Comforters for Children, Timing for Birds

A friend and I went shopping for fabric yesterday.  It was a pleasant outing, but this morning I’m dealing with the consequences: a plugged sinus that prevented me from falling back to sleep when I awoke at 5am.  So I’ll write instead–and likely resort to decongestant before long, since I’m scheduled to cook at the Villa today.

We two shoppers are members of the Church’s Sewing committee and it’s part of the committee’s job to purchase fabrics to use as comforter tops and backs.  We hit two fabric stores and came back with a bunch of fabric and a big roll of batting.  I tend to be sensitive to the chemicals in new fabrics–and more so if they are a bit musty–so at times I get a shopping bonus of sinus problems.

On Sewing Days we, the Committee, match and measure these fabrics; we sandwich a layer of batting between and pin them together for some ladies to tie.  Last Sewing Day they got about eight comforters tied and there are two Sewing Days a month Nov to March so it keeps the Committee hopping to keep the ones who tie supplied with blankets.

These blankets go to inner city schools; from there they are distributed to families who need them. The Sewing ladies also cut and sew gowns for the palliative care wing of one Saskatoon hospital, and layette blankets for the nursery of another.   Our work seems to be much appreciated and it gives the ladies a pleasant day of visiting & fellowship.

We had a beautiful day for shopping: sunny and spring-like.  All we need now is for the birds to start coming back.  (But they better not!  March can be nasty, April iffy.)

I was reading in an old devotional booklet this morning about the Swallows of San Juan Capistrano.  The writer makes reference to the old song, “When the Swallows Come Back To Capistrano” and says how reliable this event is.  They come back on March 19th and leave Oct 23rd every year without fail.  Even on leap years.  Incredible timing!

We, too, have seen an example of the timing of wild birds and it really is amazing.  Back when we lived near London, Ontario, one day for an outing our family went to Jack Miner’s Bird Sanctuary in Kingsville.  Jack Miner became known as a friend of Canada geese and he left this sanctuary so others could come and observe these beautiful birds close up.

His descendants were maintaining the property–hopefully still do; one of them went out every day at 4 pm to feed the birds.  When we arrived at 3:45 pm we walked around a bit and saw about a hundred or so Canada geese in the field obviously waiting for their supper.  At 3:50 a few dozen more had joined them.

At 3:55 the sky was full of Canada geese, hundreds of them coming in from every direction.  (I told my husband this is just like Mennonites getting to Church. :))  By 4pm they were all settled in the field waiting; I don’t remember that there were any latecomers.  It wasn’t the sound of a motor that brought them, for they had to wait another twenty minutes until the food came.  So what inner clock would give them such precise timing?

For an answer to this and other intriguing questions about the natural world, read Job Chapter 39.

A Life of Running Away

The part of Pastor Warren’s sermon that I wrote about yesterday really spoke to me and brought back sad memories, because someone dear to my heart was a ‘runner’.

He had lots of opinions and biases and he expressed them quite freely.  Occasionally, however, someone would call him on something he said or contradict his opinion, implying–even gently–that his attitude wasn’t right.  And that’s it; he was gone.

One time he was visiting with his sister and she gave him a sharp reproof for something he said.  He was soon in the car heading for home and he didn’t go back for a good long while.  It was a little harder to avoid close family members, though, so after awhile he would connect again and carry on as usual.  With other people the rift was usually permanent.

Through a friend I heard about one sad ending.  He and his wife, when they lived in the city, had been good friends with a neighbour couple; after they moved to the country, he would stop in for coffee whenever he had business in town.  The husband was usually at work, but to him this neighbour lady was like a daughter and they had quite a few good visits.

Now, this man was of the Old School that “children should be seen and not heard.”  And it happened one day, as he was having coffee with this neighbour lady, that her three-year-old boy was being rather rowdy.  So he grumbled about it: that child needed to learn to behave himself.  Well, she thought he could be a bit more patient, too, and she said (her tone maybe a bit peeved), “But he’s just a little boy!”  The man soon left and she never saw him again.

He had little use for religion, so getting offended at Christian brothers and sisters and going from church to church wasn’t his problem.  But even non-religious friends and family try to straighten us out from time to time.  It seems his pride couldn’t accept being told he was wrong.

I remember hearing him say, “I’m sorry” once, but it was a grudging admission rather than a from-the-heart acknowledgement.  Humbling himself and making a few honest “I guess I shouldn’t have said that” apologies would have made his life a lot happier and saved a lot of friendships.

Pride is such a hard master: it drives us away from all the things that would really make us happy in this world–and will bar us from heaven.

How Far Will You Run?

I mentioned earlier that I would share some of our Pastor Warren Isaac’s message–now another Sunday has slipped by so I’d best write down my impressions before I forget them.

His topic was on accepting responsibility–which might include the need to go back and face the music.  The scripture verses he started his message with were Genesis 16:6-11.

In Genesis 15: 4 Abraham was promised a son, but his wife Sarai had her doubts.  At least she wasn’t producing any heirs.  Then she had this bright idea–as we short-sighted humans often do: she gave her maid to Abraham thinking the maid would provide the descendants.  Alas for “the best laid plans of mice and man.”  When Hagar knew she was going to have the heir, she got a bit uppity.  Her smugness irked Sarai and she became the classic slave driver.

And when Sarai dealt hardly with her (Hagar), she fled from her face. (Verse 6)  If she’s going to be so miserable, I’m outta here, Hagar decided…and left for parts unknown.

Trouble is, the parts were unknown.  She came to the end of the road, with no food, no money and no place to go.  And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness…  And he said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou and whither wilt thou go?

God cared enough about Hagar to follow her; He let her run as far as she could and there He met her.  Hagar, probably exhausted and hungry by this time, was finally ready to listen.  That’s usually where God meets us, isn’t it?

So she told him, “I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.”  And the angel of the Lord said unto her, “Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands…  I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.”

Sometimes a few pointed words from a concerned Christian brother or sister will cause someone to run.  Someone questions something they done, maybe implies they’re not the good Christian they think they are.  So they feel hurt and offended.  “He was too hard on me.  She doesn’t really know me.  I’m doing the best I can.  They just don’t understand my situation.”

There are people who go from church to church, from counselor to counselor, hoping to get answers they like.  They may say they need help, that they need direction, but then listen “selectively” for the advice they really want to hear.  Ten people may say “Don’t do it” but they listen to the one who says, “Yes, that would be okay.”  Then they can go ahead and do as they wish, because “Brother so-and-so said it was okay.”

Naturally we want to be accepted by others as spiritual people.  We don’t want to hear we’re wrong, that we have attitudes that are not Christ-like.  We may feel so abused and unloved that we run.  Perhaps not literally, but we avoid those who want to help us.

God is so good; He waits until we come to a quiet place, until we’ve exhausted every avenue and don’t know what else to do.  Then He says, “Where are you?  What are you doing here?  How far have you already run?  How much farther are you going to go?”

He tell us, “Go back.  Go back to those ones that you think dealt so hard with you…and submit yourself to them.  Listen to what they have to say.  Consider that they may be right…that they may see something in you that does need changing.”

Heb 13:17: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

God promised Hagar a rich reward if she’d just go back and stick it out.  And after all, wasn’t her attitude part of the problem between her and her mistress?  Likewise, He promises us a reward.  Though our attitudes may have to go through a refining fire, He promises we’ll be the better for it.  Relationships will be stronger, our love purer, our light brighter.

Or will we keep on running?  For how many years?  Through how many broken relationships?  And where will it finally end?

Love at Home: Romance vs Reality

The hearts on my calendar are reminding me that Valentine’s Day is coming up shortly.  And that sets me to thinking about different examples of love.

I read a neat little story once about a young author who sat in an editor’s office one day, trying to sell the older man on the idea of publishing his poetry book.  “What are you writing about?” the editor asked.

“Oh, I’ve written lots of poems on the theme of love and romance.”

The editor looked him over thoughtfully.  “So what is love?”

The poet began to rhapsodize about moonbeams, romantic scenes, candlelight, heartfelt passions and deep longings.

“Nonsense,” the editor replied.  “Love is getting up at 2 am to warm up water bottles and soothe sick children.”

My mind goes back to a song that was popular for a short time in my teens.  I forget the name, but a young man is telling his girlfriend that she’s eighteen now, old enough to get away from home–she should marry him and they’d go see the world on his Harley-Davidson motorbike.  Maybe in a year or so, if they’d have a baby, they’d add a sidecar and be a trio zipping down the road on his Harley.

I’ve thought of that song often over the years.  Firstly, because life has showed me time and again how totally unrealistic that picture is.  What about freezing rain, dust storms, greasy hair, dirty diapers, teething, ear infections, temper tantrums?

I also think about it from the angle that so many of us were too naive to realize just how unrealistic it was.  A lot of us were young and sheltered; we had seen so little of real life.  Our parents had supplied all our needs so we never gave a thought to who was supposed to buy the gas for the Harley, food or clothes for both of them, or–“in a year or two”–diapers and formula.  My folks were older when I came along and I was raised as an only child; I had zero experience with babies before I had one myself.

Large families do have an advantage.  When parents have a number of children, they can’t make each one the center of the universe, little Superstars with Mom & Dad in supporting roles, supplying their needs & wants, taxiing them here and there.  Where there are a number of children, the oldest ones especially grow up knowing more about what it takes to make a home work.

Some years back we were visiting in a home where the couple had six children: three teenage boys, one middle child, a three-year-old and a two-year-old.  After the meal I watched the oldest son lift his little sister from her highchair, clean her face and hands, and send her off to play.  And I thought, That boy will understand far more about what makes a home, about love in action, than all these romantic images we’re fed in songs nowadays.

At Home & At Work

I spent most of yesterday on His Imprint business, but it was enjoyable. Bob & I made a big circle from Delisle to Rosetown to Elrose to Conquest and home again, dropping off a dozen posters in six communities west & south of us. That should help spread the news about the April 28th writers’ conference. In the evening I started the Feb His Imprint E-newsletter; I hope to get it done and e-mailed out on Saturday.

Our circle took in some of the flattest prairie wheat land–beautiful open country on a sunny day. The area west of us is frequented by pronghorn antelope, so we kept our eyes open but didn’t see any.

There’s snow in the fields but not a lot. It was a dry fall hereabouts and farmers are concerned that the rains will come as needed in spring, seeing we’ve had so little snow.  They do a lot of irrigation on the east side of the Saskatchewan River but the farmers on this side didn’t want to switch; they fought the idea until the government quit trying to push them into it, thirty-some years back.

Two years ago a rich Alberta farmer bought up a number of sections of land (a section being 640 acres) in the Conquest area and has hired trackhoes to dig up all the shelterbelts & chip the wood. The old-timers shake their heads. These were rows of very tough trees, planted mostly in the “Dirty 30’s” to keep the wind from blasting all the topsoil off this sandy land. They say with modern “no-till” farming methods the soil won’t blow, but they don’t say what might happen if it were too dry to grow a crop in the first place. We hope and pray that we never see years like that again.

Today I cooked at the Villa, but with three of the residents away (one on a trip, one to the dentist, one to work in his shop) we were only three at the table for lunch. Very easy on the cook. :) One gentleman returned for supper–so we were four.  And it’s COLD tonight. Our high was -12 C (0 F); right now its about -20C. Nippy.

Our cat can’t go outside when it’s this cold, so he ‘s bored beyond bearable.  He amuses himself by terrorizing the fish in my aquarium, sitting at one end and pouncing at any that come near.  Or he walks across the lid on the feeder flap; one day I’m afraid it will give way and he’s going to fall right in.  Splash!

Three Days, condensed

This weekend really zipped by!  I cooked at the seniors’ residence Saturday and Sunday, then yesterday we were in Saskatoon all day.  In the morning my elderly cousin needed some help getting groceries, the writers’ group met from noon-3pm, then I had some shopping to do here & there.  Bob squeezed in an oil change for the car, too.

This morning I addressed a number of envelopes & inserted bulletins, all part advertising the upcoming writers conference.  After lunch I wrote up the minutes from yesterday’s meeting, as I’m the secretary and e-mail them out a day or two after.  (Too bad I didn’t take notes of the lively discussion we had about the deteriorating quality of education today.  This started when one lady mentioned that her 9 or10-year-old niece couldn’t spell “you” and “are.”)

There were nine ladies present, plus Bob; six of the ladies had writing they wanted to read.  I read my experience of meeting a woman who was in love with her cactus.  They thought it was worthwhile, so I edited it today and posted it on my website.  Address:

Bob is suffering an allergy attack; he felt rough all day.  He feels that echinacea helps him a lot and takes it faithfully during these bouts.

This evening we cleaned the canister filter in the Villa’s 30-gallon tank.  This time I told the owner, “Let’s use a strainer, in case there may be baby fish in there.”  So I held the strainer and he started to pour.  Out came three baby mollies.  I rushed them back to the tank, then Melvin finished emptying the canister–and here were three more babies flipping around on the strainer.

They are so tiny you’d almost think they might go through the holes of the strainer, but I believe we caught them all.  We replaced the filter, then I took a rubber band and covered the intake with a chunk of nylon hosiery so this won’t happen again.  I took it off a couple of weeks ago because we didn’t seem to have any fry in the tank.  No wonder!

Last week I saw photos on a website: some professor has examined grains of sand and magnified some of them 250 times.  (If you like, you can see them, too, at  Post entitled “Just a grain of sand…”)  The diversity in those sand grains is awe-inspiring!  I find it the same with the Bible: as you examine a verse or two and allow the Lord to open your eyes, you find an amazing depth of meaning.  Even though you’ve read them a hundred times, they can still reveal an angle that you never saw before.  Our pastor did that Sunday morning in his sermon; we looked at a few well-known verses and gained a new understanding.  I’d like to repeat some of his thoughts in my next post.

Sunday for dinner we had invited three couples to the Villa, which gave us 13 adults and eight children ages 1-9 ‒ including our own dear grandchildren.  That gave us a lot of activity both in preparing dinner and keeping tabs on the children after.  There was Bible Study at church in the evening, but I didn’t get done supper clean-up in time to go.  Bob went with Ken, our son-in-law.

Bob tells me that today is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birthday.  Apparently he was an obsessive-compulsive Mr. Clean–the antithesis of a writer, in my mind.  He’d even clean other people’s houses.  If he were still living, I’d love to invite him over.  Or would I?  Hmm…