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Showing posts from April, 2007

First Day

I'm taking some vacation days this week and am so grateful at the end of this good day, for the gift of time at home. I'm using the time to complete a writing assignment for a course--and enjoying the chance to catch up on some of the things that don't get done in a normal week.

Last night there was a strong wind determinedly finding tiny cracks in window frames and singing mournfully through them. In the morning I sat on the couch to reflect, read and pray but found myself distracted and gazing through the window at the silver birch. Little green leaves adorned each branch and the catkins blew out in the wind like green streamers. And the branches of the tall blue spruce in the middle of the front lawn, its strong centre trunk holding firm, danced in the wind, in constant movement as if being shaken by an invisible and mischievous friend.

Victoria ran down the driveway to catch the school bus with Molson trotting beside her and then Tiffany-Amber followed. Hair and spring j…

Sunday Afternoon Celebration

"Just put your arms tightly around her waist and lift her up," called Susan to Victoria. Emily had been climbing on a wall and Susan was instructing Victoria in how to take charge of her littlest cousin. As Victoria carried Emily to a safer part of the back yard, Molson trotted along, curious about this little one who travels on all fours just like him. An April Sunday afternoon and after church our house is filled with family. We are grateful for an opportunity to spend precious hours together--a gift never taken for granted. A few balls to kick or throw--all that are needed to keep two grandparents busy running up and down the lawn following Stephen's instructions. "Omie you go in goal," or, if he's in goal, "Go really easy, shoot in the middle." Our skins soak up the wonderful warmth of the sun and cool to the gentle kiss of the breeze. The fruit trees in the orchard are covered in velvet buds from which are unfurling tiny, perfect, fresh green …

Perfectly Made, Perfectly Loved

Psalm 139:1-5 (New International Version)
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue

you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before;

you have laid your hand upon me.

How wonderful people are--each person a sum of their genes, upbringing, experiences and culture. At birth, already affected by the emotions, sounds, nutrients and chemicals that flowed around and through the tiny form that grew in the dark but safe, hidden place.

With each successive year, unique factors influence, washing over the growing person as water on stone, polishing smooth, creating a shape, hue and sparkle, distinct from any other in the history of time.

Some experiences are painful and wounding--creating nicks and scars--but even these are part of our uniqueness.

Little Lamb Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know w…

The Shaving

Deuteronomy 30:6 (New International Version)
6 The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

It was an intense conversation with my friend Frances. She'd had an upsetting experience at the beginning of the week and although a couple of days had passed, anger had only faded from white hot to red. She needed to talk it through in order to fully resolve it. A few minutes later the storm was settling; the bad feelings evaporating. As she said goodbye, she told me about a razor she'd bought, made especially for trimming callouses, which she suffers badly from. "I'm willing to be shaved," she said--not referring to feet--"there is such comfort afterwards and there is soft skin below."

Her words took me back to Tuesday evening at cell group. We had read Acts chapter 16, which starts out by describing the circumcision of the young disciple Timothy by …

Related by Blood

Acts 20:28 (New International Version)
28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

God is big on relationship--in fact everything he does is about relationship. Relationship and community--he knew these things wouldn't be easily learned, so he gave us the church to practise with. Oh--and families. Come to think about it, church is family--we're even related by blood--just not the blood that runs through our veins.

There are times when I would much rather treat practicing relationship as an optional extra--but it really is a non-negotiable. It can be discouraging and hard when we really get down to the nitty-gritty and try to work things through on an issue but God made sure we wouldn't have to figure it all out on our own. He left us lots of help in his guidebook.

Brenda sometimes gets stressed out when she's around me and my friends when we are having…

The Hound of Heaven

His eyes shine with a love that is all about giving. Stephen's heart is worn prominently on his sleeve and those of us blessed enough to be the object of that love by virtue of being a grandparent or some other relative, well, we are blessed.

Last Thursday evening I dropped by his house after we had all been at a baby shower. As I was leaving, with hugs and kisses for all--Stephen, Joshua, Emily and Katherine--Stephen cast around for a gift to give and picked two balloons he'd brought home from the shower, tied together, blue and green--already slightly deflated. "These are for you," he said--but it was the tender look in his eyes that was the real gift. I feel so protective of this little one--that kind of love...it is so vulnerable to hurt.

Stephen has a hero--his uncle Jay. We're not sure if it's because they both share a passion for Nascar racing, but Stephen is never here for long before he asks, "Where's uncle Jay?" He loves to sit beside hi…

Checking In!

Psalm 121:1 (New International Version)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

Just checking in to say--it's going well with the storyboard since I created it on Sunday.

Where I was feeling defeated, I feel confident.
Where I was tired, I feel rested.
Where I felt sluggish, I feel energized.

Change--positive change--is happening. Rah!

I'm reviewing the storyboard regularly to change my mind about who I am--reminding myself that I am a new creation in Christ--and reminding myself of who that person is.

Amy Carmichael writes in her journalled thoughts, published in the book, Edges of His Ways:
April 24th

"Can we command our thoughts? I believe we can. God has given us the power to close the shutter of our minds upon hurtful, weakening thoughts. He has provided all manner of shutters. A book that swings us off ourselves and into another world is a very good shutter; a song set to music; beauty; the dear love of those who love us. Above all, there is this: Look …

Loved and Secure

I fumbled with the keys to the door leading to my office in the lower level of a house that is home to five people with developmental disabilities. As the door opened, he was waiting for me, still pajama clad, slightly unsteady of gait, one side somewhat disabled by childhood polio--it was just the start of the day--but he was anxious to tell me, in his distinctly Italian accent, "Hey! We miss you at church yesterday!"
"I missed you too, John," I said, "But the baby dedication I went to at my friend's church was very special."

I thought later that John would be a great person to call people if they missed church. When I drive him and his wife home after church each week, we have a ritual of going through the drive-through at Tim Hortons for a large double-double for John and a medium steeped tea with milk and sugar for his lady. It never fails--the girls in the window lean over and yell into the car, "Hi John! How are you?" and he shouts a tea…

The New Has Come!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (New International Version)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

I read these words this morning and decided--I receive them. I love that they are stated positively as fact. I am a new creation.

Lately I haven't felt very much like a new creation as I've struggled with some old patterns that are unhealthy--overeating and not getting enough rest and exercise--but these words gave me a needed change of perspective.

A couple of years ago I attended a great workshop presented by Deborah Gyapong, on "storyboarding" your life. For a while I've wanted to revisit my storyboard and update it and this afternoon I did.

Storyboarding is a media term--a way of showing the sequence of scenes in a story by pinning up pictures of the scenes. Applying this idea to our lives involves making two columns on a page and in one column making word "pictures" written in present tense describing how we want…
A gift from God, a miracle--Ava Claire Jasmine--surrounded by a host of friends and family, she was anointed with oil and dedicated to God today!

Waiting with Patience

John 6:17 (New International Version)
17... they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.

Isn't that a metaphor for our lives? Jesus is slow in coming (appearing--answering), so we get into the boat and head out...What were they thinking of? What are we thinking of? What would have been happened that day if other choices had been made? Yet, Jesus knew where they were and pursued them.

John 6:27 (New International Version)
27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to trust you even when you seem to be slow in answering. I give to you all of those situations about which I might be tempted towards hopelessness or impatience.

A Celebration

Drawn to God by cords of love I feel his loving arms encircle me As in the still, still, evening hush I stand And gaze upon the beauty of the land A quiet celebration in my heart Rejoicing in the earth, and sky above Bathed in the splendour of his love!

The Real World

In this morning's reading in 2 Corinthians 4, I was struck by three "do nots."

In verses 1, 2 and 16:

1) We do not lose heart
2) We do not use deception
3) Nor do we distort the Word of God
4) We do not lose heart (Paul states this at the starting and ending of this chapter)

At the end of the chapter Paul states, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

How we need reminding of that! This was reinforced as I was listened to an interview with Terry Waite on CBC radio this evening. In 1987, after volunteering to negotiate the release of hostages from Beirut, Lebanon, he was taken captive himself. In a previous interview with CNN he said,

"Because of faith, I could say in the face of my captives, 'You have the power to break my body and you've tried, the power to bend my mind an…

Living with Freedom and Purpose

Every culture has a worldview. For instance, North America’s culture is focused on the individual, whereas in Africa and the Far East, the family or community is the centre.

But what of the Kingdom of God--how does the worldview of the Kingdom fit with the culture we live in? Do we even realize they are different?

Our culture highly values achievement, setting of goals, accomplishing numbers of things in all areas of life. This seems so plausible and productive—what could be wrong with it? After all, aren’t hard work, discipline and productivity worthy virtues? Of course they are, but sometimes my own life feels as if it’s spinning so fast that I could be in danger of missing something far more important if I don’t take time to consider what I’m doing—and why.

Jesus said, (John 10:10 (New International Version)) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The thief is Satan, the one who was set against God from the b…

Erica--Sweet of Spirit

"Let nature take its course," was what the doctors said when she was born.

Inoffensive enough, those words--they could allude to letting a cold get better without resorting to medication--only in this case they meant allowing a little girl to die. "She'll be dead in a month," they said, "We'll just keep her comfortable."

Fortunately, the little baby born with a hole in her back--spina bifida--and a raging infection-- also had a mother who didn't listen to the doctors. Erica survived the infection and is now an eleven year old who lights up the life of anyone who meets her.

When she was five she would regularly ask her mother, "When am I going to learn how to walk?" That was never a possibility for Erica but it hasn't held her back from life.

Until now, her mom has catheterized Erica four times, each and every single day. She is about to have an operation to enable her to be independent. She will be able to do this herself afterwards …

Adversity

Adversity sometimes drives people to their knees. It was like that for my brother in England in the year 2000 when his marriage broke up. That year was a nightmare--a year of heartbreak for him and for his children--and a year of anguish for everyone who loved them. I would never want to revisit the pain of that season in his life, but during it God drew him closer than ever before.

On September 10th 2000 I wrote:

Yesterday Robert and I spoke. He had received a large lawyer's bill that had to be paid this week and he was worrying about his dwindling resources when he remembered reading a page in the Daily Light that was a comfort along those lines

He had received the Daily Light that I had sent him from Canada, on May 5th, and so he began looking through all the pages since then, especially at the pages than he had bent the corners down on. As he did, the words of many other pages moved him deeply and he kept saying to himself, "Why didn't I turn the corner down on this one,…

Being Real

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (New Living Translation)
2 The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. 3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

To be fully myself with others has been a lifelong journey. Growing up shy and an introvert by nature is part of it--and like much of the rest of the world, I've struggled with insecurities and lack of self worth (the enemy loves us to believe that we are worthless).

I can trace the process of breaking free of hiding through poems, reflections and revelations in my journals and now I think that my closest friends know me pretty fully.

I've come to realize that the only real gift I have to offer the world is myself and that to be fully me is th…

Pray!

Ephesians 6:19-20 (New International Version)
19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

The man who wrote these words was Paul the apostle--known as Saul, of Tarsus before his dramatic conversion--a brilliant and educated man. He first appears at the very end of the seventh chapter of Acts--a party to the stoning death of the first martyr, Stephen--and his life was an adventure from beginning to end.

The Life Application Bible, in its profile of Paul says:
God did not waste any part of Paul--his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses.

And yet, this man who had everything, counted it all as nothing--except to give it all to God. He refused to use his brilliant mind to persuade people of the truth of the gospel, although God flowed through his intellect and used it.

In…

A Gentle Day

Peace pervaded my day today. I don't know whether it was because it was Friday, or because I actually got to bed before midnight last night and was well rested, but it felt good. I felt as though I was moving calmly and purposefully through the tasks at hand--with no pressure, just accomplishing things one by one. My office was peaceful and quiet--the phone hardly rang and there were few emails--perhaps because several of my team were at training. And I knew they'd be having a wonderfully inspiring day.

I left work for the day in the early afternoon, taking some lieu time in order to have lunch with a friend. As we left the restaurant and headed for my car, the biting cold wind blasted us. A windswept man approached us, clutching a clipboard full of pages that were flapping madly in the gusts of wind. He was slightly disheveled--and in his early sixties I would have guessed. "Would you like to sponsor me in a walk for MS research?" he asked. As it became evident what …

Against all Odds but God's

Her long, straight, dark blonde hair frames a face with serious and sincere eyes. She is one of the young people of Canada--who grew up singing a national anthem with the lines--God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee--but learned nothing of God as she grew up, and had only scorn for those who believed.

Like many young people, Jennifer had dabbled in paganism and the occult--nothing serious--just curiosity--but she thought Christianity really stupid. A history major, she knew that religion, including Christianity, had been the catalyst for much trouble and inhumanity over the centuries. Besides, she had never met anyone who could defend the Christian faith. There was one girl in high school who believed, "But," she said, "We could all talk circles around her."

Her mother and sister had a nominal faith. They believed in God, but didn't practice their faith in any way--they didn't go to church or read the Bible. They were proba…

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Her van was ten years old and it had seen better days. Between monthly payments, and oil changes, she was spending $1,000 a month and then there were repairs. There's a critical point in the life of a vehicle, when you suspect it's becoming a black hole into which money vanishes. The van was there!

Barb was a single mom of two children--one of them,Erica, had spina bifida--a bright spirited little girl who used a wheelchair. Being a student nurse in her fourth year of studies with one more to go, every penny was needed but Barb asked her mechanic if he'd seen any cars that might be within her means and suitable for her needs.

The mechanic said that he did have a Honda Accord. It was $3,000--but a lady was coming to see it. "That's okay," said Barb, "If she has the money, you should sell it to her." The other woman was sending a friend to look at the car before she bought it. She had $2,500 to put down as a deposit. Barb also went to see it--on Monday,…

A Life Recorded

1 Corinthians 16:15-18 (New King James Version)
15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints— 16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours...

Once again tonight I opened one of my boxes of journals. Some are simple loose leaf spiral bound books, some cloth covered; some are brightly patterned and others in muted shades--one even has a cover of hand made paper. They chronicle my life from when I was a twelve year old school girl in England (that one a silk green leatherette five year diary that used to lock but upon which I still felt the need to write "Private"--twice--just in case). On they go through my teens, young motherhood, then through my thirties, forties and…

Simple Thanksgiving

Joshua--two years, ten and a half months old! He has a smile to melt the hardest heart and the sunniest disposition in the world. Give him a ball and he is beyond happy--especially if someone will join in a game of catch. He has lots to say and some of it we even understand now. We love him dearly. In the fall of 2004 when Josh was almost five months old, he woke up one afternoon with a very high fever. Our daughter-in-law Susan instinctively knew that something was seriously wrong. She bundled him up and took him to the hospital in nearby Alliston. The doctor there was very concerned and sent them on to the hospital in Barrie where Joshua was admitted and kept for the next five days battling a serious staph infection. His mom never left his side the whole time. I remember what a pitiful sight he was--limp, lethargic and clinging to Susan. Had she not acted as quickly as she did--had the doctor in Alliston not taken it seriously--things might have turned out so much worse. The suspecte…

Costly Faith

The day began with my alarm going off at 4.30 a.m. stirring me from my sleep. I resisted my usual habit of hitting the snooze button. I didn't want to risk a second snooze this morning--I haven't missed an Easter morning sunrise service for the past ten years. There's something about this yearly gathering with other believers from all of the churches in town that draws me. I love the opportunity to meet with our friends from other denominations and worship together, declaring, we small crowd, huddled on the hillside, that "Christ is risen!" Breakfast afterwards is always especially good too, rotating around the churches--old fashioned bacon, sausages, eggs, pancakes and home made preserves.This morning the half moon hung in the gray sky of morning as we left the house, dressed warmly against the frosty cold that nipped at our cheeks. As we drove along still deserted roads, past silent, sleeping households it felt, as it always does, like we were headed to a secret …

The Second Shift

Paul and I are noticing a subtle shift that's happening in our relationship with our kids.

I first noticed it last year when Brenda took me out to dinner to celebrate getting her income tax refund. It was a chilly day--and as we were leaving the restaurant she said, "You stay here Mom--I'll go and get the car." I let the feeling register--"I think I am being 'looked after,' " I said to myself. I surrendered gracefully and a little gratefully, but as I waited obediently in the doorway I wondered, "Is this it? Am I getting old?" Normally I would be striding purposefully across the parking lot trailing my daughter in my wake!

This afternoon Paul and I came home from lunch at Tim Horton’s to find our son Peter here with Katherine, Stephen and Joshua. Tiffany-Amber and Victoria came upstairs to play and I surrendered to three hours that included Black Beauty (we wiped away tears together), another wild game of Sorry, throwing balls and much wipin…

Jesus Revealed

Today I simply want to share some scriptures that reveal Jesus. They speak more clearly than anything I could say~

Genesis 49:10-11 (New International Version)

10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,

his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.


Numbers 24:17a (New International Version)

17 "I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel...

Isaiah 42:1-4 (New International Version)
The Servant of the Lord
1 "Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,

or raise his voice in the stre…

Invitation Accepted

Matthew 26
1When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2"As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."

Matthew recorded these words, but there is no record of the disciples' response.

Perhaps they were busy--arguing about who was the greatest in the kingdom--wondering where they could find food for the next meal--concerned with the petty (the little) things of life--the things that occupy me too.

I wonder if he longed for friends in whom he could confide. He confided anyway--although his words so often fell like stones that didn't meet their targets.

I don't want to be like that--distracted by minutia, but I am...I am.

Jesus is waiting for me as he waited for the disciples--waiting for me to slow down and listen. I want to receive the gift he holds out to me--the gift of intimate fellowship--a life lived in communion with him.

I've found myself thinking this week of the words of th…

Singing in the Shadow of His Wings...

Belinda,

Your post of Monday (April 2, 2007) touched me deeply and drew me closer in devotion to the One who gave so much -- for me... Thankyou for that gift to us this Holy Week... I've been thinking about your words all morning and I remembered a poem I wrote some years ag0.


Singing in the Shadow of Your Wings March 7, 1999
Just when I think I'm finally getting free
it seems to come about by some necessity
that I'm forced to look into my book of memories.

Every leaf, to my chagrin,
falls open to a place I rather would not see!
And I can sense
a feeling rising up in me of pure futility-
As the pain of all my past cascades and washes over me.

And then...

I feel your love enfolding me
Drawing me, holding me...
Close to your heart!
And there's no place I'd rather be
Than waiting right here quietly
Just being in the shadow of your wings.

As I lean against Your breast,
Once again I know to rest
In the hope and peace that your forgiveness brings.

My heart is filled completely. It begins to o…

Tears

I felt the tears gather in my eyes as I watched out the window. Rebecca had been sliding on a long strip of ice beside our house. She fell hard and banged her elbow. I heard her wails and saw her clutching her arm and opened the sliding door to comfort her. She sobbed in my hug and scowled at the same time, frustrated at this turn of events. When I suggested to her that she try playing at something else in our yard, she shook her head stubbornly and stomped back to her hollering brothers, still rubbing her hurt and wiping tears away.

That was when my own welled up. I love her so, and I hate to see her wounded. Children know that if they do certain things there is a risk of injury, but they keep on because it's fun, there's a thrill involved.

I wondered if this is how our Father feels as he watches us fall and hurt ourselves. He lovingly prompts us that the choice we're making may be hazardous, but we keep on, digging in our heels and insisting that we must go our own way. Do…

The Loneliness of Jesus

Matthew 26:7-9 (New International Version)
7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. 9 "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."


Step into Matthew 26. Be there in the moments in time captured in words. Agony, turmoil, a sense that all familiar and safe was unraveling, coming to an end--close bonds being torn apart. Feel it rather than read it--as it must have felt to those involved.

Yes, all these things are there in that chapter, but today I'm seeing only Jesus--and the pain that came before the searing physical pain that lay ahead--that those closest to him--his most intimate companions were so far from being with him in his preparation for suffering.

The chapter starts by describing the conspiracy of evil, the plot, the lies against one who had only …

The Gap

Romans 8:18-19 (New International Version)
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

I've been thinking about tension of a particular sort over the past couple of days--the tension caused by the gap between what is and what we wish was, or what we think ought to be. Like most other people I suspect, I haven't always handled the gap well.

We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and we are part of the equation. We are prone to forget that when filled with disappointment, frustration and criticism.

We shouldn't be surprised at the gap--rather we should accept the fact that it will be there--usually it would be more surprising if it wasn't. Accepting this fact isn't the same as accepting the status quo.

Discerning what is and what isn't within our realm of responsibility and control is a tension reducer. The moment…