Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Examination Papers from the Thirties and Forties

Among my many books I found a treasure: High School Entrance Reprints of Examination Papers. This little book is not in great shape. The cover is ratty and torn off. There is some writing, done in pencil, throughout the pages. However, the content is lovely. It is intriguing to read what prospective high school students nearly a century ago had to know in order to be admitted. I am going to type out some of my favourite sections from time to time, here on Grannymom's Spot.

This first one is part of a Literature Examination from 1949. It's a poetry study.


Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
In roaring market-place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
"This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
Of all who live, I am the one by whom
This work can best be done in the right way."

Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
Then shall I cheerful greet the labouring hours,
And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love and rest,
Because I know for me my work is best.
- Henry Van Dyke.

1. Suggest four present day occupations that the poet may have had in mind when he wrote line 2.

2. "This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;" (line 6). Write in your own words what you think the poet means by this line.

3. What do you think the poet means by suggesting that "my work" should
(a) suit my spirit
(b) prove my powers

4. What pleasures suggested in the second stanza can the worker enjoy after a satisfactory day's work?

5. Explain:
(a) in roaring market-place.
(b) greet the labouring hours
(c) long shadows fall.

I don't know much about the poet, Henry Van Dyke, but I would say at first glance that he must know something about the Sovereignty of God. A recent reading of Ecclesiastes reminded me of the simple pleasure of finding joy in ordinary things, like work, and family, and good food or wine. This poem adds to that theme, by reminding us that the type of work is of no consequence. How one views one's work makes all the difference.

Okay, children of mine... here is a poetry assignment for you. Copy the poem, then answer the questions. Respond to my comment in the previous paragraph. Do you agree that one of the messages in Ecclesiastes lines up with this poem?

Monday, December 17, 2007

In the genes.

I was talking to my daughter-in-law, Joanna, today, and she mentioned that Kaleb was getting drums for Christmas. Kaleb, Matt's son, is just like his daddy. Matthew, when he was little, drummed on everything. He drummed with his spoon on the high chair. He drummed with his shovel in the sandbox. One of my favourite memories of Matt was of him sprawled, upside-down, on the couch, with his legs in the air and his behind up. He was drumming on his rear! I told Joanna that Matt came out of the womb ready to start drumming.

Now Kaleb is doing the same thing. He grabs his father's drumsticks, and taps on his trucks, on the couch, on the floor. His eyes light up and his grin is wide: he's making music.

It's amazing how our children are like us. Kaleb, his father Matt, and Matt's dad, Rick, all have the beat within them. They like to tap, to keep time to the music, or their heartbeat, or even their thoughts. You can see the pattern going through the genes, from father to son to grandson.

Unfortunately, sometimes we inherit bad tendencies from our parents. I caught the clutterbug from my mom, who caught it from her mom before her. I tend to save things, just in case. I might need that purse some day, or that what-zit.

My mother kept a clean home, but her closet was cluttered. Her bedroom drawers were stuffed to the brim, and she had boxes and bags of stuff packed away, just in case. I remember my grandmother's flat in Verdun - clean, but cluttered.

Unfortunately, I inherited that tendency to save things, just in case. As a result, my life is cluttered. I have too much stuff. And I feel burdened, weighed down, with the responsibility of caring for it.

Today, I went into my closet to get wrapping paper. I stood there, looking up at boxes of "stuff", wondering what was in them. After a bit of investigating, I found a bag that I thought I had lost, some stuffed bunnies I had planned to give the kids two Easters ago, and some old, out-dated purses. What was I thinking?

There were clothes I was saving that were two or three sizes too small. If I ever do lose that much weight, they'll be so out of fashion that I will look like a bag lady if I wear them. Out they went.

A bridesmaids' dress. Some old curtains. Turtleneck sweaters. (I NEVER wear turtlenecks...hate that constricted feeling. What was I thinking?) Out they went!

I discovered a garbage bag, sealed tightly, on the top shelf. Hmmmmm... what was in there, I wondered. I pulled it open and TA DAH - a beautiful snowsuit that will fit Elena for this winter. Do I remember where it came from? NO, but Elena's sure thankful that I decided to clean my closet today!

There was an old accordion, 'way in the back of the closet. I asked Rick what he wanted to do with it, because it was his mother's. He didn't want me to throw it out (!), but was willing to give it to one of the children. Tiana was soon playing it, making it sing. She was delighted, and told me that she has wanted an accordion ever since the family reunion at Springbank Park. Another family was having a reunion close by, and Tiana was thrilled as she listened to the Greek papa play the accordion while his huge family danced in a big circle.

The next hurdle will be to get Rick into the closet, trying on clothes (anathema to him) to determine what needs to be tossed. He hates trying on clothes, for any reason. Even when he gets a new article of clothing, he just puts it away until he actually plans to wear it. None of this trying on business. He's got better things to do. Like drumming. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Storm-stayed... and all's well!

We stayed put today. A severe winter storm was forecast for most of Southwestern Ontario. Rick was up at 7:30, checking the road conditions, and soon decided we weren't going anywhere.

The children stayed nestled in their beds, except for Critter, who picked up a 'flu bug and was very sick. I wasn't well, either: queasy stomach, headache, general feeling of malaise. Rick ran me a bath (oh, joy!) and brought me a cup of Honey/Ginger tea. I soaked in the tub and tried to read "The Strength of Weakness" by Roy Clements...but my glasses kept steaming up. I gave up and relaxed, enjoying the air bubbles and the scented candles. Felt somewhat better when I pulled myself out.

The day was spent inside, listening to the wind, watching the drifts pile up. We played Christmas Music while chopping vegetables for supper. Jared belted out "Mary's Boy Child" at the top of his lungs, which reminded me of this poem (sorry, Jay!):

Swans sing before they die -
'twere no bad thing
should certain persons die
before they sing.

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The boys and dad ventured outside later in the afternoon to clear the driveway. They came in, covered in snow, but satisfied.

A roast is in the oven, veggies in the steamer. I just have to make gravy and get one of the boys to carve the roast, and we'll enjoy Sunday dinner. It's good to be home on a day like this.

We wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heather, Emma and Shantel

He gives and takes away...Blessed is His name!

Blessed Be Your Name
Matt Redman, Beth Redman
c2002 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

Blessed be Your name
in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name
when I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's "all as it should be"
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name
on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away You give and take away
My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name

It's been nearly a week now since we lost our third horse, Shantel. Botulism had claimed the life of her barn mates the week before, and we thought that Shantel would be fine. Linda wasn't sure...but I began to think that her life would be spared.

It was not to be. Linda came in, white-faced, on the morning of my 53rd birthday. "Mom, Shantel's down." It can't be, I thought. Quickly phoned Heather, then the vet, then out I went to the barn.

We got Shantel in December of 1993. She was actually our second horse, because we had acquired a little filly named Cadence just a couple of weeks before. Cadence was fine, but Shantel stole our hearts.

She was a beautiful Arabian - Chestnut, White blaze and socks, light on her feet. She floated rather than trotting, and we couldn't get enough of just watching her.

Heather, 15 at the time, began to train Shantel. It turned out she was a stubborn mule with an attitude, unless she was in a good mood. She liked men when she was in heat, but when she wasn't in heat she didn't want them around her. We learned to read her moods, and we loved her just the same.

Heather continued training her, and soon discovered Shantel was very smart. She learned quickly and responded well to leg aids and other cues. The two of them became a team, and Heather soon travelled all over our area on the back of that horse. Shantel was a perfect trail horse. She didn't panic when encountering something new, but waited for Heather's direction.

A few years later we got Chance. He was an older gelding that belonged to my friend, Jane. Jane had some new horses, and we needed a second horse, and the timing was perfect, because Linda was getting to the age where she could safely ride. Not only that, but Chance was the first horse that I ever rode (apart from trail rides on boring horses that just followed the tail of the one in front).

You really need two horses if you're going to have a horse. If one was going out, they both did. Heather and Linda did most of the riding, but I did some, too. I have wonderful memories of riding on trails through the bush near our house. I rode with Linda (she was on Chance and I was on Shantel) and with Heather (she was on Shantel and I was on Chance). Only once, Daniel and I went out for a ride together...but it was great fun.

Last year, Jane gave us Antar, an older gelding. He was skinny when he came, because he was at the bottom of the pecking order in their barn. Linda quickly fattened him up. He was a gentle guy, and very obedient. If she had the gate open, getting water, he would NEVER come through it. If she ever scolded him for anything, he'd hang his head in agreement.

I can't begin to express the joy we had with these horses. Simply looking at them in the field brought joy, especially if they were running and tossing their heads in response to the wind. We'd call them, and they would respond, whinnying and coming over to the fence to see what was up.

And now they are gone.

And now we grieve.

But we do not grieve as people who have no hope. We know that God is in control, and that He is always good.

As Christmas approaches, I have been pondering the life of Joseph and Mary, as they were given the astounding news that a child, conceived in the womb of the virgin, would be the Son of the Most High. You'd think that life would be peachy-keen for Joseph after that. He was graciously raising a son that wasn't actually his, and he was doing so "as unto the Lord", I am sure. God allowed him to be humiliated, along with Mary, in front of his family, friends and community. He did this great thing, and did not put Mary away, but travelled with her to the City of David. Again, that would have been hard. Travelling over rocks and hills is hard enough at the best of times, but with a pregnant woman under your care? Much, much more difficult. I am sure the responsibility weighed heavy on his shoulders.

So, baby Jesus was born, and the shepherds came. The angels sang. Joseph moved his little family to a house in Bethlehem, and along came wise men with gifts, and they bowed down and worshiped the Child. Again, you'd think that because this was surely the Son of God, life would go smoothly. You'd think that God would simply put a huge hedge of protection around them, and that trials would be few.

But wait...Joseph was awakened in the middle of the night by an angel, who told him to flee. He had to get up quietly and take Mary and Baby Jesus, and run for their lives.

It's easy for us to read it in the Bible. We all know it to be true. But just imagine the confusion that Joseph must have experienced. "You want me to WHAT? Herod is going to do WHAT?"

Life isn't easy. It wasn't for Joseph, and it isn't for us. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to be born, and a time to die. There is a time for laughter, and a time for mourning.

I do believe that I know a little more about suffering and grief, having lost three beloved horses in less than two weeks. Our loss can't compare to the loss of children, so although I think I know a bit more about what Job went through, I also am aware that there really is no comparison.

God is a good teacher, and He has taught us many lessons:

1. He gives and takes away. All good gifts are from Him, and He knows best when to give them, and when to take them away. We bow to His will.
2. Blessed is His name. He is Almighty God. He is the One who created horses in the first place.
3. He comforts His children. We feel His presence in our hearts, in our homes. We know that the prayers of God's people have sustained us.
4. We are to hold all of our possessions loosely. We don't know how long we will have that horse, that car, that house, that health, that child.
5. We are to have hope. Just because we lost Antar, Chance and Shantel does not mean that life is over. It doesn't mean that we won't ever have horses again, or that we won't ever have joy again. We have learned that God is good, all of the time, and that Hope is to be found in Him, and in Him alone.

Legend has it that Joseph, as he was fleeing to Egypt, lost his donkey. The donkey died on the side of the road, and the little family had to press on without him.

I don't know if that legend is true, but I do know this: the journey was hard. Joseph may have heard the weeping of mothers mourning as the soldiers killed their baby boys while he was climbing the hills in the darkness. He would have been concerned that Mary would keep Jesus quiet on the journey. There were thieves and robbers to avoid, and wild animals to watch for. It wasn't easy.

God never promised us an easy road. But He did promise that He would be with us every step of the way.

And I am here to testify that this is true.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

When Satan Tempts me to Despair...

When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

I am a Patriarch's Wife, and proud of it. I am glad to be a stay-at-home mom, caring for my husband, my family, my home. I feel privileged to be in this position, and I aspire to greatness. My desire is to do well before the Lord, and to teach my children to do well, too.

The trouble is, I live in an old farmhouse that is constantly and continually under construction. Our basement is unusable -- dirt floor, river running through, very damp. We have very little storage in the house, and only a few closets. We have tried very hard to weed out unnecessary possessions, but many of us are pack-rats and we still have 9 people living here. Five of those are six feet or taller, so we're all big. The logistics of caring for off-season clothes, for instance, with no closet space and an unusable basement are overwhelming. Then to add to it, some of us (especially ME) are bookaholics, and we treasure our books. It is hard to weed out the books, because we LOVE them.

Recent renovations began last year, when Rick and I were on a two-day getaway. My sweet Linda decided to do a "while you were out" and took everything out of the family room. Books, hundreds of them, got stuck in a hallway, stacked in the upstairs hallway, etc.

Then we decided to change our "school at home" classroom into a family oriented learning and living space. We got rid of desks, made shelves for the books, got rid of piles and piles of computer paraphernalia (Rick is no longer a computer guy...he's now a trucker) and everything was beginning to look great.

That's when Rick decided to take out the 42-foot wall of windows (harvested from an old school building, single pane, and not conducive to keeping out the cold) and rebuild it, installing good windows and insulation and vapour barrier, etc. Great plan, but the timing was exactly backwards. We had to pull the newly built shelves away from that long wall. Books got stacked, again.. Chaos ensued.

So, what am I living in? An old farmhouse, with boxes and Rubbermaid containers stacked all over the place. I am trying to find all the necessary receipts for my husband's upcoming audit. Files and papers are stacked all over the computer area. Boxes of books are still piled high, but now there is insulation on top of that. Pieces of drywall await installation. There is a sink/counter on my kitchen table, awaiting installation in the newly built bathroom. (I forgot to mention that. The bathroom floor was spongey and dangerous, so in January my son Matthew ripped it out. that led to the rebuilding of the entire bathroom. Almost there, 11 months later...)

This is NOT the picture I have of a Patriarch's Wife. I want to be hospitable. I want order. I want my husband to be proud of me. I want to be a good example to my daughters. I want to open my mouth with kindness and wisdom, not with irritation due to the stress of living in this environment.

Satan, the Accuser, doesn't have to look very far to see weakness here. It's obvious when you walk through the door. Everything is in disarray. The living room is the only room in the house that is presentable...and it's not perfect, either. Satan sits on my shoulders, saying, "You really aren't a good wife. Look at this house! You can't even keep socks in Rick's drawer. And why don't you have all of the filing done? You should have been able to just walk to the drawer and pull out a file with all of the necessary information. You're a failure." (I hang my head in shame. I have to agree.)

He goes on, "You really aren't a very good mother, either. You are so busy getting the filing done, you haven't even started Christmas shopping. What about baking cookies with your children? And you haven't even purchased a snowsuit for your son. How's he supposed to enjoy the snow? You were short-tempered with the children yesterday when they were just laughing and playing. What a bad mom you are." (I hang my head in shame... I have to agree, again.)

This morning I woke up thinking about all of this reality, and I was sorely tempted to despair. Tears were near the surface. The weight of the world was on my shoulders. I thought of Stacy, and Debbie, and Jennie, and all of those ladies who seem to have it all together, and compared myself to them. Woe is me. "I will never measure up", I thought.

Frustration and anger were near the surface of my mind, about to spill out into my behaviour with my husband and my children bearing the brunt, then the Holy Spirit brought to my mind one of the songs we sing in church:

When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

I began to think about my life and the reality of my marriage and family. Yes, I am a failure, compared to what I want to be or what others are...but I am a child of God. I am striving to please my Master, Jesus, and to bless and honour my head, Rick. When I think of Jesus, I see Him smiling down on me, pleased with my efforts, knowing my heart. He is able to deliver me from all of this chaos. He alone knows how long it will take to achieve our goal of an orderly home. He, Who stands before the Father, pleading for me, is on MY side. He will never leave me, nor forsake me. He is walking with me, helping me, as I sort through papers and direct my children and help my husband with his work.

The Christian life is one of repentance. Daily, moment my moment repentance. We need to acknowledge our weaknesses, and depend on Jesus to make our work count for His glory. In my many weaknesses I see how very needy I am, and how great the grace of God is toward me. He LOVES me. He knows my sin, my failures, my anxious moments. And He promised to meet all of my needs. ALL of them. Even this.

So, Satan...begone! I know I am a mess, but I serve a glorious Saviour. I know our home is not a showcase, but we love God here. We may not have our files in order, but we all sat together today and read the Bible, and prayed.

Thank YOU, Lord, for encouraging me through this little chorus. Thank You that You know my weaknesses, but you love me anyway. Thank You for never leaving me. Give me strength and courage to keep on keeping on this day. May I do it with a song of joy in my heart.

In Christ, I pray.

Before The Throne Of God Above
Charitie Lees Bancroft, Vikki Cook

Verse 1:

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
A great High Priest whose name is "Love,"
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

Chorus 1:

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heav'n He stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

Verse 2:
When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Chorus 2:
Because the sinless Saviour died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
to look on him and pardon me.
to look on him and pardon me.

Verse 3:
Behold him there! the risen Lamb,
my perfect, spotless Righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace!

Chorus 3:
One with Himself I cannot die,
My soul is purchased by His blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ, my Saviour and my God
with Christ, my Saviour and my God

©1997 PDI Worship (Admin. by The Copyright Company)
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
CCLI song #2306412

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Slander; libel - displeasing to God

I was rebuked yesterday by a well-meaning poster who wanted me to know the difference between slander and libel. One is saying something bad about someone else, with the intent to hurt or defame; the other is writing something bad, with the same intent.

Seems to me, a Christian should be more concerned about how she treats fellow Christians than about whether something is slander or libel.

My dear husband led us in Bible study this morning (as is his regular practice). We happen to be reading through 1 Corinthians, and this morning's reading was chapter 4. Paul explains that he is a servant of Christ, as all Christians ought to be. He is also a steward of the mysteries of God: it is his responsibility, as an apostle, to teach the gospel. He doesn't care about the judgment the Corinthians have placed on him. What matters to him is the Lord, the righteous Judge. He will bring to light the hidden things, and will reveal the purposes of men's hearts.

When a Christian attacks another, she or he ought to be very, very careful to seek the Lord and to examine his or her own heart before God. Ask, "why do I need to say this? Do I have all of the facts? Is it important? Will it further the kingdom of God?"

Paul goes on to say that he is a fool for Christ's sake. I would say that Stacy McDonald and Jennie Chancey are fools for Christ's sake. They are sending a message to Christian women that the best thing they can aspire to be is a keeper at home, ministering to their own husband and the children that God gives them. It is not a popular message, but it is the truth. God designed women to bear children, and this is the greatest thing they can do. Nothing compares to receiving "a man from the Lord". The miracle of childbirth, the secret formation of a baby in the womb, the fact that babies survive all of the many things that can go wrong in those nine months...all of these are miracles planned by the Living God. Serving one's husband with joy is a blessed thing, as is being loved and honoured and held in high esteem by that same husband.

I have a relative, through my husband, who is an accomplished writer. She is a researcher, a professor, a facilitator. She travels extensively and her work is in high demand worldwide. She recently confided to me that all she really wants to do is to stay home, to be with her husband, to enjoy their home together. That is the real appeal - not the hotel rooms and the praise and the acknowledgment.

Back to Stacy and Jennie: they are wise women. "Being reviled (they) bless; being persecuted (they) endure; being defamed, (they) entreat. (See 1 Cor. 4:12)

We ought to imitate these dear ladies, following them as they follow the Lord.

For a great essay on Slander, go here: My Miscellanies.blogspot.com

I am going to require my children to read this essay, and also read the other ones linked at the bottom of the page. Great homeschooling course, in my opinion.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Homeschooling - Bible: My favourite subject!

One of my favourite things to do is to teach the Bible to my children and grandchildren. Christopher, my youngest, is a particular joy to me, because he really listens. When I ask him what he learned from the sermon at church, he is able to tell me a synopsis of the sermon, and often is able to articulate applications for his own life. He is all of eight years old.

Yesterday our pastor preached on the book of Joel, and asked the question, "Why does God use evil?" Christopher told me, "Mom, God uses evil for good purposes. It is for the good of His people, and for His own glory."

Today we were doing a review of Creation, The Fall, God's Plan for Redemption, and Adam & Eve's Punishment. We talked about the beauty and harmony of creation (and two of my daughters sang some harmony to illustrate how the harmonious notes sound better together than each note sounds individually). We talked about how Jesus redeemed us by dying on the cross to satisfy a Holy God's just demands. The children coloured pictures while I discussed the doctrines with them. It was a blessing to hear them answer the questions...their answers revealed a firm grasp of the doctrines, not just simple knowledge of the Bible stories.

I, too, am happy that Jesus died on the cross. And I am happy to share it with our children and grandchildren.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Birthing babies...easy as pie?

I was surfing the web yesterday and came across this comment:

"Regarding giving birth to children… after so many, eventually all you have to do is just cough or sneeze and there you go… out comes baby."

Now, I know this dear lady was just making a joke, but I was thinking about Amy (from Amy's Humble Musings...see link on side bar) who is about to give birth any day. I responded to the comment as follows:

"As a woman who has given birth to TWELVE beautiful babies, let me tell you that this poster doesn't know what she is talking about. Labour is a difficult experience for most women. It takes courage and perseverance, and strength. And one more thing for those of you who haven't given birth, ever, or have had only one or two: it actually gets more difficult, emotionally, the more you experience it. IT HURTS. It is not pleasant. And you remember. That old wives' tale about "as soon as you hold that baby in your arms, you forget the pain"... HOGWASH!

Is it worth it? Of course. Children really are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb really is His reward. But never assume that after a few it gets easy."

It's not easy. Never has been, since the Fall of man. But it is the path the Lord has chosen to bring children into the world. It takes strength of character and grace to face the upcoming delivery.

Instead of joking about it, or minimizing its difficulty, let us acknowledge the sacrifices made by women who carry and deliver these precious bundles of joy. Let us support them in prayer, help them with casseroles, and babysit the older ones for them so they can recuperate.

I'd like to see us go back to the days when motherhood was viewed as something sacred.

In Christ,

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Grace, grace, God's grace...

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.


Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.


Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.


Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

I used to think that grace was only for the sinner to be saved. I had a limited view of grace. I didn't understand that I had need of God's grace in my life every single minute of every single day.

The key to understanding grace is to understand the depravity of our heart. Not one thing we do is pure and undefiled, because of the Fall. Everything, yes, every single thing that we do or think or say is tainted by sin. Even our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

That's why the grace of God is so amazing! That's what fills my life with joy. I know that my Saviour KNOWS me, and sees my heart. He knows that I fail, every day, but still is my Advocate and Friend. He was willing to die for me, knowing that I would not live one day without sin for the rest of my life. Amazing grace!

It is my belief that *sometimes* (please, understand that I am not bashing holy living) when a person lives outwardly a very clean, respectable, holy life, they can tend to have pride in their accomplishments. They can tend to look down at other Christians who are not dressing right, or reading the right books, or using the right curriculum, etc. The list goes on. Of course I know that this is not their heart's desire. They truly want to live for Christ, and they are doing it by following a list of 'do's' and 'don'ts'. For the most part, that list is very good.

But, I sometimes wonder if they know that their much-striving is tainted with sin. For example, if they read their Bibles for hours at a time, they are still apt to sin, even in their reading of the Bible. We all sin, because we are sinners.

Yet, we are saved by the grace of God, and we are called to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. If we are dressing right, reading the right books, etc., with the attitude that we are THANKFUL that we have the opportunity to reflect Christ in all of it, and with the knowledge that we know that our dressing and reading are but miserable attempts to do right, compared with Jesus; but we are doing it "as unto the Lord", for His glory, then we ARE working out our salvation in fear and trembling. And with that kind of attitude and knowledge, we can graciously cover a multitude of sins in love. We know our own frame, but more importantly, we know Jesus knows our frame, and we know that everyone else shares that same frame. Understanding our weakness and seeing the mercy and grace of God in our lives frees us to love without judgment or without alienation of our fellow believers.

It is important to understand the difference between living by OUR rules, and living by God's grace. The law is our teacher, and what it teaches us is that we are entirely incapable of living a righteous life, apart from Christ. We MUST abide in Christ, daily, hourly, moment by moment.

It's not about what we DO. It's about who we ARE. We are sinners, saved by the grace of God. Wonderful grace!

Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

Paul is astonished that the Galatians have abandoned the clear teaching of the gospel of Christ (that by grace they were saved!) and have turned back to works of the law.

2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

No one is justified by things he or she does. Our works, our keeping of rules, our keeping the law...these do not justify us. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ; and that is only by grace, for it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any should boast.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law,then Christ died for no purpose.

I do not become righteous through my own works, but through Christ who lives in me. Christ died for me precisely because I could not keep the law.

Galatians Chapter 3 is so rich:

1O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"?

7Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 9So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

10For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." 12But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

It is not in keeping the law that we are justified. If we think we have to keep the law, to keep the rules, to live a certain way, in order to please God, then we don't get it. He adopted us into His family. He did so because He loves us.

I think of my friend Debbie and her family adopting those sweet girls from overseas. Debbie is like God, in that she chose to love those babies. It didn't matter that her daughter never, not once, slept more than 20 minutes for the first 9 months of her life with her adopted family. Debbie chose to overlook the baby's faults, and just love her.

In the same way, my Father loves me. He knows that I may cry through the night, that I may make a mess of things, that I may disobey. He disciplines me, and He teaches me, and He loves me. But my status as His adopted child does not change because I do wrong. He knows I will do wrong.. He knows my frame. I am not His child because I do right, but because I was redeemed by the precious blood of the Only begotten Son of God.

Does that mean I can go ahead and sin as much as I want because of God's grace in my life? Read Romans: God Forbid! How can we who are dead to sin live any longer in it? My position in God's family makes me want to strive to please my Father, just as little baby wants to please her Mommy. Will she do it perfectly? No, of course not. She is young, and foolish (foolishness is bound in the heart of a child) so she will sin. Will I be able to live perfectly? NO, of course not. My heart is deceitful above all things. Yet, I strive to do what is right, knowing that my efforts are smiled upon by my Father, who loves me with an everlasting love.

Debbie, forgive me for using your precious child as an object lesson...but I mean it for good. Every time I see those girls I am reminded that God adopted ME into His family. He took me from a far-off land where I was stuck in a life with no hope, and brought me into His home, to live with Him. He gave me brothers and sisters, family, who loves me and loves Him, too. He feeds me with spiritual, nourishing food, so I can grow in grace.

Such a lovely picture. What a marvellous, gracious God we serve.

In Christ,


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Schwarzenegger = Egypt's Pharaoh? Fire in California!

One of my internet friends mused this morning,

I started thinking about the fires burning in California. It is horrible, I admit. So many businesses shutting down. As of this email, around 120 Starbucks closed, 16 McDonald's, corporate headquarters of Qualcomm, Jack in the Box, Sony Online Entertainment, Petco, San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park, and Sea World are all closed. Gateway Computers have urged their employees to not come in. Hundreds of millions in damage, and it keeps getting worse.

All this after Gov. Schwarzenegger "outlaws" mom and dad. I wonder if he is starting to feel like the Egyptian Pharaoh when God sent the 10 plagues? I see it as God is still on the throne and is taking notice.

I was thinking about that, too. However, we must be careful not to say "such and such a tragedy is a result of such and such a sin".... because remember what Jesus said about it?

Luke 13:1 Now 1 there were some present on that occasion who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. He answered them, "Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered these things? No, I tell you! But unless you repent, you will all perish as well! Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower in Siloam fell on them, do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you! But unless you repent you will all perish as well!"

Jesus was teaching them that there was little time, and that "TODAY is the day of salvation". God is in utter control of all events, and has a purpose in this fire. We need to be praying that God will work in the hearts of many in Southern California, and that many would respond by turning to Him for salvation.

Healing a Man Born Blind

John 9:1-12 Now as Jesus was passing by, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him. We must perform the deeds of the one who sent me as long as it is daytime. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

Having said this, he spat on the ground and made some mud with the saliva. He smeared the mud on the blind man's eyes and said to him, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated "sent"). So the blind man went away and washed, and came back seeing.

In the OT it is God himself who is associated with the giving of sight to the blind (Exod 4:11, Ps 146:8). In a number of passages in Isa (29:18, 35:5, 42:7) it is considered to be a messianic activity. Jesus was proclaiming Who He is, and Who sent Him.

The disciples assumed that sin (regardless of who committed it) was the cause of the man's blindness. This was a common belief in Judaism; the rabbis used Ezek 18:20 to prove there was no death without sin, and Ps 89:33 to prove there was no punishment without guilt. Thus in this case the sin must have been on the part of the man's parents, or during his own prenatal existence. But Jesus answered clearly that the blindness was for God's good purpose, so the acts of God would be revealed through what happened to him!

So, we must not make the mistake of assuming that a tragedy or sickness is a result of a particular sin. Of course, we all sin. And God is not pleased with sinful leaders who make laws that go against His word. However, He has a plan, and it is being fulfilled. Our responsibility is not to pronounce judgments and speak as if we are God, but to pray that His plan will be fulfilled. We need to pray for the Christians in the devastated areas, that God's grace will be granted to them in abundance, and that they will be used as the hands of God to minister to those who are suffering. Pray for those who are hurting, that their response will be to turn to God, Who is the Judge...for they will face Him, if not today, then on the great and terrible day of the Lord.

In Christ,

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sarah & Tyler's Wedding

The morning dawned dark and windy, but that didn't dampen Sarah's spirits at all. Rachel arrived early to do hair and make-up, and Aunt Wendy, bless her heart, took two trips to town for last-minute items. Vicky took all sorts of pictures of the preparations, and we were so well organized that we actually got to the church early!

We huddled downstairs waiting for the signal. Then it was time for the moms to be escorted to their seats. The music changed, and Stewart, the ring-bearer, accompanied by the two flower girls (Abby Fenton and Emma Ryan, nieces of the bride and groom) marched down the aisle. Need I say they were adorable?

I don't have the proper picture yet, but you can see how cute those three were by the picture above, with the Bride and Groom.

The junior bridesmaids were next, followed by Jeanine and Lesley, who pleased the congregation by doing a pirouette as she walked serenely down the aisle. Then lovely Linda, the maid of honour, genuinely happy and full of grace, proceeded forth.

As Sarah and her Dad appeared, I watched Tyler's face. He was white with nervousness, and his eyes were glistening with tears. He told me today that it was all he could do to not cry, and that Sarah's dress was what he expected from her - simple, elegant, gorgeous.

The ceremony was beautiful, in spite of the occasional interruption from a crying baby or squirmy toddler. Kaleb, 19 months, expressed his joy very loudly, but this didn't bother Sarah at all. She loves all of the babies, and wanted them there for her day.

I had to strain to hear the vows, but I caught the emotion in their voices as they pledged their "troth", one to the other. As they signed the marriage license, Rachel sang "Before the Throne of God Above". It was beautiful.

By the time we exited the church, it was a perfect fall day, sunny, spectacular! Riverside park was moments from the church, and was a lovely setting for pictures. My only regret was that we didn't get a picture of the entire family, kids, spouses and their children.

The reception was memorable. Beautiful decorations, fun speeches, great food, wonderful fellowship. Truly a celebration!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Only a week to go!

Sarah and Tyler's wedding is coming up fast! The house is a flurry of activity, with getting ready for company, planning the lunch, making sure everyone's clothes are in order, designing the program, and so on.

I am excited and trying not to be stressed. In order to not do THAT, I am much in the Word, and praying much. I remind myself that God never gives us more than we can handle, and I look to Jesus, Who, although He was pestered and followed and surely felt the weight of all those burdens, calmly went through His most busy of days with grace, relying on the Father. He is my Example...and although I can never measure up to Him, I strive to be Christ-like in my demeanour and my activities.

So, Lord, give me grace. Give me wisdom, I pray. Help me to discern which activities and tasks are most important, and help me to discard those things which are unnecessary. Help our family to work together in harmony this week. May this upcoming wedding glorify YOU, for you are deserving of all glory.

In Christ, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ontario Election

In my opinion, the election was lost at the starting gate by John Tory's proposal re education funding.

1. It upset the public school supporters because they see the problems in the school system and erroneously conclude that more money is the answer. Why would they want money sent elsewhere?

2. It upset Hindus and other religious groups because they don't want to be "brought into the fold." They are different, and intend to remain different.

3. It upset many Christian schools and homeschooling families who see it as a slippery slope. They provide an alternative to the public school for a reason: they want to have a different curriculum. To hold out a carrot (here's money, folks) that hides a big fat stick (change your curriculum to come in line with the public school curriculum) is dishonest and causes many to be wary.

We all know that Dalton McGuinty has broken all of his promises. But this one issue, brought forward at the very beginning of the campaign, killed the election for the Conservatives.

It's a shame.

I do hope that the next leader of the Progressive Conservatives (and I DO recommend that there is a leadership change) will actually listen to the people of Ontario at the grassroots level. With the unpopularity of the funding issue, one has to wonder who came up with the idea? Some executive types in a boardroom somewhere, I think. Certainly not the average Conservative Ontarian.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Trip to Quebec

Our bags are (mostly) packed, and we're (mostly) ready to go! I don't think I've ever seen a more excited bunch of kids than my six youngest and the slew of grandkids that are going with us.

We'll be heading out on Sunday, travelling about 5 hours' drive to Grenville, where we'll stay overnight in Grenville Park Campground. My brother Lorne and his family will be travelling down from the Ottawa area to enjoy supper and a campfire with us.

On Monday morning, we'll be packing up the trailers and heading to Quebec. On the way, we'll be talking about the Long Sault, and the bravery of Dollard. We'll point out the rapids on the St. Lawrence River, and talk about Champlain visiting Hochelaga in 1535. We'll discuss the geography of this part of Canada - the Canadian Shield - and point out the rocks and the rivers and the coniferous forests. The children will have maps to follow, so they can keep track of our progress, and before we know it we'll see the two bridges at Quebec. I will remind them that on the day my Aunt Ruth was born, the centre span of the old Quebec bridge collapsed.

We'll make our way to the Camp de la Joie, and hopefully, we will have our campsites set up in time to enjoy a nice supper and a bit of relaxation.

Tuesday will be a touristy day. I want to take the kids to Old Quebec, to point out the old wall, the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, and so on. I want to drive them down by the river, in Lower Town, and show them the Island of Orleans. Perhaps the Aquarium will be on the agenda for that day, perhaps not. I want to point out the House of Parliament, and take them to see the big shopping centre and other spots I remember from my childhood. I wonder if the church the fat lady sat on is still there? Hmmmm.

Wednesday, August 29, is Adeena's birthday. We have scheduled the burial service for my Aunt Ruth on that day, so we'll be spending some time in Lac Beauport. Apparently there are no landmarks that I will recognize from my childhood jaunts through my grandfather's property. The massive trees are gone, the sand pit is gone, the buildings have been replaced by modern condos. It will be sad, but I am still looking forward to driving out past the house where we waited expectantly for my dad to phone with the news that my brother was born! I want to explore the woods near the house to see if "my" rock is still there. It will also be nice to visit with people that are only a memory from thirty-five years ago. They knew me when I was a teenager; such a change - 12 kids, 14 grandkids - a lifetime of living in Ontario.

Thursday will be filled with more tourism. I want to take the kids to Montmorency Falls, and maybe we'll drive to Tadoussac. A trip on the ferry might give them a chance to see Beluga whales! At least they will see the long, narrow farms, leading down to the water, which we studied about in History class.

We plan to head out on Friday, travelling to Bath, Maine, to see Rick's cousin Janet. We'll be staying in a beautiful home on an inlet, and Janet has promised to take us to historic sites, and to let us experience the culture and geography and fun of that part of the USA.

The following Wednesday, we'll pack up and travel to the Ottawa area, to visit our friends and my brother. It'll be fun to be on the dairy farm and help with chores. Linda hopes to go riding horseback with her friend, and I want to visit with Debbie! Friday will be our day with Uncle and Aunt and Cousins...then, we'll have to pack up for the trip home on Saturday.

I have been praying that the trip will be a memorable one; that the kids will learn a lot, and that relationships will grow and lives will be impacted.

Only two more days of packing, then we leave! I'd better get cracking.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Birth Story - Rachel's twins!

Rachel was due to be induced on Sunday, August 5th, but when she called the hospital as directed, the nurse told her not to come in. They were simply too busy. Rachel had a good cry, then spent the day with Mike, visiting the children at the campsite and trying to stay cool.

On Monday morning, Rachel was told to be at the hospital by 8:00 am. When we arrived at 8:30, they checked the babies and Rachel in Triage, then moved her to her room - 224 - the same room that Stewart was born in. The OB was busy with a c-section, but took some time to come in and break Rachel's water, around 9:30 or so.

Nothing much happened for a couple of hours, but by noon, the contractions were strong. Rachel did beautifully, breathing through them, relaxing her muscles as much as possible. They were about 6 minutes apart for the first while, but gradually increased in intensity and duration. Rachel was beginning to feel nauseated, and was shaky, trembling in her hands and legs, so the nurse was sure she was getting close to transition. We were so disappointed when they checked, and she was only 5 cm dilated. The head was right there, however, so Rachel soldiered on.

The contractions became harder and longer. Mike helped Rachel by putting a cold cloth on her head and giving her ice chips. She could not find a comfortable position, and she complained about the bands that held the monitors in place. They really hurt during contractions, but the nurse insisted that it was imperative to monitor the babies continually. Heidi kept running away from the monitor, flipping and turning...so someone had to hold the thing in place and tilt it towards the baby!

After another hour and a trip to the bathroom, they checked and she was only 6 cm. Rachel decided that she was done. She couldn't handle the pain any more. The nurse offered her the gas. "No!" Then how about a shot of Demoral? "NO!"

"I want an epidural!"

Are you sure this is what you want? With your first pregnancy it didn't take, and you were numb in your legs but felt the uterine contractions and backache. Are you sure?


The doctor came and administered the epidural, and within 15 minutes Rachel had dilated to 9 cm! They moved her to the operating room as a precaution. She was lying there, totally calm. She had colour back in her cheeks. The stress level in the room had diminished. The doc checked, and she was fully dilated.

They got her to push...BIG BREATH, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8....let it out...another breath.... With each contraction, Rachel pushed three times. Only four contractions later, Matthew's head was crowning. Rachel gave little pushes as the OB requested, and once the cord was removed from around the baby's neck, out he came, crying before the cord was even cut. He was 6 lbs, 7 ounces, and 9, 9, 10 on the apgar score!

Heidi began to hide, swimming away from the doctor. She first presented with her arm up over her head. Not good. Then there was a hand and a foot, then a knee and a hand.... Finally, two feet! Doc pulled on baby's legs while Rachel pushed to help. It was so amazing to watch this long skinny baby hanging feet first from Mom...seconds later, her head was born and she was here!

Heidi didn't breathe right away, but didn't take long. They did have to bag her, but only briefly. She was 8, 9, 10 on the apgar score, and weighed in at 5 lbs, 9 oz.

The placentas came away with no difficulty. NO tears. Rachel is fine, babies are fine, Mike is fine, Granny is fine, although a little teary even today. Both Mike and Granny were crying in the delivery room. It was such a beautiful moment to witness the birth of these two precious babies, and to know both Mom and babes were healthy.

The epidural, in this case, was just what Rachel needed. There is no way she could have handled the pain of the doc fishing for the second twin. Her dilation was proceeding too slowly, and she was at the point of panic, so the epidural calmed her down enough that her body could do what it was supposed to do. I am thankful that she chose to have this medication.

Both twins are nursing well. The Lord provided a mother of twins as Rachel's night nurse. She was a real encouragement, as she nursed her boy/girl twins for a year.

Truly, children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Truly, we are blessed.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pride or Peace?

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

131:1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high; (I have a humble heart.)
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me. (I have a simple heart.)
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me. (I have a quiet heart.)

3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore. (I have a trusting heart.)

What a beautiful Psalm! It portrays a man who is blessed with inner peace, rather than being torn up with turmoil.

Our elder, Hugh, preached a sermon on Psalm 131 this past Sunday, and I have been pondering it since. I have to admit, I do have noise inside me. I get irritated, worried, frustrated and fearful. I want things to work (like the dishwasher that died, and the freezer that is more like a fridge). I want my family to understand me, and I want my home to be a haven of hospitality and beauty.

Hugh taught us that the biggest obstacle to inner peace is PRIDE. Self-will makes me the center of my universe. As soon as I feel angry, worried, fearful, etc., I need to examine my heart to discern where I am putting my trust.

David Powlison rewrote Psalm 131 to describe the opposite of a man who trusts in God. This is a man with a proud heart.

My heart is proud,
And my eyes are haughty (I look down on other people),
And I chase after things too great and too difficult for me.
So of course I’m noisy and restless inside;

It comes naturally,
Like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap,
Like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries.
I scatter my hopes onto anything and everything all the time.

If my heart is proud, I am not content. I look down on others, comparing myself with them. I worry about things that aren't in my control, instead of resting in the Lord. I worry about what others think, rather than concerning myself with what the Lord thinks.

Hugh brought out the point that even self-belittling tendencies are really expressions of pride. Instead of viewing ourselves as God views us, we want to be recognized, to get attention, to gain some measure of comfort or adoration from others. This is pride.

He quoted Charles Spurgeon, who said, "We're all proud by nature, though there is not one among us that has any reason to be proud. Every man thinks more of himself than God thinks."

We ought not to concern ourselves with great matters, because even the smallest things are beyond our control. I am not able to control anything. Everything I have, everything I am, is a gift of God.

David rested in the Lord, waiting on Him. It didn't matter that he had been anointed - he waited for God's timing to take the throne. He was satisfied with what the Lord had ordained for him, and he is the only man in the Bible called "a man after God's own heart."

We cannot achieve inner peace by trying harder. We try to climb the ladders of Appetite (control, ease, lust, goodies), Avoidance (ducking and running, avoiding rejection, fleeing from suffering), and Achievement (recognition, victory) but they fail to satisfy. We feel happy as we're climbing, but nervousness sets in. If we make no progress, we worry. If something gets in the way, we rage. If we're higher on the ladder than someone else, we are haughty. And when the ladder falls, we feel despair, bitterness, anger, or hurt.

The only answer is to Come to Jesus. Only He can replace the idols, and satisfy us. Apart from Him, there are only idols, and there is only pride. Without humbling ourselves before Almighty God, we are doomed to a life without inner peace, a life of climbing ladders of futility.

The only appropriate response is repentance.

O Lord, I confess that I have lifted up my heart and raised up my eyes. Forgive me, and give me a humble heart.

I have occupied myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. I have worried about money instead of trusting that You will provide. I have stressed out about my family instead of trusting that You will work in the hearts of those I love. Forgive me, and give me a simple heart.

I have fretted and planned and worried and resolved and tried again and again to order my world and make things in my life work, but all I have experienced has been frustration and sorrow. Teach me, O Lord, to quiet my soul. Teach me to recognize my pride. Teach me to be satisfied in You, and You alone, for You are a Beautiful God - full of Beauty, and abounding in grace.

Oh, Janet, hope in the Lord, from this time forth and forevermore. O Lord, You are the One in whom I trust. You are the One in whom I hope. There is none like you. You alone made the heavens, and You rule the universe. I cannot control one little thing, but I can put my trust in the One who controls all things.

Thou will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on Thee. Amen.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Big C's

In preparation for our trip to Quebec, we are learning about early Canadian History. I taught my children and grandchildren the following poem(Read: fourteen hundred and ninety-two):

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
In 1497, Cabot decided cod fishing was heaven!
In 1534, Cartier erected a cross onshore.
In the year 1608, Champlain built a fort at the river's gate.

We talked about how the early explorers would sail into unknown waters, with no means of communication. They had no cellphones, no satellites, no tvs... no way of knowing what was ahead or what was happening in their home countries.

We read stories about all of the men listed above. We learned about cod fishing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland; about the St. Lawrence River and the Gaspe Peninsula. We talked about Tadoussac, the Saguenay River, and beluga whales. We learned about scurvy and vitamin C, and about the Huron, Algonquin, and Iroquois Indians. I think the grandchildren's favourite story was the one of Pilotte, the little dog who would scout for Iroquois who might attack the little fort at Ville-Marie.

What a rich history we have in Canada! It will be such fun to go to Quebec and see some of the areas we are learning about.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not long now...

The twins are coming! The twins are coming! I feel like Paul Revere, making the announcement that the British were on their way.

Truthfully, I don't know when my daughter's twins will make their way into this world, but Rachel looks like she is done! At nearly 37 weeks pregnant, she is huge! Her belly is gigantic. She can hardly walk, and she feels as if everything will soon fall out.

Our whole family is excited about the babies' impending birth. It has been a sacrifice for everyone who loves Rachel. Of course, she is the one with the sore back and swollen ankles, sleepless nights and nausea. However, her husband has had to be gracious with his emotional and sometimes impatient wife. Her family has had to put up with her frustrations and fears as she deals with an OB set in her ways. We have had to "lend" our children to her, almost every day. (I miss having the entire family home at once.) One of the children is always missing...or we have Rachel's boys here. She simply can't do it by herself.

Although it has been a sacrifice, if you were to ask me if it is worth all the time and effort we have invested in order to help bring two precious souls into this world, you KNOW my answer if you know me at all: OF COURSE! Absolutely. Positively. Rachel needs the help. We happen to have a family large enough to have plenty of helpers. And God knew it all beforehand!

I sat and watched Rachel this evening as she sat in her chair, feeling the babies move. The skin of her tummy is shiny, it is so stretched. It looks like a balloon ready to pop. Rachel looks tired, but happy. She murmurs to the babies as they stretch, and we see a little knee push out, or a foot defined and obvious. She smiles as her two year old talks about the babies and pats his mommy's tummy.

All is right with the world, and the babies are coming.


Janet, soon to be a grandmother to 14!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Alive in Christ AND Fulfilled in Marriage! Imagine that!

I have never considered myself part of a movement. Yes, my husband and I were convicted as a young married couple to present our bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God. That meant that we decided to use no birth control, and we joyfully received from the Hand of God the children He planned for us to have. We were "quiverfull" before the term was coined. We rejoiced in reading Mary Pride's "The Way Home", but it did not sway us. It just cemented what God had already taught us.

Yes, we have homeschooled our children all the way through (except for the eldest, who attended a Christian school for the first four years, and a public school for a short time.) When we began homeschooling, we did so because Deuteronomy makes it very clear that we are to teach our children when we sit down, when we rise up, when we walk by the way... all the time. There were no homeschoolers that we knew, no curriculum vendors, no public speakers. We were not part of the homeschool movement. We were simply Christian parents who wanted to raise our family to know and love the Lord, and to glorify His name.

Yes, I have been a stay-at-home mom for most of our nearly 34 years of marriage. I have tried to obey God's word and line myself up under my husband's leadership. Except for a short time as a part-time bus driver, and a short time as a Communications Co-ordinator for Carey Outreach Ministries, I have remained at home, serving my family. I guess I could be accused of being part of the "Patriarchal Movement". I don't see it that way. I was simply obeying the Word of God.

There is a discussion going on right now in cyber-space, and women who are Christians AND feminists are up in arms, decrying those who decide that large families, homeschooling, and traditional roles for men and women are God's plan for their lives. In other words, people like me and my daughters are apparently deluded or under some sort of legalized bondage. We simply can't know what it is to be Alive in Christ if we are stay-at-home moms with large families who are under our husband's authority.

I will quote one of the comments on the "true womanhood" site:

Imagine it… where would you rather be when you’re thirty, when you wake up and read what the Bible REALLY has to say??? Would you like to have 7 children already and a husband you have trouble respecting because he abuses his leadership, or be single and in a position to start your life fresh????? Marriage is for keeps… there’s no sending children back… so say you did wake up in this situation, you’re only option is to pray for a miracle in your husband’s heart!!!! While you gradually become the outcast, because everyone in your circle will eventually catch on to your “rebellion”.

Or, you can grieve for the years that bondage to legalism stole from you, but you can pick yourself up, pray that God would redeem the years that the locusts have eaten, and start living like an ALIVE woman in Christ.

You know, I have been married to the same man for nearly 34 years. I have kept his home and done his laundry (but not always his socks! - at least not always on time!!) and made his meals and answered his telephone and done his errands and carried and birthed and nursed his children. I have taught his children, prayed with his children, and delighted in his children - for they are mine, too!

I haven't woken up and felt that all of those years and all of those tasks were wasted. In fact, I believe that God is pleased with my servant's heart, and that He is glorified by my nose-wiping and my dish-doing and my child-rearing.

When I examine my life in Christ, I realize that God has used my marriage and my children to refine my rough edges and make me more Christ-like. How would I have learned patience and trust in a Sovereign God, were it not for wayward children? How would I have learned submission, were it not for a husband who did not always see things my way? How would I have learned applied theology, were it not for teaching my children the catechism, and having heated discussions with my husband regarding the doctrines of grace or the role of women? As iron sharpens iron, so my relationship with Rick and the children God has given us has sharpened me.

How would working outside the home have been more fulfilling? Having to get up early in the morning, fight the traffic, arrive on time, sit in meetings... how is that more blessed? How could having a boss other than my husband have been better? My husband respects me. He knows my strengths. He encourages me in my talents. No boss can ever know me like Rick knows me...I haven't the time left on this earth to invest 34 years in another relationship.

The poster above says

"you're (your!) only option is to pray for a miracle in your husband's heart!"

She says that like it is a bad thing to pray. However, we who are Christians know that it is a privilege to enter the throne room and petition Almighty God on behalf of someone we love. It is a privilege and joy to have a relationship with one man, and to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ together.

Oh, you young thing... how sad I feel for you. How you have missed the joy of learning by paradox that the way down is the way up, and that to be low is to be hight. You have missed that to give is to receive, and that to have nothing is to possess everything. You know nothing of the joy of servanthood, and you have failed to realize that we are most like Christ when we share in His sufferings.

Jesus made himself of no reputation. He did not seek after degrees or recognition. He was content to stay in a tiny area and minister to a miniscule group of unimportant people.

Kind of like a stay at home mom, under the authority of her loving husband, ministering to her children.

Alive in Christ, I'd say.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dealing with Labour - My response to Amy.

Amy wrote in Amy's Humble Musings, "In this way, it is possible that two people can perform the same action and one is sin and the other is not. If I end my fertility because I am afraid of labor, it is much different than ending it to receive cancer treatments. One decision is made in fear and the other in faith.

The other problem with this scenario is that life is too cruel to allow a person to escape a trial that easily. If it is not one thing, it will be another. Better to face it head on and say once and for all, “I fear God and Him only.”"

Amy, THIS was an interesting comment. I’ll get to it in a minute.

As you may remember, I am the mother of 12 children. My pregnancies weren’t easy, and my deliveries were all different. The first was a 19 hour marathon, with all of the typical hazards of giving birth in a hospital in the 70’s: shave prep, enema, vomiting through transition, episiotomy, etc. I was blessed to have taken a “Lamaze Method of Natural Childbirth” class, and I honestly believe that knowing as much as I did helped me to cope. My 8 lb baby was beautiful and alert, and I was exhilarated to have accomplished the feat.

Subsequent deliveries were progressively shorter until I settled into a pattern of about three hours of very hard labour. I dreaded the whole thing - both the labour and the delivery. However, I put my trust in the living God, knowing full well that it was HE that had blessed us, and that He would be with me, no matter what.

The sixth baby was three weeks overdue. I had to be induced. She was sick for a week, on iv… not a lot of fun. Seventh was similar, though only 10 days overdue. Doctor induced me, and I experienced the worst pain of my life. The contractions started suddenly, stayed unremittingly, and ended with the birth of a 10 and a half pound baby girl 55 minutes later. I prayed that God would take my life. I didn’t think any human being could endure such pain without a heart attack. Apparently, I was wrong.

The 8th was a placenta previa pregnancy. I would have to have a C-section. Blessed thought! I really was relieved that I would not have to experience the pain of labour and delivery. The C-section wasn’t all that bad, but the fact that my baby nearly died made me think that I could, in fact, go through another delivery, if the Lord would choose.

My ninth was actually not that bad, until he got stuck at the shoulders. The tenth was fine (painful, but endurable), and the Lord sustained me with the 23rd Psalm. I was blessed to have a picture of a person walking through deep woods on the wall, and I meditated on “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…”. After baby #10 was born, my placenta broke and I retained half of it, nearly bleeding out. After watching the docs pump blood into me with a blood pressure cuff around the bag to pump it in quicker, I knew that my survival was in the hands of God. I felt great peace, and was actually surprised when I woke up from surgery, alive.

During the eleventh pregnancy, I absolutely dreaded the pain. I wasn’t afraid to die, but was dreading the whole experience. I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. I told my husband how much I feared the delivery, and he prayed, too. My eleventh delivery was by far the best: I had contractions three minutes apart, with a real break between (unheard of…with all the previous labours, the tightness and pain never let up, but with this one, my uterus completely relaxed between contractions!!). This continued right through delivery. It was amazing. Three hours start to finish, and a 9 and a half pound baby, with all of that time to relax between contractions! Wow! If all labours could only be that good. Let it give you hope for the next one, Amy. My eleventh was the very best one!

I lost the 12th pregnancy with a miscarriage at 13 weeks. My 12th baby was born via C-section, due to another placenta previa.

Now we get to your comment:

"In this way, it is possible that two people can perform the same action and one is sin and the other is not. If I end my fertility because I am afraid of labor, it is much different than ending it to receive cancer treatments. One decision is made in fear and the other in faith."

We made the decision to end my fertility after all of the pregnancies, deliveries and complications. I was 44, and just didn’t have the energy ( some would say faith!) to go through it again. You can not imagine how many well-meaning Christians rebuked me for my lack of faith.

To be truthful, I do believe the decision was made with both fear and faith in mind. My husband chose life, my life. He felt none of the angst that I experienced after our decision. I did fear the thought of going through that all over again. I didn’t want to be separated from my children for months at a time again. Twice was enough.

You also wrote:

"The other problem with this scenario is that life is too cruel to allow a person to escape a trial that easily. If it is not one thing, it will be another. Better to face it head on and say once and for all, “I fear God and Him only.” "

Amy, I can hear Elisabeth Elliot in these sentences. I agree that it is better to face the trials of life head-on. God gives grace. He really does. He gives the grace to endure the pain of childbirth, and he gives the grace to endure the rebuke and judgment of others. He is Sovereign. All things really do work together for good to those who love Him, to those who have been called to be His children.

I believe that your experiences have been used of the Lord. You have written so candidly, and countless women have been encouraged and blessed by your honest sharing…even when you were sharing the confusion you felt when you suffered so much.

I would recommend that you consider writing a book in response to “Supernatural Childbirth”. Of course, you’ll have to do so in your spare time. :biggrin_wp:


Monday, July 02, 2007

Dominion Day, 2007

O Canada!

O Canada ! Our Home and Native Land !

True patriot-love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True North, strong and free,

And stand on guard, O Canada,

We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

O Canada ! Where pines and maples grow,

Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow,

How dear to us thy broad domain,

From East to Western Sea ,

Thou land of hope for all who toil!

Thou True North, strong and free!

O Canada, glorious and free! etc.

O Canada ! Beneath thy shining skies

May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise,

To keep thee steadfast through the years

From East to Western Sea ,

Our own beloved native land!

Our True North, strong and free!

0 Canada , glorious and free! etc.

Ruler Supreme, Who hearest humble prayer,

Hold our dominion in Thy loving care.

Help us to find, O God, in Thee,

A lasting, rich reward,

As waiting for the Better Day

We ever stand on guard.

O Canada, glorious and free! etc.

Lord of the Lands!

The following version is by Albert Durrant Watson:

Lord of the lands, beneath Thy bending skies,

On field and flood, where'er our banner flies,

Thy people lift their hearts to Thee,

Their grateful voices raise:

May our Dominion ever be A temple to Thy praise.

Thy will alone let all enthrone;

Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own:

Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own!

Almighty Love, by Thy mysterious power,

In wisdom guide, with faith and freedom dower;

Be ours a nation evermore

That no oppression blights,

Where justice rules from shore to shore,

From lakes to northern lights.

May love alone for wrong atone;

Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own:

Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own!

Lord of the worlds, with strong eternal hand,

Hold us in honour, truth and self-command;

The loyal heart, the constant mind,

The courage to be true,

Our wide extending Empire bind,

And all the earth renew.

Thy Name be known through every zone;

Lord of the worlds, make all the lands Thine own;

Lord of the worlds, make all the lands Thine own!

I am proud to be a Canadian. I know that it is the Lord's providence that put me here in this province. It was great to see the fireworks and celebrate Canada's birthday with my family.

Greater still is pondering the Glory of God and His control over the nations, including Canada.

Psalm 8:6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; You have put all things under his feet. When I read Psalm 8, I am astounded that God would exalt sinful, lowly humanity, giving them dominion over all of His creation.

Psalm 72: May he have dominion from sea to sea. (Ad mare usque ad mare!) Psalm 72 tells us what that dominion should look like, in practical terms:

*we ought to be a nation that judges people with righteousness. Sadly, a regular reader of the papers or Reader's Digest (That's Outrageous!) will see corruption and unfair practices happening throughout Canada. We must pray for those in authority, including police officers and judges.

*We ought to defend the cause of the poor. Yet poverty abounds, and the rich get richer while the poor stay stuck in a rut with no way out. An education will almost bankrupt a student.

*We ought to give deliverance to the children of the needy. Yet abortion still takes place in this country, despite the fact that the number one wish on CBC's wish list was that there would be no more killing of Canadian babies.

*We ought to crush the oppressor. Yet the people of Canada are whining about soldiers dying in Afghanistan, instead of supporting the troops that are going after the Taliban, or other such oppressors of women and children.

It is the Christian's responsibility to PRAY for his nation. We are to humble ourselves and pray. According to 2 Chronicles 6:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Oh, Lord, help me to do so, each and every day. And thank you for ordaining that I should be born a Canadian.