good article re being a “firekeeper”

We still remember the interim pastor we had at Good Shepherd in Toronto, with fondness. When I have a question, I think of asking him–he always said we should investigate things for ourselves, but my wont was to trust his thinking, knowing how well he researched things.

Anyway, turns out his wife is pretty good at “pastoring” as well! I’ve subscribed to her blog, and this article is so good that I just want to keep it here, to read again.

She talks about “reclaiming” things in her life, and I suppose that’s what I’ve done, in going cross-country skiing here in Ottawa (at least I’ve been once this season!) Also, the camping thing really resonates with me, of course.

As she says, starting a fire might be hard enough, but even more difficult is keeping it going. That fits with part of what we were saying in our small group last night, how it’s important not only to convince someone to turn to Christ, but to keep following him (“discipleship”) as well.

 

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less explaining?

I’ve been complaining lately (for about the last year or more) about “talking” too much: “The older you get, the more quiet you become. Life humbles you so deeply as you age. You realize how much nonsense you’ve wasted time on.” Going through things from my hope chest a couple weeks ago, written many, many years ago (pages and pages of letters for example), has reiterated this. All that “non-silence” humbled (humiliated?) me!

Now this morning, I read this, from Psalm 71: “I’ll write the book on your righteousness, talk up your salvation the livelong day, never run out of good things to write or say… Now I’m telling the world your wonders; I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray.” Hmmmm…. “until I’m old and gray”? So that might confirm the previous quote, but… talking about God’s wonders is definitely a wonderful thing to do, and one could certainly “never run out of good things to say” along those lines!

Ah well, never mind. This is the promised blogging about my One Word (“Less”). Even though it seems quite possible to come up with 365 different pairs, I’m finding that many of them are similar (like–less schedule, more impromptu being similar to less planning, more trusting; and less whining, more music is similar to less complaining, more enjoying). Even in the ones I’ve chosen for the month, the “less luxury” is kind of a repetition of the “less comfort” one. But I suppose they’re slightly different. Anyway, here are the Three of the Month:

  • Less properness, more dancing: this is from New Year’s Day, when Glenda & I kept dancing to the great music Sam had going (Sam always has great music going!) in the midst of preparing dinner–not caring what Mom & Dad or Randy thought!
  • Less makeup, more smiling: the one I actually chose for Facebook that week was the “less primping” one, which came from Jesus’ discussion about the lilies of the field, but I like this one that is mainly to do with face. You do know that a smile makes your face so much prettier. And, even though I do use it sometimes, I’m not a fan of makeup.
  • Less luxury, more giving: even though this one is from last week, it makes me think of the presentation from Voice of the Martyrs I saw last night at church… although, it would be better to say (for that case), “less luxury, more joy“. It was all about the Persecuted Church, but part of the message was to not feel sorry for them–he said he experienced more joy in prison then there was in some of the western churches. He talked about joy and “dancing” in spite of suffering. How one experiences joy in suffering is not actually explained… it’s just a miracle. Even I (in all my luxury, lol) have some memories of knowing that miracle–of knowing God’s presence through the trial, sensing his love…

OK, enough “talk”… especially about things you can’t explain. ;)

 

 

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One Word 2018

If you don’t know about choosing “One Word” for the year, try this link. This is what I use instead of making New Year’s Resolutions.

Near the end of the year I begin to think and pray about what my word will be, and of course it always starts with having no idea. This year it came to me pretty early–before Christmas. It was the simple thing of thinking about putting less cream in my coffee that made me think of it: “less“. Yes indeed, that will be my One Word for 2018. (Very cool: among the articles I was reading to find info for you, I came across this one, after my own word had been chosen… so perfect!)

It came up in my devotions shortly after, but it was really confirmed on Christmas morning as Sam exclaimed about how much we really have. So this word will work in a corollary fashion. It should be easy to think of 365 pairs, for example: “less thinking, more doing”. In the spirit of “less”, I shall NOT post each one on Facebook! Maybe I’ll just choose the best 2 or 3 for the week, and then perhaps blog about the best one for the month.

Usually, thinking about my One Word for the year kind of peters out after a few months; although, I did use last year’s word (“love”) daily in my prayer app. It’s always fun to see how these things play out, in any case.

Some of my friends also do this “One Word” thing, and I’ve seen some pretty good ones; others seem to prefer to keep theirs private. Let me know yours, if you choose to do it!

 

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He is already there

It may be true that I hardly ever have enough to say in a post anymore, but that is not true of everywhere. For example, I certainly do enough talking at Small Group, and on Wednesday mornings with the 3 year olds. ;)

Now, I’ve also taken up letter-writing again! Not the reams and reams of pages that I used to write many years ago (and hand-written they were, amazing!) But I’ve volunteered for Prison Fellowship’s pen pal program, so at least a page gets written once a month, to someone who needs to know that life goes on, “on the outside”.

The lady who sends out the volunteer newsletter, always has such wonderful things to say. And now we come to the real inspiration for this post, a quote from the recent one (emphasis mine):

Many of us, as we go into prisons and jails or encounter ex-offenders in our communities, sense somehow that we are bringing holiness to the unholy… or at least into an unholy place.  We bring bibles where there are none. We bring light into the darkness. We bring hope to the hopeless.  We bring peace to the struggling.  And all of this is true.  Christ in us should indeed shine bright into the lives of others.  We must always pray that those we encounter see the Lord Jesus in us, rather than seeing us personally as their individual saviours.

But let’s explore a different reality together.  Those of us in prison ministry often talk about the fact that we do not bring Jesus into the jail/prison, but rather that Jesus is already there.  Jesus is already in the prisons.  He is already in our broken communities.  He is already walking with the prisoners and ex-offenders we encounter.  He already has a plan for the world!  Aren’t you tempted like me, at times, to think that it’s all up to you?  To save the lost? To heal the broken?  To ensure their success in life?  What a weight… what a burden to carry.

Jesus calls us to a different way — the way of dependence and rest in Him:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

I would like to add: He is already there in your life, even if you don’t believe in Him, waiting for the day when you might. <3

 

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No more dark night

Time to get this deeply moving poem here, written by a young missionary friend of mine (who I met through Perspectives). It gives you a glimpse of what she has suffered, through sharing Christ with those who so desperately need light in their dark world.

I have heard the gunshots at night

Exploding into the darkness 

Hidden in shame

No games 

Just cold killings

Cold cases left unsolved

I have seen the bodies at night

Faceless victims 

Facedown with yesterday's trash
Adam returning to ash

Blood stained star

Of a country left broken

I have screamed in the night

Into the void of powerlessness

Into hollow human rights 

Justice consumed by fright

Is waking up to indifference

Worse than the nightmare?

I have prayed in the night

Weeping with the widow

Compassion regains our humanity 

For dreams to come into reality

No more dark night

Rise with the sun

- Written by Innah G.

Shared by permission of the author. She wrote this and shared it (a little while ago) with a news article entitled: “Philippine Drug War Logs Deadliest Week Yet: 58 Killed in 3 Days”.

Oh my, how can I now switch to the other reason for posting today? Oh well… Note for Future Self, in case you care: you ran today (after not running at all this year, but doing walks and swimming with the guys) for two four-minute sprints, separated by only a minute! The walk back was the hardest. :D

 

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Finished, finally! Thank you for your patience!

(Title note is for those who are subscribed to receiving this blog by email.)

My, it feels good to make a post and not have to change the date to one in the past! Not that there were really that many posts to copy over from LJ, since we were only missing the ones since mid-April of 2015–and in the last couple of years I’ve gone from posting every day, to an average of twice a month… and recently there actually were NO posts for three whole months!

Every once in awhile there is something to go on about though, like making notes on things like sermons, or a long recapture of a special birthday party, or a longish memory that comes with a photo, etc. So I guess this blog will continue to live.

This exercise has served to make me think about making changes, with things like tags and categories, Pages, etc. A fun re-organizing job to look forward to. You know how I love to organize!

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technical difficulties

A quick note, since I just noticed that I actually have some followers! :)

We had a little “break” the other day, of a server where this website is, and hence discovered that the backups had stopped working a couple of years ago. Luckily, the cross-posting to LJ kept going, so I’m presently copying the missing posts back into WordPress from LJ.

The settings allow me to put the proper (old) date on them, and I have to be careful to remember to turn off all the other publishing things (like not going BACK to LJ again, and not posting to Facebook). However, it seems that I can’t turn off the email. Which means that my “faithful few” are getting/will be getting a bunch of old posts in their email!

Anyway, now you’ve been warned. Just delete, delete, delete! :)

 

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Mrs. Eberts

I’ve been going through some old photos…

One picture, a thousand lovely memories! She had such a wonderful Old Country Home, with the big front porch, and an enclosed one on the side, where we would have an evening snack and listen to the silver maples rustling in the breeze. She had a big ol’ piano that she’d let me bang on, though I don’t know how to play. A few of us used to sometimes go there after Sunday night service, and be served something delicious to go with the happy talk. Her husband (of just a few years) had a bad heart–he used to talk about going around “with his heart in his pocket”. We hadn’t known him very long when he passed away, but whenever I sat in his big chair in the kitchen, I felt like he was hugging me.

I remember the first time I stayed there for a week, to keep Mrs. Eberts company. It was in the winter time, and I was so, so worried… because I’d understood that she only wanted me for a week or two, and hadn’t gotten permission for more than that. Soon it became obvious that there was a misunderstanding–she was expecting me to stay the winter! It was hard to break the news, both to her, and to my mom (not knowing what to do), but we eventually worked out a compromise I believe, that I could spend time between home and Mrs. Eberts place (several miles away).

She believed that teenagers needed a huge breakfast, before catching the bus for school–like both oatmeal AND eggs, for example. They were always farm-fresh eggs of course; I remember picking some up for her by bicycle, from a nearby farm. She also got fresh chickens from the farms, to put in her freezer–and they sure tasted better than anything you could buy! Mealtimes were more than just eating. She would get talking about her past, telling some great stories about what had happened in that house, many years before.

My bedroom upstairs had dormer windows, and there was even a special “country smell” to her home. Maybe that had something to do with the grove of ancient lilacs in her side yard, visible from the kitchen “window over the sink”. There was some wilderness behind her home, which seemed like a wonderful place to go exploring… except that she didn’t like me to go too far, in case there were bears. (That was so hard to obey!)

I helped her in various ways, like with her plants in the spring. One time I did the dusting for her, before company arrived (probably missionaries). Unfortunately, I wasn’t used to using a polish-spray, and had put so much on the wooden chairs, that people found they had it on their clothes when they got up!

That dining room also reminds me how we used to spend some mornings watching 100 Huntley Street on TV.

A few times, she had to spend a weekend in the city, so she would get me to have a friend over for the weekend. Glenda stayed once or twice (and once with her sister Donna), Nancy Brady came at least once (I remember finding a wild kitten under the deck while she was there). When I was finished high school, I kept going back to spend a few days with her, or to babysit the house while she was away. One summer, I rode my bike all the way back home, just for a morning dip in the pool!

Lovely memories.

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praying for you

It’s been said that this Perspectives course “ruins you for the rest of your life” (or something like that)–in other words, you can never be the same again. You can never continue on as if you didn’t know…

As an alumni, I’m allowed to go to any of the classes for free, plus, it behooves me to go as a marker, at least sometimes. So even if I was tempted to “forget”, I’m reminded every time I go (and with every lesson I mark), and hear those missionaries share their experiences. Usually, it deepens my desire to do whatever I can. Often, it makes me wish I could do more. Sometimes, I wonder if missionaries might be the only ones who will get those mansions that Jesus promised. They sacrifice so much, are so “all in” with every part of their lives! When I compare that to the multitude of comforts that I enjoy…

It’s probably a good thing to look over my life periodically and ask myself if I couldn’t actually drop everything and begin to actively share Christ in a much more sacrificial way. Even if I can’t, it’s maybe good to think about it. What I’m able to do seems like so little!
Hopefully it’s not just a scheme to find excuses for myself, but I’m usually reminded that prayer (for example) can be hard work as well. For several months now, I’ve been getting into a more and more involved prayer life. (I’m becoming that “retired old grandma”, who prays & prays!) It used to be difficult to relate to people in distance lands, and what they were going through. Now I’m even finding myself emotionally involved… so maybe that’s part of the hard work. Another part, is to keep on praying for those situations/people that seem like they’ll never change, to never give up hoping and pleading for them. To know that God is working, and requires patience.

 

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Pay Attention

It’s only natural that as one gets older, one becomes more aware of the importance of some things. For example, young people don’t usually worry too much about their health. But the more we mature, the more we tend to pay attention to a healthy diet, do more exercise, etc.

Similarly, the older you get, the more you feel an urgency to pay attention to the health of your soul, and become concerned about the health of others’ souls. Especially if you believe that there is more to life than this life. And it’s more than just knowing that “crossing over Jordan” can come unexpectedly, any time; but looking back on your life, you realize how much more depth is possible–both enjoyment of the blessings and help in the trials–if you pay attention to the things of the soul.

I for one, sometimes wonder if I’m really doing all I can to convince others of these things. On the one hand, there is an urgent feeling of wanting to grab your loved ones and tell them bluntly, “God loves you so much he died for you,” etc.; and on the other hand, my feeling is that doing such a thing would create a huge uncomfortableness… but isn’t “uncomfortableness” really needed, before one can come to God? The “uncomfortableness” of realizing that you can’t do life without God? Pride can make that feel very humiliating, and who wants to humiliate others?

So I use that excuse, as well as the one that I’m not very good at “arguing” out the questions that people have. Even though I shouldn’t feel defensive, and be more trusting of God to work in spite of myself. I should just say that their questions are welcome, that they could go to Alpha to ask all those questions, that the important thing is that they just begin to ask… That they should at least investigate the evidence (for the resurrection, which is people’s main sticking point), etc. But I know I won’t.

I’ve often said that the most amazing miracles, are the ones that God does in people’s hearts. Perhaps one of those miracles needs to start in me. For Christians also, need to pay attention to the health of their souls.

 

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