12 July 2019

The Mosaic Collection: Deb Elkink | Guest Post + Giveaway

For His glory…
The Mosaic Collection is an international community of women authors who use faith-based fiction to touch hearts with the good news that Christ’s finished work on the cross has made us one family, and to nurture affection for the people God has placed within our circles of influence, so that the grace and glory of God may become visible and personal to everyone we meet.

…and our good
We are sisters, a beautiful mosaic united by the love of God through the blood of Christ. We have experienced the redemptive, restorative power of God’s grace in our marriages and families, and we believe our God is able to heal, restore and redeem our brokenness. His love fills us with the courage to persevere, and to offer others a Christ-like compassion that is full of His wisdom and grace.


Vagabond Come Home

The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot
on one’s own country . . . I am going to wander over the whole earth
until once more I find Battersea.

(G.K. Chesterton, “The Riddle of the Ivy,” Tremendous Trifles)

Mondays at noon hour I took piano lessons. On one particular Monday in 1966, I passed beneath the recently inaugurated Canadian Maple Leaf that flapped from the school’s flagpole, and I left behind the playground noise to cross the road and open the gate to the woodland pathway of my music teacher’s estate. Delicate lily-of-the-valley spring blossoms poked up through the Manitoba undergrowth, their tiny white bells giving off a luscious scent. Raindrops shook from the canopy above to tickle my hair. I mounted the steps of the two-story brick cottage and heard the footfall of Miss George—about the age of my maternal grandma but oh! so different—before she opened the door. Her sturdy legs were encased in beige stockings, and she tapped her toes to an internal rhythm.

My grandma had never greeted me at the door of her farmhouse; I’d never heard the floorboards squeak beneath her step. By the time I was born, the creeping paralysis had ascended from her non-tapping toes clear up past her shoulders, leaving her completely immobilized from the neck downwards.

“Go on through to the bathroom, Dear,” Miss George said, “and remember to pat-pat-pat dry.” I lathered up with a floral button of Yardley® soap and dried as per instructions on a lace-trimmed guest towel that would never have withstood the rigours of my three brothers. This was a feminine household of two spinster sisters whose people hailed from England and whose parlor boasted a sepia photo of an elegant foremother disembarking a Victorian carriage.

In contrast, the most notable picture in my family was of Grandma in her wheelchair, fuzzy slippers showing unscuffed bottoms. It’s almost ironic that her own fleeing mother—my great-grandmother—traversed sea and soil by boat and train and Red River cart, chased by rising Russian nationalism from her home on the banks of the Dnieper River in 1874 to settle in a sod house on the banks of Manitoba’s Scratching River.

So Miss George’s British heritage seemed glamorous, unburdened as it was with wheelchairs and oxen-drawn carts.

I lined up my blouse buttons with Middle C and stumbled my way through “Baby Elephant Walk,” and then Miss George said, “I have something to show you. Follow me.” Curiosity flaring, I trailed behind her up the stairs to her enchanting antique trunk full of surprises.

Miss George had already let me hold a bone china teacup so fine my finger shadows showed through. And last week I’d blasted away on the fox-hunting horn after she prompted me to purse my lips—a thrilling cry that summoned my imagination to distant fields. Today she pushed aside tissue paper and withdrew a mass of crinoline netting and an emerald green gown.

“It’s silk taffeta. My aunt brought it over on the steamer.” She shook out the wrinkles and held it up to my shoulders, the smell of moth balls making my eyes sting. “It would fit you if I laced it up tightly.”

“I can try it on?” My voice squeaked.

She corrected my grammar. “You may. And then we’ll run on the lawn.”

She coached me in the proper method: I was to sprint while lifting the skirts, then stop abruptly and drop the hems to trap the air as I sank into a sitting position. That taffeta billowed out about me like the royal robes of a princess in some foreign land. The word “immigrant” began to hold more magic for me.

Soon I was a teenybopper wearing fishnets and groovy go-go boots. During the summer of 1967, hippies in transit between Yorkville and Gastown overran Winnipeg’s streets and parks. They strummed guitars and sang their songs of freedom—of four strong winds and seven seas that bound them to move on. A little too young to be swept along in the momentum of their pilgrimage, still I wore their love beads and dreamed of hitching a ride on the open road.

Maybe I was rebelling against my grandma’s enforced stillness. Or maybe my genes were imprinted by my great-grandmother’s journeying, initiated generations before her in the Low Countries of Europe during the Reformation. Patriotism had gained no foothold in my pacifistic ancestry of wayfaring conscientious objectors. None of my uncles (unlike those of my classmates) had served militarily in Italy or landed at Dieppe; no war photos of decorated officers sat on my piano.

My parents encouraged my growing wanderlust. Dad spun tales of his running away to join the circus and of riding the rails with the last of the Great Depression hobos; Mom shared newsy bits about shirttail relatives in Belize. I was primed for travel, and before my teens were over I’d already crisscrossed Japan from Tokyo to the southern tip of Kyushu: I’d slept on tatami mats in a millennium-old monastery, negotiated the sacred tea ceremony, and plucked out a tune about cherry blossoms on a koto. Since then I’ve tramped more than thirty nations—touring wineries in Chile and avocado plantations in Mexico, rambling the streets of Barcelona, trekking the Garden Route of South Africa, seeking out dim sum in Hong Kong and street pho in Hanoi. Amazed, I’ve wended my way through twisted alleys in Istanbul and promenaded broad boulevards in Paris; I’ve scrabbled the terraced trails of Cinque Terre and picked my way around outriggers on sandy beaches in the Philippines.

Something about the familiarity of home makes “away” so alluring, but something about the contrast of the foreign brings home racing back to the heart. And so increasingly my affections have turned to the geographical majesty of my own land, Canada offering exotic adventure within her expansive borders and leaving me agog at my own inheritance.

Indeed, my very first pen pal was an Inuit from Inuvik who mailed me an ookpik. It matched my hand-stitched Arctic sealskin mukluks and foreshadowed a flight I made years later when co-ferrying a Cessna aircraft up to Pine Point on the edge of Great Slave Lake. We soared over Peace River country, over muskeg and boreal forests and the mighty Hay River, navigating by way of waterfalls and lakes.

I’ve strolled Pacific Ocean beaches collecting sand dollars brought in by thundering waves off Vancouver Island, and I’ve meandered beneath stands of great cedars that West Coast Aboriginals carved into totem poles. I’ve stood on glaciers, and climbed Rocky Mountain paths, and clambered up hoodoos in the Alberta Badlands. I’ve pushed my way through grain fields blowing in the prairie winds and slept beneath the stars on the walking dunes in the Great Sand Hills of Saskatchewan. I’ve paddled and portaged, like the voyageurs, on waterways emptying into Hudson Bay. I’ve hiked the Niagara Gorge to the roaring of the falls and sauntered beneath scarlet maples that “shook me like a cry of bugles going by,” then eaten my pancakes with the Quebec syrup bled out of those trees. I’ve dabbled in the tidal pools of the Atlantic Ocean near the pier in Halifax, where my own great-grandmother first set her sole on Canadian turf after her long passage—the passage of a people in transit.

And though I continue to explore far-off places with great curiosity and a yearning for the quest, my own soul has found its sojourn, my restless wandering always satisfied again in settling itself into home.


Deb Elkink lives with her long-time husband in a cottage beside a babbling creek in rural Alberta, Canada. She grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and studied in Minneapolis–Saint Paul (B.A. Communications), publishing a dozen or so short stories and articles as a young adult. She spent the next twenty years as a rancher’s wife and homeschooling mom (rounding up cattle on horseback, cooking for huge branding crews, earning her private pilot’s license, readying kids for high school).

Graduate studies (M.A. Theology) then prepared her for editing a professional quarterly magazine, doctoral dissertations and scholarly articles, and an online expository Bible study. Today she writes and edits, travels like mad, drinks lots of creamy decaf with friends, and speaks to women’s groups about the Christian faith.

Her debut novel (The Third Grace) received Canada’s prestigious Grace Irwin Prize in 2012, and her literary work on the fiction of a late-Victorian British writer (Roots and Branches: The Symbol of the Tree in the Imagination of G.K. Chesterton) was published in 2015. Her upcoming novel is a contemporary women’s fiction with a historical/theological twist: Eat, Pray, Love and The Wizard of Oz meet the Book of Hebrews in showing that “home” is a state of soul, a state of inner rest.

Cornerstone message from the collection: Look for God in the Bible. Everything (art, literature, fashion design, engineering, philosophy, travel, cooking, health, romance, community, fitness . . .) can be a way to express or illustrate God’s action on our world, but only the living and breathed-out Word of God can give us knowledge of the Father our hearts are longing for. Only the mind of God revealed to the minds of mortals by the Holy Spirit through Scripture can bring us into alignment with the Person of Jesus Christ. In today’s increasingly pagan culture, “spirituality” has become a buzzword for any belief but the truth—the more mystical the better. But the Holy Book of God is the only source containing all we need for salvation and spiritual life.


(1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card & an ebook prize pack*!

Winner will receive an ebook of:

Where She Belongs
Pieces of Granite
Christmas on a Mission
Other Side of the River
The Third Grace
Carolina Grace
The Benefit Package (a devotional)
Dance of Grace
When Love Calls

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight July 10, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 24, 2019. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Open internationally, but international winner will receive a gift card only (may be substituted for a Book Depository gift card if winner cannot accept from US Amazon)

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



  1. Hallie, thanks so much for asking me to write a post for your readers today!

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