Wednesday, June 30, 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 butterfly bushes as they are prolific in England. I even know the Latin name: buddleia.

Excited by my ability to offer an expert opinion, I rose from my seat and set out to see the bush she was asking about. I replay the moment now, in slow motion. The music from Chariots of Fire is playing in the background softly...

I floated across the living room, past boxes of packed bags, towards the kitchen and the sliding door to the backyard. I opened the door and stepped forward--and...

That was when I bounced back, my momentum halted by a screen covering that wasn't open.  I felt foolish enough at that, but I simultaneously felt something in my hand pierce the mesh screen like a dart. To my horror I realized that I was still holding the yellow torpedo pen in my hand, aiming forward. Twinkle Toes had struck again.

I confessed to our hosts right away, mortified. They were gracious and told me not to worry. Apparently you can buy magnetic angels to cover holes in screens.

And I'm trying hard to stuff Twinkle Toes back in the box.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

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 latest intriguing gossip around "the close" in Alvechurch--a mini Coronation Street. I make a mental note to remember the fascinating details for some future work of fiction. Truth is indeed more strange...

I tell Rob that at last we have decided to get rid of the uneven plastered arch from our kitchen to the back room and restore it to a rectangular opening. Ever since he told me several months ago that it reminded him of a "Santa's grotto," and confirmed my own secret misgivings about it, I have longed to have it redone.

"Yes, it will look more contemporary," said Rob, adding something quite unnecessary about the Stone Age and the entrance to a cave.

These conversations and laughter knit our relationships together stitch by stitch.

I walk Molson around our tiny hamlet in the evening. The atmosphere carries moisture from the earlier summer showers and my skin grows sticky as we walk. The breeze runs playful  fingers through my hair, lifting it from my neck, cooling it deliciously.

I used to listen to audio books on my Walkman as I walked, but I don't do that anymore. I attend with all of my senses and I am in constant conversation, spoken and unspoken, with my four footed companion.

I enjoy watching him and communicating with him, just as I did with Bruce, the bull terrier who became my friend in England; although he gave little indication that he was listening, so bent was he on the walk.

These "conversations" too, knit relationships together.

The ability to have conversations and relationships; such precious gifts. Can we ever take enough time for them--to attend to them--in our rush rush world?

Monday, June 28, 2010

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 wondering how to encourage independent Sarah in her loneliness. It was hard to know my role, particularly with Rachel as she sought to move from dependence to independence. It was hard also to know when I would be able to move ahead with my own life, and see God's promises to me worked out in new ways. God, of course, has been so faithful in the dark, deftly working changes in me, teaching me to let go of old ways, old roles. As I watched, and listened, and talked, and tried to help, I grew to understand my own mother so much more - recognized many struggles she must have had as she tried to help me. Because my communication with her had not been open, and we had not shared our spirituality, at the time I had missed many signs of her caring and support. But these months have humbled me and taught me more about her heart beneath the often harsh and seemingly cold exterior. And I have looked more deeply again into the dark recesses of my own heart, despite my strong faith and my open communication. Even as I was in the valley I saw things a little more from God's point of view.

It seems He speaks to us one way from the mountain tops, and another from the valleys: I usually crave the mountains, but I learn more from the valleys. I would suspect most of us would say that, however hard it is. This valley has been my own, however many of the experiences I have shared with my daughters. We each walk alone with God, and with ourselves. Yet our loneliness drives us desperately to God and to each other.

The choice Rachel has now made was borne out of relationship and depends upon it in new ways. Sarah's loneliness in her new life out west brought the right answer for both girls: the younger will give the gift of her presence to the older, as the older supports the younger as she struggles to get on her feet. When we had first looked at such an idea it seemed too dependent, too weak. But if we had listened more carefully and prayerfully in the valley, we might have bypassed some of the struggles. And yet, because the road was darker for a time, for all three of us, now the lights are brighter and the joy is sweeter.

When Sarah, at her most desperate point, at the most exquisitely last minute moment, heard from Rachel that her choice was to be with her, she cried with joy. Now I, with moist eyes and deep emotion stuck in my throat, rejoice that my girls will be together. I see again how relationships are supreme in God's eyes, and the independent strength in us can get us only so far. We truly can do nothing without Him, and without each other.

These are my lilies of the valley - more of my treasures of darkness.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

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

Friday, June 25, 2010

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.  The grass sure looked green on the other side as I peeked through that wee small opening.  And the sun shone brightly.  But...

I have learned that what appears to be the best way to me isn't always God's best for me.  And so I discussed it with the appropriate people, and I committed the matter to prayer. Even so I was expecting him to open the door wide for me, but what I was hearing instead, was that the choice was mine.  Choice?  Why would I need to make a choice.  The best way had seemed so very clear.  I found myself wondering if his purposes for me were really finished where I was at.  Didn't He put me here?  And couldn't he move me if I needed to be moved?

As I prayed and sought a perspective that was much higher than my own, I began to hear "if you'll just wait on me you will SEE what I absolutely WILL DO through your weakness".  My Father was telling me there was a high road.  The way would be more diffiuclt to be sure, but  "just trust me," he seemed to be saying, "and see what I will do."  It was still my choice, but I started to see that the grass was actually quite green on my own side of the fence - just in a different kind of a way - in a way that's difficult to discern sometimes through the challenges.  It would much more of an upward climb to just stay put, but it could be worth it.

Just in case there was any doubt, Belinda's Paul was preaching that Sunday while our pastor was away on vacation.  His sermon was rich in God's word, and affirmed many of my own thoughts.  He reminded us that there is much value in suffering and that walking through the valley - with the right attitude - can be incredibly valuable and strengthening, preparing us to get through even tougher times ahead, but also drawing us closer to Jesus Himself.  If there had been any doubt, Paul's words confirmed for me.  God was speaking to me directly through him and the message couldn't be any clearer. I could take what was appearing to be the easy way out, but I would miss so much.   He put me "here" for a reason - even though that reason wasn't very clear to me at the time.  I was sticking with the walk in the valley, even though the next few steps would be taking me into some very scary territory.  (Scary for me, anyway!)  It felt like a grim decision.  And it felt like a lonely one.  It even felt like a sad one.  But I headed back through Door # 2.  Why?  Because no matter what it looked like and felt like to me, I knew I could trust him.  I could trust him to fulfil his purposes in me and through me where he has placed me.  And I could trust him to move me when - and if - it was time for me to move. 

Funny how when God gets us where he wants us, when he finally gets the attitude worked into us that he's wanted us to have, how quickly our perspective can change.  I stepped firmly and decisively into the darker pathway, the one leading into the valley, but suddenly the lights were going on!  Folks, I just want to tell you:  there are lilies growing in the valley - exquisite blossoms which can't be found anywhere else.  And that bright and morning Star (Jesus Himself) shines far brighter.

Ask me how I know.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

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 only mentioned two on them here if you are counting.) He's right, but there is a time to point such things out--or perhaps not...

Molson and I lay blinking in a dazed pile for a few moments while we both regained our equilibrium. Two granddaughters came running, hair flying, eyes wide with alarm, to see if we were both all right. Convincing them that I was, convinced me.

So I lean into two blogging friends on a night when I am too hot and tired to write two coherent words strung together. I commend to you a blog post by a friend, Marilyn Yocum,Rather than Beating Yourself Up. In it Marilyn posts a link to another wonderful blog post from 2004, written by Ann Voskamp, entitled Three Simple Words. Read and be encouraged.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

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 might against a big flywheel, until it reached a tipping point and began to gain momentum. In the summary of the book that you can read by clicking on the link in the first paragraph, it says, "A flywheel is a heavy wheel that takes a lot of energy to set in motion - to do so usually requires constant, steady work, rather than a quick acceleration."

Think of doggedness; perseverence; tenacity; relentless movements in the direction of the goal.

The timing and schedule is God's. What counts is moving in the direction he has for our lives; one small but mighty step at a time. So many applications--losing unwanted weight; building muscle; getting healthy; becoming a writer (insert your own passion, goal or calling)...

 25The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; (Proverbs 30:25, King James Version

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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 even essential task? I see things here, that no one else does--and it is the same for you.

And, so, you too, go...

Acts 1:8 (New International Version)
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Monday, June 21, 2010

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 self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 1:4 (New International Version)
4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

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 small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin,

Friday, June 18, 2010

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 Guelph and as a result, their twitters and Facebook status updates and blogs have tapered right off.  It seems strange not to be there - but at the same time, my memory bank is so full from years past, that I almost feel as if I'm right there with them.  Right now, Belinda will be stealing off, tiptoeing out of her room so as not to disturb her roomate (who is not me this year!) to go and spend some time with God along with her Bible and her well-marked-up Daily Light.  In years past she would get back to our shared room just in time to read the Daily Light together before heading off to worship at 8:00 - some of the best worship ever, with a group of people who love words, and write them down for His glory. 

It seems right though somehow, this pause in the flow, this interruption in the pattern, this change in expectations.  Perhaps next year I will be back at Write!Canada for this third weekend in June.  But for now I am praying for God's richest blessing to flow down and for his message to be heard loud and clear by every writer who has gathered there to learn and to grow in their craft.  May their fellowhip with God - and their fellow writers - be the best yet!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

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 and their parents knew a few things of worth, after all. Well, elders can be guilty of that arrogance too--secretly thinking that we are the fount of much wisdom. I don't want to spend the rest of my life like that.

I want to shed the pride that speaks before listening; to take a student's stance in every interaction.

It won't be easy; old habits die hard and any readers who are friends and who have real, face to face conversations with me, feel free to tell me know I am doing!

James 1:19 (Amplified Bible)
19Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.
Proverbs 8:6-11 (New International Version)
6 Listen, for I have worthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.

7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.

8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.

9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are faultless to those who have knowledge.

10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,

11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

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 to share what I witnessed in Ottawa at the National Forgiven Summit over this past weekend; the sights, sounds and impressions that flooded my senses and soul, and I am almost finished, but not quite.

I saw in the process, an example that I will never forget, of how to forgive and how to demonstrate radical mercy.

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially apologized two years ago, for government policies that devastated a culture and generations of Aboriginal people, it was only the beginning.

The apology had been long awaited and it was a step, but only the first, in a journey of healing.

Is it coincidence that it took two years for the Aboriginal peoples to respond to the government? For anyone who has experienced the loss of someone they loved, two years is when the veil of mourning begins to lift. They took time to mourn, and time to prepare themselves to respond deeply and meaningfully.

Their forgiveness was given after a full acknowledgment of the extent of the offence. They articulated the offence themselves through telling their stories. It was important to bear witness. They did this not to wallow in self pity, or to shame the offender further, but to say, "This terrible thing happened. This is how we were affected."

Then began their journey across Canada, culminating in this past weekend's ceremonies and celebrations in the capital. They met in communities as they traveled; singing, praying, and breaking bondages of hurt and anger.

And when they finally faced a representative of the government of Canada, they treated him with highest honour, lavishing him with gifts. Cree children sang the national anthem to him in their own language. They were a living demonstration of the gospel.

Matthew 5:43-46 (New International Version)
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

There was dancing! Celebration! Beauty from ashes!

As the children of a new generation looked on, we must also continue to watch.  We must work and pray for full justice and restoration.There is more to be done to right the wrongs of the past; building to be done now, on the foundation of forgiveness.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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├ętis spoke 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 speaking the Michif language."

He went on, "While there was bad, God also worked good. The gospel was heard, but at a terrible cost. The Church of Canada released us from anger, resentments and judgments as a result of last night."

And he shared this scripture:
Psalm 130:3-4 (New International Version)
3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness;

I felt as though I was on Holy ground as weeping and wailing spontaneously broke out throughout the auditorium--the cries of a people releasing, and being released from, grief. It was noisy and unscheduled. There was no urgency to fit this into a strictly planned timeframe. They had come to this place to do business with God and man, and, as Chief Kenny Blacksmith said on Friday night, "We don't know exactly what is going to happen and everything is subject to change." There was a freedom in stepping into a culture that is not in bondage to the hands of the clock, and in simply allowing things to unfold as God would have them unfold.

This beautiful psalm was read when the Freedom Journey was launched in Vancouver earlier this year. How appropriate it seems for this people's journey of freedom:
Psalm 126 (New International Version)

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.
Twenty four elders; survivors of residential schools; and twelve young people; children of survivors, signed the Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom, to be presented to the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada, on Saturday afternoon.

Chief Kenny Blacksmith reminded people that, "Forgiveness is personal and individual, but we have made the decision to come together to spur one another on to good things."

"This is your healing; your freedom,' he said, "We hope and pray for those that aren't ready, to be ready,"  reminding us that the release was not from the memory of the past, but from its pain and the sting.
To be continued...

Monday, June 14, 2010

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 Blacksmith wrote in his welcome to those gathering:
Two years ago on June 11, 2008 Prime Minister Stephen Harper sincerely apologized for Canada's role in the Indian residential school system, and asked the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.

At that moment, the onus was placed on our people as individuals to respond. We all know it is impossible that no offence should come in our relationships with one another. We also know that offence imprisons and limits the freedom of all people, and forgiveness is not political; it cannot be legislated. It is not economic; it cannot be bought, sold or traded; forgiveness is spiritual, and it is borne of the unconditional love of our Creator.

June 11-13, 2010 will be our time to choose to forgive, and this will break the generational cycle of victimization and accusation, and forgiveness will release a blessing on those who seek forgiveness and those who forgive. This is our time to embrace and celebrate our freedom.

I was struck by the beauty, and gracious spirits of the thousands of Aboriginal people who filled the Ottawa Civic Centre this past weekend. Everywhere there was dignity, gentleness and grace.

They spread a rich cultural feast before us in the form of dance, drama and music. Everywhere there was pulsing rhythm; movement;  ribbons, colourful shawls, and flags, flying.

My heart broke to think that newcomers ever thought it right to isolate children from parents and attempt to obliterate a culture in which there is so much wisdom, and from which we still have much that we could learn.

On Friday evening, representatives of the Church in Canada from every denomination, streamed onto the platform, led by the Reverend David Mainse, to ask for forgiveness, on their knees, for its role in the abuse and mistreatment of the Aboriginal peoples. It was an important and powerful acknowledgment and a repentance in which we all shared.

The next day an Inuit leader read Isaiah 61:1
 1 The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; (Isaiah 61:1, American Standard Version)

He said, "We forgive you for using your God given authority to oppress and suppress our people. We release our judgment, especially me--hidden judgment, on the church of Canada. You will see our people worshipping with  you in dance and with drums. You will see and hear things you have never experienced before because the fullness of time is God's time to proclaim the gospel. He who came to set the captives free will once again set captives free."

The offence had been fully and completely acknowledged. Forgiveness was the response.

To be continued...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

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.

Friday, June 11, 2010

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 ministry of a large church in a city nearby. With all those dignitaries on stage, there wasn't enough room for the worship team, so, while we were at dinner, their chairs were temporarily moved down to the floor with the rest of us. During that worship time, we were all on level ground. But as soon as the singing was over, and someone approached the podium to introduce the main speaker, a goodly number of the leaders sitting at the floor level, began to pick up their chairs and rather unceremoniously move them back up on the stage. It would have made so much more sense for them to stay put and enjoy the speaker, looking at the man's face, for a change instead of his back. The picking up and moving of these chairs and bodies while the moderator attempted to introduce the next speaker was quite disruptive. And humorous! In their efforts to get it done quickly, the chairs which had been so perfectly aligned like choir risers before, were being placed willy-nilly all over the stage.

Ron and I began to giggle. It felt like we were the only people in the entire place to do so, but it just looked so funny! Another couple, just in front of us, must have heard our titters, because they turned around to give us an understanding look, with their eyes just a-twinkling. It was a pastor and his wife from Red Wing, Minnesota, a couple who were soon to become our friends. Their shoulders began to shake a little too and as they turned back to face the front, we could tell they were trying just as hard as we were to suppress their giggles and to maintain the proper decorum.

I had my own opportunity to look a little silly just yesterday when I couldn’t remember the combination of my locker at the gym I joined a few weeks ago. Dripping in sweat, desperate to get into the shower, and already late for work, I stood hopeless and helpless in front of my locker, unable to calm my panic stricken state long enough to allow myself to remember the right combination of numbers that would give me access to everything I needed to get on with my day. It wasn’t easy to reconcile myself to the fact that I needed to ask for help. It wasn’t easy at all. I would have done just about anything to avoid looking silly to anyone else. But I ended up having to go out to the front desk to do just that.  I had to ask for pencil and paper so I could write down the numbers in all the possible combinations, so I could try them one-by-one, ensuring that I wasn’t missing any – and inadvertently skipping over the right one in my panicked state. In doing so I had to admit to the pretty young thing behind the counter, and the maintenance staff who also happened to be there, that I couldn’t remember the stupid combination on my locker. Fortunately they had more grace than I did at that leadership conference years ago and they didn’t laugh – though they had every reason to. Instead they were understanding and supportive and helpful in every way, even offering to quickly and easily cut off the lock with their handy-dandy bolt cutters should my own plan fail. Now they may have laughed as I went back into the change room, but not to my face, and for that I am grateful.

I smile as I think of how easy it is for me to identify pride in others and yet at the same time how hard it is for me to admit that I am just the same. I guess that’s what Jesus was talking about when he said we needed to get the log out of our own eyes, before we could start looking at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s.

While I was on the treadmill that morning, I had been reading a book on servant leadership, and praying that God would give me more influence in some specific areas. I was thinking of several large and concerning gaps between what is and what should be. I also know how in need of God’s help I am to see the needed changes effected. It was such a good thing to be able to walk away from that gym yesterday softened and humbled by my experience with that lock. It was such a good day yesterday, living on that level ground that is at the foot of the cross.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

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 fitness so that they go into their next decade--forties, fifties or sixties; with vitality. One friend who turned fifty last year, just bought a snazzy motorbike and has lost almost fifty pounds of the eighty she wants to lose in total. Another couple of friends have joined a gym and are firming up and trimming down.
Why not go claim your secret dreams? Why not do something about them? I love being part of a generation that is redefining aging. We are not going down easy. We may go gracefully--but easy; no.

What time we have here is precious; a limited commodity, no matter how long we live. Perhaps that becomes more obvious as we pass certain milestones.

In the afternoon I participated in an environmental assessment for an area where our agency supports people in their own home. To my amazement, part of the discussion involved a road network to be built in the year 2031. A strange feeling came over me as I projected forward to that date. I will be 81 by then.

The bright young consultants and planners seeking input, represented the generation that will carry the torch forward beyond then. My mortality came into sharper focus than ever. I don't want to miss one thing that God might have planned for me by not cooperating with him, listening to him, and being prepared by him.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (New Living Translation)

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

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 for this blog post, I noticed that they are worn out and I need to face it. The leather is scuffed and the soles are worn, and I notice (because I did look) that shoe repair stores are few and far between these days.

So yesterday I popped into the mall at lunch time, on my way back to the office from a meeting, and raced from shoe store to shoe store, looking for exactly the same shoes, or a close approximation. They don't make them like that anymore. I came away with a much trendier pair, and I am sure they will grow on me as much as these, eventually. I brought my old ones home with me in a bag though. I'm letting go of them in stages.

As I drove away from the mall, I thought about how cool it would be, if someone with a vast wardrobe, someone like the late Princess of Wales; Princess Diana; invited me over and said, "Help yourself to anything you like."

And I thought of how that very morning I had left the house in a slight rush for a meeting in the city. My heart was not quite peaceful. Pressured for time, I had been a little more abrupt in my responses and I had missed the way I like to start my day, with reading scripture and moments of quietness.

As I arrived at my destination, I realized that I needed to deliberately take off the edgy, old me, and "put on Christ:"

 12-14So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-13, The Message)

I was happy then to give up my old clothes for those of Christ. For the King of all that is, was taking me into his dressing room and offering me royal garments of grace.

And I think that I can part with my old shoes today. :)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

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 healthy habits. This time around they are of my choice, rather than inherited secondhand, or gathered by happenstance.

I pass a house with a curving path of pretty crazy paving edged with flowers. I wish I had my camera. And then another similar, this time the path of fixed paving stones is overlaid with dancing dappled shadows, the branches above making a lace overlay upon the crazy quilt of stones below.

The sun warms my bare neck below up swept hair. It is gentle as a benediction and as sensual as a lover's kiss.

Above me, the wind plays on boisterously with his playfellows, the trees; imitating swooshing, crashing, ocean waves.

I arrive back at my office; cobwebs gone; blown away by the fresh and friendly breeze; stepping willingingly back into  captivity, envigorated and renewed.

Monday, June 07, 2010

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 forming of new habits to replace the old!

Here is more encouragement for my journey--and maybe yours too:
Philippians 4:4-8 (New International Version)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

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 knew what I meant, but said, without frustration or rancour, "Oh, I just let her go on."

"Hmmmm," I said, smiling back at Mum, and thinking, "That is so much better than my reaction." And I didn't mention another word to Mum about Madge.

The next morning, a different pair of carers came in and while the one was waiting for her partner to finish something, in my conversation, I blurted out something of a personal nature. After they left, I thought, "Now why on earth did I say all that?" My belated sense of propriety screamed "Too much information!"

During the course of the next day, while reflecting, it began to dawn on me why Madge grated on me so. Madge was me!...Ouch!

I suddenly saw how often I "over talk," just to fill up space, especially if I am nervous for some reason. Sometimes it's just because I'm enthused about a topic. I realized that I have much less grace for other people people who take up a lot of air time than I have for me!

From the moment of that flash of insight, I saw Madge through new eyes and had much more grace for her and began to feel an affinity for her. I guess it would have been hard not to after God tapped me on the shoulder like he did, with a polite and gentle "Ahem."

I noticed something else. On one visit she had a conversation with her partner about psychic phenomena. She said that she was a believer in them. Another time she talked about horoscopes. The conversation didn't include me, but I saw that Madge was a spiritually sensitive and open person and I began to pray for her.

One night, close to the time I left for home, she and her co-worker asked why I had left England for Canada, and I told them, as well sharing how limited I had felt by the class consciousness of England in the 1950's and 60's. I had never fitted into any group and often felt like an outsider. Madge too, had that experience, and, like me had been bullied and teased at school for similar reasons to mine. By then I could not imagine why I had felt so negatively towards her at the start of my vacation.

I was down to my last few days and was due to leave on Tuesday. On Sunday I went to church in Worcester. During the service I took copious notes--the sermon was so gripping and relevant, but on the top of one page I also wrote--"Pray for Madge," because God had brought her to mind, in the middle of church.

After the service, I was waiting for someone and wandered to the book table. A sign said, "If you're a visitor, please take a book." One book caught my eye. It looked interesting, and like a book I might pass on to someone. Its title was, "Everything They Never Taught You About God in Sunday School."

That night I was reading it when Madge and her partner came to help Mum to bed. They were finishing up their paperwork when Madge asked what the book I was reading was about. I told her the title and read the description from the back cover that had gripped me.

"How come everyone else has a book to read and I don't?" she mused.

I closed the book and said, "You can have this one. I have so many books to read."

"You read it first," Madge said, "And leave it for me when you leave." And she told me that she would be in again on Wednesday, when I would already be gone.

And so, I did. I left the book on the little red table where the carers keep their books and do their paperwork, with a note on it saying, "Madge." Inside the cover I copied out the words to the beautiful song I had been listening to: I Will Change Your Name:
(D.J. Butler)

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast
Lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness
Overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face.

After all, Madge and me--we are sisters in a way. I pray that soon we are sisters in Christ.

Friday, June 04, 2010

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 came to minister in the church she attended as a girl, when she was just 17! From then on she was a pastor's wife, and babies came in quick succession until their family of five children was complete.Paul was the second born; a child who tried the patience of his parents sorely. He could not be commanded to obey, but Paul's mum soon learned that he would do anything if asked, not told. In an era when children were expected to meekly acquiesce, he did not fit the mould. But although as a child he fought for freedom from rules and expectations, he and his mum have always had a wonderful relationship.

Mum B loves children and cherishes her grandchildren and many great grandchildren. Our children spent many Sunday afternoons and longer stays at her house when they were younger.

She loves animals, and has inherited many dogs that needed a home in the family. The current dog, Ash, a giant black Labrador,belonged to her grandson Matthew. When he moved out of her home, she said, "You're not taking the dog!" and he had no choice but to leave her behind.

She is a hard worker and still does a lot of her own gardening, in spite of arthritis. She also paints and wallpapers and when I accidentally sat in a comfortable looking chair at her party, that I didn't realize was the dog's, she warned me not to sit in the hairy and dirty chair and said that she was planning to buy a book on upholstering. She figured that she could do it. When I protested that it seemed like a big undertaking, someone pointed to the lovely drapes hanging behind her. She just made those a few months ago. Mum B will turn her hand to anything.

She is quick to correct Paul when he says the wrong thing to me in front of her (as he very occasionally does :))She is non-judgmental, down to earth, and accepting of people for who they are. And she is a wonderful role model of a faithful, praying, follower of Christ.

Along with many others, I love her and wish her many more happy birthdays.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

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 something about leaving your gift at the altar if you have a relationship out of sync and going and putting it right first. Only then it is okay to bring your gift to the altar.

How easily we forget that our relationship with God is intimately involved with our relationship with others. I knew that before I could freely worship him and be used by him, I had something to do first.

I pray for a purging of the desire for personal significance and the blinding effect that has in relationships.

Weeding disturbs the soil; pruning opens up an area that needs to heal over--but without weeding or pruning, neither the land or the tree will be as fruitful as it can be.

Therefore I am willing to endure discomfort--and more than that--I embrace it as necessary for growth in grace.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

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 deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.


This verse is my heartbeat--to be a woman who fears the Lord; one who reverences him; who puts him above all else and who really believes that his commandments are perfect and true; one who is prompt to obey his voice in the person of the Holy Spirit.

How do I want to live the rest of my life?

On a personal level I am going forward with a determination to keep my spirit uncluttered by negativity. I thought about that today and a little phrase popped into my head to help me--a sort of pledge. I'll share it in case it helps you too.

I refuse to receive; retain; or entertain, negative thoughts.

They are toxic to the soul and I hereby renounce that old habit, one that dogged me more than I care to admit.

And here's a song by Nicole Nordeman: Legacy;the words of which have blessed me, and express my heartbeat, especially these lines:

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

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!