Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Healing Comes in Many Ways

Job 14:1-2 (New Living Translation)
1 “How frail is humanity!
How short is life, how full of trouble!
2 We blossom like a flower and then wither.
Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.


I thought it was a discarded piece of waste paper, and stooped to pick it up. I found that it wasn't paper, but a flower that had fallen from the lovely white orchid that is in full bloom in a pot on top of one of our bookcases.

The flower had dried where it fell, but it was still beautiful, a fragile work of art. I examined it carefully, admiring the handiwork of God. I gently opened it to see the colours within; the purple and gold at the centre. It rustled in my fingers as I touched it and I held it to my ear to listen to the sound of the empty shell-flower. I couldn't bring myself to throw it away, so I put it on my kitchen window sill.

Later that week three of us sat together after cell group, having a final cup of coffee of the evening. We had watched the Alpha DVD entitled, Does God Heal Today? and we continued talking about healing and our perspective on it being different to God's.

I mentioned the book I read last year: The Spiritual Brain; A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul, by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary.It is a fascinating book that made me think about how we pray and what we see as answers.

Romans 8:26 (New Living Translation) makes it clear that we don't know how to pray without the help of the Holy Spirit:
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

From our limited perspective, the answer we seek when we pray for the sick is physical healing. But The Spiritual Brain, had an interesting section that examined evidence that the mind, consciousness, and self can continue when the brain is no longer functional and clinical criteria of death have been reached, and it did this through the reports of people who were clinically dead but were revived.

There are some common factors in these experiences. Many people said that coming back from where they were made them sad. One woman mentioned had to work through her guilt about this with her pastor and counsellor, because she had young childen.

Another common denominator is that most people who have had an experience of this sort will have changed values. Relationships are what matter most for the rest of their lives.

So, I will pray in faith, believing God for a miracle, for he is able to heal. But I will also remember that his ways are not our ways; his perspective is far above ours. and one day, if we still need to, we will understand the answers that didn't seem to make sense in the short time, relative to eternity, that we are on earth.

Romans 8:18-21 (New Living Translation)
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Beggars Garden


I have been shameless, desirous of beauty, but lacking the means to provide it. My garden is little, but I want it to be fat, overflowing with lush plantings, rich in color, bursting with life.
Yes, I've been pouring over gardening magazines and books, yearning for that perfect outdoor refuge in my own backyard...mature trees, embraced where ground meets trunk by bluest flowers of periwinkle laid on beds of green. Flagstone paths leading from our stone patio, to the old gabled shed. Follow the grass to a small gathering of shrubs and our spruce tree, then the canna lilies reaching for sky beside. Gathered in front of the lilies are patches of rhubarb and tall stands of shasta daisies, with other ground covers creeping in between. The pool is somewhere in the middle of the yard, a silent promise of relief on scorching days (Thank you Ev!). Over to the right the swings sway in the breeze awaiting little bodies, feet thrusting out and screeches of laughter as they pump high toward the clouds...little rockets set to fly.
Then the children's garden, rocks to dig in, stumps to climb or sit on and a small patch of earth with flag stones through and wood chips on, to plant and tend their choice of greenery.

Some of this is real and some of it hoped for, but I have become a beggar, emailing gardening friends, and Mum, asking for cuttings from their gardens, and they have supplied. And one I didn't request from gave. I came home Saturday evening from a friend's with buckets of irises, rhubarb (yeah!!!), periwinkle, hollyhocks, daffodils and lavender. What a delicious combination. I was stunned at the bounty and overwhelmed at God's provision.
My garden may not look like the ones in the magazine yet, but that's ok. I am abundantly blessed and can see through the eyes of faith what is going to unfold.
Sort of what our Father must see in us perhaps. He sows seeds, plants lavishly and waits, watches with eyes that already see the outcome before it is matured. He tends and prunes. He is the gardener and we the soil, the fruit of the Spirit the anticipated harvest.
I am amazed at the generosity of God. I can provide nothing for this garden. I come as a beggar hoping for a response to my outstretched hand. This week I came away richer than I could imagine. The work is all His. We ask in our lack. And He says "Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24 NIV
We come to the banqueting table without money to pay, yet He says in Isaiah 55:1-3,6-13
..."Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
.....Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed. (NIV)

Tend me Lord Jesus. I want to yield a bounty for You. Your patience and pruning are what I need. I fix my eyes on You, for You are the author and finisher of my faith.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Shelter in the Storm

Psalm 61:2-3 (New International Version)
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,

a strong tower against the foe.

I had spotted them from the back window, drawn by the sound of their voices and laughter; two girls with skipping ropes that had been gifts at the birthday party they'd just been to. On the long spring green lawn they swung their ropes and skipped, hair streaming in the breeze; carefree as only children can be. Oh, how I love them, I thought.

Moments later they came in from their Sunday afternoon play and asked if they could have a story from Parables on the Pond. They know with complete confidence that whatever I might be doing I would drop it to share a precious few moments with them, and they know that I love this children's book of devotional stories.

And so they snuggled, one on each side of me on the couch, as we turned to the next story in the book, Journeying Geese and the Rock Refuge. I have been surprised and delighted at how much they love the book. At 9 and 10 they are not too old to enjoy stories of a frog named Francis and a newt named Nancy, not to mention Cecil Snake and other assorted amphibians. They love the stories, and the questions afterwards, open up conversations I would never have had without them.

The story was about taking shelter from danger and finding places of safety. One of the questions was, "Have you ever had to run and take shelter from danger? What happened?"

"Like when we practice Code Red drills at school?" asked Tiffany-Amber, "They can't see me from the window when I'm under my desk."

A chill went through me as I realized that my granddaughters were being prepared at school for a danger that I never wanted to imagine them facing.

They talked of what they've been taught about strangers and cars and screaming, "Fire!"

They wanted to know, "Why do we have to yell 'Fire' if someone pulls us into a car?" and "Can we bite as well as kick and scream?" Suddenly their lives didn't seem so carefree.

We talked of cowardice and courage and what those mean, and ended our conversation with the verses from psalm 61 about God being our refuge and strong tower; our courage is in him.

Later Peter reminded me that when he was at school it was a nuclear war that the children were being prepared to survive. I shivered again at that thought, but it put things into perspective.

Tonight Paul and I watched a wonderful documentary, borrowed from the library, called, "Making Choices; The Dutch Resistance During World War 11." The courage of the ordinary Dutch people, was so inspiring. One woman and three men, all of deep faith in God, told the story of their experiences of World War 11, their memories and heroism, although none of them would have called themselves heroes. They told their stories with Dutch matter-of-fact-ness and dry humour, but their eyes glistened with tears at memories still vivid over 60 years later.

One of the men told of the first air raid he experienced, and how his father gathered the family into the centre of the house near the stairs, which they thought was the safest place. He said that as the children huddled in the hallway, with the terrifying sound of droning aircraft above, he felt as though they were all under "the shadow of his wings."

The woman spoke of being taken for interrogation after months in a concentration camp where she had rehearsed a story, fabricating another identity in order to protect her friends working in the resistance. As she left to finally be interrogated, a Catholic friend said, "I am going to storm the gates of heaven for you." It dissolved her hatred of the enemy and instilled her with courage.

She said, as they questioned her she thought, "They think I am in the hands of the Germans, but I am really in the hands of Almighty God." God enabled her to stick to her story perfectly and she was released.

She now tells her story to students and she tells the children that life is a series of choices. She encourages them to make choices of integrity and courage.

Courage, my friends. May we have it for whatever tomorrow brings. May we hide God's Word in our hearts and the hearts of our children and grandchildren, so that when we and they need it we can all draw on the powerful strength hidden in it.

Psalm 63:7 (New International Version)
7 Because you are my help,

I sing in the shadow of your wings.

"I am no longer your child - I am a child of God"


This picture is shared by Night Owl in response to Joyful Fox's post, "I am not my Mother's Daughter."
Thank you Night Owl.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I Am More than My Mother's Daughter

I walked from the truck holding the hands of tousled 2 year old boys. He was on the tractor and shouted a greeting, "This is the first time you've come all year."

"Hi Dad", I called back.

He gave a chuckle as he watched the boys scramble to stomp in puddles and I realized Dad was right. I've been only twice since last summer, or just this once in 2008. He didn't know I would've rather not come today only "duty" and "should" won out over my aversion to being here.

It wasn't him, it was mom.

The criticism, the constant push and pull and the strain of our relationship made it easier for me to simply stay away. They come regularly to our home- all holidays, birthdays, celebrations, and the children's music recitals and events. It was easy for me to ignore my absence. This fact obviously wasn't lost on Dad.

I love my mom. I appreciate all she's sacrificed and given in raising me. I have much to be thankful for. She is resilient, generous, and knowledgeable. She is a lady of integrity and grit and conviction. She has her own pain and disappointments in life. In the past few years I understand her more and have come to peace about my own hurts and longing for what has never been.

I realize I too struggle with quickness of temper, irritability, and resentment. I know the truth of the sins of the Fathers being passed to the second and third generation as spoken in Exodus.

My eldest daughter said to me on Friday, "Mom you are quick to anger like Grandma." There was no judgement or animosity in her tone. She was simply sharing an observation with her mom. I hope she never stops.

But oh how those words stung. I wished desperately, that there was no truth in them. Instead I faced the ugly truth and shared with Hannah how it grieves me that I struggle with it. I told her I am working hard to overcome. I told her that I hate the way my sin affects Daddy and her and all my children. I pray daily to overcome and pray they will not fight this fight. In Jesus, we will be victorious. I told her that I want her to be witness to my overcoming, just as she has been witness to my sin.

I have already overcome much self-loathing for who I am, my heritage, and my sin. Sometimes it's easier to accept generational sin in our lives than it is to overcome it. I believe Christ wants more from us.

I am my mother's daughter. That is true. I struggle each and every day to be more gentle, patient, compassionate, humble, and kind. There is victory in the battle. One day I will be like Him for He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in me. I am weak but He is strong. His power is made perfect in my weakness. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. These are promises I claim several times a day as the battle over life and death rages in me.

I am my mother's daughter. Yet, what's more...I am a daughter of the King.

There is freedom, peace, victory, and redemption from the sins of our fathers. The ones that threaten to rob us of our peace and victory in our new life in Him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us....In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-8,11-12. NASV

Through His adoption, I am His child - a heir to all that is His. I have victory, redemption, and freedom because He has conquered sin already on my behalf - on your behalf. We have freedom and peace if we allow the power of truth to live in our minds and in our lives. If we allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan and death and we don't speak truth into our lives, we rob ourselves of victory.

Thank you God for your grace, mercy, and faithfulness. Your lovingkindness is everlasting. Thank you for the new life we have in you. Thank you because You are, "able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us". Ephesians 3:20 NASV

Saturday, April 26, 2008

And So the Household Woke Up

Lamentations 3:22-24 (New International Version)
22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him."

I awoke this morning to the sound of the chipper and loud voices of male and female morning show hosts on the radio on Paul's side of the bed. Where do these people come from who are so bright, so early? It was 6.15. It was Saturday.

I wondered why Paul wasn't turning off the radio. My sleepy mind adjusted to the rude awakening and I decided to get up. I realized later that Paul had slipped downstairs to the couch in the middle of the night. I was breathing loudly, he told me. Not snoring; breathing loudly.

It was a bonus to be up a little earlier. Actually getting out of bed is the hardest part, but once out, I am always grateful for the quiet of the morning and the gift of time.

It wasn't long before I had showered, dressed and I was pouring a second cup of coffee when Victoria appeared, tousled haired from downstairs, clad in soft blue pajamas and eyes still sleepy.

"Hi Omie," she said.

"Hi sweetheart," I answered, and asked if Tiffany-Amber was up yet.

"Yes, she's playing video games," Victoria replied.

"Well," I said, "I have a piece of music I want you to hear. I'll go and get the CD from my car."

With that, Victoria went downstairs to get her sister, while I stepped outside into the glorious morning sunshine, and started my car so that I could retrieve the CD from the player.

Soon the girls were seated in wing backed chairs in the big sunny back room, waiting. I carefully closed the pocket door between the big room and the room in which Paul still lay, on the couch.

The CD was one I'd borrowed from the library the week before, by Quartetto Gelato and the piece was called, "Russian Medley." I told the girls that when I hear a beautiful piece of music, I sometimes feel as if there is a string attached to my heart and someone is pulling it right out of my chest. Their eyes were intent, trying to understand this strange sensation that their grandmother was describing.

I started the music, and the strains of a violin sang sweet and slow and lilting and my heart began its familiar dance within my chest. The music gathered speed into a Russian dance and as it did we laughed and kicked our legs in the air, from our seats, arms folded like Cossack dancers.

I heard Paul stirring in the next room and soon, hair shooting out at odd angles and bleary eyed, he appeared in the kitchen, wondering where the music was coming from. One glance at his granddaughters though, and any thought of a grumble was gone. They have his heart securely in the palm of their hands.

Soon Brenda appeared, and later, Jay. Family phone calls completed our Saturday morning ritual of being together as family.
And so the household woke up this morning.
New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.
John Keble, (From the poem and hymn, New Every Morning is the Love)

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Book

It has a very well-broken-in look to it. Not just well-used, but obviously well loved. The red leather cover is worn and faded, with small cracks beginning to show. The pages have obviously been handled and turned over many, many times, with only a hint of shine left to the gold which had gilded their edges when it was still new. The margins and fly-leafs, are covered with hand-written notes. Page after page is marked here and there; whole passages are underlined with blue and black ink. Particular words are circled, and there is no shortage of arrows pointing to the cross references and drawing attention to notes in the margins.

The book is almost 35 years old, presented as an award for ten years of service by the insurance company she worked for at the time. I imagine there would have been other gifts to choose from. A watch perhaps. Or a some other piece of jewellry. I'm glad she made this choice, though. What a treasure.

My sister Brenda, who lives in Kingston, sent it back to me this week, via our David, who was coming home at the start of his summer break from his second year at Queen's. I doubt he had any idea how precious was his cargo. I would work ten years of hard labour, for no other reward than for this book.

After Mom went home to be with the Lord over 20 years ago, Dad had passed her bible on to me. As much as it meant to me, we were raised to know that the best blessing comes from giving, and by the time the second Christmas without her had come upon us, I had wrapped it up in bright paper and gave it to my sister Brenda. Tears filled her eyes when she opened it. And tears filled my eyes this week when it came back to me.

Mom obviously loved this book, that is plain to see. How well I remember her dedication to getting up at 5:30 every morning to be able to spend time studying and praying before leaving for work. She was in her forties, and her three children were all young adults before she really began to understand and accept for herself the faith passed down to her from previous generations. Her faith grew by leaps and bounds, mainly, I believe, because of the value she placed on looking for God's living voice to speak to her through the pages of this book. Inside the flyleaf, amidst many, many others, are penned these words:

The Bible does not contain the Word of God. It IS the Word of God.
It is
supernatural in origin
eternal in duration
inexpressable in value
infinite in scope
regenerative in power
infallible in authority
universal in interest
personal in application
inspired in totality!
Read it through!
Write it down!
Pray it in!
Work it out!
Then pass it on!
(No doubt that is a quote from someone, whose name Mom didn't think to write down. My apologies to that writer, but I just couldn't resist sharing it here.)
I wonder if she knew, all those years ago, how close I would feel to her when I read it now, and how encouraged in my own walk with God. It's almost like we are fellowshiping together again, and perhaps, as she is now one of the cloud of witnesses that surrounds us, in a sense we are. I remember asking her near the end, even though I already knew the answer, if she had any regrets about the amount of time she had given to her relationship with God - praying and studying the Word. I can still hear the passionate "no" that escaped her lips even in her weakened state, and how she suddenly looked away into a space and time I could not share, as though I had reminded her of some secret exquisite joy that could not really be shared with anyone unless they experienced it themselves.
Thanks Mom - for everything. I feel so close to you when I read your bible, and your notes and the things you highlighted and underlined. Thank you for doing that. What a legacy!
And thanks Bren - for this great treasure. You truly are the best sister in the whole wide world.
And thank you Father God, for the gift of your Living Word, which reveals who you are to sincere, open, searching hearts.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

God Made Me Contemplative

Ruth 1:22 (New International Version)
22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

Yes, I confess: I just read the book of Ruth tonight. Those of you with the Marathon of Biblical Proportions "Tour Sheet" will know, that is the reading for March 26th.

I haven't exactly been lagging behind--in a heap at the side of the road is more like it.

I don't quite know what happened, but it might have something to do with the daily reports from Paul of how far ahead he is. He is now far into June's readings; he's somewhere in the Psalms. Although I smile and nod every time he gives me an update, I find this strangely discouraging, as if there is no hope of catching up, so why even try?.

This isn't Paul's fault, it's just me being silly. Well, I've decided that I'm giving myself a shake and I'm marching to the beat of my own drummer.

God made me contemplative; I can't help it. I am a ponderer and I love to linger over words, allowing a single sentence to speak to me. And even more, I love God to speak to me through a single sentence.

Tonight I read the beautiful story of Ruth and found myself thinking of all that is hidden in the words at the end of chapter 1. So Naomi returned...accompanied by Ruth...arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

I mean, isn't that a gripping way to end a chapter? Doesn't it just make you want to turn the page to see what happens next?

As I lingered over those words, especially, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning, I thought of how the words set the stage for the unfolding story. There was nothing random, from the point of view of God's purposes, in the time of Naomi and Ruth's arrival in Bethlehem, for through following the harvesters as a gleaner, humbly gathering what was left behind; Ruth would find the kind man who would take her under his protection; a kinsman. And later he would take her as his wife.

And so it is with our stories. When we humbly submit our lives to God, as we know Ruth did from her well known words in chapter 1:16: Your people will be my people and your God my God; we are under his protection and covering. We can be at peace and know that all is well. We need not worry that we are the mercy of random fate, or chance. God has a plan and an agenda for our lives and he is aware of and cares for, our needs.

Matthew 6:31-32 (New Living Translation)
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Psalm 131:2 (New Living Translation)
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Commotion on the Hills

Jeremiah 4:3-4a (New International Version)
3 This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem:
"Break up your unploughed ground
and do not sow among thorns.

4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,

circumcise your hearts, ...

I long to have my heart ploughed deep,
A field devoted to the Lord,
The hardened clods of clay that sleep
Awoken, broken in his keep,
For him alone.

I wrote those words in February, verse two of a poem in meditation on Leviticus 27:21a
21 When the field is released in the Jubilee, it will become holy, like a field devoted to the LORD;

I thought of them again this morning when I read a verse in today's Daily Light, from Jeremiah 3:23
(New International Version)
23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills
and mountains is a deception;
surely in the LORD our God
is the salvation of Israel.

As I thought of "the hills of my heart" I wondered; are they a peaceful field being ploughed and broken up by the hand of the Lord, or is there an "idolatrous commotion?"

There has been a battle of late for my heart, and at times I have felt like a car with its wheels out of alignment, wobbling and bumping along with something slightly out of place. Restlessness and lack of peace; "an idolatrous commotion" is it exactly, for when he is not first I am not happy.

Lord, there are so many distractions and I am so distractable and such a foolish child. Can you forgive me again for drifting? I know the answer and I'm so grateful, for it is your Holy Spirit who will not let me rest unless it is in you. Thank you for loving me so much that you will not let me be happy unless we are in oneness.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thursday Ladies

We gather at Eline's every Thursday evening, showing up when we can, any time after 6pm, usually closer to 7pm and sometimes after 8pm. It's totally informal and relaxed. Six and sometimes seven of us, all over 40, none over 60, some Grandmas and others mothers of still small ones. We have grown into a tight knit sisterhood of prayer, studying God's Word and sharing everything. We pray, laugh, talk, eat, listen, cry, pray some more and sing, often with dancing.
We are blessed, us girls, from as far away as Rwanda and Phillipines, and as local as Alliston and other places in between.

We are rich and vibrant. Sometimes we laugh until tears stream down our cheeks and our bellies ache from the effort. Other times we weep with understanding, compassion, intercession, surrounding each other, a soft herd, caring and nurturing, lifting lives to the only One, Father who knows the next step.
Sometimes daughters join in, beautiful African teens, or granddaughters, small, blonde, giggly, wiggly.
We enjoy being together. This group of girls, finding strength and loving, spurring on, encouraging. We leave each time uplifted, ignited afresh.
And it doesn't stop there. For during the week we meet, in stores, on the street, at events, in church. We are connected by that flame, that heart Who loves. The Eternal.

"Behold , how good and how pleasant it is for brethren(sisters!) to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded blessing, even life for evermore" Psalm 103 KJV

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Technical Support

On Saturday our house and yard was filled with family; as effervescent as a bubbling glass of champagne.

The sound of children's voices and running feet animated the air.

Outside, Paul raked the debris of winter from the perennial flower beds, aided by a bevy of granddaughters and Joshua.

Inside, Peter sat at the long maple table in the back room, with his laptop open. Beside him, Stephen, elbows on table, with a school exercise book open, sat captive to a school project on reptiles.

I was preparing my Sunday school lesson for the next day, but I had hit a snag. The lesson was on the fall of Jericho and the children were to make trumpets shaped like ram's horns; shofars, to represent those blown at the fall of Jericho; but I couldn't figure out from the instructions how to make them.

I called on Peter for technical support, and, happy for a brief reprieve from the world of reptiles, he came over to have a look. Before long we were surrounded by a sea of orange construction paper with various corners snipped off in an attempt to make the horns. The fact that Peter was stumped, was strangely comforting to me. I wondered if anyone at the Sunday school curriculum department had ever tried to follow the instructions.

On Sunday morning I went prepared with my squares of orange paper with the corners trimmed off on one edge. as per the diagram. "We'll figure it out when it comes time to make them," I thought.

Sunday School was very lively and I was grateful to have two helpers; Susan's son Joel, and Frances. The children marched around a "wall" of cereal boxes, marching in ever tightening circles closer to the walls that were oh, so very tempting. I had to refocus them many times on the fact that they were Israelites obeying God who marched around in silence six times. On the seventh circuit on the seventh "day," every one shouted and blew imaginary trumpets as Frances tipped one box to make the pretend wall tumble like dominoes.

After memory work, snack and a puppet skit by Joel and Frances it was time for the trumpet craft. The children decorated one side of them with care, heads bowed in concentration as they worked. One by one their heads popped up expectantly for help from us in gluing the trumpets into "shape." I was grateful that children are very forgiving, because although we did our best they resembled long decorated tubes more than trumpets.

A bright little girl named Amy, came up to me afterwards and said with certainty, "I know how to do it." I thought that perhaps she had cracked the code, but Amy's creative solution was to cover the orange tube with another piece of paper and a few minutes, she did indeed have something that looked like a shofar, only it was an entirely new creation of two tubes held together with scotch tape. She helpfully offered to show the other children how to make them next week. "Only if there's time," she said.

Afterwards, little Joshua, who is in a younger class, asked Frances for her trumpet, but he would only take it if it was a "party hat." Frances said, "Well then; it is a party hat.

With a very satisfied look, Joshua put the trumpet on his head and walked away, happy.

Come to think of it, the precept of the lesson was, "Obey God even when it doesn't make sense."

Aha! Maybe that was the message in the trumpets. Well, it is a thought.

Joshua 24:24 (Amplified Bible)
24The people said to Joshua, The Lord our God we will serve; His voice we will obey.

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The Warmth of the Son

Fat robins perch on branches where they chirp and join chorus with sparrows, flitting from fence to tree and stem to bush. Green leaves unfurl from budded sleep and morning dawns, the first day of a new week. Daffodil trumpets burst forth swaying in the breeze while tulips shoot forth in colourful array. Such splendor, quiet magnificence, earthly beauty created for us to enjoy and marvel at our creator.

Oh our thoughts Lord, are sometimes in such contrast to the beauty of this day. We get stuck in the miry clay. We see our lack, the consequence of our sin. We see our failings and get stuck there. Oh Lord, we serve You at times with broken and worn out tools. Is a heart of desire enough, Lord?

Seeking, longing, and waiting.

With David, we call out:

Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord. Lord hear my voice! Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If Thou O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, That Thou mayest be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord. More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, And with Him there is abundant redemption. Psalm 130: 1-7 NASV


Hoping, trusting, believing. Waiting on the Lord. Finding humility of heart, exchanging our sorrows for His joy. Drawing on His strength. We serve anyway. We let go. Carpe Diem. Seize the day.

Look, see the blue sky, clouds scudding in the wind. The day is bright. Feel the warmth of the sun...the warmth of His son.
His mercy washes anew, His grace falls like rain. His truths renew hope and purpose. We serve with a smile today. We offer a sacrifice of praise. We offer all we are to Him. What will He do through us today?

Let's wait...expectantly

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Alliston Curbside Pickup

It was on the morning of March 4th that Ashna Khanna's world turned into a nightmare. That morning the 14 year old Alliston girl was repeatedly stabbed with a knife by her father; an attack that sent her to Sunnybrook hospital in critical condition.

In those few moments, a girl's life was changed forever and her family spiralled into a vortex of horror.

Her friends at school, awoke to the news that morning that left them in stunned shock. One of them, Summer, felt compelled to go to the hospital as soon as she could get there, just to comfort Ashna by her presence. In order to do that, she had to go into work with her dad at the Ontario Food Terminal in the middle of the night, so that he could take her to the hospital after work later that day.

Her dad was filled with compassion too. When he thought of his own daughter, he couldn't imagine something like this happening to one of her classmates and his heart was full of the desire to do whatever he could to help.

When they got to the hospital they were asked to wait, and they did, for three hours. Through a miscommunication, no one had told the family they were there. When they finally did get in to see Ashna, it was enough just to be with her and for Ashna to know one of her friends was there.

Brian and Frances, Summer's parents, immediately thought of the practical help that the family would need. Bills don't stop coming in when a tragedy strikes and with the consent of Ashna's mother, they went to a bank in Alliston and set up a trust account for Ashan's family, where donations could be made.

Readers of this blog will know that I briefly made mention of Ashna on my Thursday evening blog post entitled, Just a Thursday Evening in Bond Head.

On Friday morning, before leaving for work, I noticed that someone had used the search words "Alliston Curbside Pickup," and it brought them to Whatever He Says. I thought that was strange, but didn't think any more about it.

I drove to my office and was rushing to gather items needed for a meeting at 10.30 in another town, when the phone rang. It was Frances.

"Belinda! Brian was on your blog last night," she said, "And he said that you wrote about Ashna."

Brian, who is not a reader of blogs, had Googled "Alliston Curbside Pickup," and it took him to this blog. It happened because I wrote that I walked down the driveway to pick up our blue boxes from the curbside, and because I used the name of our village, Bond Head (which is near Alliston) in the title. This combination of "coincidences" resulted in Brian landing on this blog, out of all of the millions of blogs in the world, on a night that I had mentioned his name in a blog post.

Do you think that might be God?

Two people contacted me for details of the bank account after Thursday's blog post. In case there are others who would like to help, here are details of the bank account:
The account has been set up at the National Bank.
The Alliston branch has also waived the administration fees and all service charges on the account for the next six months.
The account number is 0027128, and the transit number is 08601. If needed, the institution number is 006.
Call Hillside Pentecostal at 905-936-2177 or the Furuyas at 705-435-8802 for more information.


There is also a bake sale to raise funds for the family on May 3rd, to be held at Alliston Pentecostal Church at the same time as a concert. Anyone who can help with donations of baked goods, please let Frances know at 705-435-8802.

Proverbs 3:27 (New Living Translation)27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Me and the Remote.

Last week I said that I would write about how God pulled everything together to get Fanny moved. It was an exciting weekend, all right, but God seems to delight in revealing the details of His plan as it unfolds, not ahead of time as we would like him to do. To whit:

Thursday morning the call came that a room was available and that we had to make an almost immediate decision. That moment of decision was akin to my jumping off the cliff. The landing point would be Monday evening when Fanny and the last of her things were unloaded and she was safely inside her room at the Manor and all her stuff with her.

(In contrast to all that had to transpire to get the job done, that last sentence was awfully easy to write!)

The first step was “how to get her there” by the deadline we were given. By Friday afternoon the use of a wheelchair van had been offered for which I was most grateful (Thank you to all who had a part in that complicated bit of the story!)

Then the weekend hit. To make a long story short, I put in a brutal weekend at work. I worked a very long day on Friday, then was called back in to do an overnight awake that same night. Home at 10 a.m. Saturday, I went back in for 4 hours that afternoon and then ended up working another overnight awake on Sunday night to boot. By noon Monday as I was leaving the office, I was fried to a crisp. I had no idea where the energy was going to come from to get Fanny and her things into the van and get her moved. I had been praying all weekend about how it was going to happen, but things just went from the ridiculous to the sublime. Not one of my nine kids was available to help and Ron was speaking to a couple of hundred lawyers by video conferencing, so I couldn’t look to him.

As I snaked down the winding street toward home, I passed another one of our group homes. In the driveway, I saw the manager’s vehicle and a sudden thought struck me. Lesley-Ann lives in Barrie and her husband works the afternoon shift! Maybe she wouldn’t mind giving me a few hours that evening. I pulled into the driveway and two minutes later I was in her office saying, “Whatcha doin’ tonight?”

“Nothing! Why?”

Before letting her know how much I needed her, Lesley-Ann was already offering to help. I also had an offer from Belidna, so I knew I could call on her if needed too. I stumbled home in order to grab two whole hours of sleep that afternoon. I picked up the van at 5;00 and then picked up Lesley-Ann at her house. We drove over to Grove Park Home and loaded up Fanny and the van with all her stuff. What merriment ensued! We were kind of like the Keystone Kops, with Fanny directing, but we got the job done! As we pulled out of the parking lot, it was evident that we were going to need Belinda on the other end to help unload. I called her on my cell phone and though the busiest person in the entire world with more relationships to maintain than the entire population of Montreal, she was just as eager as Lesley-Ann to help. She met us at the Manor in Beeton, and as she and Lesley-Ann unloaded the “stuff”, I pushed Fanny up the ramp to her new home. I arranged to be in the nurses station signing papers and stuff while the others did all the work of unloading and setting up her room. What a God-send they were. With only 2 hours sleep in the previous 36 hours, I don’t know what I would have done without them. I guess that’s why God sent them along. Belinda even drove back with us to Barrie to get my car for fear I would fall asleep on the way home.

I am leaving out many, many details through which the sum total of all of them, God showed himself very strong, and very capable on mine and Fanny’s behalf. I had committed my way to him that day – my “impossible” way in the natural and he took on the problem, ironed out the details and supplied all the help needed to accomplish His will. In the midst of it all, there was much laughter and the blessing of friendship and an adventure shared.

A special thank you to Belinda and Lesley-Ann for being so willing to say “yes” to God and for being so much fun along the way. And thank you to Frances, too, for being the most willing of all though God had other plans for her in the end that night.

And thank you Father God for showing me once again, how faithful and how good you truly are.

Last week I was so tired (that is an incredible understatement) and I had no idea how at the end of my shift on Monday morning how I was going to get Fanny moved. I gave the problem to Him, God answered, gave me strength, sent help and it was accomplished. I was absolutely exhausted – beyond exhausted – at the end of it all.

That was last weekend. Tonight I am writing this from a beautiful hotel room, the “sleep number” perfectly set on my kingsize bed, the remote for the TV within reach for when the movie starts (“Becoming Jane”) in just a few minutes. I’ll be home tomorrow, but until then, I’m enjoying being responsible for “just me” and not another soul on earth.

God is good. He sure is.

Sigh!

Click.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just a Thursday Evening in Bond Head

Ontario is emerging suddenly from what was beginning to feel like an endless winter.

Life is bursting out and shooting up everywhere. It seems as if the whole earth is singing with joy at this spring.

This week I was driving back to the office from Stouffville, along Bloomington Road, when I glanced to my left and gasped in wonder at the sight of six riderless horses; two dappled gray and four brown, galloping with abandon across a field. I glanced in my mirror, slowed down, and pulled off the road to stare at the breathtaking sight; freedom epitomized.

Manes and tails streamed in the air and the mud kicked up behind their hooves. I could almost hear the thunder in the ground.

And then just as suddenly, they stopped, and two of them pranced at each other, taking to the air in defiance of gravity, dancing and jumping for joy.

I reluctantly left my roadside seat in the theatre of nature and drove on to the office where paper piles, a computer screen and endless emails awaited me. For that moment I wished I was a horse.

Tonight I walked in the bright evening light down our long, S shaped driveway, to pick up the blue boxes from the curb side. I heard what sounded like a crow's call, and looked back to see a child, high in the silver birch tree, head held up, face into the breeze, mimicking a crow perfectly.

It was Tiffany-Amber. It was reassuring to see her having a relapse into childhood and tom boyishness. Yesterday life was all about hair. Today not so much!

I went inside where a bloated bag of Amish Friendship bread batter was waiting on my counter (yes I know, I promised never to mention it again but I can't help it). It should have been baked yesterday, but my friend Susan told me that the sky wouldn't fall in if I didn't bake it on "day 10"; and it didn't.

Victoria wandered into the kitchen and said, "What are you doing Omie?" When I told her I was baking a LOT of Amish Friendship bread she asked if she could stir. I was making a triple batch because I've run out of people to give the extra batter to.

"Why don't you throw it away?" she wanted to know.

I wondered that myself and said, "I just can't seem to do it."

"I had a caterpillar once," she said, "And Daddy made me throw it away. I had perfect leaves and everything. I didn't want to do it; it was really hard. I don't know why he made me let it go."

I was beating eggs, measuring oil, flour, sugar and other ingredients and adding them to the bowl as she stirred the big batch of batter. I showed how to stir in small circles and fold the ingredients in.

I explained that the six loaves we were baking, were for a bake sale to raise money for the family of a girl whose father had stabbed her. I knew immediately that was too much information.

"With what?" she asked, wide eyed.

"Aaaargh," I thought; sometimes grandmothers have big mouths.

I explained that the girl who'd been stabbed (suddenly that word sounded even worse than before, if possible) was a friend of France's daughter Summer, and that the daddy was in jail now, but the family still had bills to pay.

"My daddy would never do that," she said, "He looks after us and never lets us go anywhere unless he knows the people."

"That's right darling," I agreed.

I had filled six loaf pans with the batter as we talked, and she was now at the best part of all; licking the bowl.

Her eyes were dreamy as she thought of her parents.

"They are like angels; they are always around you to keep you safe," she said, and then she gave a little shiver as she thought of the girl, Ashna, who had not been kept safe.*

The loaves were in the oven and it was time for a story from Parables from the Pond, before going back downstairs. She went to get her sister Tiffany-Amber.

*(Frances and Brian have set up a trust fund for this family at a bank in Alliston. If anyone feels prompted to help them, please contact me and I will give you the bank transit number)Posted by Picasa

Psalm 8:1-2 A (New International Version)
A psalm of David.
1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants

you have ordained praise

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Never More Beautiful than Now

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It was about three weeks ago that it began, with a suddenness that took me by surprise. I can trace my awareness of it to a Tuesday night cell group supper, although I'm sure it began before that.
The girls' bangs were in desperate need of a good cut. Due to a number of factors their mom had been unable to get them to the hairdressers.
That Tuesday night, their hair hung down over their eyes, but it didn't seem to bother the girls one bit. Their hairdresser, "Auntie Tanya," had warned their mom, "Do not attempt to cut their bangs yourself." I thought to myself how much things had changed in one generation. When our children were young, parents did cut bangs, but when I look at some of those school photos I think that I shouldn't have!
Samantha, who comes to cell group and who is a hairdresser, agreed heartily. "Oh no, don't touch them," she said ominously, immediately conjuring up horrific images of butchered bangs.
She advised Tiffany-Amber, who told her that she was growing the bangs out anyway, that if she was doing so, she should part her hair on the side to "train" it and that at night she should wear it pinned to one side with a barrette.
I noticed Tiffany-Amber paying very close attention and then she had vanished from the table, only to return moments later with hair duly parted on the side instead of hanging down from the middle as it has done for the first ten years of her life.
This is the granddaughter whose outstanding natural talent is for imitating any animal or bird call, and who loves hanging out with her dad or building stuff and whose outrage is easily sparked at environment desecrating Philistines. Hair has not been on her horizon...until now.
The next evening when she came upstairs, I noticed her walking with an odd sideways gait with her head tilted over to one side. She looked lovely, but the tilt was a tad distracting and I was worried about her neck. I soon realized that it was all about the engaging the power of gravity to control the hair, which had not been fully "trained" to one side yet. I remembered some "hair glue" in my drawer and asked if she'd like it. "Lagoon Jam" it was called.
"Sure," said Tiffany-Amber, and with that she was initiated into the wonders of hair products. She was in awe of the fact that she could walk upright again. I was happy about that too.
In our ground floor bathroom the mirror is a stylish abstract cloud-like shape, and it is hung on hinges. All of a sudden we began to notice it aimed at the level of our belly buttons and covered in finger prints. Same thing with my hand mirror; that was covered in fingerprints too.
The other thing we have noticed is the bathroom door being closed a lot, and someone spending large amounts of time in there. Tiffany-Amber is becoming aware of her appearance and caring about how she looks.
I am watching this process with a pang in my heart. This is all happening sooner than I expected. She is entering "pre-teen hood" faster than we thought.
I comfort myself with the thought that just a week ago she was up a tree in the cemetery across from our house, and she and her sister Victoria still love to snuggle up on either side of me for a story from Parables from the Pond, a wonderful devotional book for children that we are enjoying reading and discussing together at the moment.
I look at their sweet faces and I think that they and our other granddaughters Katherine and Emily, could never be more beautiful than now. No products, plucking or primping could enhance their appearance. There is something so tender and poignant about this rite of passage going on before our eyes. I hope the passage is a slow one. Yes, a slow boat to China would suit me fine.
Matthew 19:14 (New Living Translation)
14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ruts and Other Mercies

It only seems to be during times of falling, that I know the deep truth of God's greatness.

When I am strong, self confident and rising above circumstances, I start to slip. Self confidence leads to self righteousness, which leads to a decline in the amount of time I spend relying, until I stumble, tumble, and after a suitable amount of time applied to self hatred, I awaken to the marvelous realization that God Himself has let me fall flat on my virtual face.

Mercy.

The rut is the safety of self, the sitting down in routines of serving me and even calling it living for Him, justifying it with wise words, yet the heart knows the rut and warnings ring to waken slipping self.

The post fall state though is one of surprise. Peace is here. Wisdom says so gently "Self reliance is a deep rut, where He is not. You have fallen though, and here is grace." And so I'm swept up again, surprised by the unexpected.
It's in these moments that I'm gentled too. Critical heart is silenced in the face of His mercy. Who is self to judge and berate another after this Gift.
Softness invades, quietens, makes new.

Dear Savior Jesus,
What can I say? Words do not do justice to your gift of mercy and grace. It's only when I'm utterly helpless and disgusted with who I am, that I realize Who You are, and how foolish I ever am to think that I can do anything on my own.
You are the "I Am" and I feel so thankful just to sit quietly close to You, restored.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Piano Lessons

Psalm 150:3-6 (New International Version)
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,

praise him with the strings and flute,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,

praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.

Tonight was Tiffany-Amber and Victoria's piano recital and I was there to hear them play.

Being ten minutes early at Hope Methodist Church tonight, the girls I was there to hear had not yet arrived, so I quietly slipped into the church sanctuary to listen to four sets of other children playing the duet, Babbling Bears, which I have been listening to the girls practicing for weeks downstairs.

The atmosphere was very, very serious and the church was hushed. No one said a word, unless in very soft whispers, as each set of children approached the piano, and, depending on their personality, hammed it up a little, or seriously, or nervously, sat down and arranged their music.

I listened to the short duet played 8 times by the time Tiffany-Amber, Victoria, and their group were finished. I was amazed at the difference in each rendition. Some were crisp and clear and lively, while others played the piece perfectly but not with quite as much "life." For some, the counting of the beats was evident while others seemed to really enjoy playing the music and it sparkled; I could actually hear the "babbling bears" talking to each other.

Between each set of players, the adjudicator made careful notes. At the end, she gave feedback to the children, encouraging them in the gift she saw in each of them. She was absolutely wonderful in the way she found something unique and sincere to say about them all. She said that ideally they should be like one person with four arms--one brain, and that some children had listened to each other really well as they played; rather than just holding to their own part desperately.

Tiffany-Amber and Victoria played "sensitively," she said, and I thought that was a nice compliment. They earned a silver award.

As for me; I left with food for thought from this "piano lesson" that had some hidden life lessons.

I learned that it's important to learn the theory but then relax and enjoy the "feel" of the music. Like music, living life well is more art than science.

Let the things learned become part of you so that you no longer focus on the theory but just flow in synchronization with it.

I learned that it is important to affirm people's gifts and give criticism gently. (The adjudicator simply read the encouragement and said that on the sheet she gave each child there was a suggestion to work on with their teacher)

And I learned that we all need to listen really well to one another in the duets of life and not be holding so desperately to our part that we aren't aware of the other "player" in the duet.

I hope that I am learning to "play sensitively" and that if I keep practicing I will improve before the next "recital."

1 Chronicles 15:16 (New International Version)
16 David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

He Who Keeps You Will Not Slumber

I enter the double doors of the Emergency Department and hear his cries. My mother heart beats harder within me as I follow his pain-filled bawl.

I enter the room and see his curly hair, damp with sweat, face blotchy from crying. Tiny 2 year old body, still now, lying on starched white sheets against Daddy's arms. The nurse says to me, "Just in time, Mom." She wrestles to get the I.V. in his chubby left fist. I soothe my whimpering son, stroking his head, maintaining eye contact, and speak softly to his soul and heart from my own. Comforted, he calms.

I notice his right arm. I don't need to see the x-rays to know it's badly broken. I glance up at the light-board anyway and see his tiny bones, both fractured, between the wrist and elbow. My husband and I have eye contact and I continue to soothe this wee one. The I.V. is firmly in place and I learn the anaesthetist has been called.

In small-town Alliston, there's no resident anaesthetist on week-ends but the wait is short because specialists are local. As soon as the anaesthetist arrives, he puts Josiah out and the Doctor returns to set his arm and cast it.

It was then that I learn that he fell while attempting to get out of the playpen. Josiah toppled from the top onto a stool, his body twisting over his right arm. The torque is what caused the break Dr. Romeros explained. "It's rare for 2 year olds, with green-stick bones to fracture an arm like this but as you can see it does happen."

Yes, I did see. I saw with my eyes. I saw with my heart of love for my son. The pain is raw for me, as likely with every parent whenever part of their own flesh and blood is injured. How I always wish it was me! So much easier to endure that way. That's the kind of love our Father gives parents for their children. What's more, that's just a slice of the kind of love our Father has for each one of us, His children. His love is unfathomable, remarkable, inconceivable. He gave His son for us.

I thought of my favourite worship song, written by Michael Card, sung first by Amy Grant. I had heard it earlier in the day and the words came to me as I remained with Josiah awaiting the anesthetic to wear off.

El Shaddai

El Shaddai, El Shaddai (God Almighty, God Almighty)
El Elyon, Na Adonai (God in the Highest, Oh Lord)
Age to age, you're still the same
By the power of your name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai
Erkamka Na Adonai (We will love you, O Lord)
I will praise and lift You High
El Shaddai (Chorus)

Through Your love and through the ram
You've saved the son of Abraham
Through the power of Your hand
You've turned the sea into dry land
To the outcast on her knees
You were the God who really sees
And by Your might
You've set your children free.

Chorus

Through the years You made it clear
That the time of Christ was near
Though your people couldn't see
What Messiah ought to be
Though Your word contained the plan
They just would not understand
That Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of your son.

Chorus.


God cared for my family and I in this situation, in so many little and big ways. He does this everyday but it's at times like these that I take more stock and must therefore return more praise.

I share some of my praises:

-our neighbour came with her children to look after Jeremiah while Jason took Josiah to the hospital. I was with the 3 older children, attempting to drop off submissions for the New Tecumseth Art Festival


-when I got home, she looked after all 4 so I could go to the hospital with Jason and Josiah - she served the children lunch and cleaned up before Jason returned home
-the children's art teacher learned I was at the hospital and came to Emergency to get all the submissions I was originally dropping off
-the Dr. who set Josiah's arm is doing a symposium in a few weeks in Nova Scotia on paediatric fractures (in a small hospital, God blessed us with a skilled physician in fractures; therefore all of my internal concerns about competency were relieved)
-Josiah was at hospital for a total of 3 1/2 hours (including 2 sets of x-rays, before and after, running an I.V., calling in an anaesthetist, putting him out, and setting and casting his arm)
-the day went smoothly and everything we had to get done, got done
-our other children showed compassion and servant-hearts to one another
-Jason and I drew strength from one another

As I settled after returning home and began to relax, I read Psalm 121 with renewed thanks. Along with David the psalmist, I rejoice!

I will lift my eyes to the mountains, From whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber...The Lord is your keeper;The Lord is your shade on your right hand...He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.
Psalm 121:1-3,5,7-8 NASV

I tiptoe quietly into his room. His eyes are closed and he sleeps peacefully, for now. His cast runs from his armpit to his thumb - as small as his arm. His curls rest on his head and he breathes rhythmically and I gaze upon this wee one. My hand rests on his silky crown and I thank God for His gifts and that Josiah is a child of the King. What a privilege to be a son of the Father! What heritage He has been given. I am overcome with thanksgiving.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hope for Change

Judges 6:12-13 (New International Version)
12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
13 "But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."


Sometimes the events that overtake us in life are mystifying; but the human race has a great capacity to be deluded and some of the things that make us wonder; shouldn't.

A couple of years ago I read a really good book by Dr. Henry Cloud, called, 9 Things You Simply MUST DO to Succeed in Love and Life. Principle number 3 of his list of 9, was called, "Play the Movie," by which he meant, understand cause and effect. This is how he put it:

"There are several ways to think about Principle Three. The simplest is to look at it merely as a matter of cause and effect. "If you do A, then B will happen." That may be the easiest way, but it doesn't illustrate the profound nature of it. Experience takes us much farther than that. It's more like this: If I do A, not only will B happen, but C will too. And D and F and so on and on."

Gideon asked, "Why has all this happened to us?" and declared that the LORD had abandoned the people of Israel.

But verse 1 of Judges 6 says this: Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.

There is wisdom and hope in taking responsibility for the many small choices I make in a day.

The hope comes when I "Play the Movie" and look at the end result of what I'm doing now. If I don't like the end result--I can change what I'm doing. Yes, I can change the end of the movie, just like those movies that now come with a choice of endings!

I hate to admit this, but after the speeding ticket that I got a couple of months ago, I got another one; two tickets in one month. As the police officer took my drivers license to his car, I was sure that he'd think I was a maniac on the loose and really hit me as hard as I deserved. He was very merciful though, and I decided then that I would be a different kind of driver from that moment on. I have been keeping in my mind the mantra, "Drive relaxed," and have been keeping within the speed limit.

There are other areas I'm working on and I've made myself accountable to friends and co-workers--healthier eating habits and being on time are two of them; and there are other giants yet to be toppled in my life.


The thing is that there is hope for any of us. We serve the God of Hope. Anything is possible with God.

Job 11:18 (New International Version)
18 You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fanny's Final Move (but one!)


We thought the call would never come. But finally, after three years on the wait list, there was a bed for Fanny at Simcoe Manor, less than 10 minutes from our house.

Fanny and I have been friends for nearly ten years. She has a developmental disability and she came along at a time when we really needed each other. She was grieving the loss of her dearest and best friend of 35 years, and I was just getting over a fierce period of grieving some other kinds of losses. We fought hard for the kind of friendship we wanted to have, and for the right to figure it all out for ourselves. We are as firmly attached to one another now as we are comfortable in our relationship. I guess I'm the closest thing to family she has ever had, and she is as close to me as any of my family could ever be.

In the past two years, Fanny's mobility has significantly decreased. She went from tottering along on wobbly legs, to a walker, and then, after spending three months in hospital, ended up depending on a set of wheels to get her around. She has moved first from group home, to hospital, to a retirement home, to a nursing home in Barrie, each move taking an emotional toll on her, and a physical toll on me. Her last move, from Toronto to Barrie, we thought would be her last, but it was a 40 minute drive for me and the time we were able to spend together wasn't nearly often enough for either of us. With my dad not well, and other family pressures, some of our visits were weeks apart and rarely closer together than a fortnight. We had left her name on the waiting list for Simcoe Manor, thinking when it came up, we would probably turn it down, but we still felt like we should keep our options open, just because it was so close. Thank God we did.

Since we had less than 24 hours to respond to the phone call, I left work early on Thursday to go over to the Manor to check out the room. I knew the basic accommodations, the only ones in Fanny's budget range, were shared rooms, each occupant separated from the other by a hospital type curtain. That would never do for Fanny, for a variety of reasons. But I thought I should at least look. It was only a matter of minutes from my house, for goodness sake, and I drove by the place many times in any given week. I felt I at least had to check things out before turning it down. And it was Fanny's decision in the end, not mine. My part was to look things over and to present the options to her as best I could. She could always turn it down, and who knew? She might surprise me and decide to take it.

When the aide turned into Room 201, the one being offered to Fanny, I was sure there had been a mistake. It was a large bright room - with a window looking out over the schoolyard below - a room half again the size of the one she was occupying in Barrie and with a bathroom that was four times the size. The best part? There was only one bed. I couldn't believe my eyes. I kept asking, "Are you sure this is a basic room? Are you sure? Are you sure this isn't a shared room? Are you sure they're not bringing in another bed? Are you sure????"

I kept getting the same answers. It was a private room, a big beautiful, private room, for the price of a basic, shared room. I'm still shaking my head in amazement a week later. Even before asking Fanny how she felt, I said, "Yes!" on the spot - knowing that if she had second thoughts, we could always cancel. But once canceled we would not be able to change our minds and get the room back.

When I presented the idea to Fanny, she didn't hesitate. I don't think she would have cared if it was a closet in a basement - or even a shared room. As long as she could fit her treasured things in there and as long as it was closer to me, she wanted it. And so did I. I've already been in to see her four times this week, twice with my grandson Mikey. What luxury to be able to see her without figuring in at least 80 minutes of driving into the quotient. And I love being able to pop in on my way home from work.

If you want to know if God is good, just ask Fanny. And me.
Now, there's a whole lot more to this story. With only four days notice, moving Fanny from one facility to another was going to be a challenge. I tend to be a person who jumps in with both feet and then while falling, try to figure out how I'm going to land without getting killed. This was no exception. When I first said "yes" to the room, I had no idea how I was going to get her out of where she was in Barrie and into Simcoe Manor in Beeton. But God had a plan. In my next post I'll share how it all unfolded, one small miracle after another and all adding up to one incredible day.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights... James 1:17a
Thank you Father, for your perfect gift of a room for Fanny - and me!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hope (holding onto promises expectantly)

By Sue Smith

Psalm 62:2 (New International Version)
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

You alone my rock are my salvation,
My fortress where I'll never be shaken.
In my quiet times I know you're there
With outstretched arms to take each care.
Life can hit with a crushing blow,
But there is nothing you don't know.
You lift me up each time I stumble,
Hold me tight before I crumble.
Nothing life can throw at me
Can destroy my victory.
Cause I'm in you and you're in me.
When life's rough waves try to overwhelm,
I look up and see you at the helm
Of my life's ship, You're guiding me
Through life's too often turbulent sea.
And while the storms around me roar,
Your presence brings me safe to shore.
My hope is in you, my trust you see
Can never rest so safe in me.
But hope is such a fragile thing,
Depending on what life may bring.
Hope is good, I do agree,
But I need faith to anchor me.
I need to eat God's word each day
To power me, so Lord I pray
Increase this gift of faith I treasure.
Pour it on me without measure.
So I will see the waves of strife
As pavement for my walk through life.
And by your grace empower me
To lift another swamped one free.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hope

We fill Bonnie's living room with laughter, impassioned conversation, the sparking back and forth of different views; iron sharpening iron. I love this group of women; their hearts and their minds.

As my granddaughters grow up, it is women such as these that I hope they learn from and model themselves on; women who express themselves artistically, who have a deep faith forged in the fires of life, and who never consider age a reason to stop thinking or loving passionately.

Tonight our assignment was "hope." I have learned to come expectant and I never leave disappointed. The range of interpretation and reflection that one word can elicit amazes me and as one by one the women share their pieces of writing, our emotions run the gamut from laughter to tears. There are rich gifts in this group of writers and our monthly time together nurtures and calls out more from one another than we knew we had inside us.

Vi sits across from me beside her daughter, Sue. Vi is beautiful, elegant, funny, witty and has lived life ("pushing the envelope of three score years and ten" as she puts it) to the full. Honey blond hair frames her face in soft waves, and her make-up is tasteful, enhancing her gray-blue eyes. Her nails are always nicely manicured and painted and she dresses in flattering colours and styles. She has a vibrant, youthful spirit and her writing captures us with its humour and sometimes its earthiness.

As she opens a spiral notebook and reads what she wrote on "hope," I know that I will ask if I can share it on Whatever He Says. She said "Yes!"

(By the way, Faith Girl, who is a team member on this blog, is Vi's granddaughter. There are three generations of writers so far in their family, and a fourth coming up).

Hope

By Vi Gann

Hope is a four letter word
Love is a four letter word

Like branches of a tree, they are intrinsically entwined--sustained by one root
I am pushing the envelope of three score years and ten and sometimes I sit and wonder what did I do with my life?
How will my OBIT read? I hope it will say that I loved much and laughed often; that I gave what I could to the less fortunate and campaigned for just causes and hopefully made a difference.
There is so much in life to understand--like man's inhumanity to man--the way wars are waged, with their dreadful toll--the cause of pain and tears.
What did I learn along the years--I just learned to live--when it's time to die.
My hope for the future is that the generation to come will inherit a world of "Green," Peace, and Joy.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Many Happinesses



They've already pushed through, no longer shyly peeking up to see if the frost and white are finished, but bravely they burst in sweetest shades of mauve, sky blue and softest yellow. Little happy crocuses, looking like candy round my rock.
And their timing was beautiful as they lavished color on my lawn, just like tiniest balloons to welcome my Mum to her 70th birthday party. And such a day it was.
After weeks of planning, scheming, secret keeping (with a few near slip ups), scrapbooking, buying, baking, emailing and phoning...it was time.
The big day came. The house had been scoured the day before, with help from my dear friend Carolyn, who worked for hours to set the place shining. Now on the morning of, my sister (also Caroline) and her daughter Tori and I got to work arranging, cutting vegies, finishing last minute scrapbook details, setting out chairs and laying table cloths on. The house was festive, dressed in white, purple and green bunches of balloons, tied to doorknobs, stair railings, and curtain rods, while cranberry punch was chilling in the bowls. At 1:50pm people started to arrive. By 3:00pm we had around 55 people inside and the children watching out for Grandma to arrive. When the call came, the unexpected guests were ushered into the kitchen and family room, where they wouldn't be seen and she came in the door. It was only seconds of "Hi Grandma, Happy birthday Mum", and a hug, before the hall overflowed with people shouting "Surprise!!!"

Sisters, Brothers, nieces and nephews, church friends, neigbors surrounded her with a river of love, flowing down that hallway, with the flashing of many camera's like paparazzi hot on the trail.

She was surprised! The party was splendid, better than we could have hoped, as Mum was celebrated, loved, appreciated, congratulated for the years she has been blessed with.

Really "a picture is worth a thousand words", and I need say no more.

Spring is here, crocuses and Mum's birthday. We celebrate!

Monday, April 07, 2008

In Celebration of Friends

By Belinda (Who has a very early start tomorrow morning and therefore is recycling this post from April 2008!) 


"Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit." Aristotle


I have been enjoying a book on CD entitled The Art of Friendship, 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections, by Roger Horchow and Sally Horchow.


In Malcolm Gladwell's, The Tipping Point, which I listened to last month, he mentioned Roger Horchow, the founder of The Horchow Collection, the first luxury mail-order-only retailer, and a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer, as an excellent example of a group of people he called "connectors." Roger is a master at maintaining a high number of relationships.


In The Art of Friendship, Roger says, "Life is too short to spend it paddling around in shallow waters." I agree!


To me, friendship is an endless voyage of discovery, an exploration of uncharted lands. There is no end to the pleasure to be found in the company of friends and any happiness is magnified many times over when shared with them.


The Art of Friendship intrigued me so much that I'm listening to it for the second time. I want to be a better friend. After all, I believe that the gift of friendship is one of the greatest joys God gives us in life.


Being close friends is not an endless bed of roses though. I sometimes wonder how my dearest friends have endured the pain that I have thoughtlessly inflicted upon them. But to love someone deeply is to let down all guard. I'm glad for the forgiveness and love of my friends at the times when they've been exposed to my worst flaws.


The friendship that inspires me most is one that existed approximately 3,000 years ago; the friendship between David, and Jonathan, the son of King Saul, written about in 1 Samuel.


Verse 1 of chapter 18 says, ...Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. And then in verses 3-4, And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

Friendship of that depth may make some people feel uncomfortable. It may not be often that such pure and selfless friendships happen, but where they do, I believe we should say, with apologies to the writer of the song, Some Enchanted Evening, "Once you have found it never let it go!"


I thank God for the friends he has blessed my life with. I cannot imagine life without them!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Helper

In the depths of my night, I struggled to the surface. A cry...a deep barking cough. I strained to a conscious state of wakefulness. I slipped out of my warm bed and pattered down the hall to a small, needy toddler. Picking him up, I pressed my cool cheek to his feverish one. The crying stopped but he whimpered his discomfort. Again the cough persisted. The distinct cough of "croup".

So many times I've bundled wee ones into cozy blankets and myself too and gone to sit on the porch to let the cool night air do it's work and shrink their constricted, swollen bronchial tubes back to its pencil-like shape. This night I wanted to get both of us to sleep. I administered tylenol to help with the fever and tucked our little bundle between hubby and I.

Then the accusing thought came, "You're not a very good mother, you should bundle up and go to the porch. You know what's good for croup. You've done it for the others." The thoughts continued and I cried out to God for wisdom. But the "Helper" had already come. He whispered, "You are a good mom, a tired one and you're trying to do what's best for everyone." Peace and sick toddler settled and somewhere sleep descended. We made it through the night. A restless night with whimpers on and off, kicking legs, and turning body, peppered with occasional bursts of that barking cough.

Sickness ran its course. More sleepless nights, a visit to the emergency room, a treatment of prednisone, a script for an ear infection and a toddler needy of comfort, pressing close, wanting relief. I was aware of my "Helper" on and off this week. He nudged me in times of sin when I was tempted to murmur and complain. Instead, through the Holy Spirit's promptings I reminded myself of the "gifts" of a child's sickness - taking a break off routine and cuddling with the little one needing comfort, enjoying the gift of closeness and time to reflect.

As I sat on the couch with a small boy wracked with coughing, seeking feverish rest, I listened to my older 3 at the dining table. They gathered reference books on Peru and began doing a country report, collectively. They sifted through the books to find out the landscape and climate before jotting down their answers. Whoever held the book dictated the spelling of harder words. I heard Joshua dictating the spelling of the Andes Mountains while Hannah later helped with the spelling of the Amazon River. They worked diligently for about an hour, no squabbles. Each one finished their report. Thankfulness settled over me. The holy spirit brought to mind the questions I was asking myself the past week - Am I spoon-feeding my children in their education? Can they search out information independently? Because of this sickness, my children developed a new skill and I was assured that they can seek information from reference materials.

Often this week I was aware that the spirit stirred me to do what was right. His peace was present in difficulty and times when I needed patience. In tiredness, He stayed ever at my side to give me strength. I was comforted by His presence, thankful that this time I was aware of His nearness when at so many other times I just pressed in.

Often we forget the Spirit, the Helper, the Comforter, that Jesus promised would be present with us when He left this earth. We take for granted his nudging to holiness, stirring to righteousness, conviction of sin, comfort in sadness, thankfulness in trial.

Christ, while he walked this globe, told His disciples, "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." John 16:7 NASV

Christ died on that cross and ascended into heaven but he left His spirit here to be with us. Jesus prepared John, his disciple, with more knowledge of the Spirit. Jesus shared, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
John 16:13 NASV

Our Father in Heaven speaks to the spirit who stays with us, ever-present. That is a powerful truth. It doesn't matter what our trial, difficulty, joy, temptation...He is there. That is the Holy Spirit's work.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NASV

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Baptizdo

Acts 2:38-39 (New International Version)
38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

"Baptizdo
(Greek) means to overwhelm, immerse, plunge, drench"
The Alpha Course Manual

Week 8 of the Alpha Course--and there were 8 of us at our home on Tuesday to watch the video that was about the Holy Spirit.

We come from a variety of walks of life; hairdressing, a law office, a marketing company, developmental services; and one person is supported by the agency that some of us work for.

All of us come together with one purpose and that is to know more about Jesus and to know him in a deeper way.

Listening to the video on which Nicky Gumbel was speaking on Tuesday, even though we'd just eaten supper, I felt hungry--but not for food. I felt hungry for the dunamis the power and force of the Holy Spirit; that overwhelming, immersing, plunging, drenching; Baptizdo!

How easy it is to settle for going part way with God.The knowledge of his Word is a priceless gift, and to be in relationship with God; to know him personally and intimately, is equally precious, but I am in need of a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit--the gift, promised to all whom the Lord will call. I want him to live his life through me in power. I want more.

This is the waiting time; between Easter and Pentecost--and I am waiting for him, in all of his fullness.

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is you, your spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of your blood

Keith Green (My Eyes Are Dry)

Galatians 3:3 (New International Version)
3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

John 3:5-8 (New International Version)
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."