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Showing posts from April, 2010

More on "What If"

Fridays by Susan.

Belinda's post yesterday blew me away.  Those five "What If" questions she asked herself were profound in their potential to change her landscape and how she fits into it over the next several days.  By the time I reached the last of her questions, I was already formulating my own list...

What if I stopped doing "what feels right" most of the time and began to ask myself this same series of questions as deadlines approach - and long before they get to the "looming" stage!  Let me re-phrase them in a way that is generic.
What if I figured out the most important things that are possible to do today (or this week?, or before that deadline, etc, etc)What if I didn't worry about the myriad of things that cannot get done? What if I made a list of those things that cannot get done so that I don't forget them - and then I scheduled blocks of time to do them at a later date? What if I keep on weighing what is most important, in order to…

What If...

By Belinda

I leave for England on Monday, and have only two days left at work before being away for two weeks. I am staving off low level panic at the coming boundary over which there can be no leaping!

At the same time I have an opportunity to choose to be panicked or not, even though it might take some talking to myself to accomplish.

This makes me think of a thought provoking post at my friend Marilyn's blog, As Good a Day as Any. You can click here to read it. It was entitled "If," and challenge us to ask ourselves the question "What if...?"

Marilyn's post, and several other good ones in the blogosphere, was based on a blog post by Donald Miller,The single Most Powerful Question You Can Ask

So, I'm asking myself 5 What If questions as I prepare to leave after this weekend:

What if I figured out the most important things that are possible to do by Friday evening?What if I didn't worry about the myriad of things that cannot get done?What if I made…

Tozerites

By Belinda

A couple of months ago when our daughter-in-law Sue was painting a room in our house, she stopped for a tea break and scanned one of my bookshelves. She found a book by A.W. Tozer; The Pursuit of Holiness and started reading it. When I got home, she asked if she could borrow it.

"Keep it," I said, "I've had it for years, meaning to read it. It must have been meant for you."

Sue loved the book and decided to order a compilation of Tozer's sermons in a book to study with a group of young women at her house. We caught the wave and decided to study the same book in our cell group.

This Thursday evening we finish our group study on A.W. Tozer's The Attributes of God.

We will be cramming a little to do it; two chapters in one night--the Holiness and Perfection of God; but since some of us will be away for the following two weeks, and we are so close to the end, we thought we'd do it.

I still haven't got over last week's chapter on th…

Taken In

By Belinda

I said hello with a smile as I strode up the steps of the church, but she, going in the opposite direction, clutched my arm gently, her eyes bright with news to share.

Soft perfume wafted around her, and I noticed her elegance and femininity. She wore a stylish, long coat and a silk scarf. Made up perfectly, her eyes were set off by soft, light brown eyeliner; tastefully applied with a light hand and her hair; soft, light brown waves; framed her face. She must have been very beautiful in her time, I thought.

She leaned in towards me, conspiratorially, pulling me closer with the hand on my arm.

"Did my daughter tell you what they've done for me?" she said, smiling.

"No," I said.

"They've said I can live with them," she said, "James--St. James I call him, is so good to me."

Her daughter and son-in-law (James): in their 50's: had walked on ahead of her as she confided her happy secret to me. I knew that she had been living …

My Last Eighteen Cents

From the Archives (originally posted March 22nd 2007)

By Claire Alexander

Isaiah 55:8-11 (New International Version)
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

A friend attending a seminary class was able to drive me from our rural town to the subway, after I learned that this year’s final Bible study for retired alumni was being held in Toronto. The unusual topic, from 1 Kings 22, dealt with Micaiah, the true prophet of the Lord, and 400 false prophets of Asherah (1 Kings 18:19). Photo shots of archaeology showed recent findings of Ahab’s palace, verifying 2800 years later the syncretism of his version of the Hebrew faith, and the ivory of his house (22:39).

At the end, as I waited in the entrance of a college closer to the subway, I was musing on my own need for “pure religion,” when a small, unshaven man diffidently a…

Joy

By Belinda

I've said so often how much I love Thursday nights--the night when it is a full house around here.

This Thursday, I stopped at the post office as usual on my way home. Laurie, the lady who runs the post office, was reading a book behind the counter and had a note book and highlighters out. She told me with excitement that there is a Bible Study in Bradford and that she is studying a Beth Moore book there, but, she said, she has an hour of homework to do every day.

Laurie is dark haired, with kind, brown eyes. She is short and of stocky build and Ukrainian background. She was going to the Ukrainian Orthodox church in town, St.Catherine's, but now attends Holy Martyrs of Japan in Bradford. She was telling one of her customers that she had said to her priest, "Father why don't you have a Bible study?" which prompted the customer to tell her about the Beth Moore study. Laurie felt as though she had stumbled upon a well kept secret--a Bible study in Bradfo…

Sex Ed

It's Friday, so this is by Susan!

My mother did a pretty good job, I think, for the 60's.  We were at the cottage and she arranged for the two of us to share the cabin that night while the rest of the family stayed in the main cottage.  She presented me with a book called, "The Stork Didn't Bring You," and together we went through it.  I was 9.  The next morning, I stood at the top of the bank looking down over the dock and with hands firmly planted on my hips, I announced to older sister Brenda with great authority, "I know the facts of life!"  I think I stuck out my tongue right after that. I must have looked pretty silly!
Mom did a pretty good job as I recall.  But unfortunately she was a little late...  I had already learned far too much on the schoolyard and in the neighbourhood. Now she was giving me this new version -- and trust me, it bore little similarity to what I'd learned on the street! In fact it had been months before I found out that…

Shopping

By Belinda

"Shopping." The mere word holds a myriad of associations, but today a chance sentence heard, triggered memories of shopping as defined by Mum when I was a child--and I lingered there for a while, enjoying the gift of memory; to live a moment in time again.

Shopping for my mother was a serious affair. I don't remember shopping being a pastime or fun, except for her forays into the ironmongers, or hardware stores as they are known here.

The ironmongers had a distinct smell. It was slightly musty, kind of like a tool shed; faintly oily and papery; a serious smell of work-to-be-done. And the tools of all kinds of household work were sold there.

Mum loved tools. She had an inventive mind on which I could depend for creative solutions to any technical, mathematical or strategic problem. I am sure that is why I have a deep seated belief that there is always an answer for any problem and no knot that cannot be unraveled given patience and persistence!

From the ironmo…

Forgive My Ungenerous Heart

Tonight I am out of steam and my eyes feel as though they are ready to fall out of my head! Balancing the budget has that effect on me. :)

So...instead of writing, I would like to share a poem that inspires me to greater goodness whenever I read it. I have it copied out in one of my journals and it is by Hartwig Lohmann. I believe I found it on a Sunday School bulletin but it was over 25 years ago.

I so relate to the sentiments. Enjoy and be inspired too.

Dear God, forgive me!
Forgive my ungenerous heart.
It really isn't so hard,
to be nice to someone.
A friendly word;
a warm glance;
an understanding smile;
a word of thanks or "please."
Life isn't so much a matter of
life and death,
but rather of more generosity of
spirit.
Life isn't so much a matter of
winning and losing--
but rather of being merciful.
Life isn't so much a matter of
giving things up,
but rather of giving more.
You give me everything O God,
but don't let me forget that
you love and gi…

Seeing Eyes

By Belinda

I am grateful for seeing eyes. I see beauty all around me, even in strange things that might seem rather odd, like a ditch full of last year's dead leaves.

I also see connections; I see when God is at work. Mystical things happen and sometimes I just know that all will be well, even in situations that look scary.

One of these "miracles in the making" is happening right now. A story that will be told when the time is right (and when I have permission!:)) But what joy to see it happening and know that God is doing something wonderful and to be a witness to it.

And then tonight Paul and I were deep into a rather sappy movie. (Something kept us watching in spite of the fact that it seemed to have been made on a shoestring and some of the acting could have been better. It had a very heart warming story line and great ending.) In the middle of it Brenda called from a park and I could hear her excitedly telling Paul something.

When she got home she said, "Did …

Holding Up a Mirror

By Belinda

Our conversation was personal and filled with laughter. I told a story that concerned me, and before the three of us parted, I said, laughing, "What was said in this car, stays in the car!"

One of my friends asked directly, "Why? You aren't worried I might say something are you?"

I said, "Yes!" a little nervously, thinking back to times when things had slipped out. We talked more about it later that day, laughing about our earlier conversation, and I said that I hoped she wasn't offended by my quick "Yes."

She wasn't, she said. She  understood that I was just making sure...

The next day I told my story to another friend, adding to it the exchange with my first two friends. We laughed as much as I had with my friends in the car. I didn't give a thought to sharing a story that was my own, after all.

When I told one of my first friends of my second conversation, she said, "I hope you didn't share..." and sh…
By Belinda

God knows when we come home battle weary, as I did tonight. Oh, I'm more than all right, don't worry, but it was a long day and a sore spot was touched, and I reacted in defensiveness, then self promotion, and then disappointment--at myself.

I was tired and not at all in the mood for writing anything.  And then I read this on one of my favourite blogs, As Good a Day as Any, a great post:Fighting Bullies ;Marilyn declaring that she will not be bullied by her blog!

And she included a link to a blog that is new to me: The Moonboat Cafe and a great post Obscurity Can Be An Asset

"My blog is not my life. Twitter is not my life. Facebook is only a photo album. These are products of my life, like all my writing. But they are not my life." - Cassandra Frear

I heartily commend both of these posts to you. They are far better than anything I can write tonight, and they will feed your soul with good food.

And yeay! It is Saturday! Happy weekend every one. :)

Old Lady Brown

Mrs. Brown was my Grade 2 teacher and for some reason I'm thinking about her tonight.  She was a very mean widow.  Everyone said her husband died in the war, but I really don't know if that was fact or fiction.  She always wore a man's watch on her left wrist.  It was rumoured to be her dead husband's watch. 

Mrs. Brown always seemed "old" to me, though I think she was probably in her early forties when I first crossed her path.  That would put her in the same generation as my grandparents, so that certainly made sense. 

Mrs. Brown ran a tight ship.  She put up with no nonsense.  She would rap her pointer across the desk of anyone who was caught talking in class, and she would make my brother and I stay in until our work was done, even if that meant missing the bus and facing a three mile walk home.

There were some good things about Mrs. Brown.  She was a good teacher in that I remember nearly everything she taught.  But there were some lessons in her class…
By Belinda

Friends, it is a late night and an early morning awaits! So, I'm digging out an old journal and sharing a poem I wrote in 1982. It isn't a very good poem, but God can use even a very bad poem! Maybe. :)

Christ never did the obvious, The natural thing to do. He did things so amazing-- And startling, and new!
If you would tread his footsteps, Then wear his shoes of peace, Seek out his Word and love it, Begin and never cease,
To hear what he is saying, To those who love his law, Seek his way, not the world's way, For different they both are.
Down here we have no city, We seek one that's to come. We're citizens of Glory, And one day we'll reach Home.
'Til then we'll walk with Jesus, And love him more each day, And let our lights keep shining, As we live the "Jesus Way."

Inez

By Belinda

I drive west along the seventh line. On the edge of our little village, what was once farmland has become The Club at Bond Head, a very ritzy golf club. It is evening and an artificial lake reflects the colours of the sunset like a jewel in the dusk.

I never tire of this drive; this feast for the eyes between our home and church.This evening the sun vacates the sky in fine style, leaving showy swirls and feathers of cloud tinged in palest pink and peach over fields just emerged from winter.

I glance to my right, at a farm nestled deep among the fields at the end of a very long laneway: Inez's farm.

I think of her kitchen empty, and piano untouched. On the seat beside me lie a salad and loaves (including the ever abundant Amish Friendship Bread) that I am taking to the church for her funeral lunch tomorrow.

When our church first began, many of the people from surrounding farms were its first members. Now the demographics have changed and we have a more diverse congrega…

Burdens and Blessings!

By Belinda


 The only burden that comes close to having a ratbag for a mother, is having one that isn't. Ask Brenda! She has carried a burden, that of a mom whom the rest of the world apparantly loves, with varying degrees of dismay or disgust all of her life.

I think she's coming around lately. She just laughs now, which is a great improvement on the gesture I've seen once or twice in the past--the one with the finger in the mouth depicting gagging! :)

Just last week she took her car into our local Honda dealership for service, and as she was giving her name and other details of service required, the older gentleman behind the desk said, "You wouldn't be related to Belinda Burston would you?"

Brenda said, "Oh no, I know where this is going!" which caused the woman behind the desk with him to crack up.

Brenda said that he had an all too familiar glazed look in his eyes as he said how nice I was. I had no idea he knew me as anyone other than the wo…

Empty Boxes

By Belinda

I arrived at a home that I had not been to before, for a meeting last week. Even as I approached the front door, there was a sense of neatness, order and beauty. Inside, the warm welcome of the inhabitants was echoed by the home, as it wrapped itself around me with the warmth of the colours on the walls, and the atmosphere of comfort and hosptitality.

Before the four of us started our discussion on the topic of the meeting, the two other women mentioned being regular readers of this blog. I felt humbled and a little embarrassed. It is a great honour that anyone chooses to read here but I was caught off guard when I thought about how "off the cuff" some of my writing can be.

This was further reinforced when one of the women referred to my post of a couple of weeks ago about the church business meeting, and my (backfiring) attempt at humour. In my determination not to be stereotyped as a lover of Gaither music just because I am over 50, I had managed to do the thi…

It's Over

By Belinda

After writing about never giving up on true friendships, I feel that it is important to add the counterpoint and say, "Sometimes there comes a point when you just have to bale.!"

For a month I've had this high maintenance friend that moved in with us. Really she was a "friend of a friend."

She was very expensive to keep feeding and I just found that she was sucking up way too much of my energy, so I decided I had to call it quits and end the relationship.

I did it tonight. It's over. I have no more "starter." I baked all of it in a massive batch of Amish Friendship Bread and Amish Friendship Muffins.

My kitchen is closed (I just said that to get my own back on Dave who told us he was deleting his blog on April Fools Day) and I am hanging up my apron!

I knew it was time when I visited someone yesterday, and took a loaf of Amish Friendship Bread as a gift. Just before I left I remembered it and reached into my bag. "Oh, I nearly forg…

Not Fair!

by Susan (with generous amounts of help from lessons learned from life and from the book "Joseph" by Chuck Swindoll)

"Grace, grace, God's grace,
  Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
  Grace, grace, God's grace,
  Grace that is greater than all our sin..."

I heard Paul singing this softly as the group began their disbanding ritual tonight after our cell group meeting. It's an old Evangelical hymn for those of you who may not recognize the words as easily as I do after hanging out with Pentecostal-types for more than 30 years...   It's a good hymn, with a bouncy, catchy, churchy tune.  And its words capture exactly what we were talking about tonight. Grace.

One of the things we talked about was the difference between grace and mercy.  What I took away from it goes something like this:  Grace is when you get good stuff that you really don't deserve and mercy is when you don't get the bad stuff that you really do deserve.

I was thinking…

Things Hard Won

By Belinda

We sang, wrestled with beat, rhythm, harmony and key. With every attempt our voices grew stronger, more confident, the sound more harmonious. In the end we fancied a distinct likeness to the 70's pop group ABBA. Well, we had been at practice for an hour and a half by then; perhaps we were delusional--or maybe we just really, really sounded good.

We spilled out of the church into the coolness of night long fallen. Car doors slammed, assaulting the silence, headlights beamed and motors sped us away to our homes.

As I drove, the result of our efforts made me think about things hard won. 

There are battles in my life I have not yet won. They are testimony to my human frailty, weakness, selfishness, self indulgence, and self deception, but I haven't given up; I am still on the journey.

I have some hard won relationships and those I cherish more than words can fully express.We have wrestled with notes that jarred and wrong keys and practiced our friendships with tears of fru…

Treasure and Tears

Exodus 33:13-14 (New International Version)
13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."


14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

I had spent the morning at my desk, busy. In early afternoon I took a break for lunch, completely unprepared for the fact that I was about to stumble upon treasure...and tears.

While munching on a Ryvita crispbread and piece of Jarlsberg cheese, I pulled up Whatever He Says on the internet, and clicked onto a favourite blog, Bene Diction Blogs On, in the blogroll sidebar.

Bene announced the death through an aggressive cancer, of Michael Spencer, well known for his blog,
Internet Monk: Dispatches from the post evangelical wilderness and a group blog The Boars Head Tavern
 .
It was obvious that Bene had great affection and respect for Michael and he included an excerpt from one of his favourite posts: The…

Revisitation, Resurrection, and the Big Picture

A post by Meg

We are in Eastertide, living freshly with the remembrance of our status as an Easter people, people redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, people who live in His resurrection power if we have surrendered our lives to Him, accepted His redemption, and His lordship of our lives.

As we revisit and re-member these timeless truths in extra special ways for a few days each year, we are reminded once again of who we truly are. My daily readings at this time are in Deuteronomy, full of God's reminders to His people of all that He had done for them, and of the power and promise of living in that remembrance, and the consequences of not doing so. It seems that all of Scripture does that...calling us to be our true selves, to live in the light of our destiny, to remember that we are part of God's Big Picture, and that the small details of our everyday lives are also part of the big picture of our whole lives.

God gives us other ways to re-member Him and …

The Day; From Start to Finish

By Belinda

This is how we spent a most wonderful Easter day!

First: The Easter Sunrise service!

The pastor more formally dressed in shirt and tie, is our son, Peter, reminding me of his grandfather whom I once observed reclining on the sand at Wasaga Beach, dressed in suit and tie. :)

About 50 believers from various churches, gathered in time to see the sunrise over the Tottenham pond. We sang, "Jesus Christ is risen today" and heard the account of the first Easter, read from the gospels.


Between the sunrise service and going home to change for church, Susan, Ann and I, went to the Cedar Kitchen for breakfast. Yes, that is the hippy Ann and I. :)

Susan, Frances, Cheryl and I led worship, with Charlene on the drums, Kevin on guitar and Esther on piano. The children came up on the platform before Sunday School, for the song,"Bullfrogs and Butterflies;" the girls looked like fairy princesses in their Easter finery--all a flurry of frills and pastel gossamer.


After ch…

The Truth About Easter--By Isobel

Happy Easter

Christ is risen!

I am about to drive off into the dawn for the Sunrise Service at the pond and however you are celebrating, I wish you joy.

One of my dearest friends, Dave, posted this on his blog this morning. Many of you know him through his comments here. He usually writes on disability issues specifically,but since this post also speaks to faith, I share it here.

Easter Sunday: A Reflection on God’s Love

GOOD Friday

9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    (1 John 1:9, 21st Century King James Version)

By Belinda

I sat, at the end of the day, thankful to rest at last, enjoying the cool, gentle, night breeze wafting in through the open screen door, carrying with it the call of coyotes from across the fields, wild and haunting.

It had been a perfectly exhausting but perfectly wonderful day. Good Friday; good Good Friday.

It had been 2.00 a.m. that Friday morning when I finally conceded that I had done as much as energy and common sense would allow, to prepare for our family dinner after the Good Friday communion service. Okay, scratch the "common sense" from that last sentence--sometimes common sense cannot prevail when there is work to be done. But the sweet potatoes and warm potato salad were ready and the potatoes for scalloped potatoes were ready to peel and slice later in the morning. I could go to sleep …

For Molson Fans!

Jesus, Thank You

By Susan

Amanda came up the aisle of the church during announcements and took the pew directly behind mine. I had just then taken a seat in the front row, welcoming the few minutes to sit down before going back up on the stage for the last few songs before the sermon. It was a great morning so far, and I was "in the groove", enjoying the worship immensely, an inordinate sense of joy having settled upon me after a particularly momentous week on my spiritual growth chart.

Amanda's face was the picture of anxiety as I turned to answer her poke from behind.

"There's no teacher for your class," she said questioningly. She paused for a second and then said "Could you?"

It wasn't that hard to pull myself away from singing on the worship team. I love singing, especially on the worship team, but I couldn't help but respond to the angst on Amanada's face, even though this week it wasn't my turn to teach.

"Sure," I said. She smiled …

There is a Green Hill

By Belinda

Easter is about resurrection, but mostly, I think, it is about  remembering.

It has been a busy season at work and home and I confess to not having had much reflective time, but I have been remembering; thinking about Easters past as I prepare for Easter present.

I didn't grow up in a church-going family but I went to a Church of England school in Alvechurch. I loved the hymns that we sang during assembly each morning, and the prayers that we read from the Book of Common Prayer. They, and Religious Knowledge classes, gave me a good start in knowing God.

The season of Lent and Easter was an emotional roller coaster ride for my little girl heart, as I re-lived Jesus's Last Supper, his agony and lonely night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and his betrayal and crucifixion. The hymns we sang in the week before Easter touched me so deeply that as we sang, There is a Green Hill, a lump would rise in my throat and tears fill my eyes.Children are so much more easily …