Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Not a Mystery, Nor a Misery

One of the many delights of visiting my sister in Cochrane, Alberta on the beautiful campus of Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, nestled in the foothills of the Great Rockies, was the seminary library. To a bibliophile like myself, I was overwhelmed with the wealth of books on topics I love and care passionately about. One treasure I got out of the library on the last evening there was Elizabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart. What follows is an excerpt from one of many short meditations from her newsletter. It is from a devotion entitled "Ever Been Bitter?"

Elliot had been talking about hard things in your life, and times you ask "Why?" and how God responds to your honest questions and doubts. She continues that why questions are sometimes only human and natural, but that there is a distinction to be made between allowing the why questions to embitter you and using the why questions to draw you further into God's embrace and seeking Him and his will for your life:

  • "When we begin to doubt His love and imagine that He is cheating us of something we have a right to, we are guilty as Adam and Eve were guilty. They took the snake at his word rather than God. The same snake comes to us repeatedly with the same suggestions: Does God love you? Does He really want the best for you? Is his Word trustworthy? Isn't he cheating you? Forget His promises. You'd be better off if you do it your way.

  • I have often asked why. Many things have happened which I didn't plan on and which human rationality could not explain. In the darkness of my perplexity and sorrow I have heard Him say quietly, Trust Me. He knew my question was not the challenge of unbelief or resentment. I have never doubted that He loves me, but I have sometimes felt like St. Teresa of Avila who, when she was dumped out of a carriage into a ditch, said, 'If this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few'" (Keep a Quiet Heart, Eliot, pg 45).

Elliot goes on to discuss Job and how she thinks he was not so patient, but always honest. She points to Job 16 as an example of how forthright Job could be with God. In this passage he complains "O God, you have ground me down and devastated my family. You have reduced me to skin and bonesas proof they say, of my sins. God hates me and tears angrily at my flesh. He gnashes his teeth at me and pierces me with his eyes. People jeer and laugh at me. They slap my cheek in contempt. A mob gathers against me. God handed me over to sinners. He has tossed me into the hands of the wicked" (Job 16: 7-11, The New Living Translation). Job is just getting warmed up in his diatribe, going on to say he had just been minding his own business when God broke him apart and made him a target; He does end by expressing his longing for a mediator, confessing he has a witness and advocate in heaven, despite the fact he will soon go "down that road" from which he "will never return."

Elliot closes by listing five Scriptures, stating the matter is not a mystery, but there are "clear reasons." She lists the following passages about suffering and joy, which I have taken from the New Living Translation:

1 Peter 4:12-13

Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very gladbecause these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.

Romans 5: 3-4
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good
for usthey help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Paul, speaking of his thorn in the flesh, that he begged to be delivered from on three occasions, explains:

Each time he (God) said, "My gracious favour is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.

John 14:31

Jesus facing the cross, during the Last Supper, states:

but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let's be going.

Colossians 1:24
Pauls writes to the church in Colosse:
I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am completing what remains of Christ's sufferings for his body, the church.

Hard stuff and suffering, while it naturally leads to why questions, need not end in misery, resentments, and despair, but rather in perseverance, joy, trust, and peace, knowing we have a Heavenly Father who cares enough to hear our railing against Him and His ways. How we can produce joy out of suffering and trials is a holy process that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish in us, if we will ask him. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Comforts

Enjoying my time in Alberta! Just loving the mountains, spending time with my nephews and nieces, my sister, and brother in law. We went on a hike yesterday that was glorious! Such loveliness makes me grateful to be alive!

My nephews and nieces are fun to hang out with and so adorable. It is good to witness my sister and brother in law's parenting  as well. I loved the
church they now attend right in town and was inspired by the message and rousing singing. The pastor spoke on the importance of gratitude, forgiveness, and generosity and how they naturally flow from one another. The Bible study was also very encouraging and beneficial. My sister says I can read the book they are studying before I go. It is about the Holy Spirit.

I was trying to write a post while playing Catan which doesn't work. Now going to read my nephew a story.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Westward Bound

I am embarking on another adventure. Today I had WRAP group (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) which was a positive experience and then I stopped in at the museum in the building and met a wonderful volunteer and another outpatient who was lovely to chat with. But first I went to lunch at the Colour's Cafe and had a grilled cheese on rye with tomato. After that I went to Mohawk College briefly before walking to the library. I got a new book on writing your healing story and an interesting book on indie books to read. Afterwards I ran into my old next door neighbour who was on her way to shop and offered to drive me home first. I got home just as my mother was arriving home from work.

Tomorrow my true adventure begins. I am going out west to visit my sister in her community near Calgary. It will be beautiful this time of year in the mountains and foothills. I will be staying at the residence on campus, so I should sleep well. My sister is taking only one day off, but Clint has his reading week while I am there. I will get to attend church with them and babysit the kids at least once.

I am very much anticipating getting reacquainted with my sister and brother-in-law, and spending time with my nieces and nephews. They are all getting so much bigger since I last saw them. Julie and Owen I saw at Rachel's wedding, but Ethan and Charity I haven't seen since Charity was a baby when I went out to Saskatchewan with my parents.

I hope we will spending some time hiking and just talking. I am probably bringing along my afghan, which I have to get done for January and does not in the least resemble an afghan yet. I will be helping my sister out around the house, with dishes, supper ect. and also playing with my nephews and nieces so I may not get much done on the afghan anyways. I am also taking along some books, because what is a vacation without reading?

My flight leaves at 6:35 am, so I will be up super early tomorrow. I won't be taking my laptop, so I am not sure if I will blog at all while I am there. We will see I guess. I will take my digital camera because I want some pictures of my nephews and nieces especially.

My good friend has an MRI tonight so she will up very late and sleeping in. Whereas I will be up at 4:30 am. Praying for her, for answers and a good report!

Days of Despair (a reprise)

Blackness engulfed me and depression held my mind in its iron grip. My thoughts oppressed me with ridiculous stories, which I foolishly believed. I thought that I had killed my sisters and that I had written a Francine Rivers novel. The new year brought more confusion and a refusal to care for myself.

Tuesday, January 6, I entered St. Joseph's hospital under the Mental Health Act. Given a choice of pill or needle, I chose neither, and ended up being held prisoner of six pairs of hands while someone pulled down my pants and another person needled me on the butt. When I entered fourth floor psychiatry, they first put me in a room with three other people. I was so paranoid about other people they had to give me my own room. Among the jumble of images and impressions of my early hospitalization, I remember trying to climb the bed's bars to "escape," being practically dragged by two nurses to the bathroom, and yanking out my IV tube. I don't remember the early visits people made. In fact, there is a whole block of time where I don't know what happened. In the beginning, the nurses had to help me with everything, including bathing. I spent much of my time in bed.

Eventually I grew well enough to take care of my own hygiene and eat properly. I went off constant care; I was permitted to go home for a few hours the last week in January. My greatest desire was to go home for good. In February, I eventually was allowed to stay entire weekends at home. Agonizingly long weeks passed. I went through two and half $5 calling cards making home calls home. I steadily improved until finally, on March 13, I was officially discharged.

This is a piece of writing I wrote in Writer's Craft, shortly after my hospitalization at age 17. Of all of my times in the hospital, I think it was the hardest. The Marion wing at Saint Joseph's hospital was truly a prison for me. Back then there was a smoking room and they gave you pop with every single meal. My room was a bubble room, so my Mom put Chirpy my teddy bear from my babyhood in the window. There were no curtains on the windows and the view showed the busy street below. My family doctor came to visit me regularly to check how I was doing and I had a tutor, BJ Robinson, who helped me with school work and regaining my brain function. Mrs. Rooks came and gave me a card from my classmates and a journal, and many of my classmates would come at visit when they could. I still have two huge teddy bears from that time, as well as a quote calender called "God's love" and a beautiful gift book and journal. I had many, many visits and cards from people in my church community, all of which I have kept as a reminder of their love and support.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

There Will Be a Light

Yesterday was a bit of a rough day. After spending ten hours canvassing supporters to request them to vote (most of them did), the candidate I was supporting did not get elected. I do not agree with many of Justin Trudeau's stands on certain important issues, but he is now going to be prime minister. As a nurse and mental health advocate, I disagree with his stand on marijuana, which I think is now potent enough to be dangerous to teens' and youth adults' mental health. As a Christian who values life, I am disappointed by his stand on the issues of abortion and euthanasia, and his silencing of those members in his party who disagree with his position. As a citizen, I am puzzled by his flip-flopping on certain issues, and I hope he is, in fact, more substantial than he at first appears. I am concerned we may no longer be such strong allies with Israel, which I personally feel is important.

However we have prayed over this election and the candidates, and I have to believe this is God's answer. For whatever reason God has in mind, Trudeau is now at the helm and I will pray for him to have wisdom and understanding beyond his years and experience. He will guide this country for the next four years, spending billions of dollars to advance his chosen causes, much like Obama did for his country. Let us hope it will not result in the same amount of debt as the United States now faces.

After such a tough night, it was good to attend Bible study this morning and to be reminded about the rest of God. Historically Christians have shined brightest when under threat and from the sidelines of power. We now have a challenge to keep on showing the love of Christ even in our country's darkest moments and in uncertain times, when Christian values are being rejected by our culture. Let us continue to value our seniors and those who are vulnerable. Let us continue to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in other countries. Let us keep on fighting for those who have no voice! This is the time to rise from our complacency and realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers and principalities in this dark world. We have a light that will illuminate the darkest night and guide our feet into the paths of peace. This light will never be extinguished!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Election Day

Today is the big day! I am volunteering all day. Hopefully there will be a celebration this evening with all the volunteers and campaign staff for the candidate I am supporting.

This will just be a short message to say, I hope you will get out and vote today (if you are Canadian)! It is important to engage as active citizens in our democratic nation and it is our duty to vote. I know sometimes it seems like one vote won't make a difference, but it does!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

For This One Hour by William Arthur Ward

For this one hour I can be grateful.
I can thank God for life itself, for opportunities, for friends, and for a hundred other blessings and privileges to be counted, cherished and enjoyed.
For this one hour I can be cheerful.
Equipped with a smile, a song, and a sunny disposition, I can transform the atmosphere, enrich my environment, and brighten the day for others.
For this one hour I can be optimistic.
Striking a happy medium between the pessimist and the Pollyanna, I can realistically and confidently expect good things to happen to me and through me.
For this one hour I can spend some time in prayer.
I can pause to recharge my spiritual batteries, renew my mental perspectives, refresh my physical energies and replenish my faith in God and my fellowman.
For this one hour I can be unselfish.
I can take the Golden Rule off the shelf, dust it, unwrap it, and put it to work in my thoughts, words, and actions right now.
For this one hour I can look for the best in others.
It may take some diligent searching, patient seeking, and careful screening, but I will work at it, even as I want others to look for the best in me.
For this one hour I can help make someone happy.
I can do it through a word of encouragement or comfort, or perhaps by a helping hand, and understanding touch, and empathetic look, a telephone call, a letter, or a visit.
For this one hour I can be forgiving.
I can leave the lowlands of resentment, grudges and bitterness and rise to the highlands of understanding, love and forgiveness.
For this one hour I can be generous.
I can listen quietly and attentively when others want to talk. I can look for opportunities to give a well-deserved compliment to someone who needs it most.
For this one hour I can live in the present.
Now is the only time I have and I can use this hour wisely as a personal and precious gift from God.

This meditation was saved by my Grandma. There is some great advice in there! I wanted to post it once I read it this morning.

Like A River

It is only one day until the Federal election. I spent yesterday morning and a good part of the afternoon delivering door post flyers to remind supporters to vote. On my team were two dynamic high school students, who proved invaluable at directing me through Ancaster. These two girls, who were fifteen and sixteen, were pretty amazing. Normally I do not feel comfortable driving in Ancaster as there are so many roads that seem to have no idea which way they are going to wind next, and to me it just seems like some kind of complex maze I have never figured out. Also there is not always a safe place to park. We did three (or was it four?) polls and the weather cooperated by being sunny and not too cold.

I am glad to have had the opportunity to work on this campaign, as I have met so many like minded people and rarely are they anything but positive. When you are on a team like that, there is a camaraderie and a joy in working for a common goal. Even when you yourself are having a bad day, you can't stay unhappy for long.

Sometimes I think, I wouldn't even have worked with my candidate, had I not went through this terrible spring and summer and been unable to work for so many months. I begin to see a purpose even in something that still sometimes seems unfair. In a world where doctors communicated with other doctors and didn't base their decisions on what the patient happens to be saying, it wouldn't have happened. 

But what ifs have never been particularly productive, as a line of thought. The fact is, it did happen and I am forever changed by it. Since most of the changes are positive, I guess I can live with that. This could be preparing me for future fruitful work, or it could be forcing me to transform and reform my ways of thinking and relating to people.

Last night Don Cherry said it so well: It is all Canadians' responsibility and duty to vote. After the sacrifices of so many so we would live in a free, peaceful county, we owe it to Canada to cast our ballot for the candidate we believe will best represent us. While no politicians are ever perfect, we must honour our leaders and also pray for them. We must pray that justice will roll down like a river, and that righteousness will return to our land.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Saturday Evening Reads: "Step Aside, Pops. A Hark A Vagrant Collection" by Kate Beaton

I had never heard of the dynamo that is Kate Beaton until I went to Montreal to visit my sister and her husband. She has had a long and glorious career on the Internet and my sister had often visited her site. So the evening of the lunar eclipse we went across the street to a talk by Kate Beaton and a friend of hers, whose name I unfortunately do not, at this time recall. She was an excellent interviewer, however, and not a forgettable person.

Needless to say, Kate Beaton and her writer friend had an interesting exchange, before opening the floor to questions from the mostly appreciative audience. Before it started, I decided to buy an autographed book of her newest collection. I think it was only twenty-five dollars, which for a hard cover comic book is a steal.

Kate Beaton makes ancient and less ancient history accessible, and she does so comically. She is positively delightful for someone like me, who flirted with the idea of majoring in history, before I focused on English and Religion. I have taken so many history courses it might as well have been my minor...

From the first comic "Chopin and Liszt" to the the last page about "Katherine Sui Fun Cheung" who, incidentally, I have never heard of, but apparently she was an early aviator who kicked some feminist butt, the collection is refreshingly funny with excellent comic timing and superb delivery. I haven't read it all yet, but rest assured I soon will!

Of course some may be offended by some of the comics, as did happen at the talk. However, I think it pays to have a sense of humour, even about some sacred cows. This book is a New York Times best seller for a reason! Kate Beaton is comic gold and a genius of epic proportions. So fortunate to have stumbled across her, as sometimes I just need to laugh at life, and not be so intense and serious all the time.

If you appreciate history and consider yourself to have a good sense of humour, I highly recommend you order this book on Amazon or at your local bookstore. You will learn more about history rather effortlessly and by osmosis. Kate Beaton has logged many hours at researching her comics from her humble beginnings when she was working in Alberta, until now, when every one who knows comics recognizes her as a rising star, even if they don't agree with her viewpoint.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Night Flicks (500) Days of Summer

Ever since "Ten Things I Hate About You" I have appreciated Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and he has only gotten better over the years. In (500) Days of Summer he is an aspiring architect who somehow settled down as a greeting card writer. He believes in true love and soul mates and is convinced Summer Finn (Zooey Deshanel) is it. Their up and down relationship is the basis for the film. This film plays with a non-chronological style, such as in the earlier film, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", and five hundred days with Summer turns out to be a quirky, offbeat journey that explores why certain people click as partners and others end up fighting all the time.

(500) Days of Summer is not your conventional romantic comedy, but it is funny and romantic. Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes you care about his character and his journey. The ending is perfect! In case you haven't already seen this film, I won't give it away. I will just say, watch this movie sometime and enjoy!

Friday Morning Journal: Wednesday July 15, 1992

In 1992, the year Canada turned 125, my family went on a cross-country trek. I was nearly twelve at the time and Rachel turned three on the way out. We entertained her by a "Frieda Fuzzypaws" book that by the end of the trip we all had memorized. We also played a jelly bean game with various ways to earn a jelly bean such as finding all the letters of the alphabet or counting herds of cows on your side and graveyards on the other side. We went through Northern Ontario and down the transCanada highway, but we went back through the US. By July 15 we were in Yellowstone Park. 

I have corrected some of the more obvious spelling errors. I spelt spaghetti wrong, for example. I am not sure of my spelling of some of the places and gysers.

Wednesday July 15, 1992

It was cold this morning. I just want to lay in bed. We ate breakfast and packed up quickly. We are hoping we can get a site in Yellowstone this time. We stopped for gas for a long time. Karen says it will make use lose our site.

After waiting about half an hour we got a campsite at Madison in Yellowstone. Now we are going to see Yellowstone. I saw boiling streams that could burn you. Now we are going to see a waterfall. Oops! I forgot to mention a lot of trees around here are black on the bottom and don't have any leaves. They are dead because of a big fire they had in Yellowstone four years ago. It started by lightning and raged on for days. All along this road you see hot springs. They steam alot and stink like sulfur.

We went on a hike and saw alot of hot springs and gysers at the Norris Gyser Basin. I saw the Echinus gyser erupt. Hot water came up (really high) and there was lots of steam. Mom says it's because the water gets so hot underneath, it has to jump up. It's kind of like when you boil water it bubbles. I saw another gyser that was only two days old. It was erupting. Another gyser was only small but it used to be a major gyser before someone threw rocks in it.

We just stopped for lunch. Peanut butter sandwhiches, bananas, and muffins. There are some mountains around here. They're beautiful but nothing compared to the Canadian Rockies.

There was a fly on Mom's hat. She shook it off out the window. Her whole hat flew out the window! We had to back up and get it.

We went to Mamooth Hot Springs. Basically what it was was some weird rock formations in some places white like snow. There were hot springs and there was even a hot waterfall.

I saw a herd of elk by the road. There was a man standing on the road taking pictures of them. Dad got a little upset and said, "Excuse me sir."

We went to see Old Faithful. (Mom and Rachel stayed in the van). We were all thirsty and Dad went to buy us some pop. A couple minutes after he left Old Faithful erupted. It went up for about three minutes. By the time Dad came back it was over. We went back to the van. The parking lot was busy so we all, except Linda, decided to go for a walk. We saw more neat gysers and hotsprings. 50 min after we saw Old Faithful erupt we saw it again. Old Faithful isn't as faithful as it used to be. It used to do it every 60 min. but now it's a little off because of an earthquake. I saw three cow elks running right by the gysers into a river. They are so graceful.

We stopped to see some paint pots. They are bubbling mud kind of like hot springs except dirtier. One reminded us of boiling porridge and one of red bubbling medicine. It is almost supper. Well I have to pump up the air mattress.

We had spaghetti for supper. It was delicious.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

His Girl

"Be of good courage... Take heart!" How many times does God say that in the Bible through his prophets or to his people? I have never counted them, but there seems to be multiple occasions God tells his children not to fear.

Fear is the opposite of faith. Perfect love drives out fear, so the person who fears has not been made perfect in love. I must admit my anxiety can cripple me, and I can sometimes give into fear and allow it mastery over myself.

The thing is though, I shouldn't be afraid, as the God of angel armies fights for me, Jesus Christ is interceding for me at God's right hand, and the Holy Spirit is with me to comfort and guide me at all times. So when I wake up from a nightmare and can't fall back asleep, or when I think about my future choices with a sense of dread, that's when I need to talk to God. He can take my honest concerns and he can also take away my fear, dread, and anxiety.

"Cast all your anxieties on him for him, for he cares for you." I need to heed those words of Peter, the great apostle. God hides me in the safety of his embrace, and he sets me high on a rock, as David once wrote. He is the Father who welcomes me home, and demonstrates that I am worth the fatted calf, as in the parable of the Lost Son. When I act like the elder son, and grieve his heart, he still envelopes me in his love. He lets me stray, as I have free choice, but he always invites me back into his presence. This Father knows how to celebrate and welcomes me as a daughter. I love being a part of his family!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

More Poetry....

Here is a limerick from Writer's Craft Days:

There was a girl- Linda d.B.
Who invited the queen to tea
They had a nice brunch
And afterwards lunch
Too bad they didn't invite me

Here is a poem inspired by our cat at the time, who was my favourite before his untimely demise after he ate a Christmas ornament at a friend's house while we were away. In his life, he was rather a rogue and we were always chasing him around the neighbourhood after he got out yet again. He liked to eat flies and was also named after the dog in "Babe."


One might think Fly a gentleman
Dressed in a striking black and white suit
Complete with a crooked goatee

But he is a player with mice
And dog antagonist
And a dove killer

Here is a poem I wrote at my best friend's house when I was around seven. I know I wrote it there, because on the back of the page is part of her father's dissertation he was working on at the time. My guess is I wrote it around November 11th, Remembrance day. I also illustrated it with pictures of a blond girl crying, a wounded soldier, a soldier about to kill another soldier, and a grave site with poppies. The illustrations are poorly executed, but rather charming. I spelt remember "remeber," but I fixed that error. At that age, I just thought war was "awfully mean." 


War is crying
War is pain
Going means
Not going back home again
War is fighting
War is sad
Many die
Some are hurt very bad
People fight to make others free
War is killing
War is death
War is awfully mean to me
Remember war
With poppies red
That grew by the graves
Of many dead.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Psalm 23"

Psalm 23

God is my leader and my guide.
He gives me everything I need.
He grants me rest and peace.
He rejuvenates the core of my being,
And helps me make righteous choices.
Even though I experience dreadful times
I'm not afraid because God is with me
And he comforts me.
God nourishes me while my enemies look on.
He gives me his anointing;
Your joy spills out.
Goodness and love will be my pursuers
Forever I will be with God.

This is the version of Psalm 23 I wrote in Writer's Craft when I was seventeen. Our assignment was to rewrite a psalm. As with many people, this Psalm of David means so much to me. I sometimes imagine the peaceful stream and sitting beside the Good Shepherd. I prefer David's version to mine, but it was a good exercise to think about what the Psalm means personally to me.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Autumn Zephyr

I had a wonderful time last night with two of my four sisters and their significant others. Even though the meal did not turn out Martha Stewart perfect, it was an enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration. The apple cheesecake turned out superb. The fruit salad was excessive. The carrots were tasty. The salad prepared by Rachel was good. The spaghetti squash by Joel and Rachel was perfectly done. The applesauce reminded me of Grandpa's. The chicken was falling apart; the stuffing alone was unsatisfactory. The sweet potato fries by Christina were so so good! All in all it was an excellent meal, and I did not get stressed during its preparation. I am now making soup, as my Mom would do.

This is the first Thanksgiving in my life that my Mom hasn't been here to make the meal. She usually takes great delight in preparing things almost single-handedly for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. My contribution is usually some baking like squares or brownies, cookies, and cake, or most likely all of the above.

This Christmas I will also be baking for my sister's wedding which is on January 2nd. Yesterday my sisters found their bridesmaid dresses... they are exquisite! I am not in the wedding party, but I will need to get a new dress. I loved my one from Rachel's wedding, but it probably doesn't fit me anymore and also it is in all the pictures.

My sister and brother-in-law are going back to Montreal tomorrow, I think, but this week is Christina's reading week. She is going away, I think, for a few days to a friend's cottage. Since Christina works on weekends she is always home for Saturdays.

I am sure my parents are enjoying their time with Karen and Clint and the grand kids. Last I heard they were playing Settlers of Catan together. They should enjoy their Thanksgiving today.

When you stop and think about all the changes that have happened in the last six months, it is pretty remarkable. I am definitely not the same person, either physically, spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically. I am stepping into new things and new directions. Not sure which way the autumn wind will carry me.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


After a lovely service all about thankfulness and some ministry time afterwards, I am simply grateful. Thankful for the overflowing blessings in my life. For family, friends, and fellowship. For my parents, four sisters and their husbands/fiancees/boyfriends, brother and his new girlfriend. For my many friends and colleagues, for the body of Christ, and for those I know outside the fold who are also God's children. For joy, love, grace, and all the fruits of the Spirit, gifts I have been given, and assignments against me that have been cancelled, and rendered null and void.

For my church family, and for the other churches I have benefited from spiritually. For so many blessings I cannot count them. For God stopping me in my tracks, and saying "Walk this way; this is the good path."

For all that is good, pure, and lovely. For the beauty in God's world in people, places, vegetation verdant with life, animals, and beautiful waters. The peace of a babbling brook, the majesty of an ocean teeming with life, the wonder of the mountains and valleys. For the dappled light streaming through the autumn-crowned trees. For the glory of a sunset or sunrise, for the reminder of the rainbow, for God's covenant with man.

I pray you too may bubble over gratitude on this Thanksgiving weekend for our great land. I am thankful to live here, where there is freedom and peace, however much we may be divided at times. I am grateful for those who have died that we might live here, for those who continue to keep the, at times fragile, peace and safety we now enjoy. I never want to take it for granted again! We will soon approach a crucial election and I pray for an outcome of righteousness and good government, whoever may come to power in our country and in each riding.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday Night Reads: "The Father's Tale" by Michael D. O'Brien

One might be daunted by the size of this lengthy tome at 1076 pages... The length of a book is never a deterrent to me. I love Michener, after all, and devoured "Pillars of the Earth." But some do find it intimidating to read such a long book.

"The Father's Tale" is a modern retelling for the parables of the Good Shepherd and the Prodigal Son, and Michael O'Brien delivers a tour de force as his protagonist, Alex Graham, a middle aged book seller from Canada, pursues his wayward son around the world. Alex has very limited funds and resources, and comes to a few dead ends and leads that seem to go nowhere. A few times he comes heart-breakingly close, only to be out-manoeuvred once again.

I don't want to reveal the plot details, but I will say this book is captivating, engrossing, and worth every page! I always say we should be supporting Canadian authors of substance.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Friday night Flicks: The Intouchables or Intouchables in Francais

This inspirational film, written and directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, I discovered courtesy of my brother, who gave it to me our my birthday a couple of years ago. Touted as one of "the most joyous and memorable film experiences of the year," it is based on a true story. It was released in 2011 and, unless you are one of those who hates reading subtitles, it is well worth the one hour and 52 minutes of your time.

The story centres of a man named Driss, who is from the projects and just out of prison. To qualify for the French version of employment insurance, Driss goes to a job interview in an ornate mansion in Paris, France. There he meets Philippe, who is rather eccentric, and is confined to a wheelchair. Actually "confined" is hardly accurate, as someone who paraglides over the Alps, speeds luxury cars through the Parisian streets, and manages to seduce women while unable to even get out of bed on his own, can hardly be put in that category of "disabled."

Eventually Driss and Philippe come to an understanding and develop an unlikely friendship. Against the odds, they form an unbreakable bond and learn about themselves and each other. It is heartwarming to watch, and makes you love humanity again, if you have had a hard day at work and you need to relax and watch a charming, delightful film. I highly recommend you do so!

Friday morning journal: Wednesday, February 18, 1998

I wrote this entry during what amounted to almost three months in the hospital when I was seventeen. I had been so ill, I could no longer speak and refused to eat. For awhile I was on an IV, after a bad reaction to a medication they had given me. I don't really remember much of January. By February I was on the road to recovery and I was released Friday, March 13th, 1998. One of my closest friendships today is with a girl who didn't even know me, but visited me in the hospital with one of my teachers. She sang to me and played the guitar. She sang "I will change your name. You shall no longer be called lonely, wounded, outcast or afraid... You will be called... confident, friend of God, overcoming one." She soothed me, just as David soothed Saul. She has a beautiful voice and spirit.

Wednesday February 18, 1998

I perch on my pink sheeted bed, recovering from my five minute workout. Through my rain speckled window I can the the houses, apartments, and telephone wires of downtown Hamilton.

My only visitors today were Laura and Kristie who brought along an apple fritter for me. Tomorrow I have my overnight! As for tonight I may have nil visitors

I am like a tiger pacing the length of my prison. This suggests restrained power. Truthfully I feel pretty powerless right now.

God, please, heal me completely soon! Until I am healed completely give me a peace about my present circumstances. Give me your strength and your righteousness, Jesus.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

At His Feet

I have learnt that rushing around, running errands and trying to squeeze as much out of my day as possible, can be counterproductive. I am not currently working either of my two jobs, but it is amazing how much busyness I can pack into one day.

Today I did two appointments, stopped at the library and then thankfully remembered to hit up the pharmacy. Yesterday I did groceries, a walk just before dinner, made a quick bite to eat, and then rushed of to a Bible study, on Mary and Martha, of all things.

I want to be like Mary, but some days I am much more like Martha. Goal-orientated and very focused on what needs to be done. Today I managed to sleep a little later, so I made breakfast, managed to read two of my customary three devotionals and rushed out the door. I ended packing a lunch and eating it with my peer support worker, which was a pleasant respite. She makes me smile, always!

Now I need to be off to volunteer in about one hour, so it will be a speedy meal and out the door again. I am packing some things so I won't starve.

I am only volunteering every other day, which gives me some breathing room. Also it is only for a limited time and then I will explore other volunteer opportunities.

I am glad I have all this free time though, because there are real advantages to not having work, and being able to do whatever you feel like on a given day. I likely won't experience such a freedom again until I actually do retire, or take a vacation to some sunny destination.

After I come back from out West, it will be back to the prosaic reality of two jobs, continuing my varied appointments, and commitments and earning a living. It is fortunate that I am generally a saver and not a spender, as things do add up to be quite expensive, paying the phone bill, rent, car expenses and personal products. I am fortunate to have a car I suppose, or I couldn't work in home care and foot care at all. I can't imagine busing it with all my equipment and sundries. Also I am generally impatient and often walk away from the bus stop before the bus even arrives. I lost a couple of toenails that way when I was wearing unsuitable foot wear.

When I was in the hospital I pretended I was in a spa, or monastery, but honestly it sometimes felt more like a prison. It was beautiful, spacious and filled with people who wanted to help me. I had my own room and washroom. I had wonderful meals and even a bed time snack if I was peckish. There were recreational programs and a beautiful room to relax in if you were feeling stressed. It was the best hospital I have ever been in. Still I sometimes was convinced every one had to escape and I had to lead people in a mass Exodus out of there. I was so unwell I just knew I could do anything and be any one I wanted. One of my doctors thought I had ADHD, but I didn't. I just couldn't stop ever.

But sometimes you need to take a breather. You need to slowly inhale then exhale, then repeat the process. You need to just be, and not do. You need to realize there is nothing you can do, or have to do to earn your salvation. You need to stop striving so hard, and to hear again about grace, undeserved and unmerited favour. And then you just need to say thanks. Because Martha learned from Jesus that she could also sit at his feet, and learn and grow. And Mary was allowed something that went counter to all cultural expectations at the time. Women couldn't even go past the Women's Court at the time, and she could sit at the feet of the Great Master and Teacher. I am learning, in all my busyness, that is really the best place to be.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Whimsical Wednesdays: Why?...


Am I like
A bird freezing in a storm,
Perking to the sight of shelter,
Wings beating against the turbulence;
And when all it spies
Is open space
Between itself and comfort,
Wham, an unseen barrier blocks its way?

Or like
A wolf ensnared in a trap
Struggling violently to free itself,
But viciously biting
The helping hand?

If I am lying senseless in the snow
Because of my sinful nature,
Am I still caught in a snare
Because I refuse help
From the only One who can save?

I wrote the above poem in grade 10. The image of the bird hitting the window is my favourite part of this piece. Below are two haiku's. The first I wrote at 17 for my Poetry Anthology. The second was written for grade 11 English class.

Tiny maple tree
Beaten by the pounding rain
Whipped by whirling wind

Gold green speckled wheat
Fans surging at the Skydome
Are doing the wave

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Dancing for the Rhythmically-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 Cochrane 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 God 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 hands, 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!