Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Dancing for the Rhythm-Challenged

So much happens in a typical week lately, they seem to be lasting forever. I am packing life into them so full, it reminds me of a suitcase bursting at the seams.

Today my parents leave for Cochran Alberta where they will visit my sister for about a week. They will be gone for Thanksgiving, so guess who will be cooking our feast this year? I will of course have some help from my sisters, but I am cooking the pie, the whole chicken with stuffing, and the vegetables. We are going to have one of my sister's famous salads and some fresh rolls.

I am excited for my parent's trip but less thrilled about being left to my own devices for that long. My youngest sister should be back sometime Friday, and I do have a lot of things to do. I have started the afghan that I am making for my sister Linda's wedding in January and that alone could occupy me for hours. I may also see if I have time to take up water colour and other design work.. Who knows what masterpieces (or failed attempts at masterpieces) I could create!

Since I am feeling so much better, it is like I have a new lease on life. My world is full of possibilities again; I just have to be wise enough not to overload myself. Finding a balanced life is key to a successful recovery.

I am looking forward to my own Alberta trip coming up. In the meantime I have a few weeks of volunteering and Bible studies and groups and appointments. 

Learning the rhythms of a life well-lived can be challenging, but thankfully I have a really good dance instructor. Love him! It only takes two to tango!

Monday, October 05, 2015

Monday Morning Meditation

I thought I would share a little of what I have been reading in my devotions, and some passages of Scripture that speak to me today.

The first is from a devotional "Streams in the Desert" which is delivered to my inbox each day:

After a while, the stream dried up because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Kgs 17:7)

The education of our faith is incomplete if we have not learned that there is a providence of loss, a ministry of failing and of fading things, a gift of emptiness. The material insecurities of life make for its spiritual establishment. The dwindling stream by which Elijah sat and mused is a true picture of the life of each of us. “It came to pass … that the brook dried up”—that is the history of our yesterday, and a prophecy of our morrows.

In some way or other we will have to learn the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the Giver. The gift may be good for a while, but the Giver is the Eternal Love.
Cherith was a difficult problem to Elijah until he got to Zarephath, and then it was all as clear as daylight. God’s hard words are never His last words. The woe and the waste and the tears of life belong to the interlude and not to the finale.

Had Elijah been led straight to Zarephath he would have missed something that helped to make him a wiser prophet and a better man. He lived by faith at Cherith. And whensoever in your life and mine some spring of earthly and outward resource has dried up, it has been that we might learn that our hope and help are in God who made Heaven and earth.
—F. B. Meyer

The second is from a longer article from John Piper on Christ's view of repentance:

Repenting means experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience. This change of mind also embraces Jesus in the same way. We know this because Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God.” Seeing God with a new mind includes seeing Jesus with a new mind.
No one is excluded from Jesus’ demand to repent. He made this clear when a group of people came to him with news of two calamities. Innocent people had been killed by Pilate’s massacre and by the fall of the tower of Siloam (Luke 13:1-4). Jesus took the occasion to warn even the bearers of the news: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). In other words, don’t think calamities mean that some people are sinners in need of repentance and others aren’t. All need repentance. Just as all need to be born anew because “that which is born of the flesh is [merely] flesh” (John 3:6), so all must repent because all are sinners.
When Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32), he did not mean that some persons are good enough not to need repentance. He meant some think they are (Luke 18:9), and others have already repented and have been set right with God. For example, the rich young ruler desired “to justify himself” (Luke 10:29) while “the tax collector . . . beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ [and] went down to his house justified [by God!]” (Luke 18:13-14).
Therefore, none is excluded. All need repentance. And the need is urgent. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” What did he mean by perish? He meant that the final judgement of God would fall on those who don’t repent. “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41). Jesus, the Son of God, is warning people of the judgement to come, and offering escape if we will repent. If we will not repent, Jesus has one word for us, “Woe, to you” (Matthew 11:21).
This is why his demand for repentance is part of his central message that the kingdom of God is at hand. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The gospel—the good news—is that the rule of God has arrived in Jesus to save sinners before it arrives at his second coming in judgement. So the demand to repent is based on the gracious offer that is present to forgive, and on the gracious warning that someday those who refuse the offer will perish in God’s judgement.
I love what Piper is saying here that the gospel is good news, but it does involve turning away from sin. As Oswald Chambers explains so well, sins are not just those things we do or fail to do, it is the attitude of our minds that we set ourselves up as god in our lives and do not listen to him or the promptings of his Spirit. We must spread the true gospel which for some is the aroma of life, but for others is so offensive it is like the stench of death. Jesus never compromised his message and neither should we.
The following passages really convict me of the importance of controlling my mouth and what I say and what I chose to think about, view, and listen to. Is it pure, lovely, excellent, admirable, praiseworthy, or of good report? If not, I cannot expect to find the peace of Christ ruling my mind.  It also challenges me not to be greedy with food or to put anything in my day or my plans above God and his purposes for me.

Ephesians 4:25-5:5 (NKJV)
Therefore putting away lying, let every man speak truthfully with his neighbour, for we are members of one another.
Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Do not give place to the devil.
Let him who steals steal no more. Instead let him labour, working with his hangds things which are good, that he may have something to share with him who is in need.
Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace to the listeners. 
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outbursts, and blasphemies, with all malice, be taken away from you.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
Chapter 5
Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children.
Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
And do not let sexual immorality, or any impurity, or greed be named among you, as these are not proper among saints.
Let there be no filthiness, nor foolish talk, nor coarse joking, which are not fitting. Instead give thanks.
For this you know, that no sexually immoral or impure person, or one who is greedy, who is an idolator, has any inheritence in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Hebrews 3:7-13 (NKJV)
Therefore as the Holy Spirit says:
Today if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts
as in the rebellion
on the day of temptation in the wilderness
where your fathers tested Me and tried Me
and saw My works for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation
and said, 'They always go astray in their heart,
and they have not known My ways.'
So I swore in My wrath,
'They shall not enter My rest.' (quote from Psalm 95:7-11)

Be attentive brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, and you depart from the living God.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today" lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
For we become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence firmly to the end.

We are partakers in Christ's divine nature... We have the mind of Christ. Let us work, day by day, and moment by moment, to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind! If only I would remember that truth always, in thick and fray of life!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sunday afternoon Serendipity

Today I was in Kids' Church. We were learning about prayer and there were only three children there. The kids had had a long morning and they were having difficulty listening, but they did enjoy the craft and settled down enough to review what they had been learning this summer and fall so far. At the end I was treated to a gymnastic routine and some highland dancing... lovely!

It is too bad to miss the sermon, but I can listen online later, so it's all good. Last night I went to a dinner and concert at Redeemer University College. It was a wonderful evening. I was a little concerned about attending alone, but it wasn't bad. I ran into a class-mate's father again who now attends there at age 70! This makes it four times I have met him in the last few weeks. Small world! I also received a gift for becoming a member of Redeemer, so they weren't really making money off of me, especially since the delectable meal and concert were free. Such glorious music I have rarely heard in my life. I met some teachers who graduated in 2014 and were up north near the Manitoba border teaching. Their stories were very inspiring. I even chatted with the man who was president of Redeemer during my time there: Dr. Justin Cooper. I saw the pastor from my childhood and youth there as well, but spent more time talking to his kind and beautiful wife.

I have also been volunteering for my local political candidate and it's been an adventure so far. Next week my parents are out West visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and four grandchildren, so I will be left to my own devices except for my appointments, which are considerable. I should find plenty of time to volunteer while they are gone however. I also will be cooking a Thanksgiving meal for the first time. My Mom always has done it previously with very little help from me. I will cook up a chicken with stuffing and potatoes and there just has to be some kind of pie as well for dessert. My sister has agreed to handle the salad... This will be a true test of my abilities in the kitchen.

Last week I went to a Bible study on Wednesday evening and proceeded to win the most beautiful gift basket which was the only door prize there. I thought to myself, "I must not pray to win this door prize," but then I did win it... I guess God has his own ideas. Sometimes I suspect he has a sense of humour!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Saturday Night Reads: "Julie" by Catherine Marshall

I have been working on an amazing book that I want to share about, but I haven't quite finished it, so I will turn to an old favourite by Catherine Marshall called "Julie." This book is very autobiographical and tells the story of eighteen year-old Julie Wallace, who moves to a mining town in Pennsylvania in 1934, together with her family. Her father, who was a former pastor who was basically politically manoeuvred out of his church, is taking over a struggling newspaper. Julie, who has aspirations to become a writer, discovers that her new town is controlled by powerful people who care nothing for the town or the environment. Much like Nancy Drew, she sleuths and uncovers a story of greed and malevolence few could have guessed at.

Her father is assisted in his fight by a secretive Christian society who Julie at first mistrusts and later admires. The Wallace family and a newcomer, who becomes a local pastor, fight for justice and truth against great odds. Julie herself is torn between two very different men, one a man of the world and the other the pastor, who is a man of ideals for social justice.

The book ends dramatically, and the story will likely captivate you, if you enjoyed Catherine Marshall's more well-known book entitled "Christy," which was made into a television series. Of the two books my favourite is "Julie;" I like most books about women who lived long ago and have dreams of being writers. I also enjoy L.M. Montgomery's Emily books as well as "The Story Girl" and "The Golden Road" and all things "Anne of Green Gables."

Friday, October 02, 2015

Friday Night Flicks: Dead Poet's Society

One of my favourite touching films set in a high school, albeit a boarding school back when radios were just getting in the hands of young people, is "Dead Poet's Society" directed by Peter Weir. I love the portrayal of the students, the two room-mates Neil Perry, played by Robert Sean Leonard, and Todd Anderson, played by a young Ethan Hawke, and their interactions; the final touching scene never fails to make me cry. The advice from the Romantic Poets "to suck the marrow out of life" is a Carpe Diem "Seize the Day" kind of inspiration.

I love the scene where the teacher, played by Robin Williams as John Keating, the kind of person who lives to provoke barbaric yelps from the most unassuming, tells them to rip the page out of their books. Equally good are the cave scenes where the guys impress some local girls by quoting Romantic poetry as if they had written it themselves.

It is sad to see how one father crushes his son's dreams to be an actor and even sadder when the young man decides seizing the moment means ending his own life. As a teen I sympathised more with the young man, but as I got older I could kind of see the father's perspective a little more.

"To Sir with Love" is great. Some more recent movies about inner city schools have been touching, but for me nothing matches the dramatic intensity and depths of passion of "Dead Poet's Society"!

Friday Morning Journal

For this journal we are going back all the way to 1992 for the 125 year birthday celebration of Canada, when my family took our minivan and trailer all the way to Vancouver Island and back through the Northern States. This passage is taken from pages 40 and 41 of an 85 page journal. We are in Victoria, BC visiting my Mom's brother and his partner.

Tuesday July 7, 1992

Last night Uncle Al said something about cougars living on the island. Karen got all scared. She made me go out to the trailer first. We were really hyper last night. We acted sister-weird. We were doing a strange routine. I was doing things like a soldier and Karen like a ballerina. I was just chanting, "I am a sold-" I stopped- a man was staring at us. Karen followed my vision. We collapsed under a tree and laughed and laughed. "He must have thought we were dweebs," I said. Karen agreed.

We went to another museum. It was a nice museum but I have had enough of museums for five years. We had a normal lunch. At least I did. We had fish soup. Ew! Now we're going to the beach for a hike.

China Beach was beautiful. To get there you had to go on a hike though the woods. The trees were high and wide. We collected a few shells, waded in the ocean, and Karen and I built a sand castle. We called it Frogshead Castle. After awhile the tide went in so we made it so the water would fill the moat first. We were almost leaving when we found two more pretty shells. It's such a bother to take your shoes and socks on again... your feet are wet so I walked right into the water with my shoes to clean the shells. My shoes got all wet and they felt awful. Now we are heading back to Uncle Al's.

I have two postcards in the journal. One of a Grizzly Bear and one of Canadian geese. I also have taped in a collection of wildflowers labelled as to where I got them. I still have some of the rocks and shells I collected on this epic trip, the 1992 den Boer BC tour , as our Aunt Carol labelled it.

Thursday, October 01, 2015


"O God you are my God. Earnestly I seek you, my soul longs for you. In a dry and weary land where there is no water." David wrote these words in the Psalms, and I think every one can relate to being in a desert place. There is just a barren expanse every where you look. It is scorching during the day and freezing at night. You have little food and even less water. Your throat is dry and parched.

Jesus once spent 40 days in the wilderness without food or much water and then he was tempted by Satan. He stood the test, but I confess that three hours without food and I would definitely fail the test. I get so grumpy! My cousin calls it hangry, which is a mix of angry and hungry... not fun to be around a hangry person.

Longing for God as much as you long for water. That is basically longing for life that only God can bring. A dry and weary land is a place where you meet your calling. There in the valley, in the wilderness you find your purpose and you find God! For when you seek him you will find him, when you seek him with all your heart!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whimsical Wednesdays: Guilt

Suzanne den Boer, grade 7

It happened again
Someone was picked on by "them"
It was mean
I saw tears well up in her eyes
I know how she felt
I know she was hurt
It has happened to me before
Yet I didn't say anything
I didn't tell her I understood

They wanted to feel cool
They thought by putting her down
They would make themselves look better
I know why they did it
I've done it before
Why didn't I stand up for her?
Was I afraid they would have picked on me?

Comment: I wrote Guilt in Mrs. Heeg's literature class in grade seven. I remember recording myself reading it on tape to play for the class.

This is another poem from my Writer's Craft Anthology. It is not very advanced as far as craft, but it captures my emotions about bullying quite well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I am back from a lovely vacation. In Ottawa I spent time with John and his new girlfriend, the kind and beautiful Camille. We ate out in great restaurants, spent some time in John's apartment, and went to a tea shop where I got a vanilla green tea that was superb. We sat out in the street and were treated to the talents of a street musician. We also biked along the waterways which was so much fun! In Montreal we camped out in Rachel and Joel's well-appointed apartment and were served two amazing breakfasts and a scrumptious supper. We went to see a photography exhibit and we also went to a comic book event. I bought one of the comics which are pretty funny... although some in the crowd were offended, a rather vocal minority, who didn't see the joke. For them, it just wasn't funny to poke fun at sacred cows, namely Canada's indigeneous issues, and the residential schools. To be fair, the author did not really poke fun at the expense of the Native peoples, but for some this is no laughing matter ever.

A highlight of the weekend was seeing the blood red moon. We didn't see the full eclipse as by that time we were in bed. Still it was pretty spectacular! That was Sunday night. Sunday morning we attended a wonderful service with Rachel and Joel. All in all it was a great weekend. I will show some pictures later. Another great thing was the crape I had with blueberries, strawberries, chocolate and cream on Sunday afternoon.

It is also good to be home. I have some work to do tidying up my room. I have Bible study with morning again which I always enjoy. I think I may have something this afternoon as well.

Life in Canada is good! We are fortunate to live here. Some people in the world do not have the blessings we sometimes fail to even notice, like running water and electricity and a selection of shoes. Or even a home that keeps out the rain and snow. Many people do not even have a room of their own.

I am blessed to be in my family. My parents are kind and considerate people. My sisters are lovely and good. My brother is kind with a good sense of humour. I am looking forward to January when we will all be together again for Linda's and Mike's wedding.

A good point that Rachel and Joel's pastor made was that it is not about our happiness. That will follow as a matter of course. But actually we should be seeking first the kingdom of God, and only then will all these things be added unto us. It was a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and what kingdom goals entail. Happiness is not the object. It is a by-product of a life well-lived, wherever you find a place to lay your head.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Friday Journal (on Thursday afternoon) Sunday, Sept 17, 2006

May you live all the days of your life. Jonathan Swift.

September 17, 2006

This is my first entry in what I hope will be a journal chronicling the journey as I begin to explore my dreams and aspirations. About a month ago I had my last day at the worst job I have ever endured. The work wasn't difficult or challenging but the atmosphere was toxic and my performance reflected it. At the beginning of September, still job-less, I moved from my parent's home to my own apartment, newly turned 26 years of age. Meanwhile I went through an application process to be an occasional student at McMaster Divinity College so I could take a course in New Testament Greek with the hope of doing postgraduate work in biblical studies I have been interviewing Redeemer professors to obtain advice.

Last week, in answer to prayer, I miraculously obtained an office position in Burlington with a boss who was willing to accommodate my course. Maybe it is not a miracle but it is a definite blessing from a Father who knows how to give good gifts and provides for his children what they need. I start the position tomorrow, so this entry will be brief since I should get to bed soon.

I really sense God is watching over me and directing my steps. I think I will find the purpose I was created to fulfill. I am rereading the Purpose Driven Life and I am on day 14 and it is very encouraging and inspiring. Today was a wonderful Sunday with two good messages; one from Mark Knetzch about the valley of dry bones. God's spirit gives life to the hopeless and Jesus has accomplished our salvation.

Well, I should get to bed so I can be up for 6:45 am tomorrow. The rest will have to wait for another day.

My next entry in the journal was not until January 1st, 2007 and my last was August 15, 2015. I have so many journals; entries are sporadic at best. This journal is only for my deepest things and dreams.

A Blogging Break!

I am going away this weekend to see family, which I am really excited about. I will see Rachel in Joel in Montreal and John and his new girlfriend Camille in Ottawa.

There will be no posts from Friday afternoon until Tuesday morning. I will enjoy spending time with family and will not be bringing my laptop along. I will however, be taking along my camera so I may have pictures to share.

If I have time I may post something before I leave on Friday morning... We will see... Really pumped about this time away!

Some one will still be home, so the house will not be empty... Just going with my parents and a barbeque!

A Firm Footing

John Milton, if I can recall back to the time a long time ago when I was an English major/Religion major, once wrote "They also serve who stand and wait." He was considering how "his light" is "spent," after suffering from blindness near the end of his life.

Waiting is an art form. Not knowing where you are headed, what you will do when you get there, and why you are in a holding pattern in the first place, can be tough. It is only trust that allows you to wait for answers or for some sign you will be okay.

I am well in body and in spirit and my mind is healing as well. God's blessings are upon me and I know Jesus Christ is with me, walking beside me, and maybe at times carrying me.

Yesterday I went to a celebration of the program I have attended since I was a teenager at 19. It is a wonderful program called Cleghorn. I have had the same doctor since I began and she is excellent. They started Cleghorn ten years ago. Before that they were at McMaster with the 3G clinic. It was wonderful to see how Jock Cleghorn began advocacy and research work back in 1986 and to see the photos of my nurse and doctor in their younger years. I also saw my old occupational therapist there, who has since retired and is married to another doctor I once had.

I met a class-mate's father there and heard the wonderful news about what is going on in his life and that of his family. It was a very encouraging and fun time. I arrived home in time to make supper.

I am very blessed to have the medical care that I do; thanks to the work of people like Jock Cleghorn, my doctor, and my nurse who raised awareness and continue to help people regain their lives. They are an inspiration and I admire them.

I am grateful for how God took me through this summer and gave me a firm place to set my feet. Life is not the same, but it is actually better!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Whimsical Wednesdays- "Winter Ballet"

I wrote this poem in grade 12 English class. I included it in an anthology I did for Writer's Craft in OAC's. It was inspired by my time out in the country, lying in the snow-covered field  at my grandparent's house.

Winter Ballet

Pixie dust whirls around
My soft down-covered bed
A white blanket muffles the countryside.
As far in the distance
A whistle calls.
A dog barks,
And my heart
Beats a steady rhythm.

Lost in the white silence,
The gentle breath of wind,
The swirl of flakes,
I rest in winter's embrace.
I breathe out icy clouds
Which swirl away
To join
The ballet of the snow.

Just for fun. Here is a poem I wrote at school when I was eight from the same anthology. I illustrated it as well with a picture of a whale and a black haired observer leaning out from the sea, perhaps on a boat. I have left the spelling errors and improper lines in for a more authentic feel.

O Great Whale I love your tail for it is
very pretty. But great Whale why are
they taking you to the city? Will they turn 
you into rocks What about pink pokadots? O Great
Whale I love your tail. But I am filled with pitty
for you are going to the city.

A Spring Whose Waters Don't Fail

When I think about all the many ways God has blessed me in my life, my heart overflows with gratitude. Sometimes I get distracted and start to consider my problems. Jesus said, "You will say to this Mountain, be cast into the sea..." and it will be done.

I am trying to discern my calling. There are many things I could do, but I can't choose all of them. I will be going back to work in time, but I also have a sense I am to pursue biblical studies and writing and teaching the word of God. I will be volunteering in the meantime and even there I will have to chose carefully.

Thankfully I enjoy Bible studies so much, it does not drain but energizes me. I will start work part-time so I can ease into working again. I am travelling to see family this weekend and later I will be visiting my sister in Cochrane, Alberta for a few days. By the time I come back I should be up for a challenge.

Waiting patiently is not my strong suit. Worry is my downfall, but I will learn how to trust God with everything in my life. He has a plan and he has a purpose in mind. It is only for me to discover where my giftings and vocation will lead me. Jesus has reassured me it will be an adventure and that he has my back. He won't ever let me drown in my problems and doubts. He gives living water and it will become like a spring bubbling out of me! He will renew my strength and trust, and he will never let me go.

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