be "a line in the sand" where a soft wind is ever blowing. Women are the cookie bakers and the chocolate makers in the meal that is Life. When they are in your daily life, the bread rises better, the dishes get cleared faster, the folded laundry smells cleaner, and even the ice cream tastes sweeter. Life does not always give you the women you want; Life gives you the women you need: to help you, to hurt you, to leave you, to love you—in some way, to help The God of Creation help you to become the person you were meant to be. Even in their blindness, women are soldiers of God; even in their upset or anger, God uses them that you might grow closer to Himself, the one who made you. “Before you were born, He knit you in your mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13) Some women are pleased to help keep your world tidy and in order. Your praise is appreciated but not needed. It is the nature of a woman who loves herself to love others. She is the one in the species who can dance without music, laugh without reserve, and love you and never forget you for a moment. Even when you are far from her—whether sister, daughter, mother or lover—she has covered you under the great unseen wing of her prayers a thousand times in her day. If you are a man reading this, feel the magic of the caring women in your life to day. And if you are a woman reading this, continue in the mighty magic and wonder that God has made you to be in the lives entrusted to you—whether for a lifetime, for a season, or a mere moment in the day. Being born a woman is a sacrament in itself. Females are precious, gentle creatures of God's own hand (some even chosen to guard the unborn in their coming), to wave the wonder-filled banner of love so high that even those you cannot see are moved by it long after the perfume of your giving has left the room or you have left the planet. And even when God has slipped the sun into darkness for another night, it is He who took care to create the women, mysteriously connected by Him even to the cycles of the moon, to be the stars that continue to shine.

Opposite iage credit:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:3,4

Praise Writers August 2013


Abounding Child By Steven Jacobson the body of a child like a vessel holding precious liquid, the mind of a child like an empty slate board, the innocence of a child like a pure and golden, the heart of a child like overflowing carafe of vintage wine, the soul of a child like rich and resonating with love and laughter, the spirit of a child like an eagle soaring high with grace and glory abounding, the love of a child like pure woolly white driven snow covering a pristine landscape, the life of a child like ageless and free forever and ever‌‌ Image credits: above,; below and opposite,

Homeward Bound By Steven Jacobson millennia pass and the waters flow melodically on a sojourn epic, in testimony to our Creator. gathering speed and resolution, the channel widens, polishing and recreating stones of ivory. the torrent stream cascades downward in a swirling and spiraling display of wonderment, manifested by our God. time is frozen to all who purvey the enchantment spun by our senses. the whitecaps swell and heave in effortless force as they recombine in frothy resonance. the turbulence recedes and becomes tranquil and peaceful on the journey home.

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Rocks, Tree Stumps, and Crevices By Rosemary Hagedorn


t was a dreary, windy, and cloudy day as some of us went for a long walk to "Gerry's Point". Gerry was one of the friends with whom we had gone camping on Manitoulin Island and who had passed away. One day a few years before, as he went exploring with his dog, he came across a hidden logging road off the main road and had discovered this scenic point. We had to watch where we walked on the road to Gerry's Point, as the terrain was pretty rough. There were rocks covered with moss, fallen logs, and tree stumps that were scattered on the way that we had to step over. We also had to watch for deep crevices in the rocks that we could easily get caught in and stumble over. Some crevices along the way were so deep that when we looked down, we couldn't see anything. It had rained during the night, so we had to be extra careful that we didn't slip on the rocks and fall. I wondered how much longer it would be for us to reach this spectacular view that Gerry had boasted about. And then, all of a sudden, it was there, right in front of us. It was breathtaking. Before me lay deep blue water that seemed to go on forever. There were a couple of small islands to my left and some more to the right. Hundreds of feet below were thousands of trees. I was standing on a protruding rock that jutted out from the main rock formation. The sun had come out and shone onto the water, which created tiny glistening diamonds that seemed to move slowly towards us and then seemed to float away again. What a view! This scene reminded me of our life's journey. In our lives, we are faced with various trials, like those rocks and tree stumps that confronted us on our walk. Sometimes, we need the help of a friend's hand, as we stumble through a perplexing event. Sometimes, we need a kind word, or a note, or a telephone call to help us through our sadness. Scripture—John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (NLT) Prayer: Almighty God and Creator of the beauty that surrounds us, we thank You. When we stumble or fall, send us friends who will help us get back up. Help us, likewise, to become a welcome relief to someone in need. Amen.

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Before and After By June Rose Dowis Before my grand anticipated birth God perfected my ways After my brash arrogance of youth God graciously humbled me Before harsh words departed my lips God thankfully restrained them After my steps led me astray God revealed another way Before my anger found its strike God ever so gently reeled me in

Before my grand anticipated birth ‌ and after my last breath became a sigh, God perfected my ways

After my heart shattered in despair God lovingly joined the pieces Before old age revealed its toll God shielded me with insight After my last breath became a sigh God perfected my ways

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Image credit: below and opposite,

The Widow’s Mite By Lela Marie De La Garza

Francis had faith enough to give all she had... Francis dropped a five dollar bill into the offering plate and wished it could be more—but it was all she had. Now a cup of oatmeal and a can of peaches would have to feed her till Friday, when she got paid. But God’s work came first. She would not take food from the church pantry; refused food stamps just as she refused to go on welfare. Francis worked in a kitchen two days a week; six nights she cleaned office buildings. Her miniscule salary covered bills and the rent on a shabby apartment. There was little left over. But what there was she shared with God. Francis was vaguely conscious of a young man sitting beside her...he seemed to be dressed in white…maybe he had a beard and long hair…But when she tried to look directly at him, he was just a blur. Semi-starvation was taking its toll…everything seemed watery and distant. Though she couldn’t see him, Francis was quite sure he could see her…the faded, patched dress that was all she had to wear on Sundays…the worn-out shoes she couldn’t afford to replace…the empty handbag. He knew the grinding poverty she lived in…he knew about the daughter who had married and vanished…the husband and son dying in a senseless accident…leaving Francis with nothing but her faith and her will to survive. Then she heard a voice—such a wonderful voice—murmuring “These others have given of their riches. But you have given all you had.” Francis looked around, but the blur, or illusion or whatever it had been was gone. She walked out of the church and felt her handbag suddenly grow heavy. Undoing the clasp she saw that it was filled with bills. She closed the bag hurriedly, not questioning this miracle. God knew what His children had need of and had filled hers. This meant a place to live where she wouldn’t constantly be warring with rats and cockroaches. It meant new clothes and a beauty salon and training for a better job. But these weren’t the important things. For Francis this meant that she would be more able to work for God, more able to give to God, and more able to serve His glory. Somewhere angels praised…and Jesus smiled.

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The Red Sea Gets a Faith Lift

Image credit: Manipulated by Brian Cobbledick

By Monique Berry A biblical event as seen through the eyes of The Red Sea.


hat a privilege it is to be able to tell my story! I look forward to revealing a spiritual mystery related to the Israelite’s miraculous deliverance. Even though it was a shorter route, I’m so glad Jehovah did not lead His people to the Promised Land through the country. If He did, I would never have received my ‘faith lift.’ Before the Israelites escaped, they saw me in front of them, they saw Pharaoh’s army behind them, and they saw no way out. But Moses knew God—I knew God. I knew that He would deliver His people because I saw the spiritual mysteries. You see, we live in a world of atoms and molecules where things are materialized. But another dimension—a spiritual dimension—runs parallel to this one. It’s real; it’s just not made of molecular things. Storehouses exist in the other realm. Treasuries full of answers to prayers—healings, miraculous and natural supplies, and more—wait to be opened. The key that unlocks the doors is faith. When the man of God raised his staff, I heard an angel say, “Moses has been obedient! Open the door to the weather storehouse. Unleash the east wind.” My mouth opened and His people began their walk to the Promised Land on dry ground. That’s when I experienced a sensory smorgasbord. My face lit up from the combined glory of thousands of angels hovering over me. I saw their footprints of fire walk across my face. I heard the sweet music of believing hearts, the whir of the angels’ wings, and the rumbling wheels of Pharaoh’s army. I smelled the sweet scent of obedience and the pungent odor of doubt. I tasted the steel, the brass, and the rancid pride of Pharaoh. My stomach had been churning from swallowing 600 chariots, coats of armor, leather, and human and animal flesh all night. So, after the last Israelite passed safely to the other side, I couldn’t hold them anymore. I threw up Pharaoh and his army; I wanted no part of them. In the morning, the Israelites saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. I joined in the praises of His people by waving and clapping my hands to glorify the only God who always makes a way when there seems to be no way. Even though the event happened thousands of years ago, His Word still makes a way through the stormy seas of life. Learn from Moses. Lift your hands, believe with your heart, and pray. Unlock your treasuries reserved in heavenly places for you. Speak His promises and feel the wind of His word brush past your lips. I’m sure you will experience the same glorious ‘faith lift’ as I did.

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS BARBARA C. AGARWAL ( pens most of her work in a small cabin on the St.

Lawrence River in summers. Her son and his family and her 93 year-old mother each reside in different parts of NC. She serves Christ through hospitals, her local library, the Vimukti School for Girls in Jaipur, SmileTrain and Soles4Souls. With her formal degrees earned in the US and some classes in the UK, Barbara taught Language, Communications, and Bible Study classes for many years to students Headstart through adult in the Boston area until a career shift into Research Education in 1995. Favorite scriptures: Matthew 7:1 & Psalm 23.

MONIQUE BERRY ( is the founder of Halcyon, Praise Writers, and Twisted

Endings. She also founded the former Perspectives and Christian Perspectives magazines. Monique has published stories and poems in The Sitter’s Companion, Searching for Answers Anthology, and Rock Bottom Journal. She is the workshop leader of a local writers group “First Impressions.” Monique lives in Hamilton, ON, Canada. Favorite scripture: John 21:25.

JUNE ROSE DOWIS’S ( love of nature, a heart for the underdog, and prematurely “old

soul” are constantly finding their way into her writing. Her publications have covered the spectrum from acrostics to essays to a billboard haiku, and like many literary artists, has a novel she hopes to one day see in print. June’s true passion however, is poetry, primarily contemporary works and haiku. Favorite scripture: Phillipians 4:13.

ROSEMARY HAGEDORN (, 65, immigrated to Canada in 1957 with her parents and brother; she was ten years old. It was in her later years that she began writing. She has published over 100 short devotionals and contributes short stories for the local newspaper. She continues to write and create picture story books for her four grandchildren. Favorite scripture: John 13:34,35.

LELA MARIE DE LA GARZA has had work published in “Behind Closed Doors,” “Pound of Flash,”

“ChickLit,” “Daily Romance,” “Creepy Gnome,” and “Mad March Hare.” She was born in Denver, CO. in 1943 while her father was serving in WWII. She currently resides in San Antonio, TX. with two cats, a kitten, and a visiting raccoon. Favorite scripture: John 21:22.

I.B. (BUNNY) ISKOV ( is the Founder of The Ontario Poetry Society. Her work has

been published in several literary journals and anthologies. Her latest poetry collection In a Wintered Nest was published by Serengeti Press, July, 2013. Bunny lives and writes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She follows the golden rule to do unto others as she would like to have them do unto her. Favorite scriptures: The Book of Psalms.

STEVEN JACOBSON ( was born and raised in the Mid-west His poetry has been submitted to

Access Press, an online source, CalvaryCross and Eunoia Review (approved for Sept. timeframe). He has attended (8) classes from the Loft Literary Center, promoting all levels of creative writing. Steven has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, going on 15 years. Favorite scripture: 1 Timothy 3:14.

BRIAN MCILWAIN ( is an electrician living with his wife Karen in Peterborough, Ontario. Praise Writers Magazine is the first publication of his work. When not reading or writing, he enjoys searching for collectible first edition books as well as exercising and gardening. Favorite scriptures: James 2:19, Matthew 4:4, Psalm 130:5.

REBECCA R. TAYLOR (, 26, resides in

a small town in Quebec. Credits include Halcyon Magazine, Barebacklit, and Dark Fountain Magazine. Favorite scripture: 1 John 4:7-11.

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16 | Praise Writers August 2013 © AUGUST 2013 | MONIQUE BERRY HAMILTON, ON, CANADA

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