Saturday, October 13, 2007

You've got to read this:

by Robert Knighton

In the first weeks of my course on Spiritual Formation, the class was encouraged to take this phrase and meditate upon it. So simple. I belong to God. Actually, I preferred the longer version as found at the beginning of the Heidelberg Catechism: My only comfort is this: that I am not my own –but body and soul, in life or in death, I belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. Connie and I meditated upon the word ‘belong’ – and ultimately connected it to the verb ‘to long (for)’. Our deepest longing, that which drives us outward for meaning and reassurance, is to belong. We are hardwired for this – that’s why the cartoon ‘the Ugly Duckling’ stirs so many tears.

The timing was important. Over the summer, I had not been able to go to music camp as planned, to finish well my connection with official SA. Belonging became an issue again. I had not ‘belonged’ within the SA for fifteen years, then suddenly I ‘belonged’ again – what a grace and joy. God redeeming the years the locusts ate. Now I didn’t belong again. Defined out of existence. My ministry taken over by the Area Commanders.

I belong to God. Isn’t it interesting how we can allow ourselves to get distracted from this? At root, I know that anything I am or do is energized by belonging to Jesus, belonging to God. The LORD is God! He created us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep in his pasture. (Psalm 100) And that nothing, ever, nowhere can pluck me out of his hand, remove me from his care. But in practicality, we interpret this through relationships with people, and organizations, and through circumstances and fruitfulness. Good things all – but potentially distracting.

Now these words penetrate my heart: I belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, salvation is portrayed as having our feet set on a broad plain. Free from smallness and restriction, alive to potential and possibility. The green pastures of Psalm 23. God leading us out of pasture land too long grazed, no longer capable of supporting life abundant, and setting us in limitless time and space. Then exhorting us to roam, to discover, to graze afresh, to rest – always secure in His care. How many of us feel that way? Mary, when confronted by tidings of the impossible answered "I belong to the Lord, body and soul, let it happen as you say”. (Luke 1:38)

Over the six weeks of living with these words of God, I have found so many ways of losing touch with this reassurance. Of feeling like an orphan. Or, like Elijah on the mountains Carmel and Horeb, alone and buffeted. Paul knew this feeling so well and spoke the words which break through the storm:. Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7-8) Frankly, I prefer the alive. Yet sometimes the Deceiver suggests ways in which I am dead. “Whatever”, I say – “I belong to God.”

Now that God has called my attention to these words, this assurance, my meditation has been upon them as well. What are the fruits of belonging? What are the implications? The service possibilities? I now understand ‘the renewing of my mind’ as being given eyes of belonging rather than any consciousness of alienation. A couple of years ago, I took as ‘my verses’ Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message: Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. … Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." I now understand them as ‘belonging verses’ -that just like God used to walk in the garden with Adam and Eve, because they belonged to Him, so He wants to walk with me, because I belong to Him.

Paul once exhorted the Corinthians, everything is yours, including the world, life, death, the present, and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. (1. Cor. 3:22-3) When I am discouraged through a sense of any lack, that is not the Spirit alive in me, but the Accuser. ‘My father is rich in houses and lands.’ And I am the child of the King. How weak are the measures which we use to evaluate this richness– material goods, release from sickness or pain, important ministry! Everything belongs to us because we belong to God! No room whatsoever for the benighted philosophy of scarcity – our lives can speak in all ways the wonderful assurance of abundance. We are not people terrorized by the ‘bottom line’ – but as those who belong to God we are resourced by the fullness of God’s riches.

(A new covenantal catechism) Question 1. Who are you?
I am a child of God.

Prayer: Lord you are my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? You are the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! O God of my salvation! (Psalm 27:1, 7, 9f)

Question 2. What does it mean to be a child of God?
That I belong to God, who loves me.

Prayer: You O Lord have done great things for us, and we rejoice. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. (Psalm 126:3-6)

Jesus my Lord will love me forever,
From Him no pow'r of evil can sever;
He gave His life to ransom my soul -Now I belong to Him!

Chorus: Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me -
Not for the years of time alone but for eternity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dawsonwood Is Alive and Well

Dear Blogging Friends,

Dawsonwood Cottage is alive and well. I'd better post this on Facebook if I can figure out how to do it, because some of you seem to have become Facebook addicts and I have not posted here since last spring. This is about what God is doing in our lives.

We welcomed an international student from Vietnam, Vu Pham, on September 7. Fifteen years old, he is studying in Bracebridge this year in Grade 10, but doing Grade 11 math and chemistry. He joined the soccor team last night and is off to his first tournament today!!! It is fun having a young person about the house. So much fun indeed, that I did not hesitate in the slightest to say yes to offering shorter term accomodation to another student. "D" is finishing Grade 12 and, small world that it is, knows Vu in another context.

So the Knightons are experiencing the excitement of teenaged boys after raising our two girls. Rob's knees are aching from several games of tennis with Vu over the weekend and I am actually cooking for the first time in what seems like months. Well, it is months because my wounded hand has made all manual labour difficult. It is also a challenge to make meals which have even a semblance of Asian acceptability. Vu has given me the skinny on stir fried vegetables and there will never be soggy stir fry in this house again!

Yes, the hand. Still swelling irratically. Still sore. Still scarred looking. An anomaly they say, with respect to the scarring. Personally, I don't care about the scar. I have lived long enough to deserve every war wound on my body. However, this scar seems to have a life of its own, becoming raised and prominent and dry after certain activities and inflamed after that. Sometimes massage helps, sometimes it seems to make things worse. I would welcome tips from anyone who has experience of scar tissue.

The next few weeks are exceedingly busy. Rob is going back to school. No not his PhD.. As a matter of fact, he is selling his complete library of theology. He's on a different track at this stage of his life. He is studying spiritual direction at Tyndale University, figures he has done this work for the last thirty years in various ways, but is choosing to do this intentionally for whatever years God gives him. His contract with The Salvation Army ended when that organization reinvented its structure for supplying pastoral care to its ministers. Change calls for a creative response.

We are into autumn birthday season. Rachael will turn 6. Sarah will turn 30 and AAAAAAAGH!, I will turn a factor of these numers. No not 180! Rob and I have our 40th wedding anniversary on the 14 October. We are having a family celebration on the Sunday of Canadian Thanksgiving and taking a cruise in November. Barb and Dylan and children will move into Dawsonwood while we are away to look after 'the boys.' Sarah and Jeff are celebrating their anniversary on October 16. Resigned that I would never get my 'wear' out of it, I finally sent the expensive dress I bought for that day to charity. Sarah said, "Mom, get over it. It's been eight years!" Unbelievable.

And all you young mothers out there...don't be smug. Time flies whether you are having fun or not. So have fun. It will be your turn soon. You'll be filling your empty nests with other mother's sons. People will be astonished when they see your wedding photos. They will say politely, "Oh yes, I can see that is you. The smile is the same." Your daughters will enthuse, "Mom, you were beautiful." You will look into the mirror and scarecely recognize your own faces.

Bless you all.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Guest Blog From Robert

Connie’s challenge has stayed with me throughout this month. Since it is true that, until it can be said of me “In him is life” and of our churches “in them is life”, we are falling far short of the glory of God which He intends for us, we really must have the fullest possible picture, expectation and reception of life.. Our weakness in witness to the world, in fellowship with each other, and in communion with God spring from our want of life. So what is life?
I have become convinced in my heart that Jesus’ own preaching of the Kingdom gives us the best picture of the life he himself experienced and which he was bringing to the earth. For example, according to Matthew and Luke, when John’s disciples came to inquire into the nature of Jesus’ messiahship, the Master replied "Go back and tell John what's going on: The blind see, The lame walk, Lepers are cleansed, The deaf hear, The dead are raised, The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. (or, in Luke, The wretched of the earth have God's salvation hospitality extended to them) Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!" (Mt. 11, Lk 7 TM) Again, Matthew records as part of the feeding of the four thousand, When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them. (Mt 15, TM)
Life as Jesus lived and as He gave to others is the ability to notice, appreciate, celebrate, incorporate and participate in what God is doing in the world each and every day. That is why Jesus portrayed his ministry as giving eyes and ears, tongues and limbs, why He healed outcastes and embraced the ‘poor in spirit’ including them out of their exclusion from worldly society. That is why He gave life to dead people, to nephesh met, dead souls.
I do not believe that abundant life has anything to do with material affluence. The so-called health and wealth gospel was devised for the itching ears of North Americans and is a travesty of the truth. I was formed with the expectation that life is about noticing and appreciating what God is doing when I was twenty-one, and on Youth Service Corps in Fonds-des-Negres, Haiti. I encountered so many Christians who celebrated the richness of life in Christ while having literally none of earth’s goods, nor having expectation of them! The witness of these simple, ‘poor’ people was not based on ignorance but upon richness of vision. The prevalence of voodoo was the parody and corruption of the spiritual energy which we felt in the church – sort of like the Garden of Eden experience all over again. Many of our people knew themselves to be walking and talking with Jesus each day- the flip of this is that some were tempted into embracing a more controllable spiritual experience, a magic, through voodoo.
Life at its foundation is the ability to notice God and what He is doing. At a church in which there is life, the time spent together is all about noticing God – whether it is a liturgical church filled with Scripture reading and written prayers and sacred service, a Quaker community waiting on the Spirit, a contemporary fellowship with great singing and gifted worship leadership or a traditional congregation with eyes open and ears ‘dug’ for them by the Spirit. As people leave a living church service, they are convinced that they have noticed God in the compassionate fellowship, the corporate attentiveness, the joy, the love, the grace, the hope expressed. “We have together been with God”.
Living Christians spend moments during the day, and time at the end of the day, just to record on paper or in memory all of the gracious sights and sounds of God at work they have noticed, in all of the various and surprising ways He has shown Himself to them and spoken to them. Not likely in Theophany but through intentional and ‘serendipitous’ contact with people and situations, by momentary glimpses and fixed vision. And living Christians pray with passion and purpose “ see Thee more clearly…day by day.” Abundant life is about the richness of the vision- the quality, the clarity and the breadth of that which we hear and see. Jesus taught His followers over and over, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father…I only do what I see the Father doing, so to see me at work is to see Him at work”. This remains the first part of the paradigm for life. And as Jesus suggested to John’s disciples, it is here and now for us a gift of God that we who otherwise would be blind see and we deaf hear.
Over the years, the most common spiritual lament I have heard as a minister is that people no longer ‘see God.’ Try as they might, whether they run to the east and then to the west, God seems far away. A famine of hearing has overtaken them. They cannot find Him- He seems to be hiding His face from them. Praying the Psalms which speak directly to this difficulty is a help. But so is sabbatical and Sabbath, time bought out of the busyness of the market place, time of obedience to God, and the discipline of writing down everything which comes to our notice. God will be in this. God will always honour our discipline of notice.
We notice because God helps us to notice by His Spirit. This ‘Friend’ specially given to us in the Church is for the purpose of our vision, But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won't draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I've said, 'He takes from me and delivers to you.' "In a day or so you're not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me." This is the beginning of the reality of “In _____ is life.” He or she or they notice God.
And taking notice, living people and living churches ponder these things in their hearts, they consider the ways of God, they reflect, they contemplate, they search for truth. Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!" The Spirit does indeed bring discernment, but life is also about our disciplines of contemplation. We need the word of God to dwell in us richly. Life absolutely requires examination and consideration, it does not happen by some kind of spiritual osmosis. If we desire life, our schedule must reflect this – in time for private personal contemplation, in time for corporate study and prayer. There is no such thing as life Lite, available to us through reading a good book in our spare time, or listening to Christian radio on our way to work.
Jesus regularly led his followers away from the hustle and bustle to specifically consider the ways of God. Living Christians and living fellowships and churches must do the same today. Even when we discipline ourselves to write everything down, if we don’t then study what we have written it becomes, as James said, like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. Investing time to consider what God is showing us is our critical contribution to life. Jesus often castigated his followers for their lack of understanding – they just were unwilling to pay the price of considering The Way which they were being shown.
Wisdom is God-breathed, as is ‘heart’. But both happen as part of disciplined spiritual lives in which churches and individual Christians place themselves under the tutelage of the Spirit, to consider and appreciate the things they are hearing and seeing. God has made it clear that His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. And yet He graciously allows the transformation to happen, the renewal of our minds, until this mind is in us which was in Christ Jesus. That is the gift of life - that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. A knowledge which engages us!
A chronic weakness in the church and in individual Christians today is the lack of such integrated knowledge. Somehow, Jeremiah 31:33-4 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts… No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD has been extrapolated to mean that all of this life wisdom comes passively, perhaps ‘charismatically’, without any work on our part. A Great Lie from the Deceiver!! There is a cost to life – there is work to be done! How gracious of God that such work can be so joyful and ‘heart-warming’ when done in fellowship!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Behold Thou Art There

Okay, so those of you raised on the KJV will be able to fill in the rest of this quotation. There is nothing like that old book for resonating phrases and metaphors which stand the test of time.

Psalm 139:8 (King James Version)
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

I've been making my bed in hell quite a bit over the last month. Barb had the lovely new baby. I got post partum depression. It was like the big push was over; he was here; he was healthy and lovely...and now what? I had trouble getting out of bed. The adrenalin rush was over. I suspected my anti-depressant meds were not working and felt, well, hellish.

It always helps to talk these things through and I did; with God and Rob and my sister-in-law Heather and just as the clouds lifted and I felt energy returning and started to get into spring cleaning, I had a major accident with a sliding glass door, cuttung several tendons and a nerve in my right hand. Last Sunday I had plastic surgery to repair the damage and this week I started physio...painful but absolutely necessary to get back the use of my hand. The physiotherapist requires me to do ten repetitions every half hour of an exercise which is the therapeutic equivalent to giving the world the middle finger.

In the meantime, Rob got a call from a specialist who is looking into some of his health problems. He is back on antibiotics for the fourth time in five months.

And then, he was notified that the Salvation Army was changing the way it delivers Pastoral Care and that his contracts would not be renewed.

I did my usual rant...much, much shorter in duration these days...I just have bits of negative garbage which have to come shooting out of my mouth for a few minutes. I don't believe any of it, but somehow I have this sort of magical thinking that if I say the worst things which come into my mind this will pre-empt anything worse happening...or if more bad things happen, they can't possibly be as bad as the scenarios I have already concocted. This means I cannot get any more depressed or disappointed.

A few supportive prayers later, I didn't feel as bad. And by this evening, I was feeling triumphant. Barb had whizzed around the house cleaning for company which was coming to Dawsonwood for an overnight. Dylan had assessed and started into basement repairs necessitated by my breaking the slider and had hacked away at a little dry rot problem in the basement. Theren help was so welcome.

I found that I can type in some manner using my right thumb and left hand.

Rob will apply for his CPP. We won't starve. And to tell you the truth...Rob is as happy as he ever is...he says..."More time to play with my grandchildren." And maybe God has something better in store for him which will not require travelling 2,000 kms. per week!!!

Psalm 139:7-10 (King James Version)

7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


William David Harris
April 2, 2007
Soldier's Memorial Hospital
Orillia, Ontario
10:02 p.m.
A miraculous 7 lbs. 10 oz.!!
Mother and baby doing well; having a couple of days in hospital to establish breast feeding.
Thank you for your prayers. This is indeed a miracle.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Here is a picture of 'the princess and the frog' from last Hallowe'en. The frog doesn't look like he wants the princess to kiss him. We don't know yet whether or not he wants to share his bedroom with his expected new brother.

Okay, so Barb hasn't had her baby yet. We are into week four (at least) of bed rest for her and while it has been taxing on all of us...especially Barb...check that out at has meant that the baby has grown more and is now, by ultrasound a whopping 6 lb. 4 oz.!!! We are really rejoicing that the bed rest (couch rest) has paid off, Barb's blood pressure has been better and the baby has had a chance to get more nourishment. Thank you to those who have been praying for her and her family.

I am grateful...that is all I can is the extent of my spiritual reflections at this point in time. And I am feeling relieved and humorous tonight...maybe that is Spirit.

Here is a picture of an unidentified friend on my recent trip to Florida.

I can't risk messing up this simple post by trying to add any more snapshots. I'll post some of the new baby and his sibs and cousins when the time comes...the fullness of time, of course.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Our Dog Babe

Our dog Babe died on Saturday evening, February 17. She would have been fifteen years old on March 1, well over 100 in human years. She did not die quietly in bed, but having escaped the house while I was putting out the recycling, that dog of independent mind decided to go roaming. She was dead before we noticed that she was missing.
I would like to think that she met her her end chasing a car, a favourite pastime of all her breed, but that is not the case. She trotted along, blending into the snowy shadows of the evening. Neither she, nor the kindly folk who hit her, had a chance. It is some comfort to know that she died instantly and in some ways, on her own terms.
Highly intelligent, Babe had a stubborn streak. She would have felt it very undignified to have degenerated into a feeble, housebound, old age.Babe was incorrigibly bossy, knew what was good for river swimmers and skate board riders. Her sometimes irritating sharp barking and herding instinct were an inheritance from her forebears in the Shetland Islands. As she grew older, she kept her beauty, the Blue Merle markings of her pedigree and her lovely, wise face.

Our lives are forever changed. Rob misses his daily walks and hardly knows how to start his mornings. For several days after she died, I continued to hear Babe barking, not protractedly, just an occasional 'woof.' It was both disconcerting and comforting.

This past week Rob was away overnight for work, as he frequently is, and I was alone in the house. I realized just how companionable Babe was, particularly when a horrific storm of freezing rain and high winds interrupted sleep at 3:00 a.m.. Formerly, just having her at my door would have been reassuring. Now I found I could not sleep at all and finally got up and spent the rest of the night sweeping up and folding laundry. The house is empty.

Babe is linked to all of the memories of our lives over the last fifteen years. There was the time we had a fire in our Edwardian house in Orillia and we thought that Babe had succumbed. What a relief when the firefighters found her. Covered in soot, she came bolting out of the family room straight out the front door and raced around the house at breakneck speed, barking her lungs clear. Then there was the time, a couple of years later, when she wore a pink ribbon for my daughter Sarah's wedding day in October, 1999. Not two years later, she was part of the nursing team during my father's last illness. She sat patiently beside his chair, comforting him, licking gently the thin yet familiar hand that had petted her for years.

Rachael drew a picture of Babe and God looking down on us from heaven. God was a bright yellow cloud and sun and a rainbow. I added a sketch of a young Great Grandpa Ballantine playing in the eternal fields with Babe. Rachael called her picture 'Babe's Banner', and it has hung for a week in the breezeway where Babe rested in warmer weather.

We will not own another 'pet.' We travel too much. Our lives are far too busy for us to be the ideal companion humans. And we are getting older. Another 15 year old dog just might outlive us! My brother reminds me that there are still more than enough dogs in the family to keep us company. He knows that in my heart, no dog could replace Babe.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wes Roberts asks some questions

I read several recent posts by Wes Roberts, and as always, what this gentle and wise man had to say triggered explosions of thought. Take a look at his post for February 12, 2007 "113...what do we claim to be true?"

Wes wrote: "War images can offend. Battle talk is uncomfortable for be avoided. Thus, in the messiness of language, images, symbols, I believe, the wide ranging issues of spiritual warfare (...a fairly consistent theme in our life-text, the Bible...) gets minimized, ignored, and we pretend there is no such thing. There is......." Oh yes, to the sensitive little girl who grew up in The Salvation Army (Church, not Community Centre or Thrift Store) those war images have been offensive. Coming of age during the Vienam War, I was acutely uncomfortable with the externals attached to my roots in this Christian movement: uniform wearing, street meetings, knee drill (prayer meetings), and systems of hierarchical command. For most of my life I have avoided thinking about the Biblical context and the Divine imperative behind the notion of spiritual warfare.

But Wes pointed me in the direction of Eugene Peterson's rendition of Ephesians 6:10 - 24 in which Saint Paul urges us all to take up the best spiritual weapons in order to enter into a fight to the death with the Devil. Here is the portion of the passage which spoke most deeply to me:

Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
Wes suggested some questions for reflection and I have chosen to respond in this blog to seal my intentions.

1. Where do you need to take more seriously these words of our God?
"Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words." I need, as always, to embody these words in my daily life. 2007 is a year in which I have covenanted with God to be more even tempered emotionally and relationally. I need truth to anchor the sometimes unwieldy breadth of my unorthodoxy. I need righteousness, a clean heart and a clear mind, in order to do my work with my family and as a writer and volunteer therapist. I need peace in place of the rage I feel when trapped in circumstances beyond my control...rage never helps..."Lord, grant me the serenity..." I need faith to believe that God is in control of that vast host of things beyond my control. That is huge. And I need salvation, not in its limited and perhaps distorted sense of being 'born again,' but in its truest sense, which is deep healing. I need to experience salvation/healing daily in order to bring this balm into my small world. This is where I need to begin.
2. What will you do about that?
I will write this blog. I will covenant with others to keep me focused and faithful (my name of course, 'constance.')
3. Where do you need to do battle for a variety of issues within your own soul?
I need to do battle with fear. This is the microcosmic battleground for me. It is not sufficient to say, 'I have an anxiety disorder' and therefore I am excused from this particular battle. Rather, I think, this particular battle is enjoined on me with a special purpose. I must fight fear in order to release the gift of God which is within me and in order to be useful in this life, which, after all, is the only life I presently have.
In the macrocosm: I believe that fear is the cause of much wrong headed thinking in this world. It is fear of differences, fear of others, fear of change, fear of self, fear of past, present and future which motivates the physical wars and rumours of wars which are destroying the world community. It is fear of surrendering to kindness and willing love which creates pain in marriages and families. It is fear of poverty which creates poverty through hording, lack of generosity, abuse of resources and wealth. And so on.
4. How will you allow others to join you in the battle?
I will write this blog. I will ask for prayer to keep my resolve. I will ask others to consider these questions and the import of Ephesians 6 for their lives.
5. What is God up to in your own life?
God has given me great blessings this year and more importantly, awareness of these blessings. My life is far, far from barren. Indeed, this barren woman is about to become a grandmother for the fifth time in as many years! My family is more cohesive, sharing and caring, living love despite uncertain circumstances. I am so grateful. My book has received a good response: people have laughed and cried and seen themselves in it. This is all I ever hoped for. This is very fulfilling and it is a direct result of my obedience to God...yes, obedience, another term I've cringed to own. My personal life vision and my mission statement are being fulfilled in ways beyond imagining. Despite fear, I am giving birth to Beauty, a commodity much touted but little understood.
6. What all do you want our Triune God to be up to?
Is this where I say, 'world peace?' Nope. I want God to continue to break down the walls between all people of faith. I want the battle for truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation to be joined on all fronts. I want God to open minds, to break down narrow sectarianism (another form of fear and an acute hindrance to the work of God in any generation). I want God to stir Christian imagination. And out of that great stirring, I want God to bring about creative and loving ways for Christians to confront evil in the world. I want God to help Western Christians to learn the lesson of turning the other cheek, which clearly is not weakness but wisdom since it comes from the mind of Jesus.
So there are Wes's questions and my responses. Should you wish to answer the questions in your own blog, please do. The questions themselves are a kind of spiritual warfare, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Never Say Never

I’m writing from Florida, where it has been raining off and on since we arrived. That has not dampened our spirits since it is warm and anything above 0 C or 32 F feels warm to us. We got out of Muskoka just after the first staying snow. It is unheard of for the river not to freeze in late December. As we left the snow for the rain, a thin skim of ice was forming where the river runs slowest. With this brief respite, I believe winter of 2006-7 will be my shortest ever!! The rain here has been soft and summerish and I don’t mind it.

I once said I'd visited Florida once and I'd never visit Florida again. Never say never. Perhaps my first trip was coloured by the necessity to keep up with the energy the girls generated when they were ten and thirteen!!

Highlights so far:

1. tuna sesame salad (raw tuna on a bed of really fresh greens)…amazing
2. a display of about 500 miniature paintings at a gallery and a long conversation with Thomas Farrell, a loquacious Brit who is reputedly the foremost watercolour miniaturist in the world…wow
3. seeing an ancient documentary on sponge harvesting in Tarpon Springs…not only informative but nostalgically reminiscent of documentaries we used to see as 35 mm. movies in Elementary School way back in the middle of the twentieth century

Lowlights so far:
1. Checking in and immediately out of our first hotel (mould, dirty blankets and carpet). Buyer beware, those picturs on the internet may be generic and may not represent what you are actually booking.
2. Leaving all my American money in Canada
3. Checking in to a second hotel and needing to change rooms the second night because of spiders, holes in curtains, lack of closet doors and no internet access…(all this for $100.00 CAN)

The best thing is that almost everyone I see is older than me, and the worst thing is that almost everyone is older than me. I see my future in every approaching face!!

The score, then, is even so far…and all the little troubles of home seem far away. I thank God for these days and breathe blessings on this somewhat transient place: its elderly citizens, its gated communities, its giant billboards advertizing the specialties of litigation lawyers, its excellent restaurants, its alligators, pellicans, storks, palm trees, waterways and greens.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Psychological Profiling by Dessert Selection

I haven't been feeling terribly profound lately. This test was supposedly developed by psychiatrists but sounds more like something a group of psychologists would come up with late at night at a convention in Atlantic City.

I picked Lemon Meringue Pie and think that the description fits quite well, but those of you who know me best may have other opinions about that. Take this test and see if you think the appropriate description fits YOU.


Don't cheat on this one, go with the first dessert you choose!!!

If all of the desserts listed below were sitting in front of you, which would you choose (sorry, you can only pick one!) Trust me....this is very accurate. Pick your dessert, and then look to see what psychiatrists think about you.

Here are your choices:

1. Angel Food Cake
2. Brownies
3. Lemon Meringue
4. Vanilla Cake With Chocolate Icing
5. Strawberry Short Cake
6. Chocolate on Chocolate
7. Ice Cream
8. Carrot Cake

No, you can't change your mind once you scroll down, so think carefully what your choice will be.

OK - Now that you've made your choice this is what the research says about you... SCROLL DOWN---No Cheating
1. ANGEL FOOD CAKE -- Sweet, loving, cuddly. You love all warm and fuzzy items. A little nutty at times. Sometimes you need an ice cream cone at the end of the day. Others perceive you as being childlike and immature at times.
2. BROWNIES -- You are adventurous, love new ideas, and are a champion of underdogs and a slayer of dragons. When tempers flare up you whip out your saber. You are always the oddball with a unique sense of humor and direction. You tend to be very loyal.
3. LEMON MERINGUE -- Smooth, sexy, & articulate with your hands, you are an excellent after-dinner speaker and a good teacher. But don't try to walk and chew gum at the same time. A bit of a diva at times, but you have many friends.
4. VANILLA CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE ICING --Fun-loving, sassy, humorous, not very grounded in life; very indecisive and lack motivation. Everyone enjoys being around you, but you are a practical joker. Others should be cautious in making you mad. However, you are a friend for life.
5. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE -- Romantic, warm, loving. You care about other people, can be counted on in a pinch and expect the same in return. Intuitively keen. Can be very emotional.
6. CHOCOLATE ON CHOCOLATE -- Sexy; always ready to give and receive. Very creative, adventurous, ambitious, and passionate. You can appear to have a cold exterior but are warm on the inside. Not afraid to take chances. Will not settle for anything average in life. Love to laugh.
7. ICE CREAM -- You like sports, whether it be baseball, football, basketball, or soccer. If you could, you would like to participate, but you enjoy watching sports. You don't like to give up the remote control. You tend to be self-centered and high maintenance.
8. CARROT CAKE -- You are a very fun loving person, who likes to laugh. You are fun to be with. People like to hang out with you. You are a very warm hearted person and a little quirky at times. You have many loyal friends.

Okay. Tell me what type you are in the comments below or email me at Email your friends and get them to take the test. I want to hear from the invisible ones, too. And it would be interesting to know how accurate you think the descriptions are of YOU. Those psychologists or psychiatrists could not possibly have normed this test. I wonder how that would be done?


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

From Norway with Love

We have had no snow in Muskoka this Christmas. This is very rare. Our first Muskoka Christmas, it was -40 degrees. I can't remember if this was Fahrenheit or Celsius, but at that temperature, the difference is so slight as to be irrelevant. The oil in our car froze. The air stung our cheeks red and snatched at breath turning it instantly to ice on thick scarves and parka hoods. All was deep winter blue by day and star pricked silky black by night.

According to weather experts, in the last forty years in Canada, thirty-eight have been warmer than usual and only two colder. This lends some startling statistical support to the general sense we all have that winters are not what they used to be.

This morning I gasped with delight at these pictures from Norway taken by a friend of a friend, Ruth Elizabeth, a woman of spirit and creativity. They caused me to praise God for Beauty and to be a bit wistful about old Muskoka winters. The titles are mine, the phrase 'The Blue Hour' belongs to Ruth Elizabeth.

The Blue Hour


Moon in the Morning
I feel poetry rising.