(Okanagon Lake, Kelowna, B.C., Canada.)
Next Week: TEXTURE (Woven, Brick, Rough, Smooth, Fabric, Corrugated, Fur, Wood, Mud, Stone, Leaves...)
Victoria Gaines who writes the very excellent Light for the Writer’s Soul – a blog for Christian writers – has tagged me to do a book meme. It’s all about what I’m reading…
Next five to read:
1. Suncatcher by Jamie Langston Turner
2. Mourning into Dancing by Walter Wangerin Jr. – I started this book almost a year ago. Now I’d like to finish it.
3. Women, Abuse and the Bible edited by Catherine Clark Kroeger & James R. Beck.
4. Page After Page by Heather Sellers – I’ve read this once, but I want to re-read it.
5. Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer.
Last four I’ve read:
1. The Castro Gene by Todd Buchholz – newly released. I got this from a publicist for potential review. I won’t be doing a review. I don’t recommend this book (well-written, intriguing plot but can’t endorse the language and moral climate).
2. Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray.
3. Spiritual Excellence by Andrew Murray
4. The Heir by Paul Robertson
Last three borrowed:
1. Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
2. Spiritual Excellence by Andrew Murray
3. Can’t remember; I’ve been getting enough free books to make trips to the library unnecessary.
Last two non-fiction:
1. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers - read this every morning along with the Bible. It's a great plumb line for the day.
2. Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman - a classic devotional book we found on Dad's bookshelf. Comforting. I read it every morning too.
One book I wish everyone read: The Holy Bible – any version.
If you’re interested in sharing your reading life in this meme way, consider yourself tagged. (Leave a note in comments and I’ll post a link to your list.)
A friend sent us these photos of apartments in Japan. Don't they look like the little Duplo houses our toddlers used to build into high-rise apartments? (Also, notice all the bicycles.)
Aren't they cute? But where would I put all my STUFF? There really is only room for one thing - a motto on the wall that says: "...for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content." - Phillipians 4:11
Hat-tip: Thanks Barb!
When I heard last week that they had arrested a man (Mark Edward Grant – a repeat sexual offender) for the 1984 murder of Candace Derksen, I perked up my ears. Besides being gripped by the chilling story of a 13-year-old who mysteriously goes missing on her way home from school – the mere thought of which strikes fear into the heart of any parent – I know her parents Cliff and Wilma. We attended the same Bible School. It’s heartening to know that the police were still working on the case this many years later.
Of course that’s not the end of it. As Wilma is quoted in a Winnipeg Free Press article from May 17th, “It feels like our lives have been turned upside down again.” Now they face the lengthy (and unpredictable) court ordeal.
Not only were the lives of Candace’s parents turned upside down with her murder, but the lives of her friends as well. In a May 26th WPF article, Mike McIntyre reports on conversations he had with Candace’s friends Heidi and David after the arrest. David, 15 at the time of her disappearance and the last of her friends to see her alive on November 30, 1984, was the police’s prime suspect. He was interrogated again as recently as Valentine’s Day, 2007.
As with all these kinds of tragedies, it seems so unfair. Why did this happen to these wonderful people? But then we could ask, why do tragedies – illnesses and deaths and crimes etc. – happen to any and all of us? And when they do, how do we cope?
To me this illustrates again the importance of preparing in advance for the inevitable ‘day of trouble.’ One way to do that is to formulate now – before that trouble comes – a theology of suffering and evil. Take a look at these two posts at Rebecca Writes for a leg up in that department.
On Preparing for Suffering and Evil from D. A. Carson – link and notes on sermon one
On Preparing for Suffering and Evil from D. A. Carson – link and notes on sermon two
And from another angle...
"Finding Forgiveness in the Depths of Sorrow" by Wilma Derksen (Candace's mom), originally published on the website of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in October 2006.
After a kid was murdered by a fellow teen in a stabbing here last weekend, Facebook made the news when threats against the murderer appeared on the Facebook page of one of the murdered kid's friends.
In an article "Frowning on Facebook: Is the internet really to blame?" Peter Jon Mitchell, Research Analyst, Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, explains social networking sites, which include Facebook and MySpace. Though he calls them "Kids networking sites..." that's hardly the extent of it. Many adults and big name personalities are on Facebook too - president Bush in the U.S., and in Canada, Stephen Harper, our P.M.
In the article, Mitchell encourages parents to explore these places with their kids. I actually did one better and joined myself. It's one of the few places on earth you're allowed to write on walls! And so far, it is helping me keep in touch with the younger members of my family. It might do that for you too -- that is if they want to be your 'friend.'
To my fellow humans who are entering that most precarious stage of human development.
Let me begin by congratulating you on making it through the embryonic stage. Too many of our fellow humans don’t even make it as far as you have now. Many died of natural causes. Others were cut down prior to implantation by an abortifacient. Still others are trapped in the freezers of IVF clinics, in suspended animation awaiting their fate.
You have made it to the second stage of life. But you're not out of the woods, as they say, until you're out of the womb...
Yesterday I brought in my first cut flower bouquet of the season. The lilacs have been beckoning to me through the kitchen window ever since they opened a few days ago. Last night I resisted no more but went out, cut a few along with some astilbe leaves, and set them on the dining room table.
I think I waited a day or so too long, though. For already they’re shedding their four-petalled blooms – reminding me, that’s what happens when one doesn’t seize the moment at the moment. Also, I was optimistic if I thought their subtle fragrance would mask the heavy notes of latex paint. Even so, they sure do add a nice oasis of graciousness to a house, which feels more chaotic than peaceful lately in our run-up to getting it ready for sale.
We went to visit Ernie’s Dad in Kelowna at the care home on Sunday. He seemed particularly fragile, weeping easily and not remembering that Mom had died, or that he’d sold his farm in Saskatchewan many years ago. "Why am I here?" he’d asked repeatedly. "What am I waiting for? I was hoping you would take me to the farm today." By 11:30 we had pretty much exhausted topics of conversation, had taken him out for a walk and were parked at the table in preparation for lunch, which would be in 45 minutes.
About that time Bill arrived. Bill is the husband of Hattie, who sits at Dad’s table at mealtimes. Hattie has had Huntington’s disease for about 13 years. Every breakfast, lunch and supper Bill comes to feed her. Not only does he do that, but he also helps the other people who sit at the table. When Dad was new at the home, Bill made sure his meat was cut up – and he looks out for all of them that way.
So there he was again on Sunday, favoring his bad knees as he walked in (he’s in a lot of pain and on a ‘list’. "Good news," he said to us with not a little sarcasm in his voice, "they now tell me it's only a year to 18 months"). Though Hattie has no ability to talk, she sure can communicate. When Bill arrived she made all kinds of happy vocalizations and jerky movements with her hands, especially when Bill opened some containers and began to feed her her pre-lunch snack – what looked like chocolate pudding and pureed strawberries.
Another resident (don’t know his name – let’s call him Jimbo) who we’d passed in the entryway earlier wearing a toque and jacket and having a cigarette, came by just as Bill was about to feed Hattie another spoonful. Bill jokingly turned to Jimbo and said, "Open up." That brought a chuckle from everyone. Jimbo pulled up a chair beside Bill, it seemed just to be near this great guy.
A little later another table occupant took his place - actually his friendly white-haired wife brought him – a German man who is also slipping down the dementia slide. His wife was very solicitous of him, making sure his clothes were fixed, and urging him to sit up straight. He’d had his lunch already, she told us, some food she’d brought from home. He was there in case he was hungry for anything more. She told us how he doesn’t see too well and that, along with his declining memory makes him think that she is every white-haired woman in the place. She comes to visit and he tells her he has seen her all morning.
Just before noon the fourth table occupant rolled along, parked in his spot and the eight of us continued talking. Bill told us about the garden he was planting – how he had put in tomatoes and squash for his neighbors who in turn mow the lawn for him. He interrupted his story when one of the male nurses went by, to ask advice about being able to record videos on his new HD - TV recorder. "I used to be able to record tapes no problem," he told us. "Then I got this fancy new machine and I’ve got nothing but trouble!"
And so we chatted until they brought the lunch trays – about Bill’s garden and VCR problems, the German lady’s husband, our Dad – this motley crew of us, bound together by caring for our failing loved ones. And I got the nicest feeling of community, of belonging, of the sense that God was smiling on this knot of ordinary folks (some of whom are really very exceptional) brought together for a brief time on a little care-home island.
This week has certainly seen me distracted blog-wise. First there was that learning curve I talked about earlier. Add to that our continuing saga of paring down possessions in preparation for selling the house -- and you have one multi-tasking mama.
This was the week of repairing window ledges. That meant scraping off old caulk and loose paint, then filling the holes with plastic wood (can you say ‘fumes’ -- enough for a decent high I’m sure, if that's you're poison), letting it dry and sanding smooth. Yesterday I painted.
Yesterday we also emptied the attic storage. Going through the boxes of toys, stuffed animals and dolls was like opening a time capsule. Remember the Fisher Price playhouse and garage (those were old when we bought them second hand in the late 80s), Cabbage Patch dolls and that garrulous creature, almost as big (and heavy) as a toddler named Cricket, in whose back you installed a cassette tape so she would talk to you -- non-stop.
We also found garden chemicals from when we moved here in ’83, the fat brown wooden curtain rods with rings that were in the house when we moved in (I think they're coming back into style), our cross-country skis (a neighbor took them off my hands -- yaaay!) and four boxes of wedding presents we’ve never got around to using.
Meanwhile, spring continued her sprint through the countryside. This week Dame's Rocket, Oriental Poppy and Laburnum -- with its gorgeous chains of poisonous yellow blossoms -- were in bloom.
Char has posted pictures of baby after surgery yesterday.
Char writes on her blog at 4:51 this afternoon:
"Surgery was a success!!"
Karter was out of surgery and in the ICU by 12:30 today. The surgeon said that the operation went very well and there were no major complications. They were happy with how well everything went.
Well, my introduction to the Mac has been up-and-down. For starters, when I took it out of the box on Saturday, turned it on and was directed through the setup process, somehow I goofed in setting up my password – this being THE PASSWORD – the password that I need to input every time I turn on the computer, every time I try to load new software. Basically it’s the key to the computer. ARGH! So all weekend I simmered over that (you know the feeling you got when you were given a new toy and in taking it out of the box, you dinged it, so that ever after when you looked at it, you felt bad – that feeling).
Monday saw that problem solved - and a couple of new ones created. For once I reset the password, my 30-day trial of Office for Mac was no longer recognized, and other programs (like email and the web browser) asked me for the password and when I didn’t give the one they expected (the original one which I typoed), kept slapping my hand with denials. I did finally get them straightened out.
Another matter which still isn’t solved is how I’ll get my writing files transferred over to the new machine. It’s my fault, since I’ve used WordPerfect software for years (preferring it to Word, which I also have on my old Windows machine). When I transferred some files via CD, the Word files opened just fine but the Mac couldn’t decipher anything WordPerfect. In sleuthing around on the internet, I read that the Mac version of Word doesn’t support conversion from WordPerfect to Word, as the Windows version of Word does. So this means I’ll be spending a fair few hours converting files from WP to Word on my old machine before moving them to the new.
As for the move – I was hoping a memory stick would be my moving van. But it seems probably not. For the ancient Windows program I’ve been using needs a driver to download onto such a device. I’ve tried downloading the appropriate driver from the internet from at least two different places and it downloads as a Word file! (It’s probably in a zip-type file format that’s way too hip for my ancient machine to recognize.)
All that to say, the transition isn't going to be without its bumps. But yesterday I did manage to get the printer installed on the Mac and today I bought an extra long printer cable and another cable connection. Then I rearranged my office for the long haul so that both machines can be accessed comfortably, using the same printer and plugged interchangeably into the one cable connection by me simply crawling under my desk and unplugging/plugging in the cable (instead of moving the one cable from machine to machine). That way I can break in on the new machine slowly while being able to efficiently do the stuff I need to on my old clunker because it’s still in service.
The Mac is elegant and zippy. It’s also super quiet. As for having to shut down and boot up again because of some problem (which happens on average about once a day with the Windows machine) – it hasn’t happened yet. I can leave it on all the time. It just goes to sleep - in fact it’s sleeping quietly on the desk behind me as I type.
Yesterday we took the plunge and replaced my old Windows 98 computer with a brand new iMac. Oh my! Now I feel like I’m learning to type all over again. I’ve been on an ergonomic keyboard for years so using a straight one again is beyond frustrating. On top of that. Mac uses a whole new complement of keystrokes. All of a sudden something as simple as moving the cursor to the beginning or end of the line becomes a big production.
Learning to operate in a new computer environment is only a small part of the problem, though. Because now I also need to transfer files. I discovered yesterday that the WordPerfect program I love isn’t available on Mac, in fact Mac doesn’t even read it so I’ll need to be spending many hours converting files on the old computer before moving them over. But, on the plus side – no more virus protect software. And when I get bored, I can turn on the built in camera and take a picture of myself.
Blogging will be light for the next little while. There’s lots to do, not the least of which is, teach myself to type on this dinky little keyboard.
Suppose you’re a mom. You have a beautiful two-year-old girl and give birth to a healthy son. Sounds like perfection, doesn’t it? But then at three months old, your baby boy begins having seizures. This is the story of Char, my section leader in our choir.
Baby Karter is now ten months old. He and his family have been around the block more than once at Children’s Hospital. It was determined a few months ago that the medication isn't working; he needs surgery. As I understand it, the surgeon will remove a tiny part of his brain where the activity is focused. This is hugely risky and could have implications for the rest of his life. Not doing the surgery is also risky. From the time his seizures began, his mom noticed a change in his tone and ability to do things like roll over and meet other milestones.
His surgery, first scheduled for March, had to be postponed because he got sick. Now he is healthy and surgery has been rescheduled for next Friday (May 18th). But his mom and dad and a host of people at our church and around the world are praying and trusting that God will intervene and heal him. They are praying that the pre-surgery MRI that is scheduled for next Thursday will show that he is all better, and that surgery isn't necessary.
I was thinking about Karter evening as I was reading some of the blogs I subscribe to. When I came to this post by Lori that tells what happened to her son - I just about shouted Hallelujah! Miracles do happen!
Read about Karter and the Witt Family’s journey on their blog. And if you feel so moved, please join in praying for another miracle.
Every six months right before his visit with his mom, Corey was afraid that he wouldn’t know her. That she’d dye her hair blonde, cut it short, and start to dress like a woman instead of a girl.
With one sweep of his arm, he sent the cardboard containers flying onto the beige carpet. "You know what I’m tired of, Tina? I’m tired of you looking at me and my friends like we’re six kinds of crap."
She reached down to pick up the carton of noodles, sliding her fingers under the wormy strands. Wiping her hand in the hem of her skirt, she leaned back. "Do you ever wonder if there’s a classier way, Simon?...”
From the study we went into the dining room, the room of appetites and desires. Now this was a very large room. I spent a good deal of time in the dining room and much effort in satisfying my wants.
I said to Him, “This is a very commodious room and I am quite sure You will be pleased with what we serve here.”
He seated Himself at the table with me and asked, “What is on the menu for dinner?”
“Well,” I said, “my favorite dishes: old bones, corn husks, sour cabbage, leeks, onions, and garlic right out of Egypt.” These were the things I liked – worldly fare. I suppose there was nothing radically wrong in any particular item, but it was not the food that should satisfy the life of a real Christian. When the food was placed before Him, He said nothing about it. However, I observed that He did not eat it and I said to him, somewhat disturbed, “Saviour, You don’t care for the food that is placed before You? What is the trouble?”
He answered, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.” He looked at me again and said, “If you want food that really satisfies you, seek the will of the Father, not your own pleasures, not your own desires, not your own satisfaction. Seek to please Me, and that food will satisfy you.” And there about the table He gave me a taste of doing God’s will. What a flavor! There is no food like it in all the world. It alone satisfies. Everything else is dissatisfying in the end.
Now if Christ is in your heart, and I trust He is, what kind of food are you serving Him and what kind of food are you eating yourself? Are you living for the lust of the flesh and the pride of life – selfishly? Or are you choosing God’s will for your meat and drink?
All the cleaning I’ve been doing lately has reminded me of another kind of cleaning – heart cleaning. I remember a little book I once read about that called “My Heart Christ’s Home.” When I looked for it the other day – sure enough I found it (I have a great many things still squirreled away, even after these many days of cleaning!) I’m going to post bits of that book in the next few days. It fits with my frame of mind.
The book starts out with a little intro. I’ll begin with that and then go on to the first room of the heart that gets a cleaning – the Library. So here is “My Heart Christ’s Home” by Robert Boyd Munger.
...The body of the believer would be the temple of the living God and the human heart would be the home of Jesus Christ. It is difficult for me to think of a higher privilege than to make for Christ a home in my heart, than to welcome, to serve, to please, to fellowship with Him there.
One evening that I shall never forget, I invited Him into my heart. What an entrance He made! It was not a spectacular emotional thing, but very real. It was at the very center of my life. He came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire in the cold hearth and banished the chill. He started music where there had been stillness and He filled the emptiness with His own loving, wonderful fellowship. I have never regretted opening the door to Christ...
After Christ entered my heart and in the joy of that new-found relationship, I said to Him, “Lord, I want this heart of mine to be Yours. I want to have You settle down here and be perfectly at home. Everything I have belongs to You. Let me show you around and introduce You to the various features of the home that You may be more comfortable and that we may have fuller fellowship together.”
He was very glad to come, of course and happier still to be given a place in the heart.
The first room was the study – the Library. Let us call it the study of the mind. Now in my home this room of the mind is a very small room with very thick walls. But it is an important room. In a sense, it is the control room of the house. He entered with me and looked around at the books in the bookcase, the magazines upon the table, the pictures on the wall.
As I followed His gaze I became uncomfortable. Strangely enough, I had not felt bad about this before, but now that He was there looking at these things I was embarrassed. There were some books there that His eyes were too pure to behold. There was a lot of trash and literature on the table that a Christian had no business to read and as for the pictures on the wall – the imaginations and thoughts of my mind – these were shameful.
I turned to Him and said, “Master, I know that this room needs a radical alteration. Will You help me make it what it ought to be – to bring every thought into captivity to Thee?”
“Surely!” He said. “Gladly will I help you. That is one reason I am here. First of all, take all the things that you are reading and seeing which are not helpful, pure, good and true and throw them out! Now put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible. Fill the library with Scriptures and meditate on them day and night. As for the pictures on the wall, you will have difficulty controlling these images, but here is an aid.” He gave me a full-sized portrait of Himself. “Hang this centrally,” He said, “on the wall of the mind.”
I did and I have discovered through the years that when my thoughts are centered upon Christ Himself, His purity and power cause impure imaginations to retreat. So He has helped me to bring my thoughts into captivity.
May I suggest to you if you have difficulty with this little room of the mind, that you bring Christ in there. Pack it full with the Word of God, meditate upon it, and keep before it ever the immediate presence of the Lord Jesus.
Did you ever hear of any one being much used for Christ who did not have some special waiting time, some complete upset of all his or her plans first; from St. Paul’s being sent off into the desert of Arabia for three years, when he must have been boiling over with the glad tidings, down to the present day?
You were looking forward to telling about trusting Jesus in Syria; now He says, “I want you to show what it is to trust Me, without waiting for Syria.”
My own case is far less severe, but the same in principle, that when I thought the door was flung open for me to go with a bound into literary work, it is opposed, and the doctor steps in and says , simply, “Never! She must choose between writing and living; she can’t do both.”
That was in 1860. Then I came out of the shell with “Ministry of Song” in 1869, and saw the evident wisdom of being kept waiting nine years in the shade. God’s love being unchangeable, He is just as loving when we do not see or feel His love. Also His love and His sovereignty are co-equal and universal; so He withholds the enjoyment and conscious progress because He knows best what will really ripen and further His work in us. – Memorials of Frances Ridley Havergal (from Streams in the Desert)
I have been immersed for the last two weeks in a different kind of project. I am determined to make up, in one obsessed month, for all the housewifely things I’ve put off for years. This is because we are planning to list our house for sale, hopefully as soon as the end of May, and buy and move to a townhouse.
And so I am organizing the shed, kitchen cupboards, bedroom closets and drawers, going through plastic totes and my old trunk, and washing walls. Yesterday we moved the old Heintzman, which weighs a ton, so I could vacuum and wash behind it. Gross!!
I printed out some advice from the web about preparing a house for sale. This article certainly agrees with what I see done all the time on HGTV. Its top three bits of advice: “1. Disassociate yourself with your home, 2. De-personalize and 3. De-clutter.” Thus on Wednesday I took down most of the personal photos and pictures from the walls, packed away ornaments, polished the wood tops of coffee and end tables, and voila - brighter and sleeker.
Of course much of our stuff doesn’t get packed away for the future. It needs to go. And so I come against the quandary – what do I do with it all? Fortunately I had the foresight to say ‘yes’ to the Canadian Diabetes person who phoned a few weeks ago. Last Friday they picked up a bundle. But until we’ve dealt with every rat’s nest in this whole place (from the over-carport storage to the crawl space) there will always be more.
On Monday, for example, I decided to do away with the unsightly tin shelves we’ve used as a linen closet in the upstairs foyer. This meant that I had to drastically reduce the amount of bed linens and old towels I’ve been hanging onto so that everything would fit into the tiny built-in hall closet. What to do with all the old sheets and towels? I discovered I already have a good number of old sheet drop cloths squirreled away. And my downstairs rag shelf is bursting with tattered towels. “God, if there is some place that will take any of this stuff so we don’t have to garbage it, please show me,” I prayed Tuesday morning.
Tuesday was my birthday. When my neighbor came over to wish me a happy one and I mentioned my dilemma, she said, “The SPCA and the Animal Hospital love those things.” Yesterday we found out they certainly do. They took our garbage bag-full with great eagerness.
Photo: The fragrance of this birthday Stargazer Lily (a gift from my son) as it drifts through my ever-more-orderly rooms is also adding to this charwoman’s enjoyment.
I’m enjoying this month away from writing projects with less time at the computer. I love how nice the walls look after a good scrubbing. Less doodads on furniture and window ledges makes the place look peaceful. But especially I love it when I sense my heavenly Father is also involved – helping me with mundane details like finding a place that can use my old linens.
From today’s God Calling:
Joy in Me, trust in Me, share all life with Me, see Me in everything, rejoice in Me. Share all with Me as a child shares its pains and cuts and griefs and newfound treasures and joys and little work with its Mother.
And give Me the joy of sharing all with you.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
ISTANBUL — As many as one million people rallied in a sea of red Turkish flags in Istanbul on Sunday, accusing the government of planning an Islamist state and demanding it withdraw its presidential candidate.Read entire. . .
4Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error].
5For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray.
6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place;
8All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish].
9Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.
10And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.
11And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error.
12And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity,
13But he who endures to the end will be saved.
14And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end.
Today is May Day, a day on which you should wash your face with morning dew to keep yourself looking young and beautiful. You should also gather wildflowers and green branches, make some floral garlands, and set up a Maypole to dance around.Here are some wildflowers I have gathered lately with my camera.
- The Writer's Almanac for May 1st
And from one of our walks last week, a Swamp Lousewort (I think). Sounds dreadful doesn’t it. I guess people figure they can get away with giving proper names like that to flowers with the surname of snapdragon.