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Showing posts from September, 2008

Little Bird

There's a girl who's been calling me. Little, bright, brown eyed one.
Fine boned is she, delicate outside and tenaciously tender to the core.

Yet she hungers, presses in to the side of me, and whispers
"Can we go today Mom? Will you pick me up?"

She knows our time is coming, stolen moments for a Mommy~Daughter
pair. With life so full of busyness, challenges to distract, this little flower
has been waiting, face upturned for the nourishment of attention. One
on one time for hearts to connect, eyes to meet, mouths to laugh, arms to hug,
and time to stand still.

I will go, for I see her yearning and I know that sweet anticipation of being
in the joyful presence of little heart who was birthed from mine. For sparkling eyes
and small strong arms to embrace so tightly.
I'm always so amazed by the strength of her hug as she reaches around my neck and
grabs me close each night, "One more hug Mommy. I love you tooo much." She whispers as I tuck her in.

Her name means Fait…

What a Tale My Floor Does Tell

Warm water pools on floor with suds. I scrub hard at this week's dirt and grime. Enjoying the solitude and quiet, I thank God for servant-hearted husband who takes high-spirited children to Grandma's and Grandpa's house for the afternoon.
I think a while on the fun they'll have, collecting apples, picking raspberries, father and son shooting their arrows and drawing bows. Grandma's peaceful kitchen where tasty snacks and treats are served to wide-eyed grandchildren. In my mind's eye, I feast on sugar maples with garments of orange, red, and yellow. I think of still water at pond's edge and hope there'll still be a duck or two. I know they'll have fun and come back exuberant, with adventures to tell. Soon I will hear their laughter, animated voices, and the calling of my name, "Mommy....and the stories unfold. I look forward to their arrival.
I take scraper to hardened dribble of pancake batter and smile as I remember the cook. Enthusiastic dau…

As for God His Way is Perfect

She had written on my Facebook Wall, "It's Thursday...is the plan still haywire?"

On Monday, after a time management seminar the week before, and excited about a new planner, I had launched into the week with such hope. But this week at least, God had other plans.

Sue delights in teasing me about the never ending quest I'm on to fit my life into neat boxes; whether it is my infamous Excel spreadsheet with the colour coded blocks of time, or a new planner.

She is organized to the max. I think she must have married our son Peter to balance out the gene pool in our families.

On Friday, though, there was another message from Sue on Facebook:

"Think back for a moment to 11 years ago, October 20th 1997. You walked into a room to find your daughter-in-law in a mess of tears. (to put it lightly!!) Remember? I had just discovered that my "plan" had gone haywire! REALLY haywire!! Plans are great but sometimes its better when they fall apart. Katherine is evidence of…

Hospitality

It was Mikey's birthday on Thursday. My oldest grandson. Eight years old! Where have those years flown!

I arrived home way too late to drop in before bedtime, so I made a date for breakfast the following morning. His love language is "quality time" so I knew that would be something more meaningful to him than had I just been a face in the crowd of celebrants the evening before, and so was relieved of any guilt. I told his mom to let him know I would pick him up at 7:00 and then drop him off at school later, on my way to work.

I was running a bit late when the phone rang at 7:05. I was ready with my apologies. "Sorry I'm late, Mikey. I'm almost ready! I'll be right there!"

The line went quiet and I immediately thought that I had hurt his feelings by being late. I gushed reassurances. "I'm just combing my hair and then I'm going right out the door. I promise!"

"But I wanted to walk in the fog." His voice was so quie…

Theory and Fact

One hazard of writing a devotional blog, is that it is soooo easy to find yourself feeling like a hypocrite of the highest order!

Take yesterday's post for instance; "Passionate Emotion" was the topic for our writers group, which met last night. I was "inspired" to make the subject fit the blog post, so that I wouldn't have a post to write at 10.00 p.m. when I got home. But the ring of truth was slightly missing. I noticed that when I pushed the Publish button, and I pushed it anyway.

I had ended the post by writing what I thought I should. It bore no resemblance to what I actually did. I apologise for that to you, dear reader.

"I’m there, in that good place; and I am waiting; waiting for God." Yes, that is what I wrote; but I wasn't. At all.

I forgot that I was writing about me and began writing In Theory.

I woke up in this morning and stepped into the stream of the day flowing fast, past my bed. I instantly became a piece of flotsam, bobbing a…

Passionate Emotion--or Power?

Once there was a man named Peter. He was passionate and enthusiastic, and when Jesus asked his opinion on whom he was, Peter got the answer right. Peter was always quick to respond; with a heart ready to obey.

Sometimes, though, Peter’s good intentions went curiously wrong in the execution phase. For example, there had been those heady, gravity defying moments on the water that were followed quickly by panic and a terrifying sinking feeling.

I wonder if that is what lay behind Jesus’ searching questions in John chapter 21. There was never anything accidental in what he said, did, or asked.

“Do you love me?” he asked three times. Each time, Peter assured him, “Yes!” becoming gradually more emphatic, indignant and hurt, as he did.

Each time, Jesus responded with a directive to do the thing that he had called him to do—feed sheep. He meant spiritual food; to sheep of the human kind, of course.

Did Peter see any connection between the repeated question and the events between the Last Supper an…

Talking the talk: walking the walk

At dinner last night my daughter asked if I believed that all of my mother's family are in Heaven now. I said "Yes". She recalled how she felt when she went into the room at the funeral home where Mum was laid out after her body was brought there while Rachel was still at school. She remembered how she felt jealous that her Grammy was with Jesus, and she was still here on earth. And yet she had never really heard Grammy talk about her faith. She knew that she was a serious Anglican, and had attended the same church for 60 years, and was much beloved by people there. And she knew that my sister and I had had some good chats with Mum in the weeks before she died.

I spoke of the term "inarticulate faith" that I have sometimes heard others use to label Christians who have spent all their lives in churches where they say the liturgy and pray the general confession every Sunday but may never have been led through the Sinner's prayer, or taught the Four Spiritual L…

Corn Field Prayers

As I've been pondering the journey with Nicholas and the other more minor challenges that have arisen in our family lately, thoughts of birth have come to mind.
I was raised in an English family. We lived in the hills of Hockley Valley, otherwise known as Ontario's Heartland. We had horses on the five acres, a beautiful century barn nestled at the bottom of the hill and our home was a log house. Sounds perfect doesn't it.
It was, except that we were a family of humans, sometimes fraught with sin, tension and temper. But we grew up, all of us with a knowledge of Jesus. Dad became a Christian in his 40's, and Mum had walked with God as long as she could remember. Each of us three children had our difficulties, but ultimately came to a place of decision and made the one to follow Christ.
Glory be to His Name.
I share this to say that we are a blessed family, one that has not seen struggles the way some families do. We often ask the question, "Why are we so blessed, when …

Soul Rest

"In the tempestuous ocean of time and toil, there are islands of stillness where we may enter a harbor and reclaim our dignity." ~Abraham Joseph Heschel


Leaves rustle like chimes, two distinct notes on the wings of the breeze. Summer's supple green dance with autumn's brittle brown. A bird twitters, another cheeps. I hear the buzz of a fly clear and distinct, then recede and fade. Nature's harmony.

My eyes close. Sun's rays warm my skin. I hear His voice.


"Rest awhile. Slow. Draw near to me. I am here."


I stay. I languish in the now. My toes rest in the cool damp. Grass massages my feet. A gentle breeze stirs and He speaks softly in the quiet,


"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light." Matthew 11:28 NASV


I exchange my yoke for His. The week's worries…

Straw Men and Melon Patches

Jeremiah 10:5 (New International Version)
5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good."

"Like a scarecrow in a melon patch"...

He stands, arms spread wide; bright checkered shirt fluttering in the breeze, his hat at a jaunty angle.

The scarecrow does his work well. By his mere presence he discourages hungry beast and bird.

At closer scrutiny his eyes stare vacant and his lips are frozen in a forever smile. But a quick and careless glance from a distance, and he could easily be mistaken for the real thing. And between me and a place of fruitfulness there too, can stand a man of straw, in whom I invest too much power and who holds me back through fear.

The preceding verses, 3 and 4 say:
For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;

they fasten it w…

An Apology

Dear Readers,
We realized after some input that there was terminology in Wednesday's blog post that could have caused offence, and we wish to apologize for that.

The thoughts shared were inspired by the original version of a beloved devotional written 83 years ago, Streams in the Desert.

The sentiments expressed were true and solid, but our sensitivity to how we honour one another in terms of the language we use has changed, and Wednesday's post has been edited by the author to reflect that.

Thank you for your understanding as we learn together.

Colossians 3:15 (New International Version)
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace...

Re-programming

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph 2: 4-7 NASB

This week I sat in a lecture hall and learned a little bit more of how our brains operate. When normal function of the brain is compromised during development - through injury, genetics, or trauma - the effects may last our entire lives and will even determine some of the choices we make.

The more I learn of the complexity and working of this rather smallish lump of grey matter which lies in there between our ears, the more I am in awe of God's ability to reprogram things and re-route established thinking patterns. And the more I understand that some of these things have to b…

But Sometimes He Does...Story # 2

Exodus 19:4-6 (New Living Translation)
4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

Yesterday and today are the eleventh anniversary of the events in my second story about God using a human to deliver a message to someone.

It was the evening of September 18th, 1997. Paul and I both shared office space back then, on the top floor of an old building, over a lawyer's office in town.

It had been a long day. The organization we both worked for was in the midst of restructuring and we had been packing up our offices getting ready to move in different directions.

At 7.00 o'clock we decided to call it a day and as we walked down the narrow, creaky st…

"The Facts" According to Tiffany-Amber

This plant has been proudly blooming amidst the collection in my sunny back room. Tiffany-Amber wasn't the first to ask me, "Is it real ?"

"It is indeed," I said.

Tiffany-Amber and Victoria were getting ready for a trip to Point Pelee National Park with their grandfather, great, great uncle and a cousin from England. I was hunting for a pair of binoculars that I was sure was under the table this plant stands on. I wanted to make sure that she could get a close up look at the birds and butterflies that flock in this glorious park on the southernmost tip of Canada.

But she was fascinated by the plant and her ten year old mind spilled out some interesting "facts."

"Wow," she said, "If a woman wasp and a man wasp came along, the flower would get all excited, and accidentally pollinate itself...or something..." Her voice trailed off with uncertainty and I was left smiling at our resident Expert Naturalist.

The trip to Point Pelee was appara…

Leanin' on the Lord's Side

I could hear the deep and earnest tones of the preacher : "And, O Lord, support us! Yes support us Lord on every leanin' side!" Streams in the Desert took me into the world of a southern prayer meeting. I have been at such meetings even in Scarborough, Ontario. In fact, it was at one of those that a Jamaican sister saw me in a "picture" playing with African children and we both agreed it was a sort of vision of the future for me in Africa. Before I did go to be a missionary in East Africa, I spent time in Jamaica in missionary training, and so appreciated the same kind of earnestness at prayer meetings there.

But this brother's words touched me in some deep place. How much I can feel like I am leaning and almost toppling over at times, with reactions and triggers about situations and people, that throw me off balance in how I handle my emotions and my life. I am so grateful for all that God is doing, and His instructions to "make straight/level paths fo…

Gentleness

As I drove out of the driveway in the dark of the waning day, my first thought was, "their family is marked by gentleness."

We had just spent an afternoon and evening with the Stewart clan, at least a large portion of them.
Beth and Susan had invited us over to Beth's house for a visit and dinner. This on the heels of baby Owen just being added to their already busy household of four, now five boys.
When we arrived we were welcomed by another grandchild, the daughter of Beth's sister Christy who was visiting, and as the day progressed more of them showed up.

When I say "more of them", I mean more of the nine children whom Susan and Ron have birthed and raised.
We gathered together with five of the Stewart siblings and their parents and little ones. It was an evening bathed in grace as we witnessed the operation of this busy, yet calm family.
Perhaps they will laugh when they read this and think "Ha, they bought it...". But I don't think so. The…

Friends, Pickles, and Sunflowers

The call came on Tuesday at noon, sooner than I had expected. Then again had it come later in the week, would I have been any more ready? I don't know. My bushel of pickling cucumbers had been picked and was ready for pick-up.


I had already purchased the necessary quantity of sugar, vinegar, and onions earlier and had yet to make the last-minute collections of fresh sweet peppers and dill. For the last two years I had purchased large quantities of dill from Barrie Hill Farms which is conveniently located a few km north of the Harris farm. Unfortunately for me, Barrie Hill Farms was closed until Thursday, by which time I hoped my pickles would be bottled and lined up like soldiers in neat little rows.

The children whooped and groaned when I announced pickling. On one hand, it meant less book work for them but on the other, they would be needed to care more for the twins and help with pickling. My eldest daughter rolled her eyes.


Did she remember how short-tempered I was last year? I w…

But Sometimes He Does

On Saturday, on Chewing the Fat , my friend Dave wrote that someone had told him that he had offended God in a presentation he gave.

The post prompted quite a few comments; mostly, including my own, along the lines of , "Be very careful if you dare to say you speak for God," and "How often does God really give people message for others anyway, when he is quite able to speak to them directly?"

But as I sit here listening to the thrumming of rain on our roof and the slapping, plopping and dripping outside, my mind wanders in a slightly different direction to two occasions on which God compelled me to communicate a message. I guess that since the instances were about 20 years apart, it isn't exactly an everyday occurrence, but... sometimes he does urge us to speak to others instead of doing it directly himself.

God is God and he doesn't have to explain himself; sometimes he uses humans!

The first time was in the 1970s. We knew a Jewish man, Jack, the brother of so…

The Dead in Christ Shall Rise...

The clock on the stove says 4:47 as I open the kitchen door of the old farmhouse and step out into the pre-dawn world. A cricket chirps loudly from under one of the porch boards. He stands out as the soloist, backed up by the muted choir of millions of his fellows, their songs joining into one lovely cacophonious chorus all around us, my cricket friend and I, gathering volume as it travels across the sod fields in the darkness beyond the neighbour's barn. I breathe deeply. The cedars partially lining one side of our yard share their characteristic perfume with the sweet musky smell of dew dampened earth. The sky is deep and dark with the edges of the trees outlined like black lace against an eerily soft charcoal-grey velvet. There are no stars this morning and the dark, humid air enfolds me and draws me further as I step carefully onto the porch steps and desend into the blackness. Tiny, tiny droplets, too tiny to be called "rain" freshen my face. There is a storm raging…

The Good Way

Jeremiah 6:16 (New International Version)
16 This is what the LORD says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls...

I stepped out into the dark of this September evening and felt the cool, refreshing, fall nippiness in the air, as crisp as a Macintosh apple.

The Swamp Creatures still chirped and sang, but gone was the sultry, heavy air of just last week and instead of a peach slice moon, a mottled silver almost-orb, hung in the centre of a soft rainbow rimmed halo of light.

The scent of woodsmoke wafted in the air as I picked up our blue boxes from the kerb. I walked back to the house, savouring the few moments out there in the dark.

Last night I poured out my heart, feeling so far from God; so disconnected. Without him I die, and I know that I have nothing at all of worth to give to another soul in this world.

Just being brutally honest about where I was, …

Make My Life a Prayer to You

It is quiet here tonight and I am alone with my God. I wish I could say that it is a comfortable thing, but it is not.

Silence and solitude press down upon me; twin weights. The ticking of the clocks, which I usually find a comforting sound,tonight seems to carry a polite reproach.

There is much to put right before him; a heart examined, and found sadly wanting. So little love and devotion to him, so little compassion and love for others.

I believe in the maxim that we cannot lead people farther than we have gone ourselves. Those words sober me. I am a poor follower of him of late. How then can I lead?

Well, perhaps I can lead on my knees.

Dear Lord, please take my prayerlessness and make my life a prayer to you. Please take my old and tired heart in your hands and make it over, into a thing of beauty as only you can do.

Romans 12:2 (New International Version)
2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to te…

It's all about a relationship

I wonder how I would have been today if my children had not come home last night. If the British Airways flight they were on had been blown up by terrorists, or if there had been a technical failure in the engines, or whatever. In some ways the possibilities of what could have happened are endless. I know Uganda well enough to be amazed that “nothing” amiss happened to them in their months away. They weren’t robbed, they didn’t lose their passports, their money, their camera, any of their possessions. They had the usual inappropriate requests from Ugandans, and all the stuff that goes with being white in Africa, and with being pretty young women who are white, etc. But all their connections went smoothly, they were blessed by friends and acquaintances, and they blessed others. People were sorry to see them go. Their reconnection with the land of their childhood, their former home, their childhood friends, was a fulfilling and enriching and empowering experience. A great adventu…

To Release and Yield

I woke him at 6:40am, little body snuggled into warm covers, eyes closed, breathing deep. His brother was already awake and sprung out of bed as he usually does.

I nuzzled Nicky and he stirred, awakening to his first dawn of school. A grin escaped sweet lips while heavy eyelids resisted light glowing in from the hall.

He was a champ all morning, getting dressed, enjoying his cheerios at a table full of cheer, while I filled backpacks with lunch laden sacks.

After teeth were brushed and devotions read he tromped out the door with a pack on his back that set him of balance, but he refused all offers of help.

Everyone posed on the large rock in our front yard for a first day picture and then the walk to the bus stop began. He stumbled a couple of times with the weight on him, but went courageously and boarded the bus without a backward glance.

Alicia, our bus driver smiled, and said "Enjoy your day Ang". I raised my arms in victory, feeling a great smile of relief spreading across m…

Behold, I Will Do Something New...

"Behold, I will do something new,..." Isaiah 43: 19

So many times a day we encounter, "Right here, right now moments". These are moments that give us the opportunity to choose wisely. You know the ones. The ones that elementary teachers talk about when they say, "Sow an action, reap a habit. Reap a habit, develop a character. Develop a character, and earn a reputation."

The opportunity is often subtle but we get to choose. Right here, right now...what will we choose. Sometimes we err in saying or doing the wrong thing. We gossip, criticize, or take offense quickly over the words of another.

Sometimes we err in choosing to say or do nothing. Someone is talking about a weakness in our friend and we stand in silence. We offer no truth or insight into one of their strengths, the beauty of their character. A neighbour struggles with a heavy load, and we offer no support.

Some of us have a plethora of "Right here, right now moments" where opportunity is a…

Creator and Completer

Psalm 139:16 (New International Version)
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

What utter peace and wonder I find in these words. From all eternity our days were already recorded, "written," in God's book.

Selah! Think about it. What does that mean to me?
He knows their number; they were ordained.He knew when I was expected before my parents did.He blessed my formation.Philippians 1:6 (New International Version)
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.He is at work, on and in us, throughout our lives. He completes things. I long for that completion!Ephesians 1:11-12 (New International Version)
11In him we were also chosen,having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, m…

Just Forgiven?

We've all seen the bumper sticker. Once it was on the sign outside my own church.

"Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven."

That saying has always kind of bothered me. Though attractive, in some sense, I knew there was something that didn't quite settle right about it, but until quite recently I never could have said why. But now I realize it's because it seems to say that Christians are no different from anyone else. The only difference between us and everyone else is that our sins are forgiven.

But aren't we supposed to be "the salt of the earth"? Aren't we supposed to stick out as different? Aren't "they" supposed to know us "by our love"? Shouldn't we be living lives that are compelling - lives that draw others to Jesus, attracting them to the same kind of relationship with Jesus that we should have? I'm thinking this morning that the saying should go something like this:

"Christians aren't perfect,…

A Treasury of Wisdom

Psalm 36:7-9 (New International Version)
7 How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house;

you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light we see light.

This evening it was a little cooler than yesterday's, but the "swamp creatures" in our neighbourhood were as noisy as ever as I walked down our snaking driveway to add some cardboard to our recycling boxes. A peach-slice moon hung rosy in a swirly grey-cloud evening sky.

As I walked, I thought about a little book I've been reading, called, Mom in My Heart. I picked it up from a table at the back of our church that had a sign saying, "Free--take home." Well, who could resist? Gradually, after waiting decent intervals for others to have a chance, I acquired four or five books that I was thrilled to "take home." Mom in My Heart is the perfect book of sh…