Showing posts from April, 2009

Time Capsule

When I was in England in March, I opened up a cook book belonging to Mum, and out of it fell a folded up letter, yellowed with age. It was from me, written on Easter weekend, in April 1981! The reason it was in the cook book, I soon realized, was that it included a recipe for Spanish Rice. Reading the seven page, handwritten letter, was just like stepping into a time capsule. It captured a moment in time. My goodness, I was just 31! Peter was 11 and Brenda was 9. We lived, at that time in our lives, in a big, rambling farmhouse on two acres of land between Newmarket and Aurora. The road that we lived on was called Second Street back then and it was a dirt road lined with fields and other farms. Now it is Bayview Avenue and lined with housing estates and shopping centres. We lived with and cared for, 12 gentlemen with disabilities and the story of how that came to be and what those years meant to us, is a story for another day, but suffice it to say that I was chief cook and bottle wash


Waste: it is all a matter of perspective. The Kingdom of God has laws that just can't be assessed by human logic. Nothing makes sense if you try to understand it that way. You have to let go of human perspective, and when you do, the rest of the world will think that you have taken leave of your senses. Jesus said that he would bring strife and division among families and I can see why that would be if people really follow his ways. When I chose to pursue faith at 16, my father worried that I was missing out on life--wasting my carefree years. I had, until that point, been immersed in a busy social life that included art, folk music, dancing and parties. I remained just as busy, but now it was with prayer meetings, Bible studies, youth group and practicing with a gospel singing group. When I married the pastor's son, he must have thought my fate was sealed! Even though I was always his daughter, who could do little else wrong, faith separated us for the rest of his life, in way

Conspiracy Theory

From the Archives: Originally published January 7th 2007 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

Christopher's Story Part 1

Christopher Leslie Cater, born to Lucy Cater, May 4th, 1921 was my father. He died January 22nd 2003. I decided to tell his story a little differently, as if I were there. I started this story a while ago for my writers group and never finished it. Now I have to, although the rest of the story may be related differently! The boy rubbed a clean spot on the grimy window of the bus and peered out. The bus jostled and bumped its way along the streets, the squeaking and rubbing of brakes bringing the bus jolting to a halt every few minutes, in order to take on and drop off passengers. It was 1925 and the streets of Birmingham were bustling with fishmongers, greengrocers, butchers and bakers on their way to the Bull Ring market. The clip-clop of horses pulling carts laden with goods, blended with the shouts of the vendors. A pungent smell of onions and other fresh vegetables, wafted through the open windows along with that of the fish market. The face of the four year old boy lacked the curi

The Third Option

We had a few minutes before leaving for work, to chat. The night before, we had been talking with some friends about Inuvik in the far north. Paul visited there a few years ago with his Uncle John and loved it. He reflected on the mixed population of Inuit and white people. "A lot of people up there who aren't associated with mining, are trying to run away from something or someone," he said. There must be so many stories, so many broken people with broken dreams, I thought. He told me about his last day in Inuvik. He and Uncle John decided to go for a walk through town and went into a coffee shop which had locally produced art for sale. Uncle John went over to a display to have a look. Paul noticed a man sitting up against the wall, almost like he wished he could hide behind it. He looked to be in his early thirties; slight of build and of medium height. Paul felt a compelling urge to go and talk to him, so he went over and started chatting. He mentioned in conversatio

More Than Enough for Me

Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass . Psalm 37:5 He who promised is faithful . Hebrew 10:23b Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19b Some of you who read my post last Saturday will remember that I went to Missionfest Toronto, primarily to make it possible for my daughter and her friend to hear an inspiring speaker. I wondered what God might have for me, the ex-missionary, the Life Coach/Counsellor-in-training, and how I would react again to the big splash of Missionfest this time, in the context of my experience of it over many years since its beginnings out west, which I shared in with my husband in our earlier life as missionaries. Well, I still struggled with the feeling of Missionfest being like just another big trade fair in a huge facility on the outskirts of Toronto. I didn't like the darkened auditorium in the middle of the day to hear a worship band that was way louder than necessary, and I

Righteous Indignation

God. Angry. I grew up thinking those two words were the perfect example of an oxymoron. Except where it applied to me. God could NEVER be angry. Except at me. At me, he was ALWAYS angry. Without a break and without fail. That's the way it was. (I'm not sure how that worked that God could never be angry yet at the same time he was always angry - at me, no less - but then I never claimed to be entirely rational!) At Cell Group tonight we went back to our study "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality". I could probably write all night, and straight into next week about all that was stirred up in me and the things we talked about. But let me just stick to one of God's emotions, as depicted in Psalm 18. God emotes. The Bible attributes a number of emotions to God, but the one that most intrigues me is "anger". But "God is love". How does that equate? How can "Love", be "angry"? Here is a powerful description of God's anger, in Psal

Me and My Coach

I decided to check in with my life coach tonight--you know, those special assistants in living that only the trendiest people have. They are usually quite pricey, but mine is exceptionally reasonable. Besides I had already tried to write a blog post and inspiration was as scarce as yellow bananas at No Frills (they are usually all green, except for this evening after work, I have to say, when they were the perfect shade of yellow with just the tiniest tinge of green at the ends.) While out with my coach I decided to share a bit about me. You might think that I share a lot about me here, and I do, on a certain level, but there is sharing and sharing. Today at work I went to a new training in our agency on facilitating personal planning meetings for the people who are really our employers--and who happen to have disabilities. The training was to help us do a really great job of facilitating, "the meeting" at which they share their goals and dreams. I'm smiling at the though

A King's Ransom

Friends, this morning, another post from the archives. It was previously published here on July 13th 2007. May it be a blessing again. *********************************** I flipped through the pages of my Bible this morning looking for something and thought of what lay beneath my fingers--such a treasure. Promises; stories; exhortations; wisdom; prophetic words; visions; encouragement; hope, comfort and so much more are packed in vast quantities within its leaves. God's Word is a surgeon's scalpel--able to skillfully separate thoughts, intentions and motives--when it is read by one with a seeking heart. It is a treasure--hidden in the drawers of motel rooms--and on dusty shelves everywhere. Today--crack one open and read, if you haven't already. If you don't do it regularly, take up the challenge to do so every day for a month. Even if you think that you only have time to read a verse or two, read them slowly. Contemplate. Meditate for a few moments. Allow the Holy Spir

From Being to Doing

2 Thessalonians 1:11 (New International Version) 11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. Purity + Power + Promptings = Purposes fulfilled Three keys shimmer in this verse, like small gems set in a larger piece. They might easily be overlooked, unless one peered closely at the finer detail. To be counted worthy of his calling...Could we ever be? Our worthiness is in Christ's standing in our place before God and our acceptance of that gift. Not only must he stand in our place though, but he must be given room and right within us: to live his life, in and through us--to transform our broken, wounded selves; to gently heal and straighten crooked pathways. Yes, Lord, I want to "be counted worthy," but all of it, I know, must be your doing, in response to an open, waiting and yielded, heart. And, oh, that by his power


My maternal grandmother, Kaatje, was born on December 12th, 1895, in the village of Wemeldinge in the province of Zeeland in southern Holland. In this photograph, she is on the right, not wearing the national costume. The circumstances of her birth, had a profound impact on her identity. Her mother, Adriana, known to her family as "Ajône,"(the Zeeuwse form of the name,) became pregnant as the result of an assault, only confided years later, to her granddaughter, Adrie; and then as a secret. We can hardly imagine, over one hundred years later, just how much hardship fell upon Ajône with the birth of her baby girl. Kaatje was born into a conservative society in which women were naive when it came to sexuality and pregnancy. Judgement fell upon the woman who was pregnant without marriage and the child came into the world with a stigma that would follow her into adulthood. Ajône would never have another child and named her daughter, Kaatje, the Dutch form of the name Katherine.

A Perfect Saturday

This Saturday felt like spring at last. It is hard to believe that just last Sunday, for the Easter Sunrise Service, I dressed in many layers of warm clothing and wore gloves. Susan, who stood beside me, said that her ears were hurting with the cold and I wondered if Lowell Tippet, the trumpeter, might find his lips freezing to his instrument. But this morning it was warm and the windows were open, letting in fresh air, sunshine and birdsong. Peter and our three youngest grandchildren, Emily, Joshua and Stephen, were coming over for breakfast, so I made a big, fragrant pot of coffee, and soon a copious quantity of bacon was sizzling tantalizingly under the grill, to accompany the pancakes that were bubbling on the griddle and piling up into a steaming mountain. The feast was heartily devoured and only one lonely pancake was left over. The coffee pot was drained and refilled and while Peter, Brenda and I sat around the breakfast table chatting, the children went off to play, or watch Sa

Sealed Orders

As you read this I will be moving around Missionfest Toronto, milling with the crowds at the hundreds of booths of mission societies and Christian organizations. We will be well provided for at a beautiful facility near the airport, with all the latest "mod cons" as my Brit friends would have said. When the time comes my daughter, her friend, my friend and I will attend workshops of our choosing or cram in to hear the next famous plenary speaker or worship artist. All the info we could possibly need about it, and much more, will be in a glossy program handed to us in our first moments. An amazing way to be with the rich to learn about how to serve the poor, either in money or in faith. I hearken back over twenty years to Missionfest Vancouver, held in the gymnasium of Burnaby Christian Fellowship, British Columbia. We were newlyweds, staffing our booth for ACTS, Africa Community Technical Service, the small mission my husband founded and ran, overhead and salary free, out of

No Small Thing

I sat in the back of the church with a war going on inside me. The rest of the congregation was moving forward to take communion, but I felt glued to my pew. What I really wanted to do was bolt. In the other direction! In the next 20 seconds or so, a thousand thoughts raced through my mind. Communion means something to me. It’s the place where I allow the emotions to arise which are evoked by the greatest sacrifice ever given – and it was given for me. It’s the place where I remember, as He taught us to do, just what Jesus did in order to relieve me of my sin and guilt and make a way for me to be able to approach the Father and to be a full member of His family, a full partaker of His love, a full recipient of his fatherly embrace. It’s where I remember that He made a place for me. A place of belonging so secure, that the very gates of hell and all the fury of all the demons cannot shake it. Communion is a renewal of His covenant with me. “I died for you. I did everything tha

A Tribute to Hope

Friends, some of you prayed faithfully for Hope Fitzgibbon, a friend who died on Saturday the 13th of April. I went to the visitation on Tuesday evening and waited an hour and a half in a long line of people who wanted to pay their respects to her family. The person I saw lying in the coffin was not Hope, but a shell that once contained her spirit. I was reminded of the words of the angel at Jesus' tomb, "He is not here, he is risen. Joy, her daughter, wrote this tribute and posted it on the Care Pages where daily updates were posted during Hope's illness. For those that didn't know Hope, it is a chance to meet her. Be blessed. MY BEAUTIFUL MOM By Joy Fitzgibbon My Mom was "the kindest and the best of women," to paraphrase Jane Austen. She was extraordinarily gifted: everything that she touched became beautiful. She had a gentleness that was evident to all, she loved extravagantly and she lived vibrantly. She was, above all, a woman of God who placed Jesus at

Faith, Love and Hope

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (New International Version) 3We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. I'm still in the running on the Marathon of Biblical Proportions, but oh, I am soooo far behind. We were supposed to be through the Bible by the end of December and here we are in April and I just finished 1 Thessalonians this morning. I confess this partly to console fellow laggards if there are any out there. I laugh, but really I'm not too worried. I'm enjoying my solitary trot, even if Paul does rub in from time to time that he is leaving me in the dust as he races through for the second time. I can't help it; I am a contemplative soul at heart and God does arrest my steps sometimes, just as I start to read. He did it this morning just three verses into Thessalonians--the words danced on the page before my eyes in a pattern. I found myself pondering:

Living with Freedom and Purpose

Dear Readers: Today, a re-post from Wednesday, April 18, 2007 Every culture has a worldview. For instance, North America’s culture is focused on the individual, whereas in Africa and the Far East, the family or community is the centre.But what of the Kingdom of God--how does the worldview of the Kingdom fit with the culture we live in? Do we even realize it is different? Our culture highly values achievement, setting of goals, accomplishing numbers of things in all areas of life. This seems so plausible and productive—what could be wrong with it? After all, aren’t hard work, discipline and productivity worthy virtues? Of course they are, but sometimes my own life feels as if it’s spinning so fast that I could be in danger of missing something far more important if I don’t take time to consider what I’m doing—and why.Jesus said, (John 10:10 (New International Version)) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The


"What I can recall of her life, I wouldn't wish on anybody," said my dad, Christopher, of his mother, Lucy Cater. She had been "shamed on all sides," thrown out of her home, and told to never darken their door again, when she became pregnant. She had no where else to go but to a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers and when her time to give birth came, she bore a baby boy in Dudley Road Hospital in Birmingham. He never knew her, or saw her, for the first 5 years. His grandparents brought him up in the slums of Hockley, in Birmingham. The conditions were appalling. One memory he had was of his grandmother, Mary, an Irish woman whose maiden name was Royle, sticking her finger in a can of sweetened condensed milk for him to suck on. The place was alive with fleas. It was a terraced house and there was a cellar and an attic in which he loved to play with wheels and pedals and bits of machinery. The toilets were down the road; public toilets with one cold tap. Ther

More on Adriana

Today I found in some notes from conversations with my mum, a few more details about Opoe (Adriana Paauwe, my great grandmother.) Adriana was 18 when Oma was born in 1895, which would make the year of Adriana's birth 1877. Mum told me that Adriana wouldn't marry Oma's father for some reason that no one knew at the time. She knew only that he was a very tall man (Adriana was quite tiny.) It was after Mum told me this that Tante Adrie confided in Mum, as I mentioned in last week's Monday post, that Adriana's reason for not marrying him was that she had been raped. Oma spent a lot of time with her grandfather, Adriaan (I had thought his name was Cornelius, but that may have been another grandfather,)who loved her. Adriana had to work, taking in washing to support her child. Later she had a barge and the barge was called Lena. Mum told me that when she was on the barge she didn't wear the national costume, which was her normal dress.

God Permits What He Hates to Accomplish What He Loves

Philippians 1:12-13 (New International Version) 12Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Philippians 4:22 (New International Version) 22All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household. I sat in the Saturday morning sunshine, reading the four chapters that comprise the book of Philippians, a letter written by the apostle Paul, from Rome, where he was a prisoner, in chains. Far from a depressing letter, however, the word "joy," and "rejoice," pop up over and over again. What I noticed though, was something else--the beginning and the end of the letter. There is a story there. Paul was in God's perfect will being in chains. At the start of the letter he mentions that it was evident to the whole palace guard that he was in chains for Christ.

Running For Our Lives in Easter Joy

Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. Habakkuk 2:2 I shall never forget the words of a girl I walked with on the island of Iona on the west coast of Scotland in the summer of 1976. I was a Christian; she wasn't. I was troubled and worried; she wasn't. I was carrying the burdens of my life and the world on my mind and heart; she was making choices and getting on with her life with vibrancy and joy. As I poured out my concerns and hesitations to her, she said " You have to run to meet things ." Those words embedded deep within my spirit. Mind you, it took some time for them to bear fruit. And it has taken time to really understand what they mean. She had an understanding and a secret about life that I had not yet found, despite my adventuring into life in Scotland, and my attempt to embrace a radical Christian life. I am not recommending that being a non-Christian is the way to go. But I have often found that we Christi

Simple Good Friday Meditation

Good Friday. The one day, the only day, that I would not have wanted to be alive when Jesus walked the earth. To see what he went through - for me, and for you - would have been unbearable, I think. Especially when I search my heart and know how absolutely undeserving I am of that kind of love. Absolutely undeserving. What can I say? He suffered. In ways beyond belief and human understanding, he suffered. The Son of God. He died. The King of Glory, died. Horribly, he died. He did it for you and He did it for me. What kind of love is that? What kind of value does that place on each of our lives? What kind of devotion should it elicit from us in return? I am standing here this Good Friday morning, knowing what kind of a friend I am to to Him, and to those He loves, in comparison to what kind of a friend He has been to me, and I know that on that Good Friday so long ago, someone should have died all right. But it should have been me. “ You see, at just the right time, when we were still p

Passionate Friends

Friends, this was originally posted January 5th 2007. Tonight I am tired, so am leaning on a repeat! :) The thoughts mean much to me because friendship is such a strong value in my life. I pray that it is a blessing. 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


The last few days I had a very slight inkling of something in the air--maybe! Yesterday I had driven up to Huntsville in a snow storm for a meeting. Lana Joy and I decided not to stay for lunch, but head for home. A little way down the highway I realized that the blue tooth ear piece for my phone was missing and I had a feeling I knew where I had dropped it. When I got to Orillia and dropped Lana Joy off, I called my boss. In a jiffy he was outside looking for it and found it in a snow bank. He said, "Don't worry, I'll give it to you when I see you--sometime." Then there was Susan. We had a support meeting scheduled for this morning but she emailed me over the weekend to ask if I would help her pick out new glasses at 11.15 and then she asked if she could have her support meeting over lunch at The Buttery--her treat. I forgot to reply to that email, and she emailed me again and said, "You never told me if you could have lunch." She's not usually that per


Gentle readers, Last week when I posted on Five Generations, a few faithful readers said, "More please." So I thought that for a while I would post some family stories once a week, on Mondays. When I think of the mixture of people whose blood runs in my veins, I think that it will be an interesting challenge to write about them and try to tell their stories, bit by bit. Today's post is titled for the earliest family member that I know much about; my great grandmother, Adriana Paauwe. She lived in a village named Wemeldinge in the southern province of Zeeland, in Holland. A street in Wemeldinge (photo by Andre Speer.) Adriana was born in the early 1870's--I'm not sure of the year--and had two sisters, Dina and Saar, and a brother named Piet.Their father's name was Cornelius, and all that I know about him is that he was known as "Christelijk," or a Christian, man. Adriana became pregnant in 1895, while single, and although the father of the c