Monday, November 16, 2009

Testimony


This blog is quite personal, but I am posting it for the benefit of my 3 older daughters, who were not able to be with us in church yesterday.

When Pastor Bob asked me to share my testimony with you this morning, I hesitated and almost said no, because I knew how far this is out of my comfort zone. I then recalled the many, many times I have encouraged our daughters to participate and to take advantage of opportunities.

I Peter 3:15 says - But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you, to give the reason for the hope that you have.

I grew up in a large family, with Christian parents and attended church every Sunday. At a young age, I made a personal decision at a Christian camp to accept Jesus as my Saviour. The truth of what the Bible claimed became clear to me and I knew then that I wasn't just following and accepting what my parents believed but this decision was mine. The years have passed very quickly since I made that decision and I would like to stand here and tell you that my Christian walk since then has been exemplary, but I can't. So far, it has been a journey with a lot of highs and naturally some lows.

In 1980, I married Andrew, the best guy on the planet, and we began our life together. In that same year, Andrew's Dad lost his battle with cancer. Six years into our marriage, Andrew was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a potentially deadly skin cancer. Through this time my faith was challenged like it had never been before. I could not understand how a loving God would disrupt my life plans and have me face the possibility of losing my husband, leaving me with 2 small girls to raise. Where I couldn't see beyond each day, God was seeing the larger picture. With a very gifted doctor, the amazing support of this church and a small group that cared deeply about us, we stumbled through that valley. That was 23 years ago and as we have journeyed together, we realize that if we did not have God to bring us through the tough times and sustain us with the hope only He can provide, I would probably not be standing here today.

Andrew's Dad and Mom - summer of 1980, Toronto, Ontario

Twelve years ago my mom went ahead of us to meet her Saviour with a clear mind after her struggle with Alzheimers and seven years ago Andrew's mom greeted Jesus after her painful battle with bone cancer. I believe that somehow through all of this God was preparing me for what was yet to come and consistently revealing to me that His arms were always open for me to fall into.

My mom with baby Anna - she was a wonderful mom to 9 children and Grammie to 26.

Dad and Mom at Wendy's graduation from Acadia University.

Four years ago, my baby sister Wendy, was diagnosed with bone cancer. I am sure that many of you here this morning know the pain and distress of cancer - maybe not personally but certainly with loved ones. Wendy was a healthy 35 year old woman, she had a great career in teaching, she was newly married for 6 months and as a family we were shocked and completely unprepared for the heartache and pain that we experienced for her remaining 40 days on earth. It just seemed that at this time my life was good, my oldest daughter was married that same summer and everyone was happy and healthy. I certainly blamed God for this interruption and confusion in our lives and I was very angry. In fact, I came to a crossroads during that time where I was tempted to abandon everything I had been taught, everything I believed in, but God would not let me go. I really struggled to understand why Wendy, why now, why cancer? I still do not have all the answers to those questions, but what I do have is the confidence of knowing the One who does have the answers, and loves me and allows me to rest in Him and let Him carry the load when it is too much to carry on my own.

My beautiful sister, Wendy.

It was an extremely difficult time as I very inadequately tried to explain what was happening to each of our daughters. All I knew was that I had to trust that God was in control and that He would not leave us alone. On the day Wendy left us to be welcomed into her eternal home and her Saviour's presence, our pastors and small group gathered with us. We are very blessed to know the level of care and support we have here at this church and I realize how important it is to build and maintain our relationships.

So, thank you God for not letting me go, thank you church, thank you pastors and thank you to the many small groups that we have been a part of over the years. Your love continues to impress me and gives me the courage to carry on.

Romans 5:3-4
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Starts


Sarah Jacquelyn ~ Grade 10

Anna Laurel ~ Grade 8
                                                                  
I have been meaning to get the first day of school shots up, but until now haven't really had time. It's back to work, managing children's schedules, sports games and life in general. Our two beautiful girls who are still home sure keep us on our toes (and possibly young??) are busy with all the things that a new school year brings. 
Yesterday, I decided I would try my hand at apple jelly making again. Andrew's Gram tried to teach me the old fashioned way to make it many years ago and she always ended up with perfect jelly. Needless to say, I do not have Gram's technique and therefore cannot come up with the same end product. So, I decided to go to Scotian Gold and pick up some of their crabapples (prepackaged with just the right amount of apples with a recipe attached). The result was really good - not quite jelled as much as Gram's, but really good flavor and color. 
This morning I wanted to get some more apple pies in the freezer for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so Andrew willingly cut the apples for me and they are at this moment in the oven filling the house with that wonderful aroma of apple pies - yum. Cleaning is next and then off to do a little shopping with the girls. Andrew is taking advantage of the beautiful weather today and has headed to Cape Split with a couple of guys, so we will have a 'girl' day and do some things we want to do.
For some reason, it's this time of year I miss family the most, those who have passed away. I'm not sure whether it's because of fond memories of activities that were part of my growing up years or just because I am more keenly aware of how quickly time goes by and how important it is to make the most of every day. 
Well, off to my day and wondering what exciting things it will hold.  

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labour Day Weekend Fun

Well, here we are in September. Back to school and work. It was a busy weekend - on Saturday Andrew decided to refinish the top of our oak kitchen table. It turned out beautiful and hopefully we can keep it looking that way for awhile.



On Labour Day, Andrew and I set off for Amethyst Cove. The last time we were there was in our courting days back in the late 70's. We parked at the Cape Split trailhead and began the trail.  The Amethyst Cove trail diverges from the Cape Split trail by taking a right turn and backtracking towards Blomidon a short distance, then turning 90 degrees left and climbing up to the spine of the mountain until a warning sign indicates the beginning of the descent.  

No worries at this point.

A few worries now!

Perhaps a good time to turn around, but Andrew encourages me onward and downward. (He went first!)

Fortunately ropes are provided and we brought some gloves to improve our grip.

I had just completed the scariest section.

The beach was all ours!

After a rest (Andrew was apparently having difficulty standing straight) and an unsuccessful attempt to find a geocache, we started back up.

During the climb, we stopped several times to wait for our heartbeats to settle down.

video

Enjoy the video - this is coming back up - I was sweating and hurting at this point!  Actually, it was less scary coming up than going down.

We celebrated the achievement with lunch at Rosie's then bought a bag of Gravensteins to make some delicious apple pies. All in all an excellent excursion and an enjoyable weekend, but will I be able to walk tomorrow?



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer Vacation 2009



We had a great vacation the first 2 weeks of August and the weather was perfect - warm, sunny days at the lake with beautiful sunsets in the evenings. It was a much needed break for Andrew after a busy berry season. But, we are now back, preparing mentally for the fall activities to begin. Sarah has started working part time at a local drugstore and will soon have the extra cash to spend. I am trying to get her to understand the importance of setting a percentage of her earnings aside, but I think money management skills are beyond a 15 year old brain. Anna is away at Malagash Bible Camp this week and we are missing her. She really loves this camp and would like to someday lifeguard here.


One of the many beautiful sunsets on Harvey Lake, NB.

... and another.

Two very special girls, sharing some quality time together at the lake. A prime opportunity to build and strengthen that sister bond.

New Brunswick Day fireworks in Fredericton. We enjoyed quite an impressive display.

Grammie and Charlotte looking intently at something!

This is our beautiful granddaughter, Charlotte Wendy, taken at our cottage.

We have had some very hot weather here lately and it is making sleep very elusive. Therefore, I am blogging, of all things. I have just started reading a book by Dr. Paul Brand entitled "The Forever Feast" - Letting God Satisfy Your Deepest Hunger. I will post a bit more on this as I get further into the book.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Tidal Impact 2009

This is our team with the Hillcrest team from Saint John with the food we collected on our food drive. There was a total of 25,000 lbs. of food gathered in Saint John and Moncton.

There is something empowering about being with youth for a week and running on their energy and enthusiasm. Being part of the Tidal Impact team that set off for a short term mission in Saint John, NB was not part of my plans for the summer. However, I believe God had other plans for me for this week and with much uncertainty I stepped into this unknown territory. The only experience I have ever had in working with youth was raising my own children and I knew this trip would be completely out of my comfort zone. There are some observations that I made during the week and I will share some of that here.
For our youth, I would encourage you in your journey - stay true to God and yourselves. You are an amazing group and God will use you in ways you never thought possible. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of seeing you in action- giving your time and abilities freely in the different outreaches that we were a part of.
For our youth leaders, what can I say, but I really admire your stamina to guide and build relationships with these kids week after week. What a reward it must be to watch these youth grow and mature into young adults serving God.
Last, but not least, to our NMBC congregation, thank-you for your prayers this past week. We were challenged and stretched. Continue to support and encourage our youth. You are the largest cheering squad they have. Also, if any of you are given the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and into 'new' ministry, try it, you may just enjoy yourself!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Youth 101

Hi everyone!
I can't believe that it has been 2 weeks since I have blogged anything. We arrived in Saint John around 5 pm on Saturday and had pizza at the church and then an ice breaker with the Hillcrest youth. We actually had a fairly quiet van load of girls and Laura and I got to know one another a bit better. It has been interesting to say the least, so far. We ended up sleeping on the floor in the basement of the church on Saturday night and we transported van loads of kids to several homes nearby for their showers before church on Sunday - that was really interesting. We ended up having several discussions about billets on Sunday and found out from their youth pastor that there were some folks in church on Sunday that offered their homes up for billets. We had enough for the girls to go and have a bed for the remainder of the week and the guys were content to stay at the church. Initially Laura and I were hesitant to take this on, but after a long day, it was a go. Sunday was church in the am, delivering flyers to homes in the neighborhood informing them of the major food drive that we were doing. Last night was the kick-off rally for Tidal Impact which was held at the arena in Sussex. The worship band was very good and I can't remember the name. Rob Nylen spoke and was very clear in his message and using the gifts that we have been given. It was a great evening. We arrived back around 9:30 pm and proceeded to pack up the girls things for our unknown destination. I had Jessica and Caitlyn C., Anna and Sharayah with me and I think we were all pleasantly surprised. Our hosts were very welcoming and I got my OWN room (PTL)!!!
Monday (I can't believe it is only Monday!) we started our week of ministry with our host church - they have what they call Park Day every morning and our youth are helping out with that (games, crafts, etc. similar to VBC but held in the park). In the afternoon we went and collected the food from the homes that we were in contact with on Sunday. It was very successful and we then delivered it to the local food bank. We then had supper at the church and headed off for our first rally with all of the Saint John crew (about 400) to Quispamsis. The rally was at the Wesleyan church and the kids seemed to enjoy it all. I will try and post some pictures tomorrow. 
Being stretched and losing sleep!!! Coveting your prayers.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!
Here we are at the beginning of July and hopefully 2 months (or more!) of sunshine. It 
sure isn't starting out very well with the amount of rain that we've had. Strawberries are full on and I am about halfway through making our jam for the year.
I am venturing into unknown territory in about a week and a half. I will be transporting youth to Saint John for a short term mission adventure called 'Tidal Impact' which is run through our Atlantic Baptist Convention. I have very mixed feelings about this and I think mainly because it is something that I have never done before. So, not much new news on the home front. I will hopefully be able to do some blogging when I'm away. We are looking forward to a couple of weeks at our camp on Harvey Lake in NB in August and visiting with our oldest daughter and her family and some extended family. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

And ... Back to Reality

It is hard to believe that a week has gone by since we've been home. Back to reality (dishes, laundry, meals, etc.) and life again with 2 teenagers. Our trip away now seems like something we did in the distant past. We have wonderful memories of this excursion and I hope we have the opportunity to travel together again. Life has a way of rushing by and we tend to put those special moments to the side and leave them for a more convenient time. I believe we need to grab these moments as quickly as they show up and cherish the time we get to spend with the people we love the most. As life returns to "normal" I tend to reflect more on why God has so blessed me so much and what the next year will hold. Time is so precious and we cannot recapture what we waste. May I have the wisdom and courage to move forward and into what God has planned.  

Monday, June 15, 2009

Revival in Belfast and C.S.Lewis and a Quick Look at Dublin


We are going to try and pack the last two days of our UK trip into this blog, so this will be the last one you have to read. We travel home tomorrow and will be leaving here at 5 am (1 am Nova Scotia time). Yesterday, being Sunday we decided to attend the Christian Fellowship Church in the East side of the city.  This is the home church of Robin Mark, the leader of the group which made the Revival in Belfast CDs. We hired a taxi to get us there as it looked like about a 5 mile walk and the potential for going astray could make it 10! Although Robin Mark only leads worship about 6 times per year, Pastor Paul Reid told us, he was there yesterday. The church was very much alive and the music was awesome; we especially appreciated the celtic flute, which lends the music a yearning quality. This service was in stark contrast to the high kirk we experienced last Sunday in Edinburgh, especially when you consider the flag waving.

The church is tucked behind the Ulster Unionist Association.

Christian Fellowship Church

In the afternoon we were booked on a tour entitled "In the Footsteps of C.S.Lewis". The tour was supposed to be 2 hours long but ended up being three, due to the fullness of the guide's knowledge and his unwillingness to let us go until he shared it all with us. Lewis was born and raised in Belfast and we saw  the houses where his parents and grandparents lived and worked. It was very interesting to see the images that influenced Lewis as a child, that play a pivotal role in the Narnia series. We can now experience these books with fresh insights. A few images will illustrate this.

The rather posh house that C.S. Lewis moved to when he was about 4. Interestingly, a rather large wardrobe was delivered to the house and wouldn't fit in, so his grandfather had to take it apart. Lewis would have heard much discussion about this wardrobe.

As a boy, Lewis would walk to a nearby private school.  As he walked up a curved, tree-lined driveway, he encountered this lamp-post, an image which signaled the dividing point between two worlds.

Lewis' mother was the daughter of the rector of St. Mark's Church and this is the door to the rectory.  Lewis' parents and grandparents were members of this church and Lewis would have been brought to the rectory as a boy. At face level was a doorknob.

The doorknob.

This bronze statue "The Searcher", created by Irish sculptor Ross Wilson, stands outside a community library, showing Lewis' character Digory Kirke trying to decide whether to enter the wardrobe. On the back of the wardrobe is a copy of a letter from C.S. Lewis to a young girl explaining the overall meaning of each Narnia books.
 
We arrived at our Dublin hotel at 9:30 pm and then went out for pizza. On Monday, we caught a bus down to the city centre (we are in an airport hotel) and had a day of exploring this city of 2 million people, which was full of people and buses, somewhat like London. It being a Monday, most of the museums and galleries were closed, so we were spared the viewing of more ancient history!! (Sorry, Kim!). We did do a quick bus tour of the city and then we went on foot for a couple of hours and took photos. 

There were some interesting stores in Dublin.

This bronze was of Molly Malone a.k.a. "the tart with the cart".

Which way to turn? Perhaps it's time to come home!

The ha'penny bridge across the River Liffey, a Dublin landmark. A century ago, the bridge toll was a ha'penny.

Some typical Dublin buildings; a close-up of the taller building follows. 

The Clarence Hotel, owned by the band U2, is where Bono and the boys hang out when spending a weekend in Dublin. The locals call it Bono's B&B, a name he doesn't appreciate. It is a very expensive hotel.

We give no promotion of this product, but one of the main tourist stops (after Guinness) is the old Jameson Whisky Distillery. Note the spelling; no relation to us Jamiesons. 

Each city seems to have constructed something to celebrate the millennium.

In Dublin it was this 390 foot tall Spire of Dublin, a.k.a. "The Rod to God".  Makes a great lightning rod!

So, thank you to all who have faithfully followed us on our UK trip. It has been a blast and we will be happy to share more pictures (to those who have the patience), when we get home.
Looking forward to seeing everyone again and being back on Canadian soil where a cheeseburger happy meal doesn't cost $7.00!!



Saturday, June 13, 2009

Excellent Tour



Our day began with another full Irish breakfast, but I am getting rather tired of scrambled eggs. However, it does fill us up for the morning and we only need a light lunch. We had booked a coach tour to the Giant's Causeway, so I will let the photos tell you the story of our day. Hope you enjoy these (especially Barb)!

Carrickfergus Castle, our first stop. One of the finest examples of a Norman castle built in the 1100's.

William of Orange statue outside the Carrickfergus Castle.

Taken from the bus window - note the checkerboard farm land - lots of green.

Carnlough, Ireland, one of our pit stops right along the coast.

Another photo of Carnlough, a beautiful coastal village.  

One of the many glens (Glen Dunn) we viewed as we traveled up the Antrim Coast. At several points from the coast, we could see the Mull of Kintyre (Scotland) to the northeast.  

Loughareama (the vanishing lake). This lake fills up after heavy rain and then within an hour vanishes. There is an interesting legend that goes along with this picture. There was a man who lived in the area whose wife had passed away and he remarried her sister. Apparently the new wife disliked the children and placed a curse on them and they turned into swans. To this day on the 1st day of October there are hundreds of swans that return to this lake and then leave, almost as if they are paying their respects to these children. I don't tell this as well as the tour guide with the Irish lilt and the blarney.

Sheep Island where supposedly sheep are pastured in the summer, but we are skeptical about this - not too sure how they would get there!

Carrick-a-rede, which is a rope bridge about 100 ft. above the sea to get to an island. You can see it to the left of the photo if you use your imagination. 
 
Carrick-a-rede again. You may be able to see the rope bridge a little better here. We actually didn't go down to the bridge - it cost 4 pounds and we were getting hungry, so we just stopped along the walk and had a snack.

This was a beautiful white sand beach along the way. There was thunder in the distance but it only started to rain as we were boarding the bus to return to Belfast. 

Bushmills - home of an ancient distillery first licensed in 1608.  A bottle could be had for a mere 70 pounds. We kept our money in our pockets.

Beside the distillery were some cattle which were black on each end and white around the middle.  The are known as 'Guinness' cattle but I don't think that is the official breed name.

Dunluce Castle 

An alpine plant (Sedum) growing on the cliffs.

Giant's Causeway from the top of the cliff.

Sitting on the Giant's Causeway.

The place was crawling with tourists, supposedly as many per year as Buckingham Palace. One source listed the top three natural attractions worldwide as Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Giant's Causeway.  I am certain there should be many more places between two and three.

A top view of some stones.

We climbed up the hard but more scenic way...
 
... involving about 160 stairs.

The Giant's cow was spotted below (although it looked more like a dinosaur).

A final, pastoral image taken with our backs to the cliff.

We agreed that this was a fine tour experiencing some of Northern Irelands finest scenery.
We have a more literary tour booked for tomorrow.  Details later. Goodnight.