Thursday, April 28, 2011

Flying Straighter

By Belinda

My friend Marilyn wrote a short p.s. in a comment on my last post: Flying Straight. I had struggled to give words to something that is more easily felt than expressed and which I called lamely, "leading while close," for the lack of a better way to put it.

Marilyn's comment said, "p.s. I look forward to your expanded thoughts on leading while close."


Of course that nudged me to think harder--knowing that someone was "looking forward " to "expanded thoughts." I don't even know if I will do any better in this attempt, but I'm hoping that you will bear with me as I try to explain.  In my journal I used the words "leading with," rather than "leading while close," but neither really says what I meant. What I was really straining for were words that were the opposite of my natural tendency to lead, "from a polite distance."

I have held boundaries that I thought were necessary in order to do my part effectively and I don't think that is all wrong--in fact it is necessary, but I think I need flexible boundaries and sometimes they need to expand.

As I pondered this I thought of the prayer of Jabez, which we heard so much about a few years ago.
 9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10, New International Version, ©2011)
I'm not sure how it applies (you will notice that I'm not sure of much these days, but God,) but the expanding boundaries are in that prayer.

A leader needs to know when to draw close; to get involved; to be with, one of their team that is struggling, whatever the reason.

It seems obvious but it hasn't been.

 Why not? Natural reticence; not wanting to intrude on another's territory; not wanting to cultivate dependency; self protectiveness; not perceiving the depth of need, and lack of self confidence come immediately to mind. I realize that what needs to change is that I plunge in when necessary to come alongside someone in a more practical than cerebral way--to lead by doing and helping.

To some others this would be more natural and obvious and their struggle would be a different one but for me this has been an area of weakness. I am asking God to change me.

I have always been involved heart to heart and seat to seat within my office--but my hands and feet need to be engaged with my heart and mind--where they are needed.

Seeing this in words, I am afraid it will seem rudimentary to some, but it isn't to me. I go forward knowing that God has to work this into me and be my protection instead of me being my own protection.

Thanks for tuning in and listening. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Susan sent me this video of Carrie Underwood singing How Great Thou Art. What a blessing! I had to pass it on.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Flying Straight


By Belinda

In the front of my cherished Harold Taylor Day Planner there is a really important page. And until today it has remained blank--as pristine as the day I first looked at it in anticipation of the coming year, back in December.

It is because it is so important that it remains blank. And if that makes no sense now that I am writing it down, that is a good fact to acknowledge. Not taking time for the most important things and getting trapped in trivia are things this planner tries hard to help me avoid after all! :)

The page is headed, 2011 Policies and Annual Goals, and has the instruction, "In the space below, write in your personal policies such as, 'I will not work on Sundays.' Stick to these in order to maintain balance and personal integrity.

I have my 2010 Mission Statement and Principles to Live By in a binder, and it still inspires and challenges me when I read them. They are still foundational aspirations in my life. But I hope that I never stop growing and learning and so the list has to be dynamic and living.
I wrote back then:

Mission

To live, work and lead as a disciple of Christ, demonstrated by:
  • Passion
  • Purpose
  • Intentionality
  • Discipline
  • Integrity
Passion: Proclaiming and demonstrating a particular truth with faithfulness and integrity; inspiring others to follow
Purpose: Actively seeking God's agenda and planning to accomplish my part in it
Intentionality: Deliberately choosing actions focused on key priorities
Discipline: Choosing to avoid distractions in order to focus on the truly important: Spiritual, physical and relational health
Integrity: Living true

"Living true" compels me to confess that I have not lived up to my aspirations, but they are still the rocks that are foundational to all that I hold important, with an additional principle that has clamoured for my attention and pushed to the forefront of my mind and heart lately:

Humanity:  The quality of being humane (kindness; compassion; mercy.) Demonstrated by listening deeply; not rushing to judgement; leading while close; not from afar.

"Leading while close" deserves more explanation, but that is a blog post for another time.

Some verses I love to reflect on often as God's building blocks, seem to land in the same place. I leave them with you to think on too:

 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8, New International Version, ©2011)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Hilarity of Growing Older


There are things about growing older that are just plain fun. There is the phenomenon known as "loss of nouns," for instance. I'm all over that. Or maybe it would be more apt to say, "It's all over me!" 

I was reassured that it isn't just people getting older who have this problem when one of my small grandchildren asked me at church recently, before coming over to our house, "Omie do you have any of those round white things?" 

"Round white things? Do you mean Grandad's Scotch mints?"

"No, they're sugary," his eyes were "seeing them" as he talked. They looked far away and dreamy. 

"And they melt on your tongue when you put them in your mouth," he continued.

All I could think of was those small pastel coloured rice paper flying saucer things filled with sherbet that I used to buy at the sweet shop in England when I was a child. I don't remember what they are called either! But I knew they weren't what he was trying to describe.

In the end, after racking my brains and several unsuccessful guesses, I shouted, "Oh, oh, oh! You mean meringues--Yes, I have some!"

And he nodded happily. He is addicted to those things--those little round white sugary baked egg white nests. 

Consider how much fun it was landing on the answer and how boring it would have been had he simply asked if I had any meringues in stock.  Our conversation would have been so short. 

"Yes," or "No," or, "I will have to get some," would have been choice of my replies. Instead we had our very own quiz show.

It was embarrassing though, when I gave my camera to someone to take a photo of Paul and me on vacation. I don't use the LCD screen for taking photos, but as my helpful volunteer tried to figure why it wasn't on, I stammered, "Just look through the, the--um--eye hole!" "Viewfinder" had taken wings and flown from my mind. 

My friend Dave, when he sent me yesterday's blog post, called it an, "Easter Thingy." I knew just what he meant. 

When I was young I used to think, "I'm never going to be one of those old people that take out their dentures  at night and put them in a glass."

Well, I'm not. We have better dental care nowadays and most people keep their teeth into old age. But there are other things!

Paul and I were getting ready to turn out the lights the other night. I use a C-Pap machine at night to counteract sleep apnea. I put it on once the lights are out because I am still embarrassed by looking like a cross between a human and an elephant. The thing you need to know is that once you've got that thing on you can't talk. The model I have has little pods that go in the nostrils. Air blows in through them. If you open your mouth, the air blows out like a gale force wind. 

Paul, on the other hand has taken to wearing ear plugs. He has very sensitive hearing and even though I no longer keep him awake by stopping breathing and gasping for air, the sound of the machine and occasional air leaking, is enough to drive him to distraction. 

So it is best if we say our goodnight's before plugging in or hooking up. The other night Paul broke this rule and said something affectionate to me in the dark once I had my contraption on. I opened my mouth to try in vain to speak through the blasting air.

And he shouted, "Eh?" 

I collapsed into giggles at the hopelessness of communicating at all.

And now I'm just waiting until someone introduces themselves to me and says, "Hi, I'm ---"

And I say, "Oh, pleased to meet you--And I am?" :)

Then I can laugh and say, "Just testing!"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What to Wear for Easter

I found this post in my blog's archives; written three years ago by one of my favourite writers and a dear friend; Dave Hingsburger. As an Easter gift, I am sharing it again. Happy Easter everyone!

A guest post by Dave Hingsburger

I've never understood the relationship between clothing and faith. Long before I became aware that we lived in a multi-cultural world, I questioned the very idea that God cares about what we wear to church. The high holidays of Easter and Christmas had my family getting dressed up and trotting off to church. There in the pews I saw everyone else from my small town dressed differently than they did normally. Tough, hard, miners hands stuck out of uncomfortable suits. Strong backed, strong armed mothers looked somehow wrong in pinks and pastels. I remember, wearing shirts that hurt to wear, wondering if God were looking down on us approvingly for dressing up for him. It seemed like we were playing 'pretend' and trying to trick God into thinking that clean clothes meant clean hearts and that well combed hair meant well ordered lives. It didn't make sense to me.
 
It still doesn't. I see people, in my modern and fast paced city, wearing clothes that tells me of their faith. It seems to me, always, to be a statement more about culture than faith. It strikes me odd, to suggest that God has a dress code. What you wear on your head and what you carry in your heart seems to be two very different things. But then, the other day, I saw something that made me question my thinking. I saw a beautifully dressed couple and from their clothing, I knew that their faith was real and that God was, indeed, smiling and approving.
 
We had stopped for lunch on a long road trip. We headed to a mall to find a food court. These are places that offer travellers both speed and choice. Joe and I have very different Food Court favourites so we go our separate ways and then meet up at a table. I had decided on having an A and W Swiss Veggie Melt. I lined up and then, in time, ordered. The veggie burger takes a little longer so I pulled to the side to wait. A young couple, the couple in question, were in the line up behind me. They were notable primarily because of how they related to each other. In a place of bustle and hurry, of rush and pressure, many snap at each other and grow impatient with choices taking longer than a second or two. These two were easy with each other and easy on each other. Behind them was a mother with a fussy child. When it came their turn, they turned to her and offered her to go first. She did so, without thanking them for their kindness, and they only glanced at each other with understanding for the mother's plight.
 
When they got to the counter and placed their order they asked the clerk how her day had been. She looked up in shock and appreciation and said, 'Really busy today.' He said, 'Well, know that it's appreciated.' His girlfriend nodded. The clerk looked at them as if they were from Mars and thanked them. They waited aside with me. We chatted briefly about the day. At one point the young woman offered to hold a small baby as a father, more used to balancing a checkbook than a baby, tried to find his wallet. She giggled with the child until Dad was done and then handed him back. By now several people had noticed them.
 
My burger was ready and I grabbed it and headed to find a table. Joe and I sat three tables down and one over from the couple. I was just telling him about them when they came into view and Joe looked over to see them. What he saw was, for a moment, quite ordinary. They were in their early twenties. She wore jeans and white embroidered top. He, too, wore jeans and a pull over jersey. They sat across from each other, pulled their burgers out from their wrapping and then set them down on the paper. They then each, quietly, bowed their heads and said grace. Done, they went to their meals.
 
'Ah,' I thought, 'that explains it.' 
 
Their difference was marked not by the clothes on their backs but by the behaviour they wore. They had cloaked themselves in humility and service, kindness and consideration. And I swear to you this, no Easter bonnet had ever looked as beautiful. They needed no costume to set them apart. They needed only to be what they believed, act what they felt and wear what they found true in order to demonstrate what God meant in their lives. It takes work to clothe actions in belief and it takes courage to wear one's faith on one's sleeve.
 
'Hmm,' I thought, to myself. 'Perhaps it's just easier to buy a hat.' 


A Pre-Easter Devotion

By Belinda

Dear friends, Susan shared this with me this morning with these words, "This will be a few minutes well spent.  Perfect for a pre-easter devotional...  It's wordless, but powerful." 

I did take a few minutes, and it was, so of course, I wanted to share it with you. I pray that as you prepare for Easter morning, Easter will come alive in your heart as it is in mine this weekend.

I am looking forward to the Sunrise Service at the Tottenham Conservation area, which mercifully starts at 7.00 this year. :) 


My dear friend Dave has written a beautiful piece for Whatever He Says on What to Wear for Easter. I will be posting it for our Easter post this evening, so that we all have time to get dressed appropriately. Eastter blessings

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beyond Raisin

By Belinda

It all started over supper on Thursday evening. Jane said to me, "Belinda, can you make raisin pie?" 

"Well, I never have," I said, "But I'm sure I could find a recipe, why?"

It turned out that Jane; a retired Salvation Army officer and a volunteer chaplain with the Toronto Police Force, had asked a man whom she's supporting through his last few weeks of life, what his favourite pie is.  It is raisin. 

I was on it! And on Saturday morning after breakfast I told Brenda what was on my agenda.

"You're making raisin pie?!" She was excited, "Can I buy two--one for Pastor Dan and one for Easter dinner with Kevin's family?" 

Of course she could; I'm still baking as many pies as I get orders for, for the Power of One fund raising cause.  

I consulted my most trusted recipe books when it comes to pies: my Better Homes and Gardens, and my old Purity Cook Book from the 1970's. Better Homes's raisin pie had walnuts; lemon and orange peel and a lattice top. It would probably be delicious, but it seemed too exotic. I didn't know if Jane's friend liked nuts with his raisin pie and I am all thumbs when it comes to making a lattice top, so I opted for the aptly named Purity recipe. Pure and simple--a classic raisin pie.

I have never cared for raisin pie made with pie filling, but I had never had a home made raisin pie. I felt as though I was embarking on a pie making adventure.

I decided to make 6 pies because 3 were already spoken for and as long as I was making pie, I thought I might as well make it worthwhile.

Each pie required 2 cups of raisins, but when I checked what I had on hand, all I had was enough for 3 pies. I decided to make that my first batch and then go and buy more raisins. 

So to 6 cups of raisins I added 6 cups of water. This is where things started to go badly wrong. The recipe said to simmer the raisins in the water for 10 minutes and then add sugar mixed with flour, but not having done this before, I added the sugar before I realized it. No worries, I thought, It can't do any harm to simmer the sugar with the raisins and then add the flour. Ha! How wildly wrong I was. 

I don't know what I was thinking, but once I had done simmering the raisins, I added the solo flour to the mixture. I know better, but because the recipe had said to stir it in gradually WITH the sugar, I didn't think about the fact that it might make a difference if it had no sugar. Of course it did, and the flour instantly turned into little white, solid dumplings. No matter how fast I stirred, even with my wire whisk, the dastardly deed was done, and to my horror I now had a mass of sticky, sweet raisins, interspersed with white globules.

This is when Paul came into the kitchen to see how I was doing....He bravely ventured in to the danger zone and advised that draining off the liquid would be a good idea. I hated to admit that he was right--whose kitchen was this, after all? But I swallowed my pride, got out my colander and sat it in another saucepan and poured in the goop, while mentally setting aside my original Saturday agenda for the kitchen equivalent of a chain gang. 

For the next half hour I picked out never ending opaque globs of flour with a spoon, silently thanking God that I had been down to my last 6 cups of raisins. Can you imagine if I had had 12 cups? I thought of Jane's friend and how much I wanted him to have the finest pie I could make. I imagined him squinting at a forkful of succulent raisins and spotting a small white blob amongst the glistening golden brown. "What might that small  white thing be?" he would wonder.  A fine treat that would be.

In the end, I admit, when I got to chasing down the final vestiges of congealed flour, I had tossed aside the spoon and was picking the flour out of the sticky mass of raisins with well washed hands until finally it was done and the raisins could be reunited with the liquid and have replacement flour added, more carefully this time, in a smooth paste made with lemon juice.

My next batch, after buying more raisins, went beautifully. I held my breath as I added the flour, mixed with sugar, but it blended in perfectly. 

At the end of the day it was worth it all. Six perfect golden pies cooled on the black wire racks--a labour of love. 

Paul and I had to try some to make sure that it was satisfactory. And I decided that a small slice of plump, juicy raisin pie is a very nice accompaniment indeed, to a cup of tea. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

With Greater Care

By Belinda

I have continued thinking about Thursday's post on the issue of abortion. It generated some thoughtful comments, and a private email discussion with another friend, all of which helped me sort out my thoughts better than I had when I wrote on Thursday evening.

What I wrote I sounds judgemental and black and white. And I used the words "erase the result of an unthinkable assault." Abortion ends a life and I diminished that fact by my choice of words. That doesn't mean though, that I stand in judgement on anyone who has made that choice, no matter how painfully or easily. So I wanted to come back to the topic with greater care.

The friend who wrote to me privately said that what bothered her was that many who believe it is wrong to kill an unborn baby through abortion advocate for capital punishment and support their country going to war to kill other people, especially in countries that supply their oil.

She emphasized the importance of giving women facing an unwanted pregnancy a range of choices, including support in choices that don't involve ending the pregnancy. Pro Choice agencies really only advocate one choice--abortion; but real choice means being informed of all of the options and the potential results, without pressure.

Jamie wrote in a comment that "of all the choices we have in this life, the choice that others have is not ours to make." I thought that comment profound.

J. wrote about two situations where rape was involved and both women had their child. One kept her child and the other child was adopted. One of the women found faith in Christ after the birth of her baby and some time later turned in a grocery line to see the man who had raped her. When she saw him she was able to extend forgiveness. She made the point that for both women the rape and pregnancy were not choices they made, but it was God's choice that they conceived (for there are no "mistakes" in this world when children are conceived,) and in the end it was the women's choice to have the children.

Susan's comment was a perfect conclusion:
Paul is right. We don't condemn. But though I wouldn't condemn another for the choice they make, I would have a difficult time making that choice myself. 
God very often asks us to do the hard thing in the short term - and to trust him for how it turns out in the long term. It's not what happens TO us that is so important in determining the measure of blessing that rests on our lives - it is our RESPONSE to what happens TO us. If we respect his ways and disdain our own short answers, he never, ever, ever lets us down. Ever. 
But he is also a God who forgives. And we have ALL fallen short - thousands of times in a myriad of ways. I would never think I was better than someone who felt they had to make a different choice...
So, thank you dear friends on the journey, for helping talk this through to a good and loving place. For those that were in the "live" discussion on Thursday, if anyone felt judged for sharing your opinion, and is reading here now, please forgive me for sounding (and maybe being,) so self righteous.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pro Life--Pro Choice

By Belinda

A conversation with some friends on the issue of pro choice versus pro life, left me thinking. A couple of friends surprised me with their point of view. One friend said he thought that if a woman was the victim of a brutal rape, she should have the choice to end the pregnancy. He said he was pro choice--"God gives us freedom of choice," he said.

"Freedom of choice to kill?" I asked.

The group of us, all believers, talked it through long and hard; me, still surprised that it would even be a question.

But I wondered later if I was being hypocritical.  Would I compromise if the issue was closer to home--not so hypothetical? Would I be tempted by the ability to erase the result of an unthinkable assault if a grandchild was the victim?

It's easy to be so sure when it isn't you in the situation.

In the next room Paul was discussing the same question with another group of friends and afterwards he said, when I shared our discussion, "We don't condemn."

It's one of the reasons I love him. He steadfastly refuses to condemn, without being blind to injustice and wrong--a fine balance to strike.

As I tidied away the dishes I wondered why I hadn't thought of her sooner, during our conversation--my great grandmother Adriana. She who was raped, and bore my grandmother Kaatje. I don't know if choice ever entered her head but there are six great, great, great grandchildren of hers that I love dearly and it's hard to imagine that I and they would not be here at all, had she had a choice and made it differently.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quotes

By Belinda

Today at work some of us took time out from the regular routine. About 50 of us laughed, worshipped, drank coffee, enjoyed great food and listened to an inspirational guest speaker.

There were many great quotes, both profound and funny, floating around, but one really made me stop and think:

Strangely enough, this is the past that somebody in the future is longing to go back to.

I'm a live-in-the-moment kind of person already, but that quote has the capacity to ramp that up a notch. Doesn't it make you want to savour "now?" Doesn't it make you want to listen; inhale; look around; slow down; sniff the air; go hug the people you love? That's the effect it has on me. I'm thankful to be living now, where I live and with whom I live.

The speaker handed out individual quotes on slips of paper and we had to choose from the many, one that we could make our own, fold the paper in half and put our name on it. Well, the little group that I was sitting with were last to get the quotes and by the time they got to us they were pretty well picked over, so that's my excuse for the one I chose:

Bored while shopping at the mall?? Make a trail of orange juice on the floor leading to the restrooms.
I laugh every time I imagine doing it.  Of course there is no danger of me actually doing it because I cannot imagine ever being bored shopping at the mall!

When I was tidying up the papers left behind by the departing crowd, I found a handwritten quote that I loved:

We make mistakes because we live. To not make a mistake means we have not lived. Live for the mistakes.
And I end with a great piece of advice:
How to keep the workplace active: Put decaf in the coffeemaker for 3 weeks. Once every one has gotten over their caffeine addiction, switch to espresso! 

Do you have a favourite quote?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stormy Weather

By Belinda

I was distracted and worried about something this weekend and couldn't write, like I used not to be able to eat if I was stressed about something. I realize what a measure of my inner state writing is, and how wonderful it was today, as the burden on my heart began to lift somewhat, to hear myself "writing in my head" again, as I normally do. I knew I was "back." Please don't worry about me now, just in case you might. :) I am okay, and my worries were all about someone else--well, several "some-ones" actually--and you'd think I'd know better by now but my brain worried about all three of them all night long and now they've had their ration of my thinking time. I know I should have done a much better job of turning them over to God. But I kept turning them over to him, over and over again, all night long. :)

The weather here in Ontario has been as topsy-turvy as my heart. Yesterday morning we drove to church in a stiff wind, and rain coming down on a horizontal angle. Susan and I, with our friend Frances, were on the worship team in church and had just started the worship service when there was a big BANG and all the power went off. It came right back immediately to our relief, but then loud, ominous peals of thunder rumbled overhead throughout the service.

When I left church the rain had stopped, but the wind was gusting so strongly that we battled against it to our cars, and Susan warned me to watch my car door in the wind and I was glad she did, because I had to hold onto it tightly to stop it from blowing out of my hand and onto the big red van parked beside me.

I had an errand that had to be run after church and as I got out of the car at the next stop on my journey home, the air, which had been unseasonably warm at church, was now cool, with that "after the rain shower" delicious freshness. There must have been hot and cold streams of air colliding to produce the stormy weather.

Today another gusty day and I lost all hope of keeping any semblance of a hairdo. After two morning meetings I fought against the wind from my car to my office, rounding the corner with my laptop and lunch bag in one hand and my briefcase over my shoulder as the wind playfully picked strands of my hair and twirled them crazily around as if trying to blindfold me. Then to my dismay I heard the zip on the side of my overstuffed briefcase sliding open. The contents spilled out onto the next building's parking lot, landing only briefly, as the wind snatched the papers up--fresh fun!

I put down my briefcase, laptop and lunch bags, and knelt down to pick up the papers closest to me, while others swirled away, when a large, dusty red and silver fuel truck rounded the corner, and stopped. The driver, in t-shirt, jeans and baseball cap, climbed down and chased down the pages furthest away and against a nearby fence. He silently handed the sheaf of papers back to me, as I, hair wildly askew, thanked the kind stranger; who got back in his cab, and drove on down the road.

A simple act of kindness; stopping; helping; not turning a blind eye; making my day.

Tomorrow I am hoping for a better hair day. calmer weather, and a completely settled heart.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Small Powerful Choices

By Belinda

From July 2008. (Forgive me, friends, for not giving "fresh bread" this weekend. I needed to take some time to just "be." I shall be back!)
Each day is a series of small choices that seem insignificant at the moment, but which actually affect not just us but those with whom we connect, and maybe those with whom they connect.

I'm thinking of the choice at any given moment, between thinking negatively, speakng a word of criticism or complaint; or taking the road of gratitude and appreciation.

What started me thinking about this was an interview I heard on the radio this week. A comedian was the guest and I admired the way he managed to keep the interview positive. He said that he gets most of his material from reflecting on our culture, in which most of us have no idea how good we have it and tries to point that out by finding humour in the ludicrous; for example, someone getting frustrated by the fact that a computer takes 12 seconds to boot up, or how we have lengthy deliberations over where to eat out; "We had pizza yesterday, I don't want to have it again, let's have Chinese; no, let's have Greek, I feel like Greek tonight."

Pete called this morning and asked, "How are things Mom?" There was a split second when I had a choice and this time I made the right one; "this time" because so often I don't. It felt good to have chosen laughter and lightheartedness and to bless his weekend with a few endorphins released into his system. Apparently endorphins are more powerful than morphine and give an overall sense of well being.

There is a Facebook group that I stumbled upon, called, The Optimistic and Enthusiastic.Today this message was posted there"

Why Think Positively? All of our feelings, beliefs and knowledge are based on our internal thoughts, both conscious and subconscious. We are in control, whether we know it or not. Aim high and do your best We can be positive or negative, enthusiastic or dull, active or passive. The biggest difference between people is their attitudes. For some, learning is enjoyable and exciting. For others, learning is a drudgery. For many, learning is just okay, something required on the road to a job.

In the same vein, I read Psalm 106 today, in which the anonymous psalmist repents on behalf of himself and his people for a lack of gratitude and appreciation for all that God has done and exhorts us to praise God.

Psalm 106:1 (New International Version)
Praise the LORD.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
his love endures forever.

6 We have sinned, even as our fathers did;
we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
7 When our fathers were in Egypt,

they gave no thought to your miracles; 
they did not remember your many kindnesses, 
and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. 
.
13 ...they soon forgot what he had done

and did not wait for his counsel. 

When we notice, focus on and discuss the negative, we lose joy and spread gloom. It is sin, for we have so much to be grateful for. So, as I start a new day tomorrow, I will aim to bring joy to those I am with, and be grateful.

48 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, 
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, "Amen!"
Praise the LORD.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

By Belinda

My friend and coworker, Karen Lubbers a.k.a. Karebear, posted this video on her blog Riding in God’s Palm where she shares her journey of preparation and longing to return to Uganda.  She has to raise a certain amount of money to get back there with International Teams . The video shows the work that is to be done. We may be unable to be the hands, feet and heart to go there, but Karen is ready to go with our help. If God so moves on your heart, you can donate to her support on her blog.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

 By Belinda

I went to a memorial gathering today.

Someone said to me, "This is the best funeral I've been to," and how wonderful it was, that, "the clients," were "calling the shots."

It was a funny way to put it, but, "The clients calling the shots;" wouldn't be a bad philosophical stance for an agency doing some things right. And if life for people with disabilities turned out like our friend's memorial service, it wouldn't be a bad life at all, for it was wonderful.

They planned her memorial with her favourite colours, her favourite food (cheezies, butter tarts, chips and pop. Oh, and a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting showed up from somewhere, too,) and her favourite songs were sung, ending with, "You are my Sunshine."

I hope that when my time comes to be remembered,  people have fun the way we did today, (but I have a sneaking suspicion it won't be half as much fun,) and I hope as many people shed as many tears in fond memory.

In the midst of it all was a baby. This is Gabriel : remember him?

 You would not have guessed that this was a memorial service. Yes, there were tears, but good tears as we remembered someone who touched those who knew her deeply; mostly we laughed a lot. We laughed at ourselves and the way we were shaped by the one we were remembering and we laughed as the people we support took the microphone and told funny stories on the staff.
 For Marion these words are now present tense.

Pink was her favourite colour. There was lots of pink.

Someone mentioned that this was Toonie Tuesday at Kentucky Fried Chicken, her favourite day of the week, because that was her favourite food. She died two weeks ago today; another Tuesday. I hope this food can be found in heaven; after all, Colonel Sanders has been up there for 31 years now, perhaps he is longing to get cooking.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Mohrruben Kuchen A.K.A. Carrot Cake


By Belinda

This weekend I said to my brother Rob, over the phone, "Do you remember the carrot cake I used to make?" (This would have been in the 1970s when Rob lived with us for 2 years.)

"Remember it? Of COURSE I do," he said, leaving me in no doubt that his memories were fond.

I told him I'd made one last week, but I couldn't find my recipe and the one I made didn't quite taste the same, even though it went down just fine with all of us.

Well, I finally found the recipe. That's it, up there, on loose leaf, lined paper, with the splodges that must adorn all favourite recipes, handwritten by me, over thirty years ago!

It really is a great recipe, although not calorie conscious I'm afraid, but I console myself with the fact that it does have fruit, nuts and vegetables in it. Right now my house is fragrant. The result of an evening baking session.

1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
14 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups grated carrots

Grease an oblong 13 x 9 pan
Mix oil and sugar; add beaten eggs and blend thoroughly
Add flour which has been sifted with salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Add nuts, pineapple and carrots.
Bake at 325 degrees for approx 1 hour


Icing
3oz package Philadelphia cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 1b butter or margarine
1/2 1b icing sugar.

Blend together with electric beater and spread on cool cake.

Gather some friends and have a party! :)

Oh, Canada; Let’s Stand on Guard for our Veterans: A Challenge to Canada’s Political Candidates

Derek Shelly of Post Media News invited an array of bloggers from across the country to participate in an on-line election project called "the Real Agenda;" in which we could raise the issues we think our politicians should be talking about on the campaign trail. This is Whatever He Says' submission.

By Belinda

I was in my car, listening to an interview on CBC radio with a Canadian soldier and his wife. He was home from the war in Afghanistan; sort of. He was home in body, but the man who came home was not the same man that left—not on the inside. Their story was of a lack of understanding, financial support, and resources for returning vets.

I reached my destination, but found myself gripped by the interview. I grew up in the 1950s, the daughter of a veteran of World War 11. He never spoke of what he experienced until just before his death. He drank too much; was prone to rage and was distant emotionally, except when drinking.

We didn’t know the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) back then, but now that label explains a lot. He was suffering, and not just with the old shrapnel wound in his leg. He had wounds that no one saw but which were just as real as those you could. And he was just doing the best he could with the wounds that were never acknowledged. I wish I had been able to tell him that I understood all that before he died. Too late I realize just how brave he was and that he would have been so different had he not been through the unimaginable trauma of the battle field.

Men and women of my generation—the Baby Boomers--know the impact a war had on our parents---we lived with the scars and it isn’t hard in hindsight, to connect the dots.

With current knowledge and awareness, we should do a better job of understanding and supporting veterans who are physically or emotionally disabled as a result of active duty, but, according to the interview, it seems that the help they and their families need, is just not there.

The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces represent the people of Canada when they go to keep peace or wage war. They do a job that puts them in harm’s way. I am proud of their bravery, sacrifice, and the difference they make for less fortunate countries while representing Canada.

Canada is known internationally for the way it honours its fallen soldiers, but surviving soldiers are heroes too. We must not abandon them in their hour of need.

As we embark on a federal election campaign in Canada, I would like to hear from the leadership candidates about their party’s plans to honour all of our returning veterans, ensuring we make life better for them and their families.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Found Treasure Part 2

Today in England it is Mothering Sunday. My friend Dave Hingsburger sent me this in response to Friday's post, Found Treasure about Mum's Potato Leek Soup recipe. With his kind permission, it seems like the perfect post for today, when I am thanking God for my treasured Mum. with whom I will  be talking this morning.

By Dave

I sat peeling potatoes and glancing down at the recipe. It was deceptively simple and, concerningly lacking in herbs and spices. But I was determined to make it as written. I'd found the recipe on your blog and loved the way it was written. It wasn't one of those impersonal recipes, it was from Mother to Daughter and if you listened carefully you could hear the voice behind the words. I remember when we were in England last and drove through Alvechurch on a whim. We loved seeing the town you'd written about and it was easy to imagine you there. Though we've never met your mother, we'd seen her picture and when we saw the town we knew that she, like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, fit snugly in her surroundings. Making her soup was a means of us talking about the day in Alvechurch, our friendship with you and allowed me to remember, out loud again, how we first met in the big house where you made home for those who hadn't one.
 
When we lived in Quebec we loved cooking for the church dinners or when it was our turn to do tea after service. I'd make huge cakes for the tea. Our biggest casserole dishes would be pulled out for the dinners. I'd spend hours looking through cookbooks and figuring out how to adapt recipes to our vegetarion lifestyle. We got good at it. The church folk took some time getting used to eating flavourful food that wasn't meat based - but they did get used to it and we never brought any left overs home. There was somethign very spiritual in bustling around a kitchen preparing food for the nourishment of others. There is an intimacy there that is hard to explain to those who don't simply get it. I know you get it. I read of your cell groups and family dinners and I know that you too like to make food that makes welcome.
 
As Joe pureed the soup he gasped as it turned into a wonderful silky consistency - creamy without cream. We tossed in, just like your mother had written, the slightly fried vegetables and then let it all simmer together. We were making, in our home far from your home, another memory. A Belinda memory. A memory of a mother we'd never met but knew we'd love. Recipes shared do that don't they? 
 
We had the soup and loved the simplicity of it. We knew that this was a soup that came out of hard times. This was a soup made of penny potatoes and left over vegetables. This was a soup of necessity that women of our mother's generation made in order to feed our hungry stomachs. It's strange to me, that only years later that I realized that what fed us wasn't the food, but the hand behind the food. Your mother's hand made this soup. Your mother's hand wrote the recipe. Her gifts to you was one that you shared - history, love and cramped words on crinkled paper.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Found Treasure

Note: Susan's brain is still oozing out of her ears but the good news is that it is March 31 and the renovations going on in the home she supervises are almost done. I'm hoping she's back next week for Fridays with Susan. I miss her and I know you do too, but you only have one brain and I don't want to push any more of hers out under the pressure of writing a blog post. :)

By Belinda

Cell group is about a lot of things and one of them is food; gathering around a table with friends who are like family  and having an old fashioned family dinner every week.

I love creating the meal--nothing fancy--simple, tasty and plain, comfort food.

Tonight 14 people sat around our two tables (and Susan arrived after everyone else had left, so that made 15) and somehow the 1.2kg of chicken that went into the yummy butter chicken, fed us all, well padded out by fragrant basmati rice, lots of cauliflower, peas and beans and crusty sliced Italian bread with butter.

For dessert I made something I love but haven't made for a long time--pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

I was clearing away the dishes  while waiting for Susan to arrive. She had called from 10 minutes down the highway to say she was on her way and was there any food left.

I pondered the carrot cake. It had been very nice, and the recipe was close to the one I used to use, but I thought it wasn't quite the same, so I left the dishes and went to my cookbook bookshelf and looked first in the old, red, loose leaf binder. The recipe wasn't there. I had a feeling it was upstairs in a file folder of favourite recipes that were meant for a cookbook that hasn't happened yet, but just in case it wasn't, I checked an old photo album that I used years ago to stick recipes in that I had cut out of magazines or newspapers, along with a few handwritten ones.

As I turned the pages of recipes collected some 30 years ago, I caught my breath at familiar handwriting--Mum's. Now Mum never really loved cooking. It was something that had to be done to feed the family and she did make meals lovingly for us--just not because she loved it. So I was surprised to find Mum's handwriting in the book. I began to read and "her voice," a voice I haven't heard for almost  8 years, since she had a stroke, spoke to me from the page. I can't tell you what a gift it was to" hear her."

Here "she" is (it's a leek and potato soup recipe:)

"2 LITRE OF STOCK, you boil 8 potatoes in that until they're done. Rub the potatoes through a sieve. Then, or while the potatoes are boiling, you prepare 2 large leeks, 2 large onions, 2 large carrots, 2 sticks of celery, all cut up small and washed. Let it drip out well and slightly  fry all the vegetables in a lump of butter or margarine. It shrinks quite a bit of course, as it should. Then add the lot to the potato broth and add some savoury stuff. I throw some broth cubes in it and a bit of season all salt (from Canada) over the frying vegetables. It all adds to the flavour. It ends up to be about 3 litres of soup. Very filling as well I think. I promised I'd write it down, so there you are. Mind you, I think a bit of bacon in the frying veg wouldn't go amiss either, or ham."

What a lovely surprise it was to find this. I have never made it yet, but you can be sure that it will be on the menu soon. Found treasure!