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Showing posts from November, 2008

The Fight Next Door

In the house next door, live five of our most rambunctious little grandsons. The oldest two, Mikey aged 8 and Matthew, age 6, can fight like two tenacious little bulldogs. It's a good thing they have parents to pull them apart, or I'm sure they would both have cauliflower ears by now.
One morning this week they each pulled up a stool to the breakfast bar in their kitchen as they were getting ready for school. Both are handsome boys; Mikey has golden curls, peerless creamy skin, and glasses that make him look wise beyond his years and Matthew is fine featured, slightly built, and with deep-set, thoughtful eyes. Somehow (rarely does anyone understand the origin of these things) they got into a battle over who it was that got to pour their Corn Pops out of the box and into their bowl first.

"I poured my cereal in the bowl first."

"You did not! I did!"

"No, you didn't, it was me!"

"Me."

"ME!"

As the volume of their voices increased, s…

This is my offering

My daughter and I discuss her assignments for her World Issues class. Her deep heart expresses itself through her choices: modern slavery, child soldiers, invisible victims of war in Northern Uganda, the ignored plight of the southern Sudanese. Two years before my other daughter did projects on the genocide in Rwanda, won acclaim for her film about the needs in Kenya, spent a Christmas in an orphanage in Kenya. This summer both daughters returned to their childhood home in Uganda, on their own, reconnecting with former playmates who today are successful, healthy and happy.

I continue to battle for professional and financial survival back in small town Ontario. Gone are my missionary days, when I was free to work without pay, create and carry through projects, help various poor friends, respond to needs on our doorstep. Even gone are the days of sitting by the bedside of the daughter of a friend dying of AIDS, through no fault of her own, weeping with her friends and family. I shall nev…

Honour One Another Above Yourselves

Romans 12:10 (New International Version)
10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

An extra post today. I am laughing and smiling and shaking my head.

As our readers know, Whatever He Says is a nominee in the Canadian Blog Awards, in the category of Best Religious/Philophy Blog.

We, on the other hand, nominated a beautiful blog,written by Ann Voskamp,Holy Experience

because the blog awards are all about the best blogs in the Canadian blogosphere, and Holy Experience is one of the very best.

When I didn't see a nominee icon appear on Ann's site, Joyful emailed her to make sure she knew that it could be downloaded.

This evening, when I came to my computer, I noticed a sudden and unexplained spike in hits on Whatever He Says. At the same time I went to Holy Experience,wondering if Ann had the icon up. She had the icon on her blog. But!!! She told all of her raaders to surprise us, and vote for US!

This is the blogosphere in the Kingdom of God. …

The Song of Christmas

Isaiah 60:1-3 (New International Version)
1 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. I drive home through the dark night. The beautiful music of Kevin Ramessar's Acoustic Christmas Album fills the warm bubble of my car. Each note is plucked with skill, clear and pure. The notes surround me, dancing about my ears; familiar Christmas carols woven into new cloth of gold. The CD arrived today at work, one for each of us, a gift from our CEO, and Kevin Ramessar. I am so grateful. The world is stirring with preparations. Christmas is afoot. Today plans for our biggest party begin to take shape; posters made and sent out by email; talk of skits and songs and merriment gathering momentum. Some friends and…
Happy Thanksgiving to Marilyn and our other readers from the United States. You are in our thoughts today!

Something Festive This Way Comes (with apologies to William Shakespeare)

Today I broke through to Christmas! It's official. And I have the chocolate letters to prove it.

This past weekend I made up an Excel spreadsheet with a page each for the groups of people in the various different parts of my life for whom I buy the letters, and today on my lunch break, I went to Dutch Treats in Bradford, and armed with organization, quickly gathered 105 of them.

The owners of the store, Cor and Louise DenBleker, packed all the letters into two large cardboard boxes and then took my photo for their bulletin board. In Bradford, so far, I reign unchallenged as the Queen of Chocolate Letters.

Since I am half Dutch and half English, I celebrate both cultures to the max, every chance I get. Just when I thought things could not get much better, having all of those chocolate letters and all, Louise pointed out that they have branched out to also include English treats. There on the shelf, right next to the Wilhelmina Peppermints, Zoute Drop and Haagse Hopjes, sat Fry's T…

Pre-Christmas

It is Pre-Christmas--when every year at this time, I long for Advent.

Last year "The Thing in the Attic;" hung over my head like the sword of Damocles. "The Thing" was our giant artificial Christmas tree that lurked ominously up there. When Paul decided to get it down, he didn't ask anyone for help and the boxed tree shot from the attic into his waiting arms like a baby rushing down the birth canal into a midwife's hands. Only he was on a ladder at the time.

This year Paul has been distracted and busy with other things, but on Saturday, over pancakes, Brenda, whose tree is already up downstairs, teased him about his lack of festive spirit. "Downstairs it's all 'deck the halls,' " she said, "and upstairs it's all 'bah humbug.'"

"Don't encourage your dad to get that tree out of the attic," I said.

"Please don't try it on your own," I said to Paul.

Brenda laughed and said that she could see the…

"Self" Sufficiency

Sometimes there's not enough of me to go around. As I survey my life and the things that are filling up those empty spaces I treasure, it makes me gasp for breath or sigh in resignation as another chunk of time is eaten up by the monster of busyness.

I said to Frank, that as another task is added to the pile, I feel the energy for something else ebbing, where before there was passion.

I think it's called exhaustion, but this too can pass with a bit of sleep, okay, a lot of sleep, some exercise and lots of time doing what Mary did best...sitting at the feet of Jesus.

I know that's what's been missing. I have been grabbing a snack here and there and really do love my Lord, but I've been letting the tyranny of the urgent take hold. I've also been slacking off and excusing myself from investing in my relationship with God.
So...no deposit, no withdrawal right...?

Wrong! The more I get to know God, the more I realize that He doesn't operate that way.

He's wait…

Lead Me to the Rock that is Higher Than I

Sometimes it is hard to see beyond the difficulty of circumstances and the struggle of the immediate. Bills overwhelm, sickness lingers, responsibilities demand, and problems mount. We acknowledge with the psalmist,
"Thou hast made Thy people experience hardship; Thou hast given us wine to drink that makes us stagger." Psalm 60:3
And yet these trials test our faith and produce endurance. God wants to make us, not break us. This week I've had to preach to myself. Jason separated his shoulder Monday evening, our sump-pump broke causing a flood in our utility room, I've been battling a cold for the fifth week, and I got sick Saturday. After struggling with my inadequacies in parenting throughout the week and coming up discouraged, I was rebuked at a family gathering on Sunday by a family member who has never spoken any words of affirmation into my parenting.
My trials, in the light of many others, are small. And yet, by Sunday evening I was digging in scripture for encou…

Prompt to Pray

Mark 14:37-38 (New International Version)
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

The days passed in a whirlwind of busyness. It seemed that there was always something calling for her attention from the moment she awoke in the morning, until she stumbled exhausted, to her bed at night. So busy was she that she actually forgot about eating. Oh, she intended to eat, and she did snatch little snacks from the shelf here and there, but although she thought longingly of having the luxury to sit and eat at length, and although she aimed to get up early enough to have a good meal at the start of the day, her increasing fatigue made it hard to wake up in time and each day she got up too late to eat. She began to lose weight and without proper nourishment her energy lev…

Gift Exchange

Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The plaque on the kitchen wall said, Life Is All About How You Handle Plan B. I smiled at first, thinking how true the words were, but they were also poignant, for the one in whose kitchen I sat, was mourning the death of a much loved husband, who died just a few months ago; a sudden separation and all too soon.

Outside a winter storm was gathering strength as the afternoon drew on, but the kitchen was cosy and welcoming, with sunshine yellow walls and white painted cupboards. Interesting nick-nacks stood on window sills and shelves and the air was filled with the aroma of the evening's supper cooking.

We sat across the table from one another and talked the minutes and hours away until the late aftern…

Mature Content

The radio was on as it frequently is when I'm driving, and the host was doing a good job promoting an upcoming show. Then he said these words, "There will be mature content; those who are easily offended may wish not to tune in." Although I appreciated the warning, I found myself wondering why we use the phrase, "mature content," in this context.

I mean we teach our kids and grandchildren not to use bad language, to understand the difference between private and public behaviour and to respect themselves and others. And then, when adults do and say the things that kids learn not to, it is called "mature content," as if ony those with sufficient maturity should view or listen certain types of material. I wonder about such things!

On the other hand, we never stop growing up and it is always encouraging to look back and see progress, even though progress doesn't mean perfection. Letting off steam in angry words is something I've come to see the dev…

Unprepared

"We are not called to proclaim philosophy and metaphysics, but the simple gospel. Man's fall, his need of a new birth, forgiveness through atonement, and salvation as the result of faith, these are our battle-ax and weapons of war."
C. H. Spurgeon


The first real snow of the season falls relentlessly. It transforms our world and we bend to its icy will; helpless.

On my way to work, at a red stoplight, in the cozy bubble of my old but trusty plum Honda Civic, I shiver at the sight of a woman hurrying across the street in front of me. She hunches her shoulders up to her neck and crosses her arms over the front of her short black jacket. Her feet, trudging through the sludgy snow deepening on the road, are bare except for flip flops. I think to myself, "Unprepared for the winter." On the morning news I hear of people scrambling at the last minute for snow tires; unprepared.

The words of Chris Tomlin's beautiful song, I will rise, play in the background and hit me…

The Voice in the Darkness

Three hours driving carefully into the blackness of the night, the white flecks of snow driving mercilessly at our car, mercifully shod with snow tires only two days before. My eyes strained to follow the path laid out by those ahead of me, my arms steadily gripping the wheel, my heart quietly speaking, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."

Forty seven years before those words had been pasted by loving hands on a white card on a black page by my Granny Kay, her gift to me for my confirmation, my public profession of faith within my denomination. All the way home, as I stared at white on black, my mind and heart pondered, as many times before, the meaning of those words written so long ago, black on white on black.

The rounded characters of her English style handwriting on that white card spoke to me, as always, of the comfort, warmth and kindness of her character. Dear Granny Kay, specially beloved second wife to my widowed grandfather, precious and dear, Bisho…

Snow Stories and Daughters

SNOW
Today the snow was falling. Well it was yesterday too.
It was big and fat snow. But today it was only flurries.
I wish it was big, fat snow.There is still a lot of snow, and I’m glad.
Today I can’t go out because I’m sick.
It’s been going around.I am so glad it is winter.
We get to toboggan, build snow men, have snowball fights,
and have hot chocolate. We do all sorts of fun things in the
winter; especially just seeing the snow fall on the ground!

The End (by Rebecca)

Today my daughter stayed home with me. Her tummy didn't feel quite right, sore when she ate and a bit queasy most of the time.
So we had a quiet day in; she and Nicky and I.
Nicky always likes to have Becca around. She's like a little Mom, alert to his needs, caring, cuddly and loves to read him stories, and with a little persuasion, will sit down for a board game with him. She loves him and he knows it.
She's a good girl, my Becca, kind of heart and willing of spirit.
She's petite and flits around with her littl…

Do They Know?

I sit, bible and prayer journal in hand, in the corner of the Nikolettes Gym. Parents are in the viewing area and several gymnastics classes are going on simultaneously. Girls on beam, bars, vault, and floor- learning skills, strengthening their bodies, gathering body awareness and balance.  I look at all these beautiful girls, made in their Father's image. I see blond ringlets, and curly wisps of auburn and chocolate. There are thick masses of long brunette and deep asian dark. There's indian dark beauties and fair, freckled, irish red-heads. I look into eyes of blue, green, and brown and I wonder about the soul of these precious girls. What do they know of You, creator of them, giver of life? What do they know of Your love and righteousness? How will this culture they live in deceive them into believing success is outward beauty?
I think of a line Marilyn Munro shared so many years ago. "They'll give you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.&qu…

He Puts a Song in Our Hearts

It was nearing midnight as I walked out into the first real snow of the season, grateful for the snow tires I had installed weeks ago. It took me a few minutes first to find my snow brush amidst the accumulated junk in the car and then to clear the windows enough to see for the journey home. The darkness enfolded me and the cold brought some kind of unexpected comfort as I worked, gingerly protecting some recently strained muscles in my back. The lights burned bright in the house I'd just left and the memories made of an evening spent with some very special people kept me warm. An old hymn was stirring in my heart, settling there, even as the heavy wet snow settled around me. It was a hymn mentioned in an email earlier in the day by a dear friend who had no idea she was passing on a message from Jesus the Encourager straight to my heart. (Thank you, Claire.) I love how God encouragaes us along the way. He knows our struggles, and he understands our weakness. And he puts a song in …

The Face in the Mirror

Psalm 32:7 (New International Version)
7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

Love prodded. I resist the pull to old ways, I wrestle.

But Jesus is defined by love. It is his very essence.

And so I open my Bible to a passage I have lived in of late: 1 Corinthians 13. Today I read it wanting so much to be the love that I read of. After all, love that cannot be tested, is no love at all.

Love...
Is patient, where I can be so impatient.

Is kind, and cares for the other person more than for self--another area in which I need to grow.

Keeps no record of wrongs. When I feel accused I am tempted to rehearse past hurts.

Always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I fight the urge to hide, but he is my hiding place (Psalm 32:7).

How appropriate are the words at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 in verses 11-12:

11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, …

God En-fleshed

John 1:14 (New International Version)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

A few nights ago, a dappled ivory moon hung luminous, large, and round in a clear evening sky. I thought of the same moon shining down an ocean away over England, where my mum, and brother Rob live.

When I went there in October, it was to visit with them, but the time away was also spiritually refreshing.

Mum and Rob live simply. I can be driven by materialism. Because I would have felt embarrassed at my natural selfishness being exposed in obvious contrast, I bought things for others and not so much myself, and felt better.

Their lives have a quiet, regular rythm, where mine can be excessively active and short on sleep. I knitted and read and uncoiled my soul and felt better.

I was really there to be with them, but my compulsive need to communicate with friends and the rest of the world, can …

Not Just In My Heart

Jesus: please be, not just in my heart, but in my mind, my hands and my lips; even in the least obviously significant corners of my being. Baptise me; fill me, full of you Lord.

I need Christ; not me and my ways, wisdom, or effort. I need his love to flow from the pores of my skin, and through my tongue and fingertips.

The fruit of the Spirit is a natural result of him in me. I realize that I cannot afford to go one day without being before him and inviting him; begging him, to come and fill me up with his dear self.

I am tempted to use the word "suddenly" and say that I suddenly have so much more clarity on all of this, but of course it hasn't been sudden, but a persistent seeking to understand over time. I have been a slow learner!

Verses that previously puzzled or perplexed me and seemed impossible to live up to, now make sense. In fact, it is as exciting as seeing the world through a new pair of glasses. I can't live up to them, but he doesn't expect me to be abl…

All I Can Say

This week I don't have the words of my own to express what God is doing and what is happening within me. I have to trust that God knows what He is doing, and that, as this song from the David Crowder band says, He was washing my feet when I didn't realize it. So I thank Him for what He is doing, and share this very deep song, trusting it will speak to a similarly deep place within you.

Treasures Within the Trial

I am hijacking a sermon from my Pastor for this blog.

Yesterday's message was a gentle, yet pointed reminder needed by all who heard it.

Pastor Wayne spoke on trials and how God in His Word exhorts us to respond, not with complaining and grief, but with pure joy.

James 1:2
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."


The truth is that how I respond to the trials in my life will either glorify God, or the enemy.

As I snuggle up with Nicky at night, resting with him as he crosses over into dreamland, there has been a likelihood that he will have seizures as his brain shifts gear and switches into sleep mode.
Each night as I lie there with him, I feel the burning and churning in my stomach as I anticipate the 'storms' as he calls them. Sometimes they come, sometimes not. …

A Cozy Afternoon

I enjoy homeyness. Warm wood fires, the smell of coffee perking and being in the house with people I love. I savour family and food and times together. I delight in quiet times of reflection,  a good book, and stimulating conversation. Simple pleasures.

As I write now, I smell roasting vegetables in the oven. There's carrot, potatoe, parsnip, zuchini, red and green pepper, red onion, and whole mushrooms, tossed with garlic, fresh rosemary and oregano and some olive oil. Soon we'll taste the melding flavours of roasted fall veggies along with some steak that is grilling on the barbecue. Hannah will likely suggest candles because she likes the romantic atmosphere like her mother. Probably Jason will groan and Josh will complain because they'd rather have light. The diversity of individuals within a family are expressed in so many ways.

Now, classical piano favourites are playing on the computer, Chopin, Beethoven, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Lizst. In the background I hear the …

Reflections

I stowed my luggage in the overhead baggage compartment and sank into my window seat on the aircraft. The friendly man who sat next to me introduced himself, as did the woman beside him, but I was glad that they were soon in conversation with eachother. I had lots to think about on my way home from England.

We were soon airborne and flying at a lower altitude than normal to avoid turbulence. I looked at the land far below; at rivers, lakes and a patchwork of fields and communities, as the aircraft slowly moved across them like a giant bird. How peaceful and quiet the world looked from that angle!

The week I left for England I had been thinking about the ongoing work of God in our hearts; how he softens and shapes us, sometimes painfully, but always lovingly.

My friend Susan gave me a book to read on my journey to England called, A Treasury of Great Moral Stories~The Book of Virtues for Boys and Girls, edited with commentary by William J. Bennett. It might seem like an odd choice for an a…

Physics and Fruit

Physics was my worst subject in high school. I used to feel as if my teacher, Mr. Johnson, was speaking a mostly unintelligible language with words like fulcrum, friction and velocity. I only remember a few random things from those brain wrenching hours.

So who could imagine, over 40 years later, that something useful would come out of my dim recollection of Mr. Johnson's class? But that is exactly what happened recently when I thought of displacement; that is, measuring the volume or weight of liquid displaced by an object submerged or floating in it.

John 15 is a passage I have read countless times but I think that I never really understood it until now, with the help of my elemental knowledge of physics.

John 15:5 (New Century Version)
5 "I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing.

I suddenly saw the connection between the fruit Jesus referred to in John 15:5 and the fruit of th…

Deep in Love With You

Belinda is away at a leadership training retreat in Orillia this week. She has no access to the internet and asked me to post on her behalf today. She will be back in her blogging saddle for Saturday.

To follow Belinda's post of yesterday seems impossible with words of any kind. I think Micheal W. Smith has a chance of coming much closer than I ever could... May God satisfy your hunger and thirst as you listen and connect with Him heart to heart...

Follow the Way of Love

1 Corinthians 14:1 (New International Version)
Follow the way of love...

It is the beginning of winter; a new season.

Outside it is raining in the early morning dark and a chilly 4 degrees. Soon the cold will deepen and the rain will turn to snow. In our northern land it is inevitable.

In my heart there is a new season and I feel it just as certainly as the turning of the year; but there is no chill in my heart, only glowing embers intensifying in warmth and love, fanned into white heat under the breath of the Holy Spirit. For I am a captive of Love and Love has me at last; all of me.

Much has happened over the past weeks and I will be writing about it more in coming days, as God helps me to put it into words. It is hard to adequately express the depth and sanctity of my deepened understanding of his love.

Oh, how I love him. His beauty enthralls me and I am drunk with love. The words of the Song of Songs are mine: Song of Songs, chapter 1:7
Tell me, you whom I love, where do you graze your…

Here in the Grace of God I Stand

"It is your business to learn to be peaceful and safe in God in every situation."

I read the words in Streams in the Desert and agreed with their truth. It was freeing because it was true. And they expressed what I have been trying to live and accomplish in my own life. Somehow they resonated with my understanding that the concepts of taking responsibility for our own stuff, not dumping it on others or projecting it outside ourselves, and yet resting in God and depending on Him can all be wedded together in our understanding and experience of Christ. I didn't know how it was true but I knew it was true.

This is a truth I want to proclaim to others, to help them to pull themselves up short like I have done when I was complaining or excusing myself about why I had the right to feel miserable or ungrateful. Yet I wonder how it will be received. Will others, especially those who are gripped with depression and intolerable circumstances, experience it as freeing or imprisoning?…

Grace Gathering

It's 10:30pm and I'm home. A busy day and then night, but fruitful.

Hearts shared, torn parts partly bared then quickly covered back up again by a laugh.
Yet trust grows, inch by tender inch, friendships form, meld, pull back again and test, then reach forth, tentatively to connect.

It's what we all yearn for isn't it?
Safe relationships, a place where hearts can come out from coverings and find a haven. A place where judgements are laid aside, where forgiveness is plentiful and eyes seek to know the beauty that lies within.
It's a place where truth is known and lies are exposed, where confession is welcome and grace is a river.

Isn't this church? Not a building, but a community, a gathering where hope is present, hope that something greater than the past exists, that redemption awaits and is available to all who will come asking, or maybe just come to see.

I know Jesus is there, in all of our meeting places, patient, reaching out with those nail marred hands to mi…

Choose Life

Words lash. They find their mark. Sting. Volley returned. Another wound. So why do we fuss and fight?
Children learn early how to argue, fume, defend, and retaliate.
I listened quietly in the kitchen as I swept the floor. They fought over bathroom cleaners, each wanting to begin Saturday morning chores, each one wanting to clean their assigned bathroom (all on different floors) first. Tears and scrambling. Still I waited...as a mother waits. I hoped they would come to resolution, peacefully before the need arose for me to intervene.
They didn't. Voices raised until there was a physical tussle. My husband got there first. Perhaps he had been listening too or maybe he heard only the final crisis. He didn't gather stories this time. Each was sent to their bathroom, one with broom and dust pan, one with toilet bowl brush and cleaner and, one with mirror spray and a rag.
I could still hear whimpering from the main floor bathroom, but all else was quiet.
I went about my tasks, finish…

Putting Love Glasses On

"There is no place where earth's sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth's failings
Have such kindly judgment given."

Faber, as quoted by Hannal Whittal Smith in "A Christian's Secret to a Happy Life"

I had occasion to attend a funeral this week. This one hit me a little differently than I expected. I didn't know the man well. He was the husband of a coworker and my entire relationship with him had existed only by telephone and every one of those conversations had been short and directly to the point. I had formed my little opinions of who I thought he was, as we humans are wont to do with our very limited bits of information.

At his funeral I learned so much more about him. The pastor had known him for a very long time and made no secret of the struggle with depression which had dogged him for many years. He talked about how the man was faced with many choices over the years - how he had longed to just check out and go hom…