Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections on New Year's Eve

By Belinda

Paul and I are at home, keeping New Year's Eve in customary quiet! Come midnight we will both probably be in bed.

But I can't let this evening pass without reflecting on a year almost done. Incidentally, I just noticed that as 2011 comes to an end, there are 2011 blog posts exactly on Whatever He Says (written since June 2006 by yours truly and friends.) I think that's a cool coincidence.  Thank you to all who read here, and for sending encouraging and thought provoking comments or emails now and again--you have no idea how much that means.

I started this year spiritually by giving up the battle to live out my faith by trying harder. Inspired by the writings of Watchman Nee, Oswald Chambers and Andrew Murray, and conversations with our friend Jamie, I realized that the only effort I need to make is to choose surrender and submission to God's agenda daily. I relaxed into the awareness that Jesus did everything to atone for past sin and that his life in me is holiness in the present. I haven't lived out that revelation perfectly, but I believe it and rest in it. This is a scripture passage that I reflected on often throughout this past year--and it is one on which I will continue to meditate as a guide to life:

2 Peter 1:3-8

New International Version (NIV)
 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
 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.

 In February we visited the Holy Land, a deeply moving journey that brought alive Biblical history and the words I read when I open the Bible.

I will never forget approaching the city of Jerusalem for the first time, or actually being on the Sea of Galilee, or standing at the Western Wall of the temple in Jerusalem and pressing my heart up against the cool, ancient stones, my hands spread on either side up against the wall, while little boys sang a song of praise in Hebrew from the side where the men were praying.

I came home changed forever.





At work during the first three months of the year I underwent a humbling revelation and leadership transformation. God used the leadership example of Dick Winters who inspired the T.V. mini-series Band of Brothers and whose book, Beyond the Band of Brothers I read and was so inspired by. I learned this year to "lead from the front," when things get difficult. He cared for his troops by being with them in battle and caring for their physical needs and he despised the officers who retired to the comfort of their quarters of relative luxury while the enlisted men suffered hunger and cold in the trenches. I did a lot of repenting and apologizing for past mistakes as I realized them. I know that I became a better leader.

In June I went through a loss of confidence that anything I was writing mattered. I went to Write! Canada, an annual writers conference, feeling like an imposter being there! I asked my dear friend and fellow blogger Janet Sketchley who is the prayer team lead for The Word Guild, to pray, and she did, faithfully. God answered with affirmation that there is value in just simply writing about life and faith in honesty, simplicity and humour--and in the final moments of the conference I was the winner of free registration to next year's conference. Since then I also won a gift certificate for $50 from the Word Guild for being the name drawn after completing a post conference survey. It was as though God wrote, "You are a writer," with two exclamation points (and you know my weakness for those.)

We gained a new son-in-law, Kevin, just before Christmas. We are grateful for his presence in the lives of Brenda, Tippy and Tori, and we love him. I am thankful that God gives us second chances in life.

Towards the end of the year I struggled with a painful personal situation and battled against responding to hurt, with judgement. It's amazing how the enemy gets a double whammy all too often that way.

It was a struggle I didn't choose to talk about out of respect for others, but there was comfort in the words I found on a plaque:
Hang it On the Cross 
If you have a secret sorrow,
a burden or a loss,
An aching need for healing...
Hang it on The Cross
For Christ has borne our brokenness
and dearly paid the cost
To turn our trials to triumph...
Hanging on The Cross

I did hang it all on the cross and God was  faithful in answering prayer.

Dear readers and friends, what adventures and lessons this next year holds remains to be seen but I love sharing the journey with you!

My prayers go out for each of you that God blesses you and those near and dear to you in the year ahead!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Traditions

By Belinda

By the afternoon of Christmas Eve this year I was coming apart at the seams.

In the weeks prior to Christmas I had traded away planned days off for pressing priorities at work, but did manage to hold onto one precious day during the week before Christmas. And on that day I went Christmas shopping from early in the morning to late afternoon. At the end of the day I thought I had managed to remember everyone on my list and I carried bags of gifts into our dining room which had been transformed into a one stop wrapping centre, and closed the door.

The next few days were so busy that it wasn't until the afternoon of Christmas Eve that I went back into the room and began to wrap presents. This is when my anxiety, which had been at a notch just below panic until then, really began to grow.  We have 6 grandchildren and 3 God children and a few other young friends we buy small gifts for. I had chosen carefully when shopping, but now, under pressure to wrap before leaving for the Christmas Eve service at church, I couldn't for the life of me be sure which one I had bought for whom.

My dear friend Susan and I usually exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, but this year both of our lives at work were so crazy that I didn't expect we would manage it until after Christmas. But into the chaos of the wrapping frenzy came a phone call. It was Susan's brave voice on the other end saying, "We're leaving for Emily's any minute. I can be there in 20 minutes to drop off your gifts--I didn't even wrap them properly--just threw them in a bag, and I think I forgot one of them--but they are ready."

"Oh, really?" I said in horror, looking at the chaotic piles of gifts, paper, ribbon and labels that I was surrounded by, "I'm not--I didn't expect, I mean, I don't think I can get it together that fast, why don't we cut ourselves some slack and do it after Christmas this year?"

But even as she agreed to my Grinchiness, I could tell that I had poured cold eggnog on a precious tradition in our friendship.

"Wait--no," I said, "I can do it. Please come. I will do my best."  It didn't take much persuading. And thereupon I notched up my frenzy intensity a few notches and began power wrapping. Deep down I was glad when Susan and Ron's car pulled into the driveway and we exchanged bags that contained gifts that expressed our love for one another but still I was more tense than the elastic on a catapult by the time we left for the Christmas Eve service at church.

I knew something was wrong with me when smiling greetings of "Merry Christmas," from our church friends, seemed extremely bright in their happiness in comparison to my residual tenseness. I should have worn a warning sign, "Approach with caution; no knowing what she may do."

But as Paul and I sat in the dimly lit church, surrounded by church family, and being hugged by the four of our six grandchildren who were there, and who had enough excitement spilling out of them to cheer up the most miserable celebrant, I began to unwind a little. The church seemed to hum with excited children in fact; children who couldn't sit still but bobbed and weaved in their rows of family.

Once the short service of carols and stories told by candlelight ended, we all hugged again and wished one another a very merry Christmas and Paul and I set out along lightly snow covered country roads, for Mansfield and another Christmas tradition: Christmas Eve with the Furuya's.

Our three God children, Summer-Lily, Eden and Jake, look forward to this time together each year, as do we, and Frances told me that day that Jake had been reminiscing about early memories of time spent with us, when Paul had found a way to track the progress of Santa Claus on the internet and set it up so that Jake could watch it. Summer used to be carried around on Paul's shoulder during a weekly cell group that Frances came to in our home back then, some 17 or so years ago--long before Eden's birth, which I attended and cut her umbilical chord. We are bound together with them, "family of the heart" as we are with some other precious friends.

High on the hill they now live on, I relaxed into Christmas beside a glowing, crackling fire.

We ate delicious home made dark ginger cake, sipped coffee, laughed and talked and exchanged gifts.

At midnight we arrived home and then I sat down with a cup of tea in a special cup and opened Susan's gifts, so  glad that I had thought better of giving up our own special Christmas tradition.

And next year? I'm hoping that I manage to be in a saner state by Christmas! That would be a tradition worth beginning.

 







Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And Can it Be--Text

Susan looked up the text as per her comment on the hymn below--and she typed it out for those not familiar with the hymn. All the theology anyone would ever need to know is in these words by Charles Wesley! Thank you Susan! :)


And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused His pain –
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be 
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?

‘Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left his Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace –
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life his wounds impart;
I feel the Saviour in my heart.
I feel the life his wounds impart;
I feel the Saviour in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head, 
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

And Can it Be

By Belinda

Praying this morning, thanking God that I know him, my favourite hymn, And Can it Be, by Charles Wesley, came to mind. I love that hymn because it expresses the full good news of the gospel with all the passion that it is due. Whenever it is sung as it should be, with no verses cut out, with an organ and with feeling, I am moved to tears and can barely restrain myself from jumping for joy. I have often thought that I would like this song sung at my funeral, but then I wouldn't be able to join in! This version comes closest to the experience I feel when I sing this beautiful song.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

By Belinda

This is the best time--this time after Christmas--when all of the craziness that takes over; in spite of perpetual determination that it shall not; is over.

This is when the fridge is full of leftovers and laziness is allowed--mandated even.

Finally the pressing on in spite of exhaustion; the digging down to the bottom of the well, for every kind of resource you didn't know you could find, can cease.

This is the time of reflection, regrouping and renewal.

This is when I echo the cry of the angels:

Luke 2:14

21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!"


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Canadian Blog Awards Round 2

By Belinda

Dear Friends and Readers,
Thank you so much for your support in round 1 of the Canadian Blog Awards. Whatever He Says came first in the Religion Philosophy Category for the first round with 39 votes.

You can vote for round 2 by clicking here and I encourage you to consider voting too, for Shannon’s blog in the Best Blog Post category, for her post, Peace be with You.

Also, friend and faithful reader here, Dave Hingsburger's blog,Rolling Around in My Head, is in the running in the Best Personal Blog and Best Overall.

Every vote counts! Thank you in advance for taking time to vote, if you think us worthy!

Christmas Still

We celebrated Christmas with our family today so it's not over yet. That's why I'm posting this video clip sent by Susan. It is too cool not to:
 The Christmas Story' (2010), as told by the children of St Paul's Church, Auckland, New Zealand. Anyone is welcome to show this film publicly, but not change it in any way, nor make money out of it. Except for Joe. You can buy his music here: http://les-enfants.bandcamp.com/ We also welcome you to view the prequel (2011) Good News of Great Joy

Because of Christmas...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Irish Potato Casserole

By Belinda

My dear friend and fellow writer and blogger, Brenda Wood; asked me for this recipe after I served it at our writers group Christmas dinner. On Brenda's blog, Heartfelt Devotionals, she has a section with some recipes you might want to try too!

Irish Potato Casserole


Recipe shared by: Carolyn Harman, Harrisonburg, Virginia; Parkview Mennonite Church
8-10 medium potatoes, peeled
8 oz package cream cheese
8 oz sour cream (I replace this with 8 oz Greek yogurt)
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup chopped chives or green onions
I clove garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
Paprika
1.       Cook potatoes and mash. (Do not add any liquid.)
2.       Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Add potatoes and all other ingredients except paprika. Beat until all ingredients have combined. Spoon into lightly greased 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with paprika, cover and refrigerate overnight.
3.       Uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lost December

By Belinda

I got Lost December by Richard Paul Evans, from the library to read over Christmas. It is such a good book I cannot put it down. I am passing on the title in case anyone out there is looking for that next book to read! I can promise you this--you will not be disappointed--and if you get it from the library, don't worry about paying late fees, because you will finish it in no time flat. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Reason for the Season

This was posted by a commenter, Ginny Saumert Jaques on my friend Janet Sketchley's blog, God With Us; Finding Joy . This is the reason for the season in a nutshell. Belinda

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

She Said I Would Love It

Susan said I would love this and I did! It's just the ticket for a time when we all feel a little rushed and pressured. Kindness begets kindness. Belinda

The Belle of the Ball

By Belinda

I don't even know her proper name. She's Kevin's grandmother, of proud Russian stock, whom I've really only come to know as Baba. I heard about her long before I met her. She sort of grew into a kind of legend as Brenda came home with tales of Baba and her growing affection for her.

She is formidable and feisty--and, like Brenda, I can't help but love her too.

Can't you just tell from the look in her eye that she is a force to be reckoned with? Since all of my friends fit that description I was predestined to be drawn to her zest and sheer "life!"

Would you guess that she is 87?!

When we were all planning our wedding attire, I asked Tina, Kevin's equally vivacious mom, if Baba had her dress.

She laughed in a way that said there was a story to be told. Sure enough, Baba's dress had hung in her closet for some time, about 50 years! It still had it's original pricey price tag. It had been bought by her own mom-- and never worn. Baba tried it on and it was perfect.

After the wedding dinner, when the dancing began, Baba took to the dance floor with her walker. And she danced up a storm!

You can tell from the photos that Tina has some of the Baba spirit.

When I grow up I want to have some Baba in me. :)



 






Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Takes a Team

By Belinda

Saturday, December 17 and the dawn sky was awash with pink. It has been unbelievably mild in Ontario this winter, but a light sprinkling of snow added fresh beauty to the day.

It was the perfect day for Brenda and Kevin's wedding.



I had an early appointment in Barrie for a manicure, hair wash and blow dry. In a plastic bag on the seat beside me in the car was one red shoe to be matched to my nail polish!

Susan had given me a Christmas CD a few days earlier: Peaceful Christmas I hadn't listened to it yet as I had been finishing an amazing Christmas audio story, A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg, but as I drove up the highway, the sky now a cloudless blue; I popped the CD in. The car filled with the strains of the Carol of the Bells with steel drums, and I listened and peace filled the car.

Spring, who was doing my nails, arrived at the same moment I did and we went into a room at the back of the small salon. I took out my shoe and chose the closest match, a polish with the name Ruby Deer.


As Spring took charge of my sadly neglected nails and buffed, soaked and trimmed them into shape, we talked, as I imagine only women in salons talk. I'm sure that manicurists and hair stylists could put therapists out of business if they had a mind to.

Eventually Jamie, my hair stylist, came looking for me. Her appointments were backing up! She washed my hair, blow dried it and styled it. Jamie makes me look as good as is possible and I have followed her to more salons than I can count!




Finally I was done and ready to pay. As I rummaged in my bag, Spring said, "I should have cashed you out before I did your nails." But I had a feeling that there would be no "cashing out." I had switched bags that morning but also remembered getting my wallet out the night before. Wherever it was, it was not in my bag.

I felt terrible but Jamie said to go home and call in a credit card number. I thanked them but decided to just go back and get the cash. I had lots of time since I didn't have to leave with Brenda until 3.00 and it was so peaceful in my car with that Christmas music that I took it as a gift to spend an extra hour in the car going back and forth.

I knew that Paul would be ready and dressed in his suit and tie well ahead of time. For Paul "on time" is half an hour ahead of time. His nervous energy would have him pacing. I had probably driven him crazy too, with my pie and soup making of the night before. The peaceful bubble of my car was a haven! :)

I picked up my wallet and camera so that I could record my "beautiful beauty team" as part of the memory of that day. Here they are: Spring is on the left.

From the salon I went to Bradford to drop off the Fannie Flagg audio CD at the library as I knew someone else was waiting for it, then I went to Shopper's Drug Mart.

"What are you doing here?" cried out Kim in the make up department, a friend of Brenda's.
"I need eye drops to get rid of the red in my eyes!" I said, laughing. I bought a bottle of Visine Triple Action eye drops, figuring they should do the trick.

Finally it was time to head home and get changed. I had an hour to get ready. As I walked in, Paul was leaving with Tippy and Tori to pick up two young friends; twins who live on the Holland Marsh and who were going to the wedding with them. He was picking up the flowers too, from their mother, the florist.

An hour later I drove to Stouffville with Brenda, her dress carefully packed into the back of her car.

She pulled up into a narrow driveway, leading to a side door of the golf and country club. We got her and the dress into the room where her maid of honour, her best friend, Jenn, was waiting to help her change. I got into the car to park it. As I backed out into the parking lot, I craned my head looking back over my shoulder in one direction, and heard a sickening crunch of metal meeting brick wall from the other side. My stomach lurched. I sheepishly got out and checked the damage. An expensive lesson in paying attention to both sides when backing up, but no one was hurt and cars can be repaired.

Upstairs Reverend Bruce Roffey was already mingling and chatting with the gathering crowd of Brenda and Kevin's friends. I had once baked him his favourite pie, a concoction made with sour cream, raisins and egg custard. He was missing a family Christmas function to officiate at this wedding, but he would hear none of my thanks. "We love Brenda," he said.

I had already read the service on the way to the wedding and it was beautiful. The scriptures chosen were Psalm 121 and Ruth 1:16-17

Psalm 121
King James Version (KJV)
1I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. 3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. 4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. 6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. 8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Ruth 1:16-17 English Standard Version (ESV)
16But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge.(A) Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried.(B) May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you."


Jane Archer (left in this photo) and Barb Hustler are two retired Salvation Army officers who attend our cell group. Jane is a chaplain with the Toronto Police. She prayed this beautiful "hand blessing over Kevin and Brenda's hands:


These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.  
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.  
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.  
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.  
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. 
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. 
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. 
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. 
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

It took a team! Mostly we were aware of the many friends who were praying for us and the hands of God that carried us.

Something that Made my Day

By Belinda

Okay I should be hitting the road and doing Christmas shopping and I will be--really--soon--but first I just had to share this in case someone has the time tonight to actually go out and do something  other than write out Christmas cards, wrap presents or shop!

I was listening to CBC radio as I got ready for the day--as usual--and heard an interview about Sistema-Toronto.

This is their mission:

"PLAYING TO POTENTIAL"
Mission - VisionOur Mission is to inspire children and youth to achieve their full potential, acquire values that favor their growth, and have a positive impact on both their lives and society.Our Vision is social development through an innovative and hope-instilling music education program that emphasizes the collective practice of music, through symphony orchestras, in order to achieve excellence.


And they have a concert tonight--you can find details on their website. 

The interview included a clip of the children in practice, playing their cellos. They did well, and their teacher asked, "What made that better?"

A child's dear voice chirped up, "Because we all watched you, and we didn't rush, and we all played together."

He could have been speaking out a mantra for making this world better.

The radio show host interviewed a child about their musical hopes and in a voice that would melt the hardest hard, the little one said, "I hope I get to play with a bow; so far I have only plucked."

Plucking away in Bond Head. Over and out. Belinda :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Time to Dance

By Belinda

 My faculties seem to have ground to a halt and I don't think I can string two words together in a coherent sentence, so I thought I would let some photos tell the story for me. It was a time to dance... (more when I have recovered :))
 Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 Amplified Bible (AMP) Ecclesiastes 3

TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: 2A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,(A) 3A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, 4A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,









Friday, December 16, 2011

Coping!

By Belinda

The house is smells like a feast is underway but it's just me, coping with my Mother of the Bride jitters.When I'm tense I work. I had two big parties at our house this week--one involving a turkey and the other a ham--so this afternoon I began simmering a huge turkey roaster full of a ham bone; yellow split peas; carrots; onions and celery, while on the stove, a stock pot holding a turkey carcass; onion and celery, likewise bubbled away.

I made four apple pies once the simmering was underway and I could hear the vacuum running downstairs. Brenda copes with stress by vacuuming!

Later in the evening Susan and Ron dropped off a gorgeous gingerbread church with stained windows made from melted candies. Their daughter Christy makes these fabulous creations and this was a labour of love.

Kevin, Brenda and I took it with us to Sleepy Hollow Golf and Country Club with the other decorations for tomorrow.

Paul was out at a concert that he and the missions committee had organized at a seniors home in the next town; a fund raiser for the local food bank.









This is Sheena, the woman who coordinates the special event planning at Sleepy Hollow. A lovely woman, warm, capable and committed to making every occasion as wonderful as it can be!

So many people are praying for us as a family. We are grateful for every prayer.

And now to bed!




Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cell Group Christmas/Birthday Party and Wedding Shower for Kevin and Brenda

The samplers



Susan warming up for licking her elbow, a feat that Jane challenged us to!





Just two more sleeps to go! We wish you God's rich blessings Kevin and Brenda.




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Make You Laugh


Note by Belinda
Wayne, who used to be a work colleague, sent me this email. Since I am living  in Suspense at this time of the year, I thought this too funny to keep to myself. I have a few friends who probably think they live in Deepdoodoo.

I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone. 


I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there. 


I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. 


I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work. 

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore. 


I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often. 

I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm. 

Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older. 

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get! 

And, sometimes I think I am in Vincible but life shows me I am not! 


I have been in Deepdoodoo many times. The older I get, the easier it is to get there. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Inspiration


By Belinda

I loved this quote when I read it tonight. It was just what I needed to inspire me throughout this busy week. May it do the same for you dear friends! With love!


“Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
St Francis of Assissi

Stay Strong

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Life is a Team Sport

By Belinda

I am behind the rest of the world, because the phrase, "Life is a Team Sport," is apparently well used (I only know that because I just Googled it.) But I heard it for the first time this afternoon in an audio book I was listening to, In a Dog’s Heart, by Jennifer Arnold. What Jennifer Arnold actually said was, "Life really is a team sport with your dog," but I latched on to the first part and thought what a cool phrase it was.

Because it really is, isn't it? Life--a team sport.

(A brief digression. You may have noticed that the blog template has a wedding motif this week. That is in honour of Brenda and Kevin whose wedding is this Saturday. Marriage is also a great team sport!)

The phrase, "Life is a Team Sport," made me think of something that I loved when I recently read it in the book, First Things First by Stephen R. Covey. He was writing about the difference between time management that focuses on the concept of time as "Chronos" or chronological time (and what you get done in it)--and that which focuses on "Kairos" or the quality of life (and what you experience in it.) The key connection with today's blog title, was what Covey wrote about how this impacts how we see relationship with others--either through a lens influenced by a chronos view or Kairos view, of time.

He said that in a chronos influenced paradigm, relationships are transactional--more about people as resources through which you get things done, whereas in a paradigm driven by Kairos, relationships are transformational. This is a brief quote, which I highlighted in my copy of the book.
In the very nature of the interaction people are altered. Something new is created and neither person is controlling it. Neither could have anticipated it. It isn't a function of efficiency. It's a function of the exchange of understanding, insights, new learnings, and excitement around those new learnings...
Relationships such as these are rich indeed and I believe it is a glimpse of the way God intended us to be with one another in the world. I believe he meant us to love one another enough to open up our hearts to the potential violence of being trampled upon by a careless friend. Because only when we dare to risk that do we also welcome and share transformation as we expose our weaknesses to one another and hold one another's secrets in sacred and non judgmental trust.

"Life is a Team Sport," doesn't even come close to describing the depth of such relationships. I never was good at team sports. But friendships--with those God has gifted my life with are another matter--these are my team mates for life and forever.

Luke 12:29

The Message (MSG)

 29-32"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

Skywatcher

By Belinda

I miss things that others catch.

Paul gazes from the window and notices the crops that neighbouring farmers have planted.

I wonder, "How does he know what is in the field?" I wouldn't know winter wheat from barley, but he does, and he sees a hawk in flight instantly, while I am gazing in vain to spot it.

My friend Susan notices all sorts of things that I am oblivious to--her eyes are tuned to things out of order and she bustles around after cell group, straightening chairs, folding the table liner just so, sweeping the floor if I let her--a labour of love.

But ah, the sky--that I never miss.

"Maybe it's just too big to miss,"  you might laughingly say. Well that is so. The sky is big, a canvas God paints on and speaks to me through all the time!

Yesterday morning I drove to work feeling like a dart speeding through the air to the bulls eyes of tasks waiting.I had deadlines to meet; my priorities were in order. I reached for my CD player to listen to an almost finished audio book on the 20 minute journey when I looked up and changed my mind. Instead the sky captured me.

The sun was shining through a cloud window looking like a small pillar of pale gold in a cream satin sky. All the way down the highway I felt that the beauty was a gift to accompany me. I felt the peace of God with me.

At the end of the day I left an hour early because of an evening trip north for a Christmas dinner in Huntsville. The same gold pillar peeped through the clouds as though it had shown up especially for my return journey home.

At home I quickly combed my hair, put on lipstick, powdered my nose and gathered up some Christmas cards and my camera. Paul and I set out into an evening on which the curtain of night had now descended and began the journey north on highway 400.

A full moon hung above us and I watched it all the way. It played peek-a-boo in the clouds, sometimes hiding behind a lacy gray veil feigning playful shyness. As we drove further north, silhouetted conifers pointed heavenward.

Again, I felt peace and a sense of timelessness. The hustle and bustle of the season fell away. I imagined our blue planet spinning in space; the things that seemed so pressing and important that morning were nothing in the big scheme of God's universe. I had done my best and was content to leave the rest with God.

On the way home today from an afternoon of shopping the western sky outdid any painted by Turner. Beams of gold light shone in all directions from behind softest peach clouds in a sky of pale robins egg blue. It took my breath away and I thought that heaven could hardly be more beautiful.

Thou Maker and Sustainer of all things, 

         day and night are thine, 
heaven and earth declare thy glory

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

By Belinda

God has a way of tying so many things together. I love it!

On Friday I wrote a blog post about our agency gala, at which Justin Hines was the guest singer the night before. To share his music I posted two You Tube clips of his songs. One of them was called Courage, which showed people who had faced adversity and had not or were not, giving up. Almost at the end of the clip was a man who was not named, but whose daughter, the caption said, was abducted 12 years ago. It said she was still missing.

That very day, Friday December 2nd, the breaking news was about a man named Joe Chisholm, whose 18 year search for his missing daughter had just come to an end. I didn't it together until tonight, when I listened to the song again and was sure they were the same man. Indeed they are--the song was recorded six years ago, which explains the difference in years!

How wonderful to watch that video clip and see the man, who six years ago didn't know if he would ever see his daughter again, and know that his long search is over at last. What a Christmas gift.

On another note, I truly will be writing again soon. I miss it so much, but have accepted that the days are not going to get longer, so I have to do the sane thing and sacrifice this beloved activity when extra time  is needed for many the parties, writing cards, wrapping presents and preparing for a very important wedding on December 17th!

I will write as much as I can and catch up when the dust settles!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Party, Party!

By Belinda

December dawned this week with a wild stretch of parties ahead, starting with our agency's annual Christmas Gala last night.

I had been looking forward to it for months. Back in September I asked my friend Dave if he and Joe might be back in the country in time to be our guests, and to my joy, they said yes! They got back from a trip to England last weekend.

I began anticipating with excitement. Meals--two vegetarian, were ordered. Dress--Dave wondered would he feel out of place if not dressed up to the nines in a suit. Nope, I assured him, it is a dressy event, but people come as they feel comfortable.

Susan's husband Ron loves to dress up in a distinguished looking bow tie. She claims chagrin at this but Ron maintains his steadfast attachment to the bow tie. In honour of Dave dressing down last night however, he wore a plaid shirt to the gala--no bow tie in sight.

As the event was about to begin, Dave and Joe still hadn't arrived so I called them on their cell. They were on their way, but they were just about to get off highway 427 and onto the 401. It had taken them 2 hours to get that far in rush hour traffic. Dave said, "We never go out at night and this is why!"

We maintained cell phone contact and I met Dave and Joe at the door of the Delta Hotel. As Joe got out and went to the trunk to unload Dave's wheelchair, I noticed that beneath his chin he wore a quietly flamboyant; pale yellow; bow tie!

Dave matched me, we both wore black. As we headed towards the hall packed with 300 or more guests, I laughingly told Joe how Ron had abandoned his bow tie in solidarity with the idea of dressing down. Joe's eyes twinkled as he undid the knot on his own bow tie and shoved it in his pocket.

Laughter and lively conversation rippled around our table and an evening of celebration and friendship was underway. A most delicious meal arrived and there was a silent auction, to which Joe was dispatched at regular intervals in order to put in bids. Although he didn't get the item he was bidding on, the fun was all in the bidding!

And then...the singer and musician Justin Hines, from Newmarket, just 20 minutes down the highway from us--blew  us away with his gift of music and grace as a human being. How amazing it was to hear him in person What a great start to December and what a way to celebrate today--International Day of Persons with Disabilities!

Here are two songs I love by Justin Hines.