Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Day Dinner

It was a different Christmas because our family met on the 23rd. What a wonderful time we had! The little ones had been counting the "sleeps" before they could open the presents that were stashed under Grammies tree. After dinner, it was precious to watch our six year-old granddaughter bring nativity characters to life as the old story was read.

Our Family Christmas Day was over! Now what?
So we enjoyed visits with people who did not have family nearby and brought leftover turkey and trimmings to a sick neighbour.

Looking beyond my comfortable home and space, I see so much hurt, need and pain.
God, please forgive my blinded eyes.
Scripture encourages us not to forget the needy, widows and orphans.

My cousins, Don & Diane, are orphans and have often been forgotten. Their father died when they were very small. Their mother, my aunt, was a hard worker and tried as best she could to raise them, but I am ashamed to say, she did not get much help and support from her extended family. Her parenting consisted of much shouting, slapping, verbal and physical abuse. She remarried which added many other negative family dynamics. This second husband died very suddenly and now they were on their own again. A few years later, she also passed away.

Diane had back/spine surgery and has had difficulty finding a job. She was married, has one daughter, but her marriage ended in divorce. Her common-law husband of ten years, just passed away very suddenly, and she was devastated, so I helped her plan a memorial service for him. Even though she is not physically strong, I admire her amazing strength and courage.

Don was married for ten years, but his wife left him. He has asperger syndrome, which makes him very nervous, agitated, impulsive and exasperating. Constant ridicule and some childhood sexual abuse has left him with bouts of depression and emotional scars. He has worked as a restaurant dishwasher for 25 years. Since they both don't drive, commuting from the city to visit relatives is difficult, therefore many times they have been left out or forgotten.
Their social circle is small. Both are trying to trust God for their future and struggle to "keep the faith" inspite of lifes disappointments and hurts.

On Christmas Day, my husband and I packed up a dinner, picked up Diane, went to Don's cluttered apartment and shared a meal with them. He excitedly tried to clean his kitchen (no running water at the kitchen sink) and prepared mashed potatoes and "well-charred ham".

He kept giving me gifts from his hoarded stash of collectibles. "Here, I want you to have this"......a turquoise necklace and earrings, an old CD, a wooden goose, a silver chain, etc. etc. Over and over we heard, "You are my favorite cousins, I love you."

Needless to say, it was a most memorable,unforgettable Christmas dinner.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


When the boxes of Japanese/Mandarin oranges appear in our stores, we know Christmas is nearing. This reminds me of a poignant story.

Ten boys lived in a small orphanage. It was their only home, a roof over their heads, their only family. The house rules were strict; each lad knew his duties and paid careful mind to obey the rules. Food was meager and carefully rationed, especially fresh fruit.
The boys' very favorite highlight of their drearisome life was Christmas and the greatest treat of all was that on Christmas morning every boy got one orange.

The day before Christmas, Harry was working in the yard, but neglected to clean his boots upon entering the house, tracking mud onto the front hall carpet. The angry headmaster meted out immediate punishment. "No orange for you tomorrow morning!"
At dawn, while his friends enjoyed their delicious fruit, the dejected lad wept bitterly as he lay on his cot till evening. All year he had waited for this one orange. The other lads had kept their distance for fear that he would beg a taste of theirs. At evening he knelt in the darkness, on the cold hard floor beside his bed, trying to say his prayers, but words wouldn't come, only moans and tears of disappointment and hurt.

Suddenly he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder and a soft lump was placed in his hand. Hesitatingly, he began to unwrap the crunched paper and in it were orange peels, carefully taped together in the shape of a ball. He started to nibble at the tart, bitter pieces. As they fell apart, inside were nine orange pieces.
Each boy had given up one small delicious segment, just for him.

I hope this ORANGE story will be a reminder to share from our abundance with those who have so little.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time really Flies

My apologies for not contributing to this blog for a long period of time.

My husband reached his three score and ten, so had a big party with more than eighty people coming by to help him celebrate this milestone. We are very thankful for his good health and zest for life.

Two days from now, my first grandaughter is getting married, so needless to say, we have been in wedding planning mode for the last several months. Seems like just a few years ago when I held that tiny little bundle in my arms and now she is walking down the aisle to share her life with the man she loves.

I have done flowers for many, many brides, but this is most exciting to design beautiful bouquets in her favorite colors of pink and blue, so I must get busy.

So no theological rhetoric today, but as I am working with flowers, my mind and heart are filled with many emotions, hopes, and dreams for them. I hold them up in prayer to my heavenly father who loves them even more than I do.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Prairies

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Winnipeg.

There is something beautiful about the wide open prairies. Even though I was only 3 years old when my parents moved from Saskatchewan, my roots are there. So I feel a connection and a bit of nostalgia sweeps over me whenever we pass through, but I would not want to live there.

The BIG skydome covering the vast flat land conjures up feelings of awe and wonder and loneliness. A simple, fresh earthiness prevades. The huge fields of wheat, canola, rye and sunflowers speak of endless hours of hard toil and labor. Dusty little towns look hauntingly sad. There is an unforgiving harshness in the sweltering heat and in the never-ending strong wind that blows sand and snow over the plains.

We saw many abandoned, weathered old buildings such as this one. I wonder what kind of stories this old house could tell?

In the 1930's and 1940's my grandparents and many of my kin experienced unbelievable hardships on this land.
As we travelled the straight endless highway, two such instances came to mind.

On a beautiful winter day, my aunt and her daughter set out to visit their neighbours. They travelled over the snow in a horse-drawn caboose (like a boler trailer on skis). During their visit, they noticed storm clouds forming and decided to head for home. The drifting snow became so blinding that they lost their way. The next morning they were discovered only a short distance from their home, both frozen to death. In my mother's old family album is a little black & white snapshot of them both lying in a home-made coffin. How incredibly sad.

My grandparents, with ten children, travelled on foot from Manitoba to Saskatchewan. A team of horses pulled a wagon with their milk cow in tow. The children took turns walking and riding. At night, Grandma and the girls slept under the wagon part that was canvas covered, while Grandpa and the boys slept under the wagon. After endless miles, a wagon wheel broke. They were tired, discouraged, and alone. With no one in sight, little money, and little food they felt overwhelming despair.
In their distress, they cried out to God for help. They waited..........
As the young boys were walking down the road, kicking stones, a sudden gust of wind blew across their path. Amongst the dust and leaves was a small piece of paper. Imagine their amazement when they realized it was a ten dollar bill. I wish I could have been there to witness the family's rejoicing over this miracle that God had sent. Now they had money to get the wheel fixed!
Over the years they experienced many other hardships on the prairies, but this happening always reminded them that God is faithful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Timely Message

In the preface to the "The Message" (the Bible in contemporary language) the author Eugene Peterson says... he taught the biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek in a theological seminary. He expected to live the rest of his life as a professor and scholar, teaching and writing and studying. But then his life took a sudden vocational turn to pastoring a congregation. He was plunged into a different world. Nobody seemed to care much about the Bible, many knew virtually nothing about it, had never read it, and weren't interested in learning. Many others had spent years reading it but for them it had gone flat through familiarity, reduced to cliches. Bored, they dropped it. They found newspapers and magazines, videos and pulp fiction more to their taste.
He saw a great need for getting an understandable version to his congregation and so after ten years of arduous work, "The Message" was born and published.

My reading through the book of Romans took on new meaning when I read Chapter 12 the way Peterson interprets it. I wrote in my journal, "This is for me!!!"

vs. 8 ...if you help, just help, don't take over......if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy. (ouch)

Just can't miss that message!

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Old Song

Faithful one, so unchanging,
Ageless one, you're my rock of peace.
Lord of all, I depend on you;
I call out to you again and again.

I have always loved this song. It was sung at a funeral I attended today, by two very talented young people.
At the onset of the next part of the song, their voices literally exploded,
"blew me out of the water".... moved me to tears.


It was truly a moment of praise and worship.
Thank you Jackie & Nate

Monday, June 8, 2009

Who Am I

In this case, it's not the game, Who AM I, but the first line of a song.

A secluded lakeside campsite, a comfortable reclining lawnchair, pinescented warm desert breezes, afternoon shade, the bluest sky...birds twittering, ospreys diving for fish, canoes gliding over the calm water. Ah.

Drinking in the incredible beauty and the vastness of God's creation made me feel so small.

This very well-written song came to mind.
Who am I? That the Lord of all the earth, would care to know my name ,
would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I? That the bright and morning star, would choose to light the way,
for my ever wandering heart.

Not because of who I am, but because of what you've done.
Not because of what I've done, but because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind,
Still you hear me when I'm calling,
Lord you catch me when I'm falling and you've told me who I am.
I am yours.

written by Hall, John Mark & Casting Crowns

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Lilac Lesson

Lilacs are special to me. Why? The fragrance is intoxicating. I am told that on the day my parents got married, my mother just went out in the yard, picked a few white lilacs and drove to the church. No fussing, no huge cost. Things were so simple then.

For years I have jealously eyed every lilac bush that I passed and vowed that someday I would have so many bushes that I could pick as many as I wanted and you would not be able to notice.

When we moved to our present home 13 years ago, we planted 2 bushes and friends gave me two more and this year they are full of glorious blooms. Why are they exceptionally beautiful this year?

Lilacs bloom best after a harsh winter.
So in life, those who go through hard difficult experiences often blossom, bloom and bless our lives with deeper sensitivity, strength and genuine kindness...... like a sweet fragrance.

2 Corinthians 2 : 14-15 (The Message)
God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God.

This is how it should be! I wonder... is my life sweet - smelling?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Do I have to?

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life comes in the elimination of the nonessentials.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How do they Know?

Ahh... Beautiful Springtime.
As I am getting down and dirty in the soil I ponder on the wonders of nature...

How does the grape hyacinth choose its shade of blue?
How does the snowdrop know when to bloom?
How does the mole design his underground subway?
How does the frog know it's time to start croaking?
How does the hummingbird find my feeder?
How does the crow know that he can crack walnuts by dropping them on the pavement?
How does the tulip bulb know how to multiply?
How does the big dipper stay in place?
How can an earthworm still live if I chop him in half with my spade?
How does the salmon know where to spawn?
How does the rooster learn to crow?
How does the bear know when it's time to wake up?
How can a snail carry his shell-house upside down?
How does the clematis vine know how to climb and cling?
How does the liatrus flower bloom from the top down?
How can potato eyes grow new plants?
How does the robin sing the same song every spring?
How does the oak know when to change from green to red & orange?

Genesis 1:31
God looked at all that He had made, and it was very good.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The fight is not over

This story is true but the names have been changed.

My friend Cindy, travelled 500 miles to attend Rob's funeral.
Years ago, on a wintery night, her son brought Rob home because he had just been kicked out of his house. His single Mom, Debbie, could not cope anymore with his insolent violent behavior, his bad habits and disrespectful friends.
He stayed with Cindy's family for a little while, but soon went his own way. However, Cindy and others reached out to help and encourage his mother with Christ's love and soon she accepted Jesus into her life and continued to follow him in simple faith.
As the years went by Rob got caught up in criminal activities and was tragically killed a little while ago during a drug-related altercation.
It was a very difficult memorial service. Debbie's pastor spoke words of comfort, hope and the need of forgiveness. When the congregation left the chapel, another group of Rob's friends marched in for a second memorial for Rob. They were clad in black steel studded leather. Clenched fists sporting knucklebuster rings portrayed the anger they were feeling. The father of Rob's girlfriend strode up to the pastor and said, " I'm an atheist and I don't believe in this God stuff. You can bet on it, Somebody's gonna pay!" Revenge!

My friend said, it was like two worlds colliding... the forces of evil versus good, darkness against light, hate against love. The presence of darkness was oppressive, almost touchable.

Satan is fighting hard for turf and dragging many with him because he knows his time is running out.

Ephesians 6: 12 -13
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the whole armor of God...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Grace in Pain

I confess...I am a wimp when it comes to pain. A simple blood test scares me. Smiling is difficult during a migraine. Therefore, I admire people who are courageous and graceful in the midst of suffering.

For as long as I have known her (five years) , my friend Sharon has been fighting multiple sclerosis and serious cancer.
She has been tested, scanned, poked, biopsied in every possible way. Through surgeries, chemo, radiation, hair-loss, unsteadiness, nausea & broken bones she remains kind & gracious.

When I call and ask how she's doing, she does not dwell on her difficult situation. Instead, she will immediately ask, "How are YOU doing?"

She is interested in my life, asking about my day, my children, my grandchildren . She really cares.

That's unselfish graciousness.

Monday, March 9, 2009


About a year ago, a visit to the audiologist revealed that I was born with a blockage in my eardrum. It explained a lot of things - the awful pain in my ear during an airplane flight especially during take off or landing and the constant high-pitched squeal in my ear. I had come to consider this as normal.

Therefore, I do not do well with prolonged silence. I prefer "white noise" such as soft background music or even the hum of a fan to cover the shrill squeal in my head.

But today I had a silent, quiet day.

no music
no T.V.
no computer
no reading a novel or newspaper
no shopping at the mall

Just reading my Bible, listening and praying.

God & I had a very good day.

"Be still and know that I am God"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Celebrate LOVE

"What the World needs now, is LOVE sweet LOVE,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of..."
lyrics by Hal David, music by Burt Bacharach.

I have always loved Valentine's Day.

Making home-made Valentine cards was an activity we enjoyed immensely. Red, pink and white construction paper hearts, bits of lace, buttons, paper doilies were carefully stuck onto folded paper with gobs of white paste. We could hardly wait to get to our two-room school to hand them out to our friends. However, there seemed to be an unspoken contest of who would get the most cards indicating who was the most popular/ most loved. Looking back on this day, I'm sure some of the children didn't get many, perhaps none. They must have felt very unloved on that day of love. I wish I could have a do-over and make sure everybody in the room got one.

My husband was a school teacher so his classroom was abuzz doing the usual valentines activities. I was a stay-at-home mom expecting our second child. He forgot to get me something, not even a card and he knew he was in big trouble when he saw the special dinner and candles. He apologized and apologized, but I cried so uncontrollably that the poor guy didn't know what to do. I have grown up since then, but he has never forgotten it fact he is more passionate about celebrating now than I am. Ha.ha.

But there can be so much more to this day than just the romantic kind of love. It represents the one thing that every human being craves for....more love.

Followers of Jesus should pounce on this holiday spreading love around liberally, not just the gushy stuff but the love that God has put in our hearts.
Jesus said, "By this will all people know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."John 13:35
It bothers me greatly that an event like Halloween is growing so rapidly in popularity. Why not the day of showing an extra amount of love to everyone? Random acts of kindness should abound.

I think Valentines Day should be declared a National Holiday, so I am turning on my red christmas lights and sticking red hearts on my garage door. Just call me a crazy romantic.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Music Memories

Today I took a walk down an "aural" memory lane. I spent two days in a little storage room filled with tattered old hymnbooks, old typewritten chorus books, cassette tapes and other assorted items. A filing cabinet contained years and years of church choral music & books, which have seen very little use in the last few decades. As I opened each folder, the notes and melodies floated from the pages and came to life and I could hear the rich sounds of the choir singing in our little church where the acoustics were so good that no microphones or booming speakers were necessary.
The children's musical book, "Bullfrogs & Butterflies" reminded me of the "Sonshine Singers" choir that I led for many years. How keen the kids were as we presented it several times. "Friends" was a youth production presented thirty years ago when our daughter was in highschool. The robust Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" just jumped off the page. The full harmonies of "O Lord, Most Holy", "Sanctus" and "With A Voice Of Singing" rechoed in my ears.

It was enjoyable to recall all those beautiful songs and good times, but I came away with a deep sense of sadness and loss.

Somehow, I felt like I needed to find a graveyard for these rich musical treasures, thank God for the precious memories and say my last goodbyes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


In my Bible reading through the book of Matthew & Mark, I am amazed again at how many times Jesus healed the sick, whether they were blind, lame, demented, dumb, deaf or even dead in some cases. I'm sure he didn't heal every single person in the crowd because everywhere he went, people came in droves with all manner of ailments. But there were many who were miraculously freed.
Oh, I wish, so much, that it were so today, right now, right here!

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Dash

In this last week, I attended two funerals of wonderful ladies who fought a hard battle against that awful big C. Both have won and gone triumphantly, to their heavenly home. Their life stories were told by family and friends, of how they touched so many people in such wonderful and amazing ways.
When I wander through a cemetery, I always take note of the years engraved on the headstones, but never really noticed the dash between the years. 1948 - 2008.
A poet, Linda Ellis, has written a beautiful, thought-provoking poem called "The Dash".
Here are a few lines from it.

That dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your lif'e's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

(you can "google" the entire poem on line)