Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Author’s Apology for her Book (Blooming)

This Pilgrim’s Progress (Thank you, John Bunyan)

Now I see
what God was doing in me
while I was writing
the ordinary, not-to-exciting
things in this book.
He made me look
inside my heart,
so I could part
with every rotten thing
that was my king
instead of Him.

My love was dim.
My head was strong.
My witness wrong.
I tended to exaggerate
to make my story great;
then wonder if the lie
was something I could justify.

Righteousness for me
could be measured in degree
of work not done Sunday
for that was one day
set aside for God
in which to laud
Him with thanks and praise.
Work–we did on other days.

I would rationalize my sin,
getting ticketed again and again.
If I did something badly
I would nod my head sadly,
“In heaven when I’m not a debtor,
things will be better.”
I took comfort in the fact
there were others with lives more cracked.

I minimized my mistakes
turning oceans into lakes.
I buried my guilt like a bone
instead of looking to Jesus alone.

I said prayers to gain personal pleasure
and if the answers didn’t measure
down to my self-centred wishes
(I wanted fewer loaves and more fishes),
“Thanks to God” I wouldn’t say–
No way.

I held desire in my heart
for something meaningful to start:
birdwatching, maybe was the thing
or collecting 4,000 bells to ring.
Yet my love for God I would ration
while He longed to be my passion.

The fourth commandment figured big in my book
but the poor, the needy, I could overlook.
The Lord’s Supper was white, unnourishing bread
which symbolized Jesus dead
on the cross for unworthy me.
I really couldn’t see
the power I had in His victory
over sin and death and hell.
I had trouble, as well,
when I became 40 years of age
in getting beyond the Ecclesiastes’ sage
who lapsed into the futility
of human ingenuity.

When my house was invaded by ants,
I didn’t give prayer a chance.
When the store sent me a damaged refrigerator,
I didn’t understand the lesson until later:
a carnal Christian will choose what looks good;
a Spirit-led Christian will take what he should.
Leah became a grandmother in Jesus’ line
Jacob thought only Rachel as fine.

When I was plagued with an ache in the back,
promises to exercise I did not lack.
My good effort would fix the wrong,
I really didn’t need Jesus to be strong.

Then one spring I asked God to help me.
This became the life-changing key.
He led me into an hour spent with Him each day–
my carnal self could die this way.
He convicted me,
of Him, never ashamed to be.

I held Him in awe,
yet went by the letter of the law,
when I promised my daughter a toy
I chose one, not to bring joy,
but just to keep my word.

And when strange teaching I heard
from someone who Christian professed to be
I didn’t make an effort to help her see
Jesus had to be in the middle
or Christianity wasn’t worth a diddle.

Punishing my daughter brought pleasure–
What does that measure?
I’m proud to announce I love my lovely neighbour–
it means I’ve kept a commandment that’s major.
I still have such a long way to go.
This process seems so slow.
Yet now, when I direct my passion to the basketball net,
a desire to be passionate for Jesus I get.

I took for granted my earthly dad.
For him, love and respect I had,
but I hardly let him know!
My relationship with God was just so!

I wanted to witness to Carol,
I knew her life was in peril,
but, my words came out slack–
Holy Spirit power was in lack.

A Vineyard experience opened my heart,
the sinful ways must depart.
The Holy Spirit came upon me–
my life never the same to be.
I was a baby with surgeon’s tools.
I didn’t know the rules.
For all the preaching,
I had no teaching.
When the spiritual realm opened wide,
I was but a babe inside.
The warfare was serious.
I was delirious.
Jesus had to be my Lord
before I could wield the sword.

I got ticketed again,
and still justified my sin.
I was making guesses
at how to clean up others’ messes,
so God sent me a blessin’
with a garbage day lesson.
He also sent us a baby girl.
Now we were in a whirl–
Baptise this child?
Or do something wild
and let our church know our desire
believer baptism by immersion to require.
We were in a lurch,
but went with the church.

In Calvinist circles my views became less shareable
So I resorted to using the parable.
I talked about “Quaker” material, carpet-time and new wine,
Bible as direction sheet, angels as firemen fine.
In the parable of the membership card:
to “service engine soon” would be hard.
It would mean leaving our church, our friends...
everything on which social life depends,
and finding a place of membership
where we agreed with the leadership.

My dogmas were dying.
I was no longer buying
my old view that the Holy Spirit had changed,
that He had rearranged
the way
He works today.
I began to know the facts
as in Acts:
that’s how
He works then and now!
But, He won’t operate
if I don’t co-operate.

The Lord was showing us
we were creating a spiritual muss
by going outside our church for direction
and losing our spiritual protection.
So we left our loving church family
to go where we could accept the theology.

The race wasn’t done
but, now we could run.
As a head-Christian I thought I was doing fine;
now as a heart-Christian I knew I was out of line.
I had been a self-righteous, white-washed sepulchre,
until I realized Jesus, anointed with sweet-smelling myrrh,
seated at the right hand of my heavenly Father
washed me in blood, not just water.

I’m no longer a debtor;
He made me better.
In His righteousness I can stand
to do all He planned,
with power from on high,
but my old self has to die.

Now presenting spiritual truth
through my uncouth
is like filtering pure water through dusty dried weeds.
What makes me think
you want to drink?
If you must know
that the Spirit-led life is the way to go,
the Bible is the place
to stick your face.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

10 Ways to Observe Literacy Day

1) Read a Book

2) Read a Blog

3) Read your shampoo bottle

4) Read the labels on all the items you use today

5) Buy reading glasses

6) Turn the sound off on your TV and read lips

7) Go out for dinner and read the menu

8) Read someone’s mind and do what they are thinking

9) Read out loud at a street corner

10) Or go on a reading fast - don’t read anything all day

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Missed Opportunity?

One morning last week I left women’s group all fired up about bringing Jesus to the people around me.

That afternoon my agenda includes visits to the Christian bookstore, the Dutch store, the health food store and the grocery store in that order. I will keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities, I tell myself.

At my first stop I meet my friend Lena. She is in deep conversation with a lady who is thanking Lena for praying with her drug-addicted son who seemed to have changed his life around after Lena spoke to him on the phone.

The woman is practically in tears as she tells me about the difference in her son.

“Come fishing with me,” Lena says to me after I pay for my book. She already has another fish on her line. She has heard a woman talking about her terrible circumstances and has boldly asked if she wanted prayer. They were looking for a quiet corner.

“It’s already 2 o’clock and I have a whole afternoon of things to do.” I say as I back out of the store. I didn’t want to stay. I didn’t want to be part of what Lena is doing.

As Lena readily admitted, she was drugged up. “If God can use a donkey, He can use me while I’m on drugs,” she whispers. “Come fishing with me?”

What would you have done in my place?

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Great Fortune

Last week I received a wonderful email. The email was from Mellisa Graham. Have you heard of her? I haven’t either. She has a very British name, yet writes as though English is her second language. I think she spelt her name wrong.

I call this a wonderful email because it is full of wonderful news for me, not so wonderful for poor Mellisa, but she is not asking for sympathy or even compassion. I think she just wants to get on with her death.

This poor 73 three year old lady has been dieing of cancer for about 2 years, although she is going for an operation (later today according to the email).

‘Poor’ is not the word I should use to describe Mellisa. She has a lot of money. Mellisa doesn’t even know me and she is leaving me 25 million dollars. I can’t begin to guess what she is giving to the people she actually knows.

She wants me to use the money to do the good work of the lord.

She is so humble about this. She doesn’t seem to want to meet me or find out exactly how I will use the money. She simply passed me over to her lawyer.

Some people are so trusting.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Crokinole Champ's Secret

Every Christmas Marty and his brother-in-law have a game of crokinole. Every Christmas Marty wins. His secret: he has flat fingernails.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We Shop at Costco (sort of)

My husband handed me our first ever dividend cheque from Costco. Since we joined Costco about a year ago we have been there approximately 5 times. We have bought two cakes, a glass pitcher which I love, a huge bag of chips which broke open and spilled in the freezer, a potted yellow lily, two bags of kitty litter, a carton of pop and we had our passport pictures taken at Costco.

Mostly I drive past the Costco parking lot with no desire to go in. The place is always packed. Most items come in big or bigger. I have to show a special I.D. to get in and am required to show my receipt on the way out. All these things irritate me.

That’s probably why our dividend cheque only came to 69 cents.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Drinking at the Virtual Fountain of Youth

A wee game of wii.

Yesterday I was 37, the day before I was 72, Sunday I was 32. My Wii age is up and down like a horse on the merry-go-round.

“But Mom, that is not a true test of anything,” says my daughter, Amanda, who is taking three math courses in her program at McGill this semester and knows about that sort of thing. I believe her, but I am addicted to testing my Wii age. I think this is because of the way the test is set up.

The Wii test claims to measure balance, speed and stamina as it takes the devotee through three exercises in tennis, baseball, golf or boxing in seemingly random combinations. I believe the exercises of the day are calculated to disprove the results of the previous day. This keeps me coming back.

When I learn that I am 28, I want to prove I can stay 28 no matter what the Wii throws my way. When I am 79 (the oldest I have have ever been) I want to regain my youth.

Speaking of youth, please excuse me, I must check my age.
Today I am 66.

Unleashing The Power of Prayer

Monthly, weekly and daily throughout our region, Christians from many denominations are humbly yet boldly uniting in prayer for our community. These are prayer warriors...

Read about covering our communites with the Power of Prayer in the January/February edition of the Beacon at

Monday, January 18, 2010

We Pray Because Jesus Answers Prayer

Last week our church had a week of prayer. We were encouraged to spend time during the week fasting and praying. There were opportunities every evening and most mornings to join with others in prayer.

I asked the Lord what or how I should fast. That night I had a dream. I dreamt I was standing with others in front of a table full of chocolates and other sweets. Everyone was eating, but the dream didn’t allow me to even touch the food. When I woke up I took this as my answer.

During the prayer week I went to a prayer time for youth and outreach, one for leaders and one for women. Each prayer time was quite different.

At the first meeting we listened individually for the Lord’s direction and then shared.

At the meeting for leaders, leaders spoke about their greatest challenge and the most rewarding bit of their ministry. Then we formed a sort of fire tunnel, two parallel lines of people which we took turns moving down between as those in the lines prayed and spoke into our lives.

At the women’s prayer meeting we prayed for the people in Haiti. Then we danced a dance expressing service to others and then arranged ourselves on the carpet in the pattern of a giant wheel under a waving banner representing the Fire of God. What felt like electric shock waves kept passing through my body.

Saturday morning a few of us prayed believing the Lord for miracles, signs and wonders. Jesus said heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons (Matthew 10:7&8). We can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). His word is true. He never lies. Therefore we are able to do what he says: heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast out demons. His kingdom is here.

Sunday our service evolved into a prayer time for Haiti. There was no sermon. We prayed for the comfort, healing, food, water, rebuilding and we prayed that the curse over Haiti would be broken, that people would know Jesus as their help.

I believe every prayer spoken was heard and is being answered by God (John 14:13).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Two Random Dirty Thoughts

Why would a manufacturer write “Pooh” on baby strollers and cribs and chairs and other baby products? Don’t they know it's not what mothers want to see on baby things?

Why I don’t sneeze into my elbow…I could get snot on my clothes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Can Happen with the Institutionalization of Birthday Wishes – Part 3

A Most Embarrassing Birthday Wish
I still blush when I think of it. More than a few years back, when we first moved to Owen Sound, I volunteered to produce the church bulletin for our new-found church. As part of my duties I was given a list of seniors’ birthday dates and told to wish them Happy Birthday on the appropriate week.

In the course of duty, I wished Mrs. Van DeDew (not her real name) a very Happy Birthday and many more to come. I liked to express warm personal wishes, possibly endearing myself to the people I hadn’t met yet.

Well, that Sunday, I found out that Mrs.Van DeDew’s body was probably rolling over in her grave with the exuberance of my well-wishes. And, her nearest and dearest grieving relatives attending church that morning were not amused.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Can Happen with the Institutionalization of Birthday Wishes – Part 2

Last week I wished my friend, Diane happy birthday!!!!!!!!!! on facebook. Facebook said it was her birthday. Diane thinks they defaulted her to a January 1st birthday because she didn’t fill in the profile.

If I had of thought about it I would have remembered Diane’s birthday was very close to my own birthday. I would have remembered exchanging birthday wishes at about the same time last year. Duuh.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Can Happen with the Institutionalization of Birthday Wishes – Part 1

Belated Happy Birthday Wishes

While I was volunteering down in the Rock Shop at the Living Rock, (a ministry for street-involved youth) I heard myself paged. “Marian, call Veronica at 389.” No one ever paged me. Maybe I heard the name wrong. I thought this was probably someone paging MaryAnne. I asked Sandra, who was working with me, and yes she had heard ‘Marian’ as well.

Using the Rock Shop intercom/phone proved too technical for me, so I headed up to the reception area for help with follow through. Val at reception pointed me to the correct area and soon enough I was talking to Veronica. She had a lovely computer-generated ‘Happy Birthday’ card for me. It was signed by various members of the Rock staff and was full of personal well-wishes which touched my heart. Veronica apologized because the card was a little late.

“Like about 9 months,” I said.

This surprised Veronica. She thought the card to be about three weeks late.

Somewhere there must be a list with my birthday in the wrong month. Should I find it and correct it? At my age a person doesn’t want too many birthdays.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Complete Identity Change

Tungsten: A hard, gray to white metallic element that is very resistant to corrosion. It has the highest melting point of all elements, and it retains its strength at high temperatures. It is used to make light-bulb filaments and to increase the hardness and strength of steel.

Socks became Tungsten
Not Tongsten as in tongue kisses (yuck) as vet assumed

The name change happened over Christmas when Amanda (the neuroscience student) came home

Then the vet informed us that Tungsten is Tungstena
Yes, he is a she

She is at least 6 months old, possibly more

She weighs less than 4 lbs.

Mouse catcher

Night whiner
Leaf eater
Ball fetcher
In heat
Pretty good cat.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Is There a Self-Help Group for People with Key Problems?


The keys were not in my purse, not in my coat pockets. So I phoned Marty, who sighed a very big sigh. I begged and whispered sweet nothings into the phone, and wonderful man that he is, he agreed to bring me the extra set.

Twenty-five minutes later, Marty was at the door of the house-warmed home with a set of keys. He waited as I searched around inside the van. I found my lost keys between the front seats in the little bucket thing we used for garbage. I must have dropped them there when I was picking up the plate of cookies and the mug (for drinking Chai tea).

Should I start a self-help group? Kim, will you join?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Keys and Tea

(a continuation)
How did Kim’s keys get into my purse? She is the one with the admitted problem with keys. I almost always know where my keys are. Just ask my husband. Well, don’t ask my husband, he has been known to say, “You and keys. What is it with you and keys?” Admittedly, this is a valid question.

I was at a house-warming for a friend. We had a lovely social evening with desserts and Chai tea, very delicious Chai tea. With good intentions I acquired the recipe to make the tea myself. The recipe is very complicated. It includes going to a special Asian store to buy the exact ingredients. I thought of posting the recipe here for those of you who like complicated tea recipes that promise to make very delicious tea, but can't find it back. Also the night I drank the tea I suffered a stomach ache. This may have to do with the tea or the rich desserts.

Back to the Keys
After our little tea party, I couldn’t locate my van keys.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Key Saga, Part 3 - Guilty as Charged

As she spoke, my eyes fell on a bunch of keys. She was describing the set of keys inside my purse. My mouth fell open.

“Kim, they are here, in my purse. Should I bring them over?”

“Yes, please." The ‘I thought so,’ was practically audible.

I zipped over to Kim’s where her she and her children were patiently waiting. Kim (kind human being that she is) apologized to me.

I had to straighten that out. “Kim I am the one that took the keys. I’m sorry. You’ll probably all be late.” I looked at the children.

“That’s okay,” her kids chimed. They thanked me—apparently not getting to school on time is a good thing.

Moral of the story: every situation has a silver lining for someone.

(more key saga)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Key Saga, Part 2 - No.1 Suspect in the Case of the Missing Keys

(continued from previous post)
“My keys were on the couch where I dropped them,” she said. Your things were also on the couch,” she went on to say.

I knew I didn’t have her keys, but I wanted to be kind, and so chose my words carefully, “Sooooo, I should check my coat pockets, I suppose.” Phone in hand, I walked over to the closet. I checked each coat pocket—twice, for good measure. “They aren’t here, Kim,” I said kindly, although she might have detected a touch of ‘I knew I didn’t have them’ in my voice.

“When I have keys in my hand, I drop them into my purse,” I said trying to re-create a scene that obviously didn’t happen.

I took my purse off the shelf in the front closet and set it on the table. “So, I’ll check my purse,” I said to Kim.

“They are a big bunch of keys with a green Sobey’s card attached,” she said helpfully.

Key Saga, Part 1 - Who Stole Kim’s Keys?

Kim told me she had a reputation for leaving her keys in random places. She told me about the time she went to the mall with her mother and sister. After their shopping expedition, Kim wanted to unlock her car, when she realized she didn’t have her keys. She believed she had dropped her very substantial key ring with its half dozen keys somewhere in the mall.

She backtracked through the various malls stores at double quick pace, hoping to discover the keys before the mall locked up for the evening. Miraculously, just before closing time she found her keys behind a bench in a dressing room in one of the many stores she had visited earlier.

I knew Kim had a problem with keys. So why did she think I had her keys? This was a real stretch. Kim phoned me at 8:50 one Tuesday morning to ask me if I—who happened to be in her home the evening previous with three others—had her keys.

Why would I have her keys?


Friday, January 1, 2010

10 Things I Learned (again) This Holiday Season

1. If not planning to stir the food in the crockpot, sprinkle (don’t toss) the salt in.

2. Only lock your car with the handy dandy button on the door, if you are absolutely sure the key is in your possession.

3. If you use Cutco knives, keep your fingertips away from the sharp edge of the blade.

4. Don’t pick a fight with your husband just before he sets out to shop for your Christmas present.

5. To see your daughter say her parts in the Christmas play you have to get there on time.

6. A homemade gingerbread house is bigger and tastes better than a perfect little kit house.

7. If you don’t water the real cut-down-yourself-so-it-will-be-fresh Christmas tree the needles start falling off.

8. I love Christmastime.

9. If you don’t have a plan you could be home alone with your husband on New Year’s Eve.

10. Being home alone with your husband on New Year’s Eve can be exciting. (We watched Canada win the World Junior Canada/US hockey game and we played a Wii golf game.)