On Being Thankful

An acrostic poem is always the one my students pick if given a choice. An acrostic is easy to write because it doesn’t need to rhyme. Often a name is the focus. “Easy-peasy,” Susan utters as she scratches out a few words on the paper. No need to worry about the rhythm of the lines either. Each line can be as long or as short as Susan, the creator, wants it to be.

As I was contemplating my post and how thankful I am for each waking moment, I wondered if I might dare present my thoughts today, in a form I will brazenly dub – an extended-acrostic! Here we go:

On Being Thankful…

Time after time I mess up. I really did mean to send that card, make that call, send that donation, God. I know I sometimes must seem all talk and no action. I don’t know why that is. I murmur about not having enough hours, enough money, enough strength. Then I feel shame-faced as I see those who have less than me doing what I should be doing. Forgive me, Lord. I will try harder. I truly am appreciative of Divine Grace.

 

Harmony in a home is what you desire. I know that. Sometimes I instigate and toss my patience out the back door. I forget the world doesn’t revolve around me and I want my own voice to resonate. Thank you for reminding me to stop and think before I speak and for letting me know that sometimes I can say it best by saying nothing at all.

Abba, Father. I surely am grateful that you know my heart. I play the game, don’t I? I pretend to have it all together on the outside. Especially on Sunday where I gather with others to worship. Someone says, “How are you?” I lie and say, “Fine.” I really am dying on the inside but I don’t want to reveal my heart and seem weak. So I smile and move on. Why do I see the church as a haven for saints instead of an emergency room for sinners?

Normal. Whatever is that? I keep waiting. Maybe when I make it to that magic five year number being cancer free. But my happy hubby – recently diagnosed with leukaemia – does that mean I need to wait another five years for normal? “Be still, my child,” You say. “I have it all under control.” Thank you, Jesus. I needed to hear that.

Kindness, “…is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain once wrote. Teach me not to attach strings to those times when I can offer a hand to someone. Let me never feel obliged because of religion but, rather, let the blessings pour out of me because of the blessings that you have poured into my life. I learned that from Michael Bull Roberts last week. He spoke about horror and the consequences of poor choices but he didn’t stop there. He shared how You, Lord, showed the greatest kindness of all and extended your Grace to him. Thanks for teaching me, through that big, tattooed, former drug lord, turned crusader for Christ, how a heart can be changed because of kindness.

Forgiveness is that final form of love. For God so loved me and everybody else, that He gave Jesus to die on the cross for sin. That is pretty sickening when I really stop and think about it. Not the part that I am forgiven. (That’s the truly amazing part) but I mean the part where it was because of my selfishness and because I was so wrapped up in myself that I didn’t even think. And I still do things that I shouldn’t – that are sinful. Yet the blood of Christ covers it all. Precious Lord, how I am beholden to you.

Unconditional love? Do I exhibit that in my day to day? I like to think so, but what is that rumbling? I want to strike out; point out error; announce that I was right. Then if someone won’t listen to me or criticizes my judgement, then I want to retaliate; react; even the score. Then I remember how you forgive and love me anyway. I need that example. I need to daily consume Your Word. It’s funny…when I do read your precious words, I feel somehow rejuvenated and more able to love. Thank you for teaching me and loving me consistently and without condition [just like you do.]

Love – and the greatest of these [Fruits of the Spirit] is love. If it wasn’t for the love of God, I may as well believe that this world was created in a big bang or something crazy like that? But how can that be? God loves His creation. He perfectly made everything and everyone for a purpose. I want to keep trying my best to please God as I journey on. It saddens me to think I break God’s heart. I think that is because I love Him so. If I didn’t, would I care? As I gather with my family for a Thanksgiving meal, I will look into the faces of each one of my relatives – young and old, and I will say ‘Thank you.” Love brings us together. Love brought us into being. God is love. and for that, I am truly thankful…

T-H-A-N-K-F-U-L!

Beyond the Hate by Michael Bull Roberts

Beyond the Hate by Michael Bull Roberts
ISBN: 9781988155005 ANGEL HOPE PUBLISHING From drug lord and gang leader to minister of the Word, Michael Bull Roberts takes the reader on a journey in this third book. As Michael comes face to face with the horrors of Auschwitz and embraces a community in deepest Africa, he is awakened to the hatred and misconceptions he once supported. In this tell-all memoir, Michael releases the pain and makes amends as he travels on a mission through Europe and eventually, Africa.
Price: $20.00

Raise Your Gaze by Peter A. Black

Raise Your Gaze by Peter A. Black (Angel Hope Publishing)
ISBN: 9780992007423 Angel Hope Publishing. ”RAISE YOUR GAZE” will take you from winter wonder to springtime musings of heather-clad hills in Scotland and wistful thoughts of lambs. Find your place in a symphony orchestra, and make footprints in summer sands. Meet a pot-bellied ‘princess’ and a patient old nag. Feel the plight of a humble worm, or a fish on the hook, and read the story of a Transformed Rose. You can smile with Desperado Bob, and pray with a transformed criminal in No ‘Bull.” Words to Bless will accompany and encourage you, as you journey through the seasons to Year’s End.
Price: $19.50

I Hate You (And You Don’t Win!)

Thinking and praying, today, for two local families who are burying their loved ones because of that wretched life-stealer, Cancer.

Cancer, I hate you. I hate the way you unsuspectingly creep up on some, inflict pain and slowly steal their breath. I hate the way you do your best to stir dissension and break up family. But let me tell you one thing, no matter how hideous and vile you are, Cancer, you can never, ever steal a soul. You can never ever rob a body of joy. Your feeble attempt at tearing at the fabric of family doesn’t work. Can’t you see? It brings family together to pray, to show love, to hope, to help and sometimes to forgive.

You might inflict a temporary pain and suffering but you have no access to the soul. And that is where pure joy is planted and you cannot penetrate that.

Jesus calls the shots—not you.

Yes, you might have taken a body, but you have not touched the soul. You will keep trying. You might win the battle sometimes but you will never win the war.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4

Special thoughts and prayers for the families of Anne Brouwer and Jake Vandenberg.

 

The Waiting Room – An original drama written and directed by Robert White

 

Review by Glynis M. Belec

An intimate little theatre, nestled nicely on the Strom farm on the south side of Guelph, welcomed us with open arms this past Sunday afternoon. Ten of us ventured out, excited and curious about a new production—THE WAITING ROOM written by Guelph resident, Robert White. The seating capacity in the delightful country theatre was a mere 85; five rows of comfortable chairs offered every member of the audience a great view. Our group elected to sit part way back, centre. Perfect. The (I would say) 40-50-foot stage, boasted a subtle and attractive dual set, with warm, appropriate lighting fitting the mood throughout the afternoon.

The Audience of One Theatre, who produced THE WAITING ROOM, unapologetically declares their mandate—to bring the Gospel to life through drama and music, with the hope of drawing people closer to Christ.

Sometimes with Christian productions, the expectation is the same. Someone messes up. They quickly realize the error of their ways once someone points it out; they turn their life over to Jesus and they all live happily ever after.

There was a thread of that in THE WAITING ROOM. But it was so, so much more. And even though I kept trying to predict the next scene in my mind, one surprise after another kept me riveted and involved.

Raina Whitman, a determined, successful real estate developer has plans. She wants to develop and build a twin tower condominium on Second Street. Her grit and determination has obviously allowed her to climb the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, the proposed condominium development means trouble for Linda O’Neill, another successful business woman. Her chain of second hand clothing stores meet with disdain from Whitman and when it is declared O’Neill’s main store on Second Street is to be demolished in order for the posh condominiums to be raised, the fire is ignited

The two women dig in their heels and one conflict after another keeps the audience guessing and hoping—and wondering. Opposition stirs emotions and before we know it, the battle ensues. Linda puts on her ‘armour,’ encouraged by her passionately patient husband and calls out to God for direction. Raina wants nothing to do with compromise and definitely not God. Her controlling personality pervades and her assistants run themselves ragged trying to please their demanding boss.

As the scenes progress, we begin to see powerful personalities emerge, along with some underlying implications that might explain attitudes and actions. The scenes, short and fast keep the pace and passage of time, credible. Tragedy and unpredictability captivates and a unique event and the use of a scrim (backdrop) is particularly effective in developing the plot.

Overall, the acting was masterful, especially Kim Pottruff as Raina Whitman and Susan G. Acheson as Linda O’Neill. Pottruff’s part was believable from the beginning, and as the play progressed I found myself going through a gamut of emotions as she fought a battle not only on the ground, but in her heart and soul. Yes, I admit I even felt a lump rise in my throat as Raina clutches her pendant at one point and speaks fondly of her father.

Acheson proves perfect for her role as the humble yet equally determined Linda O’Neill. Her grit and resolve to come to the defense of those less privileged rings clear and her passionate plea to Raina to understand her motivation is not devoid of frustration. Acheson pulls this off and the audience is hooked.

Catherine Masi, who shines as the ever-efficient Francine Duffy, Executive Assistant portrays her character well and every time she enters a scene we know we will receive information to move the plot along. Janet Cox’s expressions as Raina Whitman’s secretary, indicate her more submissive attitude yet, gentle spirit. She is a little fearful of her demanding boss, and Cox pulls this off well.

The very tall and very wise, Tom Bolton is perfect in his role as Jake O’Neill, Linda’s faithful and dedicated husband. Bolton’s sincerity of character adds a particular charm to their relationship and his hardworking no-nonsense approach and manner allows those watching to feel compassion and sadness as he deals with tragedy and triumph.

Christopher Wilson as Detective Gordon Thatcher, has a small but necessary role and he pulls it off well and looks determined in his interactions with Raina Whitman.

There wasn’t a lot of room on the sets, because of the limited size of the venue, but the characters moved well and made it seem larger.

One small note, I found myself watching the coffee cups. I knew they were empty because of the way they were handled, yet they were supposed to be full. As the actors sip, it is a bit of a distraction because the audience is seated so close to the stage and it can be seen that the sip is not followed by a swallowing motion. It takes me out of the action for a moment. Real liquid in the cups would have made it more real and less distracting. That said, it is a minor note and only happens in certain scenes. As Raina takes her pain medication and swallows her real water (that I can see being poured from the pitcher) I believe her and tend to stay in the story and attach myself better to her character.

Robert White has created a fabulous story, complete with twists and turns and unexpected moments. There is a message of hope and a spirit of compromise that reigns throughout THE WAITING ROOM. There is no Bible-thumping or guilt trips; rather an opportunity for the audience to ask themselves, Why am I here? Or Who Am I in this big world?

There are plenty of musical interludes and transitions in THE WAITING ROOM provided by and with permission of The Trevor Dick Band and Mike Jansen and the Mike Jansen Trio.

Congratulations to all the backstage help and the entire production team for a job well done. I would highly recommend THE WAITING ROOM to anyone who enjoys a good story, a comfortable seat and fine surroundings.

The ten of us left satisfied and glad we came. Robert White’s THE WAITING ROOM, can be a good discussion starter and a superb spark for personal reflection. I’m thinking the mandate of An Audience of One was met with this performance. Well done team!

 

Lightning Strikes

In 2008 – I was absolutely flabbergasted when my sweet doctor told me on April 24th that the news wasn’t good. I thought she was going to tell me that I was stepping into early menopause or the like. I was ill prepared to hear the words ‘You have cancer.’

Needless to say, it was a great turning point in my life, but when I look back I am absolutely head over heels amazed at the lessons I was able to learn throughout my year of endless tests, excruciating chemotherapy and moments of despair.

God was on the throne and was doing a mighty work in my heart and soul. He was preparing me. He was tilling the soil of my soul and getting me ready to share my journey. The words that poured forth from my heart to my mind to my fingers to my keyboard, amazed me. It’s not that they were profound or magnificent words. It was just that they were so clear and real.

My soul was laid bare and I was still. One of my favourite scripture verses was Psalm 46:10 – Be Still and Know that I am God…never before did that verse become so real to me as when I was going through my cancer journey. I learned what it truly meant to be still… So I plod on. God is my refuge and my strength and I am sure loving the ride right now! I am thrilled that you are with me right now and that you are checking out my website.