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The Royal Law

By Belinda

I have a cold and my brain feels fuzzy but I am on vacation and can rest and sip chicken soup and cups of tea. I read and reread a passage from James because I am finding it hard to focus and process the words I am reading. At about the third reading the meaning sinks in fully and I reach for my pen...

James 2:8-9 (Amplified Bible)
8 If indeed you [really] fulfill the royal Law in accordance with the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as [you love] yourself, you do well.(A)

9 But if you show servile regard (prejudice, favoritism) for people, you commit sin and are rebuked and convicted by the Law as violators and offenders.


Favouring the rich over the poor is the opposite of the royal law, which is to love without discrimination of any sort. The verses that follow remind the reader that if we keep the whole law, but stumble at one point, we are guilty of breaking all of it. With the law it is all or nothing, and since it can never be "all," we being human, fallibl…

The Best Uncles

By Belinda

Some people woven into the fabric of our lives enrich it with their depth of character and the beauty of who they are. Our children's lives were touched by the many people they grew up with at Maplewood Lodge, our home for ten years; where we lived alongside 12 men at a time who had intellectual disabilities.

At our family Christmas this year, Brenda and Peter spoke of them fondly while looking at some photographs from those happy days. Thirty years later they remember them through the eyes of the children they were then. They didn't understand, or see, disability, but they understood qualities of the heart,and in that department they lived among some giants.

Stanley was 57 when we moved into the home where he had already lived for two years. We had no idea then that he would be part of our lives for the next 29 years, until he died in 2003 at 86. Everyone who knew him loved him, and no wonder. He was the kindest, most selfless person in the world. Having grown up duri…
Dear Readers,
My weekly memoir post will be on Tuesday from now on, in order to celebrate Multitude Monday on the right day of the week. Today, with Angcat's permission, I am posting her Christmas update. It is a perfect fit for today and I thought that readers who didn't already get her letter, would want to hear some of what has happened in their family in the past year.

CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS 2009

I watched him search the crowd, seeking a familiar someone. Then he caught my eye, and a confident grin spread across his little face, blue eyes glowing with excitement. “Hi Mom”, his voice rang out and small hand waved.

“Hi buddy”, I called back, loving him across the auditorium, loving him being up there with his kindergarten class.

“Come on and ring those bells,
light the Christmas tree,
Jesus is alive,
born for you and me.
Come on and ring those bells,
everybody sing,
Jesus we remember it’s your birthday".

Sweet voices filled the air with song, a cacophony of good intentions, big gir…

Passing the Baton

By Belinda

Our big family Christmas celebration is yet to come; on Boxing Day--our tradition. I spent Christmas Day preparing food, cleaning the house and wrapping the last presents.

Now, at the end of the day, with a cup of tea at hand, I can finally relax. I yawn and listen to the wind battering the house and the rain coming in occasional gusts, while munching on Godiva chocolate!

Brenda just came home with her girls from a party and said, "The pies were well received."

"People said that the pastry was fabulous. I told them--'Not as good as my Mom's.'"

Perhaps--but next time it will be just as good. This was Brenda's first attempt after all!

It was early December when Brenda said she wanted to learn how to make apple pie. On December 12th made pie together--4 each. Brenda baked two of hers and we froze the rest for Christmas.

It was so much fun working in the kitchen together that we've decided to spend the second Saturday of each month baking or c…

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas dear blog friends. Today I'm sharing one of my favourite classics: Bing Crosby and David Bowie's Little Drummer Boy, and sharing their prayer for peace on earth.

However you are celebrating, may you be blessed today.

Thankful Thursday

By Belinda

Reading is a capacity that I am endlessly grateful for. Today we begin to celebrate the birth of the one identified as The Word. How fitting to celebrate reading.
It still is amazing to me that lines, dots and squiggles on a page, can be turned by our brains into representations of thoughts.
I remember when the miracle unfolded for me when as a child I was riding on the upper level of a Midland Red, double decker bus. As we lurched along, I stared through the window at the panorama of shops and advertising billboards and began, as we passed them, to stitch the letters together into words! I had already been reading simple books at school about seeing Jack run; and Dick and Dora and their dog; but this was different. It was the first time that a fluid stream of letters came alive before my eyes quite effortlessly--and I realized that the door to a magical world had just opened.
I devoured books insatiably after that. I was as thirsty for books as a sponge is for water. I had bee…

All I Want for Christmas...

By Belinda

My kitchen tap has been in decline for a very long time. It never did fit properly but the years were not kind to it. Never firmly rooted, it wiggled lately like a loose tooth. And as if that was not bad enough, the water pressure was pathetic. I got into the habit of doing something else while the sink filled.

A month or so ago it also cracked at the base. Now it was also probably harbouring whole armies of bacteria!

Our friend Frank, who recently insisted that I had to learn how to use our TV and DVD player, saw the tap recently and said, "I'll put one in for you, Belinda." It came impulsively out of a big heart that seems compelled to right all wrongs, but he is a very busy father of four little ones, so I said I was sure we'd be getting a new one soon.

Sure enough, Paul did bring home a box with a lovely picture of a shiny tap on it shortly after that, but it sat in his office for a few more weeks while other projects were being finished--and this tap in…

Outrageous Grace

by Meg

I stood in the still cluttered kitchen, holding the sparkler. I said to myself, I am standing here holding and watching this sparkler because it is reminding me to be in the moment, to celebrate God's unexpected gifts of joy in the midst of sadness and dullness. And I am doing this because these sparklers ended up here in my kitchen because of my daughters, my lovely daughters who are far away for Christmas on the other side of the world. I am cleaning my kitchen for the church choir party, and, in the midst of this chosen drudgery, I am celebrating all that life has given me.

I had lit the sparkler thinking it was a joss stick that the girls had put on that shelf, and I thought I would check its scent and see if it would add to the Christmas atmosphere I was creating for the party. Everything was deliberate and planned, necessitated by organizing it by myself, after years of spontaneous Christmas happenings energized by twenty years of family milling around, pulling me into…

Memoir Monday

By Belinda

The years that we spent living at Maplewood Lodge, from August 1974 to January 1984 were so happy; we all feel that way. And if you were to ask any of the men that lived with us through those years, they would mostly say the same. I know that because some of them are still in my life.

Oma came over from England with Mum to visit twice during those years. She was 80 the first time, in this photo.

When we took over the running of the home from the people who were there before us, I followed the routine that was in place already. On weekdays the men would be picked up at 8.00 a.m by a van that would take them to work at locations in Newmarket, Brampton and Aurora. They would come home again in the afternoon at about 4.00. In between I would be busy shopping, cooking and cleaning.

On Monday mornings the men would bring their sheets and towels downstairs and I would launder them, in summer, hanging them to blow in the wind on the line that hung from near the window in the breezeway.…

If Jesus Had Been Born in 2009

By Belinda

On Thursday at cell group we had a great party! We feasted and laughed and read stories out loud. Tiffany-Amber pointed out that eggnog is called chicken milk in French and I've been smiling at that thought ever since!

Barb Hustler, one of our cell family, shared a story she wrote. She prefaced it with, "I'm no writer." I beg to differ! I loved it and asked if I could publish it here. She said yes, so here is her story:

If Jesus Had Been Born in 2009

And it came to pass that there lived in Bond Head a couple called Mary and Joseph. They had lived there for some time but because the government decided everyone should go to their birthplace for a census, they needed to return to Alliston.

Joseph had been born there but moved to Bond Head where he met Mary. Oh, how lovely she was. They were very much in love.

Anyway, now they had to return to Joseph's home town Alliston, but wouldn't you know it, there was a major winter storm with white outs and everything…

The Gift

Mikey is the most self centred, self absorbed 9 year-old on the face of this planet. Most of the time. I guess that makes him pretty normal.

I love this kid. This fair-skinned fellow with the hair and eyes of an angel but trust me, he's not. (Smile.) But there's just something about him...

We're polar opposites. He's organized and serious and responsible beyond his years. I think he's going to be a businessman someday. I'm forgetful, probably because my thinking process is so scattered and disorganized - and budgets are my nemesis.

Sometimes I don't understand why I could love him so much. He can be just plain mean to his four little brothers. A regular tyrant! Other times he can be so sweet that you think your heart is going to break in two, just thinking about him. But tonight he outdid himself.

As I settled into one of the lazy-boys in the living room next door, his mom (my daughter Beth) told me that I could expect to see a lot of him over his…

Thankful Thursday

By Belinda

With apologies to Ann Voskamp at Holy Experience for not posting from my gratitude journal on Multitude Mondays with the rest of the gratitude community. I am instituting Thankful Thursday for Multitude Monday, at Whatever He Says. Since Mondays is when I share my memoir posts I am hoping that the main thing is to be thankful; in all things and always!So far my formal list is not very long. Okay, it has only one entry. But I have made a start! Here goes:1) I am grateful for central heating. I remember how it was back in England, before central heating became more common in houses there relatively recently. The bitter cold of winter chilled houses and gnawed at our bones. Our shoulders would be tight with the effort of withstanding the shivers. When it got very cold in Mum and Dad's house (they took longer to arrive at that opinion than the rest of us) they would confer about whether or not to put on two, or three, bars on the gas fire. If it was three; oh joy; then our l…

Blurred Boundaries

How important it is to know the difference between decisions that belong to us and those that belong to others.

Many of the stresses and tensions in relationships could be eased by considering this principle.

As a parent it took me an embarrassingly long time to learn where I ended and my growing up children began. I needed to learn the importance of space to make decisions that were not the ones I would have made. Not understanding that they were distinct human beings in their own right, with responsibility for their own actions, made it hard for me to separate my identity from theirs. Funny how I got that all confused.

Isn't this the root of judging others? This mistaken idea that we have governance over their choices? Each of us must answer to God for the choices we make and I think that is a far more effective governing thought. We experience the sometimes painful results of our choices and this is called experience. It would be wonderful if we could learn from the experience of …

Waiting

I lit a candle of vanilla scent. Its sweetness and warmth hung in the air; the light flickered and shimmered as I sat, quiet before him. Tonight we had a wordless communion; like that had with good friends, with whom sitting in silence is comfortable, and comforting somehow.

It felt good just to "be." There was no need to say a word; he knows it all. The words wouldn't come anyway, I was struck silent;quietened.

A great peace filled me. Strange, because I needed his wisdom on something. I didn't need to fight for it though, just rest in him and know that I had it because I had him.

My friend Marilyn wrote today at A Good a Day as Any about the waiting of Advent and how we are waiting still, for him to step into our world today; into the issues that face us and in which we seek his will and ways. She ended her post with the words:

Because
He still steps in.


Yes, he does, if only we wait...Perhaps that was why I was wordless and stilled. I had only to wait...and Advent is a …

A Life of Celebration

By Belinda


Brenda and I sipped our Saturday morning coffee recently, sitting back in comfortable armchairs in the sunshine that streamed through the windows of our spacious back room. She was thinking back to her childhood and the impact it had on her, her ten years of growing up at Maplewood Lodge.

She said, "I was always surrounded by adults who listened to me and made me feel as if what I had to say was actually interesting."
"And we celebrated everything!"

Yes, we did celebrate. We celebrated St. Patrick's day by giving prizes to the person who wore the greatest number of green items of clothing or we had Irish stew and mashed potatoes tinted green; we made the same special heart shaped cookies each year at Valentines; we had parties with old fashioned games like Pass the Parcel, and Blind Man's Bluff and Musical Chairs--all played by our children and the men we cared for. Every occasion was duly feted, including 16 birthdays a year, for which I baked and d…

Your Kingdom Come

By Belinda



I passed these signs on a walk last week. The one on the ground says, "Maximum 50 Begins." It looks as though someone uprooted it and planted the new sign beside it saying, "Maximum 40." When I posted it on my photo blog last week and asked for ideas for captions, a blog friend suggested, "Slowing down." It seemed a perfect caption and analogy for my current goal in life!

Yesterday I had a vacation day at home and mid morning, after putting on some laundry and putting away the dishes from cell group the night before, I found a portion of leftover apple crumble in the fridge, warmed it up in the microwave, poured a steaming cup of black coffee and took them both into the next room where I planned to read, reflect and pray for a while.
There had been a snow fall during the night and the light of the sun shining dazzlingly in a clear blue sky, reflected from the snow into the room so brightly that I adjusted the horizontal blinds to a more gentle lig…

The Gift

posted by Susan


I didn't think I would miss him this much. It's my first Christmas without my dad. But Christmas pulls feeling out of you like no other season of the year, and I'm findig myself thinking aobut him a lot.My love for Dad came late in life. Well, actually it was early and late. With a huge gap in between. When I was little, I had a relationship with him that was very special. The year before I started school, my mom started an office job to support the family. Dad, in poor health, stayed home and supported me. Perhaps, in retrospect, we supported each other. I think now his having to care for me must have been a grounding for him somehow through those turbulent months. I remember visiting the Unemployment Insurance office in Windsor, where there always seemed to be someone who thought my name was "Blondie". I hated that! Then, after stopping for lunch at Grandma Charlotte's - salmon sandwiches and glasses of milk - we would head the few blocks do…

What Do I Know?

Our 7th annual Big Christmas Party exceeded anticipated levels of joy, fun, Christmas spirit, laughter and delicious food. It was as if the Ghost of Christmas Present had set up camp in that church hall for the evening, with all the mirth and merriment he could muster.

The hundred people at the party were a mixture of people with disabilities and their support staff. They came ready to celebrate, eat, and sing Christmas carols and it didn't matter one bit if the key was right or wrong. Christmas crackers banged and made us jump as they popped open and the treasures fell out. Some people even put on the crazy red and yellow tissue paper crowns.

This party is like a big family reunion where you get to see more of your favourite people at one time than any other in the year.

Eventually we were spent! People gathered up belongings and the small gifts they had won in the Christmas craft contest, and headed out into the dark winter night where vans were warming up ready to head home to var…

Christmas Communion

Luke 22:19 (New Living Translation)

19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”

It was the second Sunday in Advent but the first Sunday of the month, so as we do in our church on the first Sunday, we prepared to share communion.

As the familiar words were read, "This is my body..." they took on special significance because this is a time of year when we think of his incarnation--his birth.

Once done, this thing, this planting of God in humanity, there was no turning back, no way out but through the pain and agony of a sacrificial death.

"This is my body..." Did they realize what it meant when he said that? Do we?

The familiar manger scene depicts that precious body in babyhood; vulnerable, as it would remain to the end; a gift given by choice, for us.

Philippians 2:6-8 (New Living Translation)

6 Though he was God,[a]
he did not think o…

The Sabbath Psalm

Psalm 23 (Amplified Bible)

Psalm 23
A Psalm of David.
1THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
2He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.


3He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.

4Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.

6Surely (or only) goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

Pastor Dave announced his text: Psalm 23; but as he read, his voice faded f…

There is No Place Like Home

By Belinda



This is the house on Second Street; now Bayview Avenue, between Newmarket and Aurora, to which we moved on July 31, 1974. The drawing was done by Al Calverly, a social worker at Pine Ridge, for an article I wrote about the home in 1981 for the Pine Ridge News. By then it was known as Maplewood Lodge.

I spent the month before we moved, preparing to cook for 15 on a daily basis. I visited the ministry of agriculture office and picked up wads of booklets full of recipes. I still have some of them. I loved cooking, but this would be COOKING! A family at our church ran a Home for Special Care (a boarding home associated with the ministry of health) in Newmarket, and they offered to help with the meals for the first day. They gave me useful tips like where to shop in bulk.

We also met the couple we would be replacing as "house parents" for the group of ten men with developmental disabilities. They were an older couple, although I am sure they were no older than we are now.…

Breaking Barriers

By Belinda


This week has been full of parties to celebrate Christmas starting with the church international pot luck on Sunday.

On Friday a group of co-workers and friends gathered at our home for our team's Christmas tradition--a dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding rounded out by contributions of vegetables, salads and desserts from every one. It was relaxing and simple; the house was fragrant with the scent of hot mulled cider and roasting meat.

Lunch ended with us reading a story out loud from Stuart MacLean's Vinyl cafe; passing the book around the table and reading a paragraph each to the sound of snorts of laughter and much wiping of eyes with tissues!

Finally, after an attempt at cleaning up, we sat back in the comfortable chairs in the big back room and talked. The conversation drifted to technology and Frank suggested that I might want to get some wires (I'm sure they have a more specific name)in order to play things from my laptop on the T.V.

"Hey, then …

The Logic of a Seven-Year-Old

posted by Susan

Matthew is 7, and cute as a button. He transferred from a Christian school to the public system this year, due to financial constraints. If you'd been a fly on the wall at my daughter's house next door, this is the conversation between him and his mom which you would have overheard yesterday:

"Mom, the kids at this school are stupid."

"Wha?"

"They don't know ANYTHING..."

"What do you mean, Matthew?" (The discussion about whether it is okay to call anyone "stupid" was reserved for later. Right now Beth was interested in drawing out his feelings.)

"They believe in Santa Claus," he answered, "and they believe in the Easter bunny," (at this point, incredulous, he screwed up his face and tilted his head a little to the side) "but they don't believe in God."

I'm so glad that at seven his spiritual eyes have already been opened and he can identify some of the ironies of the culture ar…

Advent Contemplation

By Belinda

I listened to the missionary on furlough from Africa. Once we sent men and women there, bearing Good News--a gospel that frees. Now we need that gospel again; proclaimed with soul disturbing power, so that we fall to our knees in recognition that we have far to go in our journey yet.

"Are you busy running here and there and missing the person God wants you to connect with?" he asked.

He spoke of wrong priorities and inflexible schedules. I put up my hand in my heart.

My mind wandered to our family's trip to the movies a couple of weeks ago to see Jim Carey's version of A Christmas Carol--in 3D.

Brenda had taken the girls the previous week and although they were mightily scared by Marley's ghost and the spirits of Christmas, they loved the movie and they wanted to go again and take their grandparents with them. At first I said regretfully that I couldn't afford an evening out, I had so much to do. But when I heard that they were going to the 5 o'cloc…

Sweet Simplicity

By Belinda

John 12:26 (New International Version)
26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

In much of my pursuit of God I have failed to consistently maintain the intimacy of relationship that is implicit in the notion that I am following him.

I know that have only skimmed all that there is to enjoy in him.

How can I know where God is, unless still before him, ready to hear his voice?

Matthew 11:29 (New International Version)
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

This verse has become more real to me as I have made the choice to live more simply. When I hear God's voice I want to be able to respond, instead of being so scheduled and busy that I have no spare room for his commission.

As I move closer to this goal (I am far from there yet,) I am finding that his burden is light and my soul is more and more at rest.

Isaiah 26:13 (New…

Tectonic Shift

By Belinda

The countries of Belindaland and Brendaland border on one another, but they are as different as Holland is from Germany. Holland and Germany are two perfectly wonderful countries individually, but different; although, as with Belindaland and Brendaland, their proximity to one another makes their distinctness quite remarkable.

Belindaland is a very placid place with pockets of hilarity. Its climate is mostly sunny and its inhabitants are generally pervaded with a sense that they are well loved and cherished. The population is known for its extreme fondness for apple pie, chocolate zucchini bread and pumpkin nut loaves with occasional cravings for shepherd's pie.

Brendaland's population is animated, gregarious and highly social. They are noted for the perfection of their manicures and pedicures and tattoos in concealed places. They eat out a lot at The Keg and ritualistically engage in the sports of squash and baseball.

This past weekend, through an unusual and rare shift…

A New Adventure Begins

By Belinda

It was no way to buy a house; in the dark. "Do not do it," I would say to anyone else, but we did. I suppose it was following a trend in our lives really; the trend of leaping first and looking later. Of course we always felt, as we leapt, that it was all part of God's plan, so it wasn't entirely as foolish as it sounds.

We saw the house once, in the evening, and the price and location were right, so we put in an offer conditional on the sale of our house in Tottenham. I really hoped that the house in Tottenham would not sell and thus prove that God wanted us to stay there, but alas, it sold immediately; for the asking price.

So we found ourselves, in February of 1974, with the help of friends and family, packing up our belongings and moving.

The house in Newmarket was built on a ravine lot. The basement had a walkout to the back yard, which overlooked waste land at the back. It was on the edge of Newmarket on a quiet street, and I know it sounds ungrateful …