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A Tribute to my Friend, Edith Clark

I first met Edith in May, 2009 at the online community of Crosswalk (CW) Forums.  This was a Christian community where people could discuss nearly any topic from a Christian perspective—politics, current events, theology, morality, parenting, marriage, singleness, humour and more general stuff such as the struggles and joys of life.  The advantage was that you didn’t have to be online at the same time as the others in a conversation (also called a thread), but could read and comment whenever you had the time.
I had a personal thread where I shared things from my life and this is where Edith first appeared in my world, though I believe she’d been reading most of what was posted in all of  CW for a few years before then.  Her handle was “Bountiful,” and all I could think about was the town of Bountiful, B.C., notorious for its polygamous community.  Was Edith a part of that and using her handle to proclaim her support of that lifestyle?  She was horrified when I finally confessed this. 

Wisdom and Friendship with God

Today my Bible reading took me to James 3:13-4:12.  Reading the NLT, I was struck with a number of thoughts about wisdom, relationship to God and relationship to others.

Wisdom does not include bitter jealousy or selfish ambition.  In fact, these things come from the devil and lead to disorder and evil.    Instead, wisdom is pure, peace-loving, gentle, willing to yield to others, full of mercy, full of good deeds, not partial and always sincere.  Wow!  With a definition like that, how many of us can even pretend to be wise?  Willing to yield to others?  Some would say that's a sign of foolishness and weakness, not wisdom.

As Christians, we often hear the advice to not be friends with this world.  What do you think of when you hear that admonition?  What does "friends with this world," mean to you?  James says that friendship with the world is revealed by quarrelling, fighting, jealousy, scheming and killing to meet desires, looking only for pleasure and not going to Go…

Trouble--A Reason for Joy

My Bible reading/study this morning led me to two passages that at first glance seemed unrelated--Jeremiah and James.

It was only a few years before Babylon would empty Jerusalem and all Judah of all but the poorest of the poor--only the street people and the homeless (in today's terms) would be allowed to stay when Jeremiah called all the Recabites to a room in the temple to test them.  He placed before them flagons of wine and invited them to drink.  Wine was a common beverage at that time and in that place, even in the temple, but these men refused.  Why?  Because long ago, an ancestor of theirs had charged all his descendants and their families to never drink wine. (Recab lived during the time of King Saul, though the "son" of Recab who gave this command, Jonadab, may be the Jehonadab who helped Jehu destroy the house of wicked King Ahab of Israel and all the ministers and priests of Baal.)  Now, a few hundred years later, they were still obeying this seemingly trivi…

Attitude of Gratitude

Our eldest son, Mons, doesn't live at home anymore but we still get some of his mail, including an unsolicited Canadian magazine called "Fresh Juice: Healthy Made Delicious."   It's really a not-so-subtle plug for a large grocery chain but there are some good articles in it nonetheless and one that grabbed me this morning was, "The Gratitude Attitude" by Graham Verdon.

The article begins with this audacious statement: "Psychology studies show that being grateful can make us stronger, smarter and faster."  Further on it says, "There's a growing mountain of evidence from the burgeoning field of positive psychology that shows we can train ourselves to be more grateful on a daily basis and powerfully transform our lives."

I think I'm a fairly positive person but the one area where I historically lack gratitude is in regards to my husband Tom and our marriage.  I'm much more prone to complain and see the things I don't like. …

God is with Us so no Harm can Come to Us?

We quote the passage about God giving us angels to protect us and to keep us from even dashing our foot against a stone--and with good reason.  It's an important promise in the Bible.  And yet, in Micah 3:9-12, the prophet rips apart the Jewish leaders--political and religious--for making the same claims of depending on the Lord for protection.  Why the contrast and what are the implications for us today?

Micah was condemning the leaders of Jerusalem because despite the fact that they said they were depending on God, in fact, they were depending on the money that lined their pockets for doing the work they were called to do--ruling the people, teaching God's ways and prophesying.  They meted justice only when the price was right, twisted what was right for a cost and were building the nation's foundation on corruption.  Despite these ungodly ways, they assumed that God was with them because they were his people.  The consequences?  Jerusalem would be reduced to rubble.

Per…

Harvest Workers--Evangelists or Healers?

I've been memorising the book of Matthew in the NIV so this morning when my study took me into Matthew, I decided to read from another translation to help me see things I may have missed and wow!  Did I ever!

All Christians are familiar with the passage that talks about the harvest being great, the workers few and asking God to send out more workers for the harvest and I, at least, have been taught to interpret the harvest as conversion to Christianity and the workers as people directly involved with evangelism, mission work and church planting but today, as I read that in context, I had to step back and take a second look.  Is the harvest really about adding people to the Kingdom of God?

Look at the verse in context: Matthew 9:35 to 10:15 in the NLT. Jesus was travelling through Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, announcing the Good News of the Kingdom and healing people of every disease and illness.  As he looked to the crowds that came to him, he felt pity for them because th…

Trouble? Cry to the Lord!

I'm home now after two and half months of wandering through South-east Asia and central North America and am trying to re-establish my routines, two of which are time with God and writing.  As I start this morning's time with God, I already find something I want to share with you.  I'm using Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, which quotes a small portion from the Psalms as translated by The Book of Common Prayer used by Anglicans, Episcopalians and others.

Today's reading is from Psalm 107:4-8
Some wandered in desert wastes : they found no way to a city where they might dwell.
They were hungry and thirsty ; their spirits languished within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble : and he delivered them from their distress.
He put their feet on a straight path : to go to a city where they might dwell.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy : and the wonders he does for his children. (emphasis mine) I know a number of people who are, metaphori…

Hong Kong

3:50 p.m.: I’m sitting in a darkened room where I slept all today as well as last night.  It’s day two of a severe migraine that was triggered, I think, by the tram ride Tom and I took across Victoria Island in Hong Kong.  We’ve been travelling by the city’s rail system but since it’s all underground, you can’t see what the city looks like.  Tuesday we had time to kill between lunch and dinner engagements so, after checking out Tom’s old neighbourhood, I suggested taking the tram to the end of the line and back again.  My reasoning was that it would require less effort in the heat than walking. 
I think it was sensory overload.  Hong Kong is a city of high-rises so dense that travelling on the road is like moving along the bottom of a deep canyon.  The buildings are a mixture of old and new, rusty and shiny, dishevelled and stately, but all are tall.  An example of the density is the community where Tom’s brother David lives.  In less than a square quarter mile, there are 51 apartme…

So, What's in my Purse?

I carry a green purse with me everywhere I go.  Most times I also carry a backpack with a two-litre water bag.  So, what am I lugging around with me?  I know you're dying to know.

In my purse:

Passportcombmini-wallet for charge card, debit card and health insurance cardmini journalsecond book of same size to carry Bible memorisation codes and names of people I pray forTrident, sugar-free gum--orchard peach/mango flavouredLoperamide Hydrochoride caplets for diarrhea relieffunnel for use on squatting (and dirty or wet sitting) toilets, since I can't squatBen's Insect Repellentfresh ginger root (for nausea and unsettled tummy)tweezers for removing leeches from skin in the junglepen and stylus for my iPhoneBody Glide--an anti-chaffing stickplastic no-name container containing Anti-Monkey Butt powder also for chaffingNeutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-touch Sunscreen SPF 66Rexall baby Diaper RAsh Cream for if the previous two products don't workGeorge's Daily Moisturing LotionT…

A Day in Singapore

It's nearly 7:00 p.m. the next day as I write.  I've spent the day in bed out of exhaustion and knee joint pain but our day in Singapore was worth it.  Although JB (Johor Bahru, Malaysia) is separated from Singapore by only a causeway across the Johor Strait, sister cities one could say, travel between them is more complicated than moving between the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul because one is also crossing an international border.  Still, the crossing each time was easier than when our friends Mo and Bob who live near Chicago came by bus to Winnipeg and were held up at the US-Canada border for about seven hours.

Thursday was chosen as our day to go because Bena's mom had to be taken to the Singapore airport in the morning.  It just made sense to piggyback our trip onto hers.  She's gone to Thailand for a five-day seaside vacation with her niece.  Because Bena and Boy were both working, Konrad had the honour of driving us and did admirably.  He might have s…

Waiting for the Ferry, Rushing for the Bus

Coming "home" from Pulau Tioman, a tropical island in the South China Sea, was an adventure.  The ferry was scheduled to arrive at 9:30 a.m. but we were instructed to be on the wharf half an hour early.  There were dozens of us waiting...and waiting and waiting and waiting.  Malaysian time, we were told.  Finally the ferry came at around 10:15 but after taking only five people, it closed its doors and took off.  What did this mean? Apparently it was full, but the next ferry wasn't scheduled to arrive till 4:30.  Would we have to wait that long?  We had tickets for this boat!  Some time later someone from the resort came to us to say it was aware of what had happened, and had arranged with the ferry service on the mainland to send another ferry just for us.  It would arrive at noon.  


Tom and I opted to stay on the wharf and I refused to leave my post at the top stairs down to the water's edge where the next boat would arrive even though it was in the sun.  I wore a ha…

Swimming with the Fishes

Paya Resort, Paya, Tioman Island, somewhere in the Malaysian waters of the South China Sea. 3:15 p.m., Sunday, July 15, 2012
I’m sitting on the front porch of our beach-front chalet in a cushioned rattan armchair, my feet up on a second chair like it but covered by a cushion to protect them from the sun, semi-enclosed by a decorative railing, surrounded by a bed of large, red flowers, watching the other tourists—mostly Asian—pass by on the sidewalk a couple metres in front of the porch and having a clear line of sight to the beach that’s only a few steps beyond it.  A group of snorkelling students are out by a heap of giant, tide-smoothened rock.  The main dock for the village is out of view to my left and so many interesting boats of various sorts and sizes move past my sight. 
The hedge of flowers close to me is inviting all sorts of interesting insects including a black and white swallowtail butterfly, a couple of others I didn’t see clearly enough to describe, dragonflies that don…

The Jungle Story Part 1--Teman Negara

Tahan Guesthouse, Rm 8, Kuala Tahan, Teman Negara, Malaysia Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 5:30 p.m. It’s 5:30 in the afternoon on our first full day in Teman Negara.  I’m sitting under the mosquito net over our bed, fan oscillating above me (I’d like it to stay pointed at me but that feature on the fan is broken), looking out the open doorway to the patio and beyond that to the simple mosque next door and the “mountain” covered with jungle behind it. 
Tahan Guesthouse is a simple, rustic place, painted with bright, happy colours and a mural of flowers on one wall of our room.  There is no air-conditioning, no wifi, no toilet to sit on.  The floor is covered with the sort of plastic some people use on their tables and the mosquito net has holes in it.  Still, we have our own washroom and shower and a balcony.  Also, we’re closer to the river than many other places and that’s an advantage when you’ve walked further and tougher terrain than you’ve done in years.
Yes, that’s what I did today.…

The Misadventures Begin

Today is Sunday.  After church, Tom, me, Ma Mu and Sarah (a friend of Konrad's from church) went out for lunch.  The restaurant we went to this time specialises in steamed fish and Tom was eager to try his favourite--grouper (which the travel guide says to avoid because of some health issue I don't remember but I guess we're ignoring that advice--I already have so many dietary restrictions that I don't want to make more trouble than needed).

Each restaurant we've gone to is unique and so, after we'd settled at the table, I went exploring with my camera.  An old server (I'm 60 and still working, he boasted--60 isn't old for us but he did look old) liked my picture taking and kept pointing to things I could photograph.  One place seemed out of bounds but when I saw other customers headed in that direction I decided to go too.  It was another sitting area but you have to understand the culture here.

A restaurant is not necessarily in a building with four…