Clothed with Joy   Leave a comment

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You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
(Psalms 30:11,12)

Posted August 3, 2015 by Charis Psallo in Photography

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All Along   6 comments

ruby slipper 2


This is a photo taken by my three-year old granddaughter. I think it’s rather good. Her subject is something important to her: her dancing feet and her ruby slippers.

We watched part of The Wizard of Oz together. In the story the sparkly red shoes the girl was given had the power to take her home but she had not realized it. My granddaughter was enamoured with Dorothy’s shoes because they looked just like a pair I bought her for Christmas. No whining and crying in the store asking for the latest movie merchandise. She already had them. She had been dancing in them all along.

Yesterday I read something Jesus said about the generous father’s heart in the story of the prodigal son.  He went out to his oldest son, the one who was upset that Dad threw a party and gave honour to his self-centered, self-indulgent, immature younger brother. The Father appealed to him to be gracious to his brother when he complained that he had never had a party. “Don’t you know that everything I have is yours already?”

I also read something Jesus said about his cousin, John the Baptist, the guy who had set the entire country on it’s ear.

“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)

As those who have who hold the Bible in high regard do we take him seriously? I have skipped over that verse so many times because it seemed too good to be true. But Jesus appealed to us to believe him. Truly I say…

Sometimes we fail to notice that the ruby slippers, and the power they have, are right there on our feet already. We can travel for miles looking for someone to rescue us without realizing that if we have been adopted into God’s family we have access to everything He has for us already.

We can feel thoroughly put out when we see those who have not worked nearly as hard or shown even a fraction of the self-control we have exerted receive visible signs of God’s grace and favour. Like the resentful older brother and the frightened Dorothy we have not yet begun to imagine everything we need has already been provided.

Do you know who you are?

Truly. Do you have any idea?


Just Give Me a Moment   1 comment

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I remember those wonderful summer days at the lake. Around about five o’clock families would pick up their toys and towels and wander off to prepare supper. If I was lucky I could stay there while the others slap-slapped their way up the trail to the camper in their flip-flop sandals. Sometimes in that transitional space between hours I had the dock to myself.

I trailed my hand in the cool water, smelling the scent of damp wood against my cheek and felt the gritty sand drying on my legs as I lay on my stomach on the gently rocking wooden island. A lull stretched beyond the distant sounds of swings clanging in the park and canoes scraping the pebbles on the shore. Smoke from barbecues leaked out from between tree branches and drifted heavenward like summer worship.

I had no profound thoughts, no plans, no particular emotion. The dock was like an island in time.

That’s kind of how I feel this week. After the drama and trauma of the deaths and funerals of both my Dad and my brother-in-law in less than two months I am tired, but not overwhelmed. I believe both of them are with the Lord. But I don’t have the energy to either celebrate or cry right now.

It feels like Jesus is just sitting quietly here with me like a close friend, making no demands, requiring no soothing of his own emotions, making no particular suggestions about what I should do next. I’m tired, but I’m OK. We’re OK.

In a while Mom will call me to put on some dry clothes and help set the table. There will probably be some game involving a ball or frisbee that the boys want me to join in on later. Dad will lay down his novel and get up from his lawn chair to chop wood for the fire we will sit around when the crickets sing in the darkness. Tomorrow we pack up and drive back to the city and get back to work.

But for now, on this little square island, there is only the sound of the waves lapping the planks, and the gentle sun pressing its comfort into my stretched out body, and I am at peace.

s wimming dock mayook autumn ch pond

Green   2 comments

Yahk valley green ch IMG_4504 “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” – William Blake

Open   4 comments

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There is a difference between shyness and quietness. Shyness is based on fear. Quietness is based on peace.

A person at peace can be open to others without being driven by either the need for attention or the need to hide imperfections. They are neither wrapped up in themselves nor demanding the spotlight.

A person at peace knows who they are and that they are loved perfectly by the One who created them.

A person at peace can afford to open themselves up to others and quietly share the Father’s love because there is plenty more where that came from.

The Father’s love demonstrated by Jesus the Messiah is the only love that satisfies the cravings of the soul.

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  – Jesus of Nazareth

Posted July 25, 2015 by Charis Psallo in Flowers

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Courageous Virtue   4 comments

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Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

— C.S. Lewis

We lost our innocence that day on the Sherwood Park freeway. We didn’t know about tornadoes. Of course we had seen pictures and news reports, but we had never experienced a wind that moved oil tanks or leveled factories or wrapped cars around steel lamp standards or sucked people out of their vehicles. On that July day in 1987 we came up from under the overpass on the freeway out of Edmonton with our three little kids in the backseat of the car moments after the tornado passed and saw the devastation. The tornado was moving on to a residential area where other people, like us, were expecting only a thunder-storm. Many of them died.

There are still arguments going on about whether it was an F4 or F5. Tornadoes are so rare this far north that we had no warning system. All I know is that like the neighbourhood where I used to live, my sense of stability was tossed in the air and dumped in a field of debris somewhere. It could happen here. For years my eyes watched the clouds on hot summer days when we visited family on the prairies. They still do.

As we were driving from Edmonton to Calgary on Tuesday we were caught in a rainstorm so heavy we had to pull over on the shoulder of the highway until it lightened up. A few miles down the road I saw this cloud. Since I was driving I asked my husband to get a photo out the window on my phone. As much as I love cloudscapes I knew it wasn’t wise to stop. It was wiser to pray and keep moving. Two of our adult kids and their families were also somewhere on the road oblivious to what a cloud like this might bring. I watched the cloud slowly break up and breathed a sigh of relief when they all showed up at our destination.

The next day our daughter and daughter-in-law and five of our grandchildren were in a van driving into the city when signs beside the highway flashed a tornado warning. They saw the ominous clouds and the beginning of a funnel cloud and decided to turn back. Apparently the tornado did touch down briefly before dissipating. It was a minor event, but I am glad for a warning system we never had in 1987.

We grew up with parents who lost their innocence when they experienced war and famine and economic disaster and epidemics of diphtheria and polio that killed and maimed. Many of us do not understand the courage it takes for some people to go on with their lives after trauma without constantly scanning the skies for signs of impending doom. Some of the people from our parent’s generation learned to walk in freedom from fear or expectation of the same thing happening; some did not. They lived courage-less lives hunkered down in sad negativity, protecting themselves from disappointment.

Some learned to be watchmen and put up early warning systems by giving good advice: avoid debt, don’t fall for nationalistic political rhetoric or give a leader too much power, research preventative medical practices and take advantage of things like vaccinations, practise water conservation methods, plan ahead for natural disasters, expose and deal with crime and poverty and corruption in high places.

There are watchmen with prophetic gifts who, like weathermen, can automate warnings, “Turn back. This way danger may lie.” It would be unfair of them not to give warnings if they see that hazards may lie ahead like weather conditions that could produce a tornado. But — warnings need to be for the purpose of freeing people and en-couraging the virtues to flourish, and not be hampered by fear or overcome with a sense of dis-couraging condemnation.

The warning my daughter and daughter-in-law saw prompted them to go in another direction, check the situation, and take the children swimming at a pool in a town outside the danger zone. They had a marvelous time laughing and splashing and enjoying being together.

I am grateful for warnings, but even more for re-directions that instill courage to live fully.

Leave no unguarded place,
No weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace,
And fortify the whole.
(from Soldiers of Christ Arise by Charles Wesley)

Crossing the River   6 comments

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Tough day. My husband’s younger brother succumbed to lung disease yesterday. The news was so hopeful a little while ago, but he suddenly went downhill. The doctors said they found previously undetected small cell lung cancer that left him too weak to fight an acute illness. His family and friends surrounded him and wept as his heartbeat faded.

I am thankful for our 11-year old grandson who reminded us that even in this there is hope.

Today we try to work on funeral plans with his wife. We can’t speak Spanish and she can’t speak English. Bob was always the translator.

Today we try to comfort his mother, who seems even more frail with the shock and we live in a conversation on replay.

Today we try to gather up legal loose ends and financial unknowns. We step on each others toes in our efforts to step in to the empty spaces.

Today we wince as individual ways of handling grief clang against each other.

Today we can still be glad, as our grandson pointed out, that we have a close family that cares. They immediately gathered from across the country when they heard the news.

Today we can be glad, as our grandson pointed out, that we know Jesus, and that Uncle Bob knew about his grace.

“You know, when you think about it, this is really a happy day for Uncle Bob,” our grandson said in the ICU waiting room. “Today is the day when he will see how wonderful heaven is and get to be with Jesus.”

There is hope.


And then one day, I’ll cross that river.

I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.

And then as death gives way to victory,

I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives.

(from Because He Lives by Bill and Gloria Gaither)


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