Showing posts from May, 2007


As Wednesday evening approached, the tension grew around here. Molson and Brenda were going for their final stage of testing in order for him to be a therapy dog with the St. John's Ambulance Brigade. Brenda had already gone through rigorous screening, had provided reference letters and been interviewed--but the hour long test on Wednesday had her nerves in shreds--so much was riding on it. She had her heart set on this and she knew the dog would be put through very tough testing. Molson, as usual, was coooool as a cucumber! There were four dogs and their owners being tested that night. The owners were not allowed to speak to their dogs during the test. The dogs and owners had to stand in a circle and each set of dog and owner was given a number to stand on. Whichever owner the evaluator pointed at, had to give their dog the full 6 feet of lead. Then the evaluator watched how they handled meeting the other dogs. No verbal command could be given and no reassurance if they were getti

Molson Made It! He's a St. John's Ambulance Therapy Dog!



I flopped onto the couch with my laptop, glad to be in the cool of the air-conditioned house. It had been such a hot day. I was checking emails when the doorbell chimed--soft, melodic, Big Ben tones. Opening the beveled glass front door to the heat outside, I found a young man, wearing a baseball cap, shorts and tee shirt--holding a heavy a rucksack. He explained that his job was giving away/installing energy saving equipment for the gas company. He showed me the large I.D. tag that hung from his neck and I was reassured to recognize a familiar business name. He handed me a shower head and tap attachments for bathroom and kitchen--as well as foam water pipe insulation. I thought that perhaps this was a summer job and that he was a university student. He handed me a form to sign for his records and to account for the free equipment handed out. No problem. But there was a second space to sign, confirming that he had installed the equipment. "I have a problem signing this," I sa


Psalm 55:6 (New International Version) 6 I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest- I sat beside his bed on that evening four years ago. We all knew that it wouldn't be long now before his old lungs, labouring to do their work in spite of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), would exhale for the last time. But we had thought that so many times before--prepared ourselves to say goodbye--only for him to rally and prove the doctors and nurses wrong. I had worship practice that evening, so I dropped in to the "group home" that was home to Stan, staying as long as I could before I had to leave for the church, promising to come back as soon as I could. There was a quiet expectancy in the house--the same sort as on Christmas Eve. People trod softly and gently. Friends had come and gone over the course of the days before. On May 23rd he had come home from York County Hospital and we had celebrated his 87th birthday--a steady stream

I Once Was Blind

I was driving down highway 400 to the second part of an Assertiveness Training course in Toronto last week, when I glanced up at one of those illuminated signs over the highway. "Check Blind Spot Before Changing Lanes," it said. I smiled to myself at the irony as it felt as though I had been doing nothing but checking blind spots ever since the first session. The day was helpful to all of us in the class--I know it was to me. Our instructor, Schelley, drew a diagram of the "Johari Window" and talked about the "four selves"--Open (known to others and self), Blind (known to others but not self), Hidden (known to self but hidden to others) and Unknown (to both ourself and others--subconscious). It was the "Blind" window that I had been discovering most about. On the weekend I was listening to Fresh Air on CBC radio, and heard a wonderful musician--a high school teacher from Toronto, called Max Layton, who was talking about his new CD, Heartbeat of T

Following Jesus

Around the church there has been anticipation and talk about the upcoming baptism service over the past few weeks--and Tiffany-Amber and Victoria surprised us all by asking if they could be baptized. We had family discussions--were they too young--did they understand the step they wanted to take? In the end their parents decided that if they were old enough to say that they wanted to follow Jesus, then they were old enough to be baptised. Pastor Dave interviewed them both, to be sure that they understood, and agreed that they did--so it was a go--and today was the day. They joined two men, one woman and two teenagers in being baptized. I was leading worship and Pastor Dave asked me to show the baptismal tank to all of the children on the platform just prior to Sunday School--and explain what would be happening. The pastor's grandson Rowan, had thrown a ball into the tank before church started and there it sat on the bottom. The children noticed it and gathered precariously close t

Frances's 40th Birthday Celebration




The Poem of a Child.

Living is like flying a kite. There is a beginning and an end to the journey and lots of obstacles will try to stop you. But I will never turn back. My self-confidence will never end. It shall pick me up when I fall and give me strength so I can finish the journey . My 10 year old, Emma, showed me this poem. It is word for word the way she wrote it. I cried when she read it to me. The depth of it touched my heart and spoke to me of a child who knows she is valuable, she matters and she is able. It spoke to me of hope, and a bright future. It told me that all of the times I have said, "God made you special. He loves you and wouldn't change a hair on your head. You matter to the one who created the Heavens and the Earth." She listened. I was reminded of a message from our Pastor. He spoke of the shooting at a school in the United States where a young man went into the Science area and opened fire killing many innocents and then himself. He had released tapes to the news, an

The Pearl that Cannot be Bought

Matthew 13:45-46 (New Living Translation) 45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it. Victoria and Tiffany-Amber worked side by side with their grandfather in the garden as he toiled on hands and knees, in the hot sun. He was painstakingly weeding--and they worked away with garden rake and trowel, busy and serious about removing the vestiges of fall and winter. Bringing beauty to this acre of land on which our house has stood for almost nineteen years, is a labour of love for Paul. Every year he finds a reason to plant a few more trees, extend the flower beds, or create another space in which to sit and enjoy nature. As I pulled out of the driveway in my car to go shopping they hardly noticed me leaving, but I carried the picture of the threesome in the garden in my heart. Our home has been such a place of happiness over the years. It has sheltered three ge


It's our son Peter's 37th birthday today, as well as his son Stephen's 6th birthday. Joshua's 3rd birthday was yesterday! Peter is blessed in so many ways. His treasures are Susan, his wife whom he adores, and four children (with Katherine--almost 9, and Emily 16 months). He is a good father and has a job he enjoys and is challenged by. In my Daily Light for this day, I had marked some of the verses and beside them I wrote, "Peter--2002." He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.—Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.—Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”—And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. “Are not two sparrows sold for

Pondering Time

Revelation 13:8 (New International Version) 8 ... the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world As a child, the stories I loved best, often involved a child, or a group of children, finding a way to go back to the past. In one story, a child went to stay in an Elizabethan manor house that had been in her family for centuries. It had a beautiful and fragrant herb garden and a maze. Somehow, through magic that happened only to children, she traveled back in time and had adventures with past generations--from the Elizabethan era, then Cavaliers and Roundheads, and so on. It was fascinating to imagine that this might actually be possible. As an adult, I've pondered the fact that images of events on earth long past, might be traveling to in light to distant stars, or that the stars we see in the sky are actually no longer the way they appear to us, in images that are really of a universe long ago. Time--if it exists for God, doesn't seem to exist in the way we think of it.

A Piler and Gatherer No More

Philippians 4:13 (New International Version) 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Colossians 1:29 (New International Version) 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. I'm so close--I can almost taste the freedom! Over the past three weeks I've been steadily working on the "clutter epicentre" in our home--our loft room. The room, which has two skylights and a sloping ceiling under the roof, is reached by stepping up three steps from our landing. It contains a comfortable day-bed, desk, dresser and a large, pine bookcase that contains five shelves of my most cherished books. Piles of clutter also "reside and hide" in this room and have kept company with Christmas decorations that sat in a pile on the floor for four months before I put them away. I'm just realizing that my mother-in-law will read this and know what a terrible housekeeper I am--but perhaps she will add me to the lis

Facebook Holdout

Isaiah 43:1 (New International Version) 1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. It was almost a month ago when I received an email saying, "I've added you as a friend on Facebook..." It came from Brenda, who had accidentally invited everyone in her address book to become her cyber-buddies. At that point I didn't really even know what Facebook was, but since then I've learned a lot about this social networking phenomenon that's captured the interest and time of a huge percentage of the population--mainly those in their teens and twenties but also a surprising number of seniors, including my dear mother in law who is nearing her eighty first birthday and who is connected with a host of grandchildren. I must say that I was amazed to see her face on Facebook--using the photo she'd had taken for the church directory! It wa



Kite Flyer


New Beginnings

Shade dappled our sunlit porch that August morning, nearly nine years ago. My friend Susan and her daughter, Jorie, had come for coffee with me and my mother, who was visiting from England. We sat, two sets of mothers and daughters, ranging in age from 7 to 72, listening to a summer symphony of crickets and other insect musicians, enjoying the simple luxury of time and savouring our moments together. Mum had determined to make some changes in her life--turn over a new leaf. I can't remember specifically in what area anymore. While I recorded the details such as the sunlight and shadow--the song of the crickets, in my journal--I didn't record that! Susan went home and wrote this poem. She was inspired by my mum and her determination to live the rest of her life with a new perspective. At the time she wrote it she was a mother of nine who thought her life was pretty much as it would be. In the years since she wrote the poem, so much has happened--I don't think that even she c

Two Blue Birds


Same World--Different Person

Matthew 11:28-30 (New International Version) 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Same world--different person In my heart, regret for all those years I didn't "see" Control and aggression have no place in a gentle heart And I thought my heart was gentle Taking responsibility For other's feelings and actions --such hard and unnecessary work And I didn't even realize I was doing it! "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." And suddenly it is--so light! 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (New International Version) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-se

Heart-Strong not Head-Strong

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (New International Version) 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Dear Lord, I open my heart and soul to you. Please give me a pure heart. Please cleanse my heart of the pollution of selfish motives. Help me to simply "be" in the world--your child--available to you today--to use for your purposes. Help me to be free of the "yeast" of self interest--and be interested only in serving others as you served us. Lady Earth bared her nut brown shoulder in the late afternoon, over which was flung a mantle of mossy green velvet--her dress for this evening. Above, Sister Sky wore stormy gray and silver swirled chiffon. The world is bright, intense in its new life and vivid spring colours, while my heart in cont

Eagle's Wings

Luke 8:15 (King James Version) 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. On the way to the garage, early yesterday morning, on one side of the road I drove past barns of dijon mustard and soft banana yellow with spinach green roofs, in fields of relish green. It was a hot-dog morning! On the other side of the road, the spiky stalks of last year's crop, stood up from the rich, brown earth, like stubble on a weather-beaten face. "He was a strange fellow," said Paul, this morning at breakfast, describing the owner of the garage where he'd dropped off his car. The owner had been unrushed and spoke in an unusually slow manner--very methodical and service oriented. "He was," said Paul, "Like an old man, in a young man's body." "I have parts...or I have parts...or I have parts..." he said to Paul. "These days a lot of parts are made in

Baby Steps

Revelation 21:4 (New International Version) 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Amy Carmichael had this to say today, in Edges of His Ways: "Even little children know what it is to be impatient, and all through our lives we are tempted in this way. Perhaps there is nothing we need more than patience--patience when we do not understand things or when they cannot be explained; patience when things do not turn out as we hoped they would; patience with people; patience with ourselves." It was 7 o'clock and I was still in the bathroom putting on my makeup when Paul came downstairs. He reminded me that he'd asked me the night before to follow him to a nearby garage so that he could drop his car off for repairs. I'd forgotten all about it and had slept later than I should have in order to do everything I needed before leaving for work at 8.00. I'd put o

Mountain Climbing

"His peace is not the easy, natural peace of the level road. It is the peace of the steep and difficult mountain climb. Make us Thy mountaineers;... That undefeated we may climb the hill As seeing Him who is invisible." May 14, Edges of His Ways, Amy Carmichael Hebrews 12:1-2 (New International Version) 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This morning I read a little more from "How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding," by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. The chapter was all about using the word "should." I've often heard about not beating oneself up with &

The Journey Continues

Isaiah 40:29 (New International Version) 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Last Friday I wrote about the assertiveness training course I attended on Thursday, which was all part of God's plan to give the windows of my soul a thorough spring cleaning. The world is looking much different since the unexpected results of that day. I laugh every time I think of the moment when our instructor, Schelley, told the class to divide into two groups--those who under pressure go into "passive mode" and those who under pressure become aggressive. It was a defining moment. I got up and "crossed the floor" to the smaller group that confessed to aggressive tendencies. As I did, I heard voices in the background saying, "Belinda--you're going to the wrong group." But I knew--I was headed in the right direction. My self image was gentle, with a strong inner core. Frances says it's steel in there--but nevertheless--it was a nice

Three Buddies and a Ball


Being Who We Are

Psalm 139:14 (New International Version) 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. "I glanced to see a brindle dog of an interesting lineage. The dog was running with an odd lope. Then I saw that his back right leg was missing. Gone. His gait was an adaptation for his disability... He glanced back, like something was chasing him, and I swear he smiled. Then he disappeared down an alleyway and was gone... I loved the fact that his 'dog-ness' was not even slightly compromised even though he was missing 25% of his legs. Sure, he'd adapted for the loss physically but psychologically, he was still just a dog. It was beyond cool." Dave Hingsburger--Chewing the Fat, May 7th 07 blog address: Frances' voice coming over the phone was full of excitement. "Did you read Dave's blog about the dog?" she asked. Dave writes a blog on disability

Saturday Morning Breakfast Helper


Morning Stillness


Solid Ground

The sweater was lovely. Its style was unique and the colour a beautiful green--my favourite-- but it had hardly been next to my skin for two minutes before the wool fibres began to tickle and irritate as if they were barbs designed to torture the truth out of some captive enemy agent. I wanted to wear the blouse--I loved the look of it--but I couldn't stand the spiky remains of a label I had done my best to cut out--wearing it became an endurance test until with a sigh of relief, I took it off, hid it away in the back of the closet--and put on something more comfortable. Over the past couple of weeks, I've realized that the people closest to me have lived with some sharp, pointy edges next to their skin. In a class on assertiveness yesterday, Schelley, our instructor, told us that we need to know our strengths--be self aware. "We can only become successful," she said, "when we own the truth--when we're not embarrassed by the truth." Years ago, I had take

A Walk in Bond Head, in the Morning

The internet went down last night, just as I was about to press "publish," and I lost what I'd written for today. I had published the photo below, though. God willing I'll catch up tonight! Have a blessed Friday, Friends, Belinda

Tender Buds

Photo by Belinda Burston Revelation 4:8 (New International Version) 8 ....Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."


2 Corinthians 5:7 (New International Version) 7 We live by faith, not by sight. A smaller group than usual of friends gathered last night for cell group. Seven of us, including Tiffany-Amber and Victoria, sat down for dinner and little Ava Claire Jasmine slept on peacefully, near to the table in her car seat. After dinner, Tiffany-Amber and Victoria went off to play, and Paul, having had a long day that started with the early morning Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, decided to take a break after dinner and rest. Brenda was away meeting with St. Johns Ambulance Brigade about she and Molson joining their therapy dog team--so that left Susan, Frances, Lori Lei and I, with little Ava, who woke up at last and made us all laugh at her chortles and chuckles and cooing sounds. Instead of doing the Bible study, we sank into the comfortable softness of chairs and couch and chatted for a while before reading a chapter from a book for a change. It was given to me by my friend Angela, and is entitled

Richmond Hill Mayor's Prayer Breakfast

It was seven a.m. when Paul and I pulled into the parking lot at the Premiere Ballroom and Convention Centre on Leslie Street, North of Hwy. 7 this morning. Paul had been shocked into consciousness just an hour earlier when I found him still asleep and realized that the shower I'd heard running earlier hadn't been his! This was my first Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, and the third for Richmond Hill. I only knew that it was reputed to be a "big" event--and that the police, fire department, politicians and other community leaders would be there, along with pastors, business people and church members. I had no idea what to expect--but what I experienced was a deeply moving two hours that gave me hope for our leaders and for the future. "Belinda you really have to go to the prayer breakfast, " Sarah Dawson--in the lovely fuchsia suit in the photo above--had told me a month or two ago. Sarah works for Christian Horizons, as do I, and her pastor is one of the orga


Photos by Susan Stewart


This was a different "First Day." First day back from vacation. It was as good as "First Day" last week. We had a house guest for Paul's birthday party weekend--an old friend who used to live with us when we were house parents for a large group of men with disabilities from the early 70's to the early 80's. John is 74 now but there is a huge hole of longing in his heart that never really goes away. "She shouldn't have waited so long to have me," he says of his mother, "I don't know why she decided to have anudder one." She was 38 at the time, not old by today's standards, but back in 1933, it sounded older. She only lived until she was 53 and he was 15--and then, he says, "Nobody wanted me, so they put me away." He shakes his head at this point, his plentiful sand coloured hair slicked back. John tells us that a doctor there where they "put him away"--like a mismatched piece of furniture in storage, in

Paul's Mum, Paul and Susan Burston and a Creative Memories Album


Three Granddaughters and one horse