Sunday, March 31, 2013

Our Secret

By Belinda

I just got off the phone with Rob, whom I had called to wish "happy Easter." 

We chatted for about 20 minutes before I mentioned the main thing on my mind (I know, such self control;) the laptop.

"Oh,  no, Belinda" he said, "I didn't get it yet."

"Phew," I thought; but,"Well, you don't want to rush into these things," was what I said. :)

Rob explained (unnecessarily) all the reasons why he hadn't got one yet,  and also mentioned that he hasn't yet got the printer that he bought to use with his camera, up and running yet. 

"Well, these things take time," I said (truly agreeing with the statement this time!)

As we casually chatted, he said that our friends Chris, Eileen and Nel are coming down from Kendal to see him next Saturday.

"I don't know why they are coming," he joked.

I said, "Oh, yes, for your birthday!" 

He laughed.

We ended with me saying that of course I'll be calling him later this week.

Now, I'm still a little tidge worried. He knows me SO well. Both he and Paul are able to intuitively pick up on things that amaze me. We have this crazy thing going on where we read one another's minds before we say a thing, and often start talking about things that the other person is thinking. :)

Does he know? Is my brain safe from his radar?? Only 6 days from now, I will let you know!

Friday, March 29, 2013

For Brenda and Sue

By Belinda

Today after our Good Friday communion service, our family got together for Easter dinner. In the afternoon, I got out the treats I had bought for our six grandchildren. I'd chosen them with care--chocolate hockey players for the two boys, and prettily boxed Belgian chocolates for the four girls. I swear there was nothing on the boxes to indicate that some of the chocolates were liqueurs! To my dismay though, when my daughter-in-law Sue looked at the little paper in the box that described the selection of chocolates, she quickly noticed! 

That resulted in an afternoon of leg pulling and funny stories, including the one below, a favourite that makes us laugh every time someone says, "Remember the time mom parked her car..."

Brenda and Sue suggested that I re-post the story, so here it is....

I was on my way back to the office from a morning meeting; a trip that went right past a Jones of New York store at lunch time. 

The sign advertising a January sale caught my eye. I had half an hour for lunch, so I pulled into the large parking lot of the strip mall and parked my car as close as I could to the store. Then I splashed my way across the parking lot full of   slushy snow, with all speed.

I can power shop with the best, and thirty minutes later, having tried on about ten tops, I emerged with a zippy little black and white one that I liked, for only $14.99!

I fished in my purse for the automatic car starter, pointed it in the direction I'd left my car, while pushing the buttons that start the car and unlock the doors. Then I looked for a car with a running engine. I soon spotted my car. The engine wasn't running but the doors were unlocked. Not surprising; I needed to buy new batteries and the starter didn't always work first time.

As I got in, I noticed that the hand brake was on. I never use the handbrake, so I had the strangest feeling that someone had been in the car. My snow brush was still down on the floor on the passenger side, but I glanced around the car quickly to make sure my briefcase was there.

As I released the handbrake I simultaneously noticed three things: the gloves on the back seat were blue, and mine are black; I realized that this was a standard shift car and mine is not; and I saw that the car had been left in neutral, because it was rolling forward into the lane that ran between the rows of parked cars! As the realization dawned that I was in someone else's car, I desperately hit the brakes to stop it going any further.

The car had stopped halfway across the lane, but I had no way of getting it back to its original position or of knowing who or where the owner of the car was.

I didn't know what else to do, so rather sheepishly I put the handbrake back on, got out and carefully closed the door. Then I went back to innocently looking for my own car.

I imagined the puzzled owner coming back and finding that his or her car had moved forward into the traffic lane. It would be one of life's mysteries to them.

As I glanced over my shoulder, I saw the driver of the vehicle that had been parked across the lane from the moved car, trying with great difficulty to back out into an impossibly tight space. Yes, I admit it, I quickened my pace towards my car.

Warning: never leave your car unlocked in a parking lot. It can be hazardous!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Journey to Easter

Note from Belinda

On this, the second day of Holy Week, I am reflecting on the cost of my salvation and the goodness of God in making it possible.

So often when Paul and I pray in the morning, I thank God that he made himself known to me; expressing gratitude over and over again that he pervades my life such that I cannot imagine living without the knowledge of him. He has transformed and healed so many broken corners of my soul, and still continues to soften and gentle me into his image more truly than I reflect it at this moment.

This morning I read a post written by my dear friend Dave Hingsburger: Loud Speakers versus Quiet Words. I wonder why anyone thinks that they can shout people into the Kingdom of God with words that sound like threats. I know that would have repulsed me. 

Jesus did get angry and use loud words occasionally, but only with the "religious" and the hypocrites. Mostly he was exceedingly gentle, although he never diluted hard truth.

I once wrote a poem once about my journey to God and here it is:

The Journey

Not for me the blinding light
Of a Damascus road,
But then, I was no Saul, no persecutor of Christians
hater of Christ

I walked in two worlds, finding both exciting, beckoning,
as I stood on the threshold of my life

For me, the Spirit’s gentle wooing,
How wise, how wonderful, God’s many ways, of reaching us,
His wayward ones

More and more, I became His, until I saw the world, through strangely different eyes.
Things that once beckoned, now had lost their charm,
As He so gently guided me
away from harm

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Race Between me and a Laptop

By Belinda

Can you believe it--just two weeks from now, on April 6, I will be in Alvechurch, all being well. And I hope that Rob will have been happily celebrating his 60th birthday with me.

So this morning I called him to say hi. He was watching The Grace Kelly Story, but not "watch-watching it," he hastened to assure me. 

Bruce was sitting beside Rob, pressing up against him as firmly as he could and occasionally he giving a little bark as a bird flew by the window or some sound triggered his guarding instinct.

I told Rob that Molson's second litter of puppies had been born and that Molson himself had just had a trip to the beauty shop and was sporting a red bandana and a great haircut.

Then Rob shocked me with a piece of news. "I'm thinking of getting a laptop Belinda," he said.

"Oh, no," I thought; but didn't say of course; mentally calculating how long it would take him to get up to speed on the internet and figure out how to find this blog.

The impetus for the laptop is that he has taken up photography lately and has been enjoying it. And he has realized that a laptop is a great place to store photos and view them. Also his cameras came with CD ROMs that he hasn't been able to use. I sent him my camera manual and he's been reading it in far more detail than I ever did, but now he's ready for more.

"Just think, we could talk on Skype," Rob said. He doesn't have internet, but he has a neighbour who said he can come and use their connection.

 "I can't believe it," I thought. I was so certain that Rob would never, ever, break into cyber space.

Well, it serves me right for being so very sure of myself and sure of what I thought I knew about Rob.

There are just two more weeks to keep the secret and I'm still hoping for a complete surprise, but the race between me and the laptop is adding a certain frisson to the adventure!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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 frustration, misunderstanding, jealousies, anger and hurt. We didn't give up though, because we loved one another.

The prize is true friendship; trust; grace; understanding; acceptance of weakness; and love.

Every time one of my friends graces one of my blurted and too blunt sentences with the words, "But I know you," and we both understand that means the words were interpreted somewhere between mouth and ear, and every time a small thing that shouldn't even hurt, matters, we are leaning into the gift of "hard won" friendship.

We are reaping a harvest from fields dug over, sown with seeds of prayer, long, often painful conversations; and watered with tears of hurt and laughter.

A thing hard won is a very big deal.

(First posted in 2010 and still grateful for those hard won things.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Acts of Faith

By Belinda

It's the weekend, the sun is shining brightly with the promise of spring coming soon, and at many intersections, I notice that colourful signs are stuck into the banks of mud mixed with snow, pointing passersby to the many new housing developments being built in the communities surrounding ours.

As I drove to church this morning, I passed one such sign, pointing towards the town in which we bought our first home, and it made me think of how much I didn't want to leave there when Paul felt "moved to move" closer to his place of work nearly 30 years ago. 

Looking back, I am so glad that we did move back then. Even though that particular move felt like a bit of a disaster for the first few months, it was all part of God's plan to move us into position for the next step in his life plan for us. And that made me think of all the places I didn't want to leave and that I now would not want to go back to; there have been quite a few!

One of my childhood memories, is of my first day at school. On the that day my mother dutifully brought me there, but; painfully shy and insecure; I did not want to go inside that strange and scary place full of strangers. I have no memory of the rest of the day, but I do remember being taken, screaming and crying, with each arm in the firm grip of the teacher, and both feet dragging along the ground, into the school.

I believe that God has a plan for our lives which unfolds as we follow his lead and doing so has resulted in many blessings for which I thank God always. But I haven't always been an enthusiastic participant in the adventure.  I was probably more of a drag on the momentum at times, not so different from my first day at school. 

Pondering this on the way to church made me think of this pattern as a metaphor for other kinds of leavings; letting go of the many things that grip my heart and soul and my reluctance to leave them behind. 

We know what we are leaving, but have no idea of what lies ahead. Looking forward and letting go of what we leave behind, is an act of utter faith worth taking. 

Hebrews 11:1

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)


11 Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Lavish Act of Generosity

By Belinda

Lent, a season of fasting, reflection, preparation and mourning, precedes Holy week; the week leading up to Easter morning--that glorious dawn when the sacrifice of a son breaks the power of hell and offers the free gift of grace to the world.

Last Sunday Paul and I sat in a pew at Yorkminster Citadel Salvation Army Church in Toronto and learned of a different way of celebrating Lent: Forty Acts of Generosity

It was wonderful to learn about; and although it's too late for this year; next year that's the way I want to celebrate Lent. But that's not what this blog post is about.

We were at the church to bear witness to an act of generosity I cannot begin to imagine. One young couple, who found themselves in spite of birth control of the most final kind; unexpectedly (and miraculously) parents-to-be; at a time and stage in their lives when they hadn't planned on a baby. But instead of ending that life in abortion, as some might have done, they felt that this baby wasn't theirs, but that they were having this baby for someone else, thereby opening themselves up to a journey of a kind that only God has ever experienced: Love, heartrending sacrifice, and joy in giving a costly gift.

Through an online adoption website, they found the couple whose baby this was; a couple whose hearts were also so open and generous that they wanted an open adoption, where the birth parents and extended family, would always be part of their child's life. And so it came to be that on this special Sunday in Lent, two couples stood, dedicating this baby; David Joseph Moore; to the Lord.

 Sherry and Jason found Emily and Mike Moore, our friends, Susan and Ron Stewart's, daughter and son-in-law, members at Yorkminster, who were longing for a child.

These photos tell the story better than any words of mine could.

 The colours of the flag represent Goodness; Purity and Love!
Major Heather Ballantine with David Joseph, and below, Emily tells the whole wonderful story.

To God be the glory and may his blessing be upon every member of David Joseph's large and wonderful family.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

So Glad I Saw The End

By Belinda

I reflected on the important things in life recently in a post called What Really Matters. One of the things that writing that post prompted me to do, was to think about not letting opportunities to build memories with grandchildren, slip by in the busyness of work and other commitments.

This past Saturday was Championship Day for the BCHL (Barrie Christian Hockey League,) and my last chance to see three of our grandchildren play this season. I decided that I couldn't miss it--and I'm so glad I didn't!

There were three games--at 1.45; 4.30 and 5.45. I arrived at the first one in time to find my family: son, daughter in law, two grandsons and a granddaughter, there to watch our youngest granddaughter, aged 7, play on the team called the Timbits.

"She's the one in the pink helmet," Pete said.

Across the big ice rink I spotted her behind the glass enclosure, looking ahead as though her mind was somewhere far away, as, indeed, it turned out, it was.

With two older brothers who are excellent hockey players, she thought she wanted to play too. But she knew in her little soul by the second week that it wasn't for her. 

Her parents, though, had paid for the equipment, including that pink helmet, and their youngest daughter being a quitter was not an option. She was told she had to finish the season. 

Little Miss Timbit has a stubborn streak that she comes by honestly, and very effectively demonstrated that body and spirit don't have to show up at the same time and place.

She was physically on the ice, but followed the puck like a weather vane, giving it the scant honour of turning gently in its direction as it passed by.

I had the distinct impression of someone marking time; counting the endless minutes.

Pete told me that she had surprised him this week by saying excitedly, "I can't wait until Saturday!"

"Oh?" he said, thinking that she had had a change of heart.

"Yes," she said, "Hockey will be over!"

I was glad that I witnessed this great effort at reaching the puck! And Pete did say that he saw her skating faster on Saturday than ever before.

Watching this pageant play out was so much fun, as was listening in the van to her interesting explanation as to why she didn't like  hockey. 

Those boys "never passed the puck" and one always did "slapshots." 

The best part in Missy's short hockey career was obviously the trophy that marked The End!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

More Than Gratitude

By Belinda

It was a year ago today that Mum left this world for the next. I wrote about it then, in a post entitled Gratitude. 

Gratitude, not grief; was the overwhelming emotion I felt then, and it has only grown since then. To want more would have been to be ungrateful, grasping, selfish even. How could we not be grateful for all that we had received? How could we not be grateful for the gentleness of her passing? 

I feel her presence often. Not in a weird way, I hasten to say; but it would be rare, when I am singing with the worship team at church, for me not to look at the pew from which she would watch us practice; and not think of her. I see her glowing face, beaming with love and pride; knowing that she was enjoying the moment intensely--and she is there.

I called Rob this morning. "I was up there this morning Belinda," he said; and I didn't have to ask where.

"I put a nice bunch of orange roses, (for the Dutch House of Orange)  and there were some other nice orange and yellow flowers to go with them, on her grave from both of us," he said.

Then he said, "Where I parked my car, I looked across at our old house--there aren't any leaves on the trees, so you can see it clearly--and I imagined her calling, 'Belinda and Robert.' She probably did that a few hundred times." 

He apologized for his voice choking up.

Last May, a couple of months after her death, Rob's elder son, who was there with his younger brother and Rob when she died, shared an experience he hadn't spoken of earlier. 

They had all been holding her, telling her they loved her as she left. When she was gone, Rob and his younger son went with the nurse who was going to help them with the arrangements and paperwork and his eldest son stayed on his own for a few last goodbyes. 

He had always had an exceptionally close relationship with her. She was his childhood playmate who would tie her apron around his waist and let him stand at her sink and help with all sorts of grown up jobs, and always have time to play.

The curtains were closed around her bed, and he kissed her soft cheek one last time and then just stood for a few moments, quietly, beside her bed.    

Then on his shoulders he felt a weight, as though someone had placed a blanket over them. He felt it fall down around his arms.

Whatever that was, or meant, it was a gift, just for him. A gift that said that there is more than we can see. More than just this life.  

We have more than gratitude; we have overwhelming expectation and hope.