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Showing posts from June, 2008

Angel in a Fur Coat

"Glad-eyes," that's what he has, Molson, this friend of mine with golden hair and lolling tongue.
We run from the house into the evening air, his nails tap-tap-tap-tapping lightly on the pavement as my feet thud-thud beside him.
He dances with exuberant joy at being "out." Jumping high, he catches his red leash in his mouth and tugs me along; pulling it as if he is playing a joke, pretending that it is he taking me for the walk, which is probably true. He is so HAPPY and he communicates that with every fibre of his being and glance of his glad eyes.
The first rush of excitement settles and he trots forward with focus, pacing his trot perfectly to my stride. He is a gentleman of a dog, disciplined and well bred.
He reads the ground with his nose, as avidly as my father used to read the newspaper, and leaves messages behind for others who will follow. He looks as if he is about very serious business. I don't hurry him; it seems a small thing to wait when he is su…

Words

Words spoken.

Not to be taken back. Released from imperfect hearts.

Words encourage, build, comfort, heal.

Words discourage, tear down, hurt, and destroy.

Words have such power - from our tongue and in print.

I know one day we'll give account for every foolish word we have spoken. My reckoning will be very long, I figure. I trust in Him and am glad that I will stand before God alone as judge.

Proverbs is full of exhortations, admonishings, warnings, and counsel about how we speak. Lately I have been trying to speak life into others by choosing words that edify and encourage. I have been doing a lot of thinking on the verse, "The power of life and death are in the tongue."

Such a big responsibility we have. So often we fall short of speaking words of life and blessing. Other times we encourage, build, minister and we come away so blessed to have been able to do that for others.

I think of the times I have been encouraged in my life. What a blessing those words have been and…

Saturday Emails... (Love Lifted Me)

Susan writes:

..there's a big war going on over me. I'm not sure if it's inside me or all around me. I know there's good stuff God put into me, but I feel like there's just too much to fix, you know? Even when I do my best to submit to Him and to allow the conforming process, I still fail miserably. Which wouldn't be so bad if it was just me, but it hurts people. I feel like life is just a series of hurting others and being hurt. Being hurt and hurting others. It cycles over and over and over... I guess I shouldn't try to guess what is too much hurt for other people, should I? I guess it's for them to decide if the good outweighs the bad. You lose some, but you find out eventually who your true friends and companions of the journey are, don't you?

Belinda:

<I guess I shouldn't try to guess what is too much hurt for other people, should I?> There's a lot unsaid between those words, but they are true. A war may be waging, but p…

Technical Difficulties

I know, you are expecting and looking forward to Susan's regular Friday night post, but tonight she is enjoying a special family gathering. Susan will be back tomorrow evening! So here's another slice of life from, as my friend Dave would put it, "Belinda-land."

It was two weeks ago that our Whirlpool Gold dishwasher had a breakdown. Up until then it had purred along with a discrete and polite swooooshing, but suddenly no more swoooosh! Instead, a nasty gasping, coughing and choking sound was coming from my trusty mainstay. At the same time a puddle of water spread over our wood laminate kitchen floor and dripped through the ceiling of the apartment below. I sopped and mopped as quickly as possible but the wood laminate planks still rose up in protest at the flood. It happened on a Sunday, and that evening when the folks who meet here for the Sunday night small group study heard about it, two of the guys, Roger and Mark, were on it like sour cream on a baked potato! They…

Thanksgiving

Psalm 105:1-2 (New International Version) 1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderfulacts. They sat, one on either side of me on the couch in our dark olive green room. In the background, the clock on the wall, in its beautiful case of maple, ticked away the seconds and minutes, but for the moment we were oblivious to that.

Tiffany-Amber and Victoria were engaged in a favourite activity with their Omie; reading a story together from a book by Peter Black, entitled, Parables from the Pond.

The book is a delightful collection of parables for children, set in a place called, The Commonwealth of the Pond.

The pond is populated by all manner of wild creatures with names and personality. The life lessons and character questions are thought provoking enough to interest this adult, but simple enough for children.

Of Human Hearts

Mark 3:5 (New Living Translation).
5 He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!

I was driving across that glorious stretch of country to Collingwood this morning. The bright sunshine lit up the land in all of its early summer newness and the waters of Georgian Bay were a match for the Meditteranean in vivid turquoise and lavender hues.

As I drove I listened to the New Testament on DVD, which Irene gave me for my birthday. Her aim was to help me with The Marathon of Biblical Proportions, the schedule of reading through the Bible in a year that some of us are on.

While I find that my concentration drifts occasionally and I don't hear every word, I enjoy the soothing sound of the reader's voice and I find that I pick up on different things when I'm listening than I do when reading.

For instance, the other day, when listening to Matthew chapter 15 I…

Hearts and Flowers

I noticed how He loves today,
When through my garden gazing.
He sends us hearts in every form.
Their beauty sweet, amazing.














This plant heart in tender green,
A lightest, frilly hue.
Another dark leafed violet,
Spells out "I love you".














The bleeding heart,
Bold pink and white
Drips broken
On the vine.














I'm overwhelmed,
By all He gave
To me.
Oh love divine.

The Garnet Ring

I was almost ready to leave, just a few last things to do before heading out to work, when the phone rang. On the other end was Lori Lei, one of my co-workers. She said, "Belinda, did you think the training started at 9.30?"

"Yes."

"No, Belinda, it starts at 9.00! Greg said he thought he'd heard you say it started at 9.30 and I thought I'd better call you so you wouldn't be embarrassed by being late."

"Oh my goodness--thank you! I'll be right there."

With a mixture of gratitude and panic, my relaxed departure was forgotten as I shouted a frantic goodbye to Paul and grabbed my rings, which I always take off when I come home; along with car keys and purse and two other sets of keys. Susan had left those behind the night before at cell group.

As I made a dash to the car I was putting on my rings and fumbling for my car keys.

I sat behind the wheel and turned the key in the ignition, while noticing that my garnet ring was missing from my r…

Committed to the Goal

The good hand of God is on each of us. He has wonderful plans for us. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2: 10 NASV

I pray that I, that each of us, would be so committed to His work that we would persevere under trial, buckle down when we're questioned and stay the course when attacked or discouraged.

May we be like Nehemiah. He was a Jew and a cup bearer to the King. Nehemiah wasn't born into greatness, yet he became great. Nehemiah didn't pray for God to remove his difficult circumstances. Instead, Nehemiah looked for opportunity within his circumstances. He was burdened for the things of God.

Nehemiah learned the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and its gates were burned with fire. He says, "Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven." Nehemiah 1: 4 NAS…

The Thread

I can't remember now who I was comparing her to, but the difference, I said, was that at least she was hanging onto God by a thread.

"A thread?"

"Yes, a thread."

It is a connection that she never quite lets go of. She's been distracted, preoccupied with things other than God. She was dangling; but at least she was connected.

The words went deep. They hit her in a way I hadn't meant them to; an arrow that pierced her soul. She hated the thought of such a tenuous connection, but she knew that it was true.

Today, almost a week later, we talked again and she told me she'd been rising early, making time for God first. She was working, she said, on "thickening the thread."

"I want it to be like that rope made of steel--unbreakable," she said.

"After all, if he is my anchor, I want to be connected by more than a thread."

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (New Living Translation)
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succ…

It's Not My Job!

Philippians 2:13 "...for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. "

What does that mean anyway? It sounds nice. But what does it mean?

I have a bible verse that is sent to me via email every day at work. Yesterday it was Phil. 2:13. But a different translation. This time it was the New Living Translation I was reading and all of a sudden the light went on.

"For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants."

So...

1. God is at work in me.

2. First he helps me to want to obey him.

3. Then he helps me to obey him.

How simple is that? It really doesn't have much to do with "me" at all, except that I have to cooperate with God in his work. Cool. All I have to do is give my will over to him. He'll do the rest.

No wonder I've had such struggles! I thought it was all on my shoulders.

He says elsewhere (John 15), "If you love me, you will obey me."

This evokes stri…

Pregnant with Possibilities

A week ago today it was the first day of Write! Canada in Guelph, a conference I first attended in 2000 and have gone to every June since. It is something I start looking forward to from the moment that I leave each year.

The weekend actually started on Wednesday evening with The Word Guild Awards gala at World Vision in Mississauga. A young musician friend, Luisa, joined Susan and I and Lorraine, another friend, for the evening. It was a splendid evening, hosted by Herbie Kuhn, with music by Jacob Moon.

After I got home, late on Saturday evening, it took a day or so to recover and to process all that had filled my heart and head and soul.

This is what I wrote to the email list of The Word Guild, the group that organizes the conference:

There seems to be a holy hush upon the hearts of the over 200 writers who made the pilgrimage to Guelph for Write! Canada 2008. Right now they are perhaps pondering, just like Mary, "How shall this thing be?" this holy commission they have been …

For the Birds

We sit across from one another at the breakfast table, we two; a precioius time for us each day; an oasis in our busy lives.

In a house that is so often full of people, this is when we are usually all alone and can share our burdens and hopes and prayers.

I stir my oatmeal. Steam rises from it. While I wait for it to cool I sip my morning nectar--black coffee.

Paul looks sleepy.

"I was awake at 4.30," he says; "the birds wake me up every morning at that time with their singing."

"You know, they settle down and go back to sleep after that," he says.

"Really?" I wonder out loud, "I wonder why they sing so early then."

Paul says, "Maybe God wanted someone to sing about his glory when every one else is asleep!"

And this makes me think of some lines about birds that I wrote:

Birds sing in the bath too
They do!
I heard them today after the rainfall
From hidden places feathered throats exult
In God who made them and who made me too!
Yes, birds si…

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

Sometimes as I stand in front of the mirror in our ensuite bathroom with it's earthy, brown tones, I am asked a deeper question in my heart.
As I gaze at my reflection and assess my acceptability, a voice probes past the appearance in the glass to the condition of me, the interior me.

My hair might be styled well, a little flip on the left, and the right tucked behind my ear, my clothes complimenting each other and me, teeth brushed and light make up applied to enhance my finer points. However, the question lingers inside, "How much time have I spent preparing the inner me, the one that reflects the One. Have I groomed the outer and left the heart to hide unattended, undressed. What do my eyes say past the perky smile and mascara? Are they happy eyes, contentment shining because I'm free and I know He's watching me. Are they thankful eyes that will smile knowingly with a secret waiting to be shared of provision, of grace and mercy. Are they loving eyes ready to se…

Imago Dei

Isaiah 53:6 (New International Version)
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

A bunch of us are tackling the twelve week challenge of Focus on the Family's, The Truth Project at the moment. We are having some interesting discussions and wrestling with some counter-culture concepts. Sometimes it feels as if we are wrestling with each other; but it's all good! Our brains are being stretched, that's for sure.

So yesterday we were immersed in a discussion about the nature of man; is it basically good, or bent towards sin?

We talked about the difference between secular culture's premise that man is basically good and needs to "self actualize," and what Jesus taught; that it is actually in emptying ourselves of self that we are free:

Matthew 10:39 (New International Version)
39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Genesis 1:26 (Ne…

Two Men

Two men a generation apart, as different as night and day.

One gregarious, adventurous, and spirited, fills each moment with sixty seconds of distance run. He carved provision for his family from hard, physical toil. His body built for power, much like a Belgian work horse. He taught his children through proverbs, and sayings but mostly by example. He rarely lectured, seldom spanked, never a rough hand or word. He directed with a nod, a raised brow, or gentle word. Some of his sayings, often biblical, molded my life.

"Do unto others as you would want done to you."

Live by the acronym of J-O-Y , Jesus first, others second, yourself last."

When there's a will, there's always a way.

Smile and the whole world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.

Two wrongs, don't make a right.

No use crying over spilt milk.

There were many more.

This man, his love steady and consistent and dependable as the earth and sky.


The other man is reserved, quiet, steady, gentle and cautious. H…

Can You Imagine?

Hebrews 1:3 (New International Version)
3The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Romans 8:29 (New International Version)
29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Booster cables connect a dead battery with one fully charged and the car splutters to life, making the engine purr as the current flows. That's how it felt when these verses jumped out at me, brought to life by the current of the Holy Spirit. I caught a glimpse of a specific gripping truth as I put them together.

If we are "conformed to his image," and he is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being," then shouldn't we also be? Wow! Can you imagine?

I love to watch people holding newbo…

A Note from Write! Canada 2008

Belinda - welcoming first-time participants to Write! Canada 2008 Dear Friends, She postively glowed as she took her place at the microphone. Her passion for writing, for encouraging others in their calling, and for ministering "belonging" to people, began to flow. "I want to welcome you!" she said. There was no doubt as to her sincerity. A little later in her talk... "I am an encourager. That's what I love to do. So if you need any encouragement this weekend, come and see me. I'll give you some! It's what I do best..." Her joyful enthusiasm erupted into laughter and rippled across the room as other joined her. Any ice in the room, at that point, was instantly melted. My mind is so full of all that God is saying and doing! So much so that I can't sit and force myself to concentrate on the very thing I came here to focus on this weekend - writing. But I did want to share this snapshot of the conference with you. I'm SURE Belinda will have…

Just one Word

Malachi 3:3 (New International Version)
3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,

"Lord, make me more like Jesus." I found myself praying this prayer this morning and although I've prayed it many times before, and with a sense of consecration; this time, God stopped me in my tracks.

"More?" he seemed to challenge me; and I suddenly saw the limitation in that word.

"'More' like Jesus," may be a worthy goal; but it falls short of Romans 8:29 (New International Version)
29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

And so I prayed again, differently this time, "Lord, make me like Jesus."

There is an inherent danger in those words, and I felt immediately the difference. Conforming implies a pressing into sha…

Be AlertI

Nehemiah 7:3 (New International Version)
3 I said to them, "The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses."

When I read this verse a few days ago, I just had to look it up in the notes in my trusty Life Application Bible. Being a "digger" and "explorer" when I read, I love the LAB, and being able to look right away at the bottom of the page for more information when I have a question.

In the case of this verse; why, I wondered, did Nehemiah give this order, not to open the gates of the city until the sun was hot?

The notes told me that city gates were usually opened at sunrise, enabling merchants to enter and set up their tent stores. Nehemiah though, did not want Jerusalem to be caught unprepared by an enemy attack, so her ordered the gates closed until well after…

Redeemer

Redeemer is His Name.
As I sit here in the field, my pen caresses His name onto the page.
Gratefulness gentles and smoothes the rough places of the day as I recall His purchase.

"I owed a debt I could not pay...". The old chorus runs through my mind as I write.

To redeem is defined in Websters as "to recover by payment, to regain, to deliver from sin, to pay off, to restore to favour, to make amends for".

If He is the Redeemer, then I am redeemed, purchased back, covered, my debt paid.

"Here, let me get that" He says gently with a smile. "My treat this time", as He stretches His arm out, around me at the checkout and hands payment, for my life, to the warden of this earth.

I have fought, held my head high, insisted that I could manage on my own. All to my own detriment and the hardship of those around me.

But gradually, by His grace, understanding dawned, comprehension took hold and I saw.

I've been redeemed from the need to hold on so tight as I …

WAIT

Genesis 16:13 (New International Version)
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me,"...

Job 2:13 (New International Version)
13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

The book of Job, an ancient account of the disasters that befell a man whose name has become synonymous with suffering; has much that I need to hear.

Job's friends started out by sitting silently with him for seven days and nights. The notes in my New International Version, Life Application Bible tell me that this was Jewish tradition when comforting someone in mourning; not to speak until the mourner spoke.

The notes go on, "If only they had continued to be silent," and add, "Often we feel we must say something spiritual and insightful to a hurting friend. Perhaps what he or she needs most is just our presence, showing that we care."

I can so relate t…

Ponder the Lovely

About us there are many beautiful things.

As I walked down the sidewalk briskly, I noticed much. Green lawns, some lush and thick and vibrant green. Gardens greeted me cheerfully with their abundant variety of colour, texture, and heights. Bold, red geraniums, pale pink and purple saucy petunias, the start of a small, delicate, white rose bush. Ground cover in purples and whites and mauves give stark contrast to trees and lawn. Hidden in the shade of some gardens were lily of the valley - oh those tiny, delicate, bells - four to five on a stem! I saw multi-coloured hostas, tall sedate Iris in white and blue and purple. Further along I caught my breath as orange poppies swayed in the wind. Their silky petals blowing remind me of wars fought, blood shed, and lives lost. Whenever I see them I think of John McCrae's poem, In Flander's Fields. I reflect with a thankful heart for the Two World Wars and honour those who claimed our freedom. I walk on. I pass fragrant purple lilac bus…

Simple Saturday

I woke up to the smell of coffee. There was a steaming cup on the chair not far from my pillow, nicely within reach. There was no hint as to how it got there, but at the same time, there was no doubt it was husband Ron, who has learned the wisdom of waking me gently. His whole day seems to go much better that way!

A few hours later, Ron having left to spend the day helping a friend re-shingle his roof, our yard was filled with the sounds of children at play. I sat in a lawn chair under our big old oak tree, entirely grateful for the gift of shade on this hot summer day. A gentle breeze ruffled my hair and kept the black flies and mosquitoes at bay. Mikey, 7, Matthew, 5, and Nolan, 3, were puttering about around me intent upon the business of childhood. Spurning the large (and expensive!) play center, they used the garden hose to fill the water-play table (which was entirely legal) and then quickly turned their attention to the hollowed out patches of black dirt, one under each of the s…

Lions & Lion hearts

Psalm 81:16 (New International Version)
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."

A couple of days before leaving for England in May, I found a large, white envelope in our mailbox, with an English stamp on it.

It was a card from Panna, whom I met on board a plane from England in August 2006.

Panna traveled with a large Indian family, en route to a wedding. We became instant friends, with the bond of a quickly discovered common faith.

She and her family live in Leicester, and we keep in touch with very occasional emails, so I was surprised to receive the card, which I loved.

On the front of the card was the photographed head of a male lion in sharp focus, appearing, head and powerful shoulders, over the soft, golden grass of the African veld.

One day, soon after coming home, I glanced with admiration at the lovely photo, which now sat on my side table.

That morning as I quietly read, before rushing into the day, there were three refer…

My Brother and My Friend

He is three years younger than me, this brother of mine and we share history, starting with the day of his birth when I was banished to the farthest reaches of the house, because I had measles; a rocky start to our relationship!

It's funny to think of it now, because he is 6 foot 3; but when he was small, I once chased a boy that was older and bigger than both of us, around a field, because he was picking on Robert. I had a dog leash in my hand and swung it around my head in circles as I ran after him like some medieval warrior woman.

We both know that we will always be there for each other and I can count on him to tell me the truth on any question.

Robert doesn't put anyone's faith down, but "spirituality" doesn't factor as much in his life as in mine. He rarely talks about God and I'm not really sure what he thinks about him. I've done a lot of thinking about that of late.

He is the main carer for our mum, along with a small flock of ladies from Helpin…

Why obey?

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey my commandments….” (God’s Word)

Yesterday I stood next to my 10 year old daughter, Meggie at our Chiropractor’s office. We were watching my 11 year old, Emma get her adjustment and I didn’t want Meggie to be in the way. “Stand against the wall right here.” I told her pointing to a place I felt was reasonably non-obstructive. She placed her back to the wall where I had pointed and I thanked her and turned my attention back to Emma. When I looked back at Meggie she was silently sliding down the wall to the other end all the while watching me to see if I had noticed. “Meggie!” I said in my polite-there-are-other-people-watching-and-you-are-being-bad-voice. It’s like a loud, harsh whisper with a good measure of my most serious face to let her know she’d better get back to the spot I’d put her. “Be obedient!” I finished. After all, I had told her exactly what she should do and she had chosen to disobey. She smiled and said she was sorr…

Rain

I love the rain that drips and drizzles, dampens earth and waters thirsty greens.
I love the rain that patters down, leaving splotches dark upon my walk.
I love the rain splattering upon my window, rolling drops make tracks straight down the pane.
I love the rain that pours, surrounds my house like waterfalls as I lay down, so dry and warm.

I love the rain as Spirit beckons spirit, soft soul drops refreshen thirsty one.
I love the rain as All Sufficient One replenishes the dry and yearning soil.
I love the rain as Shepherd King is known and I lie down in pastures green and water fills.
I love the rain as Majesty reveals and I bow down, receive, and worship Him.

I love the Reign,
Of this King who makes the rain and all we take and give.
And how we hear and thirst and yearn are all His doing
Anyway.
I love the rain.

Remembrance

A short-cut into the churchyard, has been carved out recently through a hedge. It runs along the steep hill that must be climbed to reach St. Laurence Church in Alvechurch, which has stood sentinel over the village for eight centuries.

The earth is clay; the red clay that gave the town near to the village of Alvechurch, the name Redditch (originally Red-Dych).

I found myself walking the roughly hewn path, strewn with sticks and stones, many times during my two weeks in the ancient English village of my childhood, in May.

I felt compelled to go there on my first evening.The air was filled with birdsong; the Evening Chorus. I reveled in the sight of bluebells and a variety of other wild flowers and blossoms, snapping photos as I walked.

My destination was Dad’s grave. It seemed wrong to be in Alvechurch and not go there right away. I found his quickly amongst the crowd of headstones and I touched the stone, still warm with the sun of the day, tracing with my finger, the letters of bright …

Just Different

I have a friend who has made many choices that define her life. She and her husband have a home-based business and they have two children. These are both decisions they made together. While she and her husband were dating, he had a fall - an ordinary fall for reasons that weren't so ordinary. One thing lead to another, and he was diagnosed with MS.

She said, "This sounds strange but we really thought we could beat MS". My friend shared that they did many alternative health treatments - vitamin regimes, acupuncture, and massage, to name a few. They did everything in the hopes to slow down the progress of his illness. Later in our conversation she said, "It is really fortunate that his MS has stayed mainly in his legs."

I felt guilty when she said that. It really shone light on my shaded perspective. For the past year I'v known them I had thought how unfortunate he's in a wheelchair. Chastened gently, I held a new respect for my friend's perspective.

M…