Posts filed under ‘Life along the way’
I’ve been noticeably absent from my blog for the summer: too caught up in living intentionally to keep up with good intentions to post regularly. Here’s how life along the way has played out for the last few months:
I SHALL NOT BE IN WANT:
Our little church blessed us by sending us to the beautiful Laurentian area of Quebec for three days of prayer, praise and preparation for moving forward together with the other churches in our fellowship. Blessed by the astounding young worship leaders who led us in familiar hymns and choruses in both languages: a favourite English hymn with a French cadence becomes uniquely meaningful all over again. Blessed by time spent sharing with fellow pastors: common struggles and shared joys.
God provided all we needed and then, for full measure, blessed us with three more days for laughter and splashing and getting wet and sunburned and very happy with our grandkids and their parents.
HE MAKES ME LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES:
A week cat-sitting for friends gave me the quiet restful time I needed after the hustle of travel and adventure. Right in the centre of downtown Vancouver, July is a wonderful time to sit in the park people-watching and enjoying summer and sunshine in a beautiful city. Sunday, I wandered into the nearest service: a large [by our standards!] Baptist Church. There, my soul was refreshed by the clear streams of music sung full voice: I still smile thinking of the enthusiastic tenor behind me
Bless the Lord, oh my soul OH MY SOUL!
When I first determined that this would be a year of living intentionally, I foolish thought that meant I’d make a plan and stick to it. Not so! Summer had its challenges too: a teenager refusing to accept responsibility; a precious daughter-of-my-heart facing health problems while trying to cope with a new baby; a friend navigating the shoals of family discord; an apartment to clear and and a funeral to prepare. All were exercises in living intentionally!
Turns out, intentional means being alert to God’s calling and following him on the path of righteousness: occasionally stretched almost to breaking, trusting in His leading, seeking to discern his direction. [Mostly] I curbed my sarcasm, kept my temper, focused on His goals and trusted that His goodness and hesed is continuing to chase me down.
As for MY plans…., not so much.
That’s been my intentional summer: trials and laughter and frustrations and sheer unadulterated joy.
Before the clouds sock in and the months of drizzle begin, summer gave us one last Hurrah!
My friend and fellow pastor Don Weston asked me to “do the quilt thing” for the dear folks in his church. When we agreed on the 23rd Psalm message, I found the impetus I’ve been lacking for [ahem] EIGHT years while I claimed to be trying to figure out how to quilt the Shepherd’s Light top. Determined to finish it before I preached, I put the last stitches in the binding on Saturday night and, after our own church service, headed down-Island through the pouring rain into a brief blaze of sunlight just as we began to set up.
We pinned the quilt to the wall and I stepped back to look for the first time. The Shepherd’s Light glows against the darkness of the shadows: more powerful than I had ever imagined. So, I spoke about the Shepherd and His care and I talked to the people about ministering to one another out of the overflow of His love and mercy, feeling as though my own cup was running over…
Bless the Lord oh my soul, OH MY SOUL!
Click on the photo and scroll down to order
Focus on the 23 Psalm in depth through the seven lessons in this stunning quilt designed to finish approximately 62″ square.
BONUS: Includes a step-by-step guide to mastering set-in-points from Quilter’s Neighbourhood library of Basic blocks.
$12 * *US funds
My mother was big on cursing.
Not the foul language kind [she was too ladylike for that!] Tall, slender, athletic, auburn-haired former fashion model: nothing prepared her for parenting a short, opinionated, klutzy, argumentative bookworm. Faced with a daughter who was an alien in her household, poor Mom resorted to wishing dire consequences whereby I would grow up to understand exactly how awful it was for her to be my mom.
The most common curse:
- I hope you have a kid just like you!
Funny thing about word curses: sometimes they come true. And, sometimes they become the greatest blessings in our lives.
When he was an opinionated, klutzy, argumentative teenager, James and I spent many a happy hour nose-to-nose yelling at one another. Even then, I knew I was blessed.
As an adult (especially as an adult adoptee), when I look into his eyes and see my eyes looking back, I am blessed.
When he sends me a text from work with something sad, funny or weird to share; or when we exchange books, recipes, [and, I admit – sarcastic comments], I am blessed.
When he makes me laugh like no one else can, (even though everyone is rolling their eyes), I am so blessed.
My mom usually followed her curse with a prophesy:
- Someday you’ll thank me.
So, here it is, Mom:
Thanks for the
On Kim’s Design Wall this week: a new baby quilt project in blues, greens and white. Stay tuned for more.
When my boys were little and loud and so very boy-ish, my only request for Mother’s Day was “take them away and let me read my book in peace.” No breakfast-in-bed, no smarmy card, no overpriced candy, and, for goodness sake, no plants for me to feel guilty about as they die from inevitable neglect. Just . leave . me . alone . in . the . blessed. quiet… aaah!
So, thirty years later, it’s no surprise that yesterday didn’t look much like a Hallmark® celebration here. Frank was off being a rockstar for an acquaintance’s 50th anniversary. Our elder son JD lives in Montreal, three time zones away, and our younger son James was recovering from emceeing a wedding/brawl on the other side of the strait in Vancouver. Just me, alone in the blessed quiet, up at 7AM to bake for church: [Strawberry walnut muffin recipe to follow.]
Lest you start feeling sorry for me,”alone in the quiet” is still a good thing. Time to chop, pray, stir, pray, scoop, pray and bake while I reread Amy Young’s brilliant “Open Letter to Pastors”. Amen, Amy – you preach it, girl! I know I was not the only pastor to include Amy’s eloquent words yesterday, though I may have been the only one to snap “Mother’s Day is NOT a liturgical celebration!” Amy’s words stirred something deep and left me mentally standing on tiptoe anticipating nudges from the Spirit throughout my non-traditional Mothers’ Day.
Prom dress fitting for my friend Emily; lunch with her mom Lynette and sister Nina; driving my son James home from the ferry; listening to phone messages: none of the activities of my Sunday looked like a greeting card celebration of Motherhood.
So, I breathed a sigh of relief that the dress fit(!); advised on boutonniere selection; teased Nina about her disdain for cooked celery. And thought to myself: “I’m so glad this family has let me into their lives.”
Blessed are the moms who are wise enough to know when to step aside and make room for someone else to speak into their child’s life (even if it’s silliness like “carnations are for when your date is your cousin and his mother made him take you.”)
Later, as I drove from Departure Bay Ferry Terminal, James talked about the wedding celebration gone sideways when family dysfunctions erupted under the influence of alcohol and stress. I marvelled at his aplomb as he emceed the event, doing his best to smooth over the very rough spots. I was glad to lend him to another family to support their Mom and Grandma, brother and father through a tough couple of days. He didn’t give me a card or flowers: he gave me the gift of himself sharing life; and left me once again thinking “I must have done something right: he’s such a decent man.”
Blessed are the sons and daughters who understand that appreciating their mother is not about cards and gifts, it’s about living values learned from Mom who did the best she could.
And as we stopped by the house for James to pick up a vehicle [that’s a whole ‘nother story for Father’s day!], we listened to messages. A “Happy Mothers’ Day” from, JD celebrating with Bre-Anne, the wonderful mother of our four grandchildren who still longs for the Mom she lost two years ago.
Blessed are the adult children who understand their first priority is to love their spouses and to provide a sound foundation for their own children. Wise grandmas cheer from the sidelines and pray hard for those who are still in the midst of it all.
Finally — trembling lip and tear in my eye — another Happy Mother’s Day message from Megan: James’ dear friend who was still in school when she lost her mom to cancer.
I have been “Mumma Graham” for more than a decade now – not trying to fill the shoes, but standing in the gap where Mom should be. With no daughters of my own, because Megan made room for me: I shopped for bridesmaids’ outfits; smocked a flower girl dress; helped pull together a backyard wedding reception; gave unsolicited advice and encouragement; delegated a huge amount of work for Frank’s retirement party; plotted a surprise birthday for James. And now, [any day now!], I wait for the arrival of our “honorary” grandson.
Today, I’m cleaning the prom dress carnage from my sewing room and the deck where I left a mound of satin and lace shrapnel. As I’m thinking about yesterday, the lesson from the Spirit has come clear in Day-after-Mother’s-Day thankfulness for Miss B.and Doris, Rosemary and Gwyneth, Shirley and Gaye who all cared for me when I needed someone to be “Mom”. And, praise His Holy Name, there’s blessing for me too, with Allison, and Cindy and Megan.
Blessed are you who stand in the gap where Mom cannot or will not be. Blessed are you who come alongside: to walk through the valley and to dance in joy; to encourage and to pray. Blessed are you, the mother-who-is-not-her-mother, because I give you to each other as a sign of My unending Grace.
I am blessed. So very blessed.
For those who may be wondering: the Celebration of Life for my friend Flo was beautiful. Flo would have loved the laughter as family members shared stories, memories and songs. She would have dissolved into giggles as her granddaughter Colleen hammed it up with kindergarten-style actions while practising Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam. She would have enjoyed the leprechaun jokes about her Irish background (and her diminutive size.) She would have been tickled to see her daughter-in-law’s flamingo scarf – a nod to grandson Brian’s nickname for his grandma: “Flossy Flamingo.”
It was especially wonderful to hear “thank you” again and again as each successive generation remembered their mom, grandma, great grandma. I spoke about Flo’s “attitude of gratitude,” and it was clear that her whole extended family (almost 50 of them!) had been well schooled in the fine art of thanks-giving.
Sunday at LaRosa, we gave over our church time to a more casual celebration. No basic black there: much ‘wearing of the green’ in honour of our little Irish lady. The family joined a crowded room full of staff and residents as we sang the old songs and laughed at stories of Flo in her Easter bonnet or her hockey jersey [go Canucks, go!]. We remembered the excitement of her excellent adventure at Christmas and smiled at her determination. We marvelled that she really lived right up to the very end: thinking about others, thankful for the care she was given.
The great-grandchildren served goodies and shook hands and smiled and said “thank you.” And her daughter Marg said “I’ll be thanking you a long time.” And her granddaughter said “We were worried about Gram when she came to LaRosa, but she loved it here and we knew you took care of her. And we all want to say ‘thank you for loving her’.”
You’re welcome, Colleen and Marg and all the others. Thankful people are easy to love. Over the course of a couple of days, we learned to love you too: what an extraordinary, unexpected gift from God!
Our church family will be missing one precious little lady, but He gave us her whole wonderful joyous family to take their own places in our hearts and our prayers. Thanks be to God.
Pastor Kim and all of Bridges at LaRosa
My friend Flo died last week. So, here I am sitting at my computer thinking about preaching at her funeral on Saturday. I want to get it right; and I want to tell her family how precious she was. And I want them to understand that she still is, only better, and stronger and purer. And I want to honour her memory here and celebrate her eternity there.
But, mostly, I want the real pastor to show up: the one who isn’t going to worry about bawling like a baby when the family sings “You are my Sunshine” because Grandma Flo always sang it to them. The one who doesn’t mumble and search for words to speak into the grief. The one who doesn’t have to worry about forgetting something important. That one: the man [and I’ll be honest, in my imagination, it’s a man] who looks authoritative, and fatherly, and comforting in his backwards collar and conservative suit.
But I’m the pastor they’ve got. So, I’m not going to try to be profound, or authoritative or even ‘pastoral.’ I’m going to tell a story, because Flo always liked it when I told the Bible stories. I’m going to talk about nine lepers who believed and were obedient and were physically healed.
Mostly, I’m going to talk about the tenth one who was more: he was grateful. I’m going to talk about how it was the ‘thank you’ that Jesus said made him well.
I’m going to tell that story because Flo was always thankful: she rubbed her aching arthritic hands and thanked Jesus for the life he gave her; she buried a son and thanked her church friends for praying her through; she visited a daughter-in-law devastated by Alzheimers and thanked Frank for taking her so she could go and pray and say “Hi sweetheart, it’s Mom. I love you.”
And in the last day of her life on this side of forever, she was thankful for the nurses who came to poke and prod and catheterize and measure.
She told the nurse “this is my friend, Kim.” Then she corrected herself and said “this is my Pastor Kim.” It was clear that she liked the friend Kim, but she loved the pastor. And, Glory be, she was thankful that God had brought me to keep her company on this last mile of the journey.
So I held the twisted little hand and we prayed that God would take away the pain and that Jesus would make her well. And she thanked me for praying and for sitting, and for being pastor and friend.
I’m going to stand up on Saturday and, even if my voice trembles a bit, I’m hoping I can help them understand that she’s thanking Jesus face-to-face now. No aching twisted fingers, no bent back: there are no walkers in Paradise. I believe with all my heart that her faith in Jesus has made her well in every possible way that matters.
I still want to grow up to be Flo. Godspeed, my friend: I am so thankful for you.
Today I’m turning the blog over to our nephew Paul Graham who has been staying with us for a couple of weeks. Last week, he watched me make bread while he took notes; today was his turn: we worked together to adjust, edit and rearrange the steps and quantities while he made my favourite everyday sandwich bread.
Our recipe has evolved over the years: I no longer remember the sources, so if it looks familiar to you, please do drop me a line and let me know where credit is due!
OATMEAL COTTAGE CHEESE BREAD
- ½ Cup of Multi-Grain Cereal mix (we use Rogers 9-grain for cereal & Baking) or Flour
- 2 Cups Boiling Water
- 1 tbsp. of Brown Sugar or Honey
- 1 Cup Cottage Cheese or ¾ Cup of Milk
- 2 ½ Cups of White Flour
- 2+ Cups of Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 ½ tsp. of Salt
- 2 tsp. Instant Yeast or 1 ½ tbsp. of regular Yeast.
- Mix Multi-Grain Cereal (or Flour) with 2 Cups of Boiling Water in mixer bowl.
- Add 1 tbsp. of Brown Sugar (or Honey), and stir.
- Let sit until cooled to lukewarm.
- Heat Cottage Cheese (or Milk) in microwave until lukewarm (if you’re using cottage cheese, it will be “slimy”), and pour into Grain/water Mixture
- Take 2 ½ Cups of White Flour and mix in Instant Yeast, or sprinkle regular Yeast over cottage cheese/multigrain mixture.
- Add flour to lukewarm grain mixture and mix with beater attachment until gummy.
- Switch to dough hook and add 2 cups of Whole Wheat Flour
- Add Flour occasionally (usually around 5 Cups flour in total) until dough balls around hook.
- Turn out onto floured board
- Knead until smooth and elastic.
- Invert bowl over it, and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Pat or roll out dough.
- Take 1 ½ tsp. of Salt
- Sprinkle half on to dough, and then knead. Sprinkle the rest on, and then knead again. Knead for another 2-3 minutes. If you used regular yeast in recipe, put dough in a greased bowl, cover in saran wrap, and let rise for an hour. If you used Instant Yeast, take two loaf pans, grease them with baking spray, (or a piece of saran wrap or paper towel) with butter on it.
14. Roll dough into a cylinder (if using loaf pans, split dough into two), bend the ends under, pinch the seams, and roll again. Then place in pans and let rise until almost doubled: usually about 1 1/2 hours. You may choose to shape into a ball and let rise on a piece of parchment paper for a round loaf.
15. Set oven to 400°F about 20 minutes before the end of the rising period.
16. Put loaves in oven, then immediately reduce heat to 350°F.
17. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.
18. Cool before wrapping and storing: stays fresh for several days and freezes well.
[Okay, we confess, we had to sample the warm bread…it smelled so good!]
Kim [and Paul!]
Sarah Bessey, Rachel Held Evans and others have been speaking up on the issue of sexual abuse in the aftermath of recent news stories. In my own small way I want to add my voice and encourage others to break the silence.In 2007, when I was working on the Genesis to Job series of Bible quilt block patterns, I followed my heart’s prompting and tackled the story of Dinah with the “Aunt Dinah” block. Knowing that this message might cause some controversy, I brought my first draft to one of my former pastors for his input. His reponse: “Well, Kim, it’s sound Biblical teaching, but I don’t think it’s relevant to church women. There might be one or two who come from a rough background who might relate, but most church ladies don’t think about things like this.”
A pastor for upwards of 50 years thinking “good church ladies don’t know anything about rape!”
Within minutes of publishing the pattern, my inbox began to fill with heart breaking emails. Later, as we travelled Western Canada with Patchwork and Song, I learned to brace myself whenever I saw a woman standing off to the side after my presentation, waiting for the crowd to disburse. More women than I can count would approach me hesitantly saying “I have never told anyone but…I am Dinah” or “my sister (daughter, mother, friend) is Dinah.” These ‘good church ladies’ knew all about rape, but they held their pain in their hearts, afraid of the consequences of telling their stories. It was safe to tell me: I was travelling through and would not be around to betray their shame. Then and now, my counsel is a heartfelt:
My friends, my sisters, find courage: it’s time to speak up!
Here’s the text of my original message. Over the next day or two, I’ll give you the pattern again with a challenge to use it to make a quilt for a Dinah in your life – friend, sister, yourself or someone in a local women’s shelter.
UPDATE: the Aunt Dinah pattern is now available HERE
Bible Block: Aunt Dinah
Now Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land…
…Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
Genesis 34:1 and 35:1
That’s the beginning and ending of Dinah’s story in Genesis 34. It’s a passage we seldom hear. Not surprising: it’s a sordid tale of rape, manipulation and violent revenge. When we do consider it, there’s a temptation to make this a love story featuring Dinah and Shechem. It’s not romance: it’s violation. There is nothing to suggest that Dinah was a willing participant. There’s no upside to this story, no pat solution.
Neither is there anything that suggests that Jacob’s way of dealing with sexual sin is appropriate: giving his daughter in marriage to her rapist as a way of cementing political alliance is yet one more example of Jacob’s conniving nature. Simeon and Levi have a different response: they twist God’s holy rite of circumcision into revenge, and the bloodbath that results is truly horrific. Overshadowed by the machinations of her family, Dinah is mentioned in passing: the two brothers “took Dinah from Shechem’s house.” Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened to her. It’s likely she would have remained unmarried: as a “fallen” woman, her prospects for marriage were not good. Perhaps she stayed in Simeon or Levi’s family, the maiden aunt in the background of the family life; helping with the children and the household, but never having a family or home of her own.
Why should we even consider this ugly story today? Haven’t we moved past revenge or political manipulation as a way of dealing with sexual sin? True, we don’t condone violent revenge and we don’t try to turn a sexual violation to advantage. But, each one of us knows [or is] a Dinah. We’ve never really figured out what to do with that knowledge: when we emphasize purity and chastity, we unwittingly condemn women who already feel impure and devalued. If we minimize the pain, exhorting wounded women to “forgive and forget,” we shame those who cannot forget into keeping silent. The results are all around us: self-mutilation, eating disorders, promiscuity, substance abuse. If we would have strong families, emotionally healthy women [and men] and lasting marriages, the church must find a way to help men and women deal with the consequences of sexual sin and move toward restoration.
Did you notice the crucial omission in Genesis 34? There is absolutely no mention of God. In Jacob’s time, and in the 21st century, when God is discounted in our plans and our response to sin, there is no healthy resolution. Genesis 35 offers a starting point to deal courageously with the Dinahs among us: turn back to Him, put away the things which separate us from His guidance, purify ourselves and allow Him to restore us. It is not easy; there are no quick solutions, but healing begins by speaking up and out in the presence of our loving God and in the company of believers determined to walk through the mess together.
We have the promise: And we know that God causes ALL THINGS [including our confessed and repented sin and the sin of those who harmed us] to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.