Art Gallery and Blog

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fitness Resolution Revolution...on a Disney Cruise?!

Well, it's time to lose the baby fat. I've had four beautiful babies and I gained a little more permanent weight with each one, but the latest pounds have been the trickiest... The ones I gained after one of those babies got married.

I'm just thinking, when your youngest baby was born 14 years ago, baby weight is no longer a viable nor credible excuse...this extra 50 pounds I'm sporting, though lovely and matronly and curvy, is now officially a cookie baby, it's raising my blood pressure, decreasing my flexibility and endurance, hurting my feet, putting me at risk for type two diabetes or heart troubles; maybe even shortening my lifespan... Ain't nobody got time fo that. I love hanging out with my children, playing, swimming, hiking, getting smeared with ice cream at the annual Bayswater Beach Bash by them (angry face, Ted Beeler). And I imagine I'll love doing those things with my grandchildren (winky, smiley face, Gaëlle Langille).

So I've read Mark MacDonald's book Body Confidence and I've been listening to his LIFE cd, and another great one by my fitness heroes Mark and Jen Paul, in preparation for my new and forever approach to food. I've had results with diets before, they definitely have worked for me, but I'm not interested in doing this again, EVER, and I'm DEFINITELY not interested in what always has happens AFTER my diet results. Which has been for me to put it back on plus 10. No way. I'm doing this once. And the only way will be to change the way I think about food. That will change my habits, and that will give me the results I want.

My hero Lana did it: entered and PLACED in her first ever fitness competition. My bestie Catherine cheered me on with the words, "make the decision to do this once, Sonya".  My best boo Marcia tied her weight loss and fitness goals to her effectiveness and transparency and consistency as a leader, lost her weight and inspired  her team...and that resonates with me deeply. 

If you ask me to list the top priorities of my life, I'll rattle 'em off: God, family, health... And yet I live my days in a way that doesn't reflect health as the third priority of my LIFE. Which means it's not a priority. Ouch. 

I've been listening to a teaching pack on finances and in one of the CDs, Claude Hamilton says something that made me pause, brush midair, step off the ladder and rewind the cd back to hear it again. And what's funny is, I've heard him say it loads of times. I've even listened to that cd before many times. I've even SAID it to people. But like Claude's wife Lana says ALL the time, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." What he said is this: most people don't have a financial problem; they have a wisdom problem." I immediately recalled that he said last week, " you don't fix money problems with more money. You fix money problems with better information. How you help a kid get from grade two to grade three is you teach him a whole bunch of new information."

I love that guy.

So to kick start my FITNESS RESOLUTION REVOLUTION, Andrew took me on a honeymoon...23 years delayed, mind you, but it was TOTALLY WICKED! After our daughter Gaëlle got back from the Disney Cruise she and Jordan went on for their honeymoon, she convinced her dad that we should be the next people we send on a honeymoon, so Andrew booked it and we counted down the days.

As the date drew closer we thought a lot about the bodies we WISHED we had for this trip, but instead of going on a crash diet to try to lose weight BEFORE the cruise, we started dreaming about
the kinds of food we'd be able to eat and the activities we'd have time to do WHILE we were cruising. So when we hit the buffet we were PSYCHED about the seafood and colourful fruit and
veggie choices... We ate all the best, most colourful foods and we made sure we ate a nice variety every three hours, finishing off the day with an elegant dinner with friends and a small delicious dessert we could share.

We found out that three laps of the ship was a mile so we were excited about how many laps we could do each day and how much we improved over the course of our eight day visit. We went on hiking tours and went swimming several times a day and  ONLY took the stairs, planning our day around ensuring we had to walk the farthest and do the most stairs. We came home  lighter, fitter and thinking completely differently about the way we  feed and  care for our bodies. I'm a little over halfway to my goal to lose fifty pounds and I'm so excited and pleased about how much more energy I have and how much stronger I feel. My blood pressure is consistently excellent and I don't seem to need naps to get me through the afternoons! But the best result has been by far how much more I believe in my own ability to change and grow and keep the promises I make to myself. I feel like a champion every day.

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have 
received from God? You are not your own;" 1 Corinthians 6:19

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

He Can Reach the Unreachable

We give up on our friends and family too soon, too easily, perhaps thinking them unreachable, when the only time they speak the name of our Lord is with venom and cursing. Paul BREATHED out threatening and slaughter and yet the mighty hand of God was still strong enough to save, His arm still long enough to reach! 

"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest..." (‭Acts‬ ‭9‬:‭1‬ KJV)

The Whole Picture

When I'm painting a portrait, it's pretty much impossible to imagine, looking at the first strokes of deep purples and greens and blues and browns, that a face could possibly emerge from such colours. As you paint this portrait, dear Father, help me to trust that the brushstrokes and hues that seem harsh and dark are a part of the masterpiece you're making of my life, for your glory. 

'Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”' (John 13:7 NIV)

A Father's Love

How like a petulant child I can be when things don't go my way! When, if yielded to my Father's will, the spiritual fruit of self control  would keep me from the need for my Heavenly Father's discipline....I'm so thankful He delights in me enough to correct me when I don't have the sense or the strength to stay in his perfect will! 

"My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." (Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV)

Wordless Groans

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (Romans 8:26 NIV)

This has been true for me so many times! From the day I groaned that I wanted my old faith back, to the day I ached to be doing some meaningful work with my life and in so many other moments, He has delivered the answer to me THAT VERY DAY. 

And I'm a praying person. 

But there are still so many unuttered requests that my comforter and guide and dear friend takes straight to my Father that I find myself unutterably thankful!!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

How Unsearchable!

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (‭Romans‬ ‭11‬:‭33‬ NIV)

I LOVE this verse! It exactly captures that lump in your throat moment when you look up at the stars or step outside on a spring morning, when He swoops in to delight you as only your Heavenly Father can, to tie up a loose thread of your story that you could not conceive ANYONE could care about but that, to you, makes ALL the difference... How excellent, how great, how majestic, how marvellous...this is a verse that can be proclaimed from a mountain top with a big ol triumphant grin, or whispered on bended knee through an aching throat from humble, trembling lips.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Wow! Did we ever get dirty today! What were we doing, you ask?

Mudslinging. Literally. We mixed cement in round shallow tubs then troweled some out onto boards with trowels. Palettes, broken tiles.. Whatever we could find really, and then we'd wet a section of wall, pick up a glob of muddy cement with our makeshift trowels, aim, and then we'd FLING it at the wall until it was covered.

And until we were covered.

Good times in Ecuador, kids. Good times. Adam would mix the cement PERFECTLY so the cement would stick to the wall; the little builder would come and chuck in a gallon of water to thin it out; Adam would shovel in more cement. Tamara suddenly got a chemical burn all over her legs which Adam treated immediately and effectively. She'd already done twice the mudslinging of the rest of us and had been incredibly effective so we encouraged her to back away from the toxic concrete... Really, she was making us look bad...

We worked hard. 

Then mama Carito helped us all wash up as best we could and we called it a day... Had the BEST ice cream break at a gas station on the way back... Ice cream bars taste mighty awesome when you're sweaty and dirty and exhausted and you just peed in a toilet with no seat and a barrel of water for flushing... No tp... 

Like I said. Good times! 

But the encouragement of a team full of women and men who genuinely love the Lord and love each other, the wonderful meals, the friendship of our drivers Ricardo and Daniel and Julio and our amazing friend and translator and protector Tatiana, and the laughter and singing and sharing each others stories and hopes and pain and fears and joys in the van to and from our work? 

I find myself without words. 

We love you and miss you and are so thankful for your encouragement and prayers and this opportunity to serve and love and represent you and all you've poured into us. 

Dios te bendiga
God bless you

"By the grace of God I am what I am",

Your friend,



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My husband's a big guy. In his own words:" I displace a LOT of water. Add a big ol' hat on top of that and you've got a landmark. So just like Curious George's man in the big yellow hat, Andrew Beeler led us through the airports in Halifax, Toronto, Panama and Guayaquil. At one point I stood back to watch and laugh as we tried to get the group to follow Adam while Andrew took the rear guard. The whole team of little monkeys just stopped walking, still continuing the various conversations, gathered around the hat while we, almost shouting, urged them to keep walking.

Well, big as be is, Andrews size is eclipsed by his heart. He's tenacious, persistent, fiercely, pitbullishly loyal, and always ready to serve. Like my old pal Sinclair who just went home to meet his Saviour face to face, Andrew's motto could be " I serve".

You never know what's going to happen when Andrew's around and you never know what's going to come out of his mouth, but you know you're in for a fast ride and a belly laugh of a good time.

He's been keeping track of his time here by writing emails to me and the folks back home and I thought it would be a great way for you to get a taste of what's shakin' down in Ecuador since they let the Canadians into the country... So here's Andrew's view, uncut, unrated, unedited, unstoppable:
Long hard day of work and then setting the prison bags with items, and Carito wants us to go to the top of the stairs tonight!!! 

It's awesome. Ran into another missionary group here supporting their missionary candidate. They are from Mississippi.

Great group this is there last day

We're just getting ready for dinner and then the stairs. I'm a big snow man melting in a hurry down here. All the Ecuadorian workers look at me with pity in their eyes.

I soaked an hour in the pool and played "loco" (monkey in the middle) with two 12 year old local boys, Miguel and hoi-cho(spelling). Carito doesn't trust me when I relay Spanish to her. Miguel said the game in english( crazies) with a Spanish accent and I thought he said creaser- in Spanish and she couldn't translate it and thought I was crazy.

Ill send this to her and Sonya maybe Sonya can blog it.

I have a couple photos and ill send more of the construction when I get them.

Yours in Christ


Monday, May 19, 2014

Back in My Boots

Well, I dusted off those steel-toed boots and headed back to Ecuador.

I know, I know, I haven't written a word since the day I said good-bye to Nanny. I just didn't. I can't tell you how often I sat in front of the computer looking at that great picture of the two of us together, how many times I read over and over the words I'd written, feeling all the love and hope and despair and gratitude that was wrapped up in them, thinking, "Wow I really would like to write down what happened today"... but I just couldn't get away from that goodbye page.

That is, until now. My friend Deb suggested I just write down that I was having trouble writing stuff down. Genius, that girl. Pure genius.

What WASN'T genius was me getting eyelash extensions at the start of a trip to Ecuador. You can't cry for 7 days, they said. Don't get them wet, they said...AS they were applying extensions to the second eye. After you've had one eye Eva Gabor-ed, you can't very well stop the process, so I decided I was just not going to cry.

BAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Hello, have we met? I cry at movies; I cry reading books; I cry every time Carrie Underwood puts out a new song; I'm a mess at every church service; I lose it when my daughter leaves to go to her home 6 minutes down the road; tears spring to my eyes when someone puts away the get the picture.

So my next genius idea was to put away my glasses. If I can't see stuff, I can't cry about it, right? I'll just enjoy the journey, build the house, pack the bags and backpacks for the children and prison inmates, and make no eye contact. I can't see anyone's eyes without my glasses anyway, right?

Well I really made out pretty well. Surprised myself. People kept looking over at me during moving moments and, although there were a few lumpy-throated close calls, I was a stone, man. Children, puppies, babies, reunions with old friends...nothin'. But, you see, I didn't have my glasses on, so I wasn't really seeing these things. Not really. Just a blurry representation of a much sharper reality. My focus was on my eyelashes. My focus was on myself.

After lunch with the group we packed into the van to go to see a friend of Carito's, a widow she knows who needed support. As we traveled there, Carito explained that this lady had not only lost her husband, but that her 31 year old son had died of a heart attack soon after that. And that she was taking care of her sick mother. We were going over to encourage her and to give her some groceries to help with the financial burden of taking care of her home and her mama with the little she was able to bring in as a seamstress.

I still didn't have my glasses on.

Carito introduced us all, we hugged and greeted her and then listened without understanding as Carito spoke with her in Spanish. They both conversed a bit and cried with each other and then Carito asked if any of us had anything to say to her. We didn't know what to say. My heart pounded as I thought of Isaiah 41 verse 10, thinking, "I could tell her those words of comfort". They had sprung immediately to mind and Pastor Les had helped us all memorize the verse word for word so I knew WHAT to say. But I didn't say anything. Because I wasn't really involved. I wasn't listening with understanding and I wasn't looking to see.

But just as we were leaving I stopped to say goodbye to the lady's mother, who was sitting by the front door, just watching the whole event, with what seemed like a vague disinterest. And as I leaned in to kiss her and say one of the few phrases I've learned for farewell, something happened. My eyes were suddenly locked with hers. And I knew immediately that this lady had dementia.Well. That's my gig. I face that disease every day. And as we looked at each other I knew she deserved more than an unseeing, un-hearing, un-involved greeting from a stranger. I knelt down and talked to her. Tatiana, my friend and our awesome translator confirmed that this dear lady has Alzheimer's disease, and then Tatiana helped me say a few words to her. I held the mama's face in my hands and smiled into her eyes and matched the tone of her voice and let her know I loved her. I lingered a moment more,  listening to her little voice, then kissed her and went out to the van. I dug through my backpack...

...and I put my glasses on.

As the tears started to roll down my cheeks I thanked God for such an obvious lesson. And for such clear vision.

I've cried a few more times in the 30 hours that have passed since that moment. Just a few, ha ha.

The eyelashes are fine. They're still hanging on.

But my eyes? My EYES are OPEN and my eyes are AWESOME!

"Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ~Isaiah 41:10

"Those who have eyes that see what God sees find was to help the helpless"~Julie Ackerman Link

Now, if you want to hear what's actually going on in Ecuador, my pal Lisa has been writing about it here:

Love you all!!!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Here in the Silence

I could watch this face forever. I could just sit here in the silence and drink in each line, each curve, every soft inch for hours.

I love my Nanny. 

My eye traces the scar just above her left temple, where the silver cloud of once black hair pulls back just a bit, refusing to conceal this reminder to me of the fragility, the vulnerability inherent in even the most courageous, resilient lives. 

I still feel responsible. It was probably a dozen years ago when Nanny was a young octogenarian. We were visiting Aunt Margie, laughing as we approached the front steps, when suddenly my dear nanny just tripped over the edge of the walkway and fell, striking her head on the iron rail. I'd never seen a head wound, and I'm not prepared to turn your stomach this morning by letting you in on the grisly details, but I do remember needing to pull off my pale pink cotton sweater and wrap it tightly around her head and quickly realizing it wasn't thick enough to absorb all the blood. The cut was so awful that, when the ambulance arrived just minutes later, one attendant let out some choice expletives and was rebuked softly by my weakened but ever alert Nanny, for his language.

Nanny's hand moves to the edge of the blanket, lingers for a moment then lays curled once more on top of the beautiful flowered nightgown Aunt Nellie bought for her. I love those little hands. Hands that crocheted baby clothes and knitted Barbie outfits, crafted lacey doilies, kneaded bread, washed dishes, washed and untangled and cut my mop of red hair, patted my hand as she sat beside my bed when I couldn't sleep, couldn't breathe, couldn't cope. Hands that comforted my mother when she was a baby,  corrected her when she was a child, folded in prayer for her when she was broken-hearted and lost, and that cared for and comforted her once more when she was sick and frail and dying. 

Nanny's chest rises and falls evenly with each breath, a little pulse visible at the base of her throat, and with each breath, each heartbeat, I can hear the faint echo of her long ago alto blending with and supporting my thin childish soprano in the little Independent Baptist Church in Lockeport. I hear her light, fun "mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy...a kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you?" while she washes the dishes, I dry them, and Grandad reads his Bible and twirls his hair in the rocker in the front room. And I hear her more recently, clearly singing ditties and hymns, tapping her hands against her lap, or smacking Jessica's teasing fingers, grinning up at Gaëlle, rolling her eyes at me, not a self-conscious care in the world, no more dishes to wash, hair to braid, cookies to shape or clothes to fold or mend. 

So I sit and watch this face, these hands,  and I wait. She's ready to go home. She's fought the good fight, finished this race. And it's my honour, my delight to spend a few hours, cheering her on to the finish line. 

Oh yes, I'm sad...when i find myself alone and unguarded my whole body shakes with the sobs of grief; my heart is heavy with loss and with shadowy moments of regret and sorrow. But this is not sad. It's a victorious end to a life well-lived,  the beginning of a legacy of 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren who have all put their trust in her Saviour and Friend, and who will continue to train up her 6 plus great great grandchildren to love and serve him. 

I hope I get to watch that face again tonight. But if I don't, thank you, Nanny. I'll see you soon...hug Grandad and Mom and Auntie May and Aunt Millie and Uncle Gordie and little Bethany for me...

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate~ Proverbs 31:30-31

Thursday, June 13, 2013

He's Gotcha Covered

I had a bit of an "aha" moment yesterday. Over the silliest little thing, really, but isn't that the way it usually is? An apple falls on a guy's head and gravity is discovered. Another guy does a silly dance on YouTube, a million people get a laugh and the guy gets a contract to do a TED talk.  A colossal big marital fight, I mean a "he's sleeping on the couch, she calls a marriage councillor, knock em down, drag em out, I'm going home to mother" spat usually starts with something neither can recall after they finally make up. Not that Andrew and I have EVER experienced such a row, but I've heard of such things...
I was scooping cocoa out of the can to make brownies for Bob, and I gave myself a great long slice on the back of my thumb, as I swirled the scoop to get more cocoa. It wasn't serious... silly, really, and I just shook my head and continued to prepare the batter. 

Usually, I suck on the wound, run it under water, pat it dry, polysporin and bandage the cut... but I knew Bob would wake soon and I didn't want to take one extra second of time. So I just kept my eye on the cut and kept working. Soon, however, I noticed the blood drop getting bigger and bigger, and I was just starting to think that I'd probably HAVE to stop soon or they'd be bloody awful brownies, literally, when the drop stopped growing and I realized I could just let it be. Faster than I thought it would, it dried up into a neat little seal and I let it stay there while I finished getting the brownies ready for the oven.

The first thing I thought was how awesome the human body is to stop its own leaks with the stuff that was leaking. 
That's pretty sweet design. 

And then it struck me that the cut DID NOT hurt. Not even a bit. EVERY cut I get hurts. Me and cuts aren't real good together and I'm not the most stoic patient. I've fainted, cried, hollered, screamed...and those were the paper cuts. I don't do pain well. You'd better clear the room if I stub a toe. 

So this little miracle fluid that plugged the leak, solidified into an organic plaster to shield  the wound from dirt and germs, to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out, was also an analgesic. Wow. Really! Wowwww! Did you know that? 

And so that was my aha moment. Sucking my thumb, licking my wounds, washing them clean, applying salve and a bandaid wasn't as completely awesome as just letting my body do what it was designed to do, because the blood-covering was healing, protecting, restorative and took away the pain!  

And, of course, you know me, that "aha" moment reminded me of my faith life. If you're not a Christian, what I say next may not make sense, so I'll give a little background intel:

As a Christian, I believe that God's son, Jesus Christ stepped into human history just over 2000 years ago, lived the perfect life I couldn't live and died the death I should have died so that I can spend my eternal life with my just and holy Father. One way we think of this is that we, broken and soiled with the stains of daily missing the mark of the goodness we were designed for, are covered by the blood of the one who saved us. He reached right into the dumpster, redeemed us, took our place, paid our price, made us new and clean and forgiven and capable of a relationship with our creator. 

That's kind of my Reader's Digest version of much more spectacular and wonderful good news, and if my explanation doesn't make sense read Mere Christianity by CSLewis (you know, the Narnia guy) and he'll do a much better job...

When we believe and trust His plan, stop sucking our thumbs, and licking our wounds, trying to wash ourselves clean, and making up stuff to soothe and cover our mistakes up, and just let Him stop the gap, provide protection and healing, He takes away the pain, too. 

Sometimes, when the wound is bigger, of course, pressure is needed, stitching up, help from others...and God's ready and able with all those supplies at his fingertips. Sometimes, the wound is too big for this life. You need a whole new one. And he's got that covered too. 

But this big "aha" moment was just caused by a little scratch. Like so many others. 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds~Psalm 147:3

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
~Revelations 21:4

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It was a day to honour mothers...

Isn't Mother's Day awesome?

And awful all at the same time?

In the early years of motherhood it's awesome for the breakfasts of burned toast smeared with peanut butter and a side of kool-aid, a mystery gift the grade p-2 teachers thoughtfully, creatively urged little hands to craft, the fistful of dandelions and your neighbours's tulips and forsythias and magnolia blossoms. Later on for the brunches and presents and cards picked out for just the right words or sentiments or private joke.

Awful if your mom is gone, or lost in illness or wasn't there for you physically or emotionally, or worse, if she was broken and had a role in breaking you.

Awesome for the closeness the day inspires, for the memories evoked and retold and laughed about and cried about.

Awful for the distance the day calls to mind if you've lost a child, or if a grown child is lost in other ways, or just physically living far away.

I've had both kinds of mothers days, awesome and awful, sometimes, most times, all rolled into one.

But this year was the best Mother's Day I've ever known. The absolute best, come big or stay home, no regrets Mother's Day.

And it was all framed up and set up for success by the words of my daughter Gaëlle. She took the time and thought and discipline to write something meaningful and specific about me in the 12 days leading up to the day.

Andrew and I have never been the best gift-givers in the world. Spontaneous gifts of love, sure. But those gifts, carefully, thoughtfully planned and shopped for, that arrive exactly on the day of your milestone or celebration or change of relationship status on Facebook? Terrible. Like Liz McEwan says, "We know you have a birthday this year; we'll get to it..."

So we don't go in for a lot of card and present giving. Our children, probably scarred by our apathy, are turning out to be rather amazing at it among themselves and with their friends, but they know it's not really my deal.

So I was swept off my feet by this gift of words. Sure, I loved the hamburger stacker and blender and lettuce cutter my hubby wrapped up for me from the kids.. I loved the DQ smoothie Stoneridge Fellowship had waiting for me after an amazing, fun, Mom-edifying and celebrating service...And I loved the surprise visit to my FAVE Mother's Day spot... Swiss Chalet (musical notes...always so good for so little...more musical notes). And I loved the cheesies and lime pop and cherry blossom and chips and dip my daughter brought over to share with me..(oh my fractured fitness goals).

But the encouragement and inspiration and, well, really, just the validation that those words brought into my life? And not only my life, but since she used facebook, it probably encouraged others to think about their own awesome relationships. That's forever. That's wholesome, and helpful, edifying (which means it builds others up), and of great value.

That's a Mother's Day gift. Thanks honey.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen"~Ephesians 4:29

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


My friend Claude Hamilton, is the finest leader I know. He really is.

I don't say this lightly, and I don't say it from a distance. You could ask his business partners, his wife, his best friends, his accountant, his book keeper, the nanny, the guy who built his dream house, the decorator, the teenagers who are helping clear his land, the kid who showed up at his front door selling apples for his scout troop... And they'd all affirm what I'm telling you. He is who he is, on and off stage, at home, in his writing, with his son, with my son, with a new friend, with an old friend. Claude Hamilton is real.

The thing people notice first is how comfortable he makes you feel, even though he's head and shoulders taller than most of us...

But what REALLY resonates about the man is his passion. It's a passion born of wisdom and conviction and honour and integrity. And it's a passion made powerful and effective by courage and prayer. It's a good recipe. It makes great soil for growing other leaders.

Early this morning I was reading about a man who had cultivated that same great mix within. His name was Mordecai, a Jew during the reign of King Xerxes of Persia. Mordecai had raised as his own daughter his young orphaned cousin Esther, who eventually became Queen Esther, the wife of King Xerxes. You can find the whole story in the book of Esther in the Bible... It's a great read. I've read it to my children when they were small. I've read it to a 75 year old man with Alzheimer's disease. And this morning I was reading it for my own pleasure, encouragement and instruction.

But part way through I was struck by how very relevant the story is right here, right now. In this city at this time.

In this city, in this past month, a young girl's life came to a tragic, avoidable end. And in the first few hours of her death, her story had so tugged at Claude's heart that he started to talk about it, to learn about it and he began to collect the information needed to do something about it. He wrote about her, posted, tweeted, blogged about her, and tearfully spoke of her to hundreds and hundreds of other leaders. So when I read this passage from Esther this morning you'll see why I thought of Claude.

Here's the passage. It's a long one, but I've included the entire chapter because every verse resonated with me and pointed to Claude's powerful, passionate response to Retaeh's story. It'll probably be familiar...

Esther 4

New International Version (NIV)

Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help

When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate,because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

When Claude first started to react to the devastating information about the crime against a little girl in our city, I didn't understand. I had somehow missed the whole story and just wanted to "send clothes to put on him instead of sackcloth". My friend Phil, another powerfully passionate leader in my life, asked me what I thought about it, and the truth was, I hadn't. All I knew was my leaders and friends were running around "in sackcloth" about something on Facebook, and that seemed, to my Suzy Christian mind, to be an OVER-reaction. But I was UNDER informed.

We need...I need... Mordecais who will react, gather details and facts and TRUTH, who will inform, give direction, and encourage and "urge" us to act. To wake us up to the matters that align with our purpose. And to keep urging until our hearts get involved, until we respond as we were meant to.

Thanks, Claude, for reminding me of who I am and WHY I am... And WHOSE I am.

Thank you for being a Mordecai in a world that badly needs them.

We desperately need the kind of leaders described by King Solomon in Psalm 72 of the same Bible:

"For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy
And save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight" (vs12-14)

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

But God

It's been exactly a year since Andrew and I jumped on a plane with 10 strangers to go build houses in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

If you don't know me that doesn't sound that outrageous. Honestly, it doesn't sound like much of a leap for a Christian couple to make...right? After all, we're commissioned to go into all the world. We're called to help the widows and orphans. We're called to love our neighbour.

But if you DO know me, you know how very bizarre the whole thing sounds. I had heard the same great commission my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ had heard. From the same Holy Bible read by Mother Theresa and Leslie Chymist and Manfred Kohl. But I always thought the GOING part referred to other people. To missionaries and visionaries. So I did what people like me do. I memorized the verses; I liked and shared pictures of the widows and orphans on Facebook; I baked casseroles and cookies for my neighbours; I played the guitar and sang to the little ones in Sunday School. That was my GO. And it was good and comfortable and brightened the corner where I was.

I had left a career in banking to raise my four six-and-unders. And with that conscious decision to cut our income in half, in an effort to double the time we could invest in our children, we both had learned to live...frugally. I learned to make bread, play dough, mayonnaise, mittens. He didn't buy new tools. I didn't buy new shoes. The children didn't get dunkaroos. A vacation was taking our minivan, canoe strapped on top, children amused with library books and a dollar store game, to Kejimkuji to stay in a tent in the rain with our wet dog.

We didn't fly places.

People like me didn't fly to Ecuador to build houses. I certainly didn't own the required steel toed boots, goggles and work gloves.

But my husband? Well, if you know Andrew Beeler, you know he was born to build! He built our home in between shifts as a rookie police officer in the first few years of his twenties. No experience, no real house plans, no formal training, just pluck and courage and HEART. So when I read the one line promo in the church bulletin, I knew right away that he was supposed to go. I scribbled on the bulletin right away, "they need you, Andrew!" and thrust it over his way during the announcement time. He looked at it with mild curiosity because he knew we didn't have extra money for trips. We were budgeted down to last penny. Remember us?

He didn't buy tools;
I didn't buy shoes;
The kids didn't get no dunkaroos...

But God...

It may have been that very week or it may have been earlier that I heard Pastor Calder say "with God, there's always a meanwhile," and God was already at work, laying on my husband's heart the possibility that we could trust Him with this. Within a few weeks, the tug was so strong that every time we saw the word Ecuador we would look at each other with the spark of belief that Andrew could actually go to Ecuador and make a difference. When he filled out his application I promised I would help him fund raise and I thought all the big deciding was over.

But God...

Suddenly every time I saw anything connected with Ecuador or even any children or women in need ANYWHERE, I would cry like a baby. I know, I know... Not unusual for me if you've ever actually looked at me and noticed the runny dribbles of mascara beneath perpetually moist eyes during Sunday service. I'm always a little surprised our dear pastors can even look at me during their sermons and stay on track, my face is such a clear window into my heart...

But this seemed different somehow. There was a tug I'm just not used to feeling. It took me WEEKS, my dears, to finally admit to Andrew that I had this feeling I was supposed to go with him. What finally made me 'fess up was this cd I was enjoying on my way home one afternoon by Liz and Bob McEwan on marriage. Liz talked of a time when her children were all little and she'd still made the decision to go with Senator McEwan to China. She talked about the bond of those shared experiences and how they still value that decision decades later. So I cried one more time all the way to the back of the church to get my own application from Cindy.

Andrew and I prayed and God totally came through with all the funds needed for both of us to go... On the very last day, just so we'd know it was Him.

But don't think it didn't occur to me, again and again, that I didn't have anything to offer. Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we undervalue the incredible work God has done to create us and equip us for His great plans? What about the resourcefulness and creativity it took to learn how to make bread, play dough, mayonnaise and mittens? What about the love and self-discipline it took to dedicate my career years to training up four children? What about the faithfulness and enthusiasm it took to lead children in worship?

We went. We learned to work together and support each other. We built houses. We dug in weedy, rocky garbage-strewn hills. We dug in muck and pig pens. We met women and their little ones, men and their grandchildren, pastors and youth workers in love with their Lord and their people. We hugged them and prayed with them, made balloon animals, played hopscotch, sorted nails, unloaded tippy trucks of their burdens of building supplies. We sweated, we sang, we laughed, we sobbed, we teased and tormented each other, listened to each others' stories, worked hard, walked and drove and laid in hammocks, shooed the cat off our breakfast table, avoided the smelly dog. We brought our gifts and personalities and uniqueness to the table and used them all with every bit of our selves and hearts and strength.

And we learned so much. You could ask any of us. We got more than we gave. We went to be with our brothers and sisters in another part of the world. And we were welcomed and celebrated and loved.

As we drove away from one of the two houses we put up one hot day, filthy and tired and deeply happy, we saw a little boy sweeping out his corner of the new home he would share with his three brothers and sisters, and we were quiet. This boy was like our boys. That father wanted the best for his family and worried about them and prayed for them. This mother cried over her sick baby, the spoiling food in the fridge that had no power; her family's well being. And although none of us could fix everything, that day we had been able to make a difference for that family. A home, food, clean new beds. Some privacy for mom and dad. Medicine for the baby for a few years until we can come back again. And a connection. We all prayed together, Ecuadorian and Canadian children of God, being together and loving each other.

I didn't think I was the kind of person who could ever do this kind of thing.

But God...

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong~1 Corinthians 1:27



That's it. That's the whole post:


Go ahead. Take a deep one. In....

...Wait for it...(I can't help it, I loooove Doogie Howser. All the cool old people will get that...)


What a gift. What a blessing. What an inexplicable WONDER!

I'd like to tell you I know how it all works. And I do have a vague kind of sense of it all; a muddled up, highly inaccurate mishmash of all the stuff I've read or googled, watched on CSI or heard in school or pondered over and glazed over while trying to sort out those grotesquely mesmerizing posters in doctors' waiting rooms...

But really the miracle of it, for me, anyway, is that I do it without thinking about it. I've been unconsciously competent at it my whole life. And the few times I've been without this blessed ability, I'll remember forever. I bet it's the same for you.

I was running away from or chasing one of my cousins across Nanny and Granddad's front lawn and was taking the customary leap across Aunt Nellie and Uncle Hilton's flower border and front walk to get across to their lawn, when I crashed. I'm not clear on the details. It happened pretty fast. But the fall seemed to last forever. Isn't that just the way it goes with crashes? I must've not landed well on the other side and I fell backwards and slammed my back against the concrete wall that held back the earth and flowers from the cement path.

It didn't really hurt. Not at that moment.

But I couldn't breathe. I actually DID NOT KNOW how to breathe.

I found out later that I got the wind knocked out of me. At least that's the scientific term my grandparents gave it.

But the science of it, the why and how of it did not matter to me one bit. I just knew that breathing felt good when I could do it and I NEVER wanted to feel what it felt like to NOT be able to take a breath EVER AGAIN!

Fell out of a boat and crashed into the water that year too. My Grampie Doug pulled me back out of the pond by my easy-to-spot ginger mop, but that didn't matter. I felt no pain, only the all-encompassing need to breathe. And for a breathless, murky, hopeless eternity, I couldn't. And then I could.

I crashed my life once too. Found myself at work one night, staring out at the Halifax Harbour, four little ones at home with my husband, who also worked shifts and whom I wasn't sure I knew anymore, and suddenly I couldn't breathe. It took me 10 dizzy, panicked minutes, and the complete loss of everything I'd eaten in the past week to find that comforting rhythm of my breath again. But it took a solid 10 years to learn to breathe easy...

I crashed my car a few nights ago. The dark road, too casual a familiarity with the route, a bigger car than I'm used to, whatever else it was, I hit the shoulder, corrected, re-corrected, over-corrected, spun out, hit the only bit of guard rail on that entire stretch of road, then bounced back out onto the road. Felt like I was lifted out of the weird, eternal ballet spin and plopped back safely on the road. Except I'd wrecked the car.

And the first thing I did, the very first thing I did, was breathe. I felt the air come in and I felt it leave and I realized that no matter what else, I could breathe. I was deeply thankful.

The fellow who came upon my car a few minutes later and opened the door to ask if I was hurt, could clearly hear my gratitude when I replied that I was not. That I was sure I was all right.

"You're some lucky," he responded, shaking his head as he looked from the car to the rail that had caught me. "That guard rail saved your life".

"That guard rail saved my life..." I repeated, then I looked back at him and the rest of the men now crowding around, "No," I said slowly, "There was a lot of time to pray and God saved my life," I said as firmly as my shaky breathing would allow.

I may have been shaky. But I was breathing.

I'm still breathing.

And so are you.

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
-Job 33:4

Let everything that hath breath praise The Lord- Psalm 150

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Wedding and Two Funerals

Have you ever been so tired....?

What am I asking? Of course you have. Sorry.

Me too. Today, I have to admit, I'm bone tired. It's been an emotional few days, lots of pain, lots of joy. Hellos, goodbyes, tears, belly laughs, brand new encouraging friendships, reunions, wrenching separations. You know. It's been life.

But at this moment, there's none of that. I'm completely alone at home. Of course there's lots to do, but it definitely won't be getting done today. I'm having my day of rest. I didn't choose it really, I just found myself being ushered to bed by a concerned husband, and when I woke he was leaving to take the boys to youth band practice, time with his sister and nephews then his Theology course with the good Reverend Doctor. Jess is at work. Gaelle's at her home making a candle lit dinner for her husband. I've nowhere to be, no one is expecting me or needs me right now in any way. That's awesome, right? Or is it...

I managed to pull on my robe after 30 minutes of actually just staring up at the ceiling (not sure I've ever really done that before), and I went out to the kitchen. it went well at first... I simply responded to stimuli. I fed the mewling, wrapping-themselves-around-my-legs cats, filled the empty water jug and took a long swig. But then I opened the fridge and stared for a long minute, went to the bathroom and stared at the tub for about the same long minute, then wandered into the dining room and stared at the laptop. I'm pretty sure I was pleading with silent eyes for them to feed, bathe and entertain me, but didn't quite have it in me to do my part of any of those pretty basic deals.

So I laid back down on my rumpled old bed and let myself think about what I'm thinking about. Deep, huh?

Here's what I found I've been thinking. March has never worked out for me. I can go back pretty far and find some pretty horrible March days. Don't even offer me a shamrock shake. It won't be pretty. And I've been thinking this March is no different.

But that's not right. This March is VERY different! I just got back from a trip to Phoenix to visit my sister, if not in name and blood, then in bond and shared history, in mutual love, devotion and deep respect. When I came home I lost some dear family and friends, yes. But both not only knew The Lord and lived courageously for Him to the last, but lived lives that brought many others to know Him.

And I got to spend some very good moments with them my very last times I saw them. I mean really good times. We can sit and have a coffee sometime, you and I, and I'll tell you about uncle Gordie laughing and eating one of Gaelle's smooshed up wedding cup cakes or Miriam opening her mouth like a little bird to eat her chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard, chattering away, eyes big and bright and full of the peace of Christ.

And I can tell you about my beautiful cousins, Karen and Melanie, who put together the sweetest family celebration of Karen's daughter Sarah's wedding yesterday.

I can tell you about arriving at Aunt Rosalie's yet again to find her dear friends surrounding her and holding her up during the darkest time of her life.

I can tell you about my friends Bruce and Heather and Shawn and Cindy and Danielle gathering around Miriam's bed from early evening to just before dawn to sing and love on little Miriam while she slipped from this world into her Father's arms.

About Bruce sharing meal after meal with a hurting family because he's here and he can. And so he does.

I've been seeing so much of that. People who can serve and so they do. And if I look back at that first wretched March, when I lost another dear friend, my little momma, I see our family and friends camped out first on our living room floor, then at the hospital, being with us, feeding us, helping us clean up, singing to us. Because they could. Because they loved us.

I suddenly don't feel so weary any more.

So, here's the plan: I'm going to eat a yogurt, take a bath, and then spend time with someone I know really needs a friend right now. Because I'm here. And because I can.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

Thursday, March 14, 2013


My heart's too full, the ache too deep right now to tell you even one thing. I have no words but these:

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words."

~1Thessalonians 4:13-18

See you soon, sweet Miriam. I love you.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Well Done, Well Run

Well, I may have taken him off the list, but let me tell you, Uncle Gordie is very much on my mind. He's never been far from my thoughts, always in my prayers, a part of my own soft heart. If you didn't know him, can I just tell you a little bit about him? You'd have REALLY liked him.

I'll start with what my children called him. We have two uncle Gordies in our family, so one morning, when I announced we were going to go visit Aunt Rosalie and Uncle Gordie, Jessica quickly asked, "which one... Uncle Gordie Tickle?"

He TORTURED with tickles. Didn't matter who. You got no points for disability or venerability either. He even tickled Auntie May, in her 70's and on crutches... Or he'd send her jumping up onto the couch with the threat of bringing a mouse into the house. He teased, tickled, tortured his way into every heart, whether toddler, teen or tenured.

A great lumberjack of a man, he had a deep rumbling bass voice that was equally at home in the upper registers, greeting you with a half-grin and something to the effect of, "Well here comes Ugly"... And then he'd wrap those big arms around you and squeeze you surprisingly gently against his barrel chest, blink away a tear, and then threaten you with a "whiskerin".

He was so manly. He drove an oil truck, kept livestock and an enormous garden, cut wood with his brothers and father, manly men all, and could just make anything with his hands.

He could build a barn or doll furniture.

He looked at home in coveralls, hunter orange or suit and tie.

He could sing like the bass section of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir... but he also could sound like the violin I'm learning to torture my family with...he would make up these high pitched little ditties on the spot..." Oh miss Sonya, what a redhead, a sable river bed head"..."old rusty pigtail, gonna grab it, it's that sable river rabbit..."

When he wasn't working hard he was reading... As a child, I assumed men read more than women, because that's what I remember. My own dad with shelves lined with classics, tables and floor stacked with art books, Uncle Gordie or Grandad or Uncle Hilton pouring over their well worn out, used up or marked up bibles or the newspapers, or, especially in Uncle Gordie's case, any and every imaginable genre of book, fiction or nonfiction. 

He had the soul of a poet, but he spoke in the vernacular. "Pass the squarrrsh", he'd say, after he'd bowed his head and humbly, reverently, eloquently thanked his Heavenly Father for not just the meal but all his blessings. He was a man after God's own heart, honourable, loyal, hard-working, faithful, loving, mindful...

If you knew him, you know what's happening here. Gordon Fredericks cannot be captured with words. If you didn't know him, I'm sorry. I'm doing a poor job . This is but an outline. A shadow of a cutout of the man.

But I'll tell you this. He was such a part of my childhood pattern of what makes a man, that I see much of what I loved in him in my own dear husband. He would not have called himself a leader. But ask any of his friends. Ask his wife. Ask his brothers and sisters in law. Ask his pastor, the children he raised, his grandchildren, his nieces and nephews, the men he gathered with at the coffee shop, those he worked with or for, went fishin' with, his friends and family....those who saw and felt Christ's love and peace in the way he lived his life and loved people. He ran his race. And there is not a doubt in any of our minds that he was greeted with the words he longed to hear: "Well done, good and faithful servant". He'd be the first to tell you that it was not his own efforts that made him who he was or that would earn the praise of his Heavenly Father. He'd be the first to make sure you knew it was all a gift from God. He'd let you know it was the grace of his Saviour. But he did a few simple but not easy things. He believed, he was faithful, and he ran with endurance the race that was set before him.

Well done. Well run.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.- Hebrews 12:1