Category Archives: Religion

Kindness Therapy

When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick- Matthew 14:14

We were sharing stories about our mother with the pastor who would speak at her funeral.  My brother recalled a time of brokenness in his life. He said that after he’d poured out his sorrows to Mom she said gently, “I wonder if you are doing enough to help other people.”

the dance of salome by gozzoli wiki commons

This painting by Benozzo Gozzoli in 1461 illustrates the scene in the first part of Matthew 14. Salome dances. To her left is the executioner. John the Baptist’s head is presented on a platter to Salome’s mother who is in the red dress sitting near the back of the room.

The story of John’s gruesome death in the first part of Matthew 14 has few if any redeeming elements.  A brave prophet is beheaded. A young girl Salome is objectified before men. Herod goes against his conscience to save his reputation and his vengeful wife acts on a grudge against John whose advice has struck a little too close to home. 


Miracle of the Bread and Fish by Giovanni Lanfranco -1620-1623

To learn something from this tragic story we need to keep reading and see how Jesus responded to news of his beloved friend John’s horrific death.  Jesus goes out in a boat alone to grieve but crowds follow him. When his boat reaches the shore there they are.  Jesus begins to heal people and when he finds out they are hungry he performs a miracle so they have food.  In his time of brokenness Jesus does exactly what my Mom advised my brother to do, “help other people.”

mom's picture at grace

A plaque at Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach pays tribute to the work my mother did to support young children and their families

My Mom dealt with serious health issues for over thirty years. Yet the stories of people she served and supported with her love and care during that time could fill a book.  When we face times of brokenness in our lives it may be that the best and most crucial question to ask is…. “What can I do to help other people?

Other posts……….

Dorothy’s Room

Dorothy Garden

An Artist’s Date for My Mom


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You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  Deuteronomy 10:19

gp gm wedding

My grandparents Diedrich and Margareta Peters on their wedding day shortly after they came to Canada as refugees in the 1920s

In the 1920s my father’s parents arrived in Canada from Ukraine. They were frail after surviving a famine and penniless after losing everything to marauding bandits. They couldn’t speak English. Canadians took these strangers in. They received transportation loans.  People found jobs and homes for them.

Recently my husband and I took my father to a party hosted by the son of a family my parents sponsored to come to Canada from Cambodia in 1985.  Everyone in the family calls my father “Grandpa”.  The family has grown, its members have prospered and have become valuable contributing citizens of Canada in many different areas. They still include my widowed father in their social gatherings because they have not forgotten the help my Mom and Dad gave them when they were strangers in a new country. 

A couple from Rawanda that Dave and I helped sponsor to come to Canada

Like my father, many of my grandparents’ children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have been very active in supporting refugees. I think we are all motivated at least in part, by the thought of what would have happened to our grandparents if they hadn’t received assistance when they were strangers in a new country. Helping refugees is part of our family’s legacy. 

Some fifty Scripture passages reference the need for a generous attitude to strangers. In Deuteronomy 10:19 God reminds the children of Israel to show kindness to strangers because they were once strangers themselves in Egypt. In Matthew 25:38 Jesus says that when we welcome strangers we are really welcoming him. Romans 12:13 lists hospitality to strangers as an attribute of the faithful.

According to United Nations data there are more than 65 million refugees in the world today. There is no lack of opportunity for us to act on the Biblical imperative to love the stranger.

Other posts…………

Standing Up For Children

Supporting Refugees Before It was Trendy

Thoughts on Refugees


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Family Feud

Have you heard of Michal?  Michal was married to King David and in the Biblical book of  2 Samuel we read about a rather nasty fight they had.  


The Ark of the Covenant transported to Jerusalem, preceded by David dancing and playing the harp by Marc Chagall- 1956

David has been instrumental in returning the Ark of the Covenant to its rightful place in Jerusalem. He expresses his religious excitement with an exuberant dance and shares his joy by distributing bread to everyone.  What a generous spiritual man! 

michal watching David from the window by James Tissot- 1898

Michal Watching David From the Window by James Tissot -1898

Or so we’d think if we weren’t introduced to Michal who despises her husband and after watching him celebrating tells David his dancing is vulgar and shameful. David snaps a hurtful retort back at Michal. Their vicious spat can perhaps be explained by their dramatic marriage history.


Michal Helps David Escape From Her Father by Gustave Dore- 1865

Michal’s father King Saul gave her to David as a reward for killing Goliath. Later Saul tries to kill David and Michal saves David’s life.

Illustration from the Morgan BIble of Michal being taken away from Palti

David goes into hiding and Saul gives Michal to another man named Palti. He and Michal have such a good relationship that when David defeats Saul and insists on taking Michal back, her second husband is heart broken. Michal’s subsequent life in David’s harem is lonely and unhappy.  

David was a great leader but many of his family relationships, like the one with Michal, are marked by bitterness, betrayal and anger.

Family relationships can be tricky and tough. Sometimes peace and forgiveness is almost impossible. But knowing our behaviors and choices have created pain for our families can taint our other accomplishments and diminish our happiness. Nelson Mandela once said his greatest regret was that his personal life was so unstable and that the political choices he made caused great pain for his family. 

Michal and David’s hostile interaction in this 2 Samuel text is a good reminder that doing our best to heal brokenness in our families is  important. 

Other posts……..

King David Was a Rapist

Introducing Kids to Abigail

A Mother For King David.  Who Knew?

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Meditation For Kids

Many different news sources have reported that one reason the twelve members of the boys’ soccer team trapped in a cave in northern Thailand survived was because their coach, a former Buddhist monk, kept them calm by leading them in meditation exercises. Leah Weiss, a Standford expert taught by the Dalai Lama, said meditating played a key role in keeping the group alive. It improved the boy’s focus and compassion for one another. Apparently when the first British divers found the boys they were not screaming or crying but sitting calmly in the dark meditating. The oxygen supply in the cave was very small but meditation will have slowed the boys breathing and respiration and oxygen intake so they could survive despite the low oxygen levels. 

I have noticed on my visits to classrooms as a university faculty advisor that lots of teachers are using meditation exercises with their students to bring them back to a calm place, to get them to focus before beginning an assignment and to foster empathy with their classmates.  Teachers are using a whole variety of techniques involving music and breathing, assuming various body poses and looking at calming visual images. 

Children learning these techniques from caring teachers and mentors are being given a valuable and perhaps even life saving gift. 

Other posts……

Common Threads- Buddhism

The Temple of Dawn in Bangkok

Thai Traditions to End and Start a Year



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Connecting with Rejoice

rejoiceThis week a series of reflections I wrote are featured in Rejoice a publication of Menno Media.  The first one was scheduled to be read yesterday, July 9.  I was surprised when I woke up in to find a note on Facebook Messenger from a former college classmate. He had read my words that morning, found them interesting, and was sure he remembered me.  He wondered what years I had attended college in Winnipeg and if they coincided with his attendance.  Turns out they did! Both my husband and I remembered the man who now lives in Indiana. 

rejoice 2018I really enjoy writing for Rejoice.  I’ve done it for some twenty years now. There are lots of reasons it’s been a good experience for me, but my favorite part is still connecting, or as in this case reconnecting, with people who are my readers and hearing their ideas and opinions. It is especially affirming to discover that what I’ve written resonates with my audience.  That’s the goal whenever we write something for public consumption and its gratifying when that goal is realized. 

You can download or buy the Summer 2018 edition of Rejoice here. 

Other posts……

This Week in Rejoice

Eighteen Years of Rejoice




Filed under Religion, Writing

Have You Heard of Them?

This past week I have been preparing for a speaking engagement in the fall which will focus on women in the Bible. These are women who many people may have never heard of.  Women like………free-bible-images-jehosheba1.png

Jehosheba who was a sister to King Ahaziah of Israel.  When her brother died their mother Athaliah ordered all her grandsons to be executed so she could claim the throne for herself. Jehosheba spirited one of her nephews, one year old Jehoash away and saved his life. She hid him in the temple for six years. 


Huldah who was a prophetess and helped raise King Josiah of Israel.  When he was reigning as king he ordered a temple restoration during which an old Torah scroll was found.  It was the prophetess Huldah Josiah consulted on what the words in the scroll meant for him and his people.  He respected Huldah’s advice and insight. It inspired him to begin a spiritual renewal amongst his people. 

daughters of zelophead

The Daughters of Zelophead were five sisters who were about to lose their father’s inheritance because they had no brothers.  They had the courage to approach Moses to ask him to change a law that didn’t allow women to inherit their father’s property.  Moses changed the law because of their request and that decision made a difference for many other women who also found themselves in the same position as the Daughters of Zelophead. 

Golden_Haggadah_Pharaoh_and_the_Midwives public domain

Pharoah and the Midwives from the Golden Haggadah- Catalonia- early 14th century

Shiprah and Puah acted as midwives for the women of Israel who were slaves in Egpyt. The Pharoah told them they must kill all male babies they helped deliver. Shiprah and Puah did not obey him and when Pharoah confronted them about it they lied to him.  Together the two midwives saved many children’s lives. 

I am really looking forward to learning more about other women in the Bible whose stories were rarely heard in the past. 

Other posts……….

A Woman I Wish I Knew More About

Introducing Kids to Abigail

A Pregnant Mary and A Mary With Knives in Her Heart



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Going on a Field Trip

lunch timeI went on a field trip last week with a group of women from my church. We all volunteer at the Selkirk MCC Thrift Store together.  Marj is our leader.   Her weekly news reports via e-mail keep us in touch with each other. That way even if we miss a week of volunteering we still know what’s going on with the others in our group.  In one of her newsletters Marj proposed a field trip.  We all agreed it was a great idea. So last Wednesday we headed off on our little adventure. 

morrisFirst stop of course was another Thrift Shop.  This one in Morris.  manager morrisA staff member who originally hailed from Newfoundland gladly took us ‘behind the scenes’ to get a better idea of how the place worked.  morris tourWe checked out their slick price marking system. storage system morrisAnd took note of how they organized things that came in as donations. bargain hunterWe poked around the aisles looking for bargains and….fur coat even tried on a mink stole that was for sale.  jasmine tea roomThen it was time to head for the Jasmine Tea Room in Altona.  We were in two different vehicles and each car took a bit of a detour through the town, since both drivers had Altona roots and wanted to show us sites that had been important to them when they had lived in Altona. lunch altonaOur lunch at the Jasmine Tea Room was delicious and since we finished eating a little early……altona gallery park we headed off to Altona’s  Gallery in the Park to wander among the sculptures there

mcc store altona

Next we dropped in at the Altona Thrift Shop.  It is of historical significance because it was the first MCC Thrift Shop in North America and was founded by four energetic and philanthropic women from Altona.

mcc thrift shop founder

Altona residents Selma Loewen, Sara Stoesz, Susan Giesbrecht, and Linie Friesen started the first Thrift Shop in 1972  to raise funds for MCC’s work  in developing countries. 

 altona thrift storeThe store staff was ever so nice to us and gave us a tour of their facilities. quilts altonaWe marveled at the beautiful quilt room where material is saved and cut and sewn and stitched by many groups of volunteers. Then the quilts are displayed and sold.hildebrand home neubergthalOn the way home we made a stop in Neubergthal, a Canadian historic site where homes and other buildings, are maintained as they might have been in a traditional Mennonite village.  Here we pose on the driveway of a home that belongs to fellow members at Bethel Mennonite Church. 

After our Neubergthal stop we headed back to Winnipeg and said good-bye, but not for long since we will meet again next week on the second storey of the Selkirk Thrift Shop where once again we will be unpacking, organizing, cleaning, and pricing donated items. Of course we will also be chatting about our memorable field trip. 

Other posts…….

I’m A Shop Girl

The T-4’s Go Mennonite In Neubergthal


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