Finding a Voice

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

blog: Minus 40 Tour

Dara Hallett and I have started a blog for our immanent Minus 40 Tour. We’re going to post some thoughts about each other (her first one about me is called “Gregarious Colleen”), reflect on songs we’re going to sing on the tour, and talk about some of the things close to our heart – like the people and organizations we’re raising money for. Once the tour starts, watch for pictures. I hope we can even post a couple of videos!


So here’s the link:

And here’s a simple website: It has a link to our schedule.


Note: It’s possible that the website is marketing overkill, but it was free to add it on my Homestead account and the scrapbooker in me had fun setting it up.



posted by Colleen McCubbin at 2:54 AM 1 comments

Thursday, December 25, 2008

smoking ban

I received the following email from my friend Crystal, with whom I lived and traveled in China. She’s living there now and frequently sends me quirky news items.


> Thought you would enjoy this!!! Colleen, I always remember you telling those guys to stop smoking on the train!!!


> --- On Thu, 12/25/08, spsark < wrote:

> From: spsark <>

> Subject: SCN -  SOCIETY:  Chinese man detained for 3 days for smoking on train

> To:

> Date: Thursday, December 25, 2008, 2:58 AM


Chinese man detained for 3 days for smoking on train


Wed Dec 24, 2008


BEIJING (Reuters) A man was given three days in detention for breaking a non-smoking rule on a new high-speed rail line, Chinese state media said, an unusually severe punishment in a country where smoking bans are routinely ignored.


He was caught smoking in the toilet just after the train had left Tianjin for Beijing, triggering an alarm and causing the train to stop, the official Xinhua news agency said on its website (www.xinhuanet. com).


 The high-tech line connects the capital with neighbouring Tianjinin. It opened in time for this year's Beijing Olympics and features carriages more luxurious than usual in China, including swivel chairs and spacious, plush interiors.


No-smoking signs and rules are generally given short shrift in China and about half of all Chinese men smoke.


"It is strictly forbidden to smoke on the Beijing-Tianjin Express, and they hope everyone respects the rules, travels in a civilised manner and ensures the train's safety and punctuality," Xinhua said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Editing by David Fox)

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 9:10 PM 1 comments

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Love Came Down at Christmas

A few days ago my pastor asked if I would sing something at our Christmas Eve service. Definitely! I've been steeping in so many ideas for Christmas songs and concerts and musicals, it feels natural to sing out of that overflow -- though many of these ideas will have to wait for next year to really find a place.

I thought it would be fun to write a new song -- perhaps set a Madeleine L'Engle poem to music. My friend Dara laughed at and identified with my enthusiasm and suggested that maybe I have too many other things to do! she was right.

Well, I didn’t write an entire new song, but the song I fell upon needed some reworking. I posted the lyrical quandary on my Facebook status, Nick Suen from Vancouver responded in a message, and we dialogued about it.

Several recording artists (Jars of Clay, Ali Matthews, Shawn Colvin) have done compelling versions of this song, but they all leave out verse two about worship, omitting/avoiding the tension and the question and some of the grandeur -- sentimentalizing it in my opinion. Moya Brennan retains it. Granted, the original wording is cumbersome and hard to understand for today's audience. I decided to update it, especially the question, without losing the gorgeous poetry. Here are the original verses two and three:

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:

But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token

Love be yours and love be mine

Love from God to all of us

Love for plea and gift and sign

At first I considered, “what shall we use as a sacred sign?” but “use” isn't right. It's utilitarian for one thing and lacks the right connotation. I also decided to take liberties with the next verse to improve the parallelism and help listeners "get it" more clearly. Also, Nick said “sacred sign” felt cryptic, at least in the place where it originally occurred.

It was a relief to finally read Nick’s response: “perfect! I thought about 'gift' but abandoned it prematurely. I think it works: what will be our gift and sign. I like it.”

So this was the final result:

Love came down at Christmas (Christina Rossetti)

Love came down at Christmas
Love, all lovely, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and Angels gave the sign

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:

What shall be our gift and sign?

Love shall be our token

Love shall be our sacred sign

Love from God to all of us

Love be yours and love be mine

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 7:43 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A few months ago the Director of Donor Relations at Bethany College (Hepburn, SK) contacted me to ask permission to reprint from my blog post about Margaret Epp in their newsletter. I asked for a copy of the publication and kind of forgot about it ... until this week when it arrived in the mail. Interestingly, my byline is not my name, but my blog URL! "The following is reprinted, with permission, from" Seems a little strange ... yet ... I'm not going to complain if this little article drives traffic to my blog! :)

Note: He had found me through a Google search!

A few weeks ago another publication arrived in the mail: God With Us, Always. The Barnes and Noble description says, "Members of the Regent College Community far and wide gather together in this volume to offer their reflections on the hopes, promises and fulfillments of the Advent season." The slim volume is organized with the same writer giving a morning and evening reflection on one passage of Scripture for each day. My meditations are on December 5th, Psalm 114.

It's a lovely way to "let every heart prepare him room."

Order it here.

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posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:39 AM 0 comments

Monday, December 15, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Strasbourg

I have entered a dance contest! 'So you think you can dance Strasbourg' is a fundraiser for Telemiracle. I have until Feb21 to dig out the shoes and plan the moves -- with a bit of help from YouTube!

About a decade ago I joined a clogging group in Moose Jaw. One song we learned was a clogging standard: Cotton Eyed Joe. Here are a couple of samples:

Then again, I was thinking that if I copied the Bob the Builder clogging routine from YouTube I might be able to defuse any expectations in the audience!

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 10:06 PM 0 comments


This Sunday in Advent we light the candle of joy. Below is a fitting devotional I received via email:

SONGS OF REJOICING (from God at Eventide, December 14)

You must pray about all you plan to meet. Pray that you may leave them the braver, better, and happier for having seen and talked with you.

Life is so serious, let nothing turn you from your desire to serve and help. Realize all you are able to accomplish in your moments of highest prayer and service, and then think that, were your desire as intense always what could you not accomplish?

Rejoice in Me. The Joy of the Lord must indeed be your strength. You must step aside, and wait until the Joy floods all your being if you wish to serve.

Let Joy keep your hearts and minds lifted above frets and cares. If you want the walls of the city to fall down, you must go round it with songs of rejoicing.


posted by Colleen McCubbin at 1:20 AM 0 comments

Saturday, December 13, 2008

the little town

She was like a body on her deathbed, the good citizens standing around, caps clutched in anxious hands, worried yet resigned expressions on their faces. If this was going to be the end, let it be as quick and free of pain as possible. Just let her go and find a way to muddle through life without her. Move on perhaps. Or hang around until the last of them also passed on, leaving a ghost town.

But she just wouldn't die.

She lay there, on life support, with occasional government handouts to inject some semblance of vibrancy. Her breathing was measured. She did not move as the seasons changed around her. No commerce, no children's clubs, no community celebrations, just eternal dying.

The residents held their breath.

Then one day, a stranger came to town, asking questions, snooping around. He had some ideas. But the citizens wouldn't dare to hope. Sure enough, the stranger left again and the citizens were relieved. Hoping would have been too painful.

Yet, the stranger returned, this time with a moving truck. And when he did, the color started coming back into her face. The residents couldn't believe it -- almost didn't want to believe it. They had been so sure she would pass on, they had gotten used to the idea, almost to the point that they wanted it to happen.

Now, the stranger called them back from their fatalistic self-defeat. Just let her die already and be done with it! But the stranger refused. He was gentle, yet insistent. Her life was not over. He kissed her, put a ring on her finger, planted his stakes in the ground, and stayed.

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 9:13 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

the blessing of winter

“We give thanks for the blessing of winter:

Season to cherish the heart.

To make warmth and quiet for the heart.

To make soups and broths for the heart.

To cook for the heart and read for the heart.

To curl up softly and nestle with the heart.

To sleep deeply and gently at one with the heart.

To dream with the heart.

To spend time with the heart.

A long, long, time of peace with the heart.

We give thanks for the blessing of winter:

Season to cherish the heart.


(From When I talk to You by Michael Leunig)

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:42 AM 0 comments

Hot Apple Cider

Still wondering what to give … or what to read … this winter?

Try some Hot Apple Cider, a collection of short writings by Canadian authors who are Christian.  

posted by Colleen McCubbin at 12:42 AM 1 comments