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Showing posts from March, 2008

The Giver

The guest worship leader came representing a well known ministry. He was gifted musically, playing the piano with casual ease but great skill, while talking, in between songs he'd written and recorded, about the children whose lives could be changed forever for the price of our North American coffee habit.

His young wife ran the sound system at the back of the church, "Great with child," as he put it proudly; their first. They have been called to "live by faith," serving this ministry; he using his voice and talent to make a difference.

But not on any pedestal, this young man. He talked of idols, of the constant personal temptation to be captivated by "stuff," or addictions; on-line shopping; this or that. I know how it goes. Nail one down addiction and the self life oozes out somewhere else.

At the end, one of my younger friends met me at the back and said she'd sponsored a child. She said slightly nervously that she hoped she could manage it.

In the…

A lot More than Sugar Maple Sap and Spring

The spring sun shone brightly, warming cheeks and hearts. Snow glistened like crystals under its rays, and shadows formed under bare branches and life-giving trunks of sugar maple trees. I smiled as I watched children clamber on snowbanks, sliding down and bearing up again. Dead, brown leaves settled among tractor tracks and puddles formed. Spring mud beckoned children with its ooze. Mesmerized by dancing eyes and gleeful squeals, I forgot to scold. Childhood remembered, I delighted in the splish, splash of boots. Along with them, I revelled in the delight of "now" - melting snow, warmer weather and the promise of spring.

In my mind I formed entries for my "Gratitude Journal" begun in mid-February. I thought of what I read in another blog about all the lists we make - things to do, things to purchase, and things we want. Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience began a different kind of list. She called it her "1000 Gifts List" where she recorded things she alr…

A Visitation

By Poppy

I received a visitor this morning- Jack Frost! He had left little feather-flowers on my window. They looked like the participants of some strange dance, some brave souls having ventured to the center of the floor; more , hovering on the peripheries , longing to be asked but not having enough courage themselves to simply join their friends in the middle and be free.

But the majority of the feather-flowers remained clinging to the side of the Great Dance Floor, like wall-flowers who knew that not only is there safety in numbers but anonymity in the crowd of hundreds (maybe thousands) of themselves, all embracing the frozen security the walls afforded them.

Little did they know that the Lord had made them all Himself, and that He put a drop of his own glory into all His creation. Everyone of them was unique and not one was exactly the same as another. And even crushed together on the window they each of them shined , outlined as beautiful, frozen works of art, wrought by the great…

H.M.S. Belinda

It was Wednesday morning early and I was spending some time waiting on God and praying before heading out to seize the day. Tuesday had been difficult; the pressure nigh unbearable. I cracked more than once, and was determined that today would be different. I wanted to affect those around me in a positive way and pull them up, not drag them down into my negative vortex as I was sure had happened the day before. As I prayed and gave my day to the Lord, I saw a picture in my mind’s eye of a regal, stream-lined clipper ship in full sail, plowing gracefully through the billowing waves unaffected by the instability of the roiling sea. That’s how I wanted to sail into my day. Moved along by the wind of the Spirit and bringing an unspoken message of peace and stability to those around me.

I left the house tired and wishing that I could stay home to sleep away the dull headache that had wakened me, but hopeful nonetheless that this day would be better than the one before. However, my emotional…

Gifts

Matthew 25:19-21 (New International Version)
19 "After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'
21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

As I drove into work this morning I gave my day and my self to God.

I prayed, "Use me."

I laid my self open to him and asked for forgiveness; cleansing, from the sins that daily cloud my heart and soul.

I prayed, "Make me usable."

And I thought of what and who I am; created for a unique purpose in the fabric of this time and place on earth.

I prayed, "Make me useful."

Later that day, my co-worker Greg and I were doing an interview and talking with the perso…

Of Mornings and Marathons

He sits down at the breakfast table with a satisfied air and says, "As of today I'm caught up."

Those of us on The Marathon of Biblical Proportions do not have to ask, "With what?"

We know.

"Well, at least I'm in Joshua," I reply, happy not to be trailing far behind in Deuteronomy anymore.

"Joshua," he says with a smile, "Is a very long book."

Groan.

He picks up the Daily Light on the Daily Path, which we read together every morning, and he opens it.

"Belinda," he says, shaking his head, "Those people--the leaders and the Judges--the way some of them lived....not that I'm judging.".

For a moment I think that he's reading from the book and that I'm suddenly in it, but no, I soon realize that he's still talking about the Marathon.

We agree that's the thing about the Bible. You can't read it thinking that God was endorsing the things his followers did. Some of them were terrible and it makes you …

His Answer

He answers in unnatural ways.

This is the second time in a short while that I've heard of an elderly soul, ill, and potentially close to leaving this blue planet for heavens domain, having a reprieve. Death where is thy victory, thy sting?...Truly our Lord Yeshua has the final say.

Sometimes a young one is taken home, and us confused, remaining ask "Why"? And to another He grants extra days, more time for reflection, or just more time for those we love and will miss so much when they are gone.

We have a dear friend at church. He's had heart problems since he was a young man. Now he's a grandpa, almost a great grandpa (albeit a young one), but his earthly heart has been failing him of late, slowing, whisking his breath away so that sometimes it's a daunting task to speak or lay his gentle hand on the dog's head.

I thought I'd seen him for the last time, here, and a sadness settled into my heart. We prayed, many prayed, as he wasn't able to come to chur…

The Ride of My Life

Deuteronomy 32:11-12 (New International Version)
11 like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them on its pinions.
12 The LORD alone led him;

no foreign god was with him.


Imagine what it would be like to have such a ride; on the wings of an eagle. The "pinion" is the outer rear edge of the wing of a bird. I don't know about you, but that would not be my first choice of location if I had to ride on a wing. Clinging on, somewhere close to the shoulder is where I would prefer to be!

I'm reminded of that expression, "A wing and a prayer," which was coined in 1942 in a song by Harold Adamson, about a plane limping home from a bombing raid.

Though there’s one motor gone,
We can still carry on
Comin’ in on a wing and a prayer.

A ride on the pinion of an eagle's wing could compare to limping home in a plane with one motor gone and a prayer would definitely be in order!

In order to encourage the little ea…

At Dawn on the First Day of the Week

John 14:19 (New International Version)
19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

The insistent beep of the alarm breaks through my warm cocoon of slumber. It is 4.45 a.m.

My fingers fumble to silence the intrusion.

A voice from behind me in the dark, a gentle, helpful voice, says,"The alarm went off, love."

"Yes, thanks, I know...a few more minutes," I mumble back.

But I dare not give into the siren that pulls me back to the shores of sleep. I have somewhere to be this morning.

For He is risen.

And so I slip silently as a shadow from the bed, and pad downstairs.

I shower while the coffee perks, and listen to Jeff Goodes on CBC radio as he gathers the country together, creating community via email and phone.

Listeners who are up share plans for the day. One is putting a turkey in the oven, the only one up in a sleeping household, while others, like me, are about to leave for sunrise services. It feels as though …

Thine is the Glory

Sunrise Service 7.00 am Tottenham Conservation Area

Friends, He is risen!!More later....

The Heart of the Bride

Joshua 1:16 (New International Version)
16 Then they answered Joshua, "Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.

Ruth 1:16 (New International Version)
16 But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

The heart of a bride for her bridegroom is devotion and love.

How well I remember as a teenager, falling in love with someone whose heart was inexplicably set towards a land far away.

I knew that to love him meant leaving all that was familiar; my beloved mother, friends and country, to follow him. But there was no question then, and there is none now. I love him and would follow him anywhere, no matter the cost. And that is the heart of a bride.

Another teenager, two thousand years ago, named Mary, had an unexpected visit from the angel Gabriel that turned her expectations of life upside down. But she had a heart…

Mission of Mercy and Love

Isaiah 41:10 (New International Version
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


I sent the verse above, from today's Daily Light reading, to Susan last night. Her heart was in turmoil; her father very ill with pneumonia in Windsor, and she worn out from a tiring week and sleepless nights.

She had quickly packed a bag and planned to leave this morning to be with him and to do what she could to make him comfortable. In spite of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, requiring oxygen 24 hours a day, this old soldier of 84 had decided not to go to hospital and was not on antibiotics.

As we drove to church for the Good Friday communion service, she was on my mind and in my prayers.

The worship team leading the service had chosen songs that were moving and meaningful and drew the congregation of our little church into a place of reflection and deep gratitude for the sacrifice…

The Music We Dance To

A sentence overheard...a line on a radio program...a friend on the end of the phone; any of these can trigger inspiration and send me scrambling for pen and paper.

If I'm up as early as I mean to be, I start the day with CBC Radio Overnight and listen to news from around the world, then at 6.00 a.m., to Andy Barrie on Metro Morning.

During a recent CBC radio interview first thing in the morning; with a young dancer who also composed music, I heard some words that captured me. "We are only as good as the music we dance to," he said.

I carried on with my morning race, the minty toothpaste waking up my mouth as the glass carafe in the kitchen slowly filled with that nectar of the morning; first coffee. And I pondered the thought, "We are only as good as the music we dance to."

"Yes, we are," I thought, "And what music am I dancing to?"

I went from the bathroom to the quiet of my olive green sitting room, opened up the Daily Light for March 17th and …

I Wish that I Could be..a Tree

The day dawned misty and the route I drove to work took on an unfamiliar look, as houses and trees, wrapped in a cotton ball fog, combined with mud splashed snow to create a creamy mocha, soft focus, sepia photograph day. I was driving "relaxed," as per Frances's police officer's instructions (for those who aren't regular readers, see Three Fast Friends on March 8th). Taking the ramp off the highway, I waited for the red light to change to green and admired a stand of trees across the road, serene and beautiful in their utter stillness; bare, soft taupe branches graceful, against the soft backdrop of the day. And I thought to myself, "I wish I could be like a tree; standing so still," and I thought of the man in Psalm 1 who is like a tree planted by streams of water; with roots going down deep so that its leaf doesn't wither. A tree is a beautiful picture of rest, drawing nourishment and bearing fruit. And the trees sang to my soul a song it needed to h…

The Break...Humour and Blessings

We’re two-thirds of the way through two weeks of March Break and have had loads of fun, minimal catastrophes…and lots of laughs.


We’ve been to Casa Loma with children and Grandma, for a tour of the grand house and an encounter with enough pirates to shiver yer timbers. Incidentally…what’s a pirate's favorite letter of the alphabet? ARRRRGH!

There have been friends to play with and today an unexpected blessing.
Our dear friend Claire, from Writer’s Nest has a farm, on which she keeps about 35 horses, 1 pony, 1 donkey, 1 sheep, 4 chickens, 1 bunny, a few cats, and a dog.
Joyful Fox and I offered to bring the children down to help with the chores, as Claire’s son Craig is in rehab after a stroke and unable to keep the farm. Various people have been pitching in over the months to help out.
However, the journey today was not work for us, but a time of blessing.

We arrived at 10:30am on the dot. The fields were full of horses, one paddock with the heavy, blonde, Belgian horses, and farth…

A Tale of Two Yokes

Leviticus 26:13 (New International Version)
13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

I'm still back in the dust of Deuteronomy on the Marathon of Biblical proportions, and this morning I read chapter 28, about the blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience, which really boil down to a decision to trust God or not trust him.

When I read the reference to a yoke in verse 48, I thought about the verse above, in Leviticus, which I had written out in my journal a few weeks ago. That verse was talking about the fact that God had literally freed the people of Israel from slavery, but, years later, it seems they were in danger of not living free.

Deuteronomy 28:48 (New International Version)
48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on you…

Some Days Test Our Mettle

Some days test our mettle. Saturday was one of those days. I woke up tired and irritable and tried to, "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." I chose to be cheerful, even though I was miserable.

Plans got cancelled first thing in the a.m. and the older children were disappointed. Chores got done reluctantly and with complaint but I knew all of us gave the best we had.

The day didn't get easier. Even while supervised, the twins were into one mischievous endeavor after another. How they plan and execute these tiny missions in minutes never ceases to amaze me. How much damage can be done in a moment by one toddler is one of life's mysteries. How much can be done by two should be the Eighth Wonder of the world. In five and a half hours here is a sample of a few antics: one upturned full basket of folded laundry, 4 spilled cups of water, acquired and placed in mouth 9 hard candies(yes, I counted),one peeled off corner of wallpaper,…

"Only..."

Our friends the Furuya's came for supper tonight; Brian and Frances, with Jacob, Summer and little Eden Belle.

Frances gave me a gift; a potted white calla lily. The plant is lovely, with an abundance of creamy white blooms. It came beautifully wrapped in clear plastic, tied with green and pink ribbons. Inside, the pot was surrounded by two layers of tissue, one decorated with sprays of red flowers and one plain, a vibrant green.

I unwrapped it carefully but I hated to throw out the beautiful tissue paper.

"Throw it out," Frances urged, "It's only tissue paper!"

So I screwed up the tissue paper and threw it in the garbage and didn't smooth it out and save it as I as tempted to. And we laughed as we were reminded of something that had happened to Frances a while ago.

A friend had come to visit, and stayed longer than she expected. Frances had been looking forward to a pasta salad stowed away in the fridge. The friend though, seemed oblivious to the time, so f…

Hope Springs Eternal

by Susan Stewart

The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. Ecclesiastes 1:6

I like surprises. So I don’t usually bother with listening to weather reports. I do enjoy listening to people talk about the weather, though. Especially during our Canadian winters. I almost always chuckle to myself when someone complains about the snow and cold. What do people expect living here in the Great White North?

Well, my philosophy is to expect nothing. Not before May 1st, anyway. I don’t look for spring until it is long past due, and you know what? I’m never disappointed. In fact, every upturn in the mercury feels like an unexpected – and undeserved – blessing.

Last night late, as I left my car by the laneway and walked tired up the long sidewalk toward our old farmhouse, I felt a strange and unexpected sensation. Out of the darkness, the wind was blowing soft and gentle on my face. It seemed a stark difference to the biting cold that has …

Rearward but Running

Psalm 119:9 (New International Version)
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.

Frances was thrilled. Ever a lover of a good bargain, she shared her delight with me at the brand new bible she had recently found in a thrift store.

"In a sense it should be free," she said, "But on the other hand, it was in such good condition, it should cost the world."

She went on, "I hated paying a quarter for a pristine bible; but as you know, I've given away all my good bibles."

I smile as I think of her exuberance and of how God delights to plant such surprises in our path sometimes, but I also feel a little guilty when I think of my own record recently at reading my copy of that very same book.

In January I joined The Marathon of Biblical Proportions with about 40 or so fellow congregants at our church. No excuses...I'm behind. In fact if this was a real marathon, I would be a dot in the distance behind the pack of runners. …

My Father's Hands

Numbers 6:25-26 (New International Version)
25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you

and give you peace." '

The wind rustled the trees that surrounded the farmhouse. A little six year old girl looked up at them, the breeze teasing loose wisps of blond hair from her neat braids. Squinting her blue eyes against the morning sun, she watched the branches swaying lazily back and forth, back and forth.

Her school bag bounced on her back as she skipped down the long laneway to meet her school bus. She was a little early as she always liked to be there in good time, waiting when the bus arrived.

But this morning something was different as she got close to the end of her driveway. She saw a huge transport truck standing still, right at the end, like a beast of prey, waiting. From her vantage point, she couldn't see the man inside, but she knew he was there, and her heart stood still. She was immobilized with fear. Who was this …

March Break

It’s March Break and I’m slowly getting into the swing of things. Our school board decided to bless us with two weeks with the children and when I first saw that, I squawked and balked. Yes, the break backs into Easter weekend, and they have really only given us two extra days off, what with the Easter Friday and Monday, but after nine snow days as well, it’s all feeling rather busy around here.
“I’m bored Mom” I heard on the Monday (yes, the first day of the week), and I knew someone’s attitude had to change.
It turned out to be mine.

Did God give me children? Yes! Did I ever say during many long years of infertility “I will never be one of those Moms who can’t wait for the summer holidays to end?” Yes I did!
“I will treasure my children and not want to rush them off to school”, I wisely spouted.
Well I do love my children...truly, madly, deeply.
And I truly love their school, in an appreciative kind of way…in a longing sort of way.

However, what God really dropped into my heart today…

Peace

Psalm 28:7 (New International Version)
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.

From the first rosy rays of light, the morning was something special. Icy cold, below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the air hung quiet and still in trees that bordered creek and crowned the hill.

There had been a hoar frost; leaving white frost crystals on every branch and twig. As the sun, in a blaze of rosy raspberry, slowly crept from under its counterpane of night and over the hill, the white tips of the trees were backlit by the first rays of the day's light as icy mist hung, wraith-like around them and across the fields.

A little later, I drove into work, through a world of brilliant, powdery, diamond sparkled, snow. The sun was fully up by then and everywhere was icy, dazzling white.

I passed a majestic weeping willow; and its graceful, sparkling branches looked like a frozen cascade …

When We Walk Against the Wind

Warm granola sat on the counter, the house full of its nutty aroma. The kitchen floor was scraped and scrubbed clean and my Saturday morning chores were done. As I washed the floor, I even had a chance to return three phone calls from earlier in the week. There were only a few items thrown in the wash bucket by wayward twins - a board book was drying on the hand rail and my gloves, turned inside out were hanging under the kitchen sink. It had been a peaceful morning.

I got ready to go for a walk and I was warmed by the scene of our home before I left. Olivia was drawing a whale at the dining table, Hannah was finishing cleaning one of the bathrooms, and Jason was entertaining the twins with toys in the basement. As I closed the door, zipping my coat higher against the swirling snow and wind, I could hear the strains of Josh practising Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on the piano.

The peace I felt now belied the events of the week. It was a tough week. I had been irritable at times, ha…

Three Fast Friends

Isaiah 26:3 (New Century Version)
3 You, Lord, give true peace
to those who depend on you,
because they trust you.

It was snowing as Frances drove to work and the car in front of her was doing 80 km per hour in an 80 km per hour zone. She seethed with impatience at what seemed like a deliberately slow pace, holding her up with no place to pass. What was he doing, admiring the view?

At her first chance she would pass him ; there was a passing lane at the top of the hill ahead. But as he got to the base of the hill he sped up. He had deliberately held her up, she thought, and now that she had a chance to pass he was going to make it difficult.

"He's just doing this to make me angry--thumbing his nose at me," she fumed.

"My anger told me it was a communist plot," she said later, "I was in competition with every driver on the road; everyone slower than me was the enemy."

As she sped up to pass, she looked in her mirror to see lights go on what was an unmarked pol…

Hitting the Wall.

And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. Heb 6:15

by Susan Stewart

I remember the last trip I made to Windsor before my mom died. It was mid-September. I didn't know it would be the very last trip but it was. I felt an urgency to get down there, which turned out to be God's perfect guidance and direction.

The gas guage in our old red Toyota was broken, the indicator pointing perpetually to "E", but Ron assured me that I would have enough gas to get all the way down there before having to fill up again. I had six-month-old David along, who I had to bring since he was still nursing, and 12 year old Beth as a babysitter. Along about Chatham we ran out of gas. Ron had forgotten to factor in that I would probably be speeding - about 20 km. over the limit all the way. It was my own fault, but it sure seemed appropriate at the time to blame him.

The word "chagrined" does not begin to describe the feeling that began to sweep over me. David was quickly …

Stephen and the Snow Day

The big yellow school bus trundled along with its load of chattering children.

Miss Cheryl, the bus driver, knew a question was coming from the seat behind her, as 6 year old Stephen gripped the metal back to her seat and pulled closer to talk.

He popped his head of short, dark hair over the seat, his deep brown eyes bright with curiosity.

“Do you think that tomorrow will be a snow day?”

The teachers thought for sure that it would be. All day on the news there had been warnings of an impending snow storm and all the children were sent home with extra school work to be prepared.

"Well Stephen; only the Lord knows, but I think you’d stand a pretty good chance of it being so,” said Miss Cheryl, and her voice was as soft and husky as a ripe peach. She was one of his best sources of information.

She turned on the radio to see if the weather man had anything to say on the subject..

Stephen’s curiosity wasn’t satisfied, “Well, how do you know?” he asked.

“My work calls me,” said Miss Cheryl.

“We…

More Than Conquerers

It's been a week of news of struggling friends and tragedy in local families. Most people have seen the report of the young girl stabbed by her father. Other beloved friends have deep struggles that are being brought to the Throne of our loving, Capable Father.

The enemy is roaring like a lion, seeking whom He may devour; He knows his time is short. That is all good news for those of us who believe. That means God is moving. Like in Narnia, the white witch became frantic when Aslan was on the move, snow was melting, the deep freeze was over and new life was on the way.
So we press in. We draw near to the One who has all the answers, all the hope, all the Truth. And we let all the distractions fall by the way, because nothing else matters when we are besieged except to fix our eyes on our Captain, await His touch, His direction, His salvation.
He is Faithful and True.
Like Jesus in the desert, when He was approached with audacity by satan, to tempt and buffet Him, Jesus respo…

WAIT

The siren song of the wind was the first thing I heard this morning. It lifted its mournful voice in a loud wailing crescendo, as if to wake us up.

My first thoughts were prayers, for those who have no warm bed, and whose night may have been on the street. The wind made me think of them.

I am grateful for so much in my life. How do some people’s lives go so wrong?

I thought of how much we have and how some have nothing at all, and I prayed again, for each person, faceless to me, but who has a face and a history to God. It’s funny what the wind can make you think of.

In the bathroom, listening to the radio, a winter weather watch is issued. Tonight a snow storm and ice rain is predicted. I shiver, and hurry to prepare for the day.

Now it is night and the predicted snow has not yet arrived; I’m grateful for that. Maybe it will pass us by.

My prayers now are for a need that seems God sized in that we have run out of any human ways of meeting it. I lift it up to him and pray. I pray and I pray,…

The TTC

I was on my way to an appointment in the downtown core of the city of Toronto; a place I am more used to seeing in the distant haze on the horizon than at close quarters.

My friend Irene had advised taking the subway and so, having parked my car on the rooftop of a multi story car park at the Madison Centre, I found my way, with the help of kind strangers along the way, through the tunnel to the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) at Yonge and Shepherd.

A little breathless from running down the stairs, I was relieved to finally be on the southbound train as it lurched away from the station, along the one of the routes that run like veins from the suburbs to the pulsing heart of the city.

As the train zoomed, swaying and rolling through the various stops, to my destination at Yonge and Bloor, I looked with curiosity at my fellow passengers and observed their practiced ability to close themselves off from human contact. I noted the downcast eyes, the studied concentration on a book, or docume…