Friday, November 22, 2013

The Truth About the Pie

I followed a nudge from God to bake pies to raise funds for South Sudan. I realize that "a nudge from God" might sound strange, so I will explain. 

I was at our Christian Horizons  annual leadership conference at the beginning of November, listening to people sharing about the work our organization does globally. Two of our coworkers plunged into the icy waters of Lake Couchiching to raise funds. They raised about $2000 with their frigid swim!

I felt that God was tapping me on the shoulder to help in some way and I turned to the person next to me during the final keynote speech and said, "I think I have to bake pies again!" I've done it before as a fund raiser, a couple of years ago; offering the simple gift of something I can do and watching God use it.

The day after we got back, my friend Jane emailed me and asked, "Do you by chance have any pies for sale?" and I took that as confirmation! :)

So that weekend I put it out to the world on Face Book, sharing the project of the guest house in South Sudan; sharing the vision.

Five days later this is an excerpt from my journal:

"....In five days I have orders for 81 pies and donations of pie boxes; apples; people to peel apples. And a nervous stomach! 

Yes, that is the bare naked truth.

And yet I think that is exactly how I ought to be feeling; anything different and I would be out of touch with reality. 

It's exactly the feeling that will cause me to constantly run back to God and remember that:
It was his call I heard
The massive orders came because it was his call
He calls  us to what is possible--in partnership with him
I can trust him completely for the resources of time, energy and provisions to fulfill the assignment
I just need to remember to relax and breathe--and stick closely connected to his heart and voice. This is how radical obedience works in practice.

And when we place our trembling hands in his great strong one, it is an opportunity for him to be shown to the watching world, right here, right now; not in the pages of the past."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Definition of Patience

I was thinking about "patience" today and I thought, "What could require more patience than to serve children in a candy store?"

Actually, I didn't think "candy store," but "sweet shop," and my mind wandered back through many decades, to the 1950's in Alvechurch, the Worcestershire village in England, in which I grew up.

There were several sweet shops in the village, but the quintessential sweet shop belonged to Miss Twitty.  The lamp post in this photograph is right in front of what used to be her sweet shop, at the bottom of Bear Hill.

Miss Twitty worked in this little shop for 34 years; from 1929, when the previous owners retired, to 1963, and she had bought it in 1933. Thirty four years of serving the children of the village.

I only knew her for the last 4 of her years in the shop, but they were the years I grew from 9 years old to 13--so they were significant and she was imprinted on my memory of childhood.

Miss Twitty wore her steel gray hair parted on the side and cut in a chin length bob. Blue gray beady eyes peered from behind glasses perched on the nose of a sharp featured face.She was thin and angular; all shoulders and elbows.

Her sitting room was to the right of the shop door and she would emerge from there on hearing the chime of the door bell.

How often I stood in front of her counter, gazing at the jars full of old fashioned sweets: Lemon drops; flying saucers (rice paper discs filled with sherbet;) toffees; liquorice; dolly mixture; sweet tarts; jelly babies; aniseed balls; pineapple rock; an array of Cadbury chocolate bars; and ice lollies and ice creams in the freezer.

I was painfully shy and my voice shrank to a whisper when addressing Miss Twitty. I can only imagine how she must have had to strain to hear me squeaking out my order, having deliberated for an eternity on what it would be; finally turning over the coins that had been clutched in my hot and sweaty fist. What patience she must have had with the children, for these were serious decisions requiring much thought; long staring at the jars of sweets and many changed minds.

Miss Twitty's sweet shop is memorialized on one of the park benches on the village green.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Industrious Girl

We were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking our coffee one recent morning, me and my man. I was overcome with appreciation for who he is and I told him that one of the things I love about him is that he would do anything--and I mean, any-thing, for his family.

So then I was curious. "What do you appreciate about me, specifically?" I asked. I mean, sometimes it is nice to know, isn't it? :)

This seemed to be a hard question. I could tell the pressure was on. The clock was ticking, like on a quiz show with a time limit before the buzzer rings. I could see the furrowed brow and the figurative pencil being chewed. Beads of sweat were breaking out!

Then, "Industrious!" Paul said triumphantly, "You are very industrious."

Um, "Industrious?" I didn't feel like I hit the jackpot somehow with that quality. I mean, I'm sure that when he first fell for me,  it wasn't because he spotted "Industrious Girl." :)

I have to admit a few more romantic adjectives were squeezed out--under the pressure of realizing that more were required. Such are the unexpected danger zones that shake up morning coffee in our house.

I have been laughing to myself about my "outstanding industriousness" ever since. Maybe the gift of something to smile at all week is the best gift of all.

Monday, November 11, 2013


It happens every now and then; getting lost; and I need to find my bearings again, the true and sure things, including my best "me," which sometimes goes missing in action.

I need to find home, that place of retreat and security, where I know and am known. Home safe.

I pick up my pen and write. A heart can pour through pen to page and in doing so find such sweet relief.

I quiet my restless soul and sit silent.

I read.

I read the words I need to soak me; to soften me; to move my heart back to kindness, gentleness and humility.

I close my eyes to listen better--just in case God might have something to say. He sometimes speaks against the background tick of clock, whirring chimes and the hum of a house.

I hear a welcome. Welcome home.

And I am grateful; to be enfolded in the grace that only waits for an open heart.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

We Remember

As we approach Remembrance Day, this week was also the 33rd annual Holocaust Education Week. Paul and I attended a lecture given by Dr. Beth Griesch-Polelle, an associate professor in the Department of History at Bowling Green State University. The evening was hosted by Reena, a Jewish organization that supports people with developmental disabilities.

The presentation was titled, "Euthanasia: The First Victims," and it focused on the extermination of over 200,000 persons with disabilities who were among the first victims of the euthanasia project--a process of eliminating those deemed unworthy of life.

Professor Greisch-Polelle spoke of Bishop von Galen, an aristocratic Roman Catholic clergyman, who earned the nickname, "The Lion of Munster," for his open criticism of the Nazis through his sermons in 1941, where he spoke of the murder of developmentally disabled individuals and outrages  against Christian clergy, both Catholic and Protestant. He told his congregation of the of a paralysed World War 1 veteran who was taken from the hospital and put to death and charged them with teaching their children biblical values, in opposition to the indoctrination they were receiving in school.

The bishop's sermons were copied and disseminated throughout Germany and beyond. He fully expected to be arrested and sent to a camp, but to his sorrow, rather than harm such an influential figure, in his place, 24 secular priests and 13 members of the regular clergy were deported into concentration camps and 10 lost their lives (The Church in History Information Centre.)

Reading about the life of this man inspires me. Remembering the past and its horrors, warns me not to be complacent in the present, but to be alert to the insidious devaluing of one life in comparison with another.

Hitler and the Gestapo systematically advanced their agenda of racial purification, hoping to harden the German people gradually to the killing of the "unfit." In spite of this there were protests, which were brutally put down and there were thousands of arrests, executions and disappearances.

To those who make it their work to ensure that we never forget I am grateful. Tomorrow in our churches we will remember those who laid down their lives to make this world a better place. The best way we can honour their sacrifice is to guard the freedoms their lives were given for.