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Showing posts from October, 2007

Loving God; Loving Each Other

Zechariah 4:6 (New Living Translation)
6 Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

The cranberry cloth was spread on the sturdy pine table.

In the warm glow of lamp light, 8 year old Victoria, my faithful assistant, surveyed the room with practiced eye and air of competence, adding condiments and cutlery to the table.

From the kitchen wafted the nutty fragrance of basmati rice mingled with the spicy aroma of simmering butter chicken and a fresh pot of was coffee perking, adding to the olfactory delight.

Friends began to arrive. Three weeks we had been apart--and we all looked forward to being back together again at cell group.

Over dinner Victoria told a story that included her friend Joshua at school. Someone teased her, "Is he your boyfriend?"

"No!" said Victoria, "That's Jacob!"

And Tiffany-Amber, both hands over her mouth to smother giggles, eyes s…

More Baby Steps

Ephesians 4:25-27 (New International Version)
25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.

Why is speaking truthfully such a hard thing to do when something bothers us?

Reading these verses in Ephesians 4, I see why it is very important to do so. If we don't speak truthfully and we rationalize that we will address the issue "later," we will let the sun go down while we are still angry, and that in turn will give the devil a foothold.

Anger or offence unaddressed, can have some bad results, just as a low grade infection unaddressed in our physical body can.

1. The imagination feeds the offence or anger. Imagination is one of God's most amazing gifts, but when anger fuels fantasy over the perceived faults of others--we can easily become convinced that fantasy is reali…

We Survived!

My brother and I love each other dearly but we are so different that we make each other crazy when we are together for any length of time. How we sprung from the same loins is a wonder to me. I think that we both picked up odd bits of our parents--different, but very odd bits.

What I gain in quantity, he makes up for in quality. My life is packed to the very edges and beyond, with all that I want to do and be and accomplish. He does few things and lives a quiet, unseen life, but everything he does he does in a very particular way, and very well. He makes an incredible difference in Mum's life and is a gift that I am grateful for personally and for her sake.

But a few hours into a stay in Robert's world, and I suddenly feel that I can't wash dishes or cook, or make tea, or heck, even feed the cat with competence. He misses no detail--I have no time for all the details; the outdoors, nature, and books and writing are waiting.

So we had a few "moments" over our three w…

Simply Being

I am home in Canada, but I called my other "home" in England this morning, needing to reconnect with Mum--to hear her voice.

I called Robert when I arrived yesterday evening to say we'd arrived safely, but Mum's light in her flat downstairs was already off and the hour was late, so he didn't disturb her.

Mum finds it hard to find her way to all the words that have been held captive inside her since her stroke 4 years ago. She can say so little of what she is thinking, but we laughed a lot together over the past three weeks, as I tried to understand when she fought to convey more complex than usual thoughts. She was endlessly patient and resigned, never complaining, as I would do, at the frustration of it.

It was poignant then, this morning, when she said, "Everything is different today...," and, "The leaves are falling; they are sad."

Those few words spoke more eloquently to me than thousands could have. We spoke of "next time," but even…

Holiness

1 Samuel 6:20-21 (New Living Translation)
20 “Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?” they cried out. “Where can we send the Ark from here?”
21 So they sent messengers to the people at Kiriath-jearim and told them, “The Philistines have returned the Ark of the Lord. Come here and get it!”


The Ark of the covenant, first mentioned in Exodus, was a holy object, a place of meeting with God. But by the time of the young prophet Samuel, its significance and symbolism had become distorted so that it was seen by the Israelites and their enemies as having intrinsic, almost magical properties, to bring good outcomes in battle and good fortune to whichever people possessed it.

In 1 Samuel 4-6, the account is told of the capture of the Ark by a people called the Philistines, who soon returned it like a hot potato to the Israelites at Kiriath Jearim. The initial rejoicing and excitement felt by the conquerors at possessing it, soon changed to a desire to pass it on as fast as…

Faithful

Hebrews 13:5b (New International Version)
5...God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you."

I have to confess that I'm hooked. While in England I have been following the progress of the latest X Factor hopefuls, cheering on ordinary people with extraordinary talents, desperate to win this chance at stardom.

There is a fairytale quality to it all, as a choreographer, team of dancers, and their mentors work with them to develop their raw talent into a winning act.

I have sat on the edge of my seat with bated breath, wondering who Simon, Louis, Sharon and Danni would choose--feeling elation with those chosen and heartbroken for those who hear those dreaded words--but only after their hope has been spun out until the very last moment for the benefit of the viewing audience--"I like you, you've got talent, I have to tell you though...I'm...sending you home."

Although I'm afraid that it's the modern day equivalent of public executions--I…

The Flagging Post

It's been a long day. I'm tired. I have a lot on my mind. A lot. I'm wondering how Belinda keeps this up, day after day, after day. She must feel pretty passionate about it. I, for one, am really, really glad she'll be back on this side of the pond come Saturday. I'm sure we'll hear from her again on Saturday evening, if she isn't able to get one last draft in tomorrow from the Alvechurch Library. It's been challenging and fun to help keep the blog going while she's been away, sometimes by posting her drafts, sometimes by writing one myself, and sometimes opening it up and finding she's surprised us all by posting something herself from one of those temperamental computers she calls ahead to book at the library. And then there was that beautiful celebration piece posted a few days ago by Angela (AngCat), which was also a welcome surprise.

Belinda has been doing these posts for almost a year and a half now. I know I'm not the only on…

Still Waters.

Sometimes when I look at myself, I see someone who tries too often to make a splash.

"Look at me! Look at me!" my behaviour sometimes cries. Just like the average three year old. Pathetic, eh?

Well, there's someone I'm getting to know who doesn't do that at all. Sometimes I think I'd really like to be more like him.

We had tea with this new friend, and with a few other people not many weeks ago. Some of us in this group of five were old friends, but others were just getting to know each other. I sent out some tiny tendrils of potential relationship, fragile, tender, trying not to be too vulnerable, deciding to what level of friendship I could begin to trust, taking small risks, yet all the while knowing I was pretty safe. It was myself I was afraid to trust.

We talked about a lot of different things that September afternoon. I told a story about my dad and how he was being treated while in the hospital. I talked a lot because it was a long story and a fresh…

Celebration

It has been a perfect day.
First we attended church with dear friends. Friends who had waited 17 years for a homeland. Who had come the long route here, from Rwanda, through a refugee camp and many trials. Then on the wings of answered prayers and through the support of faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, found themselves in our town and I am blessed to say, on my street. I on their street.
Today we celebrated with music, testimony and food of Pascal and Eline's final homecoming as they became citizens of our great nation on Friday.
After filling our bellies we went out to fill our senses with the glory of His creation. The sun blazed down from a clear blue sky. The heat was softened by a strong breeze blowing warm air through the day. We travelled in convoy to Mono Cliffs Park in the Niagara Escarpment. The trees still splashed in riotous colors of red, orange and gold ushered us on our journey. The trail opened before us, littered with more leaves, almost ankle deep, c…

Anniversary

Colossians 1:19-20 (New International Version)
19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Thirty one years ago yesterday, my friend Eileen and I, just 16 at the time, went to Redditch College of Further Education, to see a Billy Graham movie. I was working in an accounts office at the time, and my boss, who was also a pastor, had invited me to go.

At the end of the movie, which I believe was called Oil Town U.S.A., there was an opportunity for anyone who wanted to invite Christ to be their saviour, to go forward. To the hymn Just As I Am, both Eileen and I responded.

It seemed a natural thing to answer what seemed to be a call of God, with, "Yes," but I really understood very little of what I was saying , "Yes," to. I was a very raw recruit, strongly influenced by the culture of the 60's and "…

Entrusted with His Word

Psalm 119:103 (New International Version)
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Words on the page of an ancient book; words that are alive; that dance and resonate; his words.

I've been reading the first book of Samuel, and in chapter 3, the account of the call of the young boy the book is named for, tells of a critical test. Could he be trusted with God's word for his people?

God started him off in a gut wrenching way. He did not give him a comforting word of encouragement to share, but a hard word--a word of rebuke, telling of his pending judgement on the house of Samuel's mentor, Eli the priest. Eli who had turned a blind eye to the utter corruption of his sons.

Ironically it was Eli who helped Samuel deliver the word from God with integrity. "May God deal with you, be it ever so severely," he said, "if you hide anything he told you."

And Eli's response must have confirmed something very deeply for Samuel. Eli, in spite …

Panoramic View

Psalm 119:97 (New International Version)
97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.


I was looking for the verse that I wanted to use for yesterday's post, about God's promises being sweeter than honey.


I don't have a concordance at hand where I am staying at present, but I knew that the verse was in the book of psalms, so I decided to skim quickly through the whole book, scanning each page for key words, in order to find it.


I didn't find it on the first skim through, or the second, but on the third, when I focused in more closely on Psalm 119, where I suspected rightly, that I'd find it.


What I discovered as well, was an interesting method of reading the Bible for a change--a different camera setting! My scan of Psalms stunned me with beauty. The imagery from nature; the use of metaphor; the range of human passion described--the prophetic words pertaining to Jesus--all these unfolded as a richly illuminated scroll that opened before my eyes.


Like …

The Lord Doth Hear

I opened Edges of His Ways, by Amy Carmichael this morning and saw a note in my hand, written on this day, last year. It simply and cryptically says, "Mum, 2006."

As I went on to read the devotion I understood. The scripture reference is Psalm 141:2

Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

It is followed by an incredibly moving little poem:

When vision fadeth, and the sense of things,
And powers dissolve like colours in the air;
And no more can I bring Thee offerings,
Nor any ordered prayer...
Then, like a wind blowing from Paradise,
Falleth a healing word upon mine ear;
"Let the lifting up of my hands be as the evening sacrifice;"
The Lord doth hear.

While here with Mum in England, it is her Bible and Daily Light that I read. It was her habit always to read them and pray last thing at night before she went to bed. Her stroke in October 2003 changed that. She can no longer concentrate to read. She says that she…

Colours and Glass Balls

Proverbs 3:26 New Living Translation
The Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

Last night I couldn't sleep. I hate lying awake in bed, so I got up, got out my laptop and made an Excel time sheet with 7 days, onto which I laid blocks of colour representing the time spent on various parts of my life. I realize that this might sound like an insane thing to do at 1.00 a.m.--or maybe at any time of the day. Welcome to my insanity--ha ha ha!

The colours represented parts that are either necessary, important priorities, or voluntary preferences and sorting my life out into these "blocks," helped me see whether I am trying to do the impossible in my typical everyday life. The good news is that no, I'm not--as long as everything goes according to plan. :) I do know that nothing ever does of course, but it gave me peace of mind to go through this exercise. It also gave me hope.

This had been on my mind, which might have contributed to my lack o…

Morning Thoughts

The gentle beeping of my alarm clock wakes me. It's 6.30 a.m., the time when part of me planned to be up. But another part--"the flesh"--I believe it's called, prefers to linger beneath the warm duvet, listening to the sounds of the waking day.


I hear the twittering of birds outside the window, and upstairs, above my mother's flat, I hear her energetic neighbour, Chris, already up and about.


My thoughts drift back to the docu-drama I watched last night before going to bed. It was called The Relief of Belsen, and used "scripted events, testimony and news footage to depict the struggle of the British led medical team to rescue the starving inmates of camp Bergen Belsen. In April 1945, a British ambulance unit was diverted from the frontline to handle a crisis in enemy territory--an outbreak of typhus in a prison camp. Amid the continuing war a team of volunteers worked to save the starving and dying of Belsen."


I thought of the connection with the book I'…

A Less Than Noble Moment

On my first Sunday in England I had a moment that I am sorry for. My brother had just given me a set of keys to his and Mum's flats, to use while I am in England. Shortly afterwards, as I was about to go for a walk, I remembered the keys and came back to get them. Robert said, "You can leave them here if you like, so that they don't get lost, and use the keypad outside."

I know that my voice expressed my frustration as I said, "What are keys for if not to let you in?" I'm ashamed to say that I was angry. My optimism and confidence had bumped up against my brother's extreme caution and carefulness. I felt as if he didn't trust me not to lose a set of keys.

As I walked, I fumed and prayed--an odd combination, but a good one. By the time I got home I was over my silly snit. The keys were Robert's, he had a right to express his preference and I would respect his wishes and use the keys only when going out with them safely in my purse.

That night as…

"Belinda's" Library

This is the library on Tanyard Lane in Alvechurch where Belinda has been doing her posts while in England. I stumbled across it on the 'net this morning and felt like it was almost like dropping in for a visit myself and thought I'd share it with you, too. Blessings everyone! Susan.

An Important Correction

Psalm 53:1
New International Version
The fool says in his heart there is no God.

After I wrote the recent posts about Jesus feeding the large crowd of people, and then walking on the water--and effectively said that his followers have to suspend logic and forget the laws of physics where he is concerned--I got to thinking. I think I was wrong.

A better way of putting it would be that his followers need to be prepared to dispense with "human logic," which naturally is very different to God's, and that the laws of physics, "as we know them," do not apply when he is involved.

God does not need to be logical, but I believe that he is, and mankind is still discovering and rethinking, the laws that govern the universe.

Yesterday, at Alvechurch Baptist Church, where I worship when in England, Derek Bevan, a lively Welshman delivered an excellent sermon, using Psalm 53 as his text. He helped the congregation to think about belief in God in light of the views of Oxford Univer…

Trial and Error

Matthew 14:28-31
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

After providing food for the huge crowds that had followed him to the place where he had gone for solitude, Jesus sent them away. At the same time he made the disciples leave too, sending them away in a boat. Then, finally alone he went up into the hills to pray.

Later that night, darkness had fallen and the boat carrying Jesus' disciples, now far from the land, rocked wildly on waves that were swelled by a strong wind blowing from the opposite direction. Was this a practice session for the lessons of the evening before, when he had fed the multitudes?…

Letting Go of Logic

From Matthew 14:13-22

13-14: When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Two thousand years ago, crowds of people followed Jesus. When he withdrew to a lonely place after the death of John the Baptist, five thousand men, plus women and children, tracked him down, without seeming to consider physical needs.

As evening approached, the disciples became concerned.

"Send the crowds away," they advised, "so that they can go to the nearby villages and buy themselves some food."

The account of events though, then takes a twist that suspends logic.

"They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." Jesus said.

The disciples' response seems remarkably restrained under the circumstances.

"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish."

Our imaginat…

Comrades in Arms

On Thanksgiving Monday, a gray, cloudy stint of weather gave way to sunshine. Robert dropped me off in Rowney Green and I joined a crowd of people assembling on the village green. Regimental band music was playing over a loudspeaker as the men and women of the Alvechurch Ex-Services Association, veterans of the Second World War and more recent wars, gathered with others to remember the Canadians lost in the plane crash. Although some were now frail and stooped with age--and some sat in wheelchairs, they proudly wore regimental badges on their blazers and their war medals shone bright in the autumn sun. The emblems told of a common bond of service and sacrifice. Quivering chins, voices choked with emotion and handkerchiefs clutched tightly in trembling hands, told of deep feelings for comrades lost.

In contrast, a group of fresh faced children, from Alvechurch C.E. Middle School, dressed in smart, navy blue school uniform, were there to lay a wreath, following the ceremonial planting of…

Onward and Upward

Me again.

Last night's post was the 500th post on Whatever He Says. That's a LOT of writing! Congratulations, Belinda, I would have quit long before you. 500 posts. That's quite an accomplishment.

Today I was working away at something - a commitment I had made - and I was absolutely fed up with it. The going had become tough, really, really tough. I felt like I just couldn't do it anymore. I KNEW I couldn't. And I was angry that I had to keep doing it anyway.

"I quit", I said to myself. "I really don't want to do this any more. I quit." And I meant it.

Late morning the phone rang. It was a co-worker, Lesley-Ann. "Wanna meet us for lunch?" she said.

"Yeah, I need to take a break," I replied, thinking I really should stay back and keep working, but knowing what an encouragement it always is to spend time with Lesley-Ann and Martha. I packed up and headed toward Swiss Chalet.

How does God do it, I want to know? How does he arrange…

Good Medicine.

How wonderful to get a post from England yesterday! (It's good to know you're still alive, and thriving in God's will, Belinda!)

But there is no post-in-waiting in her dashboard this morning, which means that while we all anxiously await the sequel to Belinda's last post about the memorial tree, I'm on again. Sorry all you Belinda-groupies. I'm just as sad about this as you are. But hang on and open wide. You're about to get a dose of some good medicine with the help of some of her family.

Last evening I had occasion to spend some time with Brenda (Belinda's daughter) and two of her four incredible grandaughters, Tiffany-Amber and Victoria, who are 9 and 8, respectively. This is a snapshot from our supper-time together at a restaurant in Bradford:

The girls were incredibly patient with our adult talk, and though we threw them occasional bits of attention here and there, I knew their patience - and ability to sit still - was running thin. So I thought it w…

Serendipity

October 7th 2007

Yesterday morning I arrived in England to start 3 weeks precious vacation with Mum and my brother, Robert in the village I grew up in--Alvechurch.

Although it's so wonderful to be here, I was sorry that the timing of this trip meant that I was missing Thanksgiving weekend with family in Canada, but yesterday I discovered that the timing was no accident.

Robert showed me a small article in the local paper that read, Maple Honours Airmen. Tomorrow afternoon at 2.00 p.m., there is a service in the nearby village of Rowney Green, and a Maple Tree will be planted to honour 5 Canadian airmen who died there during the Second World War.

The tree is being planted by Alvechurch Ex-Services Association, of which Dad was a founding member.

The article says:
"The five airmen died when their Wellington bomber crashed in a field at Lower Park Farm, Rowney Green, on November 23, 1943, while on a training mission from Defford Airfield near Pershore.

John Hoccum, secretary of the Alv…

A Time to Laugh and a Time to Sleep...

Well, Belinda darted into the Alvechurch library today, grabbed a few moments at a community computer and has managed to send us a few enigmatic messages via the comments left on the previous few days - just before the library closed for the day.

Yes, Belinda, I'm keeping the ritual going. :o)

Today I wonder if everyone else is as tired as I am. I fed an army of 20 today. Seven of them were our own progeny (three sons and four daughters), three sons-in-law who married into the clan, one shy boy-friend who seems very nice, 7 grandchildren, a Bichon-Friese grand-dog named Frasier, a lovebird named B.J. and several electric trains (who Andrew - our own CP Rail conductor - feels as passionately enough about that he would expect us to consider them as grandchildren, I'm sure!) We cooked a 36 pound turkey, peeled ten pounds of potatoes, plus several pounds of sweet potatoes. We made four loaves of bread into stuffing and put into it a good five pounds of peeled and chopped onions alon…

Gratitude

Still no word from Belinda via the Internet, so here I am again...

It's Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is all about focusing in on what we are grateful for.

There was a time when gratitude did not come easily for me. I would really have to work at it to see the good side of anything. It was always, always easiest - and still is my natural inclination - to focus on the "justice" and the "fairness" of a situation rather than simply being grateful for all the good that can be found. But I have learned through experience that there is great power that flows through our lives just from the simple act of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" and leaving the unfairness of a situation up to God.

This week at a staff retreat I had occasion to view a video teaching by Erwin McManus entitled "The Character Matrix" which had been originally recorded at a leadership conference in 2003. In that video, McManus says a number of important things about gratitude, …

15 Years - To the Day.

I just checked the WHS (Whatever He Says) dashboard and I could see that neither Belinda nor any of her team have a post in process, so I'm going to grab the floor again. I know that Belinda is wanting very much to find a way to stay connected to her blogging family, so pray for her that God will help her find a way. Today she must be deep in the throes of jet lag, but tomorrow perhaps the library will be open or she will find another way to connect to the internet and we'll be hearing from her again soon.

Yesterday, besides being the anniversary of my mom's going to be with the Lord, was also my oldest grandaughter's fifth birthday. The phone rang last evening and without even a "hello", a familiar little voice stated simply and softly, "I'm five." Well, trust me, a big fuss was made by her "Mommy'sMum" in response! (That's what she and most of her cousins call me.)

Eliana is a delightful little girl with chocolate hair and dark…

20 Years

Belinda right now, is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, heading east, on her way to spend precious time with her dear mum. Godspeed Belinda!

Twenty years ago today my own mom went absent from the body and present with the Lord. (Technically, since it's after midnight, it was yesterday, but for all intents and purposes and since my day hasn't ended yet, it was twenty years ago today - October 5, 1987)

I was talking to my sister about it this evening. "It doesn't feel like 20 years ago," I said. "Mom just seems so much closer than that." She agreed. (Just for the record, Brenda is the BEST sister in the world - the best gift Mom and God ever gave me - and comments from time to time on this blog. You can read her own reflections of this day and our mom at www.brenda.gresik.ca . )

Mom was an incredible person. When she left at just 61 years of age, it was way too early. The impact she made on people was that if she loved you, you knew it. She made it easy to…

The Chair in the Window

I glanced to my left as I drove down highway 400 towards Aurora. The sky was palest, softest apricot, with milky swirls of white cloud.

I was on my way to pick up my black raincoat, left behind in my doctor's office last week. I went back for it on Friday, and I could see it hanging there through the frosted glass window in the door of the doctors office. Through the locked glass door of the office that closes early on Friday afternoon.

I was frustrated at the wasted drive. "Who closes early on Friday?" I thought to myself. Time is so precious and I hate wasting it.

So this is why I was on my way there early one morning this week and admiring the beauty of the sky.

As I drove down Yonge Street through Aurora, I passed a furniture store. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a chair that brought back a wave of memories. It was one of those 50s or 60s ultra-modern easy chairs. It had smooth, minimalist lines and wings that curved up in a swoop on either side of the back, and slim…

Taking My Hands Off the Wheel

Romans 12:1 (The Message)
Place Your Life Before God
1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out...

Presenting ourselves--it involves every part; including our mind, will and emotions.

Today--a day of high pressure and major tasks that must be accomplished, I take my hands off the wheel.

Instead of asking God to help me do "my" will, what I "see and know" needs to be done; I choose to relax into him; truly trusting that he knows better than I.

Your will be done O, Lord.

Use me--my energy and strength and even my weakness--to do your will.

Forgive me for my unintentional arrogance and hab…

Story

Acts 22:1-6 (The Message)
Acts 22 1-2 "My dear brothers and fathers, listen carefully to what I have to say before you jump to conclusions about me." When they heard him speaking Hebrew, they grew even quieter. No one wanted to miss a word of this.
2-3 He continued, "I am a good Jew, born in Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under the exacting eye of Rabbi Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in our religious traditions. And I've always been passionately on God's side, just as you are right now.
4-5 "I went after anyone connected with this 'Way,' went at them hammer and tongs, ready to kill for God. I rounded up men and women right and left and had them thrown in prison. You can ask the Chief Priest or anyone in the High Council to verify this; they all knew me well. Then I went off to our brothers in Damascus, armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the followers of Jesus there, arrest them, and bring them …

It Takes a Village

I happened upon Jacob on the way to a conversation with him mom, my friend Frances, a.k.a. Poppy.

He answered the phone, with the slightly squeaky voice of a 14 year old boy turning into manhood and with the same softness that I always hear when he talks to me. Even over the phone I could "see" his head of thick red curly hair and the handsome face below it.

Jacob is growing up, finding his way in the world of high school. In earlier years he was the brunt of bullies, but at 14 he has found popularity for his wit and cleverness. He is learning that these twin gifts have their time and place though and that a class in uproarious laughter at him is not always appreciated by teachers struggling to maintain control.

Last week he was upset when his French teacher said he couldn't wear a beloved necklace, a silver nail, hung on a black leather cord, symbolizing the nails that Jesus took for us.

Frances wrote in a comment on this blog last week that she thinks, "He may have e…