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Showing posts from November, 2009

A New Adventure Begins

By Belinda

It was no way to buy a house; in the dark. "Do not do it," I would say to anyone else, but we did. I suppose it was following a trend in our lives really; the trend of leaping first and looking later. Of course we always felt, as we leapt, that it was all part of God's plan, so it wasn't entirely as foolish as it sounds.

We saw the house once, in the evening, and the price and location were right, so we put in an offer conditional on the sale of our house in Tottenham. I really hoped that the house in Tottenham would not sell and thus prove that God wanted us to stay there, but alas, it sold immediately; for the asking price.

So we found ourselves, in February of 1974, with the help of friends and family, packing up our belongings and moving.

The house in Newmarket was built on a ravine lot. The basement had a walkout to the back yard, which overlooked waste land at the back. It was on the edge of Newmarket on a quiet street, and I know it sounds ungrateful …

Being There; Being Light

Weekend Post By Belinda
I'm picking up the baton from Susan, who posted on Friday about the gala we both attended on Tuesday evening. It was such an incredibly wonderful evening that I wanted to a little of it here.
Susan described journalist Brian Stewart's speech brilliantly. He is such a gifted writer that to listen to him speak was a treat. What he had to say was profound; how he said it was to the ears, what a Tom Thompson painting is to the eyes.
Brian spoke of a faith rediscovered; that began to grow out of the truth he was witnessing that for all the evil and darkness in the world, there was human altruism, "Quite simply the most stunning thing I have seen as a journalist," he said.
"Surprisingly, Christian faith was more powerful than anything else; mysterious and strong; the greatest mystery on earth."
His journey of faith, he said, was "a continuum over years." He came reluctantly, moving from outsider and cynic, to admirer and "wannabe…

Worth Dressing Up For

Posted by Susan

Galas aren’t my thing, which is probably no surprise to anyone who knows me very well at all. Give me a comfortable sweatshirt and a well broken in pair of jeans, with sandals and mismatched socks on my feet and I’m happy. I’ve always been that way. Even on my wedding day it wasn’t about my dress, trust me. There’s something about spit and polish on the outside that just doesn’t ring my chimes. Other people enjoy that, and God bless them. But it just ain’t me.

So when the notice came through our head office that there was a “Gala Fundraiser” dinner coming, I geared myself up for a boring evening of feeling like a fish out of water and, though I passionately support the cause, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the event itself. I was comforted by the fact that there would be people there that I know and care about and who love me too. But I really would rather spend time with them somewhere else – like around a campfire, or flopped around the living room on comfortable …

Me Too

by Meg

The words jump off the page. But, hey, I've read this passage countless times. Why now? Why me? Am I all that bad?

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brother, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3: 9 - 12

The memory comes that in the past I have always told myself upon reading this that it doesn't apply to me, that I am not one of those people who curses others, one of those bad people. Or at least that I'm not ALL bad.

But today, with my heart open to God in fresh ways, I stop, and listen, unafraid and ready to hear. Somehow I know I can face this in myself, at last, and in the moment of confession, find forgiveness. I trust my heavenly Father enough to know He loves me so much…

Breaking "Molson News"

He got the call last week. Proud daddy Molson's presence was requested for a photo op with three of his young pups.

Molson's mom, Tilly, is owned by someone with McDonalds and they are sponsoring the training of the pups as servic dogs with C.O.P.E. (Canine Opportunities People Empowerment) with a wonderfully generous gift of $30,000!

So Molson was picked up on Thursday evening to be in the family photos at the official presentation of the cheque.

The names of the three pups? Big Mac (Mac), McFlurry (Flurry) and Golden Arches (Archie.) :)

Robert wanted to know if he wore a tuxedo with a scarf around his kneck, and was he picked up in a limo? I had to say no, but he did come home in a lovely yellow Toyota that looked very much like a Hummer.

Meanwhile, Molson's eating habits need some refinement, in keeping with his star status. Torie confided that he ate a chunk of her science experiment, a goopy mixture she concocted with flour, oil, salt and food colouring and which wa…

Space

By Belinda

Isn't it funny how when God is on the move in an area of a person's life, everything seems to connect and reinforce the work in some way?

My seemingly endless quest to declutter our house has been ongoing for weeks, but I have been relentless. And out of chaos, a beautiful order is emerging...and space...

The space brings with it restfulness and tranquility. There is room for people to move around; space to get things out and use and put away again, because they all have a place where they belong that is neat and orderly; not cluttered.

Nearly everything in our house now has a purpose or value. It is earning its keep in some way in our lives; not just "taking up space." I have been steadily giving away stuff that no longer has a purpose to me, and delighting in seeing someone else pick it up; knowing that they will enjoy using it for a season in their lives.

A couple of weeks ago at our work leadership conference (the one which was the genesis of the Great Pum…

Making Home

We lived in our first house in Tottenham for a short time really--from the fall of 1971 to February 1974; just over two years.

Paul was working hard at his studies and loving his work and I was occupied at home with our two small children.

We had not a cent to spare, which was stressful, but I baked our own bread to save money and we managed by buying 50 pound bags of potatoes and eating eggs and chips (french fried potatoes) almost every night. It was handy that we lived conveniently close to Alliston, which has an annual potato festival. We used to buy the potatoes right from the farm.

Our store of furniture included a big old black and white television set with rabbit ears and a picture that rolled every few seconds. We had a second hand wringer washer in the basement that gave electric shocks every now and then. I was very grateful for it though, as I had a quantity of English terry cloth nappies (diapers) that I needed to wash each day.

Someone donated a wooden post for a washing lin…

Molson, My Personal Assistant

By Belinda

I was home for a much needed "catch up day," but not catching up as much as I'd hoped, when the phone rang. On the other end was a very pleasant voice belonging to a lady from our insurance company.

"Do you remember that letter we sent you a week or so ago?" she wanted to know. We needed to update our insurance based on the fact that we have done some home improvements.

I knew that the letter was somewhere in a pile on Paul's desk so I apologized for the fact that we hadn't got right on it.

"No worries," she said breezily, "you can answer the questions now and I will fill the answers in for you."

I had no idea then what a difference of opinion we had about what "no worries" meant, but I was soon to find out.

She started with a few easy questions and I began to relax a little, until she asked if we had fire hydrants on our street. Being someone who regularly walks a dog, you would think I would know the answer to that q…

The World Aches...

by Susan

"...the world aches for the generosity of a well rested people."

I bustled into Terry's office on Tuesday morning, looking as busy as I could.

"Can I use your fax machine?" I asked as I stood at her door. She looked up surprised and then smiled a welcome. She seemed calm and relaxed, even though she'd been hard at work.

I was anything but calm. I had just missed a doctor appointment through no fault of my own, and it was, thankfully, rescheduled for later that morning. I was happy to get the appointment, and yet, my week had been planned out, oh-so-carefully, making every attempt to fit all the important things in. All the things that could not wait. Even as I stood in Terry's office, my plan sat all laid out in my day-timer, each appointment and meeting for the week dove-tailed perfectly into time set aside for decent preparation and responsible followup. If I was really careful to stick to the plan, I would be even able to show up at the meeting …

Example

1 Corinthians 4:16 (New International Version)
16Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

1 Corinthians 11:1 (New International Version)
1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

I felt like a bottle of soda pop that someone had given a good shake as the anger sparked by the actions of another, boiled up within me. I had a sack full of emotion and I didn't know what to do with it. These emotions take up residence within us--that's the problem. You can't just put them on a shelf and come back and think about them later--at least I can't. We carry them around with us wherever we go, and like corrosive stomach acid, they burn a hole in us unless we do something with them.

Of one thing I was sure, I wanted to honour God in my response and so I asked him to help me. I've lived long enough to have had plenty of practice at doing things my way, in other words, the wrong way. Anger is such a dangerous thing, but it isn't a wrong thing. It just needs handling careful…

The Loaf Lady Cometh

As I shared with you last week, dear readers, in my post, Beware the Great Pumpkin, I was personally inspired by the challenge given at the leadership conference of the not-for-profit organization I work for; for each of the 250 leaders in attendance, to raise $500 for our global ministries to children with disabilities, over the next year.
Susan, who was at the same conference, started talking after cell group about things that we could do to raise the money, such as putting a coffee machine in the church and donating the proceeds. After she left, I kept thinking about what I could do and one thing led to another and I ended up with 18 loaves of pumpkin nut loaf at the end of a weekend of frenzied baking.
We had a meeting of our district team the following week, and I had no shame--I brought my loaves--and they sold rapidly at $5 each. My coworker Iris told me that I should not be in charge of selling them, I should be charging more, but I couldn't bring myself to do that. Susan b…

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

By Belinda

(You will understand when Wednesday's post publishes!)

Cream: ¾ cup of shortening or vegetable oil
2 cups of sugar

Add: 3 beaten eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift and Add:
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup cocoa
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir in: 2 cups grated zucchini
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup nuts

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Makes two loaves.

Enjoy!

Our Children's Faithful Refuge

Habakkuk 3:11 (New International Version)

11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.


I glanced up at a flock of Canada geese flying across the sky like arrows shot from the bows of an army of medieval archers. How full of beauty and grace they were, these harbingers of another winter's approach.

Each year seems to fly by more rapidly than the last, with Christmases separated by spring and summer seasons that slip speedily into fall and then winter again.

I had been thinking of that when I read my Daily Light on the Daily Path over the weekend. I have a habit of making notes in the margin of my well worn copy of this cherished classic, usually when one of the readings has special significance to some event in my life on the day I read it.

Interestingly, in the margin for both November 14th and 15th, there are notes about both Brenda's and Peter's work situations in past years and some of the verses are un…

1972 and Baby Number 2

By Belinda

In January 1972, I had just arrived back in Canada with 19 month old Peter, after a few months with my family in England. I was 3 months pregnant with our second child and Paul had moved into our new home, in the village of Tottenham, in November.

The village was pretty and had an old mill at the entrance to the conservation area, which had a large pond, that to us looked more like a lake. There was an old unused school house, with a bell tower, at the end of our street, and a small ice rink in the field that must have once been a playground. The sun seemed so dazzlingly bright after the gentle light of England; a different kind of beauty, that I was starting to love. Many days I would go out into the crisp coldness with Peter and we would slide and totter on the ice, as ungainly as newborn foals; laughing at our clumsiness; cheeks rosy and eyes bright with fun.

Paul had just started a new job at Pine Ridge, an all male institution for the developmentally disabled in Aurora. F…

Working it Out and Working it In

Dear Faithful Readers,
I have decided to honour God's principle of Sabbath by leaving Whatever He Says fallow one day a week from now on. I believe that as I do that here, He will help me to take it into the rest of my life more faithfully too. So this, and every Saturday post from now on, will be my "weekend post."

Belinda

************
My friend Susan: mother of nine and grandmother of ten; wrote to me last weekend to tell me how her day had gone. She wrote about her evening with her little granddaughter:

"I had a challenging evening. This is one conversation I had - (between me an Lizzie)

"I know everything." (Lizzie)

"You do?" (Me)

"Yes, I do."

"You can't possibly know EVERYTHING."

"Yes, I do. I know everything."

"You don't know when I'm going to die."

"Yes, I do."

"You do?"

"Yes, but I'm keeping it a secret."

Now, tell me. How do you reason with THAT?! And she's only …

Transformations

by Susan

We sat at the kitchen table, my baby and I. Well, she's not really a baby anymore. She'll be old enough to legally consume alcohol in just a few weeks, but she'll always be 'the baby' in this family. (Poor kid).

Long dark blonde hair frames an animated face with eyes full of the light of success. She is handing me her latest assignment from school and is justifiably proud of the mark she received. 34 out of 35. She lost that one mark because she forgot one silly little heading. Still, not bad. Not bad at all.
Academics have never been Jorie’s strong suit. By the end of Grade 4, she still couldn't read. We borrowed a book from Belinda on our way up to a friend’s cottage that summer, "The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald. If I remember correctly, it was the first book Belinda had ever purchased with her own money when she was only 11, and it was such a compelling story that it really did the trick for Jorie. We went to bed early each n…

The Answerer

Once upon a time there was a young-ish woman who thought that she had the answers to most situations. In fact, the answers were readily available at the tip of her fingers, if not her tongue.

Whenever people shared their worries and burdens with her, she could hardly wait for them to finish talking so that she could give them the answer that was obvious to her. In fact, once she thought of the answer, her eyes stopped focusing on theirs and she was only half aware of what they were saying until they were finished. She noticed that sometimes the people to whom she gave the answers seemed resistant to receiving them.

As she grew older, a strange thing began to happen. She discovered that there were layers of complexity in people's lives and in her own responses to them. Answers seemed less readily available as she encountered this messiness. Sometimes she was in need of answers too and the answers she once found easy to access for others seemed trite.

Fortunately, the woman, answer-les…

In Flander's Fields

Susan Stewart, who writes here, sent me a link to this beautiful musical rendition of the poem In Flander's Fields, sung by Adele Simmons and set to a very moving video.

I would also like to honour the memory of Susan's father (also Brenda Gresik's father, one of our blog readers,) Hugh Alden Saunders;another old soldier: March 6, 1924--February 7, 2009 (and yes, his funeral bulletin is in my loft room.)

In Memory

I am so close to finishing the loft room at last; filling my last banker's box; this one with funeral bulletins, wedding invitations--that kind of thing--I can't steel myself to throw away these evidences of lives lived.
Yesterday evening, I picked up one small bundle of cards inside a bulletin that declared "A Service to Celebrate the Life of Christopher Cater--4th May 1921--22nd January 2003. My dad's funeral.
"How fitting," I thought, "That I should find this on the eve of Remembrance Day," for he was an old soldier; a role fulfilled for a just a few of the overall span of his almost 82 years, but one which once played, forevermore changed and defined him.
Inside the bulletin are two hymns: The Lord is My Shepherd, and Just As I Am, a hymn that meant something to Dad, even though he staunchly wrestled with God as though he was somehow the enemy. Here is the last verse, which with all my heart I pray was true for him:
Just as I am, Thy love unknown h…

Beware the Great Pumpkin

It happens to me at this time every year. At some time in October I will wrestle home a giant pumpkin to place on the steps of our sun porch alongside a sheaf of dried wheat--an emblem of the season of bounty, thanksgiving and golden fall glory.

There it will sit for a week or three, resplendent in its roughly round orangeness, until the cold winds of November begin to blow, and a change of season hints at decorations of a different hue.

But then, what to do with the pumpkin? I can never just throw it out. No, every year, my inner earth mother takes over my psyche and I stagger with the pumpkin clutched close to my chest, from porch to kitchen.

So on Saturday I halved it, scooped out the seeds and innards, and baked both halves until soft; cooled and removed the skin and ground the flesh in the food processor. I washed and dried the seeds, then tossed in a little butter and salt and roasted them. But that was just the start...

Even though a voice in my head was telling me that I was insan…

Pumpkin Nut Loaf

This recipe came home from school with one of our children about 30 years ago photocopied on a green letter sized sheet of paper, which I saved for many years until I finally typed it out and saved it on my computer. Here it is for you to enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups of sugar
4 large eggs
1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
2 ½ cup cooked pumpkin (or canned works just as well!)
3 cups white all-purpose flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup golden seedless sultana raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

Beat eggs well. Add sugar and beat. Add oil and beat. Add pumpkin and beat. Stir some flour into raisins and nuts. Sift other dry ingredients together and stir into liquid. Add raisins and nuts.

Put into greased and floured loaf pans (2 large or 3 small.) Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Enjoy!

Letting Go and Taking Hold

In August 1970, before Mum left to go home to England, we had celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Peter was 3 months old and although he still slept only fitfully, we were so grateful that he was no longer suffering with colic.

It was almost a year since we had left England the previous September and it had been a year of huge adjustments--to marriage, parenthood and a new country.

Paul's mum and dad and his two sisters and brother, were living in Aurora too, in a rented house on Holman Crescent. We decided that if we moved in with them temporarily, it would enable us all to save some money, so in September that is what we did.

Their household of five increased to eight, in a three bedroom, split level bungalow. Paul's mum and dad gave up their bedroom for Paul, Peter and me, and they moved their bed into the unfinished basement. It was crowded, but we were just doing what many other newcomers have done to get established.

Paul's dad had got a job in an office and had st…

Opposites Must Attract

I sit, trying to focus on two minutes of silence, stillness and centering, serenaded by the ticking of the clock--and a Christmas carol!

The strains of Silent Night, Holy Night are wafting from Paul's office. I am afraid that he is well immersed in Christmas spirit already.

"Well, it could be worse," I think to myself, "It could be a more jocular Christmas song, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Holly Jolly Christmas. Paul is just as partial to those songs. At least Silent Night is...peaceful.

There will be no holding him back now; after 40 years, I know this and choose to go with his festive flow.

As all becomes quiet again, I ponder the fact that God seems to pair up such opposites: jolly Christmas celebrants like Paul, with quiet, reflective sorts like me; tidy with messy; hoarders with throwers out; cautious with impulsive; driven with relaxed; sleepy heads with early birds--and sticklers for punctuality, with those whose inner clock runs consistently 5 minu…

Faulty Information Retrieval Systems

By Belinda

I spent the first three days of this week at a leadership conference at work. It was wonderful to see the familiar faces of so many old friends. When you work for the same organization for 25 years, the ties go deep and strong.

Yes, the ties go deep and strong, but the names don't necessarily stick with equal intensity!

I was embarrassed more than once because the face was one I knew so well--but I just couldn't cough up the person's name from my information retrieval system! What could be more insulting than to forget the name of someone you've known and connected with for years? It was mortifying.

We were all wearing name tags, but they dangled playfully from a lanyard which only had a fifty-fifty chance of being turned the right way around. It's hard enough, trying not to look obvious while making surreptitious glances at a name tag, without the information teasingly hiding against the chest of the nameless one.

With new people I connected with I made a po…

One of a Kind

By Susan
Most of the time he's an inordinately happy little fellow. He scoots around the house with a contented look on his face, and if you're lucky, once in a while he'll flash one of those gap toothed grins that lights up your world, and makes you chuckle in return. He looks a little like that rusty old tow-truck in the Disney animation "Cars" and you'll even hear him affectionately called "Tow Mater" sometimes.
When it comes to cuddles, there's not a soul that rivals him. I stopped in there tonight on my way home, and his mommy, Beth, laid his sleeping body on my chest as I reclined in one of the lazy boys in their living room. His round head, with just a hint of golden fuzz beginning to appear, nestled into the hollow of my shoulder and I was instantly in heaven. I soon drifted off to sleep myself.
His head is the normal size for his 15 months, but his body just hasn't grown. He weighs only 16 pounds, not even double his birthweight when…

"I Needed that Today"

By Belinda

This afternoon 250 of our organization's leaders gathered in one room, to sing; worship; tell stories; listen--and laugh together. It was the middle day of the week, and people in group A of the leadership conference, overlapped with group B and we were all together.

Our CEO, Ed Sider, shared his story, which spanned over 50 years and was really was a series of many stories. I want to share one of them here:

There had been stress; sustained over a considerable amount of time, and on this particular morning, he had to come to Toronto, early in the morning for another day of huge pressure.

He arrived at Yorkdale at 6.30 a.m. to catch the subway to his destination and stopped to use the washroom. He washed his hands and was leaving, when he passed a stranger who smiled and said, "Have a good day."

Ed went a few feet and then turned back to the washroom. Finding the man again, he said, "Thank you for the encouragement; I needed that today."

The man said, "…

The Waiting Room

Exodus 29:42b (New International Version)

42...There I will meet you and speak to you;


Proverbs 8:34 (New International Version)

34 Blessed is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.


Psalm 123:2 (New International Version)

2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he shows us his mercy



Luke 15:20 (New International Version)
20So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.


The room that we've been working on is finished and the mirror, clock and pictures are hung.

"What are you going to use it for?" several people have asked, curiously. We have several rooms on the ground floor, and more space than most houses.

"It's a quiet room; a reading room; a room just to be peaceful in.…

A Visit from Omie

On June the 12th, 1970, which is approximately the date our first baby was originally expected, Mum arrived in Canada. On June 1st it would have been 20 years since she had given birth to me, her first child, after her long, lonely climb up the hill called locally, "the drainpipe," while not realizing that the pain she was in was labour.

I had not seen Mum since September 27th--almost 8 months! I could barely contain my excitement at the fact that she would be here with us in Canada and staying to the end of August.

I remember her delight at and immediate bond with the tiny baby who had come to the airport to meet her, her first grandchild, Peter.

Her suitcase was filled with gifts from friends and family and little baby clothes that she had been collecting and knitting.

This visit was to be the first of many over the years. During her visits with us she was so very happy, as we were to have her.

Peter had developed colic, and every evening, like clockwork; at 6.00 p.m., he woul…