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Showing posts from June, 2007

Inspiration (or lack thereof!)

When Belinda first asked, in her gentle and inimitable way if I could do a post for her tonight, I responded exactly the way I felt at the time. I was sure it would be easy. "Inspiration is EVERYWHERE!" I said. Right.

I didn't know then how I would be feeling after spending much of today reading about Canada's First Nations. I am going on a two week missions trip with daughter Jorie (age 16) in two weeks time to the Mishkeegogamang First Nation north and east of Sioux Lookout. I wanted to have as much familiarity as possible with what the needs might be and how we would best be able to serve during our short time there. So I have been attempting to look at "the aboriginal issue" in Canada through their eyes.

And my heart is broken.

I am becoming aquainted with a race of people who have survived unbelievable assaults against a people's most fundamental and essential structure: the family -- not to mention the assaults on every other aspect of their culture …

Loving Obedience

1 John 5:3 (New International Version)
3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

These words, adapted from a poem by Robert Burns, are an apt description of my week--which I spent being busy with many things--most of them unexpected and unplanned.

This morning, for the first time--at work when I'd planned to be off and preparing to speak somewhere on Sunday--I felt a twinge of panic rising in my stomach. I called one of my team, saying that I needed to pass the baton and go home. Immediately, capable hands took over and not only that--I knew that several people would be praying for me. Relief flowed, soothing my soul--as refreshing as cool waves lapping over my feet on a hot summer beach.

I thanked God, as I do many times each week, for the way our work team functions--supporting one another lovingly and gladly. We never feel alone in any situation and we flow together in a synchroniz…

Sand Castles

1 Timothy 4
1The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Face Book--who hasn't heard of it--joined it--or resisted joining it?

Even though I haven't joined the Face Book community, I've been amazed at how this social networking tool has reunited old friends.

Peter and Brenda have reconnected with friends of twenty or more years ago from Bible College (in Peter's case) and the private Christian public school they both attended. As they have mentioned long forgotten names, my memory bank has spluttered and coughed up from the depths of dusty, long forgotten corners, some faces to match the names.

The leap of twenty to thirty years at one jump feels a bit like a ride in a time machine. That scamp of a boy with the glint of mischief in his eyes that I had such a soft spot for--ended up in jail--and so on...I've heard with interest, story after story of who and where these grown up children…

A Drive Through Heaven

This morning I woke with a jolt. I had set the coffee maker to come on before 7.00 for Paul, who planned to leave early to drive to Kitchener this morning.

I could smell the coffee, rich and comforting somehow, but the brightness of the morning light scared me. I was right to be scared--it was much later than I'd intended to be up.

Paul was long gone...I would not have known, having slept on the couch downstairs. I had not wanted to disturb him by going to bed as late as I had, when he had such an early start.

At 5.00 I'd woken to a chorus of birds outside--and closed the window. My feathered friends did their best, but alas I foiled them--and myself in the process.

In record quick time, leaving behind dishes in sink, unmade bed and other traces of a hasty exit, I was on my way to my first stop of the day--Collingwood.

I have an artist's eye for light and I wondered this morning how light can be so different from one country to the next--one day to the next. I grew up in the so…

Along the Mansfield Road, Mulmer Township, Dufferin County

Evening Conversation

It has been unbearably hot.
I move more slowly on days like this--the energy seeming to drain from my body like air from a leaky balloon.
But now it's evening and our last visitor has gone home after cell group.
I should focus on tidying up the dishes--emptying one load from the dishwasher and filling it again--but something draws me instead, to open the side door from our large living room and step out onto the back small wooden deck and steps.

I lower myself onto a step and it creaks as I sit. Drinking in the sights and sounds of the evening I think of the word "gloaming"--it seems to describe this pink, blue twilight; dusk. The old middle English word is made for the between time--no longer day but not quite night--a magic time-- lit tonight by the half moon hanging like a distant lamp in the sky.
The maple tree sighs, "Shhhhhhhh," and shakes her leaves at me--a dog barks in the distance. Birds twitter sporadically and a passing car breaks into the world of nat…

Morning Conversation

Joshua 22:5 (New International Version)
5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul."


Love the Lord your God
Walk in his ways
Obey his commands
Hold fast to him
Serve him with all your heart and all your soulI had just been reading and thinking about this verse and its implications when the phone rang. It was Peter, our son, checking in--trying to track down his dad. Since Paul was out getting my car back to its pre "battle-with-a-raccoon" state, I had the blessing of a few moments to connect with Peter. Conversations with Peter usually involve thoughtful exploration of ideas punctuated by frequent breaks to mediate outbreaks of war amongst two or more of his flock of four.He'd almost finished a thought provoking book that he said he'd like me to read and give my…

Children's Sunday at Hillside

Peter and Emily!

Tiffany-Amber and Victoria take a bow after playing for the offeratory
Katherine and Eden Belle --granddaughter and God-daughter--face painting.

Living Open

Psalm 32:9 (New International Version)
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you..


Paradigms--frameworks--what our son Peter once referred to as a set of coat hangers on which to hang our thoughts about life--we all have them. But, like fences, they can keep good things out as well as in, and they need to be examined periodically. We can miss important things when the perspective of our hearts and minds is so small that we're not open to really listening to what others have to say.

That was the problem with the Pharisees who were contemporaries of Jesus. They were so sure that they had the world securely nailed down in terms of what was right and wrong. Jesus called them "blind guides."

The Pharisees worshiped "religious systems" rather than God. It's easy to judge them smugly and miss the fact that we are all prone to being as blind as they were. It wasn't just the…

A March Observed

This week, my friend Susan was in Quebec City, staying in a five star hotel with a spectacular view over the Old City and the St. Lawrence River. She was there with her little grandson Mikey--and her husband, Ron, who was attending the annual meeting of Canada Land Surveyors.

On Friday evening, there was a ceremony and parade to mark the departure of some 2,000 soldiers of the Vandoos in August. Thousands of well wishers were reported in the Globe and Mail to have lined the parade route, but there was also a swarm of protesters that met them at the end of the parade route, shouting anti-war slogans and urging the soldiers to desert.

Susan was an eye witness to the parade from her 10th floor hotel room and emailed me some thoughts, which she gave me her permission to post on the blog.
___________________________________________________________
Friday, June 22nd 2007

From Susan Stewart

There is supposed to be a parade at 8:30 this evening in Quebec City of some 2000 soldiers who are about to …

Shadow Dance

I go from window to window, stunned, as I regularly am, by what I see in every direction.

Carefully groomed lawns, dotted with trees and shrubs, transition to fields with wilder beauty.

Crops break the ground--the brown earth vanishing from view--giving way to stalk and leaf.

The alders--how I love the alders--with their tall, waving, ostrich-feathery plumes, swaying side to side in the breeze like lumbering Indian elephants in royal procession. A princess could not be carried with greater dignity through the streets.

Through the front window I see that the lawn is a dance of shadow and light in the morning sun. Every bough is bending or bobbing or waving . The garden is astir and full of movement--light and leaf and blade.

Free to move where I wish--I am not rooted in the ground. Yet I seem more constrained than the trees and grasses that celebrate their freedom by waving at the world of man hurrying by.

Dear Lord, free me up to taste the simple joy of "being." Let me reflect pea…

Twelve Hours Old--new to the World!

Moments

"That’s it--I’m quitting. I’m quitting being a “people pleaser”—not today, but maybe tomorrow."

Thus said Brenda one recent evening, when someone had thrown her a curve ball. We both laughed when ten minutes later, she decided that she would do what had been asked of her after all--she said she had just needed time to adjust mentally to a change in what she'd been expecting.

Turn the clock back eight years and she is a young mother of a one year old baby and nine months heavily pregnant with her next. She's tired--and she's rocking the baby--Tiffany-Amber--to sleep on her shoulder in the dark kitchen. Louis Armstrong's rich gravelly voice is singing his well known song, Mac the Knife.

We all knew that album--The Best of Louis Armstrong--by heart when Brenda's girls were babies. It was such good "baby rocking music." Brenda had it down to a science--by the time Mac the Knife started, Tiffany-Amber would be relaxed into that floppy armed, dead weight…

The Tip of the Iceberg

Galatians 1:15 (Amplified Bible)
15 But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), ...

Isaiah 49:1
1LISTEN TO me, O isles and coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord has called me from the womb; from the body of my mother He has named my name.

God says that he calls us by name from the womb. He chooses and sets us apart for "something," and discovering what that "something" is can be an exciting journey of discovery--or--for some people, a perplexing puzzle.

I read this morning in some notes from a workshop I took a while ago, "There are a lot of things going on that God sees, but we don't see. What we see and understand is only the tip of the iceberg."

Yes, I believe that and have experienced it. There have been times when just as I was about to take on a role in ministry I found myself in an inner struggle with some personal area of weakness--someti…

Tears

Luke 7:38 (New International Version)\
3 8and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

Tuesday evenings are "open house" at our home and a "cell group," which is a cell of the Body of The Church, meets here for supper and community.

Tonight I worked quietly to prepare the supper after work. As the potatoes and vegetables began to simmer on the stove, they filled the house with the smell of dinner cooking. Tuesdays are the only sure night that I cook supper any more--Paul and I are free spirits when it comes to food--often eating cereal (him) or leftovers (me) during the rest of the week. So on Tuesday it's a treat to smell a good old fashioned home cooked meal cooking.

I looked for some music to play and found one of my old beloved Keith Green Cd's--the one with one of my favourite songs--My Eyes are Dry. Something about the words and Keith&#…

Things I Know

Psalm 131:2 (New International Version)
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

This morning the sound of a telephone ringing downstairs woke me up. The brightness of the sun shining into the room let me into a secret--the morning was well underway--it was already 8.30!

I had taken the day off to recover from the writers conference I'd been at for three days last week. I hadn't meant to spend so much of it asleep, although maybe I should have, having stayed up both nights away until 1.00 a.m. talking with my friends Bonnie and Susan.

I took my morning coffee out to the small square deck on the north-east side of the house and sat in the shade, reveling in the luxury of unhurried time.

A breeze riffled the leaves of our 15 year old maple tree. One of the small trees--mere twigs in 1992--given away by the government to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Dominion of Canada-- it now tower…

The Secret Things

Deuteronomy 29:29 (New International Version)
29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us...

Romans 11:33 (Amplified Bible)
33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

"The secret things belong to the Lord. Yes, he is a God of secrets and he holds the mysteries of the universe.

But...there is a change of ownership and responsibility here--the things revealed belong to us.

The insights he reveals to mere humans through his Word, are ours to be blessed by personally--to be nourished and changed by--but they belong to us as a trust."

I wrote these words this weekend--at an annual writers conference--my eighth, early in the morning as I spent time listening for his voice. They had deep significance for me.

Several years ago I took a workshop with N.J. Lindquist-…

Brenda and Molson--about to embark on their first pet therapy visit!

Homeward Bound--Ready to Write Our Hearts Out! (Belinda, Bonnie, Susan & Claire)

Four Gals and a Gala

"Hey Bel, Ire and Sue, I'm in town (2.30!) and I'm now shopping! See ya soon. F. "

This was the note waiting at the reception desk of the Comfort Inn in Waterloo, when my friend Irene and I arrived on Wednesday afternoon last week, after work. We had a rendezvous with two more friends--Frances and Susan--and Frances was obviously in town and looking for her outfit for the evening.

The four of us were in Waterloo to attend The Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Awards in the Recital Hall at Wilfred Laurier University-a black tie, formal/semi formal event.

My dear friends had come to celebrate with me. No, I wasn't receiving an award--but I had been given the honour of writing a speech for the presentation of an award. They were with me to hear it being read.

Before heading to the University, we went downstairs to the Golden Griddle for a bite to eat--the reception after the awards was not until 9.30. I looked across the table at my friends, laughing together--dr…

Milestone (Ebenezer)

Hello fellow WHS blogaholics! Tonight is a news report from Write! Canada.
Tonight, just before the plenary session, anyone who had accomplished something this past year was given "bragging rights" and invited to come up to the platform and share their accomplishments with the group of more than 200 writers. A line quickly formed and Belinda joined the end. Finally it was her turn and with the latest copy of Maranatha News in hand, she mounted the stage to announce, "I am the brand new Canadian Authors columnist for Maranatha News!" She looked over at Rudy Wiebe who was sitting in the front row, waiting to give the plenary address. "And my second profile was an author by the name of Rudy Wiebe." Congratulations, Belinda. It's been a journey. You're running the race and running it well. You ARE a writer!

Voices

The glorious sounds of The Messiah filled our house one afternoon when our daughter Abby had a friend over. We have several versions of Handel's great oratorio and I would have serious trouble trying to tell one from the other just from the sound coming from the speakers. Not Abby's friend.

"That's my mom," she said, as casually as you please as she walked down the hall from one room to another.

Sure enough it was her mom. Her parents were both professional singers and this particular recording by The Toronto Symphony Orchestra was featuring her mother as the mezzo-soprano soloist. We were in awe at her ability to pick out the sound of her mother's voice even in such casual circumstances. It seemed so cool! She knew her mother's voice.

Last evening, Irene and Frances and I attended, with Belinda, the annual gala for the Word Guild, where outstanding Canadian authors are recognized for their achievements. Belinda was listed as a "speechwriter" in th…

Stay Tuned

Friends--I may post sporadically until Saturday evening. I'll be away at a writers conference. I'm taking my laptop but don't know if I'll have time to write. Stay tuned!

New

Revelation 21:5 (New Living Translation)
5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

There is something wonderful about new things.

I remember new shoes as a child--that wonderful smell of new shoe leather--the click-clack of new leather soles on the red tile floor of our kitchen--the sheer joy of the time Mum let me have the impractical pair of shiny black patent shoes, so different to the sensible sandals always bought a little big so that I could grow into them. Whatever kind the new shoes were, I used to put them beside my bed at night, in their box with the soft tissue paper, so that they'd be right there in the morning!

Other new things that I love--the impossible delicate softness and sweet smell of new babies; the bright green of tiny, perfect, new leaves; a new journal--never written in--full of possibility--new words to write.

God makes things new--I know…

The Pastor Puzzle

It's ten to eleven and the morning service is about to begin at Hillside. The pews are filling and the hallway that runs along behind the sanctuary is full of people with purpose! Some are headed for the office where the photocopier is kept--others for the washroom--and the youth are selling Tim Hortons coffee as a fund-raiser in the foyer, and doing a roaring trade. Children are having a last minute fling in that special world I often think I'd love to join--and releasing some energy. It's as if they know they are going to be sitting in unnatural quiet for the next half hour until Sunday School--and are making the most of good running around time while it lasts.


One by one the five worship team members escape from the bustle into the quiet of Pastor Dave's office. We're here to pray before we go to the platform to lead. Pastor Dave isn't here today--he's having a well earned week away, but Pastor Peter joins us and we all form a circle, holding hands. We bo…

Reality? Realities!

One of the things I've learned over the past months--which I feel have been like an accelerated university course in self-awareness--is that reality is more subjective than I ever imagined.

I read a journal entry from March and suddenly I can see the pride, arrogance and detachment with which I wrote. So sure of my "rightness," I left no room for others, and little room for God--to change my perspective.

If anyone reading this doubts the reality of God and his power to change hearts and lives--think of me. He has changed me radically and deeply.

I know that although there will always be so much more for God and I to work on, I will look back on this period in my life as a pivotal time when I learned some profound lessons.

Matthew 11:25-26 (New International Version)
25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was y…

Perfected in Him

Matthew 19:25-26 (New International Version)
25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."


Who then can?...With man this is impossible...but with God...

2 Corinthians 13:11 (New International Version)
11... Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

I'm thankful that our God doesn't ask the impossible of us. When he tells us, as he does in Matthew 5:48 to "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect," it must be a foregone conclusion that he will be the perfecter.

Amy Carmichael, in today's reading from her devotional book, Edges of His Ways, says that "the same fingers that made the blue of the kingfisher's wings, and every lovely thing on earth," are "putting finishing touches to you and m…

God's Secrets.

Proverbs 1:23 (NIV)
23 If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.

When I read this verse this morning, it stopped me in my tracks. I’ve read the book of Proverbs how many times? I don’t ever remember reading those words before.

“I would have poured out my heart to you, and made my thoughts known to you”?

Imagine. God, pouring his heart out. And making his thoughts known -- to me. God, telling me his secrets.

I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be willing to listen to him when he is trying to get my attention - to respond when he lets me know I’ve gone off-track, missed the mark again. I just have to be humble enough to give in to him when he tries to herd me back into the fold. To embrace his rod of correction when it comes. How hard can that be?

I wonder how many times I’ve missed this opportunity to know God’s heart, to understand his thoughts . I wonder how often I’ve been too proud or willful to hear his voice, to…

More Gratitude

Isaiah 1:18 (New International Version)
18 "Come now, let us reason together,"
says the LORD.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

In Genesis 3 it says that God walked in the garden in the cool of the day and although that might have been the morning, I wonder if it was the evening.

It's a magical time in a garden, the evening--so peaceful. This evening the breeze whispers in the tree tops. "Sssssssssh," it says softly. Mourning doves coo in gentle tones while other birds twitter and chirp from their resting places.

The heavily pregnant poppy heads nod wisely--green orbs soon to unfold into brilliant red--and the peonies bend over in glorious and luxuriant full bloom--creamy white, deep rose and palest delicate pink. On every hand are lovely hidden nooks and crannies. They whisper, "Come; pause--admire--Peace is here."

I think that God walks in evening gardens still.

I a…

The Pursuit

Deuteronomy 30:5-6 (New International Version)
5 He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. 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.

Joshua 5:2
2 At that time the LORD said to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again."

Joshua 5:9
9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.

Someone shared with me a few days ago, on the scriptures above. She explained that this was the second generation of the Israelites that had left Egypt and that God was taking away from them, the reproach of the previous generation.

The act of circumcision, represented a taking away of the stuff clinging from Egypt--the hearts being peeled, with no…

Change

Haggai 2:9 (New International Version)
9 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."

This is God's way, isn't it?

He completely accepts us where he finds us--but to know him is to engage in a dynamic process of ongoing change that won't end until we graduate from earth to Heaven.

One of my favourite contemporary gospel songs is Nicle Nordeman's "Brave."

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been

'Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything
But it's been love,
Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave

This morning, in Amy Car…

Smoke Signals

Here in Ontario, the transition from winter to what we call spring resembles a dance with a flirtatious girl who is cold one minute and steamy the next. People dare not put their winter clothes away until at least two consecutive weeks of sweltering weather have passed--for fear that there could yet be a snow storm.

Just as the hot weather set in for good this year--the air-conditioning on my car broke down. I tried to do without it--but arriving at meetings feeling hot and crumpled--with a red and shiny face--drove me to the car dealership, especially after an ominous rattling sound set in under the hood.

I was relieved to find out that the noise was related to the air-conditioning compressor, but since replacing it is expensive I decided to take a couple of days to consider my options before committing. There was a smell of burning plastic as I drove, but having had the car checked out gave me a sense of security.

On Saturday I set out in the heat of the afternoon, for Newmarket, and a…

The Magic of Music

Family

Saturdays are wonderfully laid back times around here, with pancakes and phone calls to catch up with family and friends.

This morning the first call came early--before 8.00.

It was Peter, to wish me a happy birthday for yesterday, with the children.

"Happy birthday Omie," said Joshua, and he ran off.

Next came Stephen. who I noticed, sounded like he had a cold. He confirmed that he had and that he'd come home early from school yesteday, and gone to "Miss Beth's" house, where he had played lots of games of Mario, which he had won.

"So you didn't go easy on them?" I asked.

"No, only you, Omie," he said.

Katherine too, came on the phone--she had a friend there and was slightly distracted.

Joshua zoomed back again to say "Happy birthday," and was gone.

Peter came on again. He said that Emily, at 17 months, wasn't quite up to saying much yet, but he said she'd learned to unscrew the handle of the dishwasher and he was pretty sur…

Hearts, Hurts and Hope

Proverbs 15:1 (New Living Translation)
1 A gentle answer deflects anger,...

She had built high walls of defence to keep out the hurt she'd had too much of in her young life. She had learned a lot so far--unfortunately mostly the wrong things--things that would best be unlearned. Some of the strategies worked--to a point--but they didn't get her what she really wanted--to love and be loved.

In her new home the staff on a Christian team charged with keeping her safe, bowed their heads to say grace over a meal, also thanking God for her and who he'd made her. She responded with anger, "God can just go to hell."

"Actually, he's already been there," said one of the team.

She looked shocked.

A few years ago, there was another young girl--heart hardened by different hurts--she was cynical and disillusioned. "You can flush your religion down the toilet," she had said to her mother, eyes flashing as cold as diamonds.

"You should see her now, in her u…