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Category Archives: Personal

SJT – Mercy (In the DNA)

Mercy is one of those words we bandy about so freely in Christian culture, it becomes almost invisible. I gained a fresh appreciation of its richness when I looked it up in the dictionary before writing this post:

Mercy:
1. Kind or compassionate treatment of an offender, adversary, prisoner etc. in one’s power; compassion where severity is expected or deserved.
2. A disposition to be kind, forgiving, or helpful.
3. A thing to be thankful for.

Mercy comes from compassion, kindness or other ennobling sentiments.

Opposites of mercy are harshness, severity, implacability, punishment, chastisement, vengeance. – Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary

It’s what God had for us when He sent Jesus and had Him take the penalty our sins deserved. It’s what I’m supposed to extend to others. And there’s the rub. For like so many Christian qualities, showing mercy is counter-intuitive. It goes against every atom of fairness to let the person who hurt me get off free. Look at how the crowds clamber for justice when a policeman has shot someone in the line of duty. Suggest mercy to that crowd and you’re likely to start a riot. It’s in me and all of us to want to get even, to make things right with our own style of justice.

I was pondering why we, or at least I, find that giving mercy is hard. I think it has something to do with feeling that I’m giving up control. When Christians extend mercy, we give up control to God. We’re saying with our actions that we believe He has the situation in hand and will sort it all out fairly in the end, better than our scolding, punishment, or tit for tat ever could.

The Bible story that illustrates this beautifully is David’s behaviour when his father-in-law and deadly enemy King Saul is hunting him. One day David finds himself in the cave with Saul. His men tell him, This is your chance.  Take matters into your own hands and kill him.

He resists them, and instead, just cuts a piece off Saul’s robe to prove how close he was. Later even that seems to bother him. 1 Samuel 24:1-12 where this story is told, ends with these telling words from David to Saul:Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you” (emphasis added).

The challenge for me is to get to the place where extending mercy becomes my default position. I want it to be in my DNA.

Kale

“I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” – Job 23:12 (Photo of kale from Pixabay.com)

In the DNA

We bite into apples
bread, cake, meat
taste, chew, swallow.
They disappear, digested
become absorbed into muscle, bone
fingers, toes, skin, lashes
brain cells, our very DNA.

We bite off Your word
Blessed are the merciful …
   Be reconciled to your brother …
   Forgive up to seventy times seven …
meditate on these things
swallow them into the busyness of our days
Now that they’ve been ingested
are they being digested
becoming the muscle, bone, skin
of loving acts, kind words, patience
mercy, forgiveness
altering our very DNA?

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning. Today the theme is MERCY.

 

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How to look for a church

Next to the beginning of the new calendar year, the beginning of September is the time we make the most changes in our lives. The kids start a new school year. All kinds of activities from kids’ soccer to adult classes get underway. If we’ve moved, we’ll be exploring a new neighborhood. If we’ve decided to start attending church or go to a different one, chances are good we’ll make that change in September too.

For those of us who have ever church shopped, we know how crucial those first visits to a church are. When we’re new, we notice things that long time attendees have surely become nose-blind to—from the cliquish clots of people in the foyer to the way the building actually smells.

What I was most sensitive to when I was visiting a new church with the thought of maybe making it our church home was, do these people seem friendly? Would we fit in? And, do I sense God in this place?

In September it’s probably a good idea for those of us who are church old-timers to be on the lookout for new people. Let’s notice them. Let’s greet them with warm smiles and welcome handshakes. Maybe we could even invite them for lunch, remembering how we would have appreciated that when we were new.

Elora Presbyterian Church

Elora Presbyterian Church – Elora Ontario (Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

My poem is a bit of advice to those newbies:

HOW TO LOOK FOR A CHURCH

Pretend you’re visiting
a family of distant relatives.

Of course you don’t expect
to get an invitation for lunch
and all your social needs met
by a bunch of third cousins.
And it doesn’t matter
that the stairs smell of mildew
and water stains the ceiling
or that amongst themselves
they’re way too happy and loud
and hug a lot.

What may catch you by surprise
even make you want to return
is how the Father you share
meets you there
puts His gentle but persistent hand
under your chin
to raise your face
and meet His eyes.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly

spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to “Spiritual Journey Thursday” hosted by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning where this week’s theme is “church.” Drop by and follow the links to what others have to say about “church.”

 
 

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Savary Island in September

Our weather has turned gorgeous again after a couple of weeks of welcome rain. The last few days remind me of a September holiday we took some years ago. We spent part of it in the area of B.C. called the Sunshine Coast. On that trip we drove the whole highway from Langdale (near Gibsons) to Earl’s Cove and then caught a ferry to Powell River.

One day in PR we took the road north of town to a tiny settlement called Lund. At the marina there we boarded a water taxi for Savary Island.

What a magical place! There were no cars on the very basic roads. A walk through the woods took us to a small settlement where there was a store—which was closed for the season (fortunately we had brought along a small lunch). A walk along the beach took us past some cottages.  But mostly it was waves sloshing onto the white sand under sunny peacefulness.

I started the poem below sitting on the beach of Savary Island waiting for the water taxi to take us back to the mainland.

Savary Island in September

Savary Island in September (Photo © 2008 by V. Nesdoly)

Savary Island in September

Time dozes in the sun-brilliant afternoon
wind holds its kelpy breath
chorus of invisible crickets
trills a shrill chord to a motor’s drone

At the dock a boat
coughs to life
low-loaded it putt—putts
from the harbour

Voices echo in the still salt air
clear, glassy as the mirrored
double-boats anchored beside the two-headed
orange, yellow and white buoys

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the multi-talented Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge.

 
13 Comments

Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Nature, Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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Agenda-Less

A few months ago I heard Phil Vischer (creator of Veggie Tales) tell in a video lecture how his veggie empire and the dream of his film studio becoming the Christian Disney came crashing down. He was devastated.He came through that time wiser and having learned some lessons. I took a few notes as I was listening. Here are some bits from my scribbles:

“He who has God and many things is no better off than he who has God alone” – C.S. Lewis.

He learned to wait on God. His passion shifted from making an impact to God Himself. He had to die to his ambition and misplaced sense of identity.

He summed up his talk with three points:
1. God loves you the way you are even when you’re not doing anything at all.

2. When the time comes to be doing something for God, don’t worry about the outcome. That’s His job. The impact God has planned for us doesn’t happen when we’re pursuing impact, it happens when we’re pursuing God.

3. Beware of your dreams, for dreams make dangerous friends.
“Why would God want us to let go of our dream?
Because anything you won’t let go of is an idol.”

In the poem below, written some years ago, I grapple in my own way with living the self-directed life. It’s something I continue to battle. However, it’s important that I do because I believe the secret to true FREEDOM for a disciple of Jesus is the repeated and continuous relinquishment to Him of dreams, agendas, and outcomes.

Cultivator in grass and flowers

Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly

AGENDA-LESS

“And when I stop telling God what I want, He can catch me up for what He wants without let or hindrance….He can do anything He chooses” Oswald Chambers.

All my life
I’ve lived by agenda
guided myself by purpose
– be the best piano player, student, teacher, writer
governed by goals
– practice four hours, study six, work ten, write always
derived meaning, direction, identity
by pursuing them.

But such a penchant becomes a burden
when I become drive-obsessed
my life possessed by looking for evidence
my purposes are planted in reality.
This turmoil stirs and shakes
the vat of inner life
especially when best efforts all fall short
or when reaching one goal
leaves me still thirsty
mirages into another.

And so I seek a new agenda –Yours
to keep in step with You
give You responsibility
for my agenda.

Do I now need to change my course
mount a different horse?
Leave home and family, say,
and be a missionary?
Go into a different
line of work?
No. That may well be taking
my reins in hand again.

It only means
to change place
from plowman to ox
labor under Your easy yoke
my efforts synchronized
with Your large purpose
as I plow my small
furrow in Your field.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday where the theme this week is Freedom. Spiritual Journey Thursday is hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Watch a video of Phil Vischer giving his talk on dreams to the Convocation of Liberty University.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Personal, Religious

 

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A birthday poem

Two little people in my family have birthdays this month. I set out a couple of weeks ago, after we’d spent some time with these littles this summer (they live far away from us), to write a birthday poem for each. Well, I got one written, and then a long break and finally last week, wrote the second one. I spent some delicious hours yesterday using Comic Life to combining my writing with photos. Today those poems, mounted on stiff paper, are going in the mail. I’m sharing one with you today. I hope you enjoy this poem for my 6-year-old grandson.

David 1

David 2

“David” © 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Linda at Teacher Dance.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on September 4, 2015 in Form poems, Kids, Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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“Flag” on Canada Day

Today is Canada’s 148th birthday. And this year our flag turns 50!

I’m celebrating by reposting my poem “Flag,” written a few years ago.

One of Vancouver’s downtown hotels sported a gigantic Canadian flag during the 2010 Olympics. It helped  foster the Canadian spirit which infected  the streets of Vancouver during those fabulous weeks. (Photo © 2010 by V. Nesdoly)

Flag

National flag of Canada
two by length and one by width, red
containing in its center a white square
the width of the flag
with a single red maple leaf
centered therein”
*
flies majestic since 1965
over town squares
by cenotaphs and schools
from Cape Spear, Newfoundland
to Beaver Creek, Yukon
Alert, Nunavut
to Middle Island, Ontario.

Proudly raised at Olympics
wrapping the grim coffins of soldiers
feted on Canada Day
marched in to the skirl of bagpipes November 11th
this silk-screened symbol
stitches together
our experience and destiny
sea to sea to sea.

When so plentiful at home you no longer see
till it’s reincarnated into jester caps
umbrellas and wind socks
painted on faces, stamped on T-shirts
decaled onto mugs and beaver pens

abroad even one
grabs your homesickness
like the initials of a sweetheart.
Meet someone with your flag stitched on his pack
and you know he’ll understand Tim Horton’s
hockey, Z that rhymes with “bed”
loonies, toonies, Bruce Cockburn, Diana Krall
Cirque du Soliel, CBC, Air Canad, O Canada.
Sorry, but great is it to have found someone
who speaks your own language, eh?

© 2008 by Violet Nesdoly

* Official description of the flag taken from the Public Works and Government Services Canada website.

The Canadian flag had a 40-year gestation. Read the story of its birth HERE.

The first flag was stitched together by Joan O’Malley, daughter of Ken Donovan, who Prime Minister Pearson asked to provide prototypes of the new design for a meeting with the premiers with just a few hours’ notice. The story is HERE.

 

 
 

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Canadian Rivers

Our poetry group is part of the Abbotsford Arts Council meet and mingle event at Mill Lake Park on Saturday afternoon. We’ll even be giving a short poetry reading.

Because Canada Day is just around the corner I was reminded of and have decided to read a couple of Canadian poems that I wrote a few years ago. One that I’ve been practicing is “Canadian Rivers.”

I’ve posted it on the blog before but I’m re-posting it today, along with a recording of it. Maybe it will whet your appetite to discover some of our beautiful Canadian rivers for yourself!

 

Unnamed Alberta river seen from the air

The river in the photo (name unknown) meanders across the Alberta prairie between Lethbridge and Calgary. (Photo © 2007 by V. Nesdoly)

 

Canadian Rivers

Headwaters drip from snowy melt of mountain glaciers
gurgle down glistening rock faces in nameless rivulets.
Fed by rain and sibling trickles they become sinuous streams
adolescent-eager in descent, unafraid to dash against boulders
froth into canyons, course over rock beds till they reach the flat.

Mature and strong they gouge valleys, meander through meadows
nurture forests, bears and eagles, rejuvenate farms and hamlets
flow regal yet restless through villages and cities
under bridges and over tunnels
ever pressing on to an ocean destination.

The watermark of veins, arteries and capillaries on our maps
they carve their initials, scrawl their signatures
all over Canada: Snake, MacKenzie, Coppermine
Exploits, Hillsborough, Saint John, Margaree, Moisie
St. Lawrence, Red, Qu’Appelle, Athabasca, Cowichan…

Named by Indians and explorers for Indians and explorers
they inscribe the plot lines of our history
hide the gold and call the salmon
propel the ferries, carry the logs, barges and ships
pave thoroughfares for tugboats, speedboats, kayaks, canoes.

We settle beside them for their sustenance and beauty
feel betrayed when, with spring-fevered earthlust
their swift-flowing waters bite off chunks of our land.
Then we fear them, dredge them, soil them,
treat them, dyke them, dam them.

I have toe-squished the mud of the South Saskatchewan
pulled Jackfish from the North
been awed by the Hell’s Gate fierceness of the Fraser
spied loons and cormorants gulping fish in the Nicomekl
otters cavorting in the Serpentine

driven miles beside the Thompson
as it winked at me through clearings
admired the canyons carved by the Bulkley
dreamed the legends of the Kispiox
listened from a tent to the night secrets of the Skeena …

Oh for more lifetimes
to make all of them mine.

© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday. It’s hosted this week by Carol at Carol’s Corner.
This poem was first published at Utmost Christian Writers Canadian site where it received honorable mention in 2007 Canadian Landscape Poetry Contest.
 

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