Showing posts from August, 2011

An Exchanged Life

By Belinda 2 Peter 1:3-4 New International Version (NIV) Confirming One’s Calling and Election   3  His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  4  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. What I have finally understood--fully, completely and clearly; as never before; is that at the moment of our receiving Christ's sacrifice for our lives--with our messed up attempts at goodness; selfish motivations, greed and potential for the basest of sin--at that moment, an exchange takes place. His life for ours. All along, this was the answer to Patricia's question: "How could God ask us to be perfect?" We will be perfect because he is--he in us, living his life through us.  I have been getting the picture clearer and cl

Patricia's Question

By Belinda Her question, asked some 30 odd years ago, went unanswered. I wish I had told her then that I just didn't know the answer but I would try to figure it out. Of course it has taken me all this time to understand. I'm a very slow learner. Tonight I went looking for her letter. When I finally began my first wave of cleaning out the loft room a couple of winters ago, I had carefully sorted all the letters I had saved in boxes; I have never been able to throw letters away. The letters are all neatly filed in date order now, in sheet protectors in binders. I hadn't looked at them for a while, but I was struck by how a lifetime can be traced in letters. I also had a wave of nostalgia for a pleasure lost to the generation growing up now--that of opening a letter and sitting down to read something more carefully composed than a text message. The letter I was looking for was from a girl named Patricia, whom I once taught in Sunday school. The class was for girls age

Belinda Burston: A victory of faith over evil

I wrote a reflection posted on, for the upcoming anniversary of 9-11. Here is the link. Belinda Burston: A victory of faith over evil

Long Ago Christmas

By Belinda I don't mean to be rushing things, but... My Christmas decorations are in my formal dining room (that is never used for "formal dining).. I have some Christmas memories of long ago to share... and my friend Dave said that he is officially in the mood for an old fashioned Christmas story, having been at Santa’s Village  this week with his family. So, going back over 70 years in England, from the memory bank of Uncle John: Grandmother Hartwright (the former Mary Jones) with her daughters Freda and Nancy (before they were married,) boiled the Christmas pudding for hours in a cloth and made their own mincemeat (as I also did in my "Earth Mother days" in the 70's.) Instead of a tree they had a piece of hedge (how English is that?)--a yew--with candles. After Christmas it went back into the hedge (early recycling.) One Christmas, Uncle George and Aunt Velma came from Canada (she was a Canadian.) Their children, Paul, Ainley and Mary Alice wer

Foundations of a Family of Faith

By Belinda The Hartwright siblings written about in yesterday's blog post were the children of Thomas Harwright and Mary Jones. Thomas Hartwright (Paul's great, great grandfather,) had served as a soldier in the  Boer War  (1899-1902) and came back to  Upton upon Severn , a small town in south Worcestershire. He was living on the streets, a destitute alcoholic, but was taken in by an elderly Christian woman. As a result of her kindness and influence, he found faith, and his life was transformed. Later he had a market garden between Upton upon Severn and Malvern  and would take vegetables for sale up to Malvern  in a baby carriage. He married a woman named Mary Jones, a seamstress who had earlier travelled far afield to France. Interestingly, Sam, one of Thomas's great, great grandchildren; studied horticulture and now has a market garden, and his wife Jackie is a seamstress who makes costumes for The Royal Shakespeare Comany  in Stratford-upon-Avon . History seems to

The Great Launch

By Belinda When I published this photo on Facebook; of a boat on the Birmingham and Worcester canal , which  runs through Alvechurch; our son Pete, who can be depended upon for humour, left this comment: "Fine time to start reading the manual..."   This story is not about that boat, but another long ago boat--this is an "Uncle John story." First a little family history for the sake of context: Paul's grandmother, who was Uncle John's mother; Marjory Burston, grew up a Hartwright, one of eight children. Besides Marjory there were three sisters: Freda; Nancy and Dora, and four brothers: John; Austin; George and Cyril.The siblings would have all been born early in the 20th century--in fact Aunt Nancy only died within the past several years, aged 100. Dora married a man named Edgar and Marjory married a man named Francis and both couples moved to Canada, probably during the late 1920's. George also went to Canada and married a Canadian girl na

Love Shows

By Belinda Today was 42 years since our wedding day and  43 years and 8 months since Paul and I left a Christmas party together on December 23rd 1967 and didn't look back. Last night we agreed--just dinner together--no need for any more fanfare than that (not even a card)--and a movie at home afterwards. In the morning I glanced at a pile of movies on the coffee table in our den. I picked them up one by one and looked at the descriptions. No "action movies," among them. When he joined me downstairs he said, "I tried to get them with you in mind, Love." I smiled because he knows me well, and anticipates my taste pretty perfectly most of the time. We finished breakfast and then I called England to let Mum know what day it was. Pre-stroke she would always call. The Dutch tend to consistently honour special occasions with a card or call, but now we call so she won't be disappointed that she missed it. Rob answered the phone, surprised but pleased to he

Seal of Approval

By Belinda I was still in England in early August and checking in on family happenings on FB when I read Brenda's status on August 6, "W edding dress shopping with the BFOTB today..." "Wow," I thought, trying hard not to feel a million miles away--but I did! Especially when her status later that day was, "Success :)" And then when our friend Paivi persuaded her to email her a photo of "the dress," and sent back the message... "STUNNING!! You're a vision!!"   ...well, I resorted to a FB message of my own. "Hey Brenda, I can't wait to see the dress. Did you really email it to Paivi??? I look forward to seeing you soon. Only one more day here. I will cherish every minute." Hidden between the lines was longing. I was due home from England on August 9, but important things were happening while I was away! A message came back that put my heart at rest: "I have it on hold right now but I want your fin

To Obey is Better than Sacrifice

By Belinda Reading a devotion on 1 Samuel 15:1-23  this morning, I was reminded of Keith Green's song, based on that passage. It is so counter culture but maybe that means we should listen.

Mission Accomplished!

By Belinda  I worked hard all day in our loft room. I hoped that I would get a good chunk done today and finish it off on Monday. I stopped at 4.00 to go to the library and get a few groceries we'd run out of and when I got home I made dinner and had a break with Paul. We enjoyed the film  Amelia , about the life of legendary American pilot Amelia Earhart. By the time the film was over and the dinner things in the dishwasher, it was 10 to 9. I decided that I had enough energy for a little more work on the loft room. An hour and a half later, to my surprise, it was DONE! Kevin can move in any time he likes now. I thought that I would throw out a lot more stuff than I actually did. I confess to shuffling more of it than I should have kept, to other parts of the house, but a lot of magazines did get put in the recycling bin. I intend to have a second go at the stuff in the low cupboards that run along beneath the roof on one wall of the loft room, after Christmas. Speaking

Nocturnal Wanderings

By Belinda It's Friday--my favourite evening of the week. I got home from work and Paul had a movie waiting! We watched  Oorlogswinter  (Winter in Wartime,) a Dutch film with English subtitles. I had really wanted to see it when it was in the theatres but missed it. It was a lovely surprise to find that Paul had rented it. The movie did an excellent job of portraying the complexities of relationships within a family and a community in wartime Holland and the young star Martijn Lakemeier, gave a compelling performance. After the movie it was time to take Molson for a walk; we both needed to stretch our legs. As I bent down to tie my shoe laces, I tried to avoid Molson's wet kisses of gratitude. Then we were off into the warm summer evening. I had ear buds in, listening to a book on CD as we walked down our street. But hearing a plaintive wail, I took them out to listen. Bagpipes! At the next but one house to ours, someone was practising the bagpipes in the garage. In the

Making Room for Kevin

By Belinda We are making room for Kevin in our home (he and Brenda are getting married on December 17!) Because Kevin has a new tenant for the upper level of his house (the bottom is already rented out) on September 1; he is moving in with us until the wedding, while his furniture is moving in with Brenda. They are combining two households into one space, which means a lot of sorting and culling. Meanwhile, one day when I was not here to protest, and much to my mortification, Brenda took Kevin upstairs to our exceedingly messy loft room to show him where he would be sleeping. Poor Kevin surveyed the clutter of scattered papers and magazines and said, "But where will I put my stuff?" Brenda said, "Oh don't worry, I think Mom is just in the middle of cleaning out the room." I figured I had better live up to that hope and thus began an overdue major sorting out of not just one room, but several others, in order to make room for the stuff that needs to mo

An Evening of Celebration

By Belinda Tonight was our writers group meeting, and although we had a small number in attendance for various reasons, it was a night to celebrate! One of our group, Carolyn j. Morris, a teacher and speaker,  is now a published author. Carolyn's summer has been a whirlwind of book signings and marketing meetings and she is loving every minute. Each step of the journey of publication has been God led, with connections unfolding in a way that only he could orchestrate. I will write more about the book itself in the near future, but tonight we shared Carolyn's joy by sipping our tea and coffee from the fine china and eating ice cream cake!

A Walk in the Evening in Bond Head

By Belinda It is ten days exactly since I shared photos from a  Walk in the Evening in Alvechurch . Tonight, I was tidying up the kitchen after supper and getting ready to spend an hour doing housework, when Brenda popped upstairs and said, "D'you want to come for a walk Mum?" and then, seeing my torn look, "Oh, no, don't worry." "No, no, I'm coming," I said, "I can do this when I get back. I need the exercise."  I put on my shoes and grabbed my camera even though the light was fading fast; Brenda grabbed Molson. We stepped out into a beautiful evening with the faintest of breezes sighing and rustling in the treetops although the leaves were barely moving. I thought of a windy walk on this past weekend when the treetops had sounded like an ocean storm with crashing, rushing breakers. The sun turned these trees to burnished gold. It's routine; Sidney sits on his lawn and Molson says "hello." Long, st


My brother Rob dropped me off at the airport early in the morning on Tuesday and after making my way to my airline counter, I joined the queue of passengers taking the same plane from Birmingham to Toronto. A small woman with sparse brown hair asked if this was the line for Toronto. I told her that I hoped so! I turned away from her and looked around, interested in watching the other people in line. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement. A man who appeared to be in his early 70's but tall, upright and well built, with white hair, closely cropped, and pale blue restless eyes in a face that was unlined with slightly puffy skin. He was very talkative and active and in conversation with an airline staff who was, for some reason, directing him out of the building. He went, and  I watched him as he paced awkwardly behind the floor to ceiling glass panes, ill at ease, not seeming to know what to do with himself. It seemed unnatural for a man of his maturity to be banished out

Elders in the Faith

By Belinda This morning a note that I wrote at some point in my copy of the   Daily Light  for August 10, reminds me that it is the feast day of St. Lawrence, and that  Martha , a woman who impacted many lives,and who lies in the graveyard of St. Laurence Church in Alvechurch, was born on this day in 1817. On my first day home in Canada, it is special to be connected with Alvechurch in this small way--like a final wave from an old friend. Today's Daily Light has verses that could describe Martha; this dear lady, who, like another dear woman; Trudy Cluderay ; still living in Alvechurch; shone for God in her quiet way and influenced a community for good. Blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2:15—“You are the salt of the earth, . . . the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory t
By Belinda My last evening in England. My suitcase is packed and all but two of my goodbyes have been said. It is quiet, even though it is only 9.30 pm. Mum goes to bed early and Rob has retired for the evening to his flat with his faithful dog, Bruce. I can't help thinking of the day before I left Canada for here; a Sunday. That morning at the end of our church service, my friend Poppy (a.k.a. Frances--the butter cream icing Frances) came over.  She was smiling; eyes bright; intent on telling me something. She was dressed in a blue floral sleeveless dress and was bathed in a delicious fragrance. Her eye shadow matched the dress and her dark blond hair framed her lovely face in tamed curls. Just then, Esther, the pastor's wife approached in a hurry. "David wants you to come to his office to meet two new visitors from Bond Head," she said, urgently. Frances had not finished what she was saying, but released me with an understanding look, as I turned to follow E

All on a Summer Sunday

I left Mum's flat in Tanyard Close at 10.15 and walked down Tanyard Lane, passing by the grand, cream painted  Red Lion pub on the corner of Tanyard Lane and Red Lion Street. (Click  here  to see inside the pub, plus the excellent menus and interesting history.)   But I did not stop at the pub. I was on my way to  Alvechurch Baptist Church  for Sunday worship; a home away from home on Sunday mornings in England. In less than five minutes I was there, and through the open door was hailed by familiar friends. The church is an elongated octagon with three rows of straight backed, polished wooden pews; five rows separated into two in the centre by a low barrier and 7 rows on either side along the window walls. If Mum's friend Trudy Cluderay was there, sitting in her usual spot, I would have joined her, but she was taken ill just before her 97th birthday on July 29th and has not been able to get out to church. So I found an seat in an empty row at the back, in the centre
By Belinda I wish I could add fragrance to a blog post but you will just have to imagine the most delectable smell of fresh strawberry! They were so far removed from the hard, flavourless, force grown variety so often on sale in the grocery stores. Rob and I went to Sainsbury's for a few groceries and after carefully checking the freezer shelves, I bought a tub of Mackies of Scotland Traditional Luxury Dairy Icecream  to accompany the strawberries waiting at home. The tub said that the icecream was made on the family farm with fresh, whole milk from "our own herd" in Aberdeenshire. It turned out to be a great choice as it tasted like old fashioned icecream from childhood, with no artificial taste, just delicious vanilla. Later in the day, Rob's younger son, Tim, joined us for supper. He has grown so tall all of a sudden that I am beginning to feel quite short! We had a conversation about the book I was reading and he said, with interest, "I should start readin