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Showing posts from May, 2011

Living on Grace and Gratitude

By Belinda

It's a year since I wrote about my mother in law in a post titled: Celebrating Someone Special She was turning 84 then.

On June 2nd she will be 85. This photo, with Paul, her middle son, was taken four years ago when he turned 60.

I was at a meeting this afternoon when my cell phone rang. When I heard my daughter-in-law Sue's worried voice on the other end I left the animated group of people deep into planning a course curriculum and found a quiet place to listen. My sister-in-law had been trying to reach us, but Sue didn't know why. A call to my answering machine at home gave the reason. I found a message there from Wendy saying that something had happened to Paul's mom--a stroke she thought-- and she was in hospital in the city of Barrie.

I quickly called Sue back and then went back into the board room and gathered up my laptop and briefcase with a quiet and hurried explanation to those who were reading worry on my face. Whispered promises of "We'…

Epic Leadership

By Belinda

Epic (genre), stories depicting a series of heroic feats--according to Wikipedia.


Stories of heroism inspire me; so do virtues such as courage and sacrifice. In fact, my friend Susan, who knows me well, once gave me The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories to take with me on a plane journey. Although it is a children's book, I love it.

At the same time as working on the practical elements within in our control in situations that can be described as difficult--there is a critical power to be harnessed with great potential to bring positive change; the power of story.

I'm talking about the story people tell themselves. If that story can change, there is nothing that can defeat us. It may be true that the words "tough," "difficult," and  "stressful," are apt, but if we rise above those words and change our descriptors we can change our experience of the situation. We can soar instead of sink--and I believe that this change can …

The Story Continues...

Readers may remember several posts I wrote last year about the tragic death of a  police officer who was a family friend during his teenage years (see Remembering Vu Pham )

I also wrote about his partner, Constable Dell Mercey, in this post: A Life with a Purpose

One of our cell group members, Jane, who is a chaplain with the Toronto police force told me that at the end of March this year, Constable Mercey was named Trooper of the Year, an international award, for his bravery on that day, which he has never spoken about publicly until this interview with The Toronto Sun

The story continues...

The Word

By Belinda

12-13God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it—no matter what. (Hebrews 4:12, The Message)

This is just a note to share a verse that I read this morning. In Hebrews we read of the power that is in God's Word (see verse above,) and how true it is that a simple verse that we may have read many times before and just passed over it, can suddenly shine out at us as though in living technicolour on a page of black print on white paper.

The verse that touched me this morning was the text for today in My Utmost for His Highest, but it had nothing to do with the point that Oswald Chambers was making in the devotional he used the text for, which was on prayer.

When I read the verse from John this morning, I was moved to tears. His love washed over me as I t…

Presents! :)

By Belinda
Today I received two perfect yet very different gifts.

It was at the end of cell group and our big hallway was crowded with people putting on coats and gathering up books while holding conversations oblivious to the others going on all around at once as they readied themselves to go out into the dark, rainy night.

Jamie said, "I bought you a small gift," and ran out to his car to fetch it.

A few minutes later he came back in with a big Benix bag and inside was something weighty. The mysterious bag contained a rolling pin!

And not just any rolling pin. This one has specially weighted handles so that they stay in the right position--and the surface is non stick.

I cannot wait for Saturday when I think I will be making rhubarb pies and can try it out. I smiled and smiled at the unexpected gift.

It must have been the day for gifts to shower down like the rain beacause this morning Susan and I were at a training session where our friends Dave and Joe were manning the…

The Practice Pies

By Belinda

I had the idea a few days ago. Instead of buying a gift for their teachers at the end of the school year, I asked Tippy and Tori if they would like to give their teachers each a pie baked entirely by them. Their eyes danced "Yes!"

Of course first there would be the baking of practice pies.

"When??" they wanted to know!

So we planned the practice for the very next evening--why wait?

I was home for only a few minutes and preparing a quick bite to eat when I heard their footsteps on the stairs. They had not forgotten!

I explained that three kinds of apples go into the pies and in what proportions and then first began the pastry making, involving measuring, cracking eggs, the explanation of so many things that I do automatically but found myself struggling to articulate.

I sounded like a stranger to the English language as I demonstrated, explained, coached and encouraged. They didn't seem to mind my inadequacy as a teacher.

They did remarkably well. It w…

Heart Cry

By Belinda

We sat across the table of a coffee shop, two old and dear friends, Susan and I.

Heart to heart we poured out our passion and prayers and remembered one whose voice called a generation to Christ--the late Keith Green. In this song, across the three decades since he sang this, the message still resonates.

Faith That Hurts, Faith That Heals

A friend and member of our writers group, Magda Wills, wrote yesterday in follow up to Dave's post, to say, "Years ago when the movie Left Behind came out I reacted with a strong determination never to see a film that induces fear. Around the same time our Canadian Chapter of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW) hosted a seminar on the topic of spiritual abuse. I wrote down my story which was published in the NACSW newsletter The Catalyst. When I read your blog this morning  with David's personal story I felt moved and called to share my own rapture story on the eve of Hurricane Hazel, the storm of the 20th century in Ontario." (Thank you for sharing with us Magda~ Belinda)

By Magda Wills

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgement – is one not yet fully formed in love.(I John 4, The Message)
The little girl pressed her nose to the window, te…

The Rapture

With the kind permission of my friend Dave, I am publishing a post written by him about the recent "rapture that wasn't,"  that is being simultaneously published over at his own blog: Rolling Around in My Head

I know that it may be controversial here, but if it is a point of view not thought about before or even necessarily agreed with, that surely is one of the reasons why we write; not to convince, but to cause to consider.  
Blessings! Belinda 

By Dave Hingsburger

I'm going to say this all wrong but I'm going to say it anyway. Here goes ...

Everywhere I've gone over the last couple of days people have been talking, lightheartedly, about 'the rapture that wasn't' ... the big 'uh oh'. Someone tried to talk me into a kind of sympathy for those who gave up their life savings, their life pursuits, in the false belief that the world was going to end. Part of me, of course, felt a kind of sadness and sympathy for their ultimate disappointment.

'…

The Radical Freedom of the Kingdom

By Belinda

Earlier this week the grey skies, rain and cold, seemed as though they had settled in forever. I set out for work each morning in a raincoat and armed with an umbrella. Like other Ontarians we switched between a brief fling with the air conditioner and back to the furnace.

Tori came upstairs one morning before school. "Omie, can I borrow an umbrella?" she asked.

Waiting for the school bus at the end of the road can be a miserably soggy business.

I gave her one of the set of two umbrellas I bought from Costco a while ago, with a caution to remember to bring it back. She nodded her head and thanked me and went downstairs again, clutching my favourite stylish black and white collapsible umbrella.

A minute later, after a "God prod," I followed her down.

"Darling," I said, "You can keep the umbrella."

Her eyes widened, "I can? How come?"

"Well," I said, "I have two, and you know what Jesus teaches about that?"

Moments that Sparkled in a Busy Week

By Belinda

Life continues busy but yet I am compelled to write--my abiding joy. No long thing but two moments of simple joy to share:

Yesterday, I left the office late, knowing that Paul had a late dinner meeting. I headed for Costco in Newmarket to do some necessary shopping. We have had almost non-stop rain in Ontario this spring, and it was raining when I went into the big store. With my few purchases made, because I had no hungry spouse waiting at home, I decided to splurge and buy something to eat on the way out of Costco. I stood at the counter debating--1/4 lb hot dog or an ice cream cone. It was a hard decision and I knew that when the woman behind the counter said, "Can I take your order please?" I would have to make a split second decision. When the moment came, I went with the ice cream. For supper! Of the two I figured I needed a 1/4 lb hot dog less.

I licked the delicious, decadent, thickly creamy ice cream on the way out, pushing my buggy to the door. It was st…

Visible Leadership

I eye the clock in my office and force myself to stop for lunch. The temptation is alwaybut as the ever present busy hum of the laptop is silenced, peace settles.

I reach for a book from the bookshelf; any book will do to occupy half an hour productively. Why does even a break need to be "productive?" I am a hopeless cause, I think.

I choose a book that seems to have short chapters and large print: The Key to Great Leadership; Rediscovering the Principles of Outstanding Service Perfect. I start reading with curiosity. The author is Peter Burwash, not someone I am familiar with, and the book was published in 1995--not exactly current, but as I read on my interest is piqued.

Part 1 is headed: The 12 Universal Principles of Great Service Companies; and what I read resonates. When I get to the third principle, which is "Visible Leaders," I realize that Peter Burwash is writing about the importance of one of the principles I have been learning to incorporate into my own le…

Extravagant People

By Belinda

Sam and Jamie, are my two best pie customers. They ordered a pie a month (Jamie for one year and Sam for two) for our Power of One fundraising effort at work. I think the fact that they are both bachelors makes them  especially susceptible when it comes to pie. Sometimes I feel that I am shamelessly taking advantage of them but then I think of the cause (global missions to children with disabilities,) and I'm okay taking their money.

When April turned to May and they knew another pie was on the way, Sam said to Jamie, over supper at cell group, "I'll fight you for them. The last man standing takes both." :) Jamie demurred and kept his pie.

But Sam made me smile as he danced out of our house on Thursday with his May pie. He said he planned to give half of it away, because, he sang with joy, "I have 19 more of them coming!" He felt "pie rich" enough to be generous--he had pies in the bank.

I laughed about it to myself because if he only k…

A Saturday Smile

From Rob, my brother, a joke!

I made an appointment with a psychiatrist because I couldn't shake my belief that I was a dog. The psychiatrist agreed that it sounded as though I had a psychological problem. He told me to lie on the couch and he would ask me some questions. I said, "But I'm not allowed on the couch." :)

This Good Day

By Belinda

I came home at the end of the day to the company of our two resident granddaughters.

Brenda and Paul were elsewhere tonight and the girls don't leave for their dad's until the morning, so the three of us had the house to ourselves.

The rhubarb is ready for its first picking. I mentioned this to Tori, who wanted to see. I told her, as I showed her which stalks were the perfect length and thickness, how I used to love to dip a stalk in sugar and eat it. Her eyes widened and wordlessly begged to try, so we plucked a perfect stalk; red, green, and tender. She wonderingly stroked the soft, pink end that had slipped from its green sheath with a tug and once inside her face puckered with delight at the sour taste bursting through the sweetness of the sugar she had dipped it into.

We talked about our day. The school that she and Tippy attend, Sir William Osler; (named after the famous physician who was born in Bond Head,) is celebrating its 50th anniversary tonight and thei…

Reverend Roffey's Raisin Pie

By Belinda

My oh my, another pie--Reverend Roffey’s raisin.

It was after I conquered the making of raisin pie and acquired a dangerous taste for the flaky, sweet concoction that Brenda, who had commissioned it in the first place, told me that Reverend Roffey's dream raisin pie was made with sour cream and raisins (Reverend Roffey is the chaplain at the college where she works.)

Since it had to be the pie he longed for, I needed to find a recipe for this fabulous pie. On a hunch I plucked a Mennonite cookbook off my shelf and searched the pie section, profusely populated with all sorts of pies. "Surely I will find it here," I thought, and I was right!

On Saturday I made several pastry shells as well as apple pies (for Jamie, Sam and Caliene, a friend from work) and tonight was the night to actually venture into the uncharted complexities of a pie new to me.

I simmered the raisins to plump and juicy perfection, drained them, measured back the right amount of liquid; added …

Take a Deep Breath

By Belinda

In the midst of all the media coverage of the recent Royal Wedding, a radio program focused on advice to the young couple.

A wise person said, "Take a deep breath before you speak--and then, don't speak!"

What excellent advice that was--and not just for Will and Kate. I wrote it down and have thought about it a lot. I've even tried to put it into practice since then--practice being the operative word, because it will take lots of practice for me to learn this skill.

Imagine if we all did that--what hurts might be prevented; what regrets might be avoided. All by simply holding our breath for the few seconds it takes for anger to subside; pride to be swallowed; cool heads to prevail.

I should have remembered this yesterday. I came up against a salesperson who said to me, "We can't that. It's the rule."

It was a rule that didn't make sense to me but it was also the fact that it was being applied with such determination that made me feel …

Mothers and Daughters

By Belinda

Once upon a time, long ago in a far away land called Holland, a little girl was born.

She grew up to be a  natural beauty, with abundant dark  hair, almond shaped blue-grey eyes and high cheek bones.

One of eight children, and with four beautiful sisters, Pieternella had special qualities of personality--a quick sense of humour; ready laughter; a deep love of her mother; love of home and family; "a party waiting to happen" at the least excuse to celebrate; a people person who unselfconsciously reached out to all people she met; with the ability to be happy with the smallest things as long as those she loved were happy; someone who exemplified unselfish love--with a dash of obsessive-compulsiveness thrown in for good measure. And God chose her to be my mother.

God gave me other gifts and qualities, but I missed many of hers. I was shy, not at all a pretty child--and was mortified when Mum talked to anybody and everybody. She was outgoing and I was introverted, prefe…

The Results Cycle

By Belinda

Today I took Fierce Accountability training for the second time. The first time was with my peer team earlier this year; this time it was with the team I am privileged to lead.

How great to have a reason to take it twice, because the principles got worked in even better the second time.

The training talks about a "results cycle." It starts with CONTEXT then goes on to ASSESSMENT; EMOTIONS; BEHAVIOUR and RESULTS.


I thought a lot about the importance of context, which was defined as: opinions; truths; beliefs and attitudes. I realized the importance of spending adequate time clarifying context; examining my opinions; truths; beliefs and opinions and assessing them for accuracy.


In a recent situation I had a faulty context which determined my behaviour and end result. Not spending sufficient time ensuring that my context was solid caused a faulty result.

I've learned how important it is to ask questions; listen deeply and assess accurately, possibly by taking time t…

A Legacy Worth Leaving

By Belinda

Once upon a time there was a leader. She led for a long time and knew a few things, or so she thought. Others looked to her for guidance and some even called her their mentor. She was respected; well thought of, and, as she looked towards the few years left before retirement, she turned her thoughts towards the legacy she wanted to leave.

She loved to write and thought that she would surely have enough material for a book on leadership to leave for those who would follow.

One day she woke up to find that she had been in a sort of dream and nothing was as she thought it was. She discovered that she had made many mistakes and had a great deal yet to learn.

"A book on leadership?" she thought, aghast, "What arrogance to think that I had anything to say!"

Instead, she saw clearly, that everything she thought she knew was elementary. She had important things to learn about what it means to be a leader.

Instead of basking in years of rosy reflection and words …

Remembering Uncle John

By Belinda


The last time we were together was on October 30 last year, the day before I left England to come home to Canada. He took me out for lunch at the Coach and Horses and when we said goodbye, we were hoping to see each other again, "next time." He always looked forward eagerly to seeing us, either in Canada or England.


"Next time" will be in heaven. On April 13 he died.


The Daily Light for that evening had these verses from the book of Revelation chapter 21.


There will be no night there.
But the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.—They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.Tomorrow in England there will be a celebration of his life; this is my way of joining in.


Uncle John was Paul's uncle really, the brother of his father Ron. Both of them were ministers of the gospel with a …

The Wonderful Wedding and Our Family

By Belinda

I slipped downstairs in the darkness on Friday morning.

Paul, who had been grumbling all week, like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, about the non-stop Royal Wedding coverage, had kindly set the TV up on a high definition channel the night before, and put the two essential remote controls, side by side on the coffee table--even giving me a demonstration before going to bed to make sure nothing would go wrong in the morning. I am a TV remote phobic; convinced that any button I push will not work--and normally this affects my life not one bit. :)




After a few nerve-racking tries, to my relief, the picture and sound did come on and I settled on the couch, snuggled in a blanket with my laptop at my side. The laptop was because a few miles away in Alliston, Susan also would be up. We planned to connect by email and touch base, watching "together" even though separated by a few miles of fields.

"I'm up," she wrote at 4.19 and missives flew back and forth fr…