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Showing posts from April, 2012

Aging--Not Sure How Gracefully

By Belinda


Aging: It is when all those things you secretly laughed at in other people who were stereo-typically "older"--things you adamantly said you would never do; appendages or accessories you thought that you would never wear --aging is when those very things suddenly become part of YOUR identity. 


The last year has been one of recovering my vision. This time last year I was literally half blind. One eye went through a rapid decline in vision and I needed to get my eyes tested. But I put it off (because I am a procrastinator) until I began to worry that something was seriously wrong. While at a doctor's appointment for a physical, I asked him to take a look at my right eye. 


"Oh, yes, you have a cataract," he said, as though confirming something I should know. 


"Me? I'm too young for a cataract," I thought but didn't say. 


I mean I had only just the year before, lost all semblance of mystique in the bedroom by adding a C-PAP machine to my ni…

Missing Her

By Belinda


It took me by surprise. I was on Facebook, checking out my nephew John's page to see what was up in his life; laughing at the photo of him in the kitchen chopping carrots and thinking of when I was last with him there for a delicious meal. I scrolled through more photos and suddenly she was there...only she isn't any more...


Seeing her made me catch my breath, like bumping into someone unexpectedly. Knowing that she isn't here...I miss her.


Last week when I talked to Rob, he was missing her too. The reality that she is gone is hitting and so is grief. I knew it would in its own time.


I'm still so very grateful, for all that she was to us, for God's tender care of her in her dying. But oh, there is an empty seat, an empty flat, and arms that long to hug her one more time.

Da Group

By Belinda


This afternoon we got together for our inaugural meeting, we four struggling with anger. I had Kerri Jean's updated version of tips for dealing with anger as a discussion resource. 


I knew that what I had to share today was a work in process, and that there is a lot of excellent material out there that is more sophisticated; I just didn't have it at my fingertips. But the most important thing today was not anything written on paper; it was the readiness of our hearts to engage in learning peace; a worthy topic, guaranteed to keep us together with lots to do for a while to come. 


We started first with prayer. It seemed like a very good idea to us all to invite God into the group with us. Then we batted around thoughts on what to call ourselves.

"Anger Management Group," proffered one person.


Another started singing, "I've got peace like a river."


"That's a song," said someone else, "We're looking for a name."


"It is a…

Better Version

By Belinda

My colleague, Kerri Jean Winterler, put some thought into making the words of Peace 101, simpler yet! . Our little anger support group is meeting this afternoon. We are excited about learning better ways to deal with anger together. God uses all things redemptively, doesn't he?

Thank you Kerri Jean, (and here is her version:)
When people disagree and one is angry, talking will make the anger bigger. The angry person may say things that make you mad. Now two people are mad. If you explain or defend yourself, your anger will increase/get worse.  When you do this, you are trying to control the other person.  When both of you are arguing, you are trying to control each other. You want the other person to feel or think the same way as you or do what you want. When we are yelled at, or blamed, we try to explain ourselves. By doing this, we are trying to make the other person agree with us.  When we talk back to someone who is angry, it only makes things worse and confusing.  Ins…

Peace 101

By Belinda


The other day, when I was talking to my friends from upstairs at work, about better ways to deal with anger, I grabbed my well worn copy of Diffusing Anger and Avoiding Feeding the Flamesby Margaret Paul, Ph.D.,and told them how it helped me. "Read it to me," they each said, and I did, paraphrasing to make it easier to understand for people with developmental disabilities, trying to put it in plain language.  When one man said that some of the words were still too difficult, I promised him that I would try to write the main points in simple words for him--and me. I'm going to have a shot at it here.

When people disagree and one is angry, saying ANYTHING will  feed the anger and make it grow.The angry person may say things that make you mad. Now two people are mad.Your own anger grows as you defend yourself and try to control the other person.Both of you are now trying to control the other person's behaviour, feelings or views.When we are yelled at, or blamed…

Stormy Emotional Weather

By Belinda


Psalm 4:4
Amplified Bible (AMP) 4Be angry [or stand in awe] and sin not; commune with your own hearts upon your beds and be silent (sorry for the things you say in your hearts). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!(A)
This verse, especially the Amplified Bible version; gives good food for thought. If only I did moreof the "pausing" and "calmly thinking," recommended here!


A quote by Steven Covey, was mentioned in a training I took recently and it has stuck in my mind. It gives me so much hope in my own struggles and for those of others.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.” 
― Steven Covey


I've been trying recently to work through an issue and get my heart into right order--even trying to figure out what "right order is" in the situation. Meanwhile, a couple of the people who live in the group home in which I have my …

A Follow Up to Yesterday's Post

God is not looking for those who are clever, but for those in whom he can be wise; He is not looking for those who are talented, but for those to whom He can be all sufficient; He is not looking for those who are powerful, but for those through whom He can be almighty

My Fantasy Fear

By Belinda

Last Friday we started our monthly manager's team meeting as usual, with prayer. As the person leading that part of the meeting asked for requests, I hesitated for a moment, then put up my hand. 

I explained to those on my team that didn't know, that I had stepped into the role of acting vice chair on a committee that I find intimidating (a role I have studiously avoided for many years)--and that in that role I was to represent the chair at a regional meeting that was going to be way out of my comfort zone. I confessed my nervousness and sense of inadequacy, while wondering if doing so was making me seem weak in their eyes. I did it anyway, because I needed prayer and because it was the truth after all.

On Sunday evening, at our Catalyst leadership development meeting we watched a half hour session by Patrick Lencioni on vulnerability. It was so good. Afterwards we all shared our own challenges. One person struggled with telling others the "kind truth." I sha…

Birth Story

By Belinda


The writers group that I belong to met tonight and our topic was "autobiography." I hadn't written anything new, but shared a story that seems fitting to share here again: Birth Story. The internet is an amazing research tool and I was actually able to find a reference to the pathway described in the tale I heard so many times:

Here is a story that I heard every year on the eve of my birthday, which is on June 1st. Mum stopped telling it after her stroke, but the wonderful thing is that the weekend before the stroke happened (in October 2003,) I asked her to tell it to me again. This was because Susan Stewart's daughter Marjorie, was interviewing me for my biography, for a school project, and I wanted to make sure I had the details right.
Talking to me about it must have stirred up memories, because Mum wrote a long letter to me that weekend, chronicling the whole thing. It was the last letter she ever wrote, because that Monday, she collapsed at the post off…

Two Gifts for the Journey Home

By Belinda


At last, with Rob gone to bed, and goodbyes said to Susan, Tim and John, I was able to pack methodically, slowly and carefully--the way I probably do most things in life. I'm much more of a turtle than a hare! 


I carefully stowed some precious treasures in my case, including a very old barometer that once hung in my great grandparents' barge, and my Oma Schipper's jewelry box made out of inlaid wood, with a quilted royal blue lining with golden threads that had once criss-crossed the blue quilting, but now mostly were broken and loose. In the lid is Oma's name, carved from ivory: "Kaatje."


When I'd finished packing, I still had one bag of things that wouldn't fit, and another bag with personal items of my own that I usually keep in Alvechurch ready for my visits. I hated to leave Rob with these bags, as his flat was getting fuller every day with "stuff" we just couldn't part with, but I had no choice.


I had spent my last British p…
By Belinda

March 22: It was my last day in Alvechurch and it felt like so much had happened in the two weeks I'd been there. And yet, not enough!


Rob and I had made a lot of arrangements together during the first week: visits to the funeral home, local housing authority, etc. And we had slowly begun the process of going through Mum's things. Doing this together was so much easier than if either one of us would have tried to do it alone. We decided together what we had to let go, give away or throw away. A trip to the "tip" ("dump" to we North Americans,)  or to the clothing bank, felt almost like a sacred ritual, a parting with things that had been Mum's.


Mum had very little in terms of worldly belongings, but it was surprising how long it took us to go through her shelves and dresser drawers--probably because doing so stirred so many memories for Rob and me. Each memory sparked conversation, laughter or sighs.


Mum saved letters, cards, little slips of pape…

Lunch at the Red Lion

By Belinda


Our last day in Alvechurch before returning home to Canada, was Thursday, March 20 and Susan and I went for lunch at the historic Red Lion. Although there have been many changes over the years; since the row of cottages that stood on the site in the 1700's, where landowners came to discuss the keeping law and order before the police existed, it has been a village gathering place.


We were enveloped in an atmosphere of quiet and hospitality, as small groups of villagers and visitors sat at tables around us enjoying an afternoon meal or pint. On the walls hung many  photos of old Alvechurch, not so different from Alvechurch of today.







By Belinda 


Wednesday, March 21, the morning after the funeral, I wrote out a thank you card to Thomas Brothers, the funeral directors, and walked down to Red Lion Street to deliver it personally. I was so grateful for the support we received, and had tried to convey all of my feelings in the card.


I crossed the road to their small business, looking in through the window at the comfortable chairs and quiet room where we had talked to Meg, who had helped us through the process of planning, with such grace, tact and professionalism.


As I entered through the front door, a man with silver gray, short cut hair, emerged from the back office. He was dressed in dark pin striped trousers, a gray brocade waistcoat (vest,) beneath which I caught the occasional flash of red suspenders. His shoes were immaculately polished and his brown eyes twinkled welcome as he greeted me.


He introduced himself as Mr. Thomas, the father of the four Thomas brothers who run the funeral directing business. 


I was able …

Mother of Mine

By Belinda 


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012, was the day of Mum's funeral. I had been working on my tribute to Mum in the few quiet moments I could manage for three days; writing and rewriting it. Each time I read what I had written I knew I needed to work at it more. Rob was a great help without realizing it. I volunteered to write the words on the cards that would accompany several floral tributes that we had ordered on behalf of close family and friends. I wrote the messages out in rough form and Rob edited them because it mattered to him what went on them. He was a tough editor! :) I am Miss Superlative; he is Mr. Plain and Simple. So I wrote my tribute with a mind to what he would say about every line. At 1.30 a.m. Tuesday morning I went to bed finally feeling that it was simple enough for Rob, and meaningful enough for me.


I was worried that with the emotion of the moment my vocal chords would constrict and my voice would turn into a squeak. Friends were praying and my dear friend D…
By Belinda

 Yesterday our house filled with family after the Good Friday service at church. The sun shone brilliantly and a fresh breeze blew through  our hair as six grandchildren ran around the front yard hunting for Easter eggs hidden by Paul. We threatened to make him wear bunny ears to get into the spirit of the hunt, but he didn't cooperate.


Inside, the house was filled with the fragrance of a baking ham, and over the leisurely process of cooking of the rest of the meal; eating it, and relaxing with full tummies afterwards, we all had much news to catch up on.


Daughter-in-law Sue, and one of our three teenage granddaughters, Elizabeth, have just returned from a missions trip to Barbados with a team from our church. They went with a ministry named Seeds International which aims to plant the seeds of faith in the hearts of children. It was a trip full of "firsts:" first trip away together; first trip out of Canada; first missions trip and first separation as family. The…

Mothering Sunday in Alvechurch

By Belinda


It was Mothering Sunday in England (March 17,) and the skies were gray and as I set out to walk to Rectory Cottage. The bed and breakfast where Susan was staying is a brisk 10 minute walk from Tanyard Close and a fine but determined drizzle dampened my hair, face and clothes as I strode along.


I could see Susan waiting in the enclosed front porch, looking out for me and she opened the door so that I could come in. 


Celia Hitch, the proprietress, also welcomed me in, along with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, named Diesel, if my memory serves me correctly. 


Celia suggested that we take the short cut to the village down a newly finished walking path and acrossThe Meadows playing fields. She rummaged around in an umbrella rack and pulled out two collapsible umbrella's for us to borrow, one of them slightly wonky, but usable, and left behind by past guests.  We gratefully hoisted them aloft against the rain and set out down the muddy path for Alvechurch Baptist Church, or ABC as …