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Showing posts from September, 2009

True North

Vacations are like paragraph breaks in the stories of our lives. Without them life could easily be one long run on sentence.
A change of some sort, either in circumstances or routine, gives an opportunity to re-orient to the True North from which we drift so easily. And so this time, away from our busy lives, has been a chance to do just that.
I have gone for long walks in the country each day, on my own and joined by Paul. At home I had been walking quite regularly, nudged by a hard to resist, four footed friend, and motivated further by a couple of books on CD that made me decide to get some exercise no matter how busy I was. But here I have ramped it up a notch.
I've been learning to control my blood sugar through eating more high fibre foods (and taking fibre tablets) and eating carbohydrates judiciously. I'm saying this cautiously, because I could be wrong, but I think that I've finally figured out that by avoiding sugar spikes that result in cravings that trigger bingin…

The Good Choice

I sit here across from the man I love and married 40 years ago as I read a little red book in which I wrote 42 years ago--my 1967 diary.

In 1966 I had met him and danced with him all night at a company Christmas dance, but I was going out with someone else at the time: Peter.

Peter was becoming increasingly serious. He had just got a job as a fireman for which he was going through training. The job came with a house, he said. Yikes! He was four years older than me. At 16 I was far from ready to "settle down." I was barely beyond the giggling about boys with my friends stage and my heart was as changeable as the English weather.

In the first week January of 1967, Mr. Burston, our office manager and Paul's dad, told me the church was planning a party for the Sunday School children and asked if I would help. He told me that Paul would call me with the details. Yikes again! I knew that he could easily give me "the details" himself.

At the Sunday School party, the child…

Arrival

By Belinda
(My weekly family story will follow tomorrow!)

The morning wrapped the curving shoulder of the earth in a silken shawl of intense sapphire blue and salmon pink.

On a winged boat, above a softly pillowed, gray sea of possibilities, we sailed into the east; cutting through air with the ease of knife through butter.

We break through the silvery sea, soft and silent as silken flax on breeze; leaving heaven to enter the sleeping world of man.

A cluster of village lights sparkle in a patchwork quilt of muted green and gold and strangely silent country roads.

It is 6.30 a.m. and we are about to land at Birmingham airport.

Exactly 40 years ago we left this place for new life and new land: Canada. The life and land we chose have been more than good to us; God has been good to us there; but still, there was a cost; there is a cost for all good things but grace.

We seem to have been mere children then, when we look back now through the lens of time gone by. What did we know then of life or se…

I'm Here!

By Belinda

Hello Friends,
Yeay! I am in Alvechurch.

I spoke to Robert on Friday morning and he assured me that the British Branch of R-UFF, the Dogs Union, had given me clearance to enter the country. After my crazy comment a couple of weeks ago, about dogs not being able to read, the Dogs Union immediately rallied a panel to greet me at the airport for a grilling, but gave me a reprieve when they heard of my retraction! :)

The flight was excellent and we sat next to a nice young man from Newcastle who was one of a flock of Britons recruited in recent years to work at nuclear power plants. He just emigrated to Canada (Kincardine) one and a half years ago. It was good to hear how much he and his family love Canada and to share our own reasons for making this country our home forty years ago. How good it is to be here and to find Mum looking so well, and Robert too. Stay tuned for news from Alvechurch...

Lord, You've Been Good to Me

My mind whirls as I remember the way this trip came to be. It was born as a simple dream to see our daughter settled into her new home in the province of her birth, British Columbia. A dream to spend Thanksgiving with her so she can bear our Christmas love to her sibling, our other precious child, far across the ocean in New Zealand. But God had much more to the dream than even I could plan - a gathering in and celebration of our life from before Uganda, a first holiday for me, a first flight for me, a first reconnection for me, for almost ten years. Each detail has come to fruition almost as soon as it was conceived. Every person we have contacted to see has been able and eager to see us. Our itinerary reads like a bus tour with each day carefully and delightfully planned. The only difference is that we are the bus drivers, in our rented Honda Civic. My conclusion: this trip is totally a God-thing.

So, with delight I prepared the final details of packing. By the time you read this we …

Postless Friday

by Susan.

Hello blogging world,

It's Friday, and I'm supposed to be "up here". It's only one day of the week; it's not much to ask. But I didn't make it this week. Not by a reasonable time, anyway. (We shoot for 12:00a.m.).

Why?

Well, I spent much of the day on my feet yesterday, in front of people, which though envigorating to my heart and soul, is more than a little draining physically. I came home after cell group tired and ready to hit the pillow, but still planning to make a sidetrip to the computer on the way.

As I poured myself yet another cup of decaf. (I'd already had several throughout the evening) the kitchen door opened behind me and in walked Abby.

We have always called Abigail our "middlest" child, simply because she is smack dab in the middle of her siblings. She has four older and four younger. Sometimes we worried about her. Abby is quiet and reserved, but like her Aunt Brenda, whose name she inherited as her middle name (Abigail …

Wonderful Merciful Saviour

By Belinda

How it happens I know not, except that it is God.

Two days ago, words sparred; hearts jarred.

We pressed on and in and through to almost-understanding, letting the Holy Spirit guide us back when fleshiness rose up.

When we hung up and said goodbye, all placed in God's hands; peace was settling in.

He would show us truth; we rested our hearts in that knowledge.

And oh, how he did.

Tonight another call. Laughter as we shared excitement at the revelation. "The holy pages have been rustling ever since we talked," she said. Mine too!

"I see it everywhere I turn," this truth that God is revealing.

"This thing I didn't see, this lie believed, kept me bound in defeat. Now I hope for true freedom."

Me too! Me too!

We laugh with joy and wonder. Suddenly it seems so very clear. Of course, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.


Thank God for Simple Things

By Belinda

Every evening after supper I scan the sky, estimating what is left of daylight.

"Can I beat the rapidly encroaching night?" I wonder, "And fit in a walk with 'You Know Who'?"

Oh, he has trained me well to talk in code, this furry and devoted friend.

From behind the door to the apartment below he is listening. Keen ears attuned to shoes being removed from rack and tied--he knows what those sounds mean. A gentle paw on wood, and a soft whine, says, "Happy, hopeful dog here. Take me."

Into the evening we go; he on best behaviour borne of love and respect; I with heart of gratitude for the gift that he is to we who share his life. Long may he live, I pray often.

I stride out, he scans ground with nose. We compromise on stops along the way.

The evening is warm and sultry for the season and the streets are school-night empty. I listen to my Walkman as we walk our beat; Bill Bryson's book: Shakespeare: The World as Stage.

A black car slows beside …

Tele-theology

By Belinda

We wrestle complex issues through.

Although miles apart, phone to ear, two heads bow over sacred page; searching; reasoning; weighing the intent of words.

Who is he, this One that pursues us with such love?
What does it mean to know him, love him in return, be in relationship with him?
Where is the balance between grace and carelessness?
Once found, can we ever be lost?
Holy pages rustle, turned by fingers of flesh.
On this we agree--in the whole counsel of God lies Truth and godly Wisdom.
Did God bend his ear to earth and listen in? Listen to our tele-theology?
I think he did. I think he was on the party line.
Matthew 5:2-6 (New International Version)

2 and he began to teach them saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Sweet Sixteen

It was September 1966 and I was sixteen. I had left school and was working in an office. I started out in the traffic office and then moved to the accounts office, with a fairly hefty load of responsibility for a 16 year old--putting through wages every two weeks for a fleet of transport drivers.

My preoccupation, judging from my diary, was boys. No entry is without reference to one boy or another. On the brink of adulthood, my friends and I were trying our relational wings. At work and after work, this involved catching glimpses of the current object of our admiration, usually from afar, and giggling about chance encounters, during which the girls and boys tossed humourous statements at one another--our attempts at witty repartee--a safe way to test out true feelings, which we were never quite sure of.

My friends, Elaine and Eileen, in the photo below, were doing what we often did; just hanging out in my room, listening to music and catching up on our latest adventures.


On September 24t…

Guest Post on STORYGAL

If you would like an extra story this week, click here for a link to my friend Carolyn Wilker's blog, STORYGAL, where I was a guest blogger with a post entitled, A Village Childhood.

Carolyn is a gifted poet, editor, writer and speaker as well as friend.

Blizzard

I worked through the questions that are the homework for the last session in our cell group Bible Study on emotionally healthy spirituality. The lesson had a story from a book by Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness, that told of farmers, years ago, during severe blizzards in the Midwest, tying ropes around themselves when they went out to the barn to feed their animals. Without the rope, farmers could become disoriented and freeze to death in the blinding snow.

The questions were searching and caused me to confront what it is that I allow to obscure God in my life, losing myself spiritually--and what gets lost when that happens. Then the final question asked what "threads" I would use to make my rope to help me stay connected to God.

So often I feel that I need to go back and repeat lessons that I thought I had learned. I wonder if that will ever change? I hope so! But I suppose that the point is not self condemnation; the point is never giving up.

I want to get it right. It'…

Loving the Land

by Meg







Last Saturday I reflected upon the impact of selling our family cottage. I spoke of the liberation from the weight of memories, of the heaviness of family system "rules", however unspoken, and the connection of those with a physical place, the family cottage that had been part of my life from its beginning. Writing that story was liberating, and in doing so I was reminded again of the importance also of celebrating all that was wonderful and good in that place and those memories. I said I would share what I had written in the summer of 2008, when selling the cottage was not really in our thinking. I reread these words and they bring alive again what I truly feel. I am grateful to have them to share now, in this season of letting go of the physical symbol of that part of my family heritage. ......

I lay this morning on the cottage living room floor on the mattress from the uncomfortable sofa bed moved up from my mother's apartment last year when her cancer got the be…

This Good Day

By Susan
“Bang, bang, bang!”
Belinda was at the sink going through her morning contact lens insertion ritual. I was sitting in a chair in my pyjamas reading from Proverbs and waiting for my own turn at the sink. The knocking on the door, seemed incongruously loud and we both jumped. I was closest to the door, so I peeked out the window first, making sure that I was not about to open the door to just any early morning body and saw Terry, a co-worker standing outside in her running gear, ready for her morning jog. We were all away overnight at a lovely northern retreat, for our annual district managers’ training. I made what turned out to be a rather feeble attempt to be funny.
“Terry, are you CRAZY???!!!!” I said as I opened the door. I’m not generally very energetic at that time of the morning. And it was cold out there to boot. I smiled, but Terry still looked a little taken aback at my odd greeting. I knew it was affectionate teasing on my part, but it appeared that she wasn’t so sure.

The Pacemaker

From Belinda's archives

Psalm 44:3 (New International Version)
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.


As Frances and I continued our conversation on Saturday, about the pressure I felt at the thought of adding Christmas decorating to my "to do" list--she shared a profound insight; "The God that shows us the path, will also show us the pace at which we are to walk."

Any runner has to pace himself if he wants to make the finish line.

In life there are times when in a burst of focused energy we sprint forward for a period of time, but then we need to drop back to regain energy and strength so that we are ready for the next burst of energy we need to expend. At these times it may look as if we are dropping behind others in the race--but we are running the race with others, not competing against them. In this race our eyes should be on the One…

Yikes!

By Belinda

In my post of yesterday: Moments; I quoted myself during a silly moment, saying that, "Dog's can't read." It never occurred to me that this dastardly comment would reach the ears of the Dogs Union, but be careful what you say....

Dogs Union Local R-UFF said...
We of the Dogs Union, wish to protest. Dogs are amongst the best readers in the world. There isn't a dog that can't read a summer sky for rain, a summer breeze for tales of far way, a lawn for evidence of past visitors. We dogs can read scent, one of our members can smell his master's seizure coming along, another works in a hospital, and he can smell cancer cells forming. Reading scent, reading the colour of the sky are one thing, but it seems we dogs have the ability to read the need for love and kindness on the face of your own species - an ability you all seem to have either lost, or perhaps thrown away. Please refrain from further dogist remarks.


Well, in the words of our esteemed Canadi…

Moments

I think that every writer lives life listening. Any snippet of conversation is potential plunder. One of my friends routinely asks during our phone conversations, "Are you writing this down?" She is wise to ask. :)

So tonight, because I have little time to write, I am offering up three moments made me think or laugh in the past week.

Over breakfast on Saturday, Brenda shared a life lesson that she learned, she said, through (happily) past heartbreak and misery :) "Watch what people do. more than what they say."

My friend Ann shared this during a meeting last week, "A conversation takes time; but anything else takes longer."

And finally, at the risk of everyone thinking I am a complete nutbar--my contribution after cell group last Thursday. I was overcome with gratitude for a few things, including reading, and enthusing to friends Susan and Jane. "Think about what an amazing gift it is to be able to read," I said (and should have stopped there, but I…

The Office

I left school in July of 1966 with 5 GCE O Levels: English Language, Religious Knowledge, Cookery, Needlework and Art, as well as 3 CSE's in Mathematics Grade 4, Chemistry Grade 3 and Art Grade 1.

Three years before, at age 13, I had written in my little green diary that when I left school, I planned to go to Art College to become a teacher, but by August of 1966, I wrote that so many of the dreams my friends and I had, seemed to have burst like bubbles during our school years, and our individual natures were getting squashed into the mold of offices.

An office was the last place I thought that I would work, but I had plans to leave for Holland in two years--as soon as I was 18. So it didn't seem so bad, temporarily.

A couple of my friends left for Art College and I envied them, but it wasn't possible for me then.

I'd spent a month of the summer in Holland, and Dad had been with us for part of it this time. It was a turning point because he had responded to Mum's despe…

Son Story

By Belinda

You could feel it all week--that intensity of emotion--the back to school frisson.

Brenda works part-time at a private school for boys and she was busy with extra shifts in the school store as a tide of boys in red uniforms flowed into the school.

It was fascinating to hear about the differences that were evident as new and old boys arrived from all over the world and families parted from them to go home again.

Those from Korea came with whole families, including grandparents and aunts and uncles. Paradoxically they were very matter of fact as they parted. It seemed as if goodbye was no big deal.

Some parents from Mexico, were giving up their sons for just one year in order for them to learn English. It was obvious that it was a huge sacrifice to leave them behind and there were rivers of tears as they said their goodbyes and peeled themselves apart.

The most emotional were the mothers from eastern Europe. It was as if they were wrenching out their hearts to let go of their sons,…

The Weight of Memory: Reflections on Selling the Family Cottage

by Meg

We glanced up at the window across the street from the lawyer's office as we exited after signing off on the sale of the cottage that had been in our family since the mid-1940s. "Isn't it interesting that the lawyer's office is right under Mum's old window?" I said to my sister as we got into the car. "It sort of underlines the heaviness of this whole thing, doesn't it?"

She agreed, as we drove away reflecting again on the various stages we had gone through this year and a half since our aged mother died beside that very window, in the seniors' home we had brought her to so that we could be there for her in her last days of terminal cancer. The precious year we had with her before her death was unforgettable. We could not forget either the conversations we had with her about the cottage, the assumptions we had made that we would do all in our power to keep the cottage, preserve it for the future generations.

Yet now we had made this deci…

The Beginning

From the archives... by Susan.

Be silent all flesh before the Lord… ” Zechariah 2:13a KJV

It was November 11th. The weather was unseasonably warm and my husband and I had ridden our bicycles the ten kilometres or so into town for a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast. We hadn’t forgotten it was Remembrance Day, but were still surprised when a waitress actually ran through the bustling restaurant calling out, “It’s 11 o’clock! We’ll have a moment of silence, please.” And then she stood there in the middle of the room, coffee pot in hand, while we all put down our forks, ceased our conversation, and collectively considered the great sacrifice that was made on our behalf and the freedom we were enjoying that very day. It was a stirring moment, shared with a restaurant full of strangers – soon over, and then back to business as usual. We thanked the waitress later for leading us in that simple act of remembrance and respect.

This morning, as I was readying myself to approach God in prayer,…

For Love not Money

By Belinda

It was Labour Day weekend and, as usual, I had plans. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live a life that doesn't have plans, but I don't think I could do it.

One plan that wasn't on my agenda was making rhubarb custard pie, but then, as well as having more plans than I could possibly accomplish, my plans are fluid. This is probably why I ended up on the Monday morning of Labour Day weekend, listening to a book on my walkman; "The Procrastinator's Handbook," (read by the author, Rita Emmett;) and baking a rhubarb custard pie. Rita Emmett sounds like a very nice lady. She has a comforting voice and makes me feel as if I might have hope, if only I would heed her advice.

Brenda had been working the pie angle for weeks, during which my spare time was occupied with a spaghetti supper fundraiser. Brenda loves making people happy, especially those she is fond of, and she is fond of Kevin, the maintenance man at the college where she works. She just …

Shadow Girl

By Belinda

Her name was Ingrid and I was just nine years old when I met her, a girl a little younger than me, who lived at the end of the street of council houses we had just moved to.

She had long, dirty-blond hair that was unkempt, and she smelled of stale urine. The other children call her "Pongo."

I didn't know everything there was to know about God. My theology was formed by what I learned at school, in Religious Knowledge class. I learned a lot, too, from the hymns that we sang in morning assembly. I knew that Jesus had said that what we did to the person who was least in the eyes of the world, he considered it done to him. That made a deep impression on my nine year old heart, and I easily connected the dots when it came to how Ingrid should be treated, although I never knew her well.

One day we heard that she had lain down in the road and tried to get run over. Wide eyed and dismayed, I wondered what would make someone want to do that.

Her dad got sent away to prison,…

Being For

By Belinda

John 18:28-29 (New International Version)
28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"

Is it just me, or is there something bizarre about worrying that you might become ceremonially unclean by entering a Roman palace; while you are carrying out a plot that will bring a man to his death? When I read this passage recently, I felt as though God had tucked this piece of irony into the gospel of John; first, for us to see the humour in, and then to ponder.

I enjoyed it, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I've learned that it doesn't pay to laugh too long, because usually under the humour, there is a dead serious point to be found and it is usually hits uncomfortably close to home.

So I'…

Heart Awakened

By Belinda


Next week my eldest granddaughter turns 14 and then another turns 13 in March and another turns 14 in July..."the girls" are growing up. Today I'm sharing a post I first published 3 years ago. It makes me realize how much they will grow up between now and 15, and maybe they already have and I just am in denial!


The five year diary was one of my Christmas gifts in 1962, and I wrote in it faithfully, every day for the next four years. Faithfully, because there were just a few lines for each day, and four years, not five, because by the time I got to 1966, I was writing too much to fit into the small space.


On the outside, just in case the lock was not protection enough, I had written the word, "Private," twice. Inside I chronicled my life, from age 12 to 16.

Tucked between the pages is a letter I wrote to Dad from Holland.

I started the letter, "Dear Daddy, I am writing again to tell you the latest boyfriend news."

"Latest?" I smile. I …

Foggy Morning

By Belinda

Saturday morning. Pancakes with blueberries, the house redolent with fragrant fresh coffee, and outside--fog!

Tippy said, "It looks like there's a white backdrop outside of the window. If you got all dressed up in white, no one would be able to see you." We laughed at the thought of her fog camouflage suit.

I told of the fogs of my childhood in England. There, when fog descended on our village we groped our way around the old streets. Light came faintly from lampposts and windows and mystery hung tangibly in the air.

The fog muffled sound, adding to the sense of insulation. Time seemed to stand still--or perhaps it magically turned back several centuries, just like it did in the stories I enjoyed reading. Fog was my favourite weather.

Tippy and Victoria listened, wide eyed, fully relating to the deliciousness of imagination.

The windows were open to let in the cool morning air, and on it floated the rhythmic cricket song; the fields alive with the sound.

Then, so fai…

Faithful God, Faithful Girls

by Meg

She won't be home tonight. At least not to this home. She flew out west very early yesterday morning. I said goodbye to my baby again, companion for this summer while my other baby settled into Bible school in New Zealand. Now they are both gone, from here, but not from my heart, nor me from theirs. Until now I have been so happy for them, so thrilled at how their plans have worked out, that I haven't had much time to miss them, or think about missing them. Now here we are - empty nesters.

Interesting that in just three weeks we will see one of them again! How's that for a pining Mum!!We actually arranged the trip for very practical reasons. Share Thanksgiving with her so we can send her to have a Kiwi Christmas with the other one, then welcome the other back for a few months a little while later. Now I am so delighted that it will not be long before I see my daughter again, my dear friend. And I am delighted that she feels the same way.

But what is my song today? I ca…

Next Year in Jerusalem!

by Susan

Tuesday was our wedding anniversary. 37 years.

Classes start soon and we spent the entire day moving Davie back for his fourth and final year of engineering studies at Queen's. We did seven hours of driving in separate vehicles, plus countless trips back and forth from the van to the apartment unloading stuff and checking out his new digs. Davie was with us, of course, and Jorie (18) came along for the ride since it is her last week at home too, as she is off to college tomorrow. My sister Brenda, who has recently moved an hour north from their old place in Kingston and for another two weeks or so has two houses, let us have first dibs on a pile of stuff that was left behind, before offering it up to the masses via a garage sale this Saturday. (That was the most fun part of the whole day. It felt like Christmas and then some!)

I can't tell you how many times we've spent our anniversary doing something just like this. One year (our 20th) we did a property survey toget…

A Golden Evening

By Belinda

I tie the laces on my well used, dusty brown Rockport walking shoes and clip my Walkman belt around my waist; then reach into the closet for the red leash. A call for my golden friend and he gallops up the stairs, followed by an eager , smiling granddaughter. Victoria's face asks the question, and I answer it, "Yes, I'm going for a walk. D'you want to come?"

She nods , eyes bright, and excitedly runs downstairs to get shoes.

"Does Tippy know we're going?" I call after her.

"Oh no! I forgot to tell her," she says, and yells, "Tippy! We're going for a walk!"

Tiffany-Amber emerges from their downstairs apartment and the computer game that she was playing and begins energetically putting on sandals and bike helmet in the garage.

The four of us launch into the evening. I take out my ear buds and fold them into the Walkman. The book on CD can wait for a different walk.

We pass a bank of goldenrod, breathtakingly beautiful; tall…

Molson's a Daddy!

By Belinda



It was on July 15th that I wrote about Molson’s Big Adventure --his first venture into the stud dog world. I was ridiculously excited about the whole thing because he was needed when I was looking after him for Brenda while she was away at the cottage. Why was I so excited? You might well ask. Well, anyone who reads this blog for any length of time will know that I love that dog to bits. He is the most gentle, meek, noble, beast.His mission was to sire a litter of puppies for an organization named COPE, which stands for Canine Opportunity People Empowerment. They train service dogs, and I could think of no better dog to serve as a potential daddy for such a purpose.When Molson came home once "the deed" was done, it had not gone totally smoothly so there was some uncertainty about the outcome. We all forgot about it until yesterday, when Brenda called me at work and told me to check my email. There was a message she had forwarded from Sherri, the kennel owner, and i…