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Showing posts from February, 2009

Down in the Dust - with Jesus

"For dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19

The familiar words jolted my memory during the Ash Wednesday service this week. I am not a religious Christian, nor a religious Anglican. I hang loose to various rituals and customs in my denominational tradition. But neither do I shun them at times because I am confident that God can speak to me in any way He chooses, even in church. So this week I chose to attend this special service, confident also that there would be a great message, as there always is, from our gifted and wise female pastor/priest, Kelly. So I had the ashes imposed, and began the season of Lenten reflection with a black sign of the cross on my forehead. It didn't last long, so I didn't have to worry about parading my piety out in the world. I got what I came for - an opportunity to reflect quietly in a shared and sacred space.

Dust was on my mind, and the phrase repeated by my dear Ugandan friend, Canon Marie. She used to say that the on…

O Canada

Isaiah 58:5-6 (New International Version)
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?


It was the first day of Lent, the start of 40 days of repentance and reflection.

How fitting that a group gathered in Toronto on that particular day, as guests of the Faith and Culture Inclusion Network, to learn about the challenges faced by the First Nations peoples of Canada.

The speakers: Cindy Blackstock, C.E.O. of First Nations' Child and Youth Caring Society of Canada, and Jonathon Thompson, Director, Health and Social Development, Assembly of First Nations.

The event had been organized in a very short time frame, but was a significant opportunity to lear…

Some Quiet Words for Lent

Speak up with confidence!! That seems to be the message of the world. Proclaim yourself out there. Usually we see those who do lots of that as the confident ones. But so often God’s message to us is the opposite of what the world says.“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength”. (Isaiah 30:15) That was the translation of the words in the version my grandmother quoted when she gave me that verse on my confirmation day in Windsor, January 13th, 1963. I can still see the words in her homey rounded handwriting on a vellum card, pasted on the black inner lining pages of one of my grandfather’s Bibles that she passed on to me. Dear Granny Kay, dear, dear wife of my saintly grandfather, a beloved Canadian bishop who had died in London, Ontario seven years before that day. She and he exemplified that verse for me, and for many others. Their quiet strength, their humble trust and confidence in God helped to build the bedrock of my faith’s foundation.

I have been reflecting on that vers…
Dear Friends,
This has been a whirlwind couple of days with little time for reflection. Yes, I confess, I even missed my Sacred Hour on Tuesday and it has been a Sacred Half Hour a couple of times in the past few days.

I don't want to write meaningless words, but I wanted to still say hello and let you know that I carry the readership of Whatever He Says in my heart always.

Blessings on you in this day as we start Lent and that sacred time of reflection and preparation for the joy of Easter.

I hope to be back tomorrow, fully charged up and inspired with a fresh word--whatever "HE" says. :)
With love,
Belinda

I Want to be a Barnabas

Acts 11:22-23 (New International Version)
22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

"News of this reached the ears of the church." Those words trigger a shudder of recognition in me. Oh, not about news reaching the ears of the church, but about me, when certain things reach my ears.

In this case, it was a rumour that the Cypriot and Cyrenian Christian Jews had shared the gospel with Greeks, of whom a great number believed and became Christians. The good news of the gospel was spreading more rapidly than butter on a pile of hot pancakes.

I love that when the church got the news of what was happening, they sent a pair of eyes to see what was going on. And what a pair of eyes. Wise eyes. Godly eyes.

Their response has the stamp of godliness. Don't react, but search out truth. I tend…

When the Answer Doesn't Make Sense

We drove west this evening into the sunset. The sky was palest robin's egg blue and the clouds gilt edged, creamy vanilla. The humble farmers' fields in the distance looked as though they were covered in cloth of gold as their snowy coverings reflected back the setting sun.

I pondered a train of thought that had started earlier in the day about the times that God did things that seemed counterintuitive. With the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see humour in people's responses. I read one of them this morning:

A disciple named Ananias was told in a vision to go to a house on Straight Street, and pray for a man from Tarsus named Saul, who had lost his sight. I smile whenever I read Ananias's response.

Acts 9:13-14 (New International Version)
13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on y…

Saturday Thanksgiving

Yesterday was hard. Early in the morning, before a team meeting at our home, the phone rang and it was my brother's deep voice that I heard when I answered.

"I don't mean to worry you, Belinda," he said, "but Mum has fallen a few times lately and she fell last night."

He went on to tell me how Mum's legs have been failing her and on Friday morning, before the Helping Hands lady came to get Mum up, something prompted him to go down and check on her. He was shocked to find Mum on her back beside her bed. At first glance he thought that she was gone, but she was just badly shaken and hurt. We don't know how long she'd lain there, but her back was bruised and she was mentally disoriented because of the shock. She has an alarm to push in emergencies, to call for help, but the Helping Hands ladies said that many of their clients are too confused in an emergency, to remember to use them, or they are afraid that they'll have to go to hospital, so they…

No One Knows My Heart Better Than You

The end of a long evening, a long day, a long week. I reflect on many conversations, many questions in my mind and heart, many wonderings about relationships. Some moments and conversations were filled with deep understanding on many levels. Some were filled with tension and confusion, causing my mind to swirl. Sometimes I wished I had not shared as much as I did. Some times I wished I had shared more. Sometimes I lay awake pondering it all. But the place of comfort and peace was in my Heavenly Father's presence. I crawled into His lap in my heart, and accepted His love, became His little child again, and rested in the knowledge of the depth of His knowledge of me. It didn't matter anymore how much I was understood or not by others, because He understands me, and I see by His touch in my life in so many ways that He is able to work out what I need to happen to move ahead, despite the agony of living,as this song expresses it.

So here is this comforting truth, expressed for us a…

A Dim Reflection

1 Corinthians 13:12 (Amplified Bible)
12For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as [a]in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand [b]fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been [c]fully and clearly known and understood [[d]by God].

It was late afternoon as he stood at the upstairs window looking out at our big backyard and the girls of 10 and 11 down below, granddaughters, playing in the snow. He had been drawn to the window by the sound of their laughter. He loved them so much, and he took every opportunity to tell them so.

Suddenly he thought, "What am I doing up here watching through a window?" A few seconds later he was putting on his coat and gloves and making his way outside to join them.

He played outside with them for an hour, this husband of mine, almost 62 years old. But when he dec…

From the Comment Section

Proverbs 2:6 (New International Version)
6 For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Yesterday, on my post about teachers, there were some wonderful reflective comments and I loved them all. Two of them took the time to remember teachers too: Brave Raven with humour, and Susan with poignancy. I hope they don't mind, but I would like to share them for today's post.

Brave Raven said...
Aaah, teachers. I too have some unforgettable ones: Mrs. Foy and Mrs. Elliot who taught me to speak English; Mr. Blake who called me up after a poetry assignment and said, "You should do this for a living;" Mr. Finn, who told me no matter what I did, I'd be a success. Hmmmm. I hope I never run into these people. They would wonder what happened and probably blame themselves. HA HA.

Then, there was a Grade Five. Horrific Grade Five. Her breasts were so pointy that we were convinced they were made of plastic. I'll never forget one boy Ed givi…

Back to School

My memory has a special room just for teachers; and tonight they came out and paid me a visit.

I wonder if they ever imagined such immortality? It is a very long time ago--43 years since high school--and yet they are frozen in time in my mind, as real as they were then. I can see them and feel them vividly, both in appearance and personality. Maybe it's that the mind, eyes and heart of a child are like sponges that absorb impressions and hold onto them more easily than they do in later years.

Each teacher in my memory has a sense of "caricature" about them, but perhaps that is because they were a little larger than life to us and their personalities extremely distinct.

Teachers all seemed much older than we were, even those who I now realize must have been quite young. But one who didn't seem old at all was a white haired supply teacher who filled the gap when I was in my last year of elementary school. I can see now that inside this teacher, who must have been close to…

Twinkle Toes Takes a Bow

Yes, I am Twinkle Toes, or at least that was my dad's nickname for me, always spoken with affection. But in the quirky way of British humour, it actually meant the opposite, for my toes did not twinkle but tripped. I had a reputation that followed me into adulthood of being clumsy.

I don't say that it wasn't deserved. I have broken more plates, cups and glasses than the average person. But where my reputation and reality met or ended I never was quite sure. It always felt to me as if a self fulfilling prophesy had been spoken over me.

Along the way I resisted the rap and made up my mind that this Twinkling and Tripping was not me. I was really no more doomed to clumsiness than the next person. And, for the most part, I stopped dropping things.

Now I have the perfect mother, but since she is only human, she is allowed a weakness or two. She will never let me forget that I am Twinkle Toes. I have only to drop one thing and in spite of the fact that she is 82, has had a stroke a…

Sabbath Story

I drove through sunshine in a day no longer deep in winter; which bore the hidden promise of the spring-soon-coming. Spring waiting, deep in drab brown fields and bare branched trees; the Jack in the Box spring that soon will burst in green bud and birdsong and creeping things.

I drove to church and sat among the people. I sat among the people and I sang. I stood and raised my hands to heaven in surrender and in praise. I worshipped him with heart and soul and mind.

At home a pork roast filled the house with fragrance. And the long pine table decked in cranberry cloth lay waiting; waiting for family to gather all around it.

And soon enough, three generations filled the places. And a child gave thanks in stumbling words for church and food and said "Amen." And dishes passed from hand to hand. Plates filled with mashed potatoes, corn and broccoli and peas. What bounty.

And then the bargaining. "How many more bites?"

"One each of mashed potatoes corn and meat!"

Cu…

Whatever

John 18:11 (New International Version)
11...Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"
Whatever he says to me, that will I do Shall I not drink the cup of sorrow too? If he should ask me, there to follow Shall I recoil, refuse to swallow? For I am his, in sunshine and in rain May he be glorified, should I be called to pain
Belinda
Matthew 20:22-23 (New International Version)
22...Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered.
23Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup..."

His footsteps lead on thorny paths; so goes the story But gladly I will follow, for... they lead to glory
Belinda

Psalm 16:5-6 (New International Version)
5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 73:25-26 (New International Version)
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire b…

Let nothing move you

This week I have been pondering these words from 1 Corinthians 15:58. They jumped off the page for me a few days ago and have been dwelling in the back of my mind and heart ever since. I assume God is trying to say something to me personally, give me a rhema word, a special message for me. And of course He's right on, when I give myself time to be still and let Him be God.

I go through my days, trying to sit back from myself and ask if I am being "moved". Now of course I believe that He wants us to be moved, to care deeply, about many people and situations, to weep with those who weep, to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. So I don't think He's talking about that.

I believe He's talking about developing that quality of inner stillness that is not dismayed, that deep trust in God's faithfulness that holds on no matter what, that capacity of knowing and dwelling in the depths of His spirit, far beneath the ever changing forces moving all around us.�…

The Gift of Honour

I arrived at the funeral home half an hour before the ceremony, and Susan's sister Brenda met me with a hug. Susan was still back at the hotel, where the power had failed, leaving them trying to get ready in the dark.

Brenda's eyes were shining as she said, "I'm not wearing black, I'm wearing Dad's favourite colour." She wore a beautiful jacket of kingfisher blue. "I can't be sad," she whispered.

I understood. There was so much of God's hand in all that surrounded this man's passing.

A little later as we began to file into the chapel for the service, I noticed a row of veterans in the back. Gray haired, faces lined, and no longer resembling the dashing young men who once went to war, they sat with a quiet dignity. Suddenly I felt very close to my own dad. I knew that many of them shared a brotherhood with him that only they could understand.

Later, after the committal at the graveside, we came back for lunch at the Legion hall and I went…

Dancing In the Rain

Who dances in the rain on the day they bury their dad?

I do.

After everyone else had left the funeral luncheon today, and I had delivered some of the flowers to my dad's wife, Peggy, and had another cup of tea with her, I went back to the cemetery alone in the rain. I cranked up my car stereo full blast, left the door wide open and as I listened to the strains of the same song Belinda posted on Sunday ( I will Rise ). I sloshed through puddles and mud and made my way over to the freshest grave there, my dad's and danced (yes, I danced) all around my mom and dad's side by side graves in the pouring rain. My hands were lifted high to heaven in gratitude to a King who brings all things to fruition in the fullness of time... I will see them again. I will see both of them again. I will see both of them together again. And I am in awe of God''s great plan. His heart must be SO BIG to be able to contain such plans!

God is so good, people. GOD IS SO GOOD!!!! There is nothing …

Susan's and Brenda's Father

Comfort

Matthew 5:4 (New American Standard Bible)
4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

I leave early this morning, for Windsor, to simply "be with" Susan and her family at the funeral of her father. With me I will carry the love of her co-workers and friends who couldn't make the long journey, but who wish they could. I know from experience, how much each token of caring means, whether prayer (I literally felt the prayers of others carry me when my father died), or a card, or the physical presence of the people who come to show their respect and love.

Susan is giving the eulogy at the funeral, and I look forward to hearing the thoughts that she will share.

When my father died I expected to speak on behalf of the family; I'm the oldest child and usually pretty comfortable speaking publicly. But when the local vicar came to visit and help plan the service, and began to ask questions about dad's qualities, I suddenly felt very fragile and helpless an…

Headlines

Have you noticed that the fine art of attention grabbing headlines has been perfected on our email home pages? I have to admire whoever it is that writes them because they tease with just the tastiest, most interesting, morsel of sensational news--leave you hanging with a question--then wait to reel you in.

For intance:
Man shot twice in two days
Same man shot twice in two different weekend incidents. » What happened?

I mean, who could resist finding out "what happened?"

Well, most of the time, I could, because I try not to get distracted on the way to reading email, which I'm usually doing as a distraction to begin with. But this evening I did take the bait, and I must be feeling punchy after my stressful week last week, because when I read this:

CALGARY (CBC) - A man who was shot on two separate occasions over the weekend is not co-operating with police.

I started laughing. I'm sorry, but there is something very funny in that sentence.

The story continues:
The man was in a…

Irreplaceable

I stepped out into the cool crispness of a Canadian winter afternoon, my cheeks growing rosy in the deliciously wood-smoke scented fresh air.

Beside me trotted my faithful furry friend, Molson, his paws crunch-crunching as he trotted along, as happy as a child let out of school early. So many new scents to sniff--where to start? It was all too overwhelming.

As we began our homeward jaunt, behind us in the west, the sky seemed to be awash with a river of pink molten lava, rippled in lavender. The pavement reflected back the pink light, stretching out behind us and pointing like an icy finger in the direction of the sky.

Before us, like a luminous lantern guiding us home, hung a moon in the dusky twilight sky, as creamy white as a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

It felt like a wonderful start to a new week after several very busy ones with some temporarily long hours put in to meet deadlines.

Last week, at my peak of pressure, late on Wednesday, I came home frazzled and testy. It was worship prac…

The Grave is Overwhelmed

Psalm 86:15-16 (New International Version)
15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;

grant your strength to your servant
and save the son of your maidservant.

I closed my Daily Light after reading it on Friday morning, but before I did, I moved the bookmark to the next day's reading, February 7th. There was a note in the top left hand corner of the page in my handwriting. Not unusual, for I have written little notes throughout this dog eared, book that is very precious to me. Some notes remind me of a birthday, or a the day of some one's death. Some note a significant moment in my spiritual journey. A few are so enigmatic that I wonder whatever I meant at the time I wrote them.

The one on February 7th, said, "Susan S. parent's 50th wedding anniversary '98." On October 5th another note says, "Susan S. Mom's home-going, 1987." She went to heaven 22 yea…

Raised to a New Life

I am home sick today. So are my family. I am in recovery, but they are at the stage I was in two days ago. All I wanted to do was sleep, and reduce the ache in my gut. I ate hardly anything. It was hard to pray, hard to feel positive about life, and the deep cold outside did not help, except to make me not feel so bad about staying indoors and not working. These are the days to ask ourselves what our faith consists of, how we hold on to the dreams and visions God has given us, how we see ourselves as human beings, rather than human doings. There is little I can do to prove my worth today, except to get through it, and to keep my faith and trust and hope alive. I am sure there are so many days like this for so many people, and there have been many before for me, without being sick, many days when I had only the words God had given me to hold on to.

I share today some of those words that I read in a Daily Prayer each day, taken from the website of the ministry of John and Stasi Eldredge:…

The Banqueting Table

Song of Solomon 2:4 (Amplified Bible)
4He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love [for love waved as a protecting and comforting banner over my head when I was near him].

Calm returned to my heart as a big task at work was accomplished today. My shoulders grew lighter and laughter returned to my soul! That felt so good. I could relax and feel like a human being instead of that tense ninny who had to apologize to half a dozen people the next day. I noticed those in my immediate vicinity heaving sighs of relief. Was I really so grim and negative? Yes, I know the answer.

Tonight five of us sat after dinner, discussing the questions in the study we've been doing on the armour of God as described in Ephesians 6. Our focus was the footwear; the shoes of the gospel of peace.

One question was: How did God make peace with you?

Paul's answer gave me much food for thought. He spoke of the symbolic custom of breaking bread in the middle east, and how those tricked i…

His Banner Over Me is Love

Song of Solomon 2:4 (New International Version)
4 He has taken me to the banquet hall,
and his banner over me is love.

Writing a reply to an email I find myself harsh. I second guess myself; edit, reword, soften, remember...breathe.

A sudden surge of anger at something catches me off guard, adding pressure to an already pressured day.

A question asked once too often and I reply discourteously to someone who does not perhaps notice the subtle rudeness of my reply. But I know, and my heart is grieved.

Who is this hot-head that lives in me still?

If I make more room for Christ, surely what flows from me will naturally (or "by nature") be love. I will have no fear of harshness. No need to repent of sudden sharpness in my voice, in spoken or written word.

The verse today says, "His banner over me is love." Self referentially I always thought that it pointed out how much he loves me; how much he loves us. I wonder if I have that wrong (not about his loving us, but what the banne…

Joy in the Morning - whatever the day

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 91:14

The anthem at church this Sunday was "Joy in the Morning". It spoke of the joy there would be "on that day", presumably the day when God would make everything right, and good and beautiful. I thought that what I really care about is the joy that I need, and try to find, and that indeed is available to all of us, every morning. I thought of my waking thoughts earlier that morning, and my ongoing reflections on joy versus happiness. It seems time to share them.

My struggles often seem the worst in the middle of the night, and the very earliest waking hours of the morning. Sometimes I come to a place of peace before I rise; other times it comes when I am upright and moving forward, accomplishing some simple tasks, and settling down to speak and listen to the Lord, through prayer and His word. This morning he reminded me through this scripture verse of His p…
I want to offer him
A virgin heart each morning
A blank page

On which the Master's hand
May write a loving lesson
A love note

I want to lay it down
A sacrificial offering
A pure heart

And yet I come to him
With heart already cluttered
A half heart

I want to live for him
In action as in discourse
A true life

To really put him first
And give to him unflinching
A whole heart

This poem birthed itself this morning as I was thinking about the fact that a whole month has gone by since I began my quest to develop three key habits:
A daily Sacred Hour
A good night's sleep each night
A weekly Sabbath--celebrating it as a day of true rest

Results? Well, not perfection, I am afraid, but I'm not giving up.
My daily Sacred Hour has sometimes been a Sacred Half Hour, but I have had many whole hours and it has been so good. The hour goes by so fast, and I love to have unhurried time with God.

I do struggle to get to bed on time, being by nature more of a night owl, but I am trying, because I want to become a lar…

A Word in Season

By Claire Alexander

In a writers’ group online, one author told how her pastor’s mention of an Old Testament passage triggered the idea, “the right word for the right occasion.” She decided to add this phrase to her biographical details as her “tag line,” but didn’t know its source.

Someone suggested Proverbs 25:11 NIV: "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Another verse given was Eph. 4:29 NIV: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

My mind went back to childhood years in West Vancouver, following WWII. A very precise and disciplined British surgeon, who founded a ministry in Aden and countries around the Red Sea, sometimes stayed in our home for a week. This tall statesman had to sleep on my brother’s bed, the width of a cot.

On each furlough trip to Canada, this pioneering doctor tried to raise up poten…

Miracles do happen.

Today I would like to share an amazing story of survival and blessing, with the permission of Shawn Farewell, who Brenda met through her work. I pray that his story blesses you as it blessed me!

I'm Shawn Farewell. My life has been one challenge after another. With each challenge I motivated myself to become that stronger person.
I work for an armored car company. In September of 1993 I was held up at gunpoint while on duty. With a gun at my back, I thought these were the last minutes of my life. I was terrified!Thankfully, the gunman decided not to shoot me. I was in shock at first. I had trouble eating, sleeping and I was very confused. I developed a condition called post-traumatic stress. Stress seemed to be a part of my life. It followed me for the next three months.
The second thing that would happen to me, I was told that I would be losing my full-time job to a part-time position at the company. "Well" if that wasn't bad enough; my fiancĂ©e was told she could be…