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Showing posts from February, 2010

Rites of Passage

By Belinda
Rites of passage--those transitions from one stage to another in our lives can be fraught. I am a 1950 model and in June this year, I turn 60. Logic tells me this is just a number and nothing will change over night when it happens, but I have to get my head around the fact that this number will have an application to ME. Peter turns 40 a week before my birthday. How can this be? Surely it isn't 40 years since we came home from the hospital together!
I had been so self absorbed that it didn't occur to me until very recently that two of my best friends will share the trauma and triumph of 60 years lived, this year. Eileen and Ingrid, both lifelong friends, turn 60 in April. Eileen is in England and Ingrid is in British Columbia, but knowing that we can commiserate on this transition, as we have in all of life's transitions so far, is comforting.
Ingrid and I share a second generation friendship. Her aunt, who was "tante Mies" to both of us, and my mum (whom…

A Tall Blonde Answer to Prayer.

by Susan

"How do I get myself into these things?"

How often I ask myself that question!

You'd think I'd learn. But I don't. At least not up until now.

My latest caper was to decide to invite some co-workers to our church to watch an all day web-cast seminar which is related to the job we do. It seemed like such a good idea at the time! We'll just meet at the church, I thought to myself. I'll make coffee and we can all brown-bag it. It'll be simple!

Simple! Hah!

I guess when I hear those words I should stop myself right there in my tracks. It's never simple. Never. Ever. (Unless somebody else does it.)

Calling Brenda at the church (yes, that's Belinda's daughter) and arranging for a day's use of the sanctuary was not at all difficult. She made it as easy as anyone could imagine it to be. And the rest? Well, I could run over to the church the day before and make sure everything is set up and running okay. I can pick up some water and maybe some…

Bouquet

By Belinda

I was a few minutes late but I arrived to smiles and a whispered, "He's ready."

"He" sat on a couch and I noticed right away that he was wearing a suit. I heard that he had been there since first thing that morning and that he had talked of nothing else but this day for the past two weeks.

On the couch beside him, wrapped in pretty pastel paper were flowers, which he said were for ME! I felt appreciated; a special guest--but I was here for him--to celebrate his birthday.

He got up to get his coat, watched benignly by the silver gray cat sitting in the middle of the room.

The flowers were still on the couch. I said, "The flowers."

"Oh, yes," he said, "I forgot," and he went back to get them.

In the car I gave him a birthday gift, a CD, which he studied and thanked me for quickly before opening the card. A bill fluttered from it, and he caught it quickly, "Ten dollars!" he said, "Thank you," while pulling out …

Journey Into God

By Belinda It was several weeks ago, while painting a room in our home, that our daughter-in-law Sue, during a tea break, plucked a book by A.W. Tozer from one of my bookshelves. I had never read it and I could tell she wanted to, so when she went home it seemed only right that the book should leave with her! Thus began a journey that led to a study she has been leading, on The Attributes of God, by Tozer.

Along with leading the study, Sue (who denies being a writer as vehemently as Moses denied being a speaker,) began a blog! She has been writing a post to go with each chapter, at Pressing On . Her posts made me want to read the book too, and I managed to convince our cell group that this was the book to study next. This Thursday we start and I am so excited!
Tonight I sat down for the second time, to dip into the book and I love dear A.W. already. Wrapped in my cozy black shawl, I sat with a cup of tea, candle flame flickering gently on the table before me, and read these words:
Christ…

When No one is Looking

By Belinda

It has been a long day--my memoir snippets will continue, but not tonight I'm afraid! I will shoot for Thursday.

Here is something a little less taxing for my brain; a story that Brenda shared with me.

Brenda works in the front office of a private boarding and day school for boys in grades 6-12. The boys are the joy of her job. She loves them, keeps them in line, teases them and laughs with them.

Last week she overheard a conversation between a group of boys. One of them, referring to a game he was playing on his laptop, said, "That's retarded."

"Now why would you say that?" said another boy, "that's offensive."

And the boy with the laptop was silenced.

Later in the week, the mother of the second boy was at the school and Brenda told her what had happened.

She said, "Your boy was good when no one was watching. Make sure when Mother's Day comes, you get something extra special, because you are doing a good job."

"So...I can…

Morning Surrender

Sometimes surrender can be as simple as eating a boiled egg,
With family chatter over comics and concerns about cats,
Banter about tasks to do, sun shining on the snow outside the window
Gratitude for home, safety, family and friends

Who phone to say they’d love to see you but need their space,
Recommend the silence they are craving themselves:
The knowing between you that it is God who heals through silence
The sifting of memory of a night’s turmoil in the light of day,

Remembrance of laying down anger and hurt, embracing forgiveness,
Love and loyalty, gratitude and hope,
Putting skin on them in this morning coziness,
Dipping my dead mother’s bone egg spoon into

The soft inside of my egg, reflecting on the softness inside of me
Inside my crusty shell, broken now so I can taste the goodness,
As I am broken in my willingness to let go, to move on
To find fresh and simple joys in this new day.

Meg Wardroper
February 2010

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5b

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Hello dear readers. I couldn't resist sharing again this post from Lent last year by my dear friend, Claire. Blessings--and happy Saturday! :)

By Claire Alexander

The shuffling children settled themselves on the chilly sanctuary floor for the story. A retired Episcopal minister, with overseas experience, carefully held the handrail. She balanced her show-and-tell bag, as someone lifted her chair down the three steps from the choir. Her goal was to penetrate these young minds, on this snowy, February morning.

The solemn, forty days of Lent were approaching, when children could learn ways to help others. And in her mind, the coming Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, became the key to a self-less commitment. Unexpectedly, out of the bag came a Halloween mask.

“When do you wear a mask?” she asked.

After due response, she went on, “Why?”

“So no one knows who you are,” said a little boy.

“Yes,” she replied, and, without discussing reasons for disguises, went on to explain that some places celebrated Ma…

A Note from Surrealdom

This post is really late today! I am completely out of my routine... I accompanied Ron to the annual meeting of his fellows in land surveying profession. We are staying at the Deerhurst Inn, which is probably considered "the premier resort" in Muskoka, if not all of Ontario. It's where the G8 Summit will be gathering in May. The activity potential here is limitless... I could go winter horseback riding. Or for a tour in a Hummer across rocky, rough terrain. Or dog-sledding, even. Then there's tubing down a snowy hill, snowshoeing, sleigh and cutter rides, swimming in the indoor pool, or having my toenails painted in the spa. There's more, lots more, but too much for me to remember right here right now.

But I'm not doing any of that. Knowing how people (wonderfully!) fill my life to overflowing, my wise husband knew I might need a break. So he arranged for a little apartment, away from the main building. I haven't seen a single person I know i…

Earthquake (Part 2)

By Belinda
(Continued from Monday)

By the time they got back to the house it was about 8.00 p.m. They took a roll call and established that everyone was okay, although a large privacy wall had come down and the plumbing was damaged. They knew they needed to get word out to their families that they were safe and they managed over the internet to do that, using Skype, even though the phones weren’t working.

The UN requested that the pilots and flight attendants be on standby at the airport, as they thought they would want to evacuate and a Hummer picked them up and took them to the airport.

Brian, and Carl, his colleague, slept that night on the couch, close to the door. There were a number of bad aftershocks and they woke up twice that night and ran outside.

By Wednesday afternoon Brian realized that he hadn’t eaten anything since Tuesday afternoon. It really began to hit home fully how bad things were. The local people brought bodies to the gate of the UN compound because they didn’t know…
On Monday an anonymous friend left a comment that I wanted to respond to more fully than I could in the comment box.

Anonymous wrote, in part:
...I have been deeply hurt by those with faith and therefore am cautious with my own. I wish what you wrote was true, that our faith teaches the value of others. But, crosses were burned and black people killed by people of our faith. Women are not allowed to be ministers or priests by churches in our faith. 'Sins of the fathers' created a sin based view of disability. 'Kill a Queer for Christ' is a bumper sticker. I want a gentle faith...

When I read the book, Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia, by Carmen Bin Ladin; although the sense of oppressiveness and control clung to me like fog in a Newfoundland outport, I realized that the expression of Islam the author experienced does not represent all who follow that faith. I also realized that Christianity has, by some, been corrupted into a faith of oppression and repression …

Earthquake (Part 1)

By Belinda
(Next week I will continue my memoir posts)

On Tuesday, January 12th 2010, at 4.53pm local time, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, killing an estimated 230,000 people; injuring 300,000; and leaving 1,000,000 homeless. This is one man’s story.


Brian Wilkins is a quiet, reserved man, who serves his church, Hillside Community Church, in Tottenham, behind the scenes. He faithfully mans the sound system and does many small, unseen technical things that make things run smoothly. He is more comfortable in the background, while his wife Cheryl, with her beautiful voice, serves as a worship leader.

On January 10th at worship practice, Cheryl mentioned that Brian had left the day before for Haiti. His company, Trans Capital Air, had sent him there to repair a plane for the U.N. Cheryl seemed to be missing him already.

Two days later, on January 12th at around 5 o’clock, we heard the news of the catastrophic, magnitude 7.0 M earthquake that had just hit Haiti. Fear immediately gripped …
By Belinda

I close the bedroom door softly and step out into the early morning cosiness of a house warming up after cool night.

My long, soft, black robe hangs loose as I pad down the stairs into a world that looks like a black and white photograph in the gray early light, the lack of colour reinforcing a lingering shudder in my soul.

I just finished listening to an audio book that I borrowed from the library, by Carmen Bin Ladin: Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia. The book left me filled with sadness for the author and her three daughters and also horror at the darkeness of a religion practiced with fanatic piety and brutal punishment of disobedience.

Carmen's face on the cover captivated me with its exotic beauty. I was drawn too, by curiousity--what was life like "inside the kingdom,"--in a world as hidden as its women, in their black abayas and thick veils?

From the first word I was spellbound and held in fascinated dread and a tension that built with each chapt…

Just Different

Friends I'm sharing a post from the archives this morning. It's about perspective, and so much about love is about perspective, don't you think? I loved reading this again. Hope you do too. Happy Valentines Weekend!
Belinda

By Joyful Fox

I have a friend who has made many choices that define her life. She and her husband have a home-based business and they have two children. These are both decisions they made together. While she and her husband were dating, he had a fall - an ordinary fall for reasons that weren't so ordinary. One thing lead to another, and he was diagnosed with MS.

She said, "This sounds strange but we really thought we could beat MS". My friend shared that they did many alternative health treatments - vitamin regimes, acupuncture, and massage, to name a few. They did everything in the hopes to slow down the progress of his illness. Later in our conversation she said, "It is really fortunate that his MS has stayed mainly in his legs."

Welcome

by Susan.

A house open. A meal shared. Fellowship exchanged. Hearts knitting together. Jesus in the midst.

That's cell group to me.

And tonight was no exception. After all the goodbyes were said and hugs given, I went into the cold night and got into my car. But I didn't head home. I am staying tonight in someone else's home. A guest of sorts. I was needed to support someone who is sleeping downstairs just now so that his caregiver could go away for a few days. I feel completely blessed to be here. My only duty is to sleep and to unlock the door in the morning for the next shift of caregivers. There is beauty, there is order. There is love between these walls. And welcome. Even though I am virtually alone, sitting on my bed in the prettiest little guest room you ever laid eyes on, I feel a sense of welcome. It's knit into the care taken to provide the little things for guests like me. A small TV in one corner. A little group of teddy bears arranged on a …

More than Enough

By Belinda

How deafening is the silence of a confession unacknowledged or received.

It would be comforting to feel forgiven; understood--or maybe even just one among many failed humans.

But I am forgiven--by him ; understood and accepted. Do I need more than that? More than a love that is unending and unconditional? More than boundless grace?

Is mine a humility that cries out for recognition?

Dear Lord, forgive me for selfish motives, even in repentance! Your love, your forgiveness...it is enough. More than enough!
By Belinda

He put the hearing aid on my desk. I looked up at him. I am tall but he was a good six inches taller. A head of thick, dark, wavy hair, topped a handsome face from which a pair of brown eyes languidly surveyed this new manager. I had been in the job for nine months and on a steep learning curve for every minute of every day.

"Could you please drop it off at the audiologist's?" he asked, but I heard it as more of a statement than a question.

My stomach churned itself into a knot of frustration. Not at him. At me. I felt helpless, unable to express what I wanted to say! "It's not my job to drop the hearing aid off at the audiologist," and, "I should be assigning tasks to you, not the other way around!" Of course I knew that there must be a better way to say this, but better or not, I couldn't find it in me to say anything at that momemt.

I had fantasy two way conversations with people. I figured that I knew exactly how each one would play…

Gratitude for Those Who Pray

By Belinda I wrote last Tuesday about my experience of peace in the midst of a storm back in 1984, when I knew instantly that someone was praying and felt flooded with peace.
I just had another such experience. I shouldn't have had the peace I felt all week, but it was there in every moment, every conversation, even beneath deep grieving over something very hard.

On Thursday evening I stopped at the post office to pick up our mail on the way home from work. I didn't have time to look at it when I got home because it was cell group evening so I put the pile of envelopes on top of the fridge to look at later. I got busy making coffee, setting the table and preparing supper and then the house filled with people.

I forgot about the mail until the next evening, when I noticed the edges of the envelopes sticking out over the top of the fridge. Among the routine mail--bills and flyers--was a rare thing, a hand addressed envelope. My curiosity was stirred by the sender's address lab…

Book Exchange

By Belinda

It was really worship practice, but it felt more like Christmas. In the capacious, black leather overnight bag that doubles as a carryall for me, I had two books from my bookshelf to give to friends on the worship team.

One friend has just taken on the leadership of the worship ministry in our church, and the other has just become a worship leader, a new role for her.

Passing the books on to them gave me joy. I had only partially read one, and not the other. Giving them to Cheryl and Frances, said, "I believe in you. I want to invest in your leadership. I am for you!" They received the books with smiling eyes.

But there was more! Frances, too, was rummaging in her purse, and out of its depths she triumphantly pulled a book, which she presented to me.

I gasped in excitement, "Wow, I have always wanted to read a book by Warren Wiersbe."

Frances pointed to the title, God Isn’t in a Hurry: Learning to Slow Down and Live , and said how she knew it fit in perfectly …

Holy Boldness

by Susan

She's a half-grown kitten, a calico, with some very unique markings. I've never been a cat person, but I have to admit that she is pretty cute. And since grandson Mikey loves her, well that's all it took for her to be welcomed into my world too. Today she wormed herself right into my heart. It didn't take much, really. I saw her curled up in one of the chairs in the living room fast asleep. I went over to stroke her soft fur and immediately, with eyes still closed and without so much as twitching a muscle, she began to purr. I sat down in the chair next to her, pushed it back into a semi-reclining position, and picked up my laptop. A minute or two later she was crawling up my pantleg and settling herself across my knees. I couldn't see her because the laptop screen was in the way, but I could feel the warm and gentle pressure of her tiny body against my legs . A few minutes later, as I was pecking away at the keys, she walked up my arm and laid down in the …

Irreplaceable

Lest any of my worship team mates read this post and get worried; it is from the archives--February 9th, last year! It just happens that I was at worship practice this evening (Wednesday,) and Frances told me with eyes aglow, of her recent performance appraisal in which her boss told her, "You are irreplaceable!" What a wonderful message to be given, almost a year after I got the same message--just when I needed it.

I'm working on a special two part blog post detailing the recent events in Haiti as told to me by one of our church members who was there, so I hope you'll forgive a dip into the archives--and enjoy.

By Belinda

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

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

From Silly to Substantive--The Journey to Real

James 1:2-4 (New International Version)

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.I pondered my post of yesterday this morning, not quite able to shake the sense of having traveled tough terrain. I could smell the smoke and feel the chill of the loneliness of the battlefield.If you've traveled with me far along this journey, you will remember the hopelessly shallow and silly seventeen year old girl that was. By 33 she was on her way to becoming a woman of some substance. The path to substance, like the journey of The Velveteen Rabbit to becoming real, was through endurance."It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have …

The Storm

By Belinda

My world felt as though it had turned upside down. Everything in it had changed. Much was new and exciting--I was being stretched in ways I hadn't imagined before--but nothing was the way it had been and the adjustment was hard.

I mourned the loss of the simple life we had known together as one large family on the farm in the country. It was a life of long days; large meals cooked; endless laundry; shopping, and 24/7 hard work, but we were all together in a place we had grown to love.

I knew though, that painful though they were, God was in the changes. He had given me a verse that somehow I knew was mine for this situation:

Philippians 3:20 (New International Version)
20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ

That verse told me that this life is temporal. It's not all about here and now, and the choices we made weren't based on an earthly perspective.

I'm not sure that helped though, going through the stres…

Gratitude for the Lost Being Found

By Belinda
There is such celebration for lost things found.Nearly four years ago, at the end of a work day, I found that the silver necklace I was wearing that day had somehow come undone and the pendant had slipped from the chain. The small amethyst coloured stone, in a setting of silver, had vanished. The stone was unusual in that it changed colour depending on factors in the environment--sometimes it was lavender, other times pale ice blue; but it wasn't the stone or setting itself that was of value--the pendant was originally Mum's and had been a gift from her mother some 65 years before. On the day I lost it I had been at a hotel, a restaurant and two offices, in three different towns. Finding the pendant seemed hopeless, but I tried. I made phone calls and people went and looked for it and checked to see if it had been handed in, but it wasn't found. I went to the gravel parking lot opposite my office, where I had parked my car. I looked in the approximate location th…