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Showing posts from January, 2010

A Dash of Laughter

Saturday morning and I am catching up with Rob on my week and his, far away in England.

I tell him that I bought a new Leslie Sansone
Walk Away the Pounds DVD from Costco last Saturday. "I walked 3 miles last Sunday," I say, and add, "And I could still feel it in my muscles for several days afterwards, so I know I had a good work-out."

"Paul and I did Wear Away the Bones several years ago, Belinda," Robert said, "You can still feel it now; it's amazing!" :)

Taking India by Storm

Brenda and I decided to spend one morning a month cooking together. Today we made Butter Chicken, from The Dinner Fix by Sandi Richard. I LOVE all of Sandi Richard's cookbooks and also have The Healthy Family and Dinner Survival. Many of the dishes I make for cell group are from her cook books and Butter Chicken is a recipe that people ask me for all the time!

Brenda and I cooked to the sensuous and beautiful Indian classical music from a CD that was free in a box of mixed vegetable curry made by Kitchens of India.

The results of our cooking this morning are mouth wateringly delicious. The fragrance of basmati rice hangs in the air along with the scent of garam masala and madras curry, cinnamon, chili and paprika!

Tonight Brenda's boyfriend Kevin will enjoy!

Reflective Journal

I love the book: Small, squarish and the colour of brown wrapping paper, with a black coil spine, a matching pen and a black elastic cord that comes around from the back and over the front cover to hold the pages together.

My friend Irene gave it to me. Well, actually she took it from Alicia to give to me because I think (and hope) that Alicia knew where to get another one. Anyway, I like everything about it and have been carrying it with me for a couple of weeks now, although I just used it for the first time this week.

I love, love, love, new journals. There are two others that I recently received, with beautiful leather covers; one black and one brown. They sit, pristine, on my bookshelf in the loft room, awaiting a "special" purpose--I'll know it when it comes.

My brown wrapping paper book, which was in my briefcase, found its purpose one day this week. I decided to use it for a reflective work journal. So far it has only one entry, but I intend to use it to reflect on …

The Teachable Moment

My Sunday School class. Three highly spirited girls who love to talk and "only wanna have fun" and one thoughtful, gentle soul who quietly enjoys the banter going on around her. Four in all. Four precious young girls in Grades 4 and 5. And they are mine for three quarters of one precious hour every other week.

I gave up on the curriculum weeks ago. Expressions of "I'm bored!" and "Can't we play a game?", both expressed in whiny tones, forced me to close my Teacher's Guide and set aside my lesson plans. "They seem to like to talk..." their other teacher told me, the one who has them on the opposite weeks of when I am in charge of their class.

And that's how we found ourselves in Tim Horton's last week, my wee class and I. I decided to "go with the flow" and capitalize on their gift of expression. I had parents' permission forms signed, read over the lesson plan so I knew what I should be shooting for, and we headed…
By Belinda

Happy Thursday Everyone! As I write this it is still Wednesday evening and Paul and I just arrived home from celebrating Doug Sewell's 30th anniversary with Christian Horizons.

Doug is my boss and much loved by all of us who serve under his leadership. I am so glad that as well as sharing a funny story, I had the chance to share the two things I cherish most in his leadership:

1) The fact that I can count without asking, on the fact that he will never stand for the people that we serve, being treated as second class citizens in any way and that we have his backing in any question over that.

2) I have also learned from him to lead with mercy. There have been times when he has said to me, "Yes, you can do that; you would be justified in doing that; but you don't have to do that." And then he left the choice with me. I've been the recipient of that mercy at times, too. His leadership has been a forming influence in my own.

As Paul and I drove up to Huntsvil…

Getting the Stories Straight, Caring About the Details

by Meg

I listen to an interview on CBC radio as I clear the basement room and clean the floor. The producer of Slumdog Millionaire gives the real story about how the child actors from India were treated by their company. It sounds more than fair: wise, careful, insightful, culturally relevant, generous. I am convicted. I remember joining the chorus of critics and mentioning my concerns on a blog post last year the week after I,among millions, was very touched by this movie. Like so many people I assumed that the "information" I read was true...that there was unfair treatment, etc. The producer stated that their well thought out plans for present and future provision for these actors were all made before there was public outcry and inquiry into their welfare,before the movie won lots of oscars and made tons of money.

I thought of how many times I have been wounded by people not getting the story straight about me, to the point that I have learned to stop caring a lot of the tim…

A Song for Haiti

I just had to share this song, composed and sung by one of our gifted staff at Christian Horizons, Charlene Lewis, of Blind River, Ontario. It was posted on our internal devotional blog at work and is also on You Tube.

Metamorphosis

By Belinda

"Metamorphosis" seems an apt title for what happened next in our life journey. Last week, in my memoir post entitled "Gifts in Strange Packages," I told the story of how in 1983, a challenging, busy, but very happy period of our lives that lasted for almost ten years, came to an end.

For the previous 9 and a half years, we had lived side by side with a group of people with developmental disabilities as house parents, but with the closure of the nearby institution: Pine Ridge, we were led to Christian Horizons, a small faith based agency with about 10 group homes throughout the province of Ontario. Christian Horizons agreed to assume responsibility for the group of 12 men we had cared for, and hire me as the director of the home.

The decision to do this happened in November, with a goal of my making the transition from "house mother" to "director" somewhere around January 1st 1984. This involved our moving out of the home, and into a home…
By Belinda
The supper dishes are cleared away and the dishwasher softly swishes them clean in the nearby kitchen. The cranberry coloured tablecloth lies in a heap on a side table, ready for the crumbs to be shaken outside into the night at the end of the evening. The table pad is neatly folded, ready for the next meal around the long, oval pine table.

A group of friends settles into either easy chairs or the ochre leather couch. Anticipation hangs in the air along with the scent of an apple cinnamon candle.

Jane, a woman in her mid fifties, with short gray hair and dancing eyes, looks around the room with a smile as she prepares to start our cell group study. She leads the group with a deliberate, animated style.

The lights in the two adjoining rooms are off, and outside the night is dark. Our circle of friends seems to sit in a pool of light.

I suddenly have a moment of intense joy.

Barb, Jane's friend, asks, "Belinda, were you about to say something?"

And I try to explain how…
By Belinda
(Susan's post was missing yesterday because she was up all night nursing a feverish grandson. She'll be back next week!)

I love listening to audio books! While doing so I can do hours of cleaning or ironing and never notice. Mostly I listen while driving though. The latest book I picked up from the library is Prophet of Purpose by Jeffrey L. Sheler; the life story of Rick Warren.

It was several years ago that I read Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life , which deeply impacted me, so I was intrigued by a chance to know more about him. The book is inspiring and well written. Although it is 12 hours long, I am almost finished--and my ironing is up to date.

On the way home from work on Thursday, I listened to the account in the book, of an incident I remembered: that of Brian Nichols taking Ashley Smith hostage in 2005.

During the seven hours she was held captive by Nichols (who had murdered 4 people,) she built a rapport with him and eventually asked if she could…

Remembering

By Belinda

I look at the note at the top of my page in the Daily Light for January 22nd. It reads, "Dad's homegoing," and on the line below, "2003."

Seven years: It seems so long for him to have been gone, and I immediately think of all that has happened since the point where we carried on as family; without him: especially Mum's stroke in October that same year.

I wonder how they could have possibly managed as a couple through that terrible time if he had still been here.

I decide not to dwell on that which is impossible to know, and instead I remember him:

The boy born unwanted--the result of a liaison between an employer and household servant in 1920--willing or unwilling.

The boy who didn't know his mother until he was dropped off into the care of a virtual stranger at the age of 5.

Whose childhood included rejection, deprivation, hunger and violence.

Who joined the army in wartime, with patriotism and high ideals that were shattered in the blood, betrayal …

Time on my Hands

Thinking through my life--I seem to spend a lot of time doing that lately. It's a luxury that comes with age.

There were times in my life when all I could do was put my head down and keep running. I had children to clothe; laundry to do; meals to cook; floors to scrub and a million other things that had to be done. Now there is more discretion. There is choice!

Daughter-in-law Sue came back tonight to do more painting. Tall, and string bean skinny, she walked in wearing her painting gear, still managing to look beautiful with her dark hair and striking eyes that are blue, gray or green, depending on the light.

She quickly trod on thin ice though, when she said, "Now I know for sure that you guys are old. This is the second night I've found you eating dinner on TV trays in front of the TV."

We felt compelled to point out that tonight the TV wasn't on and that the reason we were eating on TV trays was because we liked it and we can! I said, "Just wait until your k…

Infinitude

Dear Friends, Last night our daughter-in-law Sue was here to paint. She shared the news that she has started a blog connected to the Bible study in her home every other week, in which she and some friends are studying the book, The Attributes of God, by A. W. Tozer.I loved what she had to say in her very first post on her blog. If you click on the blog title Pressing On , you will get there. I hope that you check it out today and be inspired too. Hey, I learned that there is such a word as "infinitude." I didn't know that! :)

Gifts in Strange Packages

By Belinda

God had been all over our coming to Maplewood Lodge in the beginning when we bought a house in the dark that I hated when I saw it in the light. It made me open to the opportunity of living elsewhere and doing something radically different to being a stay at home mom. So we rented out the house we owned and moved into a farmhouse on two acres of land that was home to ten, and later twelve, men with disabilities.

I did stay at home, which was always what I wanted to do when we had children, but it was "home" with a twist and just included a few extra people!

I said to someone in recent weeks, "Sometimes God gives gifts in strange packages." I have found it so! Often when I have been disappointed by a turn of events I wonder if God is secretly trying to give me a gift (if only I would stop wallowing in self pity and a bad attitude, and recieve it.)

When we did that incredibly naive job of buying a house in 1974, we had no idea that it was how God would get us …
Saturday mornings are deliciously lazy around our house and a time for family and friends. After the necessary focus and drive of the weekdays, the anticipation of the weekend begins to build as Friday evening draws near. I love my work, but I am thankful for the different pace of the weekend.

This Saturday found me after breakfast, sitting in the morning sunshine, feet up in a recliner, still in my robe, and chatting to Rob and Mum, 3,000 miles away in England. The week before last, a dog joined their family: Bruce, the Staffordshire bull terrier; 3 1/2 years old. He belongs to my nephew John, who adopted him from friends who couldn't keep him, but on Saturday John was at work and Rob was looking after him.

I could hear soft but persistent, whining in the background. Rob said that he had bought Bruce a ball that was supposed to be indestructable but that almost immediately Bruce ripped a piece off and then another, and another. Rob had taken the ball away and put it in the cupboard…

The Bigger Story

By Belinda

Genesis 15:12-14 (New International Version)

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.

I pondered this prophesy, given to Abraham, and fulfilled hundreds of years later, when the people of Israel were enslaved in Egypt. It brought home to me that there is a bigger story and we are all part of it.

Writers learn that a really good story--one that rings true and captivates our interest--has twists and turns, ups and downs; conflict and tension and moments of high drama.

When I understand my life as part of a bigger story, suddenly a lot of my perceptions shift. Once I grasp this, my importance diminishes in my own eyes. I am part o…

Comparisons

by Susan

I trudge up the snowy sidewalk and make my way gingerly over the ice covered steps to our back door. I shed my burdens of the day, putting away my briefcase and kicking off my boots. I check the coffeepot, yay! there's still coffee in there. I pour myself a cup and stick it in the microwave. Because it's a thermal pot, it will taste just as good as when it was first made this morning. I add a little milk and carry it with me to the living room.

There is "my sister's" couch - way too nice to be called a hand-me-down. At one end there are pillows piled, waiting. At the other end is "Belinda's" duvet, another treasure picked up from a friend who no longer needed it. But in our old farmhouse, where there are cold spots and where Ron and I constantly battle silently, and good naturedly over the thermostat, it is a much appreciated commodity. I set my coffee on "Mom's" footstool, sink into "the nap trap" as my bro…

Winds of Change

By Belinda

From one Christmas to another, those happy years went by at Maplewood Lodge, shaping us all in ways we were hardly aware of.

Paul continued his work at Pine Ridge; always in a battle for some improvement or another. He petitioned for a "village area" on the institution property, where several portables gave some people an opportunity to live in a more homelike environment and get ready for the next step--living in the outside world--"the community." He fought for breakfast to be cooked "on the ward" on the weekends, so that the residents could have the pleasure of smelling bacon and eggs cooking. It also meant that they could sleep in later on those days and not miss breakfast--simple things everyone takes for granted. Before this, some people did stay up later on Fridays and Saturdays and were tired, but the night shift would get everyone up early in order to change the bed linens as the day shift didn't like having to do it. It was a short …

Breathing Space

Here it is, the 13th day of the new year already--almost half way through the first month.

I have many friends that are firm about not making New Year's Resolutions and I respect their point of view that there is nothing magical about January 1st and that most people break their resolutions by January 10th.

Myself I do enjoy the days between Christmas and New Years as thinking and praying time, and starting the new year with a set of goals to press towards in the year ahead. This year I am going slower in thinking everything through though. It occurred to me that if I want to make changes, then making them one at a time is saner than trying to start several new habits or projects all at once.

I have made a determined, and successful (so far) effort, to get to bed at 10.00 most nights. I have naturally woken up earlier--often getting up by 4.30, and what a blessing that has been! At last I have that unrushed time I struggled to find consistently until now; just to read, pray and lis…

We Survived

Dear Friends--Long day today--no time to write tonight so I am publishing a post about Rob and me from the archives; published in October 2007. Some of you will remember it no doubt. :)

This week's memoir will appear on Thursday; after Walk With Him Wednesday. Blessings! Belinda

My brother and I love each other dearly but we are so different that we make each other crazy when we are together for any length of time. How we sprung from the same loins is a wonder to me. I think that we both picked up odd bits of our parents--different, but very odd bits.

What I gain in quantity, he makes up for in quality. My life is packed to the very edges and beyond, with all that I want to do and be and accomplish. He does few things and lives a quiet, unseen life, but everything he does he does in a very particular way, and very well. He makes an incredible difference in Mum's life and is a gift that I am grateful for personally and for her sake.

But a few hours into a stay in Robert's worl…

Prince Who Brings Peace

I give thanks today for that amazing gift: the gift of "praying through to peace."

You can go to God with a heart full of discouragement; disappointment; expectations unmet, or a bad case of "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" syndrome; and through the simple act of being still in his presence he performs the miracle of displacement and replacement.

I don't know how, but I am so thankful that he:

Smoothes out wrinkled brows
Reminds us of what is true
Thwarts the maneuvers of the enemy
Reorients our focus away from self
Replaces selfishness with love
And cleans out the gunk that clogs up the wheels of hearts!

Isaiah 9:6 (New International Reader's Version)

6 A child will be born to us.
A son will be given to us.
He will rule over us.
And he will be called
Wonderful Adviser and Mighty God.
He will also be called Father Who Lives Forever
and Prince Who Brings Peace.

Brrrr!

What has happened to Global Warming? I want to know! I entered my chilly office early on Friday morning, and plugged in the small heater that supplements our puny warm air supply. On and off throughout the day it came on and I basked in its gentle hum, thankful that it took the edge off the bracing coolness.

When lunchtime came and I needed to go to the post office to see if an expected parcel had arrived, I admit that although the post office is only down the road and I sure could use the exercise, I only crossed the road to my already warming car and drove there.

Yesterday morning my brother Rob called from England. "We just thought we'd let you know that we are all right," he said.

"That's very thoughtful," I replied, wondering why they wouldn't be. I hadn't heard the news for a few days and didn't know that England was also struggling through freezing cold weather and snow. I just checked the BBC weather website and it says:
Weather disruption a…

Escaping Winter

by Susan

"The Escape Winter Sale. Save 30%!"

It was an ad for a cut-rate travel agency and it made me think. "Do I really want to escape winter?" My mind flitted through a million different scenes in an instant. Mountains of snow, dripping icicles, bitter cold steering wheel first thing in the morning , winter driving , black ice, biting wind.

Nah. I don't want to escape it...

I love winter. It's one of the things my mother taught me. To be grateful for the one season almost everyone else seems to hate. Whenever I hear the snow crunching under my feet, I think of her. She loved that sound - the sound that you hear only on the days of the most bitter cold - when the snow is dry and powdery. It was Mom who modeled for me that particular icy-fresh joy of catching snowflakes on my tongue. And a thousand other joys that come only in the winter.

I've lots of happy memories of this season. Three days off school in Windsor, where I grew up, because we got five inche…

Just Thinking

I am still processing some goals for the New Year. I hope to have them sorted out and down on paper by next week--and when I do, I'll be sharing them here. My friend Paivi commented on my New Year's post, saying that, "Only a true lover of words would choose the word "resolutely" to describe someone's (Paul's) indifference for New Year's. Beautiful and subtle use of oxymoron. (With a pinch of irony)!" I had to confess that I was not that clever--but that she was clever to notice my accidental brilliance.:) I think that her use of words was scintillating.

It is a season of reflection and pondering. I don't sit down on New Year's Eve with pen and paper and map a course for the next year, but I find value in taking inventory of my life; thinking deeply about what is working and what isn't, and coming up with a strategy for making good changes. This takes time and it's hard to find long chunks of time to just sit and lay it all out so…

Speak Gently

My friend Frances has lately been longing to learn to "speak gently." In fact she begged me to buy her a gold ring with the initials SG, to remind her, if ever I saw such a thing. "Perhaps for your 50th birthday," I said (it is a long way off!)

I found this little prayer on a scrap of note paper, in, where else, my loft room! A garland of yellow tinged pink roses and rose buds twines along the left border of the page. I have no idea when I copied it out and couldn't find out quickly who wrote it. I pray though that someone is encouraged, blessed and helped by it today, as I am whenever I read it.

Set a watch, O Lord,
upon our tongues,
That we may never speak the cruel word which
is untrue;
or, being true, is not
the whole truth;
or, being wholly true,
is merciless;
for the love of
Jesus Christ
our Lord.

Amen


Psalm 141:3 (New International Version)

3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.

Little Bro

By Belinda

In 1978 our family of 16 at Maplewood Lodge grew by one as my brother Rob, came over from England, intending to make Canada his home too. His decision was helped by the fact that during a visit the year before, he had fallen in love with one of my friends, Anne.

So it was that in the fall of the year, Rob arrived. The children made welcome banners out of construction paper (I found them while cleaning up the loft room.) "Welcome to Canada, Uncle Bob. We love you," the words danced over the paper in childishly scrawled letters.

Rob was a champion shot putter and into weight training. Paul was the brother he never had and together they lifted weights and trained in the frigid shed that stood about 20 feet from the house (wrecking their bodies, but they didn't know that at the time.) At school Rob had been the victim of ruthless and relentless bullying and for him, building a body that was big and strong was a way of ensuring no one wanted to pick a fight with him.

T…

Multitude Monday

A daily ritual unfolds...a candle lit; the lid of a hassock lifted--a treasure trove lies within--Bible and book bag of softest needlecord, ochre and aqua...and my precious Daily Light.

I wonder if the Bagster family could have imagined that the book they compiled, Daily Light on the Daily Path would be loved so much after more than two centuries. They who prayed over each page until they were satisfied that they had heard God's voice for each day's selection of scripture, simply followed his leading.

It was through my dear Aunt Agnes, over thirty years ago, that I first became aware of the existence of this book. She read it daily and since her copy was falling apart, on one of her December 27th birthdays I bought her a new one. When she died, hers was given to me. That one had scripture from the King James version of the Bible, but now it is readily available in several modern English versions.

Mine is falling apart, just like Aunt Agnes's was, but every now and then I just…

New Years Eve 2009

By Belinda

The night is completely hushed; not a breath of wind, and so quiet that it seems the entire world is standing still for a while. Our property, and the fields, hills and woods behind it, are bathed in moonlight and fine snow falls like mist this New Year’s Eve.

Some celebrate with fireworks, toasts and parties, but I am happiest, as tonight, quietly reflecting in our country home, with Paul, who resolutely never celebrates New Years Eve, already sleeping soundly nearby.

Memories of the year gone by play like a movie in my mind: Emergency surgery in June taught me that absolutely nothing is carved in stone—not even airline tickets that have been bought and paid for, or a conference at which I was scheduled for many helping tasks. Life can change suddenly. The world carried on and instead of a conference, followed by a vacation in England, I experienced a gift I was not expecting: the gift helplessness. Friends and family visited me in hospital, bringing the gift of presence, flo…

Happy New Year!

by Susan

I had planned to spend this evening with my three oldest grandchildren. It was the first time ever any of our passel of ten were going to be allowed to stay up to ring in the new year, and so I invited them over to my house. We thoroughly messed up the kitchen by decorating gingerbread men and played some games before breaking open some snacks and Chubby pops. When it felt like things were dragging a bit and we still had a half hour to go, I decided to take them next door where they have all the comforts of the modern age, including satellite tv. We don't watch enough television to make it worth the cost of the monthly charges. And if there's anything we really want to watch, we can just go next door.

So next door we all traipsed at a quarter to midight and let ourselves into daughter Beth's house, where they get their money's worth in what they spend for television signals, I assure you. :)

I explained the countdown in the corner of the tv screen to the c…