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Showing posts from October, 2008

Snowflakes and Sunflowers

Snowcapped sunflowers drooped against the fence, while fallen aspen leaves bled their last scarlet drops into the cloak of white; our burning bush, ablaze in fiery reds now subdued beneath winters first fall.
It crept up on us and caught us unawares, basking in the blaze of autumn and then suddenly, you couldn’t see the forest for the snow.

Life is like that…

The spring of childhood seems never ending; rosy, blooming hope, bursting with potential, all of life in front, sunny days ahead.

Then summer’s tawny hot, full of infallible days and youthful exploits, beaches of firm skin and endless starry nights seeming to reach into infinity…

…until the first day of autumn arrives and leaves her rusty trail of laugh lines gathering around eyes, and hearts a little wiser than before. Rich and colorful, she's no fool this willow, robed in beauty and robust in her form. She’s tall and surrounded by saplings seeded down in previous summers spent.

And then the snow falls, forest’s former glory, now …

Snippets

I match my brother’s long strides on the way to the old post office, walking through the small paths that connect the main streets of the village. Over the tops of ancient walls, I see the asymmetrical rooftops of equally ancient houses and the tops of the shrubs and trees that fill their gardens. Gardens like these fed the imagination of my childhood and were often the theme of the stories I loved to read. In these stories, magical moonlit journeys into the past occured after midnight, and children met other children who lived hundreds of years ago.

We emerge beside the village hall, in a part of the village that has buildings from every century since Tudor times. The street is abuzz with people running early morning errands. An elderly man, shopping bag in hand, stops in mock surprise at the sight of Rob, looks down at his watch and says, “It’s only half eight,” and Rob fills in the gap for him, “A bit early for the shock of seeing an ugly face like mine?” and the man laughs and nod…

Cast me gently into morning

Another long drive home up the highway from Irish dancing lessons together. One of my deep hearted daughters sits beside me as I navigate the darkness in the high winds of the approaching storm. She turns up the volume on her Sarah McLachlan CD and says "Mum, listen to this. It was a special song for me in Uganda last summer. It's not a Christian song but for me it was like God's voice speaking to me, and me speaking back to Him."

Answer

I will be the answer
At the end of the line
I will be there for you
While you take the time
In the burning of uncertainty
I will be your solid ground
I will hold the balance
If you can't look down

If it takes my whole life
I won't break, I won't bend
It will all be worth it
Worth it in the end
Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
And when the stars have all gone out
You'll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently into morning
For the night has been unkind
Take me to a place so holy
That I can wash this fro…

Thoughts On Contact

It's funny what thoughts drop into your heart and mind when you take time to sit and listen.

I was in our rocking chair, quiet by the woodstove on a cool morning, when all the children had left for school. I had a welcome space in time for contemplation and prayer.

As I sat, listened and waited, a totally unexpected thought came, regarding a movie that Frank and I had recently watched.

The movie is 'Contact" with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. In the story, Foster plays a woman who is obsessed with making contact with life forces outside of our earthly realm. She has lost both her parents at an early age and has deep wounds. She is well educated and supported by funding from various governmental agencies.
The crisis takes place with contact happening, instructions for the making of some kind of travel machine being sent from the alien forces and Foster following through with all kinds of psuedo-support from scientists and government.
In the end it is she who agrees …

Quiet Place

Tall and sedate, the highest branches were bare on one side, while golden yellow banners hung sparsely on the other. Fall winds blew brisk, swirling leaves, dry and brown, across the grass. The ravine sloped gently on one side but steeply in the other direction. The Boyne wove it's way east like a ribbon at the bottom of the valley. I found my way here to pray a while and salvage what was left of the day.
The week had limped, me with a cold and scratchy throat, and a clogged main floor washroom that caused untold inconvenience. I post-poned my meetings with my Heavenly Father at 5:00 a.m. until cold's clutch released its hold on my energy. I am still waiting for restored health and those special morning times. 
In fact, for most of the week I didn't get up to meet with my Heavenly Father in the quiet house of sleeping children. Instead I stayed in bed until the twins joined me, usually just before 6:00 a.m. We snuggled and nestled in folds of comforters in the pre-dawn dark.…

Signs of Hope

“How is your dad?” I asked my colleague. I had bumped into on the way to lunch. I knew his father was seriously ill, and had been praying for him.

“Oh, he died,” he said.

“I am so sorry,” I said, “I hadn’t heard.”

Then I asked, because it would make me feel better, “But...he was a man of God?”

I imagined that my colleague, a man with a solid faith, grew up in a Christian home and that it would be a comfort at a time like this. But he shook his head and said, “We hope...”

“You always find things in their stuff,” he went on, “We found a red gospel of John; worn and used. Maybe in those lonely hours on the construction site...”

And he repeated the two poignant words he started with, “We hope...”

I nodded. I understood about hope.

A few years ago, just after Christmas my brother called from England to say that my dad was in hospital. His body, once so strong, had finally let him down and he had collapsed with pneumonia. A nurse suggested I might want to be there, my boss said, “Go!” and t…

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

"We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is spiritual." 2 Corinthians 4:18

There is a narrowing of the trail through the Collingwood Caves called "Fat Man's Misery". I remember very well the first time I went through. It was nerve wracking even then - some thirty years and at least thirty pounds ago. The rock walls of the large cavern come together to create a space so tight that hikers must literally squeeze themselves through the narrow opening to get to the other side. The rocks - cold, hard, and unyielding press in on either side. The natural instinct, strangely, is to push against them to help yourself through, but of course pushing against that massive limestone formation does absolutely no good. Those rocks ain't gonna move no matter how hard you try! The hiker's body has no choice but to conform to the only space provided in order to get through to the other side. The experienc…

Tree Story

Today in Alvechurch the autumn day is blustery with skies of stormy gray. With every gust of wind, more leaves fall, shaken loose from trees that are shedding their tawny fall dresses. I walk along the village streets, my feet rustling through a carpet of saffron yellow, russet and chestnut and I inhale the pleasantly pungent scent of autumn detritus. In the tree tops, an ocean of wind roars, sounding like a storm at sea.

Leaves rain down, until recently hanging on, firmly attached to their woody homes, but there seems to come a moment for each leaf, when it falls without effort. Just a tug of the wind and the stem that harnessed it so firmly to the tree, lets go.

In the small orchard at the bottom of our property at home in Canada; I notice a similar moment when the ripening apples, pears and plums are ready for picking. Try to pick the fruit too soon and the stem holds it firmly to the branch.

Nature does not rush her timing and it is not by any effort of the tree that fruit grows or l…

In Memory of Sam: Faithful, Furry and Fierce

As I stepped into the Arrivals Lounge of Birmingham airport and the bright sunshine of an English Saturday morning, I looked for my brother Rob, who normally stands high above a crowd. We spotted each other at the same moment and seconds later, not one but three pairs of male arms enfolded me: Rob’s huge and giant-like, 21 year old John’s, muscular and tattooed, and 14 year old Tim’s with his unique comforting back-rub delivered along with the hug.
Almost the first thing Rob said was, “I’m afraid I have a piece of sad news Belinda, Sam passed away on Thursday.”
Sam, Mum’s cat, meant the world to her. He was just a tiny kitten with extra large ears when he came from a barn to Mum’s home. White, with black markings dabbed randomly here and there, and with a strong streak of wild; he had more than his share of fight in him.
As the years passed, he often looked the worse for wear and he resembled a prize fighter as his nose grew lumpy and scarred from being scratched, bitten and bloodied in …

Preparation for Destiny

"Now we must fight". Fighting words for a morning devotional speaker at a worship conference. But there she was, obedient and petite, small but mighty, giving forth the word the Lord gave her in much prayer before she came up from the U.S. to bless the many hundreds of worship leaders who gathered in Cambridge this past weekend for the Unite in Worship conference. Tricia Rhodes, recent author of Sacred Chaos, had a word for all who are being beleaguered by the three D's: Discouragement, Defeat, and Despair.


Using I Samuel 17, the David and Goliath story, as her basis, Tricia powerfully spoke into the tired hearts of many who are struggling to maintain vision and remain hopeful in the midst of too many difficulties. Tricia sees the three D's as an onslaught on the western church, a systematic undermining of Christians of all levels. Sharing from her own journey, she described her loss of dreams, her setting aside of the many promises and prophetic words that had been s…

Mercy

This beautiful piece on mercy is from Shakespeare's 1600 play, The Merchant of Venice, when Portia speaks to Shylock in Act IV, Scene I.

The Quality of Mercy

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God's
When mercy seasons justice.


Mercy brings blessing.

He told me that he'd been harboring resentment for about two and a half months, and in looking back, that's when the trouble started. Everything in our lives started to unravel.

Then last night we talked about how unforgiveness can prevent o…

Riding the Wave

Sometimes it comes on me like a tidal wave. Too many needs, simultaneously. Like a cork on a fine champagne bottle, I feel like I may pop. Lunch time and dinner time are the usual bubbling moments.
The twins with drooping eyes, are clinging to my legs and whining, "Uppy, uppy, I want cuddle. I want blankie." The table is set with seven empty plates that match equal numbers of empty tummies. The two oldest children are racing to the office to put away books, yelping and scuffling over who'll get theirs in first. I'm dictating the last of the spelling words and trying to place frozen bagels on a cookie sheet for unthawing. The phone rings. I'm about to say, "Let the answering machine get it." Instead, I hear pattering feet and silence before, "Mom, it's for you!"
As I scoop up one toddler and shuffle to the phone with the other clinging to one leg, the dryer buzzes, signaling nap-time blankets are done. I take a breath. About now I have to rem…

On Worship and Trials

Hannah is playing, "You are altogether Worthy" on the piano and singing along with it. As she sings, "You'll never know how much it cost, to see my sin upon the cross",  I realize the truth in those words. 
We'll never know His agony, His separation from His Father, and the intensity of His torment and pain. We'll never know what He endured for us. We experience pain and trial on this earth on such a small scale. Even our darkest hour and deepest grief cannot be compared to His. We are consumed sometimes with our pain and yet we only share a portion of His.
Hannah continues to sing and play and my soul lifts in worship as she does. 
"So here I am to bow down, Here I am to worship, Here I am to say that You are my God...Open my eyes and let me see."
So here we are Lord. The bruised and broken kneeling before you. We come to you thirsty. Many are parched.  A neighbour mom raising children on her own,  her job now redundent. They found a spot for her…

Leading Like Jesus - In a Nutshell

Yesterday started with a perfect MacIntosh apple morning - crisp, and sweet. A bite of cold was in the air and a thick coating of frost on my windshield. I cleared a porthole and rolled slowly down the laneway past the row of old maples clothed in autumn's golden glory, turned onto the main road, and revved into my day. My mission for this last work day of the week was a simple one - pick up Belinda (my direct supervisor as well as being a dear friend and blog-mate) and deliver us to Orillia in one piece. Once there, we would have the privilege of sitting in on a one-day, power packed leadership training simulcast called "Lead Like Jesus", along with many of our co-workers and others in the Christian community.

It was a day of challenge and inspiration, with a solid dose of good, plain, fun mixed in. We left the gathering a bit early so Belinda would have time to get home, tie up a few loose ends (like 'packing' for instance!) before heading off to the airport for…

Inspiration

This week has been a bit wild. Leaving for two weeks in England means working hard in advance to tie up as many loose ends as possible at work. Last week it felt as if we were all in overdrive and a couple of us got sick, Ang's husband Frank, who I work with, being one of them.

On Thursday, just before he succumbed to a bad strep throat and finally gave in to the thing that had been creeping up on him, his final words were, "Belinda there's a movie you have to watch called Touching the Void." I wrote the title down in pencil on a napkin. I pay attention to a man who sounds like he's uttering his final words and besides, Frank can always be relied upon as a source of good movie recommendations.

On Friday I arrived home from work at 7.00-ish, to find our stand up freezer door ajar and it was obvious that it had been so for awhile because everything in the door and at the front of the shelves was well into thaw mode. I groaned at the sight of a big puddle on the floor…

Broken Things

Petition 
~ Sue. C. Boynton
Lord, let me learn from this old tree that there is dignity in loneliness,  Beauty in broken branches, Strength in twisted, storm-beaten torso.
Help me to see that underneath If roots go deep enough No storms can wreck the life that from them reaches to the sky.
Help me to remember the important thing, To stand Where God has placed me.
Sometimes I want to run. Withdraw. Flee to email, a book, a conversation, a task. Anything but stay anddeal with the uncomfortable.  It is hard to tarry and linger when God chastens. Much of me is breaking for Him. It hurts. My self must fall away so I can abide more fully in Him.
Lately my Heavenly Father has been showing me part of my character that is sin. Another part. He is exposing  a spirit of criticism that rears its head within me. When I see it from His eyes, I see its ugliness, the damage it causes, and the source from which it comes. I know He prunes the branches…

The Courage to Be

What does it take to stay alive? I remember lying awake at nights in Uganda, listening to gunfire across the valley, knowing it was the night watchman at the water plant firing at potential intruders. After our armed robbery I never slept well. Unlike the water plant, we did not have an armed guard. We just had a "watchman" who was really a gardener whose living quarters were near the gate so that he could respond if there was a problem. Our intruders found their way around him when they entered our compound early one evening, in the darkness that had fallen like a curtain at 6:30 p.m. That night we joined the ranks of many foreigners in the country who were mistakenly assumed to have lots of money. We were saved by the fact that we did have quite a bit of cash ready to pay our project workers the next day, by the bark of our dog, and likely by my husband's cool head, our own prayers, and the sheer need of guilty parties to escape before they would lose what they gained …

Giving Thanks

He sat on the couch yesterday evening, rocking gently. Worship music played on Life 100.3. His eyes were closed and I said "Nicky, don't go to sleep now honey, it's not time."

He replied "I'm not Mommy, I'm just prayin' for Jesus."

"Oh," I whispered out, "you're worshipping?", and he nodded "Yes, Mom, I'm asking Jesus to come down here in our house."

I tiptoed quietly upstairs to my sick husband and told him of our conversation.

A busy weekend, a little fragmented, as Frank had been very sick, unable to participate in any way in family life or festivities with relatives, but we carried on.

Thankfulness can be a choice, but after Nicky prayed, little boy, quiet soul on the couch, my heart softly soared on the wings of hope and gratitude.

Jesus did come down in our house, to remind of thankfulness, for a heart of appreciation, that warm sense of rightness that comes from knowing in the deepest sense, the blessing …

Thanksgiving

Note to all who are expecting a post from Joyful today; we switched days and Joyful will be posting on Thursday morning when I (Belinda) would normally post. Happy Thanksgiving dear faithful readers.

I worked away in my kitchen all afternoon preparing for our familyThanksgiving dinner on Monday. I peeled apples; cooked and mashed sweet potatoes with sherry, butter, orange juice and sugar; and made the pastry for pumpkin, apple and plum pies. Some I baked, others I tucked away in the freezer unbaked for some future feast.

I love family gatherings. They are an excuse to make real food the old fashioned way. Feeding people nourishes something deep in my soul.

Finding the recipe for a plum tart was perfect. A bag of plums from one of our trees needed to be used up and I added a couple of apples to make it enough. It was the final pie to go in the oven.

The kitchen was hot in spite of the overhead fan, and my feet tingled with tiredness. I glanced out of the window periodically as I worked a…

The Art of the Minute

Raindrops

Snowflakes

Grains of sand

...small things all, but mighty when joined, one to another.

And so it is with our secret battles, one way or another.

We are either taking small steps in one direction or the other, and sometimes both directions in one day.

Amy Carmichael writes in the October 10 reading in Edges of His Ways

...step by step; by little acts of will, little denials of self, little inward victories; by faithfulness in very little things they became what they are....There is no sudden triumph, no spiritual maturity that is the work of a moment. So let us all take courage...

Many rain drops form a torrent; tiny feathery snowflakes can bring a busy city to a grinding halt, and vast deserts are made of many tiny, grains of sand.

There is power in small things when added together. I want to learn to live in minute sized compartments. I can do almost anything for a minute: Yield my will to God for a minute; draw on his strength for a minute; pray for a minute.

Each day is a mix of go…

Twisted Sisters

Sometimes God just blows me away.

Tonight I came in from work feeling emotionally numb. There were so many things on my mind that could have potentially dragged me down that I chose instead to try not to think at all. I have been finding that much safer of late than exploring such fickle and flighty things as my feelings. As I stepped into the kitchen, I saw a little pile of mail. It's funny how in these days of email and cheap long distance that my heart still leaps with hope at the sight of a pile of stamped envelopes freshly brought in from our rural mailbox. Well, there could be something in there for me! Maybe even something handwritten and personal. It's possible!


I flipped through the pile and there, to my great delight, was my dear sister Brenda's handwriting on a large brown envelope that was addressed to ME! Bless her heart. I tore it open to find a home-made CD along with another envelope - this time a white one. On it was written in scarlet, the words, "Susa…

Words of Wisdom

Dear Friends,
This morning I dipped into the archives to share some words of wisdom that blessed me. I hope that they are a blessing to you today!

1 John 4:10 (New International Version)
10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

I love my job--and one of the things I love most is meeting so many interesting people and hearing their stories.

Occasionally someone tosses out more words of wisdom in half an hour than their share and I am left trying hard to write fast.

Yesterday I met a man who touched me with his obvious love of God. You could tell he knew him well and walked closely with him.

He said:
God can use anyone--you don't have to be a genius to be used by God.

On stress:
In life you add and you delete. If you have a lawn mower that's not working, you get rid of it. Not people--you don't get rid of people--but there's answers for stress.

On finding God:
Once I heard the gospel--the good news that Jesus …

Change

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a time of reflection and cleansing; a day of fasting and trying to correct failings. As Jewish friends prepared for this day, I too, reflected on needed change.

I like reading a blog called Beneath the Wings, written by a woman living in Israel.

She wrote last week, "Our sages tell us that true repentance is being faced with the same situation you failed in, and doing properly the next time."I've been thinking about that; trying to be conscious when I faced those moments in which I habitually fail, to, "do properly," or "differently," this time.It helps to think of needed change that way.

Susan and I were talking about that definition of true repentance, and she said, "Yes, that's actually the opposite of the well known definition of insanity, 'Doing the same thing and expecting a different result."

I had some thoughts on prerequisites for change:

First, face the truth of whatever pattern of…

In His time, in His hands

I have waited a long time for this opportunity. I enter the class, excited by the venue, the well organized shelves stocked with beautiful ware, the clean floor, the good lighting, the ten wheels set out for this week of teaching from a master potter. What a privilege. I have the time and money to do this, to finally learn if I can make pots on a wheel. I choose one that is a little higher, for my back, and a little slower, to help me build my confidence slowly.

The master potter and his wife are gracious and firm, gentle and wise. They say just enough, but the right thing. They demonstrate and they correct, they encourage and they instruct. They smile and laugh, they are humble and confident, they make tea at just the right moment, in one of the beautiful huge teapots that sells for well over a hundred dollars. It seems like they are perfect.

I take my time, intent on not letting the clay fly off the wheel when I try to centre it. The woman next to me tells me not to worry if it does -…

A Walk in the Shadows

The day was calling, sunshine caressing the autumn air with warmth, and trees in their russet shades of dress beckoning us to come and walk.
We parked and children tumbled from the van, skipping and dashing down the path towards the embrace of waiting meadow. Laughing they cast themselves into tall grasses, tassle topped, golden grass, and disappeared, arms flung askew in the joy of being lost in fall's cloak.

We chuckled and chased, and then the announcement came from smallest of boys "I have to go poo," he said.
There was no delaying the inevitable, so Frank took him home (five minutes away) with agreements to meet up a little later, somewhere in the vicinity of a field or tree. There are somethings you can do in the bush...not this one.

So they left, and three children and I chose our path and gamboled on. We strolled and ran, up and down a hilly place and then the path curved into the wood. Tall shrubbery on either side obscured the way a little and still heavy foliag…