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Showing posts from June, 2010

Twinkle Toes Strikes Again

By Belinda

Dad called me Twinkle Toes because I was clumsy as a child and my toes did not twinkle. Calamity Jane was applied occasionally--for variety.

Sometimes I am sure that I've left that part of my identity behind. I try; but then, when I least expect it Twinkle Toes pops out.

The most recent episode was at our writers group work night. We always pack the bags of giveaways for an annual conference in June. Writers send in bookmarks advertising their books, chapter books, pens, notepads--and some lucky years, even chocolate.

We were almost finished for the evening and I was sitting down relaxing for a moment. One item we  had packed was a torpedo-like, bright yellow pen that had a yellow highlighter at one end. There were a bunch left over and because they were so cool, I handed one of them to each to each of our hardworking helpers. I still had mine in my hand when Melody asked her fateful question.

"Is that out there in the garden a butterfly bush?"

I know butterf…

Conversations

On Saturday morning I dial her number. The miles between us melt away as she picks up the phone in Alvechurch.

"Hello?

How I love her dear voice; though it is quavery with age and slightly slowed.

7 years ago, the process of getting thoughts from the brain and turning them into speech, which we take for granted with every word we speak, became like a road after a storm, blocked by fallen trees, with sign posts uprooted and pointed in wrong directions. But we move that tree with every conversation because every word with the one on the other side is precious.

After we finish our brief conversation, she says, "I'll pass you over to Dad now."

Rob and I know that she knows that Dad has been gone for 7 years now. It's just that his name is what comes out when Mum thinks of Robert and he doesn't mind.

Rob uses Dad's childhood nickname for me and adds a dash of humour to his case of mistaken identity.

"Hello Twinkle Toes."
We chat about this and that--the…

My lilies of the valley

by Meg

It is a cozy rainy morning here in Muskoka. The G8 summit may be going on, but the mountains and issues in my life have been challenging enough. It feels like I have been in the valley a long time, wondering when the blossoms would show again, and, as Susan said recently, the Bright and Morning Star would shine wonderfully on my path again. I, like Belinda, was at Write! Canada, and, although physically and emotionally very tired, was deeply challenged and inspired by workshops, classes, and the examples of others. I had the satisfaction of helping my husband show off the first volume of his Christian historical novel, The Michmash Chronicles ,of which I was one editor and helped with the cover design, along with my older daughter Sarah, and my younger daughter Rachel turned his sketches into real illustrations. Yet even that meaningful experience was diminished by many shadows in the valley.

Most of them were about parenting concerns, helping Rachel decide her next step and wond…

Haircut Day

By Belinda

At the last minute, my hairdresser, Jamie, squeezed me in for a much needed haircut today. The value of a good hairdresser cannot be emphasized enough.

Jamie is a treasure. She does the impossible with my hair and her touch has transformed it from fine, mousey,  impossible to manage, to an actual asset! That is no small feat. Add to that the fact that she is funny, interesting, honest and sweet and you will understand why I am looking forward to sitting in her chair today.

But this post was not meant to be about me. Tomorrow, my dear friend Dave Hingsburger, is holding a disability blog carnival over at his blog, Rolling Around in My Head. I submitted a couple of posts from Whatever He Says, as options for inclusion. I hope you check the carnival out tomorrow,

Yesterday though, he wrote about a hairdresser. And here is a link to that post, which I loved. If you know the value of a good hairdresser, you too, will enjoy and understand why they truly are: H2O

I Ain't Movin' Til He Moves Me

Fridays with Susan...

I have a very challenging job.  At least for me it's challenging.  It stretches me to the outer limits of my endurance at times - mentally, physically and spiritually.  When the rewards come, they come in spades, but the valleys in between can get quite dark and the pathway from mountaintop to mountaintop seem long and difficult to climb.  I love my job, and a good part of that is because it is so challenging.  But sometimes I allow myself to get discouraged and to feel like there has to an easier way.

Of late the pressures have increased, at least it felt like it, whether in actual fact it would have panned out that way.  But I started to cast my eyes about, looking for greener pastures or at least for quieter waters.  Getting there didn't appear to me to be too high on God's priority list for me,  though, so I began to take matters into my own hands.  I saw a little crack in Door # 1, so to speak, and I ran over there to see if I could push it open.…

Golden Dogs, Earthquakes and Tornadoes

By Belinda

Tonight, in spite of air conditioning, the air inside feels muggy. Until I open the sliding door to the deck; out there I find a night as steamy as Mum's kitchen on her washing nights of fifty years or so ago, when she would boil our sheets in a dolly tub after work. I slip back inside quickly, with gratitude for even a few degrees of difference in temperature.

This was a day of earthquakes and tornadoes in Ontario. I wonder if they were triggered by the fact that at work we held Mock Emergency drills in York and Simcoe. Did the weather want to add some authenticity to our pretend "widespread power failure?" Many people are experiencing the reality of what we role played.

I just fell over a pile of golden fur lying outside the bathroom door, strategically placed as a hurdle for someone exiting the bathroom bent on preparing tomorrow night's cell group dinner. Paul pointed out, not helpfully, that I have fallen over in dog accidents three times recently (I…

Ant-icipating Success

By Belinda

I'm listening to the audio book, From Good to Great; Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. I'm always up for being inspired!

The trouble is, I'm often driving along, sort of listening, when I hear something that grabs my attention and, you know, it's not so easy to rewind an audio book.

Yesterday, amidst all of the corporate leadership lessons that were drifting past my ears, I heard a nugget just for me--and you, too, perhaps.

Jim Collins laid out the methodology and findings of his teams study of stunningly successful businesses; and said that they discovered some common factors in the "greats," including this surprising one: There was no blinding flash of light; no defining moment when everything changed for these companies. He said, instead,that they bore a striking resemblance to a tiny creature that gets a couple of honourable mentions in the book of Proverbs--the ant.

He spoke of an ant, straining with all its m…

You Also Go

By Belinda

I returned from a writers' conference this weekend, overflowing with blessings, good teaching and inspiration.

Write! Canada was where I first shyly dared to call myself a writer ten years ago. Each year it is an invaluable opportunity to connect with kindred spirits; to network; and to learn.

On Sunday morning, after arriving home, I read this scripture in the Daily Light's selection for that day:
Matthew 20:4 (New International Version)
4 He told them, 'You also / go /and work in my vineyard, / and I will pay you whatever is right.

I took this passage as a commission from God--his hand resting gently but firmly on my shoulder, saying, "You also, go..."

"Here am I. Send me," I replied,

The words, "bear witness" have been in my head for some weeks and they were mentioned several times at the conference.  I will be faithful to bear witness wherever he places me.

"Bearing witness" in writing--isn't that a necessary and…

Shower Me

By Belinda

My newly showered skin revels in the exquisite comfort of a freshly washed, fleece sweater.

My clean hair, tied back out of eyes and face, shiny and catching the light, feels silken as a baby's.

But I come seeking soul shower, this early morning.

Clean clothes, skin and hair are not enough to start my day; I seek my Saviour's sanctifying voice; his cleansing Holy Spirit breath through the hallways of my inner self.

Oh, Lord, shower me,
With your cleansing, purifying, mercy rain.
Wash away selfishness and soul dinginess,
Clean forgotten corners of cobwebs that drift in the breeze.
Blast them away with the breath of  your love.
Make me shiny; clean; pure; holy; set apart for service,
Shower me.

Hebrews 12:14 (New International Version)
14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Ephesians 4:22-24 (New International Version)
22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old sel…
By Belinda

Here at Write! Canada. Early Friday morning, on holy ground. Hushed voices, soft footsteps, the rustle of turning Bible pages and the hum of a refrigerator.

A tank of fresh brewed coffee. Fragrant aroma fills the air. Life blood!

I sit, back turned to people, creating my own space of quiet with God. Life blood more precious even than coffee.

I overhear a cell phone conversation behind me, a mother to her child at home.

"Did Daddy make your lunch last night?" she asks, "Is it in your book bag?"

And then, "Put your homework in there too, okay? Daddy's not used to doing that."

Rapid fire questions continue.

"Are you having breakfast? What are you having, cereal?...Oh..a piece of bread..."

And I smile, imagining a household surviving without this concerned mommy--and a daddy doing his best.

A verse in today's Daily Light shines out for all who seek him here today:
Zechariah 4:10 (New Living Translation)
10 Do not despise these …

Quiet Friday

By Susan

I'm listening to the happy chatter of two grandaughters having breakfast with their Papa.  It's usually quiet in the Stewart household of a weekday morning, but this week, while Belinda is away and there was no cell group last night, we broke the rules and invited the girls over on a school night.  It's hard for them to fit in an overnight visit with so much competition from the five grandsons next door, so it seemed like a good opportunity.  Hence I was way too tired to write last night.

This morning there are many interruptions as well, from, "I hafta go ta the baffroom, but I'm scared o' the dark!" to "There's a wasp in the kitchen."  (It wasn't a wasp, just a harmless fishfly but "wasp" is certainly a much better attention getter!)

It's a little noisy in the kitchen right now, but it's still awfully quiet in my little corner of the kingdom.  Most of my writerly friends are at Write! Canada this weekend in G…

A Student's Stance

By Belinda

I have a paradox to share today. Thank you in advance for being so patient with my endless epiphanies.:)

As I continue to work on carrying out my choice to eschew negative thoughts and words, I find that silencing my mind and being still; not raising my heart or voice against another, creates mental and spiritual space to learn.

Negativity and criticism come from a place of pride; listening and learning from a place of humility.

It is in observing and listening that learning takes place and too many words and predetermined opinions are blockages to the education others have to offer.

The paradox is this: I thought that age was a place of sharing the great wisdom accumulated with many years. Instead I realize more than ever how much there is to learn.

We joke about young people's refuting of parental wisdom and how much parents apparently learn by the time their teenagers grow into their twenties. The young person recognizes that they didn't have all the answers a…

The Foundation of Forgiveness

By Belinda

The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada; representing Prime Minister Stephen Harper; along with Chief Kenny Blacksmith, received the highest honour that can be given by the Aboriginal people, in a sacred ceremony in which they were both presented with the headdress of a chief on Saturday.
Minister Strahl was then presented with gifts of colourful robes, blankets, and carvings in wood and stone; the finest handiwork of the Aboriginal people of Canada.

John 13:4-7 (New International Version)

4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

I have done my best…

The Release

By Belinda
On Saturday morning we gathered again; those of us honoured to be in the middle of this profoundly important moment in our nation's history. A huge step of healing had taken place the night before, as church leaders knelt in repentance before aboriginal leaders. I carried a note book with me, scratching away in the dark--inadequate words--my limited attempt to capture thoughts and impressions that I felt so incapable of expressing. I wrote:

As a direct result of what happened last night, a healing took place in hearts. Bondage to the past was broken. Forgiveness was extended to the Church of Canada, symbolically and fully; from the heart.

An elder m├ętisspoke these words in response to the repentance of the Church leaders the night before:
"I saw a genuine heart exposed. There has been deep, deep, hurt. Some of us couldn't understand why our parents would send us to day and residential schools, but they took the Church as the ultimate authority--Mother stopped s…

A Time to Mourn

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, American Standard Version)

By Belinda
I feel a little out of step; this weekend in Ottawa, at the historic National Forgiveness Summit, was a time for forgiveness. But for me; privileged to be there to witness this moment in time; it was a time to mourn.

Chief Kenny Blacks…

Forgiven

By Belinda

I am at a conference of healing and reconcilitation in Ottawa today; a response of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's request for forgiveness on behalf of the government and people of Canada, on June 11th, 2008.

I will write more on Monday; the ceremonies last night did not finish until far past midnight and there is a full day and evening of ceremonies ahead, once I've had a few hours sleep!

Visit the website The Journey of Freedom to learn more about what's happening. I tried to add some of the video clips from the site, but they didn't work. You can view them on the website though.

The Road Up is Down

Fridays with Susan

I saw a cartoon the other day. I wish I could copy it here, but unfortunately there are copyright laws of which I am not sure enough to ensure I stay within the necessary bounds to avoid litigation. So I will kind of describe it to you. It's a man looking quizzically at an office door upon which is written the name of the occupant. Under the main title, “Pastor”, was written “The Right Rev. Dr. John G. Doe, B.A., Th.D., M.div., Ph.D. Your humble servant."

I chuckled, remembering the leadership conference of a denomination in New York state, which years ago Ron and I had been invited to attend. Fully one third of the 400 or so attendees were leaders in the organization - "upper management" I guess you could call them. They sat on the stage in chairs that were arranged like choir risers behind the speaker, facing out toward the rest of us. On the second evening of the conference, there was a special worship service which was led by the music minist…

Living on Purpose

By Belinda

A drizzly chill descended overnight and after weeks of unseasonably warm mornings, I left the house snuggled into my black Marks and Sparks raincoat. 

Juggling my bulging black briefcase; green zippered thermal lunch bag; purse, and open umbrella, I fumbled for my car keys, while wishing for one more set of hands. I have a habit of taking inordinate number of things in bags with me; arriving at my office as though I'm moving in for a week.

This morning though, I had appointments in a town on the outskirts of the city, and soon my car joined the other vehicles on Highway 400 southbound, trickling towards the city like rivulets in an ever cascading waterfall.

Since my rivulet was moving very slowly, I thought about how several of my friends seem to be rising up lately to claim a life lived on purpose.

I've written a lot here lately about personal change, but I have other friends who are making changes too--some of them radical. There are friends working on health and…

Taking off and Putting on.

By Belinda

Confession time. I have a quirk or two (maybe three!) :)

One quirk is becoming ridiculously attached to certain articles of clothing.

Oh, I can "shop until I drop," with the best of them, but when something serves me well and is comfortable, then I will try to  hang on to it forever.

Take this shoe, for instance. It belongs to a pair that I have had for about 7 years. I didn't even buy them--they were Brenda's, and expensive, but they didn't fit her properly. They fit me like a second skin and have been faithful friends; carrying my feet on long walks, on shopping expeditions in Canada, England and Holland, to work and church--pretty much everywhere in my life for 7 years, with short bouts in between when I wore my equally faithful Birkenstock sandals.

But sadly, nothing lasts forever, and although I would wear them forever if I could, the seam on one shoe is coming apart. I considered having it restitched, but taking a few photographs of the shoes fo…

Reflection Reflection

By Belinda

At midday I escape: the ticking clock; computer screen; desk and mound of paperwork; for a walk in the fresh outdoors.

Emerging into sunlight and bracing wind, like some subterranean creature; the hairs on my arms stand to attention in salute to unexpected chilliness, and force a hasty, weak kneed retreat, to retrieve a warm sweater.

It is the week for the "bulky and metal" pick up in our township and I observe an interesting collection on the sidewalks, my interest equal to that of a visitor to a museum. Cast off appliances; faded, spring less couches; lopsided office chairs and torn mattresses; and assorted unidentifiable junk.

Until this week they have been tolerated; maybe patched and mended--and used, even though inadequate and dysfunctional and not wanted anymore. Now they are done with;final destination--the dump.

"Just like some of my old habits, of late," I think.

My spring cleaning has opened up space in my life for new things; functional and…

Excess Baggage

By Belinda

I wrote last week, in my post entitled Ponderings, about giving thought to who I choose to be as I enter a new decade of life.

Lightening my load and leaving negativity behind was one decision made. More often than I cared to admit, I allowed my mind to drift towards a negative thought; or a clouded moment to hang around too long. And I have shared negative things unnecessarily, thereby spreading the ripple to other souls.

These things are just so much excess baggage that I am offloading.

I am contemplating little mantra daily; a sort of pledge. I'll share it here again, expanded a bit:

I will not...
receive (welcome)
entertain (invite to pull up a seat and stay awhile)
maintain (give space to)
or retain (hold onto)...negative thoughts or words.

It amazes me how often, since I've been paying more attention, I have diverted negative thoughts, and words that were on the tip of my tongue. And I am sure that I will have plenty of continued opportunity to practice the …

Madge and Me

By Belinda

When staying at Mum's flat in England, I am used to the sound of the key in the front door; her carers letting themselves in, and the call of "Hello!" in the hallway, signalling their arrival.

They chat breezily as they go about the jobs they take do for Mum and I count her blessed by each of them. Except that there was one who grated on me. I will call her Madge.

From the moment Madge came in with her fellow staff, she never seemed to stop talking! She "over talked!" She was just a few years younger than me; a middle aged woman, plump of body with a stream of consciousness that seemed to run directly from her brain and out through her mouth with no resting place in between. I found the first visits when she was on duty, draining.

One night, soon after I arrived; Madge had left, and I, sighing with relief because she had left, was tucking Mum in.

I said, "Mum what do you think of Madge? She talks such a lot."

Mum just laughed as though she…

Celebrating Someone Special

By Belinda

Yes, it is Friday and Susan usually posts, but this week I'm filling in.
I've written so much here about my Mum, but there is another Mum in my life who I love very much; Paul's mum.

Mum B's birthday is the day after mine, so on Wednesday, June 2nd, we celebrated her 84th birthday. Now she does not look 84, does she?

The photo on the left was taken some time in the early 1980's, so almost 30 years ago, before Paul's dad died in 1986.

Our Mums were both born in 1926. Mine will turn 84 on December 15th.

They have been friends ever since the days in the 1960's when they would sit together after church in England and wonder if Paul and I would ever get together. They both hoped that eventually we would.

A picture really does say so much, and what you can see in the one above of Paul's mum, is the laughter in her eyes. Her eyes are frequently full of laughter and she is quick to see the humour in any situation.

She married Paul's father, who …

A Mini Post with a Purging Prayer

By Belinda

Please let me live every moment of the rest of my life as a woman who fears the Lord.

I prayed this at the end of my Sunday morning devotions, before leaving for church, a week or so ago.

During my prayer time I had come to a place of peace about a situation that had angered me at work; God's Holy Spirit gently did a course correction in my heart and I left for church feeling better about it. With God's help I had formulated steps to do things differently next time--my "What ifs" list, posted here a few days ago.

At church there was an altar call during the service. One person went forward and I knew I had to get there, as fast as I could. I wanted to make a fresh commitment to God with all of my heart. And so I went forward, followed by one or two others.

But as I stood there, someone came to my mind. We'd had one of those silly misunderstandings earlier that week and the atmosphere between us was cool.

At the altar, a verse came to mind; it said somet…

Ponderings

By Belinda

I've done a lot of pondering as I approached my latest age milestone. First I had to get my head around the fact that this impossible number applied to me. How is it even possible? But it is! I confess I struggled with it at first, but then I realized what a privilege it is to be here today and healthy.

Lord, I thank you for this, another day of life; a day in which my bones are clothed with flesh, sinew, muscle and nerve, and in which myriad unconscious processes of brain, central nervous and other systems, enable thought and movement. Today I am fully alive, body, soul, and spirit. I rejoice in the gift of life and the One who ordained that I should "be."

I spent some time reflecting on the woman in Proverbs 31. I love all the qualities I see in her, this woman rich in all the things that matter. I care about appearances as much as anybody, I have to be honest, but I care about something else much more:

Proverbs 31:30 (New International Version)
30 Charm is …

The Prodigal Son on the Big Screen

Today I'm having a little blog holiday because it's my birthday! I thought that instead of writing I would share a video clip from the television program, 100 Huntley Street, about Toronto actor and writer, Jason Hildebrand. On Sunday we watched the Prodigal Son Trilogy in church--it was profoundly moving. God bless Mr. Hildebrand!