Showing posts from January, 2007

The Pull of the Magnets

John 15:5 (New International Version) 5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. Within minutes of last night's blog post going out,about knocking on doors with the gift of the fridge magnets, the first email came back with a message for Brenda, "Please tell Princess Butterfly I will join her in her endeavour..." And it was from our friend Bonnie--who was having serious surgery at 7.00 a.m. the next day! It was good to hear that she's planning to get better fast. Then another came from Susan saying, "I'm in," and by the end of today there were several more from friends in the church saying, "I'll go too." It feels as if God is stirring up our hearts--filling them with passion to reach people in our community with the good news--in a simple way. Someone shared by email that a person she works with has a fridge magnet with the name of a church o

Passion and Inspiration

I was just about ready to leave the house this morning--the car was warming up--and, as usual, I looked as though I was setting out for a long trip instead of just the office. I'd gathered my very full briefcase, thermos (full of coffee, of course), purse and lunch box. The door from the downstairs apartment opened and Brenda came up. "Mom, I've been thinking," she said, "about what it would take to make our community more aware of our church--and what it would take for them to think of us if they had a need." She went on, her eyes shining with excitement, "You know how companies have fridge magnets--what if we had fridge magnets in the shape of the church--and a phrase on them like, "Need Some Care? Need Prayer? We'll be There!" with our phone number." "How can we bridge the gap?" she asked--and then without waiting for an anwer,"I've been praying--I so want to see our church filled with new people who don't kn

The Pursuit of Happyness

Psalm 50:23 (New International Version) 23 He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, On Friday evening two friends and I met to go to the movies. One of us had two free tickets to share and we'd decided to split the cost of the third ticket. Friday night came and a snowstorm hit. I drove slowly and nervously through it and waited for them at the Tim Hortons in nearby Cookstown. After a few minutes their car pulled in and they got out to get into mine. The friend with the tickets left them on the counter top at home as she rushed out, leaving behind her husband serving supper to the children--but undaunted we pressed on. We'd looked forward to this night out and nothing was going to deter us. The movie we chose to see was entitled, "The Pursuit of Happyness,"--yes, that's "happyness" with a "y." It starred Will Smith and his small son in the movie was played by his real life 8-year-old son, Jayden. One of my friends found it depressing--she

An Eternal Perspective

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (New International Version) 14For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. It was Saturday morning and Brenda and I were having our after breakfast coffee--a time when we ignore the laundry, the dishes and the other chores and just hang out for as long as we can before the world catches up to us. We got to talking--I guess because our annual church business meeting is coming up--about how many people we could think of who found Christ as Lord and Saviour in the past year. We came up with zero. We thought of how much of our church life is focused on ourselves and each other and talked of our need to reach out. I don't mean to make our church sound insular--it isn't--we support missions and have an amazingly well run children's program--and kids from the town, w

Victoria and the Inuksuk

A couple of weeks ago I came home from work to find my husband in a state of urgent excitement. It seemed that our seven year old granddaughter Victoria's class was going to be studying Nunavut and the North West Territories. You have to know three things about Paul. He loves travel and has been to the North West Territories, he loves his grandchildren even more than he loves to travel--and when he's on a mission--he's on a mission. So when I found him on a hunt for the photos and video he'd taken, of the Arctic ocean, pingoes and aboriginal dancers, even if it meant turning our upstairs closet inside out on a night when people were coming for dinner and cell group--I knew my priorities--and dinner came second! No child ever was prepared with more "stuff." Paul insisted on referring to Victoria's "presentation," no matter how many times our daughter Brenda, told him, "Dad, it's not a presentation." He quizzed her on how pingoes were


A year ago today, Emily Claire, our youngest grandchild was born. I had a meeting that morning and was up early, making pots of coffee to take to work when, at 7 o'clock, the phone rang . It was our son Peter, telling us that our daughter-in-law Susan, had just given birth to their fourth child. I quickly got ready, leaving a message at work to say I'd be late, and set out for the hospital in nearby Alliston. I stepped out of my warm car into the intense cold and brilliant sunshine of that morning, and my breath trailed behind me, and hung in the air as I hurried to the hospital doors. Soon I was holding our petite, dark haired, fine featured beauty--Emily--and breathing a prayer over her. Stepping back out into the morning, bound for work, the air danced with ice crystal confetti that caught the sunlight and flashed with diamond fire. It felt as if heaven was throwing a birthday party. Today I held another little one in my arms and breathed a prayer for God's blessing on

Holding a Miracle--Welcome Ava!



"Belinda, I'm holding my baby in my arms,"--her voice over the phone yesterday evening, contained a new depth of tenderness and enough love for a lifetime, this mother of exactly one hour and fifteen minutes. In that instant and those eight words, I heard, "It was worth the wait; worth all of the worries--and I'll love her forevermore." Little Ava, Claire, Jasmine is one of God's very special miracles. Her conception and birth were against all the odds except God's and no baby will ever be treasured more than she. As I try to put words to the quality I heard in my friend's voice when she called to tell me her wonderful news, I can only call it deep, unspeakable joy--and I think of the tender words from Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) "He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” I remember my mother telling me many times about the experience of giving bi


Deuteronomy 4:35-39 (New Living Translation) 35 “He showed you these things so you would know that the Lord is God and there is no other. 36 He let you hear his voice from heaven so he could instruct you. He let you see his great fire here on earth so he could speak to you from it. 37 Because he loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants, and he personally brought you out of Egypt with a great display of power. 38 He drove out nations far greater than you, so he could bring you in and give you their land as your special possession, as it is today. 39 “ So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. In all of the "so"s of this passage, I saw the intentions of God! He wants us to know that he is God and there is no other. He wants to instruct us. He wants to communicate with us. He wants to bring us into the Promised Land--his Kingdom--around us and within us. So--I want to remember

A Sure Thing

Romans 9:33 (New Living Translation) 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, “I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Just a few simple thoughts on the utter security of trusting in Christ. God speaks of Jesus as a stone and a rock. We use the figure of speech, "As solid as a rock." Jesus is the rock on which we can stand with confidence. He will never leave us or forsake us, even in our darkest and most lonely hour. He is a stone stumbled over by many. The religious people of his day stumbled over him--this radical teacher who spoke with such authority. People today still stumble over him--this man who said he is The Way, The Truth and The Life. You can't get much clearer than that. Faith is a gift of God--he calls whom he will. We can't climb up to reach him by our intellect, or by a life of goodness or even sacrifice. Grace is

What Would Jesus Do...if He had a sister?

Friday was a PA Day for my 3 daughters. They'd had a late night the day before and woke up a little out of sorts. They fought about silly little things all day and by lunch time I was thinking some very unpleasant thing about who ever came up with the idea of a PA Day. I put lunch on the table and called up the stairs, "Kids! Lunch is ready!". My 6 year old had forgotten something up in her room and as she made her way up the stairs in a hurry to get it, she came face to face with my 8 year old who was on her way down for lunch. Now, the problem was that they were both on the same side of the staircase (the one with the railing), and neither one was willing to move. "Mom! She won't move!" They each cried out to me. I came around the corner to straighten things out and was hit by an onslaught of all the reasons why they shouldn't be the one to move. "I don't feel well. I could get dizzy and fall if I let go of the railing!" , "I was h

Travel & Room Bookings--The Jesus Way

Luke 19:30-31 (New Living Translation) 30 “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Luke 22:10-13 (New Living Translation) 10 He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, 11 say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 12 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 13 They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there. We grow used to odd things when they're familiar to us. I notice this often in reading the bible, which is so full of possible pondering points that every reading yields new ones. Today

Saturday Morning Splendour

Light shaft over the maple forest

Diamond Dust Morning

Luke 21:34 (New Living Translation) 34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled... by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, The sun rose from its hiding place behind the stand of maples on the hill in glorious splendour this morning. This tiny corner of the world was newly covered in a deep layer of diamond dust snow, and light bounced off light and dazzled my eyes as I gazed at the view from my kitchen window. A multicoloured halo encircled the sun--"sun dogs"-- rainbow light shafts caused by ice crystals in the winter air. Long grey shadow fingers crept over the sparkling snow from the maple forest. Later on Molson the golden retriever played in the snow with our granddaughters Tiffany-Amber and Victoria and was the epitome of joyful exuberance--now prancing in the snow, now digging his nose deep in the snow and tossing it in the air, now grabbing the string of the toboggan and tugging it as if to help it along--the ideal childhood playmate. M

Bee Stings

Deuteronomy 1:44 (New Living Translation) 44 But the Amorites who lived there came out against you like a swarm of bees. They chased and battered you all the way from Seir to Hormah. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses starts out by saying that a journey that should have taken only 11 days, had taken forty years because of fear and rebellion against God. The Israelites had been chronic complainers--and even looked back longingly to their days of slavery. And when they finally did arrive on the edges of the Promised Land, they could only see barriers and obstacles--the giants in the land. The Israelites might make me shake my head, but if I pause and think for a few moments, I can relate some of these flaws to my own battles--and as I said a couple of days ago--I have wandered in some personal deserts for 40 years too. Moses goes on to record the foolishness of the Israelites, who, suddenly resolving to enter the land, did so full of rash courage and arrogance--and without God. The people

Promised Lands

Promised Lands --splinters and thorns--ever since I wrote about them a couple of days ago, they've been on my mind a lot. My "Promised Lands" are those dreams that always seem just out of reach--not because they are unattainable, but because I subconsciously sabotage my own efforts or don't seize the vision and see it as easily attainable--somehow it's easier to keep it there on the edge of my peripheral vision--a comfortable companion, this unachieved goal. Thinking in terms of splinters and thorns being constant companions of the compromising life (see January 16th devotion), I've realized--they aren't so comfortable. So--I'm resolved, one at a time--to reach my Promised Lands. No more splinters and thorns if I can help it. The people of Israel spent 40 years wandering in the desert before they entered the Promised Land. That was never God's wish for them. Come to think of it--my own track record is about as long. I hope that thinking of God

A Saturated Sponge

Ephesians 4:1 (New Living Translation 1 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. I used to pass the room often, with a guilty glance. I knew he was there, waiting--I could feel his presence, just out of sight around the corner, but I was so busy--and so tired--that I just couldn't stop--and if I did, I would have fallen asleep the moment I entered and sank into the chair. What was this frantic race that made me feel I couldn't stop to pray--or simply sit at his feet? My busyness was self inflicted--a result of my own choices, and, to be honest--preferences. I preferred to be busy--and I was avoiding God. Somewhere along the way I chose to listen to his voice calling me to come aside with him before I entered the fray of the day. At the time I knew it was a significant turning point where I stood to lose something precious if I didn't listen. I'm so glad he called one more time--and I

Splinters and Thorns

Numbers 33:55 (New Living Translation) 55 But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live. The people of Israel were camped on the opposite side of the river Jordan, looking across to Canaan, the Promised Land, when God gave Moses these instructions for them. Theirs was to be no army of occupation--they were to completely drive out the inhabitants of the land, destroying the images of the gods the people worshipped, leaving no trace of them. It's easy to see how hard those instructions would have been to follow, but God warned them that anything less than that--any compromise or half-hearted commitment--would have painful consequences. The people who remained would be like splinters in their eyes and thorns in their sides--an endless stone in their sandal. I'm a long way from Canaan, but there are a few "Promised Lands" in my lif

God's Perfect Peace

Last night, I kissed my 3 young daughters goodnight, tucked them in and left them in their warm beds. They lay there praying for the buses to be cancelled the next morning because of the impending snow storm. I smiled to myself as I made my way down to the living room where my husband and a crackling fire awaited me. I settled down on the couch and remembered being a child and knowing that the buses may not run the next day. That excitement came back to me and I fell asleep later with a wonderful peace, certain I would awake to blizzard-like weather and be able to sleep in. At 10 to 7 in the morning, I was awoken by the sound of tiny ice pellets being driven against my window. The same excitement I'd known as a child raced through me. I hurried into the living room and turned on the local news. The anchor woman began rhyming off a multitude of cancellations. It seemed that buses everywhere were cancelled...everywhere except here. I made my way upstairs to wake my very disappointed

War Zone

Isaiah 52:14 (New Living Translation) 14 But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. Isaiah 53:5 (New Living Translation) 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. As her mind and body stirred into consciousness on that May morning in 1940, she heard the deep rumble of thunder. The thirteen year old Dutch girl brushed back the shiny, dark brown hair from her blue-gray, almond shaped eyes as they widened in fear. Storms frightened her. But it was no passing storm that my mother heard as a young girl. It was the sound of bombing and the drone of planes--the start of the invasion of Holland by the Nazis. The bombing started in the morning and an ultimatum was given to surrender by 5:00 p.m. or the Germans would flatten the city of Rotterdam where she lived. The children were sent home from

New Coat Racks

Romans 9:32 (New Living Translation) 32 ... Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. Our son Peter is a theologian at heart. That means that long and interesting conversations are par for the course whenever we connect and since he is also the father of four of our six dear grandchildren--our conversations are usually interspersed with interesting sounds and admonitions. Yesterday evening little Emily, almost one, was trying out her voice as we spoke--"Hmm, hmm, hmm," she sang happily on her daddy's shoulder as we talked. Our words wove in and around Emily's singing and somewhere along the way I grabbed my pen and started taking notes--I wanted to capture the thoughts. We were talking about the move to "principle based" ways of operating in the business world--that out of a set of values, workers would be responsible to conduct themselves in an appropriat

The Word of God is Like...

John 1:1 (New International Version) The Word Became Flesh 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word of God is like... A richly woven cloth, of fascinating, skillful design. A theme repeats and echoes consistently and with perfection. From beginning to end, woven through all is the scarlet thread, the blood of Christ. A Rembrandt painting--light and dark--the play of shadows hiding secrets that are revealed to one whose eye gazes long enough. Henri Nouwen once sat for long hours before Rembrandt's painting The Return of the Prodigal Son, in The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia. Out of his time gazing at the painting came his book by the same title. The Word of God is like that in its beauty and depth. The garment worn by Jesus...He lives within it--and those who take hold of it like the woman who touched the hem of his garment--will find healing for soul and spirit. Treasure it, taste it, feel it--eat it--his word is life, light and

Yeay God!

Matthew 6:12 (New Living Translation) 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. "Spiritual Sore Spots," I have a few! The good news is that the ones I have today are not the same as the ones I had six years ago. I had a struggle with getting forgiveness from my head to my heart six years ago. I know, because I just read my journal. Back then there were people in my life who had really alienated me--to the point that if I never saw them again that would have been perfect! The trouble was that they were in a certain circle in my life and I inevitably bumped into them from time to time. And then there were all of those scripture verses about forgiveness. I believed them and agreed with them--in theory--but the application to these people was a stretch my heart found hard to make. I am laughing at the words I wrote back then. I said that I saw them as judgemental and self righteous. There is irony and humour in that! I told God that I knew he had a

Adventures in Blogdom

I gasped at the number. One of my blogger friends had just shared the exciting news that visits to his blog had inexplicably tripled in one day. We were both giddy, euphoric and totally gob-smacked! There is a whole sub-culture in " blogdom." It's like running for an election and waiting to see who votes. We all have one thing in common--we have something to say--but is there anybody out there who wants to listen? Some people don't seem to care--they say it anyway. Blogs are platforms for thoughts and ideas--an ideal form of community for readers and writers. Many blogs, including my own, have a "site-meter" that tracks the number of visitors as well as details such as the general area visitors are from. When one becomes a "regular," checking in every day or every few days, they are almost like an unseen friend. It's a strange relationship--two sided--the writer and the reader--with nothing in between--unless they leave a comment. When a regula

Baptism of Joy

Psalm 126:2 (New International Version) 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." We were gathered at the altar after communion--when those having a need for prayer are invited to come forward. I saw her--a older woman who had been struggling with deep depression--and I knew--I was supposed to pray with her. I can't explain it, but I had such faith that God was able to lift the depression and restore her mental health. As I began to mentally form the words I would pray for her, I felt, rather than heard, God's voice saying to me, "You don't need to say anything--I am able to touch her by my power alone." A few of us laid our hands gently on her and began to pray. I was praying in tongues--a prayer language through which God can flow--and as I did, I knew that God was powerfully doing something in her. Sobbing came from deep within me as I prayed, a

The Law--Mission Impossible

Anyone who's started at the beginning of the Bible with the intent of reading it through will have encountered the law and wondered how anyone could be expected to keep the staggering list of detailed requirements. Of course no-one could and that's the point. And it's the answer to those who ask, "If there's a God, why does he allow such terrible things to happen?" There was a time when God intervened with a strait-jacket of rules and fiery judgments. It wasn't a failed attempt on his part to control humanity--but an object lesson--a demonstration of what doesn't work. It was the teachers of religious law who drew the anger of Jesus over and over again. He said, "How terrible it will be for you experts in religious law! For you hide the key to knowledge from the people. You don't enter the Kingdom and you prevent others from entering." Luke 11:52 NLT But I've been reading Romans lately--at the same time as reading the book of Numbers

Conspiracy Theory

We were talking about the book I'm reading right now, "Cure for the Common Life," by Max Lucado . The book is about finding your Sweet Spot--your purpose--your reason to be--and with the start of a new year my friend was giving this some thought so I told her about the book. One way to find clues to our Sweet Spot is by thinking back to what we did naturally as a child when we had time on our hands. The book says that what we loved to do then may well hold the key to the gifts we have to share with the world now. Childhood; you would think it would be a carefree time--a time of play, exploration, and dreams--a happy time of innocence and wonder. That's what God intended it to be--and although for a fortunate few it is, all too often it is much harder than that. So many people can't even remember a lot of their childhood. She thought for a moment, and her words were casual as she shared a memory that came back suddenly, relatively recently--a glimmer in the fog of

The Tree by the Cook-House

She'd set sail from Canada for what was then known as the Congo, full of excitement and anticipation, following the call of God. In her teens she had felt called to go to China at a time when there were rumours of missionaries were being boiled in oil. She made up her mind to go--a streak of Scottish grit--combined with a determination to follow Christ--was stronger than her fears, but the door to China stayed firmly shut and a boat bound for Africa via England, was where she found herself. After weeks of travel by boat and then by sedan chair, carried into the jungle, she found herself in another world. The African children called her Mama Macadoni, but some fifty years later, I knew her as Agnes MacDonald, my friend. She had another friend back in the jungle, a young missionary named Frances. Frances was as spunky as Agnes, with a head of glorious red hair. The missionaries often fell prey to tropical diseases and there was a burial ground high on a hill. All of them kept wo

Passionate Friends

John 15:15 (The Message) Eugene H. Peterson 11-15"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father. From a place of trust, the words come out, unfiltered, tumbling with abandon, expressing the shape of a heart, the set of a mind. With anyone else, the words would be more guarded-- weighed, measured--but with a friend, words can dance free. Words, sound-symbols for things and thoughts. They need to be out in the light to live--to stretch their wings--to be tested. Held close to the chest or closed within, the

On Prayer

Psalm 141:2 (New International Version) 2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Prayer--it takes many forms and shapes. I awoke this morning as I always do, with an awareness of God's Presence. It was natural to slip from Presence to prayer in my first thoughts and words. While prayer can be as automatic as breathing, there is also a more intentional kind of prayer on behalf of someone else. This is an area of ebb and flow for me, with the exception of a specific few people for whom I pray regularly. Prayer needs fly in the Christian community as thick and fast as a Denver snowstorm in winter--and sometimes I feel stuck in a snow-drift! So I had an idea. I wrote all the needs that I know of for prayer on little slips of paper. I put them into a wicker basket that sits on the coffee table in the room where I meditate, read and pray. Each morning, I reach into the basket, trusting God to lead me to the needs that I

He Restores My soul

Psalm 23:3 (New International Version) 3 he restores my soul... We met up in the hallway outside my office door, the three of us. They had emerged from a two hour meeting elsewhere in the building and I had been working alone at a part of my job I find challenging. We were spent! I'd started the day bright and chipper. "Happy Wednesday!"--I had saluted my team in an early morning email. But as the day wore on, as I focused on paper and spreadsheets and lines and columns of figures, my eyes began to tire and I felt as if sawdust had blown into them. The muscles in my back tightened and it felt weary but I forced myself to persevere, determined to do as much as I could before leaving. I love working with people, but examining the intricate details of nineteen separate budgets is a necessary task, not my passion. When my two colleagues met up outside my door, I emerged to greet them and we all as one decided to call it a day--we almost needed to prop one another up for suppo

The Lord Is His Name

Amos 5:8 (New International Version) 8 (he who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land— the LORD is his name-

Why Twice Born?

John 3:3 (New International Version) 3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Sometimes my mind takes me in strange directions and recently I was thinking about the point at which we come into existence within the span of time. Peter, our son, existed for just over two years before our daughter Brenda was born and it is hard to imagine her not being part of our lives back then. She does though know about our lives before she came along, from photographs and what we've told her. It's the same with history. We know about it two ways; we know about the part we experienced because we were there, and we know what others tell us or what we read, about the part we didn't experience personally. There is a spiritual parallel. We are born once into the world and at some point we will know about God through what we read, or what someone tells us. We can even study theology and know all about him; however, be

Molson in the Woods


It's All in the Light

Psalm 119:105 (New International Version) 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. The winter is different this year--the snow being delayed in Denver. The landscape, normally brilliant--sparkly snow-white by now, displays another kind of beauty. A walk through the forest, feet crunching in the little snow that there is, reveals a carpet of springy russet pine needles, with a layer of coppery leaves strewn randomly around on top of them. Golden maple keys hang from branches as if they are laundry pegged out to dry on a miniature washing line. The mere dusting of snow contrasts with the chestnut, gold, buff and copper of the leaves and the fresh bright green growth of pine needles. The cold, crisp air is invigorating and the wind sings, high in the tree tops, deepening to a sound like a soft drum roll as it picks up speed high above our heads. My digital camera is with me on my walk in the woods--ready to store the myriad of tiny details that capture my attention and