Monday, November 23, 2009

Writing Post

Today is my day for writing again. I am trying to do all of the things that are needed to prepare my book for publication. I have sent it to the copy-editor. Now it is my responsibility to write for the permissions for the quotes that I have included from other authors. I am also working on the Bibliography. I can't believe that I used more than 150 sources for the material in this book. Of course, that was over the course of ten years, and snippets on the topic just kept popping up everywhere.
My other task for the book these days is finding the credible people who can give me strong endorsements. That is a task that I am finding quite encouraging, especially when those I ask tell me they feel honoured to do this. I have received some remarkable endorsements. I am so grateful.
Well, I had better get back to work. I just thought you might like a little background information about what goes into the production of a book. I am including a photo of my writing companion.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Wedding

Here are the happy couple. The story from a mother's perspective can be found at
Thanks for all the good wishes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Prayer Newsletter – September 2009

It is hard to believe that the summer is over and this weekend marks the beginning of the fall season here in Canada. We enjoyed our vacation time with John and Elizabeth and Johan as well as our sojourn to the Smoky Mountains. Once again, we were able to see some bears and deer as well as some wild turkeys this year. We stayed at a lodge in one of the National Parks on the way to Tennessee and it was a magnificent setting. Thanks for your continuing support of us with your prayers during the summer months. Our requests this month are as follows.

1. Eleanor starts her new job with Opportunity International Canada on Tuesday. She plans to be in Toronto from Tuesday until Friday with orientation and meetings with the whole philanthropy group. OIC are also having a launch for a book that has just been released with the stories of some of the folks who have been involved in OI overseas. Please pray that despite her apprehension, Eleanor will be able to find her place and with the philanthropy team, set in place her goals for the rest of this year. Pray that she will be able to develop good relationships with all of her colleagues scattered across the country.

2. Meanwhile, Glen continues to give leadership to Health Partners International of Canada. Some of those who were laid off for the summer are now able to return to full employment at HPIC. Others are finding jobs elsewhere. Please pray that the Lord will continue to supply the needs of HPIC through donors and the pharmaceutical companies. Thank the Lord for some of the unique partnerships that He is putting in place. Glen has a meeting in Ottawa with the federal government about the Bolivia project on September 14 - 15th. Please pray for these meetings and that this project will unfold according to the plans and purposes of the Lord for it.

3. In light of the projects that Eleanor will be involved in at OIC and Glen at HPIC, we decided to sign up for Spanish lessons this fall. We have been running into many problems trying to register for these courses. Finally, last evening we registered on line for courses offered at the YMCA Language School here in Montreal. Please pray that we will be able to benefit from this opportunity. Not only do we want to learn for the sake of the work we are doing, we also have a significant Spanish population at our corps (church) and we want to be able to chat with them in their own language over coffee after the services. They are a positive addition to our worshipping community.

4. Thanks for your ongoing prayers for Elizabeth and Johan as they prepare for the wedding next month. They have sent out their invitations by e-mail and plans are proceeding. Elizabeth also has a launch scheduled for her new CD at the Glenn Gould theatre in Toronto on March 13, 2010. We are hoping to be able to attend. We appreciate your continued prayers for the development of her career and for the blessing of the Lord on her and Johan.

5. On the way back from Tennessee, we had a couple of days in Toronto and were able to visit with both my Dad and John. Dad is doing quite well and enjoys regular visits with John. Eleanor had a lovely visit with her Dad. He has a volunteer who has been able to do some typing for him of the book that he is working on. Thank the Lord with us for him and for the measure of health and strength that he is able to enjoy at 91. Please pray also for John as he seeks to make the right decisions about what he should do as his career develops in applying his skills and ability to bettering the situation of those with spinal cord injuries. Thank the Lord for the contributions that he is able to make in this way.

6. At our home church, (The Salvation Army, Montreal Citadel) we are planning celebrations of 125 years on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, October 10-12th. Our guests for the weekend will be Colonels John and Val Bate, friends whose origins are in New Zealand that live in retirement in Florida. They spent many years in Spanish speaking countries, so we are delighted that they will be able to minister to the Spanish people in our congregation in their own language. We hope that many people who have been a part of the church over the past 125 years will be able to return and join in the celebrations with us. Please pray for these events, that they might encourage the faith of many.

7. Having been laid off in June, Eleanor has benefitted from the time this summer to complete a rewrite of her book and the result is something that we feel does justice to the subject of sharing faith by listening and being authentic. She has been able to get a couple of good critiques and is making the final changes suggested by these. Please pray that the publisher will be willing to pursue the production of the book and that it will accomplish the purposes that the Lord has intended for it. Thanks for all your faithfulness in prayer for this project for so many years.

This evening we have once again enjoyed getting together with friends. We were able to watch the movie Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and his fight to end the slave trade in the British Empire. It is inspiring and challenging. One of the lines that we love from the movie comes from John Newton, the writer of the hymn Amazing Grace. Having been the owner of slave ships, he says to William Wilberforce, “I know that I am a great sinner and but Christ is a great Saviour.” We know that for all of us, this is true. We are so grateful for God’s goodness and grace to us and to you. Please accept our gratitude for your prayers and our prayer that you may be aware each day of God’s goodness and grace to you.


Eleanor and Glen

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Religious jargon?

What does abiding in Christ mean?  It sounds like religious jargon, but if we put it in everyday language, it means relying on the resource that He placed within us the moment we decided to surrender the control of our lives to Him.


It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to stay on the right path, by helping us to focus on our goal.  What is the goal of the Christian life anyway?  Jesus defines the goal as a healthy intimate relationship with God.  He tells us that everything about how we are to live can be summarized in obedience to two important commandments.  We are to develop an all-encompassing love for God and a love for others equal to the love we have for ourselves.  Those who were concerned about their boundaries asked Him what were the greatest commandments. 


The result of focusing on the goal for our lives is that in our daily living we become less preoccupied with our own feelings and yearnings and see the larger vision of what God is doing in our world.  As we travel the road that leads to home we keep our eyes fixed on the destination.   We anticipate the day when our transformation will be complete.  Our lives will reflect God’s love both back to Him and enrich the lives of those around us.


When we have lived long enough, we know that deep intimate relationships don’t just happen.  We need to work at them.  In John 15, Jesus spells out the steps we need to take in building a healthy intimate relationship with God.  He is not afraid to bring up some things we would rather avoid.   He talks about cutting off dead branches in our lives.  He speaks of pruning healthy branches.  That does not sound like something we want to do. 


            The spiritual disciplines help us learn to rely on that source He has placed within us.  What does that look like?  How would we get rid of what might be unhealthy branches in our lives?  They are the branches that do not produce fruit.  Nothing good or lasting comes from them.  To get rid of the unproductive branches we need to think about our choices.  We need to reflect about how we spend our time.  We need to consider the value of our activities.  We must decide to eliminate unfruitful activities from our lives.  This does not mean becoming totally task oriented. That is not the example that Jesus showed us.


One of the best examples that I have discovered was in the life of Catherine Marshall.  This Christian author, through her writings became for me a spiritual mentor.  She shared insights from her personal journey of faith, when it was still not fashionable to do so.   In one of her books she tells of her decision to take a fast from criticism. 


Slowly the Holy Spirit convicted her of her critical spirit and she began to realize how she quickly spoke caustically of others.  She freely offered negative comments about them.  What she saw was that this was having negative impact on her own spiritual wellbeing.  So she decided to take fast from critical comments.  She started the day determined to honour this commitment.  However, before long she found herself in conversation.  Quickly critical comments would spring to her lips.  She had to learn to stop them, to break the habit.  It was necessary to exercise spiritual discipline and choose to love and not criticize.  In this way she allowed Lord to remove these unfruitful branches from her life. 


Reliance on the power of the One who lives within us will make our transformation possible.  We will learn to willingly submit to the lopping off of dead branches and rejoice to see the increased fruitfulness of the pruned branches, issuing forth love for God and for those He loves – all people. 




Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Do Something - A True Story

She had the bicycle for five years, and that was a record. Usually her bikes were stolen about once a year. It got to the point where she was almost surprised when she returned to where she left it and found her bicycle still there. She didn’t have a driver’s license. Living in the heart of the city, it did not seem necessary. She could get where she wanted quicker on her bike.
She had biked to the home of her piano student and when she came out after the lesson, her bike was gone. There was no other option but to take the subway home. There she met a new challenge. Perhaps she was emboldened by the injustice of having to once again replace a stolen bike.
As she stepped into the subway car, she became aware of a tense situation. Three high school girls huddled together. Backing them against the wall were three young men in their late teens or early twenties. The most aggressive young man had been into the bottle, judging from the reek of his breath. His instability of focus raised questions about whether he was also high on drugs. She observed until the train pulled into the next station. Several people exited the car, moving swiftly unto the platform and then into the adjoining car.
She could take no more. Moving to the girls she asked, “Do you know this fellow?”
When the reply was negative, she turned to the young man who was harassing the girls and said simply, “This is not acceptable behavior. You have to stop.”
“Who are you to tell me to stop?” He turned on her. “You are just the girl in the brown coat.”
“I am the girl in the brown coat, who is telling you that what you are doing in unacceptable and you have to calm down and stop bothering these girls.” He seemed at a loss about what to do. He remained quiet for a minute and then began his harassment again.
Again she spoke up. She put her finger on the panic button, and warned him. “If you do not stop, I will have to push this button.” He began to move away from the girls. In a few minutes he was back again, accompanied by his two friends.
This time she turned to the friends. “You cannot just stand by and watch your friend,” she told them. “If he cannot calm down, you have a responsibility to help him. This cannot continue.”
His friends made an effort to get him away from the girls. They got him to the other end of the train car. As they did so, the train stopped and the police stepped into the car. Someone else had pushed the panic button.
He was questioned by the police, as were his friends. The girls gave their story to the police. She made sure that the police knew that this one man was the guilty one and his friends were not. Since all three were part of a visible minority, she wanted to be sure they were not treated unfairly.
After the culprits were removed from the train and order was restored the girls got back on the next train with her. She was distressed when a couple of women twice her age came up and told her how frightened they had been and how they respected her for speaking up. She reminded them that the only way these things can go on is if we fail to act when we can. Yes, there is risk, but perhaps there is greater risk in doing nothing.
As writers we too must be willing to take the risk of speaking up. Someone’s life may depend on it. Dare we?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Belle Gucci - Eleanor Shepherd

We have been empty nesters since 1999 when our daughter took the dog to live with her, when we were returning to France for a second assignment there. Now that we have moved into our retirement home, we decided we needed a little company, so on Saturday we went to the SPCA in search of an orphan.
The moment we walked into the room where the dogs were kept, I spotted him and he spotted me. It was love at first sight. His name was Shadow and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to get acquainted. But, first the paperwork. We had to complete all of the forms so that we could be entrusted with this animal. I answered the questions to the best of my ability, but my confidence wavered as the adoption agent raised questions about some of my responses. In one case, I had checked the wrong box and gave the opposite answer to what I meant. In another case I had misunderstood the question. I began to perspire. This was obviously not going to be as easy as I thought.
Shadow was a golden retriever mix. He was a dog that needed space and I knew that. One of the questions on the form was what kind of a dwelling we lived in. I indicated that it was a condominium. There was no place for me to write that, this condominium was larger than the house where we lived in France for four years with our very active Brittany spaniel mixed dog. The other requirement for Shadow was access to a fenced yard. There seemed to be some possible negotiation about this one.
Do we live on the first floor of the condo? No, we are on the second floor. There is one flight of stairs to the outside door. We are not next to a park, although we are on the lakeshore and there is plenty of parkland there. No, it is not right at our door, we have to cross the street. The adoption agent tried to be helpful. She asked at least three people in charge if it was possible for us to have Shadow, in spite of us not meeting the exact criteria. There was no way they were going to release him to us. Despite my sadness, I knew they wanted to do the right thing for the dog. They were thinking of his needs and if you really love someone that is what you do, you put their needs before your own. I had to let Shadow go.
But we still wanted a pet. Maybe a cat is more realistic for a condo. We wandered around the cat room looking at them. After completing the forms, we were able to have a visit with a few of them. The first was a feisty little male kitten. He was not the least bit interested in cuddling. I suspected that life with him could become a battle of the wills. This was not the one.
The next was a female named Rose, who was reluctant to come out of her cage. She accepted some cuddling, but wanted to keep her distance, just the same. The chemistry was not working with her either.
Then we saw a kitten that seemed full of fun. Her antics amused us as she threw her ball into her water dish, just before coming out of her cage. She seemed like a good candidate.
We were trying to decide whether we should go through with this, when I spotted another cat. She was the only one in a stack of cages that were separate from all the rest. The place was a little overcrowded and I guess this was the only place they had left. She was a year old and had just returned from foster care. She peered out at me, as if to say, “Please, take me home?”
I asked if we could have a visit with her. As soon as we held her, we knew she was the one. She was both affectionate and independent and not too much of either, so we signed the adoption papers and she became ours. We could not bring her home until Monday, as she had to be sterilized. That was one of the clauses in the adoption agreement that we signed. The name she had been assigned was Gucci but we wanted her to be called Belle, because we think she is beautiful. So Belle Gucci has joined our lives and I am sure will teach us much and bring us joy as we make our home together.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reflections on Life as a Journey

Life is a journey. This is not news. Yet to apply it to the walk of faith seems to come as a surprise to each generation.

As we sat around our living room with the College and Career group looking at the Scriptures and trying to understand how they relate to our lives today, Julie spoke up. “I never realized it before. Our Christian life is a journey with God. That’s cool!”

I recalled the day many years earlier, when I had come to that understanding. It seemed to free me to grow. It meant that I did not need to have all the answers as a Christian, but I could discover them as I journeyed.

The journey has been identified with the faith pilgrimage throughout history. The classic example in our English culture is John Bunyan’s allegory written from his prison cell, Pilgrim’s Progress.

The book speaks of the pilgrimage of Christian and his companions as they journey to the Celestial City. My assumption, perhaps from my evangelical background, has been that the journey begins when one embraces the Faith. Now I think differently.

My shift in thinking relates to the image of God that has become stronger for me on my journey. I now see God as an all-knowing yet all-loving parent standing with arms outstretched, ready to embrace all who will come. His invitation extends to all humanity.

When we are born there is within us the desire to turn towards that embrace. That for me is the meaning of the words of wisdom in Ecclesiastes that speak of God placing eternity in our hearts. The journey begins when life begins, but it may sometimes follow a seemingly incomprehensible route. There are occasions when it seems that this route is heading far from the waiting loving embrace. Yet those times can herald the U-turn of a wandering soul.

We do not travel the journey alone. There are many companions on our route. At times we choose those companions and at other times they seem to be messengers sent to encourage us on our way.

Wherever we are on our life journey when we choose to embrace the Faith, we are gifted with a companion. This Companion, who has been called The Comforter accompanies us continually to our final destination. Our accompaniment includes not only a sense of security but also the hope and encouragement we need as we travel. Without this divine companionship we would never make it home to the loving embrace that awaits us.