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Showing posts from August, 2007

Knowing By Heart

Psalm 139:1-4 (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.

Her husband of forty or so years was doing the talking, but I was watching her. Her subtle response to what he was saying was priceless to observe.

I don't remember what he was saying, but I remember every slight shift of her expression.

She had no idea that she was being so acutely observed; that I saw her quick glance away as he spoke; the merry twinkle of the eye; the lips pressed together as if to hold back the words that threatened to escape--and the tiniest of smiles. All of them combined to say, "I love that man, but right now he's singing a familiar song that doesn't make as much sense as he thinks it does--and I'm not saying a word."

Her response made me thi…

Music

"His music is still with us."

This phrase, heard the other day as I listened to CBC morning radio while preparing for the day--stuck with me.

The host of the show was referring to a celebrated musician who had died suddenly of a heart attack just after boarding a plane. He was only 62, very gifted, and it seemed that a life with its work unfinished had been cut short.

"But," said the host, "His music is still with us."

I wondered about the "music" of my life. What will people say is "still with them" when I am gone?

I thought of those I know who have lost loved ones too soon. The music of their lives remains with us.

Today I'm thinking of some sadly missed. As long as their music is with me, they are too.

I give thanks for their lives and the gifts that they left behind here--and I look forward to the day we meet again.

John 6:51 (New International Version)
51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he…

Having Heart

I was in the store to buy a digital recorder after thinking about it for some time. On the day I finally decided to buy it, I walked around the store several times like a hamster on some invisible treadmill, but couldn't for the life of me find the section where they were.

I looked for a salesperson to help me. Staff were pretty scarce and the ones I spotted all seemed very absorbed in something other than helping customers. I noticed that as I approached, they avoided eye contact and kept their heads down, not looking up, which would be the natural thing to do when someone approaches. They all looked like students who didn't want to get called on in class.

I did eventually make eye contact with a salesperson--and she turned out to be kind and helpful, but when I thought about the body language of the others I had an uncomfortable feeling. Was I like that sometimes too? I hated to admit it, but the truth was that I could be.

A short while ago we had a German guest staying in our …

Freedom

Luke 21:34 (New International Version)
34"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.

"Dissipation, drunkenness and...the anxieties of life." As I read that verse in yesterday's Daily Light, I realized that although "the anxieties of life" may seem like the odd one out in the list, in fact, all three things distract from God.

Dissipation--according to the on-line dictionary http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ it is:
1. The act of dissipating or the condition of having been dissipated.
2. Wasteful expenditure or consumption.
3. Dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure; intemperance.
4. An amusement; a diversion.


That one is pretty self expanatory.

Drunkenness can result through blotting out pain, insecurity or discomfort, through the numbing effect of alcohol. By the grace of God I don't struggle with drunkenness, but I misuse other things. Sometim…

More About the Rainbow

Ever since August 18th, when I posted the story and photo about the rainbow that appeared the day Bill passed away, people have been telling me they saw the rainbow.

This is unusual as my friend Susan (who is almost always right and knows a lot about many things) tells me that a rainbow is "place specific," a product of the particular conditions of light and moisture in the air at a given moment.

The rainbow that appeared in the late afternoon of August 17th was wider than the average rainbow, very bright and intense and people seem to have taken particular note of it, although by the time I trained my camera lens on it, the intensity was fading.

I just felt that I had to share some of the "rainbow sightings" reported since Terry and I saw it late that afternoon.

Dave Hingsburger said... (in the comments on the blog)
Believe it or not I think I may have seen that rainbow too! The picture was beautiful and the idea that the heaven's radiated in welcome for Bill warms…

The Long Way Home

It was a long awaited vacation for Peter and Sue and their four little ones, ranging in age from 9 years down to 19 months. They went away for a few days in Ottawa.

The plan was for Peter to come home in their van with the four children on Thursday of the week away. Susan was staying in Ottawa for a Creative Memories Scrap-booking event and returning on Sunday.

On Friday, Peter called.

"Mom, what are you guys doing for the weekend?" he wanted to know.

All grandparents know that this really means, "Can we come over for Saturday and Sunday?"

He had his hands full and we really love our grandchildren and him, so we negotiated--for Saturday! Susan's parents, R.J. and Peggy, had mercy and invited them all over for Sunday.

Yesterday he asked, "Mom, did you hear about what happened on Sunday?"

The last thing I knew was that I'd seen Peter and the kids at church. I had thought to myself that they all looked remarkably well put together, considering. All of the k…

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

No wonder Jesus held up children as the example for us to follow; they have such tender, open hearts and they have so many wonderful qualities that we are prone to lose as we become adults, if we are not careful.

The older I get, the more I love them. I find them endearing, funny and lovable.

This week, in the household downstairs it was time for the annual back-to-school clothing shopping and so Brenda carefully went through both her girl's closets and assessed what they needed.

Victoria inherited a lot of clothes from Tiffany-Amber and needed only a few new things. Victoria is OK with that--she doesn't care where the clothes come from--she is just happy to have them. One thing she did need though was a new pair of shoes and she found a pair she adored at Zellers. It was very disappointing that they didn't have her size.

Today Brenda was in town alone and decided to try the Zellers at the other end of town. There she found the shoes--and in Victoria's size. She bought the…

Grace Period

Ezekiel 16:5-6 (New International Version)
5 No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.
6 " 'Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!"

This morning a friend called me to tell me about someone who had been going through a rough time, condemning herself for something she had done wrong, which she could not go back and change.

We talked about grace and the term "grace period."

According to http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ , one meaning of the term "grace period" is:

1. A period in which a debt may be paid without accruing further interest or penalty.

That sounded pretty good to me--a relief from the punishment for debt. But my friend said that she realized that the grace that the Bible speaks of is even better that this, in that instead of …

It's All About Perspective

Boy, can I put my foot in my mouth.

I can't tell you how many times I've been corrected, rebuked, reminded, pleaded with, punished, warned, you name it, for the things that have come out of my mouth and for the things that people are justifiably afraid will come out of my mouth. I have had a deeply seated belief, for a very long time, that I can't say the right thing no matter how hard I try, and that if I do say the right thing, it's only an abherration.. The "real me" can't do it, after all.

I was in a meeting last week. I was particularly relaxed and just "being myself". That, for me, is living pretty close to the edge. As much as I was enjoying myself, part of me is always poised for the bomb to drop. Sometimes I recognize it myself as it's rolling off my tongue. Other times, someone points it out to me afterwards, but the fear of 'blowing it' is always there.

Imagine my surprise when someone at the meeting, Carolyn, took me aside a…

The Upside Down Kingdom

I called the hospital in Windsor, talked to a social worker (didn't get very far there) and to Dad's doctor (got a bit more information from him). Then I called Dad and asked him if it would be all right if I talked to them, even though it was too late to get his permission. I guess I was expecting to have to ask for forgiveness for butting in, but he surprised me by saying yes without any argument at all. It was okay. I could talk to them. Somehow I had expected him to be resistant to the idea, and was surprised when he wasn't.

My father has reached the stage in life where he needs support. He's made a valiant effort, out-living a doctor's predictions of a premature death by more than 40 years so far. Throughout his adult life, his health has presented him many challenges, but he has faced them with courage and determination and has remained steadfastly independent and surprisingly active. In the last few years he has scootered over to the library once a week, chec…

A Good Life

Yesterday, in between interviews and phone calls and the other things that make up a typical day for me, I plundered the photo albums in my office, for photos of Bill. Katie was going to make up several mini albums that evening to display at the church today at his funeral. Going through two decades of photo albums was like stepping into a time machine. There were years and years of parties--celebrating weddings, Christmases, special birthdays, the arrival of babies, trips to various places, staff retreats etc.--our lives woven into the lives of the people with disabilities that we support. Several things struck me as I went through the albums: Some of us were a lot thinner a few years ago Some of us had a lot more hair We party a lot The people we support really do have a good life We are a lot more like family than anything else Today we came together to celebrate a "home-going." While there were tears, there was also laughter. The man we were remembering today was celebrated by …

Visitors

This morning one of our visitors, Sabine, left!
We lingered for a few moments over our last morning coffee together before we both left the house--me for work and she to head for Niagara Falls.
I needn't have worried about her driving in Canada. When she drove home from the airport last night she was confident, competent and fast! Thank goodness the car has cruise control--the speed limits are higher in Germany.
She had little luggage to pack into the car. Because she's camping she had to sacrifice all frills to accommodate a tent and sleeping bag in her luggage. She said, "I have my back-pack and my two hands and I have to think, what can I hold?"
I thought of her words as a metaphor for life. We clutter up our lives with so much "stuff," and yet there is such freedom in traveling light.
Over our coffee she said, "Time goes fast. At the beginning I thought three weeks is a long time--but at the end of the first day I thought, it is going to go fast."…

Airports and Heaven

As we crossed the road from the airport Arrivals Lounge to the car park where a guest from Germany was picking up a car, I absorbed the atmosphere and watched people.

The place was humming with activity, even on a Sunday evening. People criss-crossed paths--all on their way "somewhere." A few were alone, but many were being escorted to waiting cars by relatives or friends who had come there to pick them up.

I found myself thinking of Bill. He'd arrived safely in heaven--we all knew that--but I wondered what it was like for him to arrive there. How I would have loved to see his reunion with the mother he missed so deeply. No more sad Mother's Days for Bill.

Then I wondered--would he lose his disability in heaven? I know people who see it both ways. Some people think that the effects of this fallen world will be shed like a chrysalis--and that disability is one of those effects.

Others find that thought insulting and believe that disability is just as intrinsic to person…

The Rainbow

I was preparing supper yesterday when I heard the sound of feet pounding up the stairs from the apartment below.
Two breathless granddaughters burst into the kitchen, eyes wide, hair askew as if they had run in from the wind outside.
"Omie--there's a rainbow--it's right out there!" said Victoria as she pointed to the north-east. "We thought you might want to take a photograph," said Tiffany-Amber. I was already on my way to the door to the garden with my camera. Outside there was a strong wind and clouds were scudding across the sky. I braced myself against the wind to steady the camera and took several photos as fast as I could. The light was changing quickly and the brilliance of the rainbow was fading, but I managed to capture it. For the rest of the evening I had my eyes on the sky and took many photographs of dramatic cloud formations and a flock of gulls that alighted on the brown field and then rose and flew crazily in the battering wind. It was a beaut…

All is Well

1 John 2:17 (New International Version)
17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

The email came in early afternoon, "It sounds like he is nearing the end of his earthly journey." The writer of the email asked that I pass on the news to another worker who would want to know.

It was expected--we all knew this was coming. Our friend had gone into hospital in February after a fall and never left. When x rays were done to check for broken bones, instead they found cancer.

Miraculously he didn't experience any pain. We were all so amazed and grateful for that. Where the cancer was, he should have felt pain.

His appetite was hearty up until the last couple of weeks, and we kept the Kentucky Fried Chicken store near the hospital in business--bringing take-out--in.

A steady stream of visitors flowed through the hospital room, leaving notes for one another in a journal pinned on the wall. Often we'd cross paths with his pastor or an…

The Greenhouse

1 Peter 2:5 (New International Version)

5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Sacred ground, that's what it often feels like--for within these walls God's work goes on and his Kingdom advances. I think of it as a greenhouse where saplings can grow sturdy--a safe place where the atmosphere is steeped in prayer and the peace of God can seep into a soul. There is nothing comparable to feeling the breeze of his Spirit as he is at work in someone's life. It was about 25 years ago that I read Edith Schaeffer's book about the organization in Switzerland that she and her husband Francis founded in their home--L'Abri--French for The Shelter. L'Abri Fellowship began in Switzerland in 1955 when Francis and Edith Schaeffer decided in faith to open their home to be a place where people might find satisfying answers to their questions and practical dem…

Equipped

Psalm 23:1-3 (New Living Translation)
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.

2 Corinthians 3:5 (New International Version)
5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

Psalm 23:1-3 was printed at the top of my journal page this morning. "I shall lack nothing," stood out among the other beautiful words of those verses.

Then the Daily Light started out with Hebrews 13:20-23--about God's equipping.

20 Now may the God of peace...
21...equip you with all you need
for doing his will.

If we follow where God leads--take the path he lays out for us--he says that he will take care of what we need for the journey.

It has been said that God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the ones he calls. How comforting to be reminded of that.My anxieties, when they arise, are about that very thing. Sometimes I …

Out with Fear and in with Peace

Like a low grade infection, I had carried a worry--a burden of anxiety.

I'm not typically an anxious, worrying sort--but almost below the level of my consciousness, it was there, lurking in the shadowy recesses of my heart, if I paid attention.

So I didn't pay attention; I pushed it away and got on with daily life, ignoring the disconcerting edginess within and the sense of inadequacy that scurried around in my soul like a lost mouse caught within a wall.

And then I read...

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong 1 Corinthians 1:27

and

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty Zechariah 4:6

and

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power Ephesians 6:10

And so I say, it is well with my soul.

God chooses the weak? I am weak.

I have no might or power, but he says that it is by his spirit that he accomplishes his work.

My strength is in him and in his mighty power.

Dear Lord, I'm so grateful that it's all about you and not abou…

Debra

John 14:3 (New International Version)
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

I found another name on the page of today's Daily Light--and remembered Debra.

Today would have been her birthday, but on the day several years ago, that I shared the reading with her, I had taken my Daily Light with me to the palliative care unit of the hospital where I had gone to visit her.

She was dying of cancer, but fighting every step, every breath of the way--for life.

A young mother of four and a pastor's wife, this wasn't supposed to be happening.

I opened the Daily Light to read the verses for her birthday, because often I've found something significant to the person on "their special day." It's as if God put it there, especially for them--a special gift, as if to say, "I know you--I love you."

But as I began to read the verses, which I hadn't read ahead of time, tears flowed down h…

Lost

As I was getting ready for bed I found the silver chain. It had come open and slipped down into the folds of my clothing, but the pendant that had been on it when I left the house that morning, was gone.

It had been my mother's and has been part of my memory of her for as long as I can remember.
She would wear it whenever she was going somewhere special--otherwise it lay nestled safely in her little jewelry box--a small glass stone that changed colour from pale violet to blue with the temperature, set in a circular band of silver, with a stem topped by a tiny flower. I'd guess that it's at least sixty years old.
She gave it to me a few years ago and I have treasured it. Unlike Mum, I wore it often--my fingers often finding it at the end of the fine silver chain it hung on.
I mentally retraced my steps that day. I had been in Orillia, a group home in Richmond Hill, a Swiss Chalet restaurant, and at my office in Bradford. There was no way of knowing where I lost it. I hold most…

On Her Way

We have a house guest from Germany for a few days and I had offered to spend this afternoon and evening showing her some of the sights in this area.

She chose the CN Tower and Casa Loma and once word of our pending adventure got out, first my friend Susan asked if she could come, and then Brenda. So off the four of us went--to "paint the town red."

She is studying occupational therapy in Germany and is visiting Canada to spend three weeks with the organization I work for, learning about the system of support for people with developmental disabilities in Canada and then she'll be having a vacation, camping on her own for an additional two weeks. But first she's here with us for just over a week.

As the time of her arrival drew nearer, I looked forward to meeting her--curious about who God was sending to share our lives for a while--sensing that he might have an agenda.

And it seems that he does, for she said, when Brenda asked if she would be coming with us to church tomo…

Movies

A few nights ago, I touched on our conversation over dinner at cell group--a continuation of one we'd started the week before about our favourite movies.

Sam had led an icebreaker where we had shared our favourites and it was surprising, funny and revealing to hear what they were.

Here are some of them:

Ron--Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Richard--The Godfather

Brenda--Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Susan--The Miracle Worker and Chariots of Fire

Paul's were A Christmas Carol and Groundhog Day, and mine were: The Colour Purple and What About Bob

All week though, I kept thinking--what was it about those particular movies that spoke to people--and that's what we discussed over dinner on Tuesday. It was as much fun finding out why people loved them as finding out what they were. We laughed loudly as Ron recounted some of the scenes in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure as they traveled back in time and collected historical figures for their history assignment--So-Crates a…

Revealer and Healer

Jude 1:24-25 (New International Version)
Doxology 24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

"Able to keep from falling"

I've been thinking lately about the inherited aspect of behaviour. Our parents and grandparents may have passed down heirlooms we cherish--but they probably also passed down less desirable things--generational patterns of sin and dysfunction.

That was my sudden realization and challenge a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about my struggle with addictive eating in the post entitled, "One Day at a Time."

In my life I could see it. Alcoholism was one of the addictive strongholds over our family, along with a spirit of control.

I didn't always see the connection between alcoholism and addictive spending and eating, but sp…

Remembering Evelyn

In my Daily Light of July 30, is a note that says simply, "Evelyn's Home going 2003." Today, August 9, there are more notes in the margin and I know that this was the day we all gathered to say goodbye.

On those dates and in between, those of us who knew and loved her experienced a roller-coaster of emotions. I remember the call that told me she had gone--this fire-cracker, survivor of a woman who had lately lost the spark that we all thought would never die.

I felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach and I had to be alone--had to leave the crowd of company that was in our home at the time and find a quiet place.

I went out into our garden room--a glass enclosed porch that looks out onto lawns and flower beds--and sat down. It was evening, but the heat of the day hadn't dissipated--it hung in the air. And I remembered her. She who had led all of us a merry chase and who would look at me , head tilted, peering up with one eye closed, and ask, "Am I driving y…

Community

We call it a cell group but we're just a group of friends who love God and love each other.

Yesterday--which was Simcoe Day and a holiday--I made a new dish for tonight from one of my two favourite Sandi Richard cookbooks--this one called The Dinner Fix. I made Sweet Indian Chicken. It was supposed to include mincemeat--the kind that goes in mince pies. I didn't have any so I threw in sultana raisins instead--along with some Branston Pickle--a kind of chutney. It seemed to work.

A few weeks ago Paul had come back from Mishkeegogamang with a gift of wild rice from Chief Connie Gray-McKay. I soaked and rinsed it for about 18 hours and then cooked it. It was delicious mixed with Basmati rice.

I had three over ripe bananas and so far this year I've avoided fruit flies, so I made them into a banana cake for dessert. It was nice having extra time to prepare the meal yesterday.

Tonight all I had to do was heat everything up and cook some vegetables and it was all in process when the …

Recognition

Matthew 27:54 (New International Version)
54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

The day had been drenched in death--but this was something the centurion, a man of noble birth and high social standing, was accustomed to. He had attained his position by demonstrating skill and courage as he led his soldiers by example in battle, from the front. He had seen more carnage than he wished to dwell upon.

The death of the man on the cross he was guarding was different. The centurion was a man of honour and he had no stomach for the work of this day--the obviously political disposal of a troublesome but innocent man.

Keeping a death watch is an intimate duty and whether he wanted it or not he was bound together with this man in a deeply personal way as the hours ticked by and he witnessed his dying agony.

But there was something more that drew the cry …

Life With God

Matthew 26:42 (New International Version)
42"...may your will be done."
Jeremiah 10:23 (New International Version)
23 I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.
"This feels like you O Lord, and I feel a rising sense of excitement." I journaled these words recently as a new door cracked open in my life. I had gone to bed the night before, knowing that the thing I was considering was impossible without God.I woke up excited, knowing that yes, without God it would be impossible, but I am not without God. He is with me.There are some things that I do automatically when an opportunity arises and I found myself reflecting on them this morning.1. I really pay attention to my basic physical reaction. Often my body tells me before my mind does, if a step is a good one for me. If my stomach is in a knot and I feel panic rising in my throat, I listen and don't go further. On the other hand--my breath being taken away and my pa…

The Table

Psalm 23:5 (New King James Version)
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Saturday--I always have big plans for extra things--like cleaning windows, getting rid of that pile of mending by doing it, or sorting out the room that needs tidying--but all I can ever seem to manage is watering the plants, doing the laundry and the shopping. And then I seem to run out of day.

Other important things fill up the hours of Saturdays--things like unhurried breakfasts with family, coffees with Brenda, phone calls to England and from Peter. And time with God of course--so I don't feel too badly about my meagre visible results at the end of the day.

Added to the mix today was preparing the worship service and I found myself thinking about it as I watered the plants, my last task before sitting down to choose songs for tomorrow. This week our church will celebrate communion--and I decided I would take a CD with a song to play as the…

A Severe Mercy

It’s only in the middle of it that I realized that what they say is true. Trials and suffering do make people stronger. It’s not even me suffering. I mean I have struggled and wept as Nicholas had seizure after seizure a month and a half ago. Even writing that word is foreign and makes me feel sick, something revolts in me at the thought that my little guy had to go through that, and that He still might if he weren’t on the medication that’s keeping him stable. Something I never expected has happened. We have been blessed with four healthy, happy children, and believe me, we count these blessings and are thankful because we know the struggles that so many families have had with medical and developmental challenges with their children. After the little bit that we’ve gone through with Nicky my heart goes out to them so much deeper than it did even in the ten years I worked at Christian Horizons.
But all of that to say, as we walked down the road of life about a month and a half ago, thi…

Eyes Open Wide

The best writer is one that goes with us through the world of ideas like a friendly guide who walks beside us through the forest pointing out to us a hundred natural wonders we had not noticed before. So we learn from him to see for ourselves and soon we have no need for our guide.
A.W. Tozer

On Sundays I usually head in the opposite direction to church to pick up three friends--two of them a married couple who have disabilities and the other a friend who has no car.

The energy is always buzzing. Everyone wants to share news from their week and air time is at a premium as we jog along. Sometimes I just smile at the intense joie de vivre within my plum coloured Honda Civic.

Last Sunday we were headed back towards the small town where our church is. Michelle had been away for two weeks and was brimming over with news to share.

Suddenly the young woman with a disability said, "Oh, look at that field, it's beautiful." And it was, I had to agree.

I noticed that she was looking out …

No Fear!

As most of you know, I just returned from a trip to a remote area of Northern Ontario, just half an hour short of Pickle Lake -where the highway ends. It would take just as long to drive there as it takes to drive to Florida from here. That's a "right fur piece"! Fortunately, we got to fly.

I am not an experienced flyer by any means. I logged one trip to England 17 years ago, one trip to Florida 3 years ago, and this trip to Northern Ontario. I have yet to develop a flying "savvy". I didn't know, for instance, (or couldn't remember) that when you sit in the back of the aircraft, the loud "clunk" you hear just after the plane takes off is the landing gear being folded up and out of the way, not - as I thought for a brief flash - the engines falling off, and the plane about to crash. (Silly me!)

It occured to me several times, especially when we first took off from Sioux Lookout on Saturday in that duct-taped together old plane from Bearskin Airli…