Showing posts from April, 2014

In Honour of Frans van der Lugt, a Man of Kindness, Gentleness and Peace

Last week in the newsletter of one of Christian Horizons' s sister organizations;   L'Arche Daybreak ;  I read of the murder of Dutch Jesuit priest, Frans van der Lugt; co-founder of L'arche Al-Safina; south west of the Old City of Homs, Syria. The 75 year old priest was shot dead on April 7.  He was a man of gentleness and peace who had lived in Syria for 50 years and was the last European remaining in the old city of Homs, which has been under siege for some time. He was given a 50 acre parcel of land about 10 years ago, on which he grew vegetables and had a vineyard. He loved animals, grew wildflowers and refused to use pesticides. There he founded the Al-Ard institute, where handicapped children of all religions found a place.  Every morning, he used to make a circuit of the nearby villages in his old VW van, collecting young people with disabilities from their families and bringing them to the farm where he had created a space where they could work together as pa

One Reason for Keeping a Gratitude Journal

I started keeping a Gratitude Journal on March 1, 2011, inspired by  Ann Voskamp at  Holy Experience , who challenged readers of her blog back then to make a list of 1000 gifts. Well, I am 3 years in and my poor list is only 473 items strong and counting, but it gives me joy whenever I read it, because it reminds me of my many blessings, large and small over these years. This morning for instance, one of the things I wrote that I was thankful for was this: 471: That Paul and I are alone here again. It was lovely to see our friends and host them for 2 weeks, but oh, how nice to enjoy our quiet, normal, rhythm of life again. There are blessings in company but no matter how much you love people, there are blessings in quietness! Today we both went about our Saturday's work separately--Paul working on a presentation and me creatively using up the many leftovers in our fridge, producing three kinds of delicious soup and cranberry muffins.) Then Paul brought home a movie from the vi

Remembering Ralph

It's so important to remember people--to make sure that their stories live on. I wrote this story in January 2009, to honour someone supported by Christian Horizons. The story exemplifies our Vision Statement because Ralph's God-given gifts, his life, and his response to adversity were simply inspirational. People with exceptional need s  belong to communities in which their God-given gifts are valued and respected. This morning dawned cold in Ontario. As I got ready for the day, I listened to CBC radio. On the morning show they were reading emails from listeners who described the weather conditions in their part of the province. It had been a crystal clear winter's night with a full moon. Apparently the moon was as close to the earth as it ever gets. A listener described an early morning walk in the woods, with the moon descending in the west. She said that the woods were floodlit electric blue. What beauty that description conjured up. On an end table I noticed

What to Wear for Easter

I found this post in my blog's archives; written three years ago by one of my favourite writers and a dear friend; Dave Hingsburger. As an Easter gift, I am sharing it again. Happy Easter everyone! A guest post by  Dave Hingsburger I've never understood the relationship between clothing and faith. Long before I became aware that we lived in a multi-cultural world, I questioned the very idea that God cares about what we wear to church. The high holidays of Easter and Christmas had my family getting dressed up and trotting off to church. There in the pews I saw everyone else from my small town dressed differently than they did normally. Tough, hard, miners hands stuck out of uncomfortable suits. Strong backed, strong armed mothers looked somehow wrong in pinks and pastels. I remember, wearing shirts that hurt to wear, wondering if God were looking down on us approvingly for dressing up for him. It seemed like we were playing 'pretend' and trying to trick God into think

Vacation in Bond Head

This is what "vacation" looks like if you come to stay at our house. :) All of those apples were peeled, and 7 apple pies were made,  to raise money for South Sudan;   and this was just one more in a stream of memories absorbed into the walls of our home. As we peeled together I said to Eileen that I remembered her sitting and chopping or peeling on a previous visit, and she thought for a minute and remembered too, the exact occasion and what it was we were preparing for.  I reminisced about when there was a deck where the large back room is now, and Mum and I peeled, with a glass of wine, got really silly and laughed and laughed as we sat in the sun and worked. Later in the day I went shopping and while out I bought Bourbon to make Fannie Flagg's  Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie! Three of these pies for Easter weekend joined the apple pies in the quota for the day--can't wait to try a slice tomorrow evening at cell group. I spotted Marmite at No Frills
Chris, one of the friends staying with us at the moment, said, in catching up, "So how has it been going since you stepped down from the worship team to study and write?"  I wrote about that last year  here.  I made the decision in June, intending to narrow the focus of my spare time to the one thing I love doing more than anything else--writing.  Instead, as I explained to Chris with a little embarrassment, life speeded up in July and I was consumed by other duties and callings for the remainder of the year and into the last month, when I have finally slowed down enough to take some time off. Still, it was a good thing to have already let go of the added time that would have been given to being on a worship team. I was pondering this week whether I am silly to believe that God is involved in such small things as this, something so insignificant to anyone but me. What made me think about this was that I had just found an action that I was about to take blocked repeatedl

Sunday Friends

This week, for a couple of reasons, I am grateful to lean into a guest writer for my Monday Morning work related email. We have friends from England staying with us, and our focus has been on enjoying their company to the full; and secondly, my head has been spaced out from medication related to an unexpected dental procedure!  So here is a true story with names changed, written by Elaine Day, a direct support professional who works for our organization. Before turning the blog post over to Elaine though, I want to applaud the staff involved for the elements behind this story of a blossoming friendship between two people with developmental disabilities. The staffs' work shows sensitivity; inspiration; creativity; facilitation skills and caring; helping to fulfill our Christian Horizons' Vision Statement: People with exceptional needs belong to communities in which their God-given gifts are valued and respected. Relationships often don't just happen. A little help

Dangerous Substance Not Allowed

We have house guests from England staying with us. Yesterday Chris and Eileen arrived, after a long journey from the Lake District via Glasgow. Their 26 year old daughter Nel arrived last week. A nursing student, she wanted to research what she could about nursing in Ontario and is visiting here and there and listening to whomever will talk! :) Eileen confided that she had to surrender a jar of Marmite at the airport, it was in her purse and spotted as it went through the scanner. At 150 gm. it was classified as a paste, 50 gm. over the 100 gm. limit. This is nothing to do with the  reported ban of Marmite and Irn-Bru in Canada! I wonder how many more jars of Marmite are piled up at the airport, seized from British travelers who only want their Marmite on toast for breakfast. An acquired taste, for sure, but once embedded, a necessity of life! :) Fortunately, it can be found in Canada, and I am in no doubt that the Ashton family will come home with some this afternoon. :)

Welcome to the World Baby Girl!

Kasey Jane Kelly Cater, welcome to the world and welcome to our hearts. Sweetie t his is your Great Auntie Belinda, from far away Canada. Thank you for showing up on your grandad's birthday on April 6. You were the best gift he could have ever wished for. I did my best surprising him last year by showing up in England for his 60th, but you topped that.  I  hear that you have your Great Omie's eyes. Not only does that mean that you will be beautiful, but I hope that they see what her eyes always saw--the best in people--the good in bad situations--the humour in every day life, and the blessings that God gives us in friends and family. Love like she loved and you will do well. Your Daddy, Mummy and big sister Jayda are all so proud of you. You are loved, darling. Our hearts grew bigger on Sunday. Can't wait to get to know you. 

Let Go; Let them Grow

My post focusing on the work our agency does to support people, is about a parent's perspective this week and I am using an excerpts from interview that I did with Lynda Beedham, mom to Eric, several years ago. The title of this post, "Let Go; Let them Grow," comes from advice Lynda gave, in an article she wrote for other parents. In the mid nineties, Lynda had applied to every service provider in southern Ontario, but Eric found a home with Christian Horizons, in a process Lynda describes as, "The luck of the draw." At the time, the Beedhams were in desperate crisis--"Eric just needed to be out of the home.We didn't have a choice," Lynda explains, "He was totally miserable--teenage angst--anxiety--it was horrible for him and for us." Eric moved into his new home on May 1, 2001, after a three month transition. Lynda had laid the groundwork by saying things to Eric like, "When you grow up and have a house of your own...&quo