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Showing posts from January, 2011

Plus God, Minus Fear, Times Faith, Divided by None

Credit for the title of this post goes to my friend Dave who suggested it in a comment on yesterday's post. Thanks Dave!
By Belinda
*From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.  We live moments sometimes that seem incredibly precious; as if God distilled sweetness and purpose and infused them into seconds that stretch into minutes that unfold with special significance. Such moments spanned the pancakes on Saturday morning as we passed the butter and maple syrup and I poured another cup of rich amber coffee.

It happened to be a Saturday that our two granddaughters who live downstairs were home, which is why the pancakes instead of our usual porridge.

They are on the cusp of young womanhood, these girls. Tori: a spunky but sensitive, witty and bright bookworm, almost 12 years old, and Tippy: a dreamy, emotional, gifted artist with the moodiness of the ocean and an almost 13 year old, which are almost the same thing.

Over breakfast I told them the story of my b…

Plus God

By Belinda

Last week I wrote about my initial defeatist response to what seemed like a big task. Fortunately I woke up the next morning and remembered a truth believed, but all too rarely practised in my life:One human plus God has no limitations.

And I decided to take God at his word.

This was important, because I, like everyone else, influence those around me. I think we would be surprised if we realized how much we do. Our families, co-workers; Church Body; people you might not even guess, are watching. Subconsciously the atmosphere around us can be picked up in even a short interaction.

Attitude is more contagious than measles, and for those of us who lead, it is even more critical to guard.

Waking up to thebigness of God and the irrelevance of my inadequacymeant that by the time I presented the challenge of last week to my team, I was pointing them in the right direction--God-ward.

I remembered the thrust of an address by Bruxy Cavey at a gala dinner I'd attended. He spoke of …

To Grow in Courage and Character

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. 
 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you're just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you're going to make it, no doubt about it. (2 Corinthians 1:3-6, The Message)

By Belinda

It leaped out at me from the page as I read the f…

Fierce, Proud and Stubborn

Could that possibly be me???


Fridays with Susan...

I can remember - many times in fact - describing an older person, such as my dad, or my grandmother, as being "fiercely independent", or "stubbornly independent".   It only occurred to me in the last day or two that there is an implication, or an expectation in the way some use those particular phrases to describe people who are at a stage in life where they are generally on a physical decline.  There is an expectation that someone getting older should begin to become more dependent on those around them and if they resist that, we attach a negative sounding adjective to it.  Should the fact that they protect their independence, their ability to make their own decisions and to direct their own life, even making their own mistakes, come as a surprise to us or be seen in any kind of a negative light?

Fiercely independent.  Why don't we say, "courageously  independent".  Or "unwaveringly independent&q…

Adjusting the Default Position

By Belinda

"So how was your day?" he asked, and in that instant I had a choice.

There were so many moments in the day to choose from. Whatever moment I chose to define the day, hung in the balance in that split second. Was it because at that moment I was standing over a big steaming pot of boiling water, wilting cabbage leaves for a mammoth quantity of cabbage rolls? I don't know, but I chose badly. 

I launched into a description of a big task added to a team already running hard to meet numerous deadlines. An impossible feat with a timeline too short!

I was flippant as I tossed out that moment into the atmosphere. It infused the air with something smellier than the cabbage leaves--but it took me a while to detect the odour.

I saw his shoulders slump; his brow furrow with concern.

The next morning, I woke up and belatedly sniffed the atmosphere around me and didn't like it one bit. I realized that I was choosing to look at things from a merely human perspective.

Kiddo with Cataracts

By Belinda

I noticed increasing blurriness in my right eye about 6 months ago. I figured I just needed to get my eyes tested at first, but gradually realized it was more than that. Looking through that eye is like looking through a dirty window. I mentioned it to the doctor when I went for my physical in November. He shone a light in the eye and pronounced, "That looks like a cataract."

On one level I was relieved because it could have been much worse but on the other hand, well, I wasn't quite ready for cataracts.

I made an appointment with my ophthalmologist and he confirmed the diagnosis. He said he'd connect me with the surgeon right away.

"Don't I have to wait for it to get to a certain point?" I asked. I had heard about cataracts having to "ripen," like cheese or something.

He laughed at me. "It's pretty bad," he said, "You are a tough woman. This has seriously compromised your life, though you probably don't reali…

The Dream Says it All

By Belinda

We sat across the breakfast table sharing notes on how we slept. Don't laugh, we are ageing Baby Boomers, this is what we do at breakfast! :)

"I was awake on and off all night," said Paul, "I kept having the same dream. We were at the airport, leaving for Israel; workers were laying tiles and focusing on getting them straight, but they were blocking our way to the ticket counter. And I was worried that we hadn't collected the things we were taking for the new Jewish settlers in Israel."

(Then came the clincher, the part that sums up the truth of our relationship!)

"And," he said,"I couldn't find my passport, and you kept saying, 'Don't worry, it will be all right. They applaud people who forget their passports!'"

:)

Crazy Quilt Day

By Belinda  This is another "smattering," or crazy quilt day.. I lay in bed late, luxuriating in the knowledge that it was sabbath. No chores to do, no list to follow, not even a day of hospitality after church with last minute preparations to be made. Just a generous getting-ready-for-church time ahead. While in the bathroom, sipping on a steaming cup of delicious black coffee as I powdered my nose and lipsticked my lips, the phone rang.  "Did I wake you up?" It was my friend Frances. "I called at 8.30 and there was no answer," she went on with the urgency of a friend who "needs to talk." She told me of having a shadow week; a week of silence from God; of feeling adrift somehow and worst of all, knowing partly why; choices made. Late yesterday evening, she had driven home from work through dark night spun with finest diamonds. As they danced and sparkled in her headlights, she thought with regret of the diamonds God offers and what we trade for his b…

New Day

By Belinda

Last Saturday I wrote a post entitled Last Day but during the next week it seemed that over and over I heard the words, "It's a new day." Each time, the words were spoken with energy, hope and resolve. What a gift a "new day" is. We all need New Days--turning points; pivotal moments in our lives that are as unscripted as a brand new journal, fresh as newly fallen snow.

I've had a few New Days and I hope for more. I spent some time today reflecting on some of mine and was going to write about them, but I think the point I want to make is that I'm grateful that they exist at all.

I am thankful that we are Works in Progress and that a relationship with God is dynamic, vibrant, intimate and filled with hope.

I sometimes think of the twelve men who were Jesus's first intimates, What did he see in them? What does he see in us? I can tell you.. He sees possibility. He sees what we can be when we turn in our cards; "give up:" have a &qu…

A Little More on Vision...

Fridays with Susan...
Further to Belinda's post of yesterday... 
When Jesus took Peter, and James and John up on the mountain where they saw him transfigured with Moses and Elijah, Peter and the others thought this was "IT!"  They wanted to stay there and build three temples,  one for Moses, one for Elijah and one for Jesus.  But instead, Jesus led them down the mountain again and into the valley - the valley of the shadow...
From that glorious vision of "Truth" glorified, they went straight down into the valley.  Not just to "the valley", but they were actually headed to Jerusalem - and to the cross.  On the way, having just seen that glorious vision, Peter and James and John made one mistake after another - from arguing about who was the greatest among them to being unable to set free one who was troubled by demons, to even denying Jesus, once, twice, three times.  And though Jesus had been revealed to them in his glorified form, instead of referring t…

Blurry Vision

By Belinda
When God gives a vision and darkness follows, wait.Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 20thToday My Utmost for His Highest spoke of the time after a vision being a time of shadow--the shadow of God's hand--when all we are to do is be still and listen. I welcomed that encouragement like a long distance runner welcomes a cold drink of water.

After I wrote the post entitled Last Dayon Saturday, what I experienced was shadow; doubt and darkness.

I had written in passion, faith and confidence--not in self, but in God. A friend responded with an affirming comment and I responded back, but right after doing so, I felt uneasy and started to question myself. Had I been too sure of what I wrote? Too brashly confident?

The feeling lingered over the next few days, when all sorts of "old self" responses to people popped up in my heart. I didn't feel at all like somebody who had just had a "White Funeral" and Last Day.

It was confusing and disap…
Congratulations to a friend and fellow member of  The Word Guild , Ann Voskamp. Her first book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, released on Monday to incredible sales figures. On amazon.com: Number 4 on Hot New Releases in Books, Number 8 in Religion and Spirituality, and Number 13 on the Top 100 Books.

It does not release on amazon.ca until February 1, but it's rapidly rising there to #53 in Top 100 Books.

I read about the release yesterday, on my friend Marilyn’s blog and went right over to order a couple of copies through the link there to (In) Courage, where Dayspring has a time limited special offer. I love that there you can sponsor an additional book for anyone who wants the book and can't afford it. That sounds just like the Kingdom family.

Ann is the blogger whom I once tried to nominate for an award. She is so not into awards that she told all of her readers (over a thousand a day at that time) to vote for the blog of the dear lady who n…

A Smattering

By Belinda

A smattering of this and that...

I didn't write about this when it happened the weekend before last because I was so embarrassed. Molson and I went to visit two friends at a nursing home. All went well during our first visit on the second floor where the woman we visited has memory loss. She is the mother of someone in our congregation and is staying in the nursing home for four weeks while her daughter, who she lives with, is away. Her daughter had asked for visitors while she is there. I asked if she liked dogs, as I would take Molson with me if she did. She was delighted and told me that her mother's favourite T.V. show is  Sue Thomas FB Eye ; one I hadn't heard of, but based on a true story of a detective with a dog. The heroine is an expert lip reader and her hearing ear dog, named Levi,  is a golden retriever. It was love at first sight when Molson appeared and he was patted and stroked by the woman and a small crowd of other residents of the home who were…

Last Day

By Belinda

Today in My Utmost for His Highest, I read about having a "White Funeral"--"a crisis of death"--and a "resurrection into the life of Jesus Christ."

This is something I have been pondering and writing about a lot lately. It is as though God is determined to establish a rock solid understanding of this principle within me, and in everything I read, whether scriptures or the same devotionals I have read many times before, the obvious requirement and possibility of this gift and grace is leaping off every page and line.

There is an absolute necessity of it if we are to experience Christ as both Saviour and Sanctifier, and now I believe that we should learn about it as the immediate next step after any decision to follow Christ, but I think that often we aren't taught, or don't get it if we are. It makes the step of baptism so clearly an outward demonstration of an inner reality. I think that many people could be baptised without fully compr…

Hillside Goes to the Holy Land

Susan is having a very busy week but will be back soon!


By Belinda

"Will you be going to Bethlehem Belinda?" my brother Rob asked on Saturday. He seems as excited as I am that  I am headed to Israel on February 20th and is keenly interested in where we'll be and what we will see.

Paul and I are going with a group from our own and a neighbouring church, on a trip led by our pastor, who went for the first time a couple of years ago. To see the places he had read of in the Bible and preached about, made everything come alive for him. The trip had a deep spiritual impact.

Last night I drove to church for worship practice to find that instead we had another assignment from pastor--to record 6 songs for a baptismal and communion service that he'll be leading while we are there. There were just five of us: Esther the pastor's wife, who played the piano and sang, Paivi (Brave Raven in the comments section); Frances a.k.a. Poppy; Cheryl and me.

After we practised each son…

Honouring a Hero

By Belinda

A few months ago, Paul and I watched Irena Sendler In the Name of Their Mothers , an excellent movie about a Polish social worker who rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War.          

Irena Sendler, died in 2008 at the age of 98 and was a woman of great faith, courage and heroism. This beautiful music was composed and dedicated to her: Sleeping with the Angels--Irena Sendler Symphony.

While I was at my writers' group yesterday evening, having a Night of Suspense, Paul was also out at the first meeting of a committee he was asked to sit on, to help plan a garden in Toronto in memory of holocaust victims. It turned out that he was the only man, and the only non Jewish person on the committee. An elderly woman on the committee revealed that when she was 8 years old, she was one of the children rescued from the Warsaw Ghetto by Irena Sendler!

When Paul and I had a chance to talk over breakfast and I found out that he had met this wom…

A Night of Suspense

By Belinda

In from the bone chilling cold and dark of an Ontario January evening we all stumbled, in to the hospitable warmth of Bonnie's house. We came shivering and with bodies tensed against the icy grip of winter, ready for tension of a different kind--an evening sharing writing on the topic of "suspense."

I had racked my brain intermittently for days but failed to come up with any inspiration on the topic, so I went empty handed, but looking forward to listening.

There were nine of us; women whose ages range from 40s to 80s on this particular night. Who knew that such gentle female souls hid talents in the macabre vein?!

We sat on the edge of our seats, gasping as we listened to each cleverly woven tale of suspense. We whispered under our breath, "No, don't do it; don't go down those stairs; stay in your room!" And we sighed in frustration as the main characters seemed determined to ignore our urgings.

I am prone to getting carried away by stories …

Here Comes the Bride

By Belinda

Paul and I are reading Bruxy Cavey's book The End of Religion over our coffee and oatmeal each morning. It's been on my bookshelf for a year or so and after hearing him speak in December I wanted to read more of what he had to say. So far we have come to the conclusion that the track record of the church in pursuit of "religion" over the years, has been pretty depressing, which is why these verses below always were a puzzle to me. Not the part about husbands loving their wives, or Christ loving the church, but the part about "the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle." I could see lots of spots and wrinkles and could understand his love for us only in the sense that  "love is blind."
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, …

Footsteps

By Belinda

I confess that I have not followed Jesus well to this point in my life. I thought that I had made at least a good attempt, but really I have been far more in step with the culture I live in than with the pattern Jesus lived; and they are both very different. You can read the Bible, as I have, and know it well, but have a sort of blindness to the implications for your own life.

For instance:

John 5:19 (New Living Translation)
19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.


This is a verse that is quite shocking when you think of who Jesus is. Jesus laid down a pattern of humble dependence on God, of not running ahead of God.  By contrast, my life is driven by busyness; by plans and goals and deadlines that have been set without any consultation with God. How arrogant, when I contrast this with the way of Jesus.

Here is another example of this same spirit …

From the Inside Out

By Belinda

On Saturday morning on CBC radio, a psychologist was talking about why we make and break New Years resolutions. If we could make change that easily we would all be slim, fit and healthy.

We get it so wrong when we try hard to change our behaviour from the "outside in." It just doesn't work, but it takes a long time to figure that out.

I've known this theoretically for a long time--in fact my journals record the times when it was particularly clear and I experienced both the helplessness to change and the miracle of God's transformation in an area of my life.

While I've known and experienced it, I haven't lived it consistently or fully understood why it is so important to get this right. But I believe that it is a pivotal truth.

So how do you change from the inside out? I am learning that it is through communion with, and union with, Christ.

We are such a busy culture in the West but relationships take time. God will not be hurried, and learnin…

Evolution

By Belinda
Readers have probably noticed that my posts have been sporadic of late. I used to schedule them at 12.01 a.m. precisely and readers could count on one waiting in the morning unless a major disaster had occurred or I couldn't get to a computer (which to me amounts to the same thing.)

But there are temptations to post for the wrong reasons. Bloggers get affirmation from comments and the number of people who "follow" or read our posts and it's not so easy to unravel the motivations to write.

I want to write things here that are of worth to you, the reader. The only thing I can give that is of true worth is what God says to me. He doesn't say things all the time. Sometimes he just wants me to wait for him and to be quiet. So I'm learning to wait and not feel pressured by feelings that are driven by ego; to trust God's timing.

There will sometimes be humour here--or recipes; some family and friendship stories--and the story of our ongoing faith jou…

What More Can I Say?

Fridays with Susan...

Love is patient,

love is kind.

It does not envy,

it does not boast,

it is not proud. 

It does not dishonor others,

it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs. 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

Love always protects,

Love always trusts,

Love always hopes,

Love always perseveres...

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, 8a

*********
"God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love."  Henry Drummond



Carrot Quiche

I have an old Purity Cook Book circa 1974; the year I was 24 and took on being chief cook and bottle washer for a crew of 16 hungry mouths most days--except for when we had company when the count went up to 20. :)

The cook book is well used and spattered but in recent years has sat on my cook book shelf, overshadowed by the newer books that I tend to use now, my current favourites being, for obvious reasons, the Light Hearted Cook Books and Health Cooking for the Rushed series.

But now and again I like to make an old favourite recipe and lately I've been doing that more often. This isn't about an old favourite though, but a new favourite from the old book. I love carrots and cheese and had often thought that I would like to try the carrot quiche recipe. It only took me 36 years to get around to it (I happened to have some left over cooked carrots!) It was so delicious that I will be making up for lost time and making it often. The sweetness of the carrots with the tang of the ch…
By Belinda

Yesterday...I shared the embarking upon of an adventure and it appears that I have a small band of friends on the journey. The journey?
Giving up:
* Self effort and "law keeping"
* Action independent of God, and
* "Religion" as a form or mindset
And
Taking up:
* Obedience to the still small voice of God
* True relationship with God, and
* The demise of my old self "by faith"

The fact that some friends heard in the words written here, a call that resonated with them, is exciting and sobering all at once. It is exciting because any journey is better with friends. It is sobering because I think of something Oswald Chambers said:

If I allow any private deflection from God in my life, everyone about me suffers. When once you allow physical selfishness, mental slovenliness, moral obtuseness, spiritual density, everyone belonging to your crowd will suffer.


The wonderful thing though, is that where once this would have lain on my shoulders as a doom fil…

Giving Up

By Belinda

So here we are three days in already to a brand new year and I haven't written one thing about goals for this or that area of my life. I'm not sure why that's the case.

I remember committing myself in previous years to getting more sleep. Since going to the sleep clinic last year, and resolving my problem with sleep apnea, my only problem seems to be getting out of bed! I am getting a good 7 or 8 hours a night and loving it. So no, I don't need more sleep, although I could do a better job of getting to bed on time.

Exercise? Well, my golden personal trainer gives me lots of encouragement and motivation in that department--at least to keep walking. But I do have a set of weights that I know I could use to develop more upper body strength and my friend Dave wrote a very funny blog post today at Rolling Around in My Head that reminded me of the importance of this. Besides I would love to have toned arms instead of "bingo wings" that wave in the wind w…

Life Story

By Belinda

The sign said, "Book Sale $1.00 Each." I had left home to run a few errands and one of them was a stop at the library to return some audio books. The sign drew me from my purpose like an ice cream parlour on a hot day. If I never buy another book as long as I live I will not run out of reading material, but I couldn't pass by without looking.

As I picked up a book to leaf through, a man on the opposite side of the table said, "These are mine." He patted a pile of 8 or 10 books that he had collected to establish that they were taken. I smiled and said that I wouldn't touch them. "Isn't this great though?" I said, "What a good opportunity."

He said, "Yes, I'm retired since March, with lots of time to read. I used to work--too much." And he laughed as if I might know what he meant by that.

His voice was cultured, with a hint of the Caribbean; warm and charming. He wore a knitted Nordic style hat and a thick coat…