Catching up…

So I decided to do a ‘photoaday’ project for September. I thought I’d try blogging about the photos as I post them. Then the stomach flu hit. Suddenly I found myself 3 days behind at the very beginning of the project. Ugh.

So tonite I will blog 3 photos and hopefully tomorrow I will be back on track. Here we go!

#FMSPhotoaday Sept 1: You, now:



My social media friends might be a little sick of this photo by now, since it’s been on FB and Twitter today. But I really think it is the best pic of me right now. Taken on Friday, at the home of my chosen-family in Oshawa, I like this photo because I actually like the way my body looks in the picture. I have blogged often about my weight loss journey. I have had both great successes and great struggles with it during the past year. I have discovered that losing a pile of weight doesn’t fix all the problems in your life. It doesn’t solve any of your self esteem issues. I have trouble recognizing the changes in my body. But the journey continues. And I am learning to be thankful even in the midst of my struggles. This pic represents all of that to me.


FMSPhotoaday Sept 2: Father:

My Dad is a great guy. And one of the biggest joys of my summer was watching him interact with my chosen-nephews when they and their family came for a visit at the farmhouse this summer. So this is my Dad giving Nate a ride in a wheelbarrow. The great thing is that this was about 5 minutes after they arrived. It took Dad no time at all to find fun ways to engage the boys. When I was a kid, my Dad was the guy who’d run through the woods at my grandparents’ cottage with my brother and I, toy guns in our hands and laughter bubbling out of us like crazy people. I loved getting to see an echo of that as my Dad interacted with these precious boys and their little sister. My earthly father is a blessing (to me, and to many others!) and a reflection of my Heavenly Father.


#FMSPhotoaday: Sept 3: Far Away:



This is the view from the table where my Mom and I dined while we were in New York State this summer. This is the patio at Stonecutter’s pub at Belhurst castle, on the shores of lake Seneca in the Finger Lakes region. It was a gorgeous day and Mom and I were having some great girl-time together. That was right in the middle of the summer. Now the fall has begun and this feels far away in more than the physical sense. Still, this pic is a great reminder of how good it is to take a rest, get away, and find yourself renewed.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s photo & blog!



Just about everyone is talking about the end of summer these days. I don’t know if it is because school starts next week, the sun is setting earlier or that hint of fall that’s been in the air for the last few days. Whatever it is, we’re all thinking about it. And most of us are asking the same question: Where did summer go?

It went the way of all seasons – it passed us by. I was reminded last evening that time is short and we do not know what tomorrow might bring (nothing tragic happened, the subject was raised by the NOOMA video my small groups leaders and I were discussing). The truth is that time isn’t short – time is time, a second is a second, a minute is 60 seconds no matter how you slice it. But our perception of time is relative to our emotional experience. The minutes can seem to drag on for hours when we are bored (10th grade math class, anyone?) or zip by too quickly when we are having fun (vacation!!!).

The thing is, the older I get, the more aware I am of all the minutes that seem to zip by, waaaaay too quickly. It seems that time is passing more quickly, with each year that I live. It’s starting to scare me a bit. That’s part of the reason I blog…so I will remember some of the moments that have passed me by.

What I want to remember right now is the way the dogs (my own Koski, and my parents’ Keeper) look  curled up on their mats in the livingroom, snoozing as I type this. And the way the air has been different the last few mornings as Koski and I took our walk along the Etobicoke Creek trail – tinted with coolness and the promise of fall. And the way the sun almost blinded me as I drove across the city under a perfectly clear sky to pick up a friend from the airport this evening. And the way my muscles have that deliciously exhausted feeling because of a challenging BodyPump class.

I want to remember all the things that make life good. All the tiny little blessings that God sends my way every single day. All the things I need to stop and say thank you for, even though most of the time, I don’t.

Because if I don’t remember them now, if I don’t notice them and express thankfulness for them now, I may not get the chance tomorrow.



Today I had the rare opportunity to sit in worship and listen to my Father preach. It struck me as I listened, that there was a time when I did that every Sunday. And it struck me how long ago those childhood times are.

Listening to my Dad preach is a return to my roots. It was in those childhood days of watching and listening to my Dad that I learned most of what I know about leading worship. My Dad likes to tell me I am a good preacher, but as I listened to him today, I knew that any ability I have as a preacher has its roots in listening to him.

We are each our own person when we preach, but we also share phrases and language and theology. And that is kind of a beautiful thing. I love the thought that I am myself, but I am also my father. I love the thought that his fingerprints can be seen in me.

I am blessed to have been given great roots. I grew up knowing that I was loved more than I could ever imagine by One who died for me. And that out of that love, God had granted my folks the ability to love others. And God granted me the same ability.

I am convinced that it is because of such strong roots that my life flourishes now. And today, I have been reminded of my roots and I am thankful for them.

Blessing the animals…

There is a tradition (though it is a fairly new one) at my church of doing a Blessing of the Animals service in May. The service is short, informal and held out on the lawn of the church. People bring their pets and the minister blesses them.

It’s a bit of a strange thing to do, in some peoples’ eyes, but I have to admit, I love it. For me, it is a time to preach about the idea that when we disrespect creation, we disrespect the creator. It’s a time to preach in the open air and be interrupted by sounds you don’t normally hear on a Sunday morning (chirps and barks and the like). It’s a time to gather with other animal lovers and affirm the relationship each of us have with our various pets.

Some might scoff at the idea of blessing a bunch of cats and dogs (and two very vocal birds). But I found that in doing this service, I was the one who was blessed.

This job is for the birds! (Sorry, I had to go there!) This is Dixie, who belongs to Colin and June and is one of the first birds I’ve ever held.


This is Milo, who belongs to Marlene and was ill recently. He’s recovered perfectly and was full of kisses and love.


And this is my girl, Koski. I love the look of attentiveness on her face…it was a new experience to preach with her beside me. A good one. 🙂

Precious Moments…

I had the pleasure of baptizing my “adopted” niece on Sunday. It was a precious day for me. I had baptized her two older brothers (on the same day), a couple of years ago. I was touched that my friends (her parents) wanted me to be the one to preside over this moment in her life. It meant a lot to me that I got to baptize each of the Jeffrey children, and it meant a lot to them that I was willing and able to do it.

So this past Sunday the whole lot of the Jeffrey’s drove all the way to Brampton for 1o:30am. We had a lovely time in the service (Dad and I sang “In His Time”), and afterwards everyone headed back to the Manse for a shared lunch. It was beautiful, and I was reminded how deeply blessed I am to have these friends in my life. Even though we now live in different cities – an hour apart – we continue to grow in friendship and to keep in contact with each other.

God has blessed me with really great friendships over the years and the one I share with the Jeffrey’s is especially beautiful to me because it is a friendship with the entire family. I knew Rob as a teenager, became friends with his wife, Michelle, about 4 years ago. I have been at the hospital when each of their children arrived. We have been through good and through bad together. We are better than friends, we are chosen-family.

I am blessed. And in case you don’t know how much I am blessed, here are a few pics from the baptism, to prove it to you!

Michelle and Aly in the Great Hall.


Me and Aly. Look what a proud Auntie I am! 🙂


Me, Aly and one of her older brothers, Cameron. The boys were as high as kites and not all that interested in sitting for pics.


Me and Aly, my Dad and Aly’s other older brother, Nate. You can see Cam’s leg, too…but he’d just about had enough of photos by this point.

In danger of loving them…

I had lunch with a colleague today. He and I went through a very difficult phase in our (separate) ministries in previous churches, during the same period of time. We are both marked by the difficulties we faced and the wounds we incurred.

What is amazing is that we are both in much happier phases of ministry now. God is healing our wounds and showing us what we learned through those difficult times. As we talked, my colleague, who is notably stoic and unemotional, said to me “I’m in danger of loving these people.” Now for your average Joe, that might not sound like a grand declaration. But for this particular colleague of mine, it is pretty close to gushing about the congregation he now serves.

I remember keeping this promise of God in my mind during the long months of that difficult phase:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

I would tell myself this over and over again. Sometimes I would look in the mirror and say “Rebekah, you know you serve a God who loves you more than you deserve. He has promised you a better day. It is coming. You have to get through this time to get to that time.”

Today as I sat outside with my friend enjoying some good food and good conversation, I realized that the better day is HERE and NOW. Despite whatever bumps in the road come (and trust me, they come all the time), I love the people that make up the congregation where I serve. And there is nothing like love to make a situation good.

The road is long…

Sometimes, life is weary-ing. My tough week began with a fender-bender on Thursday night, and has continued with some serious health concerns for a family member and some difficult issues at the church.

I am tired and suffering from a head-cold. It’s not the worst cold I’ve had in recent memory, and I’m quite sure it will be gone fairly quickly, but it’s one more brick added to a heavy load.

The lyrics of one of my favourite Neil Diamond songs is going through my head tonite:

The road is long, with many a-winding turn,
That leads to who knows where, who knows when
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
(Neil Diamond, “He Ain’t Heavy”)

I was thinking about faith and fitness. Due to busy-ness and then illness, I haven’t worked out for the last 3 days. No walking, no WOD, no nothin’. This makes me antsy. I feel nervous. I somehow still have a fear that all of the weight that I’ve lost in the past year is going to suddenly reappear on my body just because I haven’t gone for a walk or done some situps for a few days. It’s irrational, but it’s what I fear. I think that I fear that because I am so aware that fitness is a never-ending-road. This isn’t a project that ends when I hit my goal weight. It isn’t something that has a finish line at all (or at least, the finish line is death, which I hope is so far off as to be almost unworthy of time spent thinking about it). So every new day, every new week, is a new challenge. To do the work that my body requires to reach and maintain physical fitness.

The same thing is true about my faith. I don’t have a list of the tenets of Jesus or the the commandments, or anything else that I am checking off daily, hoping to reach the finish line. Instead, each moment, each situation, each conversation is a new challenge, a new opportunity to try to live like Jesus would.

For some, this might be discouraging. You might think “I’m never really going to GET there, so why try?” You might think you’re not strong enough to continue to travel this long road with it’s winding turns. But I see it in a more positive way. I am always going to have another chance to try, another workout to do, or another opportunity to show Christ’s love. This is a gift, this is a beautiful thing. And the strength I have doesn’t come from me, but from Jesus. I have an endless, boundless store of His strength to rely upon as I face the next leg of the journey.

It is true that sometimes it is wearying, but I think that only means it’s time to take rest, and then get up and face a new day with new challenges and opportunities.

Healing Power

At the end of each cycle of our Alpha-and-other-courses on Wednesday nights, we have a healing service. It is the strangest thing – it is just a simple little service. My order of service was hand written with the call to worship written in tiny, probably-only-legible-by-me writing at the top of a sheet of paper that had been torn in half. It’s not slick and professional and produced. In many ways it has less planning and effort put into it than any Sunday service.

And yet it is the most powerful thing. I am always amazed at how exhausted I am afterwards and I can only chalk it up to the fact that I have been in the presence of the risen Lord and He has been at work.

I am astounded at the people who come to this service. I love that some of them walk up to me and say “you know what I need prayer about, Rebekah” and others tell me their story for the first time. I love the honesty of the prayer requests. You know – there is just something great about someone saying plainly what their pain is. It is actually kind of cool when someone says – for example – I’ve been constipated and its very painful. There is no artfulness about that, it’s just honest. And that makes it beautiful.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In James we read: ” The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16b, NLT)

Sometimes I am just amazed at the how much honor there is in my vocation. I am honored to have been part of this service, once again.


Inner Circle…

Tonite was the second Weight Watchers Party with some of my colleagues who are also trying to lose weight. We get together once a month and every body brings somethings WW friendly. Then we have a meal and talk about where we are at – in our ministry, with our WW journey, with life in general.

Tonite we had some good old-fashioned (or maybe new-fashioned?) girl-talk. And it was awesome. There are some people you just know you can trust with the honest truth about all things. And these girls are some of those people for me.

I am struck by the idea of how important it is to have an inner circle. Some folks with whom you can just be 100% you. I am blessed to include a number of folks in my inner circle. Some of them interact with each other, some of them have never met and the only thing they have in common is that they know me. Either way, it is good to know there are those who I can turn to when I just need to talk.

Jesus had an inner circle, too. They were less than perfect. They sometimes completely missed the point about where his life was leading. They abandoned him at his most painful hour. And yet he trusted them. And through them, the message spread. Through them the world came to know about the resurrection and the new life available through Christ.

I was reminded today that they were just “12 ordinary men,” but the face of history was changed by them. And in that I find a great sense of hope. Jesus doesn’t need perfect people. He doesn’t need people who’ve got it all together or who get it right all the time. He needs people who care and people who want to share what they’ve found with others.

He can do the rest.

Deep breath….

It is Holy Week. For my minister friends and I this is our second-most-busy time of the year. Christmas being the first. The funny thing is that tonite I had nothing on. Not a single meeting or practice or anything to be done for the church. I am spending tonite taking a deep breath, because the rest of the week there won’t be time to breathe.

That is the way church goes – it’s kind of feast or famine. You’re either insanely busy, or things are kind of quiet and easy. At a big church like the one where I serve, it tends to be more insanely busy than quiet most of the time.

This week we will: have our regular Wednesday night (community dinner, and classes), have a Christian Seder on Thursday night (followed by choir practice, of course), have a Good Friday service (I am very much looking forward to it!) and then have 2 services on Easter Sunday morning (one of which I am preaching). Also, on the Saturday night (not without some controversy) we will have our Mystery Dinner wrap-up party.

In all of this, Jesus will be present (yes, I believe he will be there even at the Mystery Dinner party). And my deep hope is that all who gather will notice him and draw near to him. That in the services, the songs we sing, the prayers we pray and the meals we share, we will find Jesus. We will be touched again by his life and death and resurrection.

It will be a full week. And a good one, I expect. But I am blessed to begin this week by a quietly contemplative evening at home.