Showing posts from November, 2007


The old familiar story, first heard in Sunday School, or perhaps read to me by my 1st Grade teacher rang true once more. We were sitting in a large circle, doing devotions before the start of our last day of leadership training in Orillia. We were looking again at the life of Joseph, attempting to glean from his experience and example, some lessons in godly leadership. The message that came through to me was simple. No matter what the circumstances, no matter how dire or hopelss or unjust the situation, God would eventually use it to bless Joseph and to position him to effectively channel God's blessing to others - sometimes those who had most despitefully used him. And depending on the attitude I choose (sometime even in spite of it!) God will do, and has done, and continues to do, the same for me - as he will for anyone else, too. Tonight, I knelt beside the bed of a little blonde curly-haired boy with blue eyes and skin like porcelain, my grandson, Mikey. I held his hand as, eye

Time Out

The wind blows over Lake Couchiching on this cold, gray, morning; its distant roar the first sound I hear as I wake in my cozy bed at Geneva Park YMCA Retreat and Leadership Training Centre, where I am for two and a half days of training. In the bathroom, from somewhere nearby I hear skin squeaking against bathtub, and bumping as someone steps out; a shower starts to run, then a hairdryer—the sounds of co-workers in adjoining rooms starting their days. It’s a refreshing break to be here; a time to learn and grow as a large team, but as I open up my Daily Light this morning I am drawn to another place and feel a longing for the day when time loses its meaning and there is no ending. Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. At breakfast I sit with Dennis, Gord, Jon, Janet, Marianne and Carolyn and we soon are engaged in conversation tha

The Antidote

Ephesians 5:3-5 (New International Version) 3 But among you there must not be…greed…but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No…greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. These mentions of greed are scattered among references to more obvious sins in Ephesians 5:3-5. It is one of the sins of our society in which we have more than previous generations would have ever dreamed of. What is it that keeps us hungering for more? Our culture encourages greed and our economy runs on it. There is a never ending deluge of advertising flyers in our mailboxes. It is the “acceptable sin” of our day and we don’t even see it for what it is. I realize that I have choices to make when I see that what is acceptable in our culture is not acceptable to God. There is ugliness to greed below the surface glitter. The antidote to the disease of greed is thanksgiving--being grateful for the blessings of shelter, food and clothing; family and

White Dawn

I look and see him gazing, At the snow so softly falling Through the window In the hallway by his room, The quiet, calling. 5:40 in the dawning Thick icing coats the rooftops, While the streetlights still reflect Descending flakes. White coated morning. I wrap my arms around him And we breathe in silent wonder At the world pristine and perfect Wearing frosty robes of splendor. I wake the other small ones Say, “the snow is here, come see.” Eyes open with a smile inside That hours uncommon glee Rejoicing in their voices “Let me see Mom! Dad it’s here!” They bundle up in snowsuits Off we go, the bus is near Deep angels, real, impressions As we wait they roll and play Both the laughter and the romping Keep me warm O’ such a day. They clamber on the school bus And she chugs off Up the hill. Smell of diesel on the air And my heart has had its fill. I return to house and hearth now Where flames are gently glowing. Out my window Like a picture The canopy keeps snowing. I love the first snow. T

You Need Only to Be Still

Exodus 14:13-14 (New International Version) 13 Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Sometimes we are actively engaged in battles that no-one sees in our daily lives; battles against negativity, misunderstandings; struggles within our own hearts. What a powerful encouragement these verses are for just such a circumstance. The battle belongs to the Lord; I need only to "be still." Only to "be still?" Is it really that simple? Yes, for in his presence we find that "peace which transcends all understanding." (Philippians 4:7) In his presence our hearts are turned from the twin sins of pride and Self. In his presence our hearts are turned from earth towards heaven. In his presence we are changed. I Googled "being still" and found these questions a


Give me eyes to see beauty... snow blankets bowing branches of evergreen... billowing clouds in skies of gray... barren bush, a red beacon of winter's sleep... black squirrel dashing along a wooden fence, and a regal blue jay standing sentry on a silver birch. God's creation, rich in colour, texture, shape is the purest form of beauty. Undiluted... a gift, created by God for His pilgrims to enjoy. Not so, in us, His created ones. Although created in His image, we sons of Adam, daughter's of Eve are scarred with sin - snow and crimson - impure, yet saved by grace. I desire to learn to see like our Father. His eyes see us, without blemish or stain. I want more than sight, I want eyes of Love. Oh Lord, I want to see others through your eyes. Mother's voice cuts harsh as I cringe at her response, "But why weren't we sent an invitation? That isn't proper. Why haven't they done this thing right? It would of been so much easier if we had a map." As she sp

Worlds Intersected

The phone messages from him began arriving at the start of a very long and busy day; the first was waiting for me when I arrived at the office. The message told of finding someone living on the street and how they needed help. “Please call back,” the slightly quivery voice said, “I’ll be out on the tractor, but you can ask my wife to call me on the two way radio and I’ll come in.” For the rest of the day we played the familiar game of “Phone Tag.” I was out when he called me and when I called him back I got the answering machine. His messages sounded increasingly urgent. Towards the end of the day a woman answered the phone. “I was down doing eggs,” she said, “Father is out in the fields. I can try to reach him but I doubt he’ll hear the radio over the sound of the tractor.” I told her that I was working late and that he could call me whenever he got in. Before I hung up the phone, I asked about the farm. She told me that “Father” was 84 and still farming 400 acres. “He always wanted a

Seven Years

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV " For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". Today is my anniversary. It was seven years ago today that I started on a most unexpected, surprising and challenging adventure. I had no idea then that I would be where I am today on the journey. It was an unexpected turn, that's for sure. As I look back over those years I am amazed at the goodness of God and at the incredible, intense, and supreme joy of feeling his pleasure. Seven years ago I started working for Christian Horizons, supporting people with developmental disabilities. I, of course, had stated many times over that I would NEVER do that. I "couldn't" do that. Hah! Sometimes I think God takes great pleasure in waiting until he hears us saying things like just so he can surprise us with a different ending than we would ever expect. When I think about the highlights of tho

The Tide Turned

Micah 7:8 (New International Version) 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. I've never been in a real flesh and blood battlefield, but I think that there must be a moment if you are, when you know the tide is turning. I imagine it's like that moment in an arm wrestle when, veins bulging, arm trembling, heads down, right hands clenched, the opponents sweat it out, literally head to head. Almost imperceptibly, one arm begins to give way. You know it's all over at that point. I had come home last night at the end of a thirteen hour day. As I drove into our S shaped driveway in the bluster of a winter storm, I saw that our bedroom light was on; Paul had already gone to bed. As soon as I dropped my briefcase and took off boots and coat, I went up to say goodnight. "I don't know if I can do this," I said. The truth was I didn't think anyone could--there was just too much--of ever

Faith under Fire

1 John 4:16 (New International Version) 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. Today this verse jumped up and waved its hands at me. We know and are convinced of, God's love for us. He demonstrated his love for us in Christ. We would have to be blind not to see it. Of course, sometimes we are. Yes, I know God's love; both intellectually and experientially. Today though, more than "knowing," I am "relying" on that love. The word "rely" speaks to me of leaning on something that is solid; that will not give way; something I can depend upon--something I can trust. If I cannot, then my faith is empty and hollow. When I rely on the love God has for me, it is my turn to demonstrate. I show, rather than tell, that my faith is in the One who sees the other side of the mountain I am facing; who has answers I haven't even considered, to my problems--and whose promises are &qu

Wii Wish You a Merry Christmas

It was Monday morning, the kids were in school and I was on a mission. I was hunting for a coveted Nintendo Wii system. It was at the top of all three of my children's wish lists...and as I was about to find out, it was apparently at the top of many other people's wish lists too. I sat at my desk at 9:30 in my PJs (the joys of a stay-at -home mom) with my 2ND cup of coffee and pulled out the good old fashioned phone book. My attack plan was to look up all the numbers of stores that may sell the system. By 9:45 I had about 20 different numbers. I made the first call, "Yes, good morning. I'm calling to see if you have any Nintendo Wiis in stock." The kid on the other end of the line informed me that they'd gotten a shipment on Saturday but they'd sold out in a couple of hours. They didn't know when the next shipment was coming in. They couldn't hold any. They couldn't put me on a call or waiting list. During the next 15 minutes I ran through all

Alpha and Omega ~ A Foretaste of Heaven

Revelation 21:1-3 (New International Version) 1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. The worship team was singing as I arrived this morning at our Central District offices. I carried bags of sweet grapes and pineapple into the kitchen for later on, and then slipped quietly into the back of the room to join the symphony of praise with the 40 or so staff gathered there at the start of a day of training. Alicia was leading, eyes closed, face raised to heaven, arms spread wide. The rest of the team: Haesun on keyboard, Deanna on bongo drums and Karen singing; played and s

He is Enough - Dayenu

Weary, worn, dirty...grieving from sin - my sin. I am not the victim, the offended. I am the offender the perpetrator.I didn't die to self, not today. I dug in my heels. I want to be more like Him, I really do. It's so easy to want to do what comes easy. Give into self. Trust myself, give into the flesh, the mind. Say those words ...those easy words. I did, Lord. I said them. That tone, you know the one Lord. The tone of pride, the voice of self. "I will concede this... but not this. I cannot trust. I really think it would be wise if we did....but not this...." The still small voice said, "Ellen, that's not submission, that's not yielding." The strife began, set in motion, my tongue seared...the ones I love. I chose Lord - I chose me. Forgive me Lord. It is grace, mercy... His relentless grace I need. He is enough. Exceeding, abundant, lavish...the grace poured upon me, upon you...simply because we are His. It is enough...He is enough Ephesians 2:4-7

Saturday Evening Post

It's the end of a busy day and I am spent. It's good to sit quietly, enjoying the gentle ticking of the wall clock and the hum of my laptop. In the background the indefinable sounds of a TV program filter in from the next room. The fragrance of my pomegranate candle fills the room. Susan, who gave it to me last Christmas, hinted last week that the plastic that still surrounded the candle was supposed to come off. I thought it was meant to hold it in shape. She took matters into her own hands on Tuesday and removed it anyway, saying that leaving it on was like leaving the plastic covering on a new couch and she couldn't stand it any more. Suddenly the perfume was more distinct; she must have been right. The Christmas tree has not come down from the attic yet, but any day now it will and I think I'm ready to "take it on." It's time to surrender to the season! On Thursday one big Christmas thing was done--picking up the chocolate letters from the Dutch store.

Sod Field Devotions

It’s early morning. I head out into the frosty air for my morning walk. My heart feels as heavy and as cold as the November dew on the sodden grass under my feet. I walk the perimeter of the sod field near our old farm-house. With every step, my heart lays wider open before God, pouring out my feelings to him, purposing not to ask him for anything today, but only to “be”. I am carrying my pocket Bible and about halfway around my circuit of the field, I feel impressed to stop and read. It opens to Psalm 63. “ O, God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you, in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water... …Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me…” As I read, the Truth floods my soul and displaces any feelings of sadness and abandonment that had been attempting to creep in. I know who I am and more importantly, I remember Whose I am. I am overwhelmed with the


I was nearing home when I saw them. They flew in that beautiful V formation, this time with hardly a passing honk, except from the ones at the rear, encouragement probably. I've heard that's what they do. Their leader was out front, long neck, and flat, pointed head like an arrow toward their destination. I felt my feet quicken, muscles tense in my legs and I wanted to run, shout "Wait for me, I'm coming too". They were going somewhere. They had heard the clarion call and were answering. Help me Lord to listen, point and go with determination, so that when I hear that Clarion Call, I am ready to hit the skies running and meet You in the air. A minute later, the geese were gone and then I heard another crowd. This time they were sounding their horns loudly, still flying in a V, but unorganized, confused. Their leader was gone. They swooped around in a circle, flew over my head again and flapped, calling loudly in the direction the first flock had gone. They had mis

The Pace Maker

Psalm 44:3 (New International Version) 3 It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them. As Frances and I continued our conversation on Saturday, about the pressure I felt at the thought of adding Christmas decorating to my "to do" list--she shared a profound insight; "The God that shows us the path, will also show us the pace at which we are to walk." Any runner has to pace himself if he wants to make the finish line. In life there are times when in a burst of focused energy we sprint forward for a period of time, but then we need to drop back to regain energy and strength so that we are ready for the next burst of energy we need to expend. At these times it may look as if we are dropping behind others in the race--but we are running the race with others, not competing against them. In this race our eyes should be on the One waiting for us at th

The Thing in the Attic

It was a long time since I'd thought about it, so I was taken by surprise when seemingly out of the blue he mentioned it, and said that he was planning to get it down--to let it out of its hiding place up in the attic. I just wasn't ready. A chill ran down my spine and I begged him to leave it there a little longer. "Not yet," I said, "I need to prepare myself." He listened and I was grateful for a temporary reprieve. On Saturday my mind was drawn back to it through an innocent conversation with Frances. She said that she had been looking at magazines and thinking about decorating. "Isn't it wonderful?" she said, with a dreamy note to her voice. I had to confess then that I didn't feel the same way, that my heart quivered at the thought. I mentioned Paul's attempt to broach the subject earlier that week and how I had stalled for a little more time. I know it's inevitable. I'll have to face up to it--but I'm just not ready f

Living Reality With Hope

2 Corinthians 6:9-10 (New International Version) 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything . 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (New International Version) 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. I was thinking this morning about the importance of acknowledging the truth about difficulties, yet choosing not to be defeated by them. Some of us err by ignoring the reality of challenges, others are brought down by them, but in Paul's letter to the Corinthians there is a pattern for life worth adopting. Winston Churchill rallied the British people during the Second World War, promising them nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat. I thought of how he inspired them to not give up the fight so that he and they became famous for their grit a


Not knowing its significance to me, she gave it almost as an aside during a meeting at my office. "Miah asked me to give this to you," she said, placing it in my hands. I immediately gasped in recognition of something I considered a treasure. "Do you know what this is?" I asked, and she said that she did. Taped onto it was a small piece of notepaper decorated with hearts and a little picture of a girl feeding squirrels and birds. The note said, "Joanne, Please give this to Belinda, Thanks, Miah." It's hard to find the words to express what I felt, but it was as if it had been guided to the next pair of hands that were to hold it in trust; and a heart that would keep a memory alive. It was just a leather pouch, but to me it was about whose the pouch it had been. It was made ruggedly out of one piece of tan leather, folded and stitched together on both sides with flat, thin, strips of off-white leather. The flap was secured

The Threshing Machine

I'm old enough to remember threshing machines. (Pronounced "thrashing" where I come from.) They pre-date combines by just a few years. A tractor backed up in front of the Great Monster and they would be joined together by a six inch wide belt which delivered the power from the tractor's shiny steel drive wheel to the thresher.. The grain, which had been cut and stooked in the field was gathered up and fed into one end, and out the other, with much shaking and rocking and flying of dust and deafening noises, came the grain clean, stripped of straw and chaff and ready to be milled. As a child, my curiosity would drive me close to the action. I would stand in the barn with my hands over both ears and had great respect, if not raw fear, for the great machine that inflicted such violence on the golden stalks of wheat. When it was all over, and the machine turned off for the day, I remember picking up great handfuls of the golden wheat kernels out of the hopper and l

More on the Stair Story!

So many people enjoyed Ellen's response to my post on the colours that bled on my schedule, that I asked her if I could share this email too, which was a blessing to me. Thanks Ellen for saying I could share! Belinda Thanks Belinda, Your blog again resounded in my heart. I, too am in the fires of being a stair for my family. Sometimes I yield and willingly do all that is required of me with a cheerful, grateful heart. And other times I buck and lash out and resentfully put forth minimal effort. It's funny though, dying to self is one choice at a time, moment by moment. I can choose to love, or not to love, every day. So many opportunities are afforded me. I want to develop habits of "love", of dying to self, of being a stair. It is in dying that we can only truly live. Another of the many paradox's of being a pilgrim on earth - this is not our home. We must keep our eyes fixed on things of Heaven. Similarily as we love one moment at a time, love is also lost in th

Being a Stair

Ephesians 5:1-2 (New International Version) 1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Sometimes when I set out in the morning to read the Bible I don't get very far, and this morning was like that. I started to read Ephesians chapter 5 and didn't get beyond the first two verses. "Be imitators or God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." There is so much in just those two verses to open my heart and soul and mind to. Living a "life of love," could be taken as a sweet and gentle, airy-fairy sort of thing, but not according to this verse. For love, it goes on to say, was demonstrated by Christ as our pattern to follow. The verses challenge me to my very core, because they talk of the meaning of love being

Heart Re-Alignment

Ephesians 4:2 (New International Version) 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. How opposite to human nature these words are: "Be patient, bearing with one another in love." "Bearing with, in love" is not something I am good at. I want to point out an offence, to make sure the other person understands that they did something wrong. I'm not a mechanic, but I know that when wheels are out of alignment, it makes for a bumpy and rough ride. So it is when our hearts are out of alignment with God's ways. I knew when I read this verse this morning--I needed an alignment job. I needed to think less of my ruffled feathers and care more for the other person. Dear Lord, let your humility and gentleness be my garments today. Help me to bear with others as you bear with me every day. Forgive me for thinking more of myself than of others. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who steers the ship of my heart when I open it up to you. E

Cloud Camel Trains

Psalm 25:4-5 (New Living Translation) 4 Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. 5 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. It was so still in the house as I padded around the kitchen in the early morning. How I love being up first. I've always relished the solitude; even as a child I loved to get up before everyone else. I glanced out of the window, drawn, as usual, to the sky and fields and hills, and saw a low layer of clouds moving across the sky, from the south-west to the north-east, in stately procession. They reminded me of a slow moving camel train heaped with packages of spices, silks and Persian carpets, bound for some distant city. It was beautiful; peaceful, in the morning light. Their passage seemed so purposeful and unhurried. The line they traveled across the sky was straight, driven by a powerful, invisible wind current. I prayed for my day to be as purposeful as the clouds


Saturday mornings are coloured golden yellow on my funny Excel schedule--the one I made in a futile effort to corral my life. On Saturday mornings we have pancakes and coffee and we don't rush anything. It's time for friends and family and I love it. I wish the whole week could be Saturday morning, but then that would be heaven. This past Saturday the first phone was from England. It was my dear mum's voice and my brother was on the other line too. He told me that the day before, he had come into Mum's flat to find her just putting the phone down. She told him that it had been someone from Holland calling to tell her that her dear friend for almost 60 years; tante Mies, had died. Robert said she had some tears and I was so grateful that he happened to come in at that very moment. He said, "We've had a few extra cups of tea," and Mum said, "Yes." Tea has amazing properties of comfort. Just the very act of putting on the kettle signals that all wil

Who is God--Really?

1 Peter 1:6 (New International Version) 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. John 16:33 (New International Version) 33" I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." I wonder how God feels when someone turns away from him, not because of who he is, but because of a person who said they were his follower; someone who called themselves by his name; but who was so harsh, abusive, condemning or legalistic that the person said, "If that's what Christianity is about, I want no part of it." 2 Corinthians 3:2 (New International Version) says this: 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. Rightly or wrongly, people judge God by his followers. This scares and sobers me. I am often such a poor representative of him. It also makes me realize how very im

Harvest Will Come

Galatians 6:9 (New Living Translation) 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Hebrews 12:3 (New International Version) 3 Consider him who that you will not grow weary and lose heart. This week, in my Bible, I found a slip of paper with my mum's familiar handwriting, on which she had written all four verses of a hymn. This is the first verse. Father, I place into Your hands The things that I can't do. Father, I place into your hands The times that I've been through Father, I place into your hands The way I should go, For I know I always can trust You. The fields around our home have been filled with men and trucks and machinery since we got home from England last Saturday; the land being stirred up into smoky clouds of dust rising into the chill autumn air. Tiffany-Amber, who's been watching the process from her school yard, found it all fascinating and tried to demonstr

Schedule Saga

By~Ellen Fox Hi Belinda, I'm with you - you know my carefully crafted schedule that took weeks (6 of them working a minimum of 1 hr. a day) - also very colourful? Well, it bleeds every day. No-where on the schedule does it say, "Eight year old boy drops 1-litre-bottle of olive oil (brand new of course) on the floor" - Clean up time - 1 hr. and 5 min. plus a whole bolt of paper towels. Did I mention that this occurred at 7:00 a.m.? No-where does it say "six year old daughter lets neighbour's cat in house - 5 children chase cat - it hides (wouldn't you?)" - Cat exit time 25 min. Chewing gum caught in hair - had to Google what to do with that - then tried all mentioned remedies - finally after 45 min. , I cut the rest out. This isn't to mention - twins playing in toilet - all garbage contents, toilet paper roll, and my current book for assessment, Charlotte Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" at the bottom of toilet bowl, totally soaked. I've

The Colours Bled!

Proverbs 8:34 (New International Version) 3 4 Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. From the quiet, peace and gentle rain of an English village last week--into a first week back at work, filled so far with intensity, crisis, pressure and conflict. While on vacation in England I made some of my friends laugh when I took the time to reflect on my normally very busy life. I had tried to organize it better by charting it on an Excel spreadsheet with blocks of colours that signalled boundaries and categories. It looked so possible--if I tried hard not to waste time, dally too much, or get distracted. The truth is that the colours bled and life throws more wild cards than I could catch even if I was an octopus. Perhaps there was a missing colour on my chart--bright, shocking pink for the wild cards. So I look to God. To whom else should I go? He is my source of strength--my only hope. I give him my life, my weak frame with all