single mattresses

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SUSPENDING POSTS

I have decided to suspend any more entries on this blog. All future blog posts will be on http://humanlifematters.org until further notice. Thank you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"DO NOT LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED AND DO NOT BE AFRAID"

Jesus said,  “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let you heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14: 26-27.)

Peace. Without Christ, the human longing for internal peace is either illusive or counterfeit. Do not discount this truth. Jesus is the author of all we know and all that is unknown (see John 1.1-5, 12-18). Even when our world seems to be falling apart we can have peace in Christ who offers salvation to all and deliverance from our sins through His sacrificial offering on the cross (see Colossians 1.12-20). 

Jesus is the source of internal peace that transcends all understanding (see Philippians 4. 6-7). That peace has a transformative quality that has, throughout the centuries, changed even devilish people into saints. The history of Christianity is replete with examples.  

On the other hand, the absence of Christ’s peace can turn gentle souls into cynical, stone hearted people. The world’s cruelty can sear individual and even collective human consciences.  We see this displayed in such things abortion, child and elder abuse, euthanasia and pornography. 

And yet in the midst of human violence and spiritual corruption Christ still offers his peace to all who come to know Him. This peace that passes human understanding was made evident to me ― even in the storms of life and the terrors of degenerative disability. I found peace. The darker my physical reality became, the more evident the light of Christ became to me.
 

There were times when my physical circumstances threatened to engulf me with terror. My prayerful cries were met with a deep peace overtaking the fear. I cannot explain it logically: An inaudible yet real message of assurance descended upon me to overtake and subdue the raging terror and panic I was experiencing: “Be not afraid, I am with you” (cf. Matthew 14. 27).  

There is nothing in this world that can rob me of the eternal
hope in Jesus Christ that is within me. As God tells us in His Holy Bible, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46.10). Earthly life may destroy my body but my soul is safe with Christ.  He is with me now and forever. -- Mark


 
 

Friday, November 22, 2013

CONTENTMENT IN MARRIAGE

Ann and John Betar
I came across a story about the longest married couple in America. They are John (102) and Ann (98) Betar, of Connecticut. They have been married for 81 years. The couple eloped in 1932 in the depth of the depression. There was great family hostility toward them. Ann's aunt consoled her father by saying the marriage would not last. She was wrong.

I took note of the story because of parallels between my wife and my marriage. We have not been married anywhere near the length of time of the Betars, but there are similarities in other areas.

The day we eloped
LaRee and I eloped in 1973 and met great family hostility and downright meanness. LaRee's father cursed me.  My mother did not like LaRee and forbade us to marry -- so we eloped. After hearing the news of our elopement a friend of my mother consoled her by predicting the marriage would not last a year. Her friend was wrong.  LaRee and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary.

In early December we are gathering our children and grandchildren to mark the occasion. 

Our marriage has lasted because of Christ. It has been because of Christ in our lives that we defied the odds. The early cruelties and punishments exacted on us, as a young couple, only made us cling tighter to each other. The grief and terror of degenerative disease we later endured only served to drive us to our knees and give our lives to God's care.

We are content after 40 years of marriage. Contentment is also a major component to John and Ann Betar's 81 year marriage. See their story below. LaRee and I only have forty years more to go!




 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

GOD SPEAKS IN THE FROZEN QUIET OF WINTER

The first major snow storm of season has passed leaving a thick blanket of white snow across the landscape. It's a magical time for the community's children who sled down the hill upon which our French town of Beaumont is named: beautiful hill. Indeed it is a beautiful hill with a historic church at its peak overlooking us all. My little house sits at the bottom of that hill. For over a quarter of a century my wife and I have admired the church and listened to its bell ring each day -- giving order and a sense of continuity to us.


Now the winter season of 2013-14 has truly begun with its snow drifts cloistering me in my little house. Days pass without so much as sticking my nose out the door into the crisp air. I guess that is where the term "shut-in" comes from when referring to the chronically ill and disabled. Well, I don't think of it in a negative sense, rather a quiet season when I can spend uninterrupted hours with God. My morning devotions are treasured times. The low winter sun shines through my living room window and reminds me that its Creator is with me in my apparent insignificance.

The God who visits me in my little house on the frozen Canadian prairie is the same God the Psalmist wrote about in Psalm 29:

"Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones. Give unto the Lord glory and strength, Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." The God that mighty people of the earth are called to  worship in the beauty of holiness is also the God who visits the frail and small -- even in a little snow covered cottage on the Canadian hinterland.

The Psalmist continued: "The voice of the Lord is over the waters, The God of glory thunders; the voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty." The voice of the Lord is powerful and thunders ... but He also whispers to people with broken hearts or broken bodies. His love coos gently to the lonely and bids them welcome in His tender embrace. 

Our God who created thunder also created rainbows.

Even God's judgement is rooted in love. If God did not care how his creation turned out or behaved he would be indifferent. God would simply turn away from humanity and leave us alone. But God has not yet abandoned us. As C.S. Lewis said, God has given us the intolerable complement of loving us.

Despite evil occurring around us that surely grieves the heart of God, there is still goodness too: The music of happy children shrieking with joy at the simple fun of tobogganing down a snow covered hill with their parents still delights God's heart. The prayers of faithful Christians are still heard by the Almighty; the love and witness Christians show to others must surely make God smile -- for His love extends to all humanity.

Mark

Monday, November 11, 2013

SAINT FRANCIS PRAYER OF PEACE

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Below is a rendition of this prayer put to music by John Rutter. Click on image.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GOD IN LIFE'S ORDINARY RHYTHMS


Throughout the years, numerous people tried to lure me down east from western Canada. It stroked my inflated ego and flattered my unwarranted sense of self-importance. Perhaps the most tempting I remember was being offered a job to host a national TV series the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was planning in 1990. It was about issues surrounding disabilities and showcasing the lives of Canadians with physical and mental challenges and the human spirit overcoming adversity. 


The CBC flew me to Ottawa from my little home on the western Canadian prairies to meet with a senior corporate official at an elegant restaurant who presented me with the idea. There was only one catch: I would have to uproot my family and move to Toronto or Ottawa (I can't remember which city) and leave our village life.  

It was an extraordinary opportunity to be sure -- one of the best I was ever offered in my short career and I must admit that I was tempted. But the timing was wrong: My children were in their teens and settled; to uproot them would have been too disruptive to their lives. We also had extended family near who needed us. I looked out the restaurant window at the Ottawa River; that still small voice inside me said, "Let it pass" – and so I turned down the opportunity. 

Beaumont at day's end
Dreams of grandeur becoming reality were not mine to have. God planned something else for me: The quiet contemplation of life rather than the grandeur of dreams. To the world, God's plan might have seemed like small potatoes compared to the lights and glamour of television. Looking back now, as an old man, I realize that God wanted to teach me something that can only be learned in the quiet of life: The art of true love (both human and divine). God wanted me to stay put and wait on Him. 

My granddaughter picking apples
 in the backyard
Just over a year later my disability forced me to retire and live on a modest disability pension. Disease kept ravaging my body and forcing my type A personality into stillness and eventually contemplation. Days, months and years were spent convalescing and looking out the kitchen window. Seasons passed and successive generations of blue jays flew to my backyard’s maple trees. My hair turned white. Grandchildren were born, and still that small voice whispered, “Be open to love for in love you will find God.” To my surprise and delight, I discovered it was true. 

a grandson & me
The meaning of my life did not come in a thunder-clap of glory rather a gentle breeze in ordinary rhythms of living. The purpose of my life is here with those I love and with the greater and perfect love of Christ.  

I am reminded of a conversation in the 1985 television production Anne of Green Gables.  Anne says to her future husband, Gilbert Blythe: “I went looking for my ideals outside myself and discovered it’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it. The dreams that are dearest to my heart are right here. I don’t want sun bursts and marble halls. I just want you.” 

Our home
Marble halls of great universities were for my father and grandfather. Sunbursts of artistic glory are for my children and grandchildren. My place is here with my wife of forty years, and to quietly wait on the Lord. My quaint little village is no longer a quaint village. The hustle and bustle of city life swirls just beyond my little house and yard with the maple trees. But adult children and grandchildren and blue jays still come to visit me. God speaks to me in the breeze that rustles the trees’ leaves; the church bell that rings each day at the top of the hill reminds me that I am loved by the Creator of love and life. 

About matters of divine love I have been such a slow learner, but finally I can say to God, “I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls. I want You.” God has made himself evident to me in the ordinary rhythms of life.

Seeing as I quoted Anne  of Green Gables*, I think I will share the beautiful theme song from that television series

 
*Anne of Green Gables, 1985 television series  based on a novel of the same name by Lucy Maude Montgomery.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

EXCELLENT LIFE-AFFIRMING MUSIC VIDEO

Below is an excellent music video called "This Time". It's about a thirteen year old girl who gives birth to her baby rather than "solve" her problem by killing her child through abortion. It's based on a true story. I'm sure abortion supporters will decry it. I say, well done John Elefante.