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Showing posts from May, 2010

Surpise!

By Belinda
A couple of weeks ago, when I was still in England, Brenda sent me a message to ask if I could "hold May 28th" for some "mom and daughter" time.

"Sure," I said, "Consider it booked."

Friday came, and at the end of the day I was zonked after an all day meeting at our home, where we have our managers meetings. Susan left, hugging me and saying, "See you next week." She was off to her annual, "Girls weekend away," at the cottage, with her 6 daughters, counting daughter-in-law Heather.

Before going out with Brenda, I unwound by watching the end of a series that Paul and I had almost finished. In the bathroom afterwards I tried to do something with the puffy eyed face, surrounded by a mop of uncooperative hair, that stared back at me from the mirror! Glued and sprayed together, I looked at the clock. It was 7.00, the time we had arranged to go out,  but Brenda, who  is always hyper-punctual, had not come upstairs. I w…

Don't Wanna be a Hot Head

By Belinda

"Cool headednes, self possession and restraint." I pondered these qualities, mentioned in a devotional book I was reading, with longing.

I realized that if they were the benchmark to shoot for, I had recently failed yet again. Another person had clearly done something wrong and I corrected them, but I was ashamed that I had done it out of  barely contained hot-headedness and anger that simmered not far beneath the surface of my words.

I found myself doing another "What if?" exercise. Here's what I came up with:
What if next time I waited before responding; allowing time to calm down before saying a word?What if I listened, seeking to understand the one who had offended me?What if I asked myself whether I am the best person to respond? Am I jumping too quickly before thinking things through sufficiently?What if, having heard the situation or concerns that prompted the words or action that offended me; I made my focus addressing the concerns rather tha…

From the Archives - Heading Home

Fridays with Susan.  This is from the archives...  first posted September 27, 2007, slightly edited.

Black smudges of smoky grey clouds rise from the northern horizon as ominous harbingers of darkness, haunting a sky that glows a clear and endless purple-rose in the deepening twilight. I pop in my latest audio book as I turn my car south, heading home at the end of another crazy-busy workday. Rising and falling over hill and dale, my senses are fully aware of the beauty of the evening sky, the perfect backdrop for listening to Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller.

I'm loving this book. Loving it. I'm glad I bought the audio version. The words are read aloud by the author himself and so with certain inflections that might be missed by a different reader. Those words are not only filling my ears, but reaching down to grab my soul - hard - and give it a good shake. I can't wait to read - or should I say, "listen to" - the sequel.

Hearing Donald Miller, as close and as r…

Lessons in Care

By Belinda

Sally, Sue, Jackie, Sam, Tracey, Stephanie, Cheryl, Lisa, Pat, Lorraine, Kerry, Jodie; I get to know them all, as three times a day, in pairs, they let themselves in through the front door of Mum's flat, with the key kept in the key safe outside.

When Mum first needed more help than we could give, it was hard to get accustomed to having our privacy invaded, and on such a regularly daily schedule.

How reassuring it is now, though, to see the good care she receives; overseen by Rob's watchful eye.

"You all right Pieter?" says Sam. She sits beside Mum and opens the TV guide.

"What day is it today?" she says, and then begins to read out the programs.

"You like "Dickinson's Real Deal" don't you Pieter?" and Mum nods, their heads together, absorbed for the moment in planning the day's viewing.

To hear the easy conversation, knowing that these women share more of Mum's life than I do now, makes me happy. I feel that s…

A Walk with the Master

By Belinda
Psalm 16:11 (New International Version)

11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

"Bruce needs watching and handling by a strong arm. Molson goes along knowing the steps and pace."

So wrote my friend Marilyn, in a comment on yesterday's post and she managed to sum up the respective characters of the two dogs in my life  perfectly.

I hesitated to compare our walk with God to my walking with my furry friends, but I can't help thinking about the parallels often when I'm out with a dog. And since God uses the metaphor of sheep throughout the Bible, maybe it's okay. I hope so anyway!
For my first few walks with Bruce, before I "took charge," he was the one taking me for a walk. We didn't have a relationship;I was the means to an end; the end being, "walkies." But as we quickly got to know one another, our relationship grew. He wanted to ple…
Dear Friends,
I had a phone call from Rob before I left for work this morning to say that Mum had not been well over the weekend. She had some chest congestion when I was there that was normal for her, but it got worse.

He called in the doctor yesterday (she isn't strong enough to fight anything off,) and he said that as soon as she started antibiotics that he prescribed, she showed signs of improvement. He said her fleet of Helping Hands ladies were being marvelous.

Tonight as soon as I got home from work, I called Rob. It was 10.45 pm in England and John my nephew answered the phone. He said that Rob had gone to the hospital with Mum. Apparently she had had a fall and there was a lot of blood. I can  only think that she got up after going to bed and lost her balance.

Right now I wish I was sleeping in the room next to hers, listening for movement in the night.

I  hope I can post a "Mum update" soon saying that her leg is stitched up and she is right as rain. Stay tune…

A Heart to Obey

By Belinda

Deuteronomy 5:10 (New Living Translation)
10 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
I have been back from England less than a week, but it feels as though I plunged at full speed into life in back in Canada without skipping a beat. Part of my heart got left behind though, and I find my thoughts drifting back to what I know Mum and Rob will be doing as each moment passes, glancing at the clock, adding five hours, and imagining Mum asleep already in her bed, or watching a favourite murder mystery.

And on Saturday, this past weekend, as I went about my Saturday chores, I thought about what I was doing just a week ago.

In the afternoon, with my little newly tamed, four legged friend, Bruce, I had set out for a longish walk. I had truly fallen in love with that little creature by then, and I could tell he loved me, too. He trotted along by my side, doing so well at being relatively civilized and occasionally nudging my leg…

The Prayer Pre-eminent; The Prayer Supreme: Part 2 of 2

By Belinda

Based on a sermon on unity, preached by Pastor Paul Mallard, at Wood Green Evangelical Church in Worcester on Sunday, May 16th 2010.

The model of the doctrine of the Trinity is in these verses:

John 17:11 (New International Version)
11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
John 17:21-23 (New International Version)
21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Unity
"That they may be one as I am in you and you in me."
Three and One. Both extremes at the same time.
M…

The Prayer Pre-eminent; The Prayer Supreme: Part 1 of 2

By Belinda

"If I never heard another sermon, this one would suffice to meditate on for the rest of my life." That is what I wrote in my little red moleskin journal last Sunday morning at Wood Green Evangelical Church in Worcester.

As soon as Pastor Paul Mallard started preaching, I started writing. I am so glad that God had me in that place, at that time, so that I could both be blessed by the message he shared, and could pass it on here. I will share it in two or more parts.

The sermon was on Jesus's prayer, recorded in John 17. I encourage you to grab a Bible and follow along.

The prayer is broken down as follows:
Verses 1-5 For himself prior to the cross

Verses 6-19 For his disciples; 11 frightened men

Verses 20-26 Jesus literally prays for US!

At this point (when Jesus prayed the prayer,) to all intents and purposes, the Church was over. But that is not what Jesus knew (verse 20.)

Verses 20-23 are a prayer for unity:
20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray a…

Follow Me

Fridays with Susan...

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you."  Philippians 4:9

Those are Paul's words in a letter written to the Philippian Christians from a jail cell.  Jane was leading us in the Bible study at our cell group. It was right at the end of the study, when she got to this passage and it hit me hard.

Could I write these words to someone just like Paul did?  Could I tell someone to follow me, to do everything that I did?  If they emulated me, would the peace of God be with them?

The thought terrified me as I thought about what the consequences might be if even one person decided they were going to follow me.  We tend to think that what we do affects only us, at least I do, but it doesn't!  I was amazed recently when I made some lifestyle changes, what an impact that had on my children and even some of my friends.  They were all watching me, unbeknownst to me, and som…

Ancient Yet Accessible

By Belinda

It was the last day of my vacation in Alvechurch and the weather, which had been unseasonably cool until then, had changed overnight.

The sun shone through leaves of intense, vibrant green. The summer blue sky was dotted with cotton ball white clouds. And the whole village was alive with birdsong. Exuberant trills, chirrups and throaty warbles filled air that was already intoxicating with the perfume of trees heavy with lilac blossom.

I needed to make a quick trip to the Co-Op--a convenience store in the village; to buy a few treats to share with friends who were visiting for tea later in the day.

"Would you like to come with me to the Co-op, Mum?" I asked.

Mum is very contented in her little home, and seems to have no desire that drives her to leave it.

It is easy to forget that when she traveled to vacation with us in Canada, she joined me in every adventure I was involved in and even some with Paul, such as helping do roofing!  She just wanted to be with me i…

New and Free!

By Belinda

I turned to Leviticus 14, part of my reading for the day. "Not exactly the most exciting or gripping part of the Bible," I thought, but I would plod through.

The chapter is about infectious skin diseases and mildew in houses! To my surprise God began to speak even through a passage I was expecting to "just get through."

Three things struck me (with the caveat that these are my humble and limited thoughts on a passage that probably has much more profound meaning):
The passage mentions sacrifices of doves and lambs for cleansing. If the spreading nature of skin diseases and mildew represents sin in humankind, then the sacrifice of the most harmless and innocent creatures on the altar of our sin, is a picture of the devastation our sin wreaks on the innocent; both in the natural world and our relationships. For truly, no man is an island (John Donne,) and only a brief pondering affirms that as true when it comes to our sin: greed, selfishness, bitterness, g…

Mum

By Belinda

I leave England today, if the cloud of volcanic ash allows. I take with me a heart full of treasured memories.

I arrived to find Mum incredibly well. She amazes me with her continued recovery of ability to communicate her thoughts. She had a stroke in October 2003, and although I initially heard that after 2 years a person's recovery reaches a plateau, we never found that to be the case for Mum, who continues to happily surprise us. In great part, I am sure this is due to Rob's company, conversation, and loving care, as well as Mum's attitude on life, and God's goodness.

Interestingly, just before I left Canada, I finished listening to an audio book I had borrowed from the library, My Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr. Jill is a brain scientist who suffered an exploding blood vessel in her brain. Her book, written over her 8 year recovery, was fascinating and contained so much excellent information. Her experience of long, continued recovery h…

A Place of Peace

By Belinda
John 11:25 (New International Version)

25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;

As Rob and I wander among the rows of graves in the village churchyard, he points out name after familiar name. A lawn mower drones nearby, and every few minutes someone passes through going this way or that. The churchyard is not a lonely place.

So many of the recent headstones belong to people or families we knew growing up. Here people are not laid to rest among strangers and the community of those who are at rest, seems as real as the people bustling around the streets.

Down the hill below the church, in my mum's snug flat, tucked beneath the duvet at night, I listen to the church clock as it chimes the hours over the dark church yard and I think of my father lying there for7 years now. It is a pleasant place to be, beneath the ancient trees and surrounded by peaceful, rolling, green hills. He would have not wanted…

B & B

By Belinda

B & B--Belinda and Bruce; Bonded and Best friends.

It was the day after my public humiliation. I had been brought to my knees by my nephew's Staffordshire bull terrier, Bruce; in the village street--and in front of a man with a well behaved Scottie dog at that. I realized that drastic action was needed.

I felt a little bit like a Doggie Super Nanny, taking on the delinquent Brucie.

I believe in my heart that people are responsible for how a dog behaves and therefore it was I who needed to make the changes that would tame the wee beastie.

I'm not an expert--obviously :) but I think that dogs really do want to please people. It is our job to teach them how to do that.

I also think that they are happy when they know their proper place in the pecking order--and it's not at the top!

I don't believe that dogs are into democracy--and I'm not into domination by force or shouting, so we needed to come to an understanding.

I had confidence in Bruce's intel…

Sifting through Treasures

Fridays with Susan...

Daughter-in-law Heather came over today with her Sweet William, accompanied by Andrew who stayed and helped for a few hours before going off to work.  While William played in the baby jail, as we affectionately call it, we went through "stuff".  Heather finished off the mudroom we had mostly done on Monday and then tackled the books upstairs. She culled hundreds, if not thousands of children's books from eight shelves down to one.  I stayed downstairs and sifted through boxes and boxes of papers and treasures of all kinds.  Not as productive as Heather, I managed to cull about one-third of what I went through.  But it was good to see the "junk" go into one pile, the good stuff I don't want go into another for others to enjoy, and the good stuff I do want, carefully set aside to be properly stored and/or to be put back into good use.  We are downsizing from eleven crammed rooms to seven as we turn the upstairs of our house into an apart…
By Belinda

I'm not taking Susan's place today her post is coming and I'm looking forward to it! But the words to this song were mentioned in a book I am reading and I want to share it as a blessing to all who visit here this morning. It was all the more special as I found that the scripture verse that pops up is in Dutch! How cool is that as a special hug from God to all of us Dutchies (or Dutchie wannabes? :))

Here is the scripture in English. Blessings today, dear friends! :)
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version)

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The Beauty of Jesus

By Belinda

The Beauty Of Jesus

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I was looking up the words to a hymn, Let the Beauty of Jesus be Seen in Me, and  the advertisement above popped up--no kidding. I'm considering placing an order!

While in England I have been reading a book by  a Canadian author, Jean Little, entitled, His Banner Over Me. Although it is supposed to be a children's book (ages 8-12!) I am thoroughly enjoying the book.

One of the things I love about it is that each chapter starts with the verse of a hymn. It reminds me of how the inspired words of hymns nourished my soul as a child. I read them like a devotional book and sang them sincerely as they gave words to my young journey of faith. This one, written by Albert Osborn, has been on my heart this morning:

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me
All His wonderful passion and purity
Oh, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus b…

Introducing Bruce

By Belinda

I was a bit apprehensive about our first meeting, I admit. I had heard how he warned off some of Mum’s carers with a snap and growl, when they bent to pat him suddenly and I feared similar rejection, although I know enough to let a dog make the first move.

To my relief, when we met, my brother Rob announced, “Look at that! Bruce took to Belinda right away.”

I felt honoured and special, until our friends the Ashtons visited later that week and he immediately jumped onto the couch beside lovely young Nel--and rested a paw on her knee. You would almost think he had an eye for the ladies.

Bruce, a 3 year old brindle Staffordshire bull terrier came to my nephew John, Rob’s son, like Brenda’s Molson, as a gift. Both are purebred dogs with champion blood flowing in their veins, and both needed loving homes.

Bruce’s first owner, Jo, had a baby and worried about his aggressive, protective instincts, so they looked for a new home for him. In April she wrote to Rob, “It was the hard…
By Belinda

It is one of my Mornings at Mum’s. The early morning is quiet; thinking and praying time, of course with the requisite cup of fresh brewed, delicious, black coffee.

From where I sit, by the window, my eye travels over a hawthorn covered stone wall; a patch of grass; two gray green, weathered wooden fences, between the roofs of two bungalows, to a bedroom window in a white house. The house was Mum and Dad’s last home together and the bedroom was Dad’s. It was from that room he was taken by paramedics, in December 2002, suffering with the pneumonia from which he never recovered.

“Relationship—with God and with people—nothing else matters:” that was the last wisdom that Paul’s dad, a pastor who cared passionately about doctrine, shared with him just before he died in 1986.

In comparison to relationship, some of what had seemed so important; wasn’t. It was all very simple in the end.

Both of our fathers struggled with relationships, in different ways. I think of that now as …

Perfect Synchronicity

By Belinda

The day of my flight to England (last Monday,) I woke shortly after 6.00 a.m. Just three hours had passed since I had relaxed into the couch cushions for the second time in the night (I hadn’t wanted to disturb Paul in the event I had another restless night.)

I had made an attempt at sleep at 11.00 pm, but lay wide awake for an hour before taking my cue to use this precious time productively. My “To Do before I Leave” work list was waiting for me in the morning so why not make a start? I figured it would take about 2 hours to finish and it seemed like a great idea to ride the wave of wakefulness.

First though, I swept the floor, mopped it and put away the last dishes left on the countertop from Sunday’s big family dinner. Brenda, asleep in her apartment downstairs, probably wondered what was going on in the middle of the night.

By 3.00 a.m., with a sense of peace, I went back to the couch and instantly fell asleep.

Susan dropped by at 8.30 a.m. for a goodbye cup of coffee, …

Hallelujah!

Paula Walker is one of our little crowd of cherished Whatever He Says readers. She wrote to tell me of her "What if" moment this week and graciously gave permission to share it here. It is a wonderful example of stepping onto the stone God pointed out, and asking, "What if I just embraced this moment?"

By Paula

My 'what if' moment, today, happened when at 9:15 a.m. my dear son invited himself, and four others for brunch at 9:30 - the four included my 'now away at college' grandson and a young teacher visiting here from Provence, France.

I flirted with saying "I had my breakfast at the proper time at 6:30 am and defintely am not ready for brunch" but fortunately said nothing out loud ( a miracle for me !)

Instead, quickly weighing the opportunity I was being given to share time with people I love dearly, I decided all other responsibilities, some of them rather pressing, would be dealt with later in the day. I managed, with some help, to …

Friday Report

Fridays with Susan...

Today (Thursday) was my last day off after some time spent resting and recuperating.  It's been a slow and easy two weeks and I'm really excited about getting back in the saddle tomorrow.  I've had a whole week to frame the "what if" questions I will take with me tomorrow.

In spite of some great backup in my absence, there will be a logjam.  Reports to process, human resources issues to follow up on, people to say hello to, emails to answer, phone calls to return, projects to get back to, and the "how ARE you?" question to answer over, and over, and over again.  It will be wonderful - emphasis on the "full"!

All my natural defences have tried several times to rise up and take me to a state of panic and dread.  But I'm not listening to those.  I have a new way of living - a new way of being.  Remember my questions from last week?  The ones Belinda has been bringing us back to all week?  I'll be taking them with me …

The Heart of the Matter

By Belinda

I slept soundly and woke up refreshed on Sunday morning when my alarm went off at 5.30 a.m. That was the time I had to take my crock pot out of the fridge and turn it on so that the roast could cook for 8 hours and be ready for our big family lunch after church.

It was wonderful being up so early on a Sunday morning and I felt the expansive pleasure of having four whole hours ahead before I needed to leave for worship practice.

After breakfast, I sat down on the couch with a second cup of delicious black coffee. The clock ticking was the only sound in the still sleeping household. I opened my Daily Light and began to read...and God began to speak. No I didn't hear an audible voice, but just as surely as I had felt him pointing out the stones I was to step on, I felt him now, speaking through his word, and a particular verse that leaped off the page. I don't usually bombard with so many scripture verses, but I feel compelled to pass these on:

26 Dear child, I want you…

Stepping Stones

By Belinda

So, what's up with me? Well, a lot! The journey of this past week has been deeply significant, starting with my Thursday post and my 5 inaugural "What ifs..." I call them inaugural because I plan to make a regular practice of asking that question of myself.

On Friday night Paul and I had turned in at a reasonable time, but he was unusually restless. Several times he turned over just as I was about to drop off to sleep and after this happened a few times, I was wide awake. A bright full moon lighting up the bedroom added to my wakefulness and by midnight I decided that I might as well get up and do something useful.

I may sound like the full moon got the better of me, but I balanced my budget and paid some bills; tidied up a room that was a disaster and made a list of essential work related things to do before leaving. All of this took a load off my mind. By 3.00 a.m. I found a comfy couch and dropped off into a peaceful sleep.

All day Saturday, a day with much…

Stop the Noise

Hey! I have landed, just before the second wave of volcano dust struck and I am thankful to be safely in Alvechurch.

I want to alert readers that there is a fresh post at Pressing On called Stop the Noise. Stop by and you will be blessed and encouraged by the words and music you will find there.

Doing Life Differently

By Belinda

Friends, I left for England on Monday and in case it took me a day or so to get hooked up to the internet, I have scheduled a couple of posts. I'll be in touch with more "Alvechurch Chronicles" as soon as I can!
____________________________________________________________________

"What if," I have discovered, is a powerful agent for change.

It is the stick of dynamite blasting away the rock pile blocking my path; the tool that loosens the baked on debris from the corners of my life.

"What if," tells me that change is possible.

All I have to do is to ask myself that powerful question and answer, "Why not try and see what happens?"

"What if," is encouragement to change up the counter-productive patterns in my life, because it reminds me that it is as simple as making a decision to try out doing life differently.

Doing Life Differently.

What would you like to do differently?

What is holding you back?

Do you realise that …

Susan's Psalm

I can't forgive him!  You know I can't!  It's not humanly possible.

But Lord, because I call you "Lord" and because you say I must...  I lay down my arms today.  Not that I ever had a right to carry them... I know that full well, when I think of all that you have forgiven me. 

But Lord, only you know how much hurt was caused.  Only you know how much damage has been done.

If there was something I could do - something you had given me to do, I would do it, Lord. I would confront him if you let me!  It's all so clear to me. Why can't he see it?  He thinks I am the crazy one - that I am the one who lacks understanding!  How can he possibly think that he could be so right when his attitude is so far from your heart of love.  So far... 

I forgive that person, Lord - just as you have forgiven me.  I grit my teeth and forgive him.  And I remember.

I remember just how trustworthy you are.  You always keep your promises.  Every single one.

You are going to bring …

Then...

By Belinda

"Then..." is what follows "What if?"  :)

After my Thursday post, I had to come back and give you, dear reader friends and encouragers, an update on the last two days, since my Potentially Pending Panic Attack.

Writing out my 5 what ifs, had an immediate calming effect on me. Peace settled like a soft blanket around a baby, and I physically felt myself exhale.

Why would such a simple exercise have such a profound effect?

Because all of the "what ifs" were possible! They were simply choices I could make. I was not a helpless victim of my circumstance. I had some choices to make, and dreaming of what if...helped me choose well.

On Wednesday night I knew that I had two working days left. I could have spent all 16 of those hours in my office and still not accomplished everything I wished I could do. But--I didn't tell you this--Thursday was a Staff Connection Day. I was out for 6 hours of that day in a church, celebrating with 35 wonderful sta…