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Showing posts from July, 2008

First You Must Open Your Heart

The suspense is palpable as we turn each page. We sit, we three, on the couch, I in the middle, and on either side a girl, with long, silken, summer-sun-kissed hair. Their skin is the colour of the brown eggs in the grocery store; the kind you pay extra for; even though the insides are the same as the white eggs; but I digress.

Both have eyes the colour of chestnuts and Victoria has a delicate sprinkle of freckles over the bridge of her nose that looks as if an angel flicked a paint brush laden with burnt sienna, as a finishing touch when God was making her.

I pause in my reading of the book, as I often do, to ask a question. "What do you like best--movies or books?"

Without hesitation, with eyes wide and bright, they shout out, "Books!"

"Why books?" I ask.

Tiffany-Amber said, "Because movies are so...predictable."

And Victoria added, "Yes, and books allow you so see so many more pictures in your mind."

Oh, I know. I know exactly what they me…

Trusting for treasures in the darkness

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places.”
Isaiah 45: 3.

These words were originally spoken by God to King Cyrus, but they were a special word from Him to me some years ago. And over and over again, God has given me treasures out of many kinds of darkness, and many secret places. I have given talks about the treasures He gave me out of much trial and difficulty in our years in Uganda. I could write a book about what He has given me since. And the stories go on, the lessons continue. Others may understand the same truths, but express them in diffferent ways. One friend always says “In everything give thanks”, and “Grow in your valleys”, and then tells stories from her life of the blessings out of problems, the hidden things God did through great trials.

We could bring many verses from scripture to express the answer to our continual question to God – “Lord, what are you doing with this? Do you love me, Lord? Why is this happening? “And often we have to wa…

Intimacy with the Infinite

Matthew 18:20 (New International Version) 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

"How do we enter into a deep and intimate relationship with the infinite--personal God?"

That was the final question in a discussion this week with two small groups of friends who met at our house to watch one of The Truth Project dvds .

The Truth Project series, over 13 weeks, is pretty weighty in terms of material; very interesting and challenging. Two groups are meeting on different nights in our home each week throughout the summer, to participate.

Not everyone in the groups would describe themselves as a Christian. The material presented speaks for itself and there is no agenda in the discussion except to explore the ideas presented, further.

But of course we pray for the groups because it is all about helping people discover God or have a greater understanding of who he is.

And so this question...

One older person mused, with furrowed brow, "How do you …

Nonna's Soup

"Would you like some of Nonna's soup sweetie?" I asked. His big brown eyes seemed a little larger than usual due to two days of not eating. A high fever yesterday with almost no appetite, and an upset tummy today had left him feeling pretty peaked.

Now at the thought of the salty chicken broth, his eyes brightened and he nodded.

Our freezer is usually laden with plastic tubs filled with chicken broth, minestrone and various types of pasta sauces. Every time we visit Frank's Mom (Ma, as we call her) we come home with bags of these frozen love offerings, along with the miscellaneous fruits, juices, cookies and fruilano cheese bricks. Essentially, we are spoiled rotten. But it's on these days when I'm taking out chicken and go to separate one thigh from the others in order to make broth for Mikey, that I see the tubs and audibly sigh "Thanks Ma, that was good timing". Now I don't have to make the broth, and there will be extra chicken for dinner.

Ther…

Storing Up Treasures In Heaven

I broke into a jog , my oldest daughter pacing beside me on her bike. Two of my other children were quite a ways ahead, one weaving back and forth and the other stooped, picking raspberries with his bike parked beside him. Hannah said, "I wish we weren't going home today, Mom."

"I know," I acknowledged her grief at the end of our vacation. Trying to avoid the lecture about we've been fortunate to have four weeks I say instead, "We've had a lot of fun. These four weeks have gone fast, eh?"

She then said, "I'm looking forward to seeing my room again and our house."

We smiled at one another and she reminds, "We come back for the long week-end in five sleeps."

I had purposely planned this last six and a half km on the Tay Shore Trail as an interlude in the pack-up. There's always such mixed emotions at the end of our time at the cottage. We pack up memories as we fold towels, tuck away bathing suits, store away beach toys, …

Small Powerful Choices

Each day is a series of small choices that seem insignificant at the moment, but which actually affect not just us but those with whom we connect, and maybe those with whom they connect.

I'm thinking of the choice at any given moment, between thinking negatively, speakng a word of criticism or complaint; or taking the road of gratitude and appreciation.

What started me thinking about this was an interview I heard on the radio this week. A comedian was the guest and I admired the way he managed to keep the interview positive. He said that he gets most of his material from reflecting on our culture, in which most of us have no idea how good we have it and tries to point that out by finding humour in the ludicrous; for example, someone getting frustrated by the fact that a computer takes 12 seconds to boot up, or how we have lengthy deliberations over where to eat out; "We had pizza yesterday, I don't want to have it again, let's have Chinese; no, let's have Greek, I f…

Three Red Suitcases, Right on Time

As usual, of a Friday evening, I am sitting here with no idea what I'm going to write for the blog. My mind and my heart gently slip into free fall as my fingers fly over the keyboard. Together, we'll see what emerges...

I'm on vacation. Ahhh! Two glorious weeks of rest and refreshment. We're headed for Windsor tomorrow to see my dad, and then on Sunday early, we'll be on our way to Nova Scotia. The plan is to have very few plans. We'll drive as long as we feel like driving, cycle when we feel like cycling (we're taking our bikes) and we'll stop when we feel like stopping. We're taking 17 year 0ld Jorie along (she's my favourite kid, but then you'll hear me say that about ALL my kids) and this will likely be our last family vacation with her. In fact, this could be our last family vacation altogether, as, comparatively speaking, we are perched very close to the edge now of becoming empty nesters. Our next vacation, and for the first…

Friends Face to Face

On May 20th 2007, I wrote a blog post entitled, Facebook Holdout, all about my resistance to the social networking phenomenon sweeping the nation at the time.

I said that I was not joining; no way Jose! I was not going to jump on this bandwagon, for various well thought out reasons. I already had sufficient internet addictions and besides, I am a bit of a Luddite. I'm a few years behind most others when it comes to technology and gadgets. If not for Paul I would not even have a dishwasher or microwave.

It was about two weeks ago that my friend Johanne asked me to join Facebook as part of a group of writers for her newspaper, and, only to oblige her, I did. For the first day or so I added the bare minimum of information and then I began to check out the potential “friends” already on Facebook. At 58 I found myself asking people if they would be my friends and waiting, with bated breath, for them to confirm if they would. Oh, the mortification of rejection!

I began to get “friend invit…

What's going on, Lord?

Do you ever feel like Jeremiah? You know – gloomy, negative, whatever, the way you are when people say “Don’t be a Jeremiah.” I can feel like him, but more like he might have felt when he was young, when God told him there were great things for him to do. God has often told me that, and then soon after I have found myself in another situation where I felt like a child – clueless, inept, stupid. And then I have begun to question God’s calling on my life, and His purposes in the present moment.

Not only that, but there have been times when not only did I feel all of those things, but others were actively treating me accordingly, and, even worse, treating me as if I was following a path that was directly contrary to God’s will and call to holiness.

There was one such time many years ago when God set the record straight for me. I was being prayed over by some very zealous Christians whom I had been associated with in their community and had found the situation very destructive and no…

The Life-giving Vine

John 15:5-8 (New International Version)
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

The vine grew into the distance horizontally, seeming to go on forever. Many branches sprouted from it, strong and supple, with spiky, vibrant green leaves. Some bore tiny green or yellow green flowers, while others had clusters of the tiny berries that would grow into grapes.
On the ground, scattered at the base of the vines, lay branches that seemed to have fallen or been broken off, perhaps by the wind.

Those that had recently become detached still appeared to be al…

Sisters, Cousins and Conversations

We had a wonderful weekend away, my Becca and I, at Auntie Miki’s house. My sister-in-law and her two young daughters had invited us over while my brother Geoff was off gigging with his band, so we happily went.
Three girls aged 7, 8 and 9 giggled and played their way through almost 48 hours of cousinly fun. They sketched using new art supplies, swam and splashed in the back yard pool ‘til they were chilled and starving, watched movies, went for walks and whispered loudly far too late into the night.

Miki and I also had a special, sharing, sisterly time. She is not my little sister by birth, but most certainly is my sister. The word in-law just doesn’t apply for the relationship she has with our family. I couldn’t have picked a better bride for my brother if he’d asked, which of course he never would, being a guy and all. But he did bring her over to our apartment in Toronto when they were dating. We were smitten with her right from the start.
So we chatted long, staying up ‘til o…

joy in casting all our cares upon Him

Standing at my sorting counter hour after hour gives me lots of opportunity to think, pray, and yes, worry. So usually what I do when that happens is remember the sweet words of this chorus:

I cast all my cares upon you.
I lay all of my burdens down at your feet.
Anytime I don't know what I'm to do
I just cast all my cares upon you.

So that is what I offer to you this morning - the same words I sing to myself. Of course they are so simple, but they are so true, and they are the ONLY WAY to deal with our stuff, your stuff, anyone's stuff. Bring it in prayer to Him, and try to let it go, again and again.

He Makes All Things Beautiful...

Waves crest and form. Gulls dip and soar, riding on the wind with outstretched wings. Streamers and skiffs of white scud across the blue washed sky. Trees in various shades of green span the horizon. Idyllic. Serene. Flawless. And to this perfect beauty, God adds man.

Cabin cruisers across the bay navigate the channel towards Midland or Beausoleil Island. Over at the mouth of Sturgeon River a Sea Doo pulls a child water-skiing in calmer waters. I hear its engine surge and ebb. Sails of white and red and yellow, billow and snap in the foreground. From a distance it all is beautiful. But there is the heart and mind of man, tarnished by sin.

I sit on the deck, drinking in the beauty and serenity of my surroundings. I need the cleansing that only He can give. In spite of the beauty around me, I know I need His beauty inside me. I am grateful for this interlude in family chaos and enjoy the opportunity for quiet reflection. A time to come before Him. I call out, like David, to our loving F…

The Adventure of Following God

A few days ago I sat on the couch in our green room, with two of my granddaughters, discussing the reflections at the end of a story from Parables from the Pond. Some creatures from the pond had shown courage and kindness, extending their circle of friendship and trust. It wasn't hard for them to relate the story to their grandfather's winter trip north to a reservation to help a people in desperate need of both help and friendship. Last November, Dave our pastor, and Fernando, a Trinidadian friend, drove with Paul, 20 hours north through blinding snow to Mishkeegogamang, an hour from Pickle Lake. They went to take food, winter coats for the children, and toys and sports equipment.When they all arrived home safely, I heaved a sigh of relief. But Paul was already planning the next trip in August.The months since November have flown by. Other pressures consumed Paul's energy and time, he had little time or ability to focus on the logistics of a larger missions trip. Honestly,…

A Life Framed by Two.

When I read the letter aloud to her she said, "Wha's at mean, dear?"

"Fanny", I replied, "It means you have a family, and they're looking for you!"

She clasped her hands together in a certain gesture of excitement and delight which I have never seen, not in the ten years we have been friends.

"Family! I have a family!" she chortled through her laughter. And she didn't stop laughing for a full five minutes. I can't imagine what it must be like to find out that the family you thought was "lost" for many, many years, has suddenly been found.

"Wha's her name, dear?" she asked.

"Who?" I said, in a feeble attempt at a tease.

"My sister."

"Marian," I said. "Your sister's name is Marian. And your niece's name is Pam."

"Mary" she said, not able for some reason to form the last syllable. "Mary," she repeated. "I haf a sister named Mary."

"That…

His Eye

Luke 12:6-7 (New Living Translation)
New Living Translation (NLT)
6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

We run out into heavy heat of the summer evening, two girls on bikes, one dog and me.

They are briefed before we set out; stay close to the grass at the side of the road; stop and wait at every intersection; slow down well ahead of a planned stop--the list goes on--you get the picture. Even which child will be the lead rider and at what point the other will take the lead is decided. I have learned that these things are best talked about before we set out.

We set out.

Molson trots beside me but we both try hard to keep up with the girls ahead of us and he stops only for the most irresistable of odours tonight. He is torn between two opposite impulses; to walk obediently beside me and his need t…

Jesus, truth in each circumstance

“Jesus, truth in each circumstance”.

This line is from a popular and powerful song by Brian Doerksen called “Hope of the Nations.” If you go to his website, http://www.briandoerksen.com/, you can read the story behind the song and see how much his composing of it came from God’s leading and in connection with events in history, most particularly Sept. 11th. It was written as a song of hope, and so it is.

Jesus, hope of the nations
Jesus, comfort for all who mourn
You are the source of heaven’s hope on earth

Jesus, light in the darkness
Jesus, truth in each circumstance
You are the source of heaven’s light on earth

In history, You lived and died,
You broke the chains, You rose to life

You are the hope, living in us
You are the Rock, in whom we trust
You are the light
Shining for all the world to see

You rose from the dead, conquering fear
Our Prince of Peace, drawing us near
Jesus our hope
Living for all who will receive
Lord we believe!

A real and living hope is based on Jesus and the reality of His lif…

Wind Song

“Where does the wind come from?” asked Tiffany-Amber.

It’s strange how grown-ups lose their curiosity, when once upon a time we too used to lie on our backs in sun-warmed grass, gazing up into endless sky, wondering at all sorts of important and puzzling things.

But God sees to it that a child’s questions keep us thinking.

And so, prompted into a search of my own, I found facts that were informative but didn’t satisfy. Gases and air, hot and cold, were all very well, but they didn’t capture any of the mystery and wonder of the wind.

At my kitchen window, I glanced outside and saw waves of ripening winter wheat, cascading like water; an ocean of green-gold. The wheat danced, this way, then that, as if directed by an invisible choreographer.

I flung the window open wide and leaned out into the wonderfully windy day with my camera in hand, capturing the moment and movement in video.

Imagine a world without the wind; how dull, still and silent it would be.There would be no dancing, dappled shad…

On Team and Coaching

A year ago, they were valiant. Beaten, but valiant. They trudged on, in fact they ran onto the field, game after game and got their socks knocked off. But incrementally, play by play they improved; the weave of the team grew tighter and skills developed.

This was their first year together. A group of gangly, growing, eight and under boys learning to pass well and play their positions instead of chasing that black and white ball around the field like a bunch of puppies on a squirrel.

Now the scene has changed.

Tonight they were grace in motion. They’ve been winning again and again, shutout after shutout.
Passing, running, shooting, straight up the middle or a quick kick to the side to the man set up a little off center that nobody saw. The ball flies to him and bam, it’s in before the goalie really knew it was coming.

They marched back to their positions after the goal and looked like seasoned veterans of the game.
The biggest change I see is that they are comfortable with who they are …

Leaving A Trail

The two of us stop to pick a few raspberries growing along the Tay Shore Trail. He stole away with me on my rendezvous for health. He on his bike and me on foot. His questions pepper our trek.

"How do you know that's a pheasant, Mom?, Where are her little ones?, Does she live in the forest?"

I tell him what I know and suggest we look up some information when we get back to the cottage. I enjoy this time with my eldest son. He cycles alongside my walking speed. We talk about habitats and I am thankful this trail provides the opportunity for us to observe several.

The Tay Shore Trail wraps itself around the shores of both Sturgeon and Hog's Bay, passing through field, woodland, and marsh. He asks me if I like the marsh and I say, "I do. I enjoy listening to the croaking bullfrogs."

We pause and he points out an Eastern Bluebird. We praise God for His creation and the opportunity He has given us to enjoy it. A little later he parks his bike and gestures excitedly …

The Food Unpriced

O Christ who holds the open gate,
O Christ who drives the furrow straight,
O Christ the plough, O Christ, the laughter
of holy white birds flying after;
Lo, all my heart's field red and torn,
and thou wilt bring the young green corn,
the young green corn divinely springing,
the young green corn forever singing;
and when the field is fresh and fair
thy blessed feet shall glitter there,
and we will walk the weeded field,
and tell the golden harvest's yield,
the corn that makes the holy bread
by which our hungering souls are fed,
the holy bread, the food unpriced,
thy everlasting mercy, Christ.

excerpt from the narrative poem "The Everlasting Mercy" by John Masefield (1878 -1967)

These words first spoke deeply to me in an emotional crisis in 1976 when a dear Christian cousin wrote it out for me on a card which I still have. When I began a deep intentional emotional and spiritual journey four years ago they spoke to my heart again. When I chose the hymns for my mother's funeral a fe…

Lesson in the Woods

Is it really okay to be "me"? Does God really accept me, this bundle of weakness?

One day last fall I was driving through the Oak Ridges Moraine on Weston Road. I threw a sidelong glance down a concession road as I whizzed by. I hadn't ever been down that road before and with my camera on the front seat beside me and the blush of autumn about halfway through it's glorious rise to full riotous colour all around me, I couldn't resist. I turned around first chance I had and answered the beckoning call of adventure. I turned west onto the forest canopied gravel road that was clearly labeled "No Exit". Hmm. That might have been prophetic, come to think of it, but the promise of an "end", really just spurred me on.

I half expected the road to stop just over the next hill. And then the next hill, and the next and the next. But the hills just kept coming. I have no idea how far it was exactly, but I think it would have taken me somewhere between one and…

A Season of Green

Luke 8:15 (New International Version)
15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

My life is in the season of green.

I have a flock of grandchildren growing up around me like young shoots; six little people who fill me with delight. The time I spend with them fills me with happiness; my cup overflows with joy.

We have many rituals that bring security and certainty to their lives and I am cognizant that the moments I share with them are significant; that I have an opportunity to inspire, to teach, to build up their young souls.

With Victoria and Tiffany-Amber we regularly snuggle together for one of Peter Black's Parables from the Pond.

Victoria, at 9, is a voracious reader. She devours books and has an insatiable hunger for them, but Tiffany-Amber, 10, while gifted in music and art, struggles with a barrier that makes reading hard.

More than the struggle itself though, I worried about what neg…

What is Green?

Tonight our writers group met, and our topic was, "Green." One of our number, Claire Alexander, wrote a delightlful poem, and with her permission, here it is:

To write a poem about “Green,” I checked out The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale, and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary’s long list of “green,” and found both negative and positive meanings for the colour. Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible also added insights, giving the Greek terms hugros (moist green) and chloros (pale green). Several Hebrew forms are given: yaraq, yaroq, yereq, karpas, lach, ratob, raanan, and eb (budding). Only Psalm 23 uses deshe, the tender grass.

What Is Green?

In childhood, lenses rose and green
brought magic to my view;
and soon the emerald home of Oz
helped Dorothy’s tale seem true.

Observing life, my language grew,
through nature’s blue-green shades;
my writing learned exciting hues
of azure, sea-green, jades.

But, “You’re so green” established doubt
that a greenhorn was my dream;
inste…

The "Kindly" Yoke and the Burden Bearer

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matt. 11:28-30

“Go to bed with the birdies, the grown-ups say.
For dear little children, it is the best way.
But I don’t see, when I’m so big and sturdy,
How I can get into the nest of a birdie.”

This delightful poem from my childhood came to me today as I meditated upon a commonly presented teaching on the “easy yoke”. The idea is that we are yoked with Jesus, and because we are then our burden becomes light because he bears it for us. The illustration in words is usually that he carries the heavy part of the yoke, and the heavy part of our burden, and yet my understanding of the science of yokes is that each side has to be equally balanced. The common logic seems to be that we would be like an ox in one side of a yoke, and Jesus would be like the other…

A Gentle Showing and a Quick Knowing

"Go get your lead."

He hesitates and waits. With every fibre of his being he wants to do what I ask, but he's not sure what that is

I say it again, encouragingly, "Go get your lead," and together we go into the hallway, where his red lead hangs over a ledge.

"That's it," I nod at the lead, "Go get your lead."

And he knows. He pulls at it gently with his mouth, as I encourage and praise him. He's such a quick study!

"A gentle showing and a quick knowing," I think.

I stop at the small side table in the hallway on the way out. Opening a drawer I take out two neatly folded plastic bags; they are for his own version of Gifts at the Side of the Road.

"Only for Molson," I think.

I told Peter on Saturday, that over the past week Molson and I had walked 21 kilometers.

"So where are you now Mom?" asked my whacky son and I started to answer, "Bond Head," but just in time I got it. And we laughed at ourselves and t…

Changing Places

I watched their play. The fourth generation summering on these shores. Rocks gathered on the beach to make driveways for Tonka trucks.

How could they know my brother and I did the same over 30 years ago? Toys and sand evoke fond memories. I smile.

Scampering over boulders, bare toes gripping stone, springing from one to another. Waves lapping, beckon them and off they run. Water splashes, glistening in the sun. Waves and wind drowning childhood laughter. I delight in their joy.

Games continue. Dolphins, mermaids, gymnasts, clowns, the children change places. Imaginations know no bounds.

Places seem ageless. We look at pictures later in the afternoon. The cottage, erected in 1937, vaguely looks familiar. Black and white photos of these shores, structure, and sand. I see my Great Grandma - one I've never met. I'm told the long-skirted ladies beside her are sisters. She had six, no one now knows who's who. I peer in their faces, part of my blood lineage and wonder about their l…

Love Secure

1 John 4:16 (New International Version)
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

I look through the window and see him working so hard in the garden in the hot sun. I take out a drink, which he gratefully takes from my hand, wiping his brow with a handkerchief. He sinks down into a lawn chair to rest for a moment and I sit on the garden wall, to keep him company while he rests.

Our conversation takes us to places that get a little edgy but we pull back from a place we don't want to be, and I apologize. What I said wasn't helpful.

"Well, maybe I was grouchy," he says.

"Maybe a little defensive," I say, "Can I have a hug?"

He stands stiffly to his feet, and we hug, my husband and I.

A conversation with a friend smooths out her hurt feelings of being disrespected. The friendship is important enough to not let such things go unaddressed. But afterwards we seek reassurance. Are we o…

Two Scripture Passages and a Song Sandwiched Between

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."


Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.


Father, I want You to hold me
I want to rest in Your arms today
Father, I want You to show me
How much You care for me in ev’ryway

I bring you all my cares
And I lay them at Your feet
You are…

The View from the Platform

Psalm 47:1-2 , 5-6(New International Version)

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
2 How awesome is the LORD Most High

the great King over all the earth!

5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;

sing praises to our King, sing praises.

Twice a month I'm part of a worship team at our church; once as the team leader, and the other time I sing on the team while Susan leads. I love leading worship.

We have a digital baby grand piano, played skillfully by pastor Dave's wife Esther. If we're lucky, and he's not teaching Sunday School, Jonathan is on the platform with his violin, adding its soulful voice to the mix. Richard does an amazing job on the drums, Jessica and Lorne play guitar and sing, and Frances and Susan both add their awesome voices and passion for worship. Me? I just love b…