Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sharing This Morning

Happy Saturday morning everyone! This is a busy weekend, following a busy week, but I want to recommend a fruitful post by another blogger, Alicia Butcher Ehrhartd.

One of my favourite books is Mistakes Were Made but Not by Me by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. That book is about self justification and judgement; how we remember things--and our general human tendency to subconsciously tilt the scales in our own favour when doing so.

Alicia posted the poem Misattribution (clicking on the word will take you there,) which is what I am recommending you read, to illustrate the fundamental attribution error - a pyschological framework for understanding a similar principle and the underpinnings that drive us in that direction. I loved the poem and am grateful for Alicia taking me deeper into understanding a human tendency, which we can guard against in ourselves and others the better we know it.

Matthew 9:13

Living Bible (TLB)
13 Then he added, “Now go away and learn the meaning of this verse of Scripture,
‘It isn’t your sacrifices and your gifts I want—I want you to be merciful.’[a]
For I have come to urge sinners, not the self-righteous, back to God.”

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wonder and Worry!

We met for supper before going to a presentation by motivational speaker Lesley Andrew. She spoke at the high school of two of our granddaughters and it turned out to be such an amazing evening that I wished that the school had been packed. The tickets had only been $5 after all--a great bargain! Those of us who were there--a small intimate group, left inspired to the hilt by this amazing woman who has turned her challenges into beauty and art. She uses her story to show that no matter the package or family you are born with, or the pain that unfolds in your life, you always have a choice of what to do with them. Through her choices, determination and persistence she has reached incredible heights as a vocal and visual artist, and proven that one goal at a time you can beat the odds and be a success in the best sense of the word--being the best you that you can be.

This was such an amazing message for young people to hear, and I am sure that everyone there was impacted for good.

I was grateful for the school council arranging for the presentation and to the principal for approving it.

Over dinner earlier though, I was disturbed by a conversation. I'd heard about moral dilemma discussions in school, but they had never affected someone I love dearly. Now my granddaughter was telling me that in one of her classes they had a yes or no decision to make, in scenarios in which the choices were unacceptable. She was just making light conversation when she told me about it; just sharing a question to see what choice I would make. I was aware of trying to prevent the dinner conversation turning heavy, and I hope I managed to explain my feelings in a rationale way. I also hope she thinks carefully before she allows anyone to take away her right to say "No, I won't make that choice."

One of the scenarios she shared was that a group of adults and a baby are hiding from the Nazis during World War 11. The baby starts crying and the only way to escape discovery and prevent all of them being shot is to smother the baby. What would you do? Would you smother the baby--yes or no?

Now that I'm writing the question out, I can see that you could say no, but I am afraid that many people would be led in the direction of sacrificing the baby "for the greater good." After all, they would all be dead if they are discovered.

Giving in to the pressure to make this choice breaks down a moral boundary in people that is there for good reason, and once it is breached, it leads down a road of many other choices being considered reasonable "for the greater good." 

Ironically, choices having to be made when resources were limited was the seed that initially lay at the core of the Nazi philosophy in which some people were deemed worthy of life and others weren't. They called those that weren't, "Useless eaters." That thinking was the pathway to what became genocide--the Holocaust. In our own time it could lead to involuntary euthanasia of the elderly or the "useless," in society's view. 

(If I over reacted and there is some greater purpose and guidance during the discussion of the questions, I apologize--but I found them worrying, and angering.)

Having made my point, we all still managed to have a wonderful evening thanks to the best company in the world--each other--and a speaker that was second to none in the inspiration category! 

And being driven to pray for your grandchildren and the school system is not a bad thing.

Just Smiling

I was sitting next to someone sharing over lunch this week, the story of the latest in the pie adventure. I got to the part where Ivo asked me how many orders I could handle and I told him I didn't like to set a limit and I said to my friend that it felt like limiting God. My friend said, "Well I know you have faith in God but then there are the practicalities." I teased my friend--"Faith in God is the practicality! They aren't different things." We both laughed at how funny the conversation had become.

Because the adventure of the pies has never been practical from day one. :) I smile every time I think of the choice to become practical because I think that the moment I do, I will be stepping into the real danger zone of trying to go it alone. No, I will stay happily impractical--and hold onto God's big hand.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

On Being Part of His Plan

Readers of Whatever He Says know that a pie baking adventure began last November, in order to raise the last $1000 needed for a project we were sponsoring at work; a modest guest house for visiting workers, in South Sudan.

We didn't know then that war would break out in South Sudan on December 13, and that the compound surrounding the guest house would be swamped by thousands of desperate people seeking safety; but God did, that goes without saying; and some of the support that would be needed was going to be through someone who'd heard him say, "Bake pies." And she would be helped by a circle of friends who donated resources of pie ingredients, pie boxes and time and energy. 

So far we've raised almost $4000 for South Sudan through the pies--that's 200 pies at $20 each. Everyone who has bought one is a helper through giving .We have received so much joy in working together to make a difference for a people in desperate need of help; all because God compelled us to do something simple to help. 

And the adventure continues. Last Saturday I was looking for gravy mix at the grocery store. Next to me stood a short stocky man with a shaved head, wearing tee shirt and shorts and holding a package of ground beef. He grabbed a couple of packages of chili seasoning mix and proceeded to tell me that he makes amazing chili with this mix and a couple of cans of white and red beans. I was amazed, thinking about my shelves of spices and recipes. 

"Yes," he said, "When I go to the trailer, everyone brings me their meat and I make the chili. It's amazing." 

As he walked away down the aisle, I blurted out, "I make pie!"

He turned around, with eyes alight. He said, "I love apple pie--I'll pay $10 or $15 for a good apple pie."

I said that mine was $20 and he said, "I'll pay anything for a good apple pie. Where can I get one? Do you have a card?"

As I was fishing for one of my work cards, he said his name was Joe, and that he'd just opened the new ice cream store in town. He said, "Drop off the card at the store."

That night I went home and made cards and set up an email address where people could order pies. The cards said, "Made with love and obsessive perfection to make a difference in the world." I dropped the card off at the store the next day. The woman serving the ice cream nodded and smiled when I told her it was for Joe. 

This Saturday morning I was at my hairdresser, Gravity Salon, and as Ivo, the owner showed me to a chair, I asked him if he'd liked the pies he ordered for his Christmas parties. He said, "Oh my goodness, they were amazing. Let me know when you're making more and I'll order some." I gave him one of my new cards, and took an order then and there for four pies. When he said he had a dinner party that evening, I went home and got them done right away and drove back up the highway to Barrie, to deliver them for 4.00 when the salon was closing.

Ivo generously paid 25.00 each for his four pies. He had just been telling his last customer about what happened before Christmas when I met someone at the salon, who donated a 40 pound box of the best Northern Spy apples to the cause, I wrote about that in a post called, I Could Not Make this Up. His customer took one of my cards!

Ivo asked me, "Do you have your website up?"

I said, "No, I don't have a website, maybe I should make one."

Ivo gave me his card and said, "Write something about what you're doing and send it to me. I'll put it on my website, and put a link to your Facebook page. How many orders can you handle?"

"Well, I don't like to set a limit," I said. And I don't. This has always been a kind of holy endeavour if baking pies qualifies as such a thing, and setting a limit feels like limiting God--and I know that isn't a good idea. So he's leading and I'm following with my friends and loving being part of his unfolding plan.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Unraveling the Reason for PIe

Today as I drove from a meeting to the office I listened to Ontario Today on CBC Radio; a favourite phone in show; with host Rita Celli. Today's topic was "Are we too politically correct for our kids?" It was a lively debate over the stories we all grew up with: Little Red Riding Hood; 'Twas the Night Before Christmas etc. with the familiar authors and fairy tales we read as children, being critically examined and discussed. 

I agreed with the caller who didn't censor or sanitize the stories or classics, but read them with her children and used the opportunities that occurred for discussion. I was an avid reader of fairy tales as a child, who graduated to Greek mythology, science fiction and then a phase of loving horror stories--everything I could lay my hands on, in fact. I'm not afraid of the written word and believe that you can trust children with more discernment than we give them credit for--but I do respect the views of those who are protective of young minds.

It was an interesting discussion, but I laughed out loud when the person on the show with Rita Celli said that while we might debate the political correctness of Little Red Riding Hood and the "horror" of the wolf eating the grandmother, the point of this story and many others is to imprint a point on the child's mind. In the case of that story, it is to "stay on the path," and not to talk to strangers.

My laughter came as I thought of Mum, who made up her own story to imprint "staying on the path" for Rob and me. It was the story of a little pixie whose mummy told him to stay in the garden.  He looked over the fence and saw some lovely flowers and thought that he would just pick a few for his mummy. Of course, there were always more flowers, just further and further on, and soon the little pixie had wandered far into a forest, and was hopelessly lost. He sat down under a tree and cried and cried. Just then he heard a sound. "Vroom! Vroom!" coming closer and closer. He looked up and saw, high up above him, a big giant, looking down on him. The giant, who turned out to be a gentle soul, stooped down, scooped him up in his big hand and when the little pixie told him his woeful story of being lost, he put him in his shirt pocket, from where he was able to look down and see the way home. Then "Vroom! Vroom!" he carried him back through the forest back to his house.

The little pixie man's mummy was so happy to see him, that she made the giant a great big apple pie, in the biggest thing she could find in her kitchen. The giant loved the pie so much! The giant and the pixie family became lifetime friends.

And I'm wondering...was that how I was imprinted with the compulsion to bake apple pie!? The "staying on the path" part didn't work so well at the time. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Music to Remember

You often hear people talking about "what they were doing when"...Man landed on the moon; President J.F. Kennedy was assassinated; John Lennon was murdered; 911 shocked the world--those moments that are frozen in memory. 

There are times when music just hits me to powerfully that I remember the moment I first heard a voice, or a musician. It was like that the first time I heard the late brilliant Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould, playing the Bach Goldberg Variations on CBC radio one day. I had just arrived in the parking lot of my dentist's office, and had not a moment to spare for my appointment, but I couldn't leave the car. I was spellbound by the magical liquidity of Gould's fingers on the keyboard. I had never heard anything like it, had to hear it all, and I had to know who was playing. 

Another such moment was again in my car. I remember the intersection I was approaching; Davis and Yonge; when Eva Cassidy's rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow came over the radio. I was so profoundly moved by the combination of her voice, the feeling it conveyed, it took my breath away. Learning that she had died tragically young, added to the impact of the song.

This morning I listened to another song that hit me powerfully for different reasons. I love the music of Peter Furler--the depth of the song writing and his particular edgy style. I bought one of his albums and was listening to it when I came to the song, "It's Alright (For Lazarus.) I stopped mid song to tell Paul about the lyrics. If you've ever had questions about the account of Jesus's mysterious behaviour in the Gospel of John, chapter 11when his friends, Martha and Mary, sent a message to tell him that their brother Lazarus was very sick, and he, who had the power to heal, delayed going to his friend for two days, and then arrived after his death. Why did he cry, when he did arrive, if he knew he was about to raise him from the dead? I've heard explanations before, but the one in this beautiful song and indeed the whole song, is full of meaning. I hope you enjoy too, and maybe fall in love with the Peter Furler Band. 

Online Job Interview

Bren shared this with me, and I had to share it with you. :)

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Motherhood On My Mind

Motherhood is on my mind this week; it is a joy that never grows old.

Our son is in the habit of calling often on his way home from work. He leaves work late and we are often eating supper in front of the T.V. when the phone rings. We exchange a smile and glance, point the remote towards the T.V. and mute the sound. We put the phone on speaker phone so that we can both join in the conversation, and set about putting the world to rights; it really should be in better shape by now!

This morning he called as I was putting on the morning coffee. I wrote entry number 477 in my Gratitude Journal a little later:
A morning call from Peter on his way to work, sharing in 10 minutes our current joys, victories, successes and our hearts. I love him and am so grateful that he is my son and that I have the continuing joy of motherhood, even at 63.
And here is entry number 395:
For a visit for tea from Brenda; for granddaughters who miss us, but who are happy in their own beautiful home. 
For children in their forties whom we love and would lay down our lives for, yet who are growing tall and straight and firm in lives of their own. 
And of course I am thinking of Mum, and found myself writing in a blog comment this week:
Some of the memories I treasure most, the sweetest ones, with my mother, who died two years ago, at 86, in England, are of our goodbyes, when although her communication was limited due to a stroke, we spoke heart to heart and soul to soul when we said, "Until we meet again;" both knowing that it meant on earth or in heaven. We acknowledged the reality of death. She soaked in our prayers together at bedtimes like a thirsty flower, and gripped my hands as an unspoken expression of solidarity in faith. When the time came that she went on before me, I could hardly find grief in my heart, so grateful was I for the times we had shared. I felt fulfilled, with nothing left undone and no regrets.
For me, mother's day is not about perfect mothers or being celebrated, but about gratitude for the privilege of participating in it; and for the blessing of being mothered by someone who taught me that it was okay to be fallible in motherhood, but that loving much and well outweighs all the things we will beat ourselves up for getting wrong. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

A Little Water Vapour

We moved as slowly as blood through a thickened artery; oozing our way down the highway; a mass of individuals bound into a unified trickle toward our various destinations. It was "rush hour," but the term was irony at its best that day.

Mist shrouded familiar apartment buildings, disguising them as ghostly towers, mysterious as castles clinging to a mountain top in Transylvania.

In late evening, I left an out of town meeting. The mist had hung on all day like a guest reluctant to leave a party and now it had descended with spooky, tentacled determination on the concrete pathways from the city. 

I mentally debated the unappealing options--the highway or the longer way, a side road home. Both held equal trepidation. I was already insecure driving unfamiliar roads but my decision was made when the on-ramp to the highway appeared through the mist and I made a split second decision to take it. The traffic was light and the journey home was uneventful and relatively fast. I breathed a prayer of thanks an hour later as I closed the front door--safely home!

What a difference a little fog makes--just vapour, after all; transparent droplets of water in air; transforming the familiar into an alien, mysterious realm, and slowing the rush of busy, driven commuters of a day into a slow parade of wanderers, held captive to its will.