Posts

Showing posts from 2019

The Gifts of Friendship

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 a friend, words can dance free.

Words, sound-symbols for things and thoughts. They need to be out in the light to live--to stretch their wings--to be tested. Held close to the chest or closed within, they lie do…

Prey

Image
It may have been as summer ended with flames of gold, red, and luminous salmon pink, intoxicating in brilliance. Pungent woodsmoke tantalizing senses, and a sudden chill that foreshadowed winter as night fell, dusky and beautiful.

Or maybe snow piled high at roadsides, dark descending early. The wind a moan through streets silent but for the squeak and crunch of footsteps, the long northern winter underway.

Perhaps rivulets ran through cracks and gullies, washing away the detritus of winter, bubbling, gurgling, singing a spring song. When tree limbs grew supple, and life sprang from the soil with green sprouts and insects stirring, and the nights shortening.

I don't know when, but this is what I do know. A young woman rode a bus one night in Thunder Bay.

She was at college. Already she had beaten many odds, graduated public school, and high school too, which had meant leaving her home community, hundreds of kilometres away. She carried within her strength of spirit, a wicked sen…

Gifts on the Road

Image
The sun warmed my skin as I rounded a curve in the road on my Sunday morning walk, my eyes drawn up to gaze into the clear deep blue dome above me. When I looked down again, there, to my surprise was a tiny bird's nest. I picked it up, amazed. I'd never seen such a small nest before, and when I looked inside, there was a miniature coppery pine cone, not moving from the place where it seemed to be secured.

I hid the nest safely in some undergrowth and continued my walk. When I returned, I picked it up and took it home. Later, hidden in a small brown paper carrier bag, it went with me to morning service at church.

I'd been asked to pray for the children that morning before they went down to Sunday School. I came across a small bunch of them in the church foyer, looking for all the world like a modern version of the 1950s TV show, The Little Rascals.

I interrupted whatever mischief was brewing and told them I was looking for a "show-er" and a "reader out-louder…

The Sacred

Image
In the sunporch, I savour my first cup of morning coffee, wondering what magic there is in these first sips and why it never tastes quite as good later in the day. In the quiet, I am sensing the sacred, when my granddaughter Tori, and her dog, Kevin, come out of the house, she shuffling feet into outdoor shoes with her back turned to me when I gently say, “Hello." She turns, “Oh, I didn’t even know you were here,” she says.
I ask where they are going, thinking of joining them if going for a walk, but Tori’s boyfriend, Dylan, and his twin sister, Jordan are coming over with Gonzo, one of their family’s dogs—in fact, they are arriving as we speak, Jordan in shorts, and a long plaid shirt with sleeves rolled up, her dark hair cut short and artsy. Dylan, also dark-haired, is tall and angular. Both of them have the most beautiful, kind eyes.
I walk down the curving driveway to say hello to them, and Tori cautions me about little Gonzo, “Be careful, he can be unfriendly to people.” Jorda…

Vignette of Grief

Image
The Flower Merchant has a whimsical and welcoming back entrance. Green posts and an awning lead to a sign that says, "Come in--We're Open."

I'd come that day to place a particular order. A grocery store arrangement, no matter how lovely, just wouldn't do. This commission required a caring personal touch.

As I left the sunshine, I entered a shadowy hallway leading to the store proper, and a bright young voice with the hint of a northern English accent, called, "Hello! Can I help you?"

At this warm invitation, I felt emotions submerged deep in my heart begin to bob to the surface, but I contained them with the grit born of a stoic British upbringing. The flawless beauty of the face of the young woman behind the counter struck me as her blue eyes gazed into the stormy North Sea green of mine. A mane of soft golden reddish hair was swept back from her face, revealing perfect matching golden eyelashes and brows. She was a china doll--Ann of Green Gables in yo…

Taking Flight

Image
As long as I can remember, I have loved to sing. I must have been only 6 or 7 at Hagley Primary School in the U.K when a rotund, grey-haired teacher strolled up and down the rows of earnestly singing students. His head would tilt as he listened for the slightest hint of dissonance among our voices. He taught us to take a deep breath and exhale slowly, carrying sound on our breath. I still remember him, though not his name, across the long span of 63 years!

I loved singing hymns during morning assemblies throughout the rest of my school years, and later, as a teenager in a small evangelical church, sang with a gospel band. We were led by an excellent musician and singer who managed to muster the troops into some kind of order.

I often wondered, though, why God apparently didn't give me the voice to match my love of singing. People sometimes assured me it had a "nice" or even "beautiful" sound, but I just heard a soft, thin, reedy voice.

A few months ago, after …

Changemakers

Paul was on his way home at the end of a day working at church with our 5 hard-working summer students. He had almost cleared an intersection with a four-way stop when he felt the sudden jarring impact of metal on metal, shaking him so violently that his sunglasses broke. His trailer had been demolished, and the back of his car damaged enough to render it undrivable. A woman driving a truck filled with her family of children, and almost home, entered the familiar intersection too soon. She was utterly remorseful and took full responsibility, but Paul urged her to reassure her children and make sure that they were okay. Her husband came quickly and helped pull the wreckage of the trailer onto their property.

It was our weekly small group meeting when he came home late for dinner. Beth, a young woman at the table, without hesitating offered one of her family's vehicles for his use. An insurance company will provide a rental car, but the real gift was her heart. She was "with us.…

A Beautiful Balance

I followed my friends out to the sunporch to say goodnight, but before they stepped out into the summer evening, I remembered a funny story. One of them had called me the week before, disturbed by the message on a church sign. But when she told me what it said, I didn't interpret it in the way she did. When I told my husband, Paul, he saw it differently to either of us. Later on, I told my friend Susan about it, and she had yet another take on it the sign. As did her husband, Ron. That 's five different perspectives on an eleven-word sign, which said:
If you want holy water, boil the hell out of it The many interpretations of the meaning of the sign illustrate why communication is fraught with potential pitfalls. Our personal filters and many other factors influence what we "hear."

Then, the sun-porch became a confessional,  I said that I felt terrible about judging people's words and ideas when they're talking to me. Maybe "evaluating" is a kinder …

Resistance

Image
"Resistance is a measure of the opposition to current flow in an electrical circuit. Resistance is measured in ohms, symbolized by the Greek letter omega (Ω). Ohms are named after Georg Simon Ohm (1784-1854), a German physicist who studied the relationship between voltage, current and resistance." Fluke.com

The call to face down two areas of weakness and sinful overindulgence last week struck me with the force of a bolt of lightning. For anyone who missed my previous blog post about them, it was about overbuying clothes and books. I understand if some readers are uncomfortable about labelling these things "sinful." I was too, but that's how I came to see them if I'm honest, "sins" or "addictions."  It felt like time to recognize them as such.

So strong was the impression that I quickly wrote the phrase, "I Already Have Everything I need," and pinned it on my fridge. Then I posted a photo of it on Facebook, wishing afterwards th…

Everything I Need

"Everything I need." That phrase grabbed me this week. It started with a growing awareness that what I referred to as "a weakness," was actually, sin. The word "weakness" sounds almost endearing and harmless, while "sin," well that sounds so grim! But when it comes to a specific, consistent weakness, God chose this week to wake me up to what it really is.

I don't think that it was a coincidence that the very next day (July 3,) I read in Oswald J. Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest, that moving from a "vague sense of sin" to realizing "the concentration of sin in a particular feature of my life," is a sign of the presence of God.

Another Oswald Chambers quote that is is also encouraging--the changes are not mine to stress over, but God will take care of them:
If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to put it right; He asks you to accept the light, and He will put it right.Oswald …

Dear Tiffany-Amber

Image
Dear Tiffany-Amber,
I'm addressing you by your given name rather than nickname as doing so reminds me of your adulthood. I hope it doesn't sound too formal!

Happy Canada Day! You've been in my thoughts ever since your mom left for home and we spent a few enjoyable hours together yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday over supper at The Mandarin, you were so engaged in exploring ideas about politics, and at one point you looked at me and said, "What do you have to say, Omie? Any thoughts?"

You should probably know that when someone says that to me, I usually feel like a failure, as though I've been handed the conversational ball, but dropped it. I know that you love a meaty debate and long for substantial conversations with people. I hope you meet people to fulfill that hunger and respond to the challenge of your thoughts better than I did. Don't think that I'm hard on myself because I had nothing really thoughtful to add; well, maybe when it comes to politics…

Head Walker to Heart Warrior Part 3

Image
Last July, I promised to share more of my journey to having a more peaceful spirit. Shortly after that, a series of events took priority, and I didn't finish the story. When I finally had time, I had lost some notes I wanted to use. I found them again, and now it's time to finish this story! To anyone out there who remembers my first two posts on the topic, please forgive me for not keeping my promise sooner, but this is a beginning, the part where I first heard the term Head Walkers and Heart Warriors. And this time I promise to continue.

It was a sunny Monday morning in July when I remembered my friend Wendy's request on the weekend, that I send a copy of my blog post, Messenger, to her mother, Lois. I printed it off and carefully folded it into an envelope.

I walked into our small post office and handed the envelope to my friend, Laurie, the village postmaster. "This is going to Scotland," I said, just as an older man with grey hair pulled back into a ponytai…

Habits

I once read a collection of poems in a looseleaf binder, written by a Jewish man named Michael Myers. I often wonder who has them now, and wish I could reread them for the wisdom they contained, but I do have two of them at least and here is one that I came across recently. So much truth! My copy is handwritten, hard to read, and the line breaks are hard to decipher. Forgive me if I got some of them wrong, and in spite of that may the thoughts in the poem bless!

We form our habits along life's way And all our habits grow a little stronger every day We do things unconsciously, mere creatures of routine The force of habit turns us into a human machine But there are mental habits, subtle workings of the mind For good or evil our thoughts have power, they may be cruel or kind And if things go against us people blame or criticize From force of habit we flare up, and angry words arise Rebellious and resentful of the real and fancied thrust If we only could meet it with a calm and patien…
Image
We saw Helen Scott each Sunday at church in the early 1980s. She was elderly, then, or so she seemed to me when I was only in my thirties, preoccupied with a busy life as a working mom. I really don't know how old she was--maybe only the age I am now, almost 69! She had short white hair and was also short of stature, and stockily built.

My father-in-law, the pastor of the church at the time, often published poems when I wrote them, in the weekly bulletin, and because of this, Helen knew that we shared both a love of God and poetry. She died during those years of cancer, I believe, but before she died, she gave me a treasure, a small, red leather-bound copy of a devotional book entitled, Come Ye Apart, by J. R. R. Millar.

It was first given as a gift in January 1938, by "Elbert" to his dad, on his birthday. Helen gave it to me on June 28, 1981. Now, 81 years after it was first gifted, I still treasure it as a footprint of several people's faith.

 One day, Helen gave me…

Master Class

Image
With a light knock at the door and a quick, "Hello!" I entered, balancing the teas I held in my hands. My friend heard me from her armchair just around the corner. "Come on in,"  she called. Her voice, once sweet and crystal clear as she commanded her household, betrayed weariness today.

I asked how she was, but it was evident. Her expression was dispirited, her shoulders slumped, and I didn't miss the diamond tear that glistened at the corner of one eye. I had arrived on a stressful day.

I set down our paper cups of tea, took off my coat and sat down in the chair opposite. Our weekly visits together are usually happy, with loud peals of laughter, but there have been increasing days like today. Our conversations may cover the past, family news, anything of interest I've read or heard, or deep mutual ponderings on big questions. To me, she is a safe place. I came to her at a time a few years ago, when I felt like a misfit in my church family. As I poured out…

The Dream (The Day of Silence)

I shared a blog post yesterday, titled, "The Day of Silence." After I posted it, I felt uneasy. I had veered from the purpose I felt in the dream when I had it, and gone down a bunny trail, feeling that the original thoughts seemed too sombre. I want to correct that, so I'm posting it again, hoping that you'll read again. Stay with me on my writing journey of obedience, friends, I appreciate your partnership in reading so much. Belinda

The dream stayed with me all day. It came in the moments before I woke up, right after a dream about forgetting pages with words to songs for our worship team (one of those dreams you get over and over when you have low-level anxiety about something.) The one I am writing about here was different, though, and the feeling of it lingered, In it, the world was utterly silent.

Last weekend we woke up on Sunday morning to a planned hydro shut down for routine maintenance that I'd forgotten about. We had no hot water, no light, NO COFFEE!…

Mother's Day

Image
I had a conversation with a friend recently who is a perfect example of the winding-road that human connections can take, and who is as head-over-heels in love with the child she calls. “daughter.” as she would be if she had given birth to her. She just celebrated that child’s first birthday, a child who came into her life as suddenly and unexpectedly as a snowstorm in a desert.

 Out of curiosity, I asked her, “How has your life changed since she burst onto the stage of your life?” Her big blue eyes locked onto my green ones, her lips pursed as she considered the question. She is hardly ever at a loss for words, or in need of thinking time before answering, but she has been on such a magic-carpet ride since her granddaughter’s birth that she hasn’t had time to take stock, or do anything more than experience the journey, one moment at a time.
“In every way!” she said, recovering her speech quickly.“Everything is about her. Everything I do is for her. If she’s awake, I will spend the prec…

The Gift of Belonging

It was almost closing time as I placed my grocery items on the belt.  I noticed a man with Downes syndrome doing the packing as the things were passed down by the cashier. He looked tired but was working with care and concentration. I recognized him--and as he raised his head, he knew me, too.  He asked how I was--and how Paul was, and we chatted briefly. That's when it got a little funny. "Do you know who this is?" he asked the bemused cashier, who said, "No." "She's a leader with Christian Horizons," he said as if that explained everything. That was the organization I'd worked for, for 32 years, but I've been retired for almost 4 and pointed that out to the young woman. I felt that I'd just been given undeserved honour, and yet his words fell like a warm cloak over my shoulders. That he spoke them meant everything to me because I felt that to him, I still belong. 😎 Anyway, I'm allowing myself to feel a little like a rock star--just f…