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Showing posts from June, 2009

Detail

(First published: September 30, 2007)

One of my passions is photography. I love the whole process--from that split second when you see a moment--or a shifting of light that must be captured--to experimenting with a photo to bring out its fullest beauty.

I often find that a detail that might otherwise be overlooked when considered as part of a greater whole, is revealed as exquisitely beautiful when the photo is cropped.

In the same way, a detail of significance in scripture can be easily "read past."

The "greater whole" of scripture is essential to consider, but there is a special blessing in focusing in on a passage and allowing God, through the Holy Spirit, to speak through it, revealing a significant truth, or rich depth of meaning that I had not seen before.

Recently God spoke through several verses about being an example, or following an example. I thought of Jesus saying, "Do this in remembrance of me," Luke 22:19 as he distributed the bread and the wine…

Family of the Heart

Gentle Readers,
I left Nell last week gazing up into the eyes of the man she would follow anywhere and do anything for, so I really should be writing about what happened next.

Patience...that will follow next week, but my fingers on the keyboard won’t take me there yet.

Perhaps you will remember that the winter of 1947 was bitter and wretched and how Nell returned to the Netherlands that September. She returned to England in 1948 and married Chris, her handsome guardsman, in November.
Those events were where my lens focused last week, but there were other relationships forged between 1947 and 1949 that have to be written into the story, for they were ties that taught me all I ever needed to know about friendship.
In Rotterdam in September 1947, after 9 months of being a nanny and cook in the Krausz household in London, Nell worked through the winter in a typing pool. Today most young people might wonder what a typing pool was: it was a group of secretaries, available to assist any ex…

Discovering our Territory

New International Version (NIV)
1 Chronicles 4:10 (New International Version)
10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.

My friend Magda visited on Wednesday bringing the gift of her presence, but also two yogurt containers full of a hearty beef stew (still warm from the pot;) a delicious, home-made, cranberry lemon loaf and a book.

The book that Magda gave me was entitled, Soul Prints, by Marc Gafni, a rabbi living in Jerusalem. She had enjoyed it, but found a copy for me in a second hand bookstore. Isn't that a wonderful and sensible way to shop for gifts?

So far I have only read the introduction, but already I can tell that I am going to enjoy it, and that God used Magda to place it in my hands.
Marc Gafni explains that each of us has a unique soul print; an essence as personal and unique as a fingerprint or DN…

His Eye is on My Sparrows

A blue jay alighted on the railing as my friend and I conversed on the deck. No sooner there and it was gone. But in that instant I saw its lovely form, bigger than I imagined, of course, because I hadn't seen a blue jay up close before. I muse upon that this morning as I think about my "sparrows" about to fly from the nest very soon. The younger one graduated last night, with honours, from secondary school. A long journey ended, a long period in the nest over. She will literally fly away in two weeks to Bible school in a far country for five months. The older one flew away two years ago,for a year to Bible School and travel in six countries, in Europe and Uganda, her childhood home, and then came back to the nest again for a year. Now she will fly again soon, to study on the other side of our country. Already she has become an award winning writer and a travelling photographer. Her photos of African women hang in a gallery exhibit in our small town.

I rejoice that my spa…

A Devoted Life

Dear Readers,

Susan usually posts on Fridays, but is away in Orillia for a couple of days on training.

So, I share these brief thoughts:

2 Corinthians 5:15 (New International Version)

15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Lately it seems so clear that all that we are supposed to be, is an expression of God's love. It all seems suddenly so clear and simple.

Even in Matthew 9, which tells about Jesus visiting the home of Matthew the Tax Collector for dinner, he makes that point. Matthew would have been despised in the Jewish community for his service to the Romans and exploitation of his brothers. Jesus didn't try to hide his relationship with Matthew and furthermore, at his home he was suddenly surrounded by a crowd of similarly shady, fringe folks.

His disciples surely wondered about the road down which their leader was taking them. In response to their confused questions, he gave them some …

Surrendered

The experience of sudden illness, taught me a few valuable lessons; and one of them was to relinquish my own agenda.

Some of us are goal driven creatures with personal agendas constantly running throughout working and personal lives and our conversations.

While in hospital, I thought more than once of Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: Not my will but yours, be done.

Those words are there in the Lord's Prayer too: Thy will be done, and the verses below highlight the attitude of Christ--complete dependence on the Father's will.

John 5:19-20 (New International Version)
19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.


Jesus lived his life as the ultimate example of submission to the Father. In his letter…

In Celebration of Friends

I just found this amazing rendition of You've Got a Friend, by Carole King, on my Blog Buddy Deidra's blog, Jumping Tandem It is so beautiful that I had to share it.

I am especially thankful for my friends at this moment, and drew so much strength from their sweet ministrations of love over the past two weeks. Friend: the very word sounds soft and gentle, yet staunch and stalwart. Oh, how I cherish each friend, more than they will ever know. And when it's my turn to be there for you, dear friends. You've got a friend!


The Secondary Six

Ellen, last week, told me to, "Unwrap the gift," of my unexpected circumstances. And, she said, "Let God create in you."

Well, I feel like it is Christmas and I am surrounded by gifts!

"The" gift, the biggie, is simply being alive. I could so easily not have been. Since our nightmare experience of the weekend before last, Paul has heard story after story of others that ended differently. It has been shocking. But that is not the topic of this post.

Friend after friend has asked me, "Weren't you bored?" And, "Did God give you any 'aha moments?'"

Regarding being bored: I remember, like any other child, occasionally whining to my mum, "I'm bored," during long summer holidays. She always presented me with a case of coloured pencils and a pad of paper on which to draw, or I found another book to read, and boredom vanished. I don't know the meaning of the word anymore. To be alive is to observe, to think, to ponder …

Still Waters

From the Archives (First published Wednesday, October 24, 2007, by Susan)

Sometimes when I look at myself, I see someone who tries too often to make a splash."Look at me! Look at me!" my behaviour sometimes cries. Just like the average three year old. Pathetic, eh?

Well, there's someone I'm getting to know who doesn't do that at all. Sometimes I think I'd really like to be more like him.We had tea with this new friend, and with a few other people not many weeks ago. Some of us in this group of five were old friends, but others were just getting to know each other. I sent out some tiny tendrils of potential relationship, fragile, tender, trying not to be too vulnerable, deciding to what level of friendship I could begin to trust, taking small risks, yet all the while knowing I was pretty safe. It was myself I was afraid to trust.

We talked about a lot of different things that September afternoon. I told a story about my dad and how he was being treated while in t…

Chris and Nell, Chapter 2

Europe was slowly rising from the ashes of a war that had torn out it's heart. The war was over, but still much hardship lay ahead before life could resemble anything near to normal.

Nelly had turned 20 on December 15th 1946, and she felt almost grown up, even though she still wore ankle socks. She had a sweet and disarming innocence that was never to leave her, even in old age and she had a spirit of adventure that beckoned her to follow.

One night in January 1947, she boarded a boat that would take her over the stormy North Sea, from the Hook of Holland to Harwich. She was leaving with her parents' permission, in order to learn English by working as a nanny and home help to an Austrian/Scottish family in London.

She left behind the spotless, cobbled, flat streets of Rotterdam, swarming with bicycles. She left the quaint and ornate houses, windows neatly framed with lace trimmed net curtains and potted plants; often with a cat in the gazing out benignly at the world. She left …

Unwrapping the Gift

The night gave way to a brand new day, my first morning waking up at home after five days in the hospital. I lay on the couch downstairs, a chamois coloured, feathery light duvet covering me and keeping me cosily warm. I thought of the hospital, and the routine I knew so well by now, imagining the nurse at that moment, going from patient to patient taking blood pressures and temperatures and checking IV levels. I was thankful to be wearing my own favourite nightie and not the blue hospital gown, double layered for modesty, that would get increasingly tangled as I turned during the night.

I listened to the pitter-patter of the rain on the skylight, in the large hall outside the room. I had so much to be thankful for.

My dependable workhorse of a body has been recovering rapidly this week, but I have found that I have needed to ease it into the day slowly since surgery on Monday morning. So I lay quietly, thinking, and drifting in and out of sleep for quite a while as the rain tap-tapped …

Seeing Things as We Are

No it's not a typo. I really did intend to write, "Seeing things as WE are". I got that from this quote from The Talmud:

"We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are."

Well, so what, you say! Another clever quote. What does it have to do with you and me? Good thought. We need to examine and think about all the stuff that's thrown at us every day, in this culture. Things move so fast and we struggle to keep up. Today has been a slower day for me and I feel guilty. My inner gremlin is working on me telling me I am not doing what I should be doing today...I am wasting time and not accomplishing much. Those rule makers in my head can work overtime on a gorgeous sunny day like today. Why? Because I see things as I am - according to the voices in my head.

We talk a lot about inner gremlins in my Life Coach training program. For they are what keep the kinds of people who like to become life coaches from marketing themselves confidently,…

Georgia Peach - Chapter 2

Right now she is lying on a sleeping bag folded in four in the corner of our bedroom, just a few feet away from my computer table. She is making soft snuffling sounds as she breathes and will no doubt be snoring soon.

She is sweet and gentle yet full of life. Huge wideset brown eyes look up enquiringly, reticent, yet choosing to trust. "Do you love me?" she seems to ask. "If you do, there's a never ending supply here in return! And even if you don't, I'll keep trying til you do!"

There is no need for a collar and leash, though we use one anyway when we are near traffic as an extra measure of safety. She follows me everywhere I go, staying within a few feet of me as long as we are moving and then venturing out to explore on her own only when I stop. As soon as I call her name she stops in her tracks and snuffles and waddles back to me.

Her movements are slow and plodding for the most part - unless she gets excited - and then she seems to almost forget that …

Georgia Peach

She waddled up our sidewalk and into our lives just last Saturday. I wanted to keep her but I knew that I couldn't. No way. Ron said in no uncertain terms that he did not want another dog.

"We can't keep up with what we have let alone take on any more responsibilities." All he could remember about having a dog was dog hair everywhere, vet bills, and cleaning up the lawn in the spring after the snow melts, not to mention all the rest of the year through. All I could remember is the unconditional love and devotion. And how much I had prayed for just the right dog to take to work with me every day.

My office is in the basement of a home and my job is managing a program which supports the four young people who live upstairs and who have some pretty special needs. Any dog coming into that home with me would have to be pretty special too. It would have to be calm and easy going - able to deal with unexpected loud noises and odd movements. Able to adapt to 24 different suppor…

God is Good!

I saw Belinda this evening, and was amazed again at how good she looks considering her ordeal this weekend. This morning I popped in for a second on my way to work in order to drop something off, and was a little worried at how tired and weak she seemed. She said she was feeling worse than yesterday and realized she had to rest more today. By early afternoon, however, she was sitting up at the side of her bed, and then ended up going for two walks today, one on my arm, just as vistors' hours were over. She looked much, much brighter tonight than she did this morning and had way more energy. I told her that and asked if she had been able to get more sleep today and she said she did. That seems to be just what the doctor ordered! She continues to feel grateful for the expressions of love and concern from everyone and is grateful most of all for the many prayers for her quick and seamless recovery! God is good!

Recovery - A Gift to Unwrap

I went to see Belinda this evening. I was expecting her to be all tubed up and flaked out. Well, I was right about the tubes, but totally wrong about the flake! When I walked in she didn't see me at first. Her eyes were fixed on her little Blackberry and her thumbs were flying, tapping out a message to someone. No doubt she was returning thanks for some of the good wishes sent her way today. She looked beautiful. Her hair freshly combed and a surprising amount of colour in her cheeks. Her laptop was lying closed on the bedside table, waiting. Next to her in the bed was a book she'd been reading today, and on the windowsill another - one she needed to do some "homework" she felt obligated to complete if needed. (Thank God she was released from that, by a kind hearted and wise Director of The Word Guild - thanks, Denise!).

When she looked up she was surprised and apologised for her appearance, but she needn't have. At her very "worst", she still looked bet…

Update

I just spoke to Paul. His first words were, "She came through the surgery last night."

I thought he was kidding, but no, Belinda did actually have emergency surgery. All I know at this point is that everything went fine and she, of course, is resting in hospital. Paul came home to get a few hours sleep and will be headed back to the hospital later today.

It is so good to know she is in such good hands - the Father's - who loves her more than we do.

Belinda will be thanking everyone already for their prayers and will be back here in the saddle on Whatever He Says as soon as she is able.

Blessings everyone, Susan.

It's Our Turn

Dear WHS friends,

Desperate times call for desperate measures. :)

It is with great difficulty I am typing this right now, having very foolishly attempted to show off a little on my bike and came to a sudden crashing and completely unwanted encounter with our gravel laneway. The result (besides my utter and complete humiliation) was a broken rearview mirror, a banged up knee, bruised chin, a few scrapes, and -worst of all - a hairline fracture of my left wrist. Being left handed, that little bit of a fracture which barely showed up on the xrays is posing the biggest problem. Especially since the splint they put on it causes my thumb to hit the space bar all the time when I'm trying to type. Arghhh. But enough about me.

Belinda is still under the weather too. The adventure with her health that began on Friday night with a trip to the hospital and which was chronicled here rather humorously yesterday, is not yet over. Please join me in praying for a quick diagnosis and speedy resolve as…

Emergency (?)

It was not an unfamiliar pain as my stomach bloated, following a working lunch of chili and a salad with lots of raw broccoli and cauliflower. It happens occasionally, and whenever it does, I know that I am in for several hours of great discomfort.

But I had a long drive home on Friday afternoon, going east from Kitchener, first along the 401, then the 407 and then north on the 400, a small droplet in the stream of dedicated cottagers, laden with canoes, sleeping bags and coolers, who were escaping the concrete jungle for the sparkling lakes and forests of northern Ontario, at the speed of --well, let's just say it wasn't "lightning."

When I got home, I headed for bed as soon as I could. Tiffany-Amber and Victoria's piano recital was at 7.00 p.m. and I was determined not to miss it. Seeing them, all dressed up in white and pink respectively; long hair and eyes both shining, recital adrenalin pumping through them; I had to go. So I belatedly took some Beano, count…

Flint Removal

Grumpy weeks are good ones for making me humble. For me it takes a while. First I go through the complaining stage, reciting to myself all the reasons I have for feeling the way I do. Somewhere in there God begins to challenge my heart, and I take a closer look. It's not that I don't have lots of reasons for needing God's grace to cope and hang in, to give out and to keep going. It's just that the most important thing to God, and really to others, is how I do what I do. What's the point in coping, hanging in, giving out and keeping going, if I don't do them with true grace and gentleness? That was what I always found fault with my mother about, and others who had "power" over my life. If they were harsh, and they often were, I wilted and cringed. Of course I have that capacity well built into me, despite how much I hate it. I may come across as gentle to some, and may indeed be gentle inside, but often it is harshness that lashes out, especially with …

Girls' Weekend Away

This past weekend was "Girls' Weekend Away". Once a year all the Stewart girls pack their bags and leave husbands, kids, dogs and all motherly and wifely responsibilities behind to spend a weekend together - reconnecting as friends and sisters and mother and daughters. This was the first year that there was a daughter-in-law/sister-in-law to add to the tradition - one who fits in to our family so well, that it's hard to remember sometimes that she wasn't actually born into it. And there were two babes-in-arms - the breastfeeders in the family who are too dependent on their moms to be left behind, but there were many arms to share the load and they were a joy to have along. We rented two adjoining rooms in a hotel in Cambridge, just off the 401, close to the fabric mill outlet for the sewers in the family, and not too far from St. Jacobs to be able to hit the farmers' market on Saturday morning.

We had a ball - eating meals together, spending money, saving…

Finding the Yoke Easy

By Claire Alexander

Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me . . . For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB.

We live on a horse farm in Ontario, where for twenty-five years our son has managed the seasonal ploughing, seeding, hay baling, and harvesting, as well as the year-round caring for horses boarded here, until his brain hemorrhage nineteen months ago. Even nowadays, where horses are used for pleasure, and not for work, a farmer has to know how to put them together in different fields. He even yields to a hen-pecking order of seniority in feeding them, as horses soon let you know if relationships don’t work.

When a new horse comes to stay, the females (mares) are put into one field, with “fixed” males or geldings in another. A stallion bows to no one, and is separate, with the weanlings and younger horses also finding their niche. A new boarder is watched, and is moved to a different group if kicking and biting ensues.

In my husband’s childhood, his father …

River of Light

The book is a treasure:
Home Tonight~Further Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son By Henri J.M. Nouwen
(A guide to Finding Your Spiritual Home)
Some books, you hold them in your hands and you just know that you and that book are going to be intimately acquainted. When I found this one, wrapped in tissue for my birthday last week, a gift from my friend Irene, I was so excited. The book cover is a warm orange, fading to gold in the centre, and the pages are thick and irregularly cut. It feels good in the hand. Inside the front cover flap, is a small reproduction of the Rembrandt painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son.
I have loved the heart of Henri Nouwen ever since I first began to read anything of his that I could lay my hands on, many years ago. I love his vulnerability and honesty; his willingness to just be real. His courage in doing so has dared me to be open about my weakness, and taught me that vulnerability brings freedom, and usefulness to God.
This morning, although th…

Peace Chaser

Psalm 55:22-23 (New International Version)
22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; ...
23...But as for me, I trust in you

They were outside for hours, enjoying a sunny Saturday morning in the snow; three playmates; two girls and one dog. They were having the kind of simple fun that was a delight for this grandmother to observe from afar.
A frozen top layer had formed over the snow--a legacy of the bad storms of the previous two days. This was jumped upon until a hole was made. Then the girls began digging. There is something indescribably fascinating about a hole; and the deeper the better. Molson thought so too. He didn't hesitate to poke his head and shoulders deep into the hole to explore, and sniff the scent of earth, leaving only his big golden retriever hind parts above the ground.
Later, I looked at the photos I'd shot quickly from the upper window. In one of them, during a few resting moments, Victoria had laid her head against Molson's furry body. &quo…

Chris and Nell

Here is Christopher's service record given upon his discharge from his regiment in 1952:

Christopher Cater Service with The Colours, showing transfers, if any, to other Corps
Grenadier Guards
Home 22.5.44--1.3.45 284 days
North Western Europe 2.3.45--2.5.45 62 days
Home 3.5.45--25.2.46 299 days
British Army of the Rhine 26.2.46 --5.12.46 283 days
Home 6.12.46--10.4.52
Length of service – 8 years British Army of the Rhine
Certificate of ServiceArmy number – 2625429
Surname – Cater
First names – Christopher Leslie
Enlisted at – Wolverhampton

Enlisted on – 22.5.45
Corps for which enlisted – Grenadier Guards
Description of Soldier on leaving The Colours:
Year of birth - 4.5.1921
Height – Five foot, eleven and a quarter inches
Complexion – fresh Eyes – hazel Hair – brown
Final Assessment of Conduct and Character(To be completed by the Commanding Officer)Military conduct…exemplary
Testimonial (to be conducted with a view to civil employment)
A thoroughly conscientious and hardworking man, who has done consi…
Dear Friends,
It is rare that I am just too tired to write, but this is one of them. I will be back tomorrow, God willing. Happy Sabbath. Be blessed and refreshed.

Summer - Season of Questions

As I reflect upon the coming summer months, I realize that summer has always been a season of questions for me. Each year as a school girl I had the opportunity to make plans that reflected the questions I asked or was allowed to ask about my life. There was uncharted and unprogrammed time to plan. Even if it was a summer job I had to take I at least could ponder the type of job I wanted or was willing to take. There were many things that I hoped would happen that didn’t in those months, many plans I would have liked to make. The point is that I got to ask some important questions that were key to who I was or wanted to be.

I wouldn’t be sharing this now if I didn’t feel that my experience in some measure has been true for all of us, if not all the time, then at least some of it, if not in summer then at least sometime. But summer can be a metaphor for such a time because we likely don’t have to be so preoccupied with survival, at least weather wise. There is sunshine and a bit of a ho…

Midnight Wrestlings and Morning Revelation

I am thinking about the words of Jesus tonight. Some of his very last words here on earth:

Forgive them for they know not what they do.
I always thought that was referring only to the fact that those crucifying Jesus had no idea that he was the son of God, very God of very God. And I thought it was very big of him, to say the least. Very big of him.

But tonight I am thinking of those words in my own context. I'm thinking that almost always, the people who most need my forgiveness have no idea that they do! And they have no understanding of what it is they've done. And I'm thinking that it's kind of odd, then, if Jesus could forgive like that, without explaining what he's forgiving them for, then why is it so important for me that people understand what they have done to me?

(I feel like there's a big piece of "self" here about to topple in me...)

Jesus didn't have to say, "Do you folks realize what you are doing to me? Do you realize that you are…

It's All About Perspective

Dear Readers,
I am having a busy evening, cooking up a huge pot of chili and some work to do yet; so I dipped into my store of gems and this one is from Susan. I loved reading it all over again. It was first published August 23, 2007. (I am of the age where I enjoy many things over again: Movies, jokes, stories of all kinds.) Join me in enjoying this!

Boy, can I put my foot in my mouth.I can't tell you how many times I've been corrected, rebuked, reminded, pleaded with, punished, warned, you name it, for the things that have come out of my mouth and for the things that people are justifiably afraid will come out of my mouth. I have had a deeply seated belief, for a very long time, that I can't say the right thing no matter how hard I try, and that if I do say the right thing, it's only an abherration.. The "real me" can't do it, after all.

I was in a meeting last week. I was particularly relaxed and just "being myself". That, for me, is living pret…