Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Sandwiched--Carolyn R. Wilker

“If God sends us on stony paths, he provides strong shoes.” --Corrie Ten Boom

We’re at that stage in our family with aging parents on one side—we’re all aging every day—and younger family with grandchildren on the other side. We’ve known, in retrospect, that this could happen one day and now we’re there, but we don’t always know what to do with it.
With two parents needing our support, our attention and energies are spread to their maximum, and that comes apart from a career as a freelance editor and writer, and a husband at home with some special needs of his own.
Carol Abaya, an expert in elder care, writes that there is no rehearsal for parent care, rather parenting one’s parents. “Becoming a parent to an aging parent presents extraordinary challenges.” Apparently it was Abaya who coined the term “sandwich generation” but also “club sandwich generation.”

Layers of the Sandwich for Care Givers
In due respect to Abaya, I prefer to call it the “Dagwood sandwich” because of the many layers, even more than a club sandwich, also in respect to the cartoonist of Dagwood and Blondie who invented that sandwich name.
The thing about the layers is that there are so many of them. There are the usual tasks to keep one’s home livable, the tasks involved with a business,  including keeping it going in spite of all else. Adult children ask advice and sometimes for physical help, and there are grandchildren to spend time with—which I want to do as I am able. Apart from care for my parents, whom I also love, there are other positions in my life that may be somewhat displaced during such a time of transition.

Spirituality in Elder Care
It can be a challenging time in which we—the grown-up kids in the middle of things— learn about the support needed. Depending on the circumstances, it’s physical support that’s required, but other times it’s just listening. Consider also the spiritual matters. We care about the whole, not just the physical, and yet the spiritual may be hard for some elders to put into words. And hard to hear.
In a recent lecture on senior care and spirituality from the Waterloo Region Gerontology Interest Group Annual Workshop on May 8, 2014, speaker Cathy Joy said, “The conversation might even start by asking …what do I need to know about you as a person to ensure that I give you the best possible care/support?” After you ask, then just wait!”[1]
The support given by family will be different than that provided by professional caregivers outside the family, which is not to say that the family does not have professional resources. Ours does, but we’re pretty close to the situation. We still need to listen for cues of what our parents need as well as hearing their concerns. And I remember that I need to update their pastor as well. Being unable to get out on their own, it’s hard to stay connected to their church family.

Supportive Organizations
It’s a fact of life and also an emotional one for the elders to see small things slipping away, one after another, until the changes become bigger and parents require more support—perhaps even more than adult children can provide. This is where I’m grateful for those organizations called Community Access Care and the trained professionals within them who have given their best. As well, I am thankful for sisters to share the care.
We pray for strength and energy to handle the demands and hope for the understanding of others when we need to step back from time to time, and we accept the prayers of others to help us to keep all the parts in balance.

[1] Warm Embrace Elder Care newsletter, June 2014, Spirituality & Aging, p. 2, 3.

Monday, 18 August 2014


“Everything is wrong with this place. We don’t have all the tools we need, not enough billable work hours and even the air conditioning is not working.” Those words whizzed through the air like scud missiles! I knew they were intended to shock and intimidate me; but in that emotional moment I knew I was simply the target for the release of someone else’s frustration and unresolved anger. Years ago I learned that to be a woman of Godly influence, I had let go of my own insecurities and display integrity and grace in my workplace by learning to “park my ego at the door.”
 For thirty years I have been the only woman in the board room. For ten of those years I was the administrator of a large law firm, and prepared the agenda and chaired the monthly board room meetings. For the past twenty years I continue to be the Controller of two automobile franchises and again, I am the only woman in our weekly board room meetings. I have had to learn that when we allow selfish, pleasure seeking egos to dominate the agenda and conversations; an ugly tension permeates the room.  When our egos are threatened, we have a tendency to feel stupid, shamed, rejected and insignificant.”
 Nine years ago I put my fragile ego to the test. I am blessed to have two accountability partners that allowed me to engage them in an exercise that was intended to bring clarity into our biggest ego struggle; the idol of pride. We made an agreement that each time something or someone chipped away at our idol, we would record the words “ka-ching”. After an entire month of this humbling and revealing exercise, we met and shared the number of “ka-chings” we had recorded.   I was shocked and horrified to find that I had allowed my ego to sabotage my thoughts to propel feelings of being stupid, misunderstood, not heard or even rejected.  Somewhere on my spiritual journey I had forgotten that God makes us all unique and He has a plan and purpose for each of our lives. This little “ka-ching” exercise affirmed for me that everything in life is not about me, I am not the savior of this world and not responsible for everything that goes wrong.
 To be a woman of Godly influence in every area of my life, it has become my personal goal to value people over process. I am a task oriented person and no one knows better than I that there are goals, agendas and deadlines to be followed and adhered to. But if I allow my brittle, flimsy and selfish ego to rule my days, I will miss out on the joy of achieving success and accomplishments that I believe God wants me to enjoy. But I must always remember that my greatest goal in life is to pour God’s love and grace onto everyone I meet. That means taking a deep breath, parking my ego at the door, and remembering that we are all God’s creatures trying desperately to find our value and place in this world.  
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at:

Sunday, 17 August 2014

What's Your Bar? SUSAN HARRIS

Commercials and television ads define their products with slogans.
The Coke ad says, “Coke is it.”
KFC says, “We do chicken right.”
One hairdressing salon has a sign, “Curl up and DYE.”

God has a signature mark and it is ‘GOOD’.
Jeremiah 29:11 describes God’s plan for us as GOOD, and this is echoed in the pages of Scripture. 

 The account in Genesis 1 is on creation, and God’s signature mark is consistent:

Day 1 -- on the first day God created the light ... and God saw the light, that it was GOOD.
Day 2 -- God created the earth and the seas … and God saw that it was GOOD.
Day 3 – God created the grass and trees … and God saw that it was GOOD.
Day 4 – God created the sun and the moon… and God saw that it was GOOD.
Day 5 -- God created the creatures of sea and air … and God saw that it was GOOD.
Day 6 -- God created the beasts … and God saw that it was GOOD. God created humans on the same day and they were made in His image.

Verse 31 summarizes, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very GOOD.”

God’s slogan is IT IS GOOD. Goodness stems from His character, His flawlessness, His inability to be anything other than good. The word ‘good’ means of ‘of a favorable character or tendency.’  Hence it is consistent with God’s nature to have plans for us that are GOOD.

If you are inquisitive like I am, you might ask, “Why good? Why not better or why not best?”

A class by Himself

 In English, when three or more things are being described, the superlative adjective is used (e.g. the biggest fish.) When comparing two things, the comparative adjective is used (e.g. the bigger fish.)  When there is only one thing, the positive adjective is used (e.g. the big fish.) The positive, comparative and superlative of the adjective ‘Good’ are Good, Better, Best.
When God uses the word GOOD, the grammar rule suggests that there is no comparison, and when the word is used to describe God, it is reinforced that God is in a class all by Himself. This is totally in keeping with His attribute of incomparability (Isaiah 40:25-26.)

By being in the class of Good, God was making a statement that He is the Alpha and Omega, He is the great I Am, He is the Rose of Sharon, The Bread of Life and The Strong tower. God was announcing what all false gods know… that He is singular.

 Good is a good bar and I am contented with good. When I realized that in God "good" is the standard, I stopped striving for higher. And in so doing I've unintentionally done my best.

(An excerpt from Golden Apples in Silver Settings Chapter 1, Dream Big by Susan Harris 2011).

Find Susan at:

BIO: Susan Harris is a speaker and former teacher, and the author of Golden Apples in Silver Settings, Remarkably Ordinary, Little Copper Pennies and Little Copper Pennies for Kids. Her first submission to Chicken Soup for the Soul is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? edition which releases on August 19, 2014. The story is called "Smokey's Lock-out". Remarkably Ordinary will be released in print in the fall. Her children's picture book, Alphabet on The Farm will also be released, in both English and French. Susan was born in exotic Trinidad but now lives on the Saskatchewan prairies with her husband, daughter and the gregarious cats.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Everything Old is New Again

About a month ago, my wife and I went for a leisurely Saturday drive out to the Carp Farmer's Market about a half hour from Ottawa. It was one of those ideal summer morningsperfect weather. We thoroughly enjoyed the displays of fresh produce and home-baked goods, but best of all we enjoyed sampling them. Surrounded by friendly faces and live country music, who could ask for more?

But there was more. On the fairgrounds next to the farmer's market antique autos were rolling into position for a 100+ vintage car exhibit. I've always revelled in these displays, so after a locally prepared midmorning snack, we sauntered over.

Now I admit I find early twentieth century cars fascinating, but for me, pure nostalgia draws me to the mid-century beauties of the 1950's and '60's—the cars of my childhood and youth. Nothing says classic styling like the fins on a '57 Chevy or a mid '60's Mustang.

But for me the real find—the pearl among the oysterswas a green 1953 Ford. Why did this car attract me like a magnet? It was the first car I remembermy father's family car. I remember every detail about it from the chrome jet hood ornament to the Ford name crest on the trunk.

A thousand half-forgotten memories flooded back when I set eyes on that car. I was a one-year-old when Dad bought that car back in Saskatchewan. I cut my teeth in that old Ford and it was a central part of so many childhood memories. And here it wasa near perfect replicasitting before some sixty years later. Furthermore, my name was on the license plate. How cool is that!

Unfortunately, over time we have lost so much. My father's old Ford went to rust bucket heaven a decade or two after he drove it home from the dealer. Cars rust, fabric frays, memories fade. That's why I draw so much comfort from this Bible verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This body of mine may be growing old and showing signs of wear, but in Christ I am being renewed every day. If there is resurrection and renewal for old cars, surely through faith in the risen Christ there is hope for this old body of mine. And if that be true there may even be hope for my Dad's old 1951 pick-up truck stored in a shed in Saskatchewan, and my grandma's bones stored in a grave a few miles away.  
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).
There's hope and renewal for old Ford's and Kitz's too!

David Kitz is an award-winning author and Bible dramatist. For details on his book and drama ministry visit

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Bliss by Ruth Smith Meyer

I once was asked  to contemplate  
          Get right into the mood of this-  
Consider what are all the things, 
          That surely would bring me much bliss.

I sat back and put up my feet,
          And started to stare into space,
Is bliss doing, being, seeing?
          This question I surely must face.

So I sat there, really pondered
          And slowly my thoughts came around.
To my mind there came a whisper
          From my heart  where such things are found.

To begin each day in quiet,
          Listening for love sounds from God,
To step out on a fall morning
          To smell pungent leaves and the sod.

To crunch through the leaves in autumn
          See purple lined clouds in the sky,
To see dew kissed flowers and webs,
          And catch them with camera’s eye,

To walk along sandy beaches
          Find round pebbles of every hue,
To walk, ski, sit in the moonlight,
          Feel peace and hushed quiet anew,

To catch the marvelous sweet scent
          Of wood shavings or new-mown hay,
Taste a strawberry from the patch
          Or a wild one found on the way,

To sit with canvas and brushes,
          Then painting the beauty around,
To listen to birds insect, frogs,
          As they each lend musical sound,

To sit at cottage’s lakeside,
          And hear o’er the water, loon’s call,
To see the beautiful sunset
          And the first star when comes night-fall,

To hold the hand of a loved one,
          Behold a child’s eyes with love’s light,
To experience meeting of minds,
          Bond with another in delight,

To face challenge inviting growth,
          And draw on the depth of your soul,
To laugh at yourself, share a joke,
          To reach an unreachable goal.

These, just a few that bring delight,
          That in this life I’d hate to miss,
In truth, as I pondered it o’er,
          Certainly they’re what I would call bliss.

But what is bliss, kept to oneself,
          And hoarded in silence alone?
It’s true, that it can feed one’s soul
          Bring a harmony to life’s tone.

But share that bliss with another,
          And worship your Maker on high,
Bring praise, exuberant thanksgiving
          Let Him hear your awe-filled cry,

Your bliss may surprise, astound you,
          As it’s multiplied, then abounds
Warmed in His beautiful presence,
         You’ll stand there on God’s Holy ground.

May each of you find the pockets of bliss in your own lives. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Say No to the Herd

"...There are four possible attitudes, said Jones, to the herd urge.  We can 1) withdraw from the herd 2) defy the herd 3) succumb to the herd or 4) surrender the herd to God and then live within it..."

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Every summer the Hird family goes away on an Ashram retreat to Sumas Mountain.  The Christian Ashram movement was founded in 1930 by Dr. E. Stanley Jones in India.  As a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi, Jones wrote twenty-eight books that sold millions, including Christ of the Indian Road and Abundant Living.

As the most widely read spiritual author during his lifetime, Jones left a remarkable impact that is rapidly increasing in our social media world.  Jones’ short aphorisms are very quotable, being often reposted on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
For the last year, I have been rereading Jones’ book The Way to Power and Poise. Jones memorably warns us against the herd: “If we are herd-centered people, then we are insecure, for the herd is fickle and may quickly change.”  Teenagers, when facing peer pressure, are often tempted to be herd-centered.  When we give up self to the herd, we lose identity, focus and creativity.  The desire to be popular and to fit in can be very deadly.  It takes courage to be ourselves.  Jones taught that if we are dominated by the herd, we are doomed by the herd – doomed to a life of up and downness. 

The problem with the first attitude of withdrawal is that we are left in isolation and eccentricity.  All forms of separation, segregation or apartheid backfire upon themselves.  Emotional cut-off solves nothing.  We are called to be in the herd but not of the herd.
The second attitude of defying the herd leaves us on the defensive.  As Jones put it, you cannot live constantly objecting without becoming objectionable.  Defensiveness is negative and self-defeating.  Healthy people do not define themselves by what they are opposed to.

The third attitude of succumbing to the herd, said Jones, robs you of your voice: “you are an echo; you don’t act; you only react; you are not a person but a thing.”  Mindless conforming is ultimately deforming.  Giving up self to the herd leaves us flat and empty.  Mob mentality, as with the 2011 Vancouver Canuck riot, is rooted in the herd mentality. Many young people going to that Canuck game had no idea how destructive they would become. 

Only when we let go and let God can the herd become healthy.  The herd will drain you of life and energy, if you let it.  The herd is never satisfied.  You can never do enough to please the herd.  Jesus gives you the ability to transform the herd into a thing of beauty.  Say no to the herd, and yes to life.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector  
BSW, MDiv, DMin

Anglican Mission in Canada

-author of the upcoming book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit 

-an article for the September 2014 Deep Cove Crier

p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘ED HIRD’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPALusing the . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada