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Monthly Archives: February 2011
Song dedicated to Charles Deogratias
Our Father, mighty God, king of heaven and glory
My father, awesome God, sitting right here beside me.
You rule over all the world with justice, love and forgiveness.
May we all sing of your greatness and speak your name with wonder.
Lord I pray for your great kingdom here on earth as in heaven.
Help me, Lord, not to question your plan and purposes for me.
Lord send me, from your bounty, food for me and my family.
Not all we wish but what we need and keep our eye from tomorrow.
Please forgive that I have sinned and hurt the people around me,
When through your help I forgive the ones who’ve hurt me and love them.
For tomorrow, please protect me, from giving in to temptation.
Shield me from the evil one who works to separate me from you.
For your kingdom and your power and glory are forever,
Not just my life, nor the past, bur for time beyond all, Amen.
I wrote this version of The Lord’s Prayer in 2004 after an inspiring series of sermons on the prayer by my good friend The Rev. Charles Deogratias who is a chaplain with the Canadian Forces ordained by the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
God knows what you are thinking and feeling 24/7. No matter what you say to Him in prayer, or whether you are trying to avoid talking to Him, He still hears you. This can be a little bit daunting at times.
The Inescapable God
To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night’,
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Things are a little bit different though with other people. Short of someone with psychic powers, people can not really know how you are feeling unless you tell them. Of course, if you are in tears someone might guess that you are sad, frightened, or depressed. But if you have the mask of strength on and say you are fine you can go undetected quite easily.
Luckily most of us have one or two people in our lives who are able to see us behind our masks. These people who call us on our attempts to hide our emotions are the ones who are our truest friends and we should hang on to them tightly! I think that these people may be sent to us by God, perhaps they are God’s way of giving us a much needed hug.
I may not do it often enough, but today I am thanking God for those family members and four friends in my life who can tell when I need help!
Today was Pink Shirt Day at our high school. Kids, teachers, guys and girls were all sporting various pink clothing. There were pink sneakers, pink pants, pink t-shirts, dress shirts, ties, sweaters, bracelets, scarves. All shades of pink, some as part of a pattern and some plain pink. Some of us ordered special Bullying Starts Here shirts and others wore their normal clothes. I even had one male student who borrowed a pink zip-jacket from his mother. Through the whole day I heard almost no name calling, almost no bad language, it was very cool!
I am sure there were people at the school who thought some of us looked silly, maybe even some bullies who were itching to make a comment, but that is the wonder of numbers. It is a fact that if it is clear that your behaviour will not be tolerated by most of the people around, it is less likely that you will do it.
I don’t know if it will make a difference tomorrow, but the several hundred students all dressed in pink and chanting, “bullying stops here,” won’t forget it!
At the after Christmas sales at our local Fabricville store I found really nice pre-quilted fabric with chickadees and holly leaves on it. If you follow this blog you will already know that I am a sucker for chickadees, so I bought the remaining amount without any clear idea of its eventual purpose.
While still on our break I made a tea cozy which turned out just as I wanted, and a cover for my Kobo reader which works but is not quite what I wanted. This left quite a bit of fabric, enough to make a table-cloth or place mats. I opted for the latter and cut them out. I purchased enough bias tape to finish all the edges and then I was back to work and the project just sat.
I recently got back at the project and with some advice from a friend on mitred corners I did my first one. It took several tries and corrections but it worked pretty well. The second one worked really well and I am happy with it. After school yesterday I finished four more of the place mats with varying degrees of success. On a couple the bias tape pulled or puckered, on one the zig-zag stitch got all messed up on the corner. I stopped for the night after finishing one and remarking to my daughter that my mother-in-law would be rolling over in her grave if she saw the work I had done. Maybe the last two will go better tonight.
The thing is, if you aren’t actually looking at the stitching, they are quite nice. And really, how many people will sit and scrutinize the stitch work on their place mat when they are eating a meal and talking with friends and family members? This leads me to my point…
We have come to expect that things should be perfect. With machines doing much of our manufacturing we expect that what it does on one item will be exactly the same as it is on every other. Assuming the set-up was done correctly, the machine would have had none of the problems I faced on my place mats.
Can the same be said for our lives? Are we expecting perfection? If we are. we will be sadly disappointed! People are not perfect. We can not expect that everything will turn our just as we like, that we will get everything we want. We certainly know the possible results of getting obsessed with having the perfect body. Some people take steroids which have all kinds of nasty side effects, people fry their skin in tanning beds, and worst of all some people end up starving themselves. With this being National Eating Disorder Week the dangers of Anorexia Nervosa are front and center for those of us who have no first-hand experience.
There are two thoughts that come from all of this. The first has to do with what we should expect of ourselves and others. If you are coming to my place I have invited you to see me and I trust that you are not there to judge my house keeping skills. For me this situation would mean that I need to let go of obsessing to have everything perfect so that I can enjoy your company. For you I guess it means that you shouldn’t look too closely in the corners when you come to visit me.
My second thought is that God sees every detail, every nook and cranny, but through Jesus we know that He has already forgiven our sins and is more focused on our conversation and our time together.
The clock in this photo to which the arrow is pointing is one of the things at the market in Fredericton that I look at every time I go. The green one or the red and green one may be more flashy, but the two-part one is so cool. With the hour hand on one face and the minute hand on the other face it is possible to hang this with the hour face at the top or with it at the side.
The separate faces could be useful when teaching kids to read analogue clocks as it saves the possible confusion over the hour hand and the second-hand. On the contrary, however, it does not show the way in which the minutes are directly connected to the passage of the hours.
We think a lot about time. We are always talking about time. We never think that there are enough hours in the day, feel that we don’t have time to do all we want. When we were kids we couldn’t wait for time to pass until we could stay home by ourselves without a babysitter, until we could drive a car, until we were to move out on our own. As parents when we watch our kids grow up and move on we ask where the time has gone.
So which of those clock faces is more important? When it comes down to it, are the minutes more important than the hours? It takes less than a minute for a driving error to end a person’s life or for someone to jump forward to pull someone out of the path of a car, but it takes hours to deliver a baby and what is more important than that?
If I ever buy this clock I don’t really know which way I’ll hang it. I’m quite a traditionalist, even if it doesn’t seem that way sometimes, so I will probably have the hours either at the top or to the left, in the primary place. After-all we usually say it is ten-thirty-four, not thirty-four ten. I don’t guarantee, however, that I will not turn it around some day just to see what it is like. Who knows, it may even make a difference in the way my day works out ;o)
Turn me into a gem Lord!
Turn me into a gem, Lord. Turn me into a gem,
Like a piece of broken glass that someone tossed into the sea.
Turn me into a gem, Lord. Turn me into a gem.
Smooth off all my rough edges Lord, and make a gem of me.
I started life just like a bottle, shiny new and clean.
I thought, look I am finished, aren’t I find, just look at me!
But broken on the shoals of life my innovenve was gone.
And tossed into the sea God started rolling me along.
The sea looks calm when you are seated quietly on shore.
You only see the surface, never realize there’s more.
But under water where the glass falls down among the rocks,
There’s rolling, tumbling, crushing as we’re rolled towards the shore.
The tide goes out, we roll away from that inviting shore.
With every wave the rocks around us smooth us even more.
Roll in and out with tides of life remembering God’s plan.
Some day, when done, we’ll find ourselves rolled up onto dry land.
We may not look as shiny as the day when we were made.
Pieces spread out everywhere and feeling we’re mislaid.
As people find us, pick us up; they’re pleased by what they see.
We can tell them, thank you this is what God wanted me to be.
It happened yesterday. I was tidying the living room because guests were coming. I was on a roll until I uncovered the gardening books my parents recently gave me. I easily set aside the one on perennials, but ended up totally distracted by the Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada. With pictures of fresh asparagus, apples,peppers, tomatoes etc. on the cover I was hooked.
For those of you in warmer climes I think I should mention that this morning as I look out my window I see my neighbours headed up the street with their cross-country skis, the snow bank at the end of our driveway makes it impossible to see if cars are coming before backing out, and the cold breeze is quite unpleasant.
I spent some time on the page that gave a list of which vegetables to plant at what time in the season in order to have all the vegetables a family of four need for the summer. For some things you need to replant a number of times and others just once will do.
How is it possible that people with yards under several feet of snow can be making plans in February for their gardens? No matter how deep the winter, we know that spring will come!
In the same way, as Christians, we know that the Kingdom of God is coming. It is just as hard to tell by looking at it as if it were under those feet of snow, but our faith has us looking and working towards its guaranteed coming. So we move forward with visions of peace and justice dancing in our heads.
A few years ago my sister and I spent a week in July in Cancun . The colours there seemed more brilliant than here at home. Among the many animals I saw while there we saw iguanas, the above macaws, brightly coloured fish etc. I took lots of pictures, like the one above, but the bird that held my heart while we were there and kept me continually entertained was plain black. Locally called the cenote, this bird is the great tailed grackle. Yes, it was basically the same bird that often covers my front lawn at home to which I give only passing attention! I was so enchanted with these birds that I actually didn’t take a single picture of them.
I enjoyed watching their personalities which were clear while they watched for a snack at the open restaurant, puffed themselves up to get the attention of a female, and their voices called to me all day long. These otherwise plain birds represent that awesome week to me, not the showy ones.
So what colours are you? Just as God has given different colours to different birds He has given each of us our own unique “colour.” I don’t mean skin colour, brown, blonde, red or black hair, nor do I mean blue, brown, hazel eyes. These things are not what give people their colour. We get our colour from our personalities, our talents and we show them through our beliefs and our behaviours.
In September of 2007 a Grade 9 boy at Central Kings Rural High School in Nova Scotia wore a pink polo shirt on his first day of school. He was bullied, called gay and threatened with being beat up. Two grade 12 students took it upon themselves to rectify the situation. They spread the word using the internet and were on hand the next day passing out 50 pink t-shirts they had purchased at a discount store for people to wear along with many who wore their own pink clothes. These students sent a message that day that is now repeated all around North America on Pink T-Shirt Day (Feb 23 this year). That day in 2007 these two boys showed their beautiful colour to that young man and to all of us.
Your God-given colour is there waiting to shine. Perhaps you will join with people on Wednesday to wear pink in protest of bullying in our society. Perhaps your colour will express itself through your donations to a charity, or through your actions to lobby for help for the marginalized people in our society. Maybe it will be seen as you listen to a friend who needs support. Whatever form your talent takes it will only show your colour if you put it to use. Go ahead…show your colours!Read more about pink t-shirt day at: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/09/18/pink-tshirts-students.html#ixzz1EMJqUUVY
I promise, on my honour To do my best, to do my DUTY To God, the Queen and my country. To help other people at all times And to obey the Guide Laws. (Girl Guides of Canada Promise)
Today I had hallway duty in the morning and detention duty at lunch time. As I was looking ahead at the end of the work day I found myself sighing with relief that I didn’t have any more duty today. Then I gave my head a shake. I had many things left in my day that would be considered duties.
- The duty to check in on my kids
- The duty to be sure my family is fed
- The duty to look after the dog
- The duty of planning anthems for my choir
- The duty of running choir practice
- The duty of picking up my daughter after work
- The duty of posting a blog entry
From where do our duty lists come? I remember in Guides when we went to camp there was always a duty list to check. It told you whether you were in charge of cleaning outhouses, cooking, clean-up, or fetching hot and cold water from the lodge. We all groaned when we drew outhouse cleaning and many of us enjoyed the cooking. Clean-up was ok if it wasn’t after porridge for breakfast, and water detail involved a lovely little walk through the woods and the fun of trying to keep the water buckets from tipping off the wagons we used for transport. Those are not the duties referred to in the Guide Promise. While it doesn’t exclude these specific types of duty I believe the promise had something more fundamental in mind.
Some of our duties come from our jobs and, like the camp duty lists, are clearly laid out. Most of the more major duties are put in place through our cultures and may indeed be more in our heads than they are reality. I teach my students about the functions of the family: socialization, reproduction, economic, sexual, and emotional. These are all really duties of the parents. It is our duty, or our job to; keep the race going by having children; having given birth to children to raise them to be respectful and law-abiding citizens with clear sense of right and wrong; to lead the family through bringing in and managing the money so as to provide of the needs of all the members; and to offer emotional support and feelings of safety in our households. Failure to perform some of these duties may cause your children to be taken away, but they largely represent cultural norms.
We talk about our civic duty. This would include voting, paying taxes, doing jury duty, obeying the law, turning in people who do not obey the law, cleaning up our dog’s messes etc.
So that largely covers our duties to “Queen and country” and that leaves our duty to God. Hmmm. As Christians we look to the New Testament for our directives. fundamentally our duty as Christians is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. (Matt 22:37-39) These items have been the topic of several other entries on my blog so I won’t go into detail on those.
I believe there is more.
- We were told to go into all the world and preach God’s Gospel to every nation. (Mark 16:15) So evangelism is part of our duty. Some evangelism is done through forums like blogs and social media. Much is done in one-on-one discussions with people and for many it is done through the example of your own life.
- We are called to worship God. Often in Psalms it says to make a joyful noise to the lord. We need to remember all the great things the Lord has done in the world throughout history and offer thanks and prayers for that.
- We are told to help the weak, the poor, and the widows which requires watching out for where there is need and then taking time and resources to answer those needs. This section is not just about direct assistance but also within our communities working to have fair systems and programs in place to continue the help and ideally take these people off the list of the needy.
- Those who believe have been forgiven their sins, but they need to accept that forgiveness, which is sometimes harder than it might seem, and pass it along to others.
So I realize that the Girl Guides of Canada Promise has actually changed to make it more politically correct, but humour me and join in to make this modified version now;
I promise on my honour, To do my best, to do my DUTY To God, the Queen and my country. To help other people at all times And to obey the Law.