Monday, January 28, 2013


by Alice Valdal

One never knows where Bible Study discussions will lead.  Last week, they led us to a field of dandilions. 
   We were discussing the passage in John 12:24 where Jesus speaks of His coming death and likens it to a grain of wheat that must die in order to produce much fruit.
     In our modern world we tend to think of wheat as growing in straight rows on vast prairie farms, dusted, fertilized and weeded while it awaits the combine.  Wheat is a specialized business.
      But the dandelion is ubiquitous.  It grows through the cracks in the sidewalk, under concrete foundations, in flowerbeds and ditches and on your lawn.  It associates freely with all sorts, happy to flourish alongside raspberries and roses,  carrots and cucumbers.   It is a generous plant,  thriving in clay or loam or sand or rock.  It can survive drought and flood and the gardener's hoe and when its bajillion seeds are blown to the wind it will seed and flourish without regard to property lines, cultural lines or city bylaws.
       As a symbol for evangelism the dandilion seems a wonderful choice.  The Bible Study group thought of getting t-shirts covered in dandilion clocks with the slogan, "I'm a dandilion for Christ."
        I doubt we'll convert the urban lawn afficionado into a lover of dandilions, but the next time you see that sunny weed growing happily and tenaciously in inhospitable environments, let it remind you of the power and tenacity of the gospel.  Remember that the words you speak for Christ, are like those dandilion seeds, they may take root in the most unexpected places but they will take root.
      By the way, the Bible Study group is not an exclusive club.  Everyone is welcome to come along on Wednesday mornings at 9:30.   You'll find fellowship and coffee, lots of laughter and perhaps some new insights.  You don't have to have a dandilion t-shirt.

Monday, January 21, 2013


   A few days ago, the sun broke through the fog and transformed my day.  Christmas linens which had languished in the laundry basket went into the washing machine and were soon flapping gaily on the line, their colours aglow with light.
    The cat left her hidey-hole under the bed to loll in a patch of sunlight, arching her belly to the welcome warmth.
     A chickadee perched on the porch rail, pausing from her foraging, to bask for a moment in the unaccustomed heat.
     A sullen ditch became a sparkling stream.
     And hidden in a forgotten patch of garden, a blue blush revealed last summer's lobelia raising its tiny flowers to the light.
     If the sun can unleash such transformation of beauty and joy and comfort on an ordinary day, just think what the Son can do in our lives. 

 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Monday, January 14, 2013


by Alice Valdal   

When I was a child our church did not have a mission statement.  Everyone knew that the church's job was to preach the gospel, keep kids on the straight and narrow and send care packages to poor people.  The "great commission" was the only vision statement needed.
    Somewhere along the line things changed.  For years now I've seen churches wrestling to come up with a one or two line statement that summarizes all their aspirations, values and beliefs.  It has mostly been an impossible job.  "We are a welcoming community of Christ," may work well on a letterhead but does it mean anything in the budget? 
    Some are catchy  "Christian, in our beliefs. . . Methodist, in our approach . . . Episcopal, in our organization."    
     Some committees have struggled and come up with real mind benders. "To see the church established within each people group of the world and equipped so that it can effectively reach the rest of its people group with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    So, while I've seen a lot of angst over a mission statement, I've not seen that statement have much of an impact on the congregation's practices.
   Therefore, when I came across a commercial enterprise's mission statement, I was prepared to be untouched, if not cynical.  Yet, when I turned over the card, and found this list of values I was impressed.

1. We empower our team.
2. We forgive honest mistakes.
3. We support training, education and personal
4.We support our community through sustainable
5. We interact as a team with integrity and respect.
6. We provide a positive, fun and caring
7. We provide warm and sincere service.
8. We encourage open and honest communication.
9. We create an environment that embraces the
     opportunity for change.
10. We recognize and celebrate our achievements.

Of course, this is a purely secular statement from an enterprise whose main mission is to turn a profit.  Still, it's not a bad place to start when we look at making decisions in our own lives or in the life of our congregation.  After all, it is our values, not our slogans, that show the world who we are.

Monday, January 7, 2013


My Life After a Serious Brain Injury;
February 4, 1999
by Carla Vanderspek

As I went out the door, my husband yelled, 'see you Carla.  Have a really good day!"  He was doing paperwork for his construction company.  The radio was on in the background.  An accident is reported on Glenmore Trail.  A while later the phone rings.  It was Mary, one of my four employees at Mount Royal College.  I had not arrived yet.  He realizes the accident he just heard about was me!!  He then rushes off to see.

I wrote a story in the hope and prayer that other people, learning about my near fatal brain injury in early 1999 and the various challenges I have faced since then, will gain some inspiration and strength for the challenges they encounter.

Sometimes, my story is one of sadness and frustration.  But it is also a story of joy and humour.  And most often, it's a story of love.  The love God had for me, and I for Him, and the love that my dear family and friends have for me and I for them.

Without the love of God, I would never have survived the horrific car accident that so dramatically changed my life in early 1999.  And without the love of God, family and friends, I would never have overcome my brain injury to the extent that I have.

Within hours after the accident, the doctors predicted I would be a mental vegetable.  I was rated as only a number 3 on the Glasgow coma scale that measures brain injury severity.  Thirteen to fifteen is considered mild, nine to twelve is considered moderate, and eight or less is severe.

Despite such grim prognosis, I slowly regained consciousness after two weeks, and then recovered my memory and mobility to the best it can be.  Today, 13 years after, I have some disabilities, but I am certainly not the mental vegetable they said I was going to be!  That is thanks to the power of prayer and having God as the leader in my life.  If you would like, I can talk to you more about it all.

Ed. Note:  I asked Carla to write her story for this blog because I've been struck by her faithful witness over the time I have known her.  What surprises me most, is that complete strangers will stop her in the store and ask "What's wrong with you?"  I'd be tempted to return a rude answer to such a rude question, but Carla takes those opportunities to witness for God.  From this terrible event in her life, she has found an avenue to tell others about her faith and about God's love and about prayer and about her walk with Jesus.   Thank you, Carla, for sharing.