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I Could Not Make This Up

The pie crunch is on this week. 55 have been delivered since this adventure began in November, but this week is when many are due all at once. It's a daily journey. I was going to say, "One pie at a time," but actually it's more like "Ten pies at a time" at the moment. :)

On Saturday morning I had a hairdressing appointment; an island of much needed relaxation in the Sea of Pies.

I hurried in from the biting cold outside, stamping the snow from my shoes, glad to be inside the bright and warm salon, while outside the first major storm of the winter was brewing.
Jamie, my hairdresser, welcomed me and showed me to a chair on the main floor. She explained that she'd be doing my hair there rather than upstairs in her own small, elegantly decorated room, because she'd be working on another customer at the same time as me who was coming in for a shampoo and set.

Shortly after I sat down, a car pulled up out front and parked, and a blond woman who looked to b…

Multiplied Blessings

Have you ever been part of something so much bigger than yourself that you feel that you are right in the middle of the adventure and mystery that is God? 

Well, that is how it feels right now with the Pies for South Sudan.

It's a bit of a scary place to be, but daring to step forward because he said so, and do something that makes absolutely no logical sense, without having any idea how it can all work out is when miracle dust starts to fall from heaven and you just have to smile--well, laugh, actually, with joy.

I ended my last proper blog post with these words from my journal:
"I just need to remember to relax and breathe--and stick closely connected to his heart and voice. This is how radical obedience works in practice.And when we place our trembling hands in his great strong one, it is an opportunity for him to be shown to the watching world, right here, right now; not in the pages of the past."God had nudged me to bake pies to raise funds for our district project, a g…

Hello!

Hello dear friends. I am so sorry for going "missing in action" since both the season of Christmas and responding to the call to bake pies have swallowed me whole!

If anyone out there is still checking here, please be patient--I will be back. I'm missing writing and connecting with "you." 

I hope that you are enjoying the crazy as much as I am. Let's embrace it and go with the flow; let go what we can; hold on tight, and remember the important--our friends, our families, and the reason we are celebrating at all right now--a King who stooped to love us with his very self.

The Truth About the Pie

I followed a nudge from God to bake pies to raise funds for South Sudan. I realize that "a nudge from God" might sound strange, so I will explain. 

I was at our Christian Horizonsannualleadership conference at the beginning of November, listening to people sharing about the work our organization does globally. Two of our coworkers plunged into the icy waters of Lake Couchiching to raise funds. They raised about $2000 with their frigid swim!

I felt that God was tapping me on the shoulder to help in some way and I turned to the person next to me during the final keynote speech and said, "I think I have to bake pies again!" I've done it before as a fund raiser, a couple of years ago; offering the simple gift of something I can do and watching God use it.

The day after we got back, my friend Jane emailed me and asked, "Do you by chance have any pies for sale?" and I took that as confirmation! :)

So that weekend I put it out to the world on Face Book, sharing …

The Definition of Patience

I was thinking about "patience" today and I thought, "What could require more patience than to serve children in a candy store?"

Actually, I didn't think "candy store," but "sweet shop," and my mind wandered back through many decades, to the 1950's in Alvechurch, the Worcestershire village in England, in which I grew up.

There were several sweet shops in the village, but the quintessential sweet shop belonged to Miss Twitty.  The lamp post in this photograph is right in front of what used to be her sweet shop, at the bottom of Bear Hill.

Miss Twitty worked in this little shop for 34 years; from 1929, when the previous owners retired, to 1963, and she had bought it in 1933. Thirty four years of serving the children of the village.

I only knew her for the last 4 of her years in the shop, but they were the years I grew from 9 years old to 13--so they were significant and she was imprinted on my memory of childhood.

Miss Twitty wore her steel gra…

Industrious Girl

We were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking our coffee one recent morning, me and my man. I was overcome with appreciation for who he is and I told him that one of the things I love about him is that he would do anything--and I mean, any-thing, for his family.

So then I was curious. "What do you appreciate about me, specifically?" I asked. I mean, sometimes it is nice to know, isn't it? :)

This seemed to be a hard question. I could tell the pressure was on. The clock was ticking, like on a quiz show with a time limit before the buzzer rings. I could see the furrowed brow and the figurative pencil being chewed. Beads of sweat were breaking out!

Then, "Industrious!" Paul said triumphantly, "You are very industrious."

Um, "Industrious?" I didn't feel like I hit the jackpot somehow with that quality. I mean, I'm sure that when he first fell for me,  it wasn't because he spotted "Industrious Girl." :)

I have to admit a few m…

Home

It happens every now and then; getting lost; and I need to find my bearings again, the true and sure things, including my best "me," which sometimes goes missing in action.

I need to find home, that place of retreat and security, where I know and am known. Home safe.

I pick up my pen and write. A heart can pour through pen to page and in doing so find such sweet relief.

I quiet my restless soul and sit silent.

I read.

I read the words I need to soak me; to soften me; to move my heart back to kindness, gentleness and humility.

I close my eyes to listen better--just in case God might have something to say. He sometimes speaks against the background tick of clock, whirring chimes and the hum of a house.

I hear a welcome. Welcome home.

And I am grateful; to be enfolded in the grace that only waits for an open heart.

We Remember

As we approach Remembrance Day, this week was also the 33rd annual Holocaust Education Week. Paul and I attended a lecture given by Dr. Beth Griesch-Polelle, an associate professor in the Department of History at Bowling Green State University. The evening was hosted by Reena, a Jewish organization that supports people with developmental disabilities.

The presentation was titled, "Euthanasia: The First Victims," and it focused on the extermination of over 200,000 persons with disabilities who were among the first victims of the euthanasia project--a process of eliminating those deemed unworthy of life.


Professor Greisch-Polelle spoke of Bishop von Galen, an aristocratic Roman Catholic clergyman, who earned the nickname, "The Lion of Munster," for his open criticism of the Nazis through his sermons in 1941, where he spoke of the murder of developmentally disabled individuals and outrages  against Christian clergy, both Catholic and Protestant. He told his congregation…

Bright Moments on a Cold Day

I left the house early, coffee mug in hand, braving the driving rain on the way to my car and an appointment with Jamie, my lovely hairdresser.

The grayness of the day outside only made the cosy salon more welcoming when I arrived. "It's the perfect day to be at the hairdresser," I said to Ivo, the salon owner.

Jamie arrived just after me, and ushered me to her small room upstairs, where the walls, matched the greenish gray of Lake Simcoe across the road.

It was good to see my friend again and have the completely self indulgent experience of putting my hair in her hands while we catch up on the past couple of months in our lives.

As I settled into the chair, Jamie said, "I have a story for you," and then slid the decoratively frosted glass door to her room, closed for privacy.

"This is like a little doll's house, so many stories are shared here: heart-rending; silly--and mostly a whole lot of laughter," she said.

She began her story by telling me about…

Sweet Essentials

A deep slate gray cloud blanket rolled back from the north eastern sky to make room for a day whose chosen morning dress was peach and palest gold. And I was thinking, at the start of this day, of the sweet essentials that make such a difference!

While tidying up my email inbox before leaving work the evening before--I clicked on an email that I almost filed to read later. It was entitled, "Accessibility Report."

It was late, and at that time of the day it didn't seem an urgent thing to read, but I opened it, and was so glad that I had! There on the front cover was a photo of someone we support at our fall family barbecue; somebody I have known for 37 years.

Immediately my day was transformed! From being focused only on emptying an inbox so that I could go home knowing I'd have a fresh start in the morning; to a reminder of what it is that drives that work and all those emails and paperwork!

In no time I was making copies of the report, which was written in plain langu…

Inspiration of One Sort and Another

I glanced to my left as I followed the grey road north this morning and was lost in awe. Yet again. 

It is a wonder to me that I arrive anywhere, when everything in me wants to pull to the side of the road and be amazed. 

I settled instead for being amazed and keeping going. I am a constant captive of the beauty of creation, and this morning it was a far off row of trees, a mixture of deciduous and coniferous; ochre leafy trees and army green soldier trees that stood as though at attention in the line of forest across the misty fields.

I continued to think about my weekend decision to choose a different mind set; acceptance of what is; pondering the fine line between acceptance and changing what I can.

I did reach my destination and when my meeting was over  my work colleague asked me, "And you? How are you doing?"

I told her of my weekend decision to be done with complaining; to be grateful; to change what I can (starting with my mind set) and to give my whole heart to whatever …

Let Gratitude Glow



Each night I point my car west to go home from work, and on Friday evening the sun was a giant, vivid red globe, slowly being put to bed beneath the covers of approaching night. It was a ravishingly beautiful beginning to the weekend. Today, Saturday, has been gray and drizzly, but on the hills that surround our house, the red, yellow and orange of autumn glowed through the gray like bright embers amongst the ashes in a grate; unquenchable glory! I had time in the day to reflect a little on life in my corner of the world, and made a decision. I decided to accept things as they are in a couple of areas. It is less important what the acceptance is about than the fact that it helped to change perspective. Changing how you think about something is almost as powerful, if not more so, than actually changing the circumstance. The decision moved me from discontent to gratitude and I would rather experience my life with gratitude. Let gratitude glow through a driving drizzle like those leafy embe…

Lessons Learned and Lost

If our grandson William could live on only two foods, they'd be Yorkshire puddings and the little meringue "nests" that come in boxes. 

Because it was Thanksgiving dinner we were eating, we didn't have Yorkshire puddings (although I actually considered making them!) but I made sure that I had a good supply of meringues.

Pete was governing his son's meringue intake, which was a good idea, for no one has ever seen him stop eating them of his own accord. I laughed, watching William draw on his considerable negotiating skills and at one point I said, "I think you may have just found a loophole!"

For the second time in as many days, he asked, "What's a loophole?" and Pete and I knew that whatever profound lesson we had hoped to convey the day before, it had been lost on William. 

"Well, at least it was fun to write about;" I thought to myself,  "Humility is a good quality to develop."

It was later in the day when granddaughter To…

The Observer

They bring me joy, these boys of mine: my son, Pete, and his two sons. A extra few hours of vacation tagged on to the Thanksgiving weekend, gave me time to surprise them at the hockey arena and hang out for both boys' hockey games, with brunch at the Golden Griddle in between.





A friendly woman in a Robin's egg blue hijab, greeted us and showed us to our table, explaining our menu options and the cost for children and adults at the buffet. We settled in to enjoy our meal.

William, the youngest boy was born curious; a scientific observer and thinker. Nothing escapes his attention.

Over lunch, his dad and I were talking and one of us used the word "loophole." William looked up from the place mat he was colouring. 

"What's a 'loophole?'" he wanted to know.

I laughed at the challenge presented by the question and deferred to Pete's younger and more agile brain. He explained that a loophole is when rules are in place for a specific purpose, but someon…

The Gift Strewn Day

I drove my car towards the on-ramp to Highway 400 and noticed the mist hanging close to the ground, although high in the sky the morning sun was up and shining brightly.  

As my car merged with the morning traffic headed for the city of Toronto, to my left stood trees, like layers of delicate silvery lace, backed by ghostly hills; while on my right, through the blanket of swirling fog covering the fields of the Holland Marsh, rose the rooftops of farmhouses, storage sheds and barns. 

Slowly, the lanes of traffic oozed towards the city and tall buildings rose from the mist now tinged with the faint orange hue of smog. I was in awe of the beauty all the same.

That evening, on my way home, I stopped at the Sobey's grocery store in Bradford to pick up a few things. As I loaded the bags into my car trunk, the sky to the west, was deep salmon red on the horizon, fading into the indigo blue of approaching night.

Night was falling fast as I continued home, and by the time I was on the outsk…

Love Story

Like so many dogs, my brother Rob's Staffordshire bull terrier seems to have been "sent on assignment." So far, I'd have to say he is accomplishing his mission because for a small dog, he takes up a big amount of heart space.

Bruce had some big paw prints to fill when he came into Rob's life. Thirty years ago Rob had another Staffordshire bull terrier, the aptly named, Boss.

The first time Rob took Boss out as a puppy, he let him loose on a country path surrounded by fields, thinking that it would be safe. Boss took off like a shot, his little legs running at top speed down the path towards the road. He wouldn't turn back no matter how loudly Rob called, and the only way he could stop him was by overtaking him. 

By the time he was two years old, Boss still wasn't coming when called, and Rob began to wonder what he was doing wrong.  But finally he learned Boss's one weakness; he couldn't bear to be rejected. Rob discovered this when he became so frust…

Life's Small Vanities!

Little vanities? I have them! Not too many. And mine do double duty, being a source of innocent pleasure and laughter at the same time.

Visitors to our house often pause at a photograph of Paul and I on our wedding day.

Inevitably someone will look hard and say, "Has anyone told you, you look like Gwyneth Paltrow?"And I laugh and say modestly, "A few."

My friends have to forgive me taking my small pleasures where I find them. :) One of my few claims to fame is looking like Gwyneth, 44 years ago!

On Friday last week, after a morning meeting, some of our work team went out for lunch together to celebrate the fact that it was almost the end of a week worked hard. It felt good to be almost at the weekend.

Our server was lovely, attentive and pleasant. Someone commented that she was one of those people you just like, with an extra pleasant, friendly personality. As she took my order, she commented on the beauty of the day and her love of the fall.

I love listening when peopl…

Perfection's Name is Love

"In the end, everything must become love. Perfection's name is love."Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Collected Sermons P. 165After I published yesterday's post, I read it again, and thought briefly, "What was I thinking?" 

That thought often occurs when I have been completely honest. The desire to "self edit" rears up, the urge to present my "self" in a better light: to seem more humble--or pleasing in another way--take your pick from the list of common virtues! :) But what I posted was pretty much what I had written in my journal, and was what I really thought about yesterday, and the funny idea of changing what I wrote has a connection with something I was pondering this past weekend. 

It had to do with the basic imperfection that lies at the heart of us all and the way we struggle against its acceptance in ourselves and others.

I started thinking about this, when at the end of my work week, someone that I think of as highly professional, signed…

This Writer's Prayer

During the past couple of days I found time, energy and inspiration--the key ingredients to write anything of worth.

After my Sweet September post, Brave Raven left a lovely comment, quoting some of the lines I had written, and saying that she checks daily for just such a gift. Today in church I thanked her with a hug for the encouragement of her words. She, and a small but loyal band of readers make me want to write my heart out.

I have a target reader, I realize; that unseen and mainly unknown friend for whom I tap out the words on the screen...it is someone who may or may not have faith in God personally, but they are open and "listening." They read here because what I write is down to earth, honest, and sometimes the adventure of my life is funny. I have a list in my head of those I know are reading and I never take them for granted; I treasure and appreciate them.

This afternoon I wrote a writing prayer in my journal, and here it is, just so you know what I'm asking Go…

Sweet September

Honestly-summer this year was exhausting!

July and August were busy at work, with significant change to adjust to, and then on the home front there were all of the emotions that went with the move of our beloved family downstairs into their new home, in August.

So much was going on that there was no energy for some things that I love, especially writing, and I felt that was okay for the time being. But I noticed the world around me; the fields that surrounded our house in August full of an army of soldiers standing row upon row with golden spears in hand. They stood erect and tall awaiting the battle cry, and I admired their fortitude; until one September day I looked out and saw an army of warriors gone to seed; standing now in remembrance of summer past.  

I welcomed September with its sense of returning order and normalcy, even though a "new normal." Tonight rain drummed on our rooftop and skylights and I reflected on a day that felt like a turning point.

Today in the new off…

Uh-oh!

On Tuesday when I came home from work, Paul said,"Belinda, did you drop off the movies at the video store? The video store says that we haven't brought back The Iceman."

I'd started the week on Monday with Paul calling out as I left the house for work, "Could you take  a movie back to the video store on the way?"

"Sure," I said, I had a few spare minutes. And I also grabbed the items waiting on the bottom shelf of the hall table, to be returned to the library. 
I'd dropped everything off at their respective destinations. I remembered checking inside the DVD cases to check that the Rizoli and Isles episodes we'd enjoyed over the weekend, were there, before dropping them into the chute in the outside wall of the library. This wasn't my fault, I was pretty sure, I knew I'd dropped everything off. "Maybe they lost it, " I said to Paul. 

Paul hunted high and low in the den, just in case it was still there, but couldn't find i…

Written in Haste! Read with Humour

I have a running list of things that hang like pegs on a washing line in my brain: Things to be done.
Last week one of these was looming. Our pastor had been busy organizing a "ministry expo," to be held after church on Sunday. All the ministries in the church would have a booth set up to communicate their vision and purpose to church members and have sign up sheets, hopefully to recruit newly interested people who previously had no idea that such a wonderful opportunity existed.

I needed to complete a description of the cell group that meets in our home each Thursday, and use picture frames to display the details. I'd been wracking my brains thinking how to describe "us," then I had the idea of asking the people who come, how they would describe our group.

They brainstormed a number of adjectives and I wished that I had written them all down, they were so good. The basic picture that emerged was of a group that was welcoming, about "family," and where y…

School Days

At 20 minutes to 7, a cheery voice called from the hallway below, "Hello!" 

I looked down over the banister, and shouted a welcome in the direction of the woman with short auburn hair and vibrant blue eyes; my friend Carolyn.

"You're probably thinking I'm early, but I'm not staying," she said, her voice husky with congestion, and coughs punctuating her words.

"I'm sick and I don't want to spread it to everyone else, but I just had to drop off your copy of my book!"

The book, Pine Warbler, is Carolyn's third, and one of the endorsements of her writing, at the beginning of the book, is mine. Exciting!

I followed Carolyn out to her car to pick up another copy of the book from her trunk. A September heatwave has enveloped Ontario and late in the day, the air outside was still hot. Against her protests about not wanting to spread whatever she was fighting off, I hugged her goodbye, and went back inside as she drove off, just as other writing…

All I Really Need to Know...

Tomorrow evening a flock of writing friends will descend on our house and share their individual perspectives on our assignment for September--"School Days." I'm looking forward to it. Some will be funny. Some will be deep. All will be good! I've thought hard, but haven't come up with anything exciting about my own school days. 

I've written about the teachers etched in my memory before. They are forever frozen in time for me, just as they looked in the 1950's and 60's. But I think I'll leave them resting in peace and undisturbed for now. :)

I love the little book by Robert Fulgham, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, but I'm still learning, all the time, and my best lessons don't involve holding hands or even milk and cookies. 

I guess it's all in how you view "education." I continue to learn from books, from other people and from my mistakes (I hate making them, beat myself up when I do, but take consolation i…

White Space

It was just over a week ago that I looked at the massive amount of emails piled up in my in-box at work and decided that I had to do something about them.  Over the next several days I spent time sorting; responding; filing and deleting--until finally--pristine, dazzling white space stared back at me from my computer screen.

Ever since that splendid moment of triumph, I have waged a daily battle to hang on to it.

Partly because it has been such a busy summer at work, I found that I had no energy to write. I was even beginning to wonder if my well of inspiration had dried up--was my season to write, over?

It felt to me; not only about writing, but about a few other things too; as though God had pressed the "pause" button. 

Just like my father, who in gentlemanly fashion always walked on the side closest to the traffic when we were out together, and when were about to cross the street, put his arm across my chest like the barrier at a railroad crossing, holding me back until it wa…

Going with Christ

Saturday dawned. The washing machine slish-sloshed the first of several loads. 

It was golden, warm and sunny and on my agenda I had Friendship Sunday invitations--six of them!

The thought of that sent me to my basket of devotional reading for a few minutes of spiritual muscle building. There is nothing like a leap out of your comfort zone to bring you to your knees, and going out into the neighbourhood with six invitations, qualified.

As I read, I found a prescription for inspiration in a short sermon of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's, delivered on January 1, 1934 in London. January 1st, that universal day of good intentions! 

Bonhoeffer wrote:
So a new beginning is not something one can do for oneself. One can only pray for it to happen... But we can pray only when we have realized that there is something we cannot do for ourselves, that we have reached our limit, that someone else must be the one to begin.

And he went on to speak from his text, Luke 9: 57-62
Luke 9:57-62The Message (MSG) 57 On …