Monthly Archives: March 2004

Attack of the Blues

I am prone to get down at times – I have always had a fragile sense of self esteem – maybe it is partly linked to my introverted personality.  I worry over what other people think of me.  And I suppose that is part of the reason why, from time to time, I am prone to have feelings of complete inability to do anything well.  I know in my head that that is not true but sometimes feelings take precedence over sensibility.

I was feeling horrible last night.  I have no real idea why.  It seemed that I was just surrounded by an oppressive atmosphere that I could not shake off.  I went to worship practice last night in that frame of mind and it was tough.  None of the songs played easily – it seemed like I was all thumbs and missed notes. 

Then I got home and my house was still full of people – some up in the loft watching American Idol, some down in the basement jamming and Leo on the couch watching something else on TV.  I disappeared into the office to get myself lost in a book.

Leo came in awhile later. He is my ultimate esteem booster.  I think that is how he won me in the first place – by his belief in me as a person of value.  Without even a word from me, out of the blue, he told me he was proud to have me for his wife.  I needed that vote of confidence right then.  Somehow he just knew.

So today, I got up for Gatecrashers prayer time, still feeling a bit down, still with no good reason for this feeling.  I was for the first time, unsure that I really wanted to go.  But, you know, I knew God would meet me there as he always does – and I knew I needed to just be in his presence for awhile.  So he was there and I was there, and I think sometimes he’s OK with me just sitting there not saying much.

Then I went off to work.  Work is sometimes a blessing.  It has routines that are familiar – things that I know I can do – a place where usually I am confident in what I do.  I needed that setting today. 

And there were some special treats in my day – some completely unexpected gifts that came my way.  One was the gift of a recorder.  One of our assistants and I were talking yesterday about playing.  She plays the bagpipes and drums and also had a couple of recorders which she doesn’t play much.  Her alto recorder has a bit different tone to it than mine – a bit deeper.  When I commented on it she said, Here, you take it, I’m giving it to you.  I know you will use it playing at church.”  Wow!!!  That was totally unexpected.  So tonight I have been practicing some of the music that I am finding a challenge for Sunday.  It will be interesting to see what the new recorder sounds like with the other instruments. 

And, after work today, someone I especially like asked me to do something that I am thrilled to do and have never been asked to do for anyone before.  I can hardly wait.

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Filed under Dealing with stuff

Memories of … chocolate

Birthdays are a good time to bring out the memories.  They seem to pop out of nowhere in fact.  Just sitting around the table with kids and grandchild seems to have that effect on the conversation.

Kieran was sitting in the highchair at the restaurant tonight.  Crackers were scattered all around – tray, seat and floor.  And Grandpa was trying to slip him a few sips of pop that he is NOT ALLOWED to have at his young age.  Grandpa(Leo) began to reminiss about Eric sitting and covering himself with chocolate in his highchair when we lived for a year in Belgium. 

And then the conversation turned to another time – a few years later – and chocolate, and Kieran’s dad (David).

We were on “home assignment” – a euphenism for a good old fashioned furlough from the mission field.  Furlough – the required return to North America after a four year stint on “the field” – in our case Zaire.  It was our first.  Home assignments were so named to give a certain idea that while we were back in North America we were not just lazing around.  Our first was also a time of recovery for Leo as he had contracted TB.  So we were allowed to do regular work instead of travelling around the country in Canada and the US speaking. 

Towards the spring, we were invited to make a trip down to the USA to speak in a few churches in California.  When you have just spent six months in a cold Saskatchewan winter after three years in the tropics, it is not hard to feel the call to go south to speak.  So just before Easter we flew off southward, speaking in several churches which supported our family. 

While we were in the San Francisco area, we made a trip out to Turlock to visit another missionary family.  They had a pool and we were excited about seeing them again too.  On the way, I picked up a bag of those tiny little chocolate bars.  I thought they would be nice for treats for the kids and since they were small, the boys wouldn’t overdo it by having one now and then.  The boys liked chocolate and so it was a real treat for them and a good way to bribe them when they needed it.

That evening David found the bag.  He found it and sat down and ate every last one of those little chocolate bars.  That evening and night he was sick – stuff coming out of both ends! 

We got home a few days later to begin the Easter holidays with our families.  This was the first time the boys had been around to be indulged by the grandparents with Easter candy.  And of course chocolate.  They both got very large chocolate Easter bunnies.  Eric thouroughly enjoyed the attention and the surprise.  David – two at the time – had learned a lesson.  Chocolate makes you sick.  It was several years before time erased those memories of his and he was willing to try chocolate again. 

Tonight we had chocolate cake for my birthday.  I think he is cured but he still remembers the year he refused the chocolate bunny. 

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Filed under Africa

A day off

Today is a day off for me.  I booked it off a long time ago thinking that I could take off on my own somewhere for a bit of peace and solitude.  Then as “fate” would have it, I ended up spending most of my weekend in Regina or driving back and forth for the Provincial Soccer playoffs.  I am still very glad I booked off this day.  It gives me a chance to catch up after a busy weekend.

The girls played hard at the tournament – won two games then lost the semi-final match.  But it was a good game and Sara played well. 

One of the reasons Sara wanted me to take her was that Sara is probably the youngest member of the team this year.  She thus doesn’t have as many close friends her age – it is just the way her birthday falls in the spring of the year and it makes her cross into the over 14 age group before September.  So, she didn’t feel like just going by herself, staying in a hotel room with one of the other team members families when she isn’t that close to the other team members.  But the under 14 girls were also there playing and so she spent some time with those very good friends. 

All in all it was a good weekend – Sara was also happy when one of Leo’s public health collegues suggested she talk her father into letting her buy a new pair of pants for the wonderful goal she scored.  Sara was 100% in favor of that so she asked and she received.  (I’m not sure that this kind of reward is at all needed – Thanks Pat – since she plays for the love of the sport, and since it hurts my bank account!)

I also took some time to visit some friends and that was great.  I know we need to work to keep close ties strong and this was a good opportunity.  So we shared a cup of tea and talked of stuff important to both of us.  She has learned a lot of lessons in life and I hope will be strong enough to help others learn from her story. 


I got home in time last night to meet with the group of women who have been getting together to study Yancy’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew.  We finished it last night and are now contemplating where to go from here. 

We were talking at one point about the incarnation and what it all means in light of the crucifixcion and resurrection.  It is incomprehensible that God would choose to become human – but he did and am I ever grateful that he loved us enough to do this.  The discussion reminded me of a poem I posted here a while back – The Coming by R.S. Thomas.

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A traveling road show

So yesterday we were promised a storm. I was concerned since I had to travel the long road between Prince Albert and Regina.  Last weekend, the driving conditions were terrible – enough snow and 60 to 80 KM winds to make for a deadly combination.  And it was – deadly.  I don’t think that even Provincial soccer finals risked taking those kind of risks.

I picked Sara up from school early and we started out in what seemed to be relatively nice weather.  The road all the way was clear.  We arrived in time and checked into our hotel room before heading to the soccer centre.

Regina is in dire need of a new soccer centre.  Their’s is in pretty bad shape.  The washroom facilities are so bad that the girls try to avoid having to use them.  I think that it is an old hockey arena somewhat hastily refurbished with a tile floor to become an indoor soccer facility.  Not a whole lot different in size than the one in Prince Albert, but the big difference seemed to be the temperature.  Yesterday, the temperature  inside was almost as cold as outside minus the wind! 

But, in spite of the less than ideal playing conditions, Sara’s team won!  1 – 0  And, best of all – Sara scored the winning goal!! (and she plays defense) 

So here I am in Regina blogging from the public library, waiting for the next game to start.  Sara had to be there an hour early so I whipped back here quickly to do something more interesting than standing in the cold arena waiting for her game to start. 

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Psalm 68

This psalm struck me in the way it interjected praise to God in the middle of what essentially seems to be a Psalm glorifying victory in battle.

It dawned on me that this was similar to how we live our everyday lives. The Israelites lived in a time full of battles. It was, in a sense, their way of life.

If I were writing this Psalm, it would be full of references to my life – my battlegrounds would be different. 

Maybe it would go something like this:

God, you help me overcome the difficulties that I struggle with daily.
When I am faced with a hard day, you help me from the moment I awake.
From sunrise to sunset, the wonders of your world remind me of how powerful you are. 
You shatter the obstacles that I am apt to trip over trying to serve the people around me.
You were at my right hand as I struggled with that difficult crown preparation. 
You were with me when I had to prepare the evening meal after a long day at work. 
When there was conflict with my daughter, you helped me keep my tongue under control.

“Praise the Lord; praise God our saviour!
For each day he carries us in his arms.” vs. 19

God is the Lord of our lives.  For the Israelites, this meant that God led them through battles with the pagan tribes around them, to victory.

We may quickly read parts of the Psalms thinking “that doesn’t say much to me” but we all have our own battles, every day, in our ordinary days, where we need to stop and interject our thanks and praise to God.   It is never out of place.  Because God is the God of the world we find ourselves in.

“God is awesome in his sanctuary. 
The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!” vs.33

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Filed under Devotional Reading

A New Gadget

I am getting older.  This has it’s down sides but then I should be used to getting older by now I guess. 

The good thing about the aging process is that Leo decided to ask me what I wanted for my birthday.  And then when I suggested a couple of things that I would love to have, he said “Lets go and get that for you.”  A week early!!!  (Birthday is not till the 14th – That is cheating isn’t it)

So, I am now the proud owner of a Toshiba Pocket PC.  And I am learning how to use it.  I like the calendar and the task reminder.  I really like the Dental drug lexicon.  But the thing I like the most is that I can sit and write in the off moments at work and then download it all to my computer when I get home.  Today I did this with the agenda for a meeting.  And then, as I sit and read and think of comments I would like to make or record about what I am reading, I can just do it right there from my armchair.  And to top it all off there are a couple of games if I get very bored. 

I suspect there is a whole lot this little gadget can do that I don’t even know about yet.

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On Reading Soul Survivor – Koop

Koop

 

The chapter on Koop in Yancy’s book Soul Survivor was probably one of the most applicable to my own situation.  This is due both to my being part of the “medical” community by profession as well as being married to a physician who by virtue of his place within the medical ranks as a Public Health doctor, Family Physician and Addictionist, has opportunity to come out with statements of his own about many of the same issues. 

 

We have attempted to live our lives, like Koop, with integrity.  We have tried to be people who could be trusted to be who we appear to be – not being Christians only when we travel in Christian circles.  Maybe, in reality, it has been easier to openly live out our Christianity more easily among our non-Christian friends than to be honest about our weaknesses in front of our Christian friends.

 

Non-Christians, once they become aware of our faith, seem to be relatively comfortable with it.  They may not agree with or understand our stand on issues, but they do not think we are immoral because of them.  They respect our right to have different opinions than they do.  Christians, on the other hand, can get very nasty when faced with opinions that differ from what they have been taught to believe, even if the issue at hand is not critical to faith.

 

Yancy quotes one person as saying, “I’ve noticed that Christians tend to get very angry toward others who sin differently than they do.”  He goes on to say: “The only hope for any of us, regardless of our particular sins, lies in a ruthless trust in a God who inexplicably loves sinners, including those who sin differently than we do.”

 

Acknowledging that we ourselves have sinned and are totally dependent on the grace of God is, I believe, a necessary requirement for receiving the forgiveness for those sins.  No sin is “better” than another.  They all cost God the sacrifice of his blameless son.  And we need to remember that if we think of ourselves more highly than others who happen to be caught in their sin, we are, right there, caught in the act of sinning ourselves.  I am amazed that we dare to be so critical of each other.

 

It reminds me of the story Jesus told about the debtor who was forgiven the millions he could never repay and then as he goes out encounters the person who owes him a few dollars.  This man, who has just been freed from his own debt, can’t extend the same grace to another.  And the result?  He loses the pardon that was extended to him.  Shouldn’t this parable tell us something about what God expects of us?

 

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Filed under Writings