Showing posts from July, 2010


By Belinda I first read about him in the book, Alvechurch Past and Present  . He was known as "Workhouse Bill," or "Belfry Bill," but his proper name was William Bourne. He was described in the Poor Law papers  as "imbecile," or as "Poor Will," and, in a newspaper article about the church renovations, as "demented." The 1851 census notes Bill as living in Swan Street, (which was where Martha Harber , whom I wrote about recently, also lived) but he lived mostly in the church tower, sleeping in the belfry under a mat. Bill was armed with a rusty sword and a pistol to guard the graveyard from "resurrection men," who stole recently buried bodies for the instruction of medical students. When part of the old church was demolished for renovations, Bill roamed the ruins "like a raven," saying that, "The French be coming." Bill was a gravedigger and rang the morning and evening bells, at 5.00 a.m. and 8

How to Be Happy

Fridays with Susan... If you were to ask what God is teaching me of late in The School of Prayer, I would have to share with you the following individualized course of study.    School of Pra yer HOW TO BE HAPPY Post Grad Cerficate Program Course Outlines: 1.   FORGIVENESS 101:  Set yourself free from the prison of unforgiveness.  You are really no better than anyone else. Your sin nature is capable of every bit as much evil as anyone else's sin nature.  We have all fallen short of God's glory.  Short of his glory is short of his glory.  A little short is of just as much consequence as a great deal short.  Forgive because whatever has been done to you (just like everything you have done to others) has been fully paid for.  God, the Father exacted the price of full justice for the sin perpetrated against you (and by you) on the back of his own Son.  Isaiah 53 says, " He was pleased to crush him... "   Pleased.  To crush his own son. For what was done to you, and


By Belinda Our house has been in a hustle-bustle for the past week, rapidly approaching a crescendo of activity as this weekend draws closer. Paul is leaving tomorrow morning for a three week trip  to Mishkeegogamang, a First Nations reserve about a 1000 kilometers north. He has been trying to take care of all of the things he would normally do at home in the next three weeks. Brenda and the girls are packing for a trip to the cottage this weekend. But first they are going to their dad's overnight, and then they are going away to Circle Square Ranch for a week next weekend. Downstairs the washing machine and permanent markers are busy. I'm not going anywhere! Molson and I,with two cockatiels and a chinchilla, will be at home. The vacuum was whining downstairs tonight like a dentist's drill. I opened the door to the apartment down there and Molson, from his comfortable place on the couch, spotted me at once. I flung words in his direction over the now amplified whi

So Send I You

Paula wrote to me today and said: Thanks for bringing Margaret Clarkson to my mind - (I had chosen her revised version of the hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, to use on a recent post .) Paula continued: How I have loved her hymn 'So send I you' - you know she wrote it first at age 22 when she went as a teacher to a remote and lonely logging camp. So, send I you to labour unrewarded To serve unpaid, unloved, unsung, unknown To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing So send I you, to toil for me alone. When more mature in grace, she saw it as far too 'one sided' and re-wrote it. So send I you-by grace made strong to triumph O'er hosts of hell, o'er darkness, death, and sin, My name to bear, and in that name to conquer- So send I you, my victory to win. So send I you-to take to souls in bondage The word of truth that sets the captive free, To break the bonds of sin, to loose death's fetters- So send I you, to bring the lost to m

To Sleep....Yawn

By Belinda Yes! It is my friend Brucie from England. My nephew Tim sent me this photo by email today and it reminded me that I had not yet regaled you with the tale of my sleep clinic appointment of a week ago last Sunday. I know, I know, you thought I would never get around to it! :) The week before the long procrastinated over--but now much anticipated appointment, approached--I had a couple of calls from the clinic. One was to confirm the appointment and the other to help me prepare. Never having been to a sleep clinic before I didn't know what to expect so I was pretty excited to hear that I would have a private room and a washroom with shower. And a television. I didn't know--perhaps they would line us up in a row, I thought, dormitory style, all wired up. A private room sounded like luxury. I have to say, this lulled me into a completely false impression of what the appointment would be like. It sounded As though I was booking in for my own

Heart to the Son

By Belinda   3 And I set my face unto the Lord God , to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. ( Daniel 9:3 , American Standard Version ) With golden sunshine as a backdrop, shoulders back, chest out and up, she balances on one foot while grasping the other across her thigh. With hard won grace she is demonstrating an exercise position. "Heart to the sun..." Brenda says it is the phrase her instructor uses as a prompt to good posture. She has been working hard of late to get in shape and has admirable focus and discipline. Change "sun" to "Son" and it reminds me to keep myself in constant awareness of my need for God's grace. For I am prone to slouching spiritual shoulders; slumping; drifting and to wobbly legs. I think that to be human is to be prone to wandering. Heart to the Son. I need a reminder often to turn Son-ward. To orient myself towards home. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing Robert Robins


By Belinda In a string of hot, steamy July days, this one dawned wet. We woke to the sound of rain drumming on skylights, from clouds of roiling gray. The hills were overhung by mist and moisture, the dark skies deepening the gold and green of the fields. Driving in to my office in Bradford, I glance at the sign at Sobey's grocery store. The message this morning isn't about this week's grocery specials, but tells of a community in mourning: "Our Thoughts and Prayers Are With the Collier Family," it reads. An article in the The Barrie Examiner  carries the headline, Fallen Soldier on His Way Home.   "Home" is here; where we live. A place we are grateful to be. A place that Sapper Brian Collier of Bradford, Ont. and 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in Edmonton, won't be coming back to, really. An photograph in the National Post shows a young man in the bloom of youth. It is so hard to make sense of such a tragic loss. I drive on, and close to

The Friendship Table Turns

Fridays with Susan... I have a friend (who happens to read this blog on a regular basis, come to think of it) who uses this expression that is meant to be a little humourous, but when she says it, it is also laden with truth.  "That makes me happy in my heart," I've heard her crow more than once.  (Thanks,  Brave Raven. :) ) That's how I feel tonight.  Happy in my heart.  And like my friend, that's not meant to be the least bit corny - or sarcastic. Today I put in three blessed hours at the church helping out with Vacation Bible School, and then went on to a full day at work and then some.  I was busy, but happy!  It was a great day from beginning to end.  There was a lot to do to get ready for another chock full afternoon tomorrow (right after VBS) so I stayed quite a bit later than I'd planned.  I kept watching the clock hoping I was going to make it to cell group in time for supper, albeit a bit late.  Suppertime came and went.  Then dessert.   Then t


(Written in 2010 and updated for the 200th anniversary of Martha's birth: August 10, 2017) Years ago, on one of my visits to Alvechurch, a friend gave me a great treasure; a little book, the story of a woman who lived in the village all of her life and loved it so much that she could not be away without becoming unbearably homesick. The tiny book was written after she died in 1904 in her 87th year, by one of her many friends, so that her memory would not die. On the fly leaf it says simply:   The Story of Martha Written for her Neighbours and Friends And there is a quote: A good heart is the sun and the moon; or rather the sun, and not the moon,--for it shines bright, and never changes, but keeps his course truly I wonder if the writer of the 27 page booklet ever imagined that 113 years later, a copy would sit upon a bookshelf on another continent, greatly treasured among other books of history. And I wonder how many others visit her grave, as I do wh

The Valley

A few nights ago I wrote a post entitled, Head in the Clouds in which I mentioned my favourite psalm, Psalm 84, which refers to the Valley of Baca, or weeping. Paula, a regular reader and friend wrote, "So often, your blog sparks me to action and I have to write what is 'burbling' inside me. Sort of like indigestion !" Hmmm, Paula, I'm not sure I want to give people indigestion, but I'm grateful that you graciously agreed to let me post the result. By Paula Walker I entered the Valley of Baca ( of Weeping ) on a warm Sunday evening in August, 2008 when my cherished husband of 48 yrs died suddenly at home. He had been, as the Brits say, poorly. On oxygen therapy for at least five years, others might have considered themselves disabled. Not Dale. He still worked at his accounting practice; was our church treasurer and helped me care for our nephew who was born with cerebral palsy. As far as we knew, his lung disease was definitely not 'end stage'.

Not Late, At Least

By Belinda The shower invitation arrived several weeks ago, sent out by an organized group of sisters. It came complete with a map to The Garden of Wonderland. I did not need the map, which had the message at the top: "Don't be Late, for a Very Important Date!" for it was at the home of the daughter of one of my dearest friends in the world, Susan. An Alice in Wonderland theme made this shower sound like a lot of fun. The invitation hung on my fridge in a prominent place so that it wouldn't get lost amongst the paper that proliferates our house. Last week, as the date approached,  I went shopping at Babies R Us and planned my Saturday around going to the shower. In the morning I did my usual Saturday morning thing: watering of plants;  tidying up; laundry and talking on the phone to Mum and Robert. My nails were a disaster. I don't pay much attention to them unless there is a special occasion, and this qualified. I decided to haul out the vibrating foo

Head in the Clouds

By Belinda Psalm 84:1-2 (New International Version) For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. [a] 1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. The sun slid down the evening sky like a giant scoop of strawberry icecream melting in the evening heat and about to turn into a puddle on the horizon. As we reached the corner of our street, Homer, the golden dog with a curly tail who always throws himself at us and gets rudely yanked back by his chain, was barking "Hello" and darting wildly from side to side. I think, "Poor Homer." We pass the one fine dining restaurant, in our hamlet, Poco Cappello . Behind the well stocked, mature perennial garden, is a patio with tables and umbrellas. The restaurant is always busy and the murmer of voices wafts across the road from the patio tables as we pass. Tonigh

Psalm 23 - according to me.

Fridays with Susan... Are you tired of hearing how busy I am?   Take a peek at how I survive... My day is laid out before me like a great drafting table in my mind's eye.  On the table are yesterday's projects waiting to be put away, along with files yet unopened, mixed with projects not yet started and others partially completed.  There are piles of paper which need to be processed and filed, and sticky notes galore.  I must not forget this, or that.  Or the other thing!  A significant portion of what is spread all over my imaginary table in haphazard fashion are photographs.  Photographs of people whose images are reminding me that they are waiting for things, important things. Things which only my hand can produce.  Things which were due yesterday or last week but which I have no hope of getting to today and maybe not for another month or even two.  If ever.  I shuffle the piles around and other faces appear, vulnerable faces, faces of those who are waiting for action on

That'll be Grandma Gertrude

By Belinda It was the cell night of the cinnamon toast dessert. Brenda had gone away that morning for an annual girls weekend away, and we were looking after our granddaughters, Tippy and Tori, until their dad came to pick them up the next day. They always look forward to cell group dinner when they come upstairs and join the party each week! They  help me get ready, join in the banter around the table, eat appreciatively and disappear downstairs again to play, once dessert is over. With Brenda away, I popped downstairs to check on them after I'd said goodbye to everyone but Susan. She was staying for a few more precious moments and our ritual "second cup" of de-caff coffee before going home. The girls, who are normally very independent, self reliant and happy in each other's company, looked a tiny bit lonely. "Come upstairs, you don't have to stay down here you know," I said, and  promised them a few chapters read out loud from   Hey World,
 By Belinda It was a night to debrief. Ten of us, all  writers, gathered at our first writers group meeting since the Write! Canada conference in Guelph last month. We shared our "take-aways," our goals, epiphanies and excitement at what we had learned and experienced at this year conference. Oh, it was a fun evening at Bonnie's place. We spilled stories like so many knocked over jugs of milk! There were tales of roommates hand picked by God; of callings affirmed; "Divine Appointments;" gifts acknowledged; next steps already taken and wobbly but brave launches into new territory. And that with several of us  missing. While getting ready to leave for the writers group meeting I came across a blog post I had printed off a friend's blog last December. Sharon Olson  wrote Had Your Hamburg . It is an excellent post about a book I loved: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell wrote about consistent practice over a long time (10,000 hours) resulting

Swifter than a Weaver's Shuttle

By Belinda End of the day; a long one, and my lap top came home with me, but as I plan my last few hours of evening, he is there, standing silent, and waiting. He moves with the stealth of a cat, this dog. He has learned to open the door from his apartment downstairs and pops in unannounced at odd moments. Like now. I think of my supper; a little too large, a lot too fried. A walk would do us both a great deal of good. I cannot resist. And so we go, out into the fresh air of evening, into the village filled with birds that are chirping and cheeping, trilling and peeping their evensong. We hear voices from the park before we can see it, then come upon a row of parked cars, and bleachers full of parents cheering on two girls soccer teams in black and yellow jerseys. We pass by sedately and leave the running to them tonight. Something about an evening game played in a park, is irresistably evocative to me. It feels timeless somehow, as though it could be a moment from the past

So Cinnamon

By Belinda Last week, in a post entitled, The Cupboard Was Bare , I wrote of our daughter-in-law Sue's fruitless search through our cupboards for junk food. In a comment on the post, my friend Dave, wrote, "Gosh you've got to teach Sue that where ever there is a bowl of sugar, a bottle of cinnamon and a slice of hot buttered toast, you have dessert. Skinny people have no imagination!" To Dave's astonishment, I wrote that I had never discovered the joy of cinnamon toast. I grew up in England where we ate Marmite instead. Yum! Dave was now on a mission. "Okay, Belinda, we have to fix this," he wrote, and sent me a recipe website for Cinnamon Toast . He said, "I've never done it under the broiler, I just make buttered toast and then sprinkle it on ... but hey there are a million ways to happiness. I'll bet if you did surprise your cell group with it. They'd all have a cinnamon toast story or memory. So I did! When Dave checked in o

A Moment in Time

By Belinda Last night at cell group we read and discussed, a chapter from Honest to God , by Bill Hybels. The book is a favourite that I've read  more than once. It's one of those keepers! I like it because Bill Hybels isn't just honest to God, but he's honest with the reader too. I read a chapter in the morning, before taking Molson for a walk and it drew me closer to God than I've felt for a while. Oh, I haven't drifted from God. I've just hit a stale spot in how I spend my time with him. The chapter Bill wrote on the spiritual disciplines that helped him; helped me. I felt God's presence closer than I've felt him for a while and as I walked along with Molson, I stayed with God, or maybe he stayed with me. Anyway--I could feel his peace. One of the things Bill suggested was journaling by writing the word "Yesterday" at the top of a page and reflecting in writing on how things went the day before; reviewing conversations; interacti

Behind Door # 2 - the adventure continues.

Fridays with Susan... I just read my post of two weeks ago ; I wrote about how I had a choice to take what looked like it might be the easier way out (my way), or to put my trust in God's goodness and in his ability to move me where he needed me to be (his way).  "I put you there," I heard him say.  "Can't you trust me to take you back out?" I reported, two weeks ago, that there are lilies growing in the valley - exquisite blooms which can't be found anywhere else.  And there, the bright and morning star - Jesus - shines brighter than anywhere else.  I had chosen at that point not to manipulate my own circumstances, but to put my trust in Him.  Little did I know that the very next day after choosing to give up my "solution" and trusting God for His,  I would be sinking into a chair in Belinda's gathering room at the back of her house, sighing aloud and shaking my head. while exclaiming,  "God sure knows what he's doing when h

For Star Woman

I have been sorting through more "stuff" in the loft room this week. I spent months marooned up there for long evenings last winter, tidying it up. How could there still be so much excess paper?  But there is. So I am in Phase 2 of The Cull; I was too gentle the first time. But amid the trash, I find treasure. I found a bulletin from the funeral of a work colleague who died in 1997. On the back was a little poem that I love, written by Stan H. Smith. Stan was the executive director of an agency called New Leaf--Living and Learning Together. He died a few years ago. I wanted to share the poem here, but I didn't know the context in which I would share it. Tonight as I was driving, listening to the radio, I got the answer. The CBC radio program Revision Quest was playing. (You can listen to the show as a podcast by going to  CBC Radio  .) The show was about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission  and its recent meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba; where there is a platfor