Sunday, July 26, 2009

ESCAPE FROM ROMANIA--Guest Blogger, Cornelia Schellenberg

One Sunday morning a few years ago, I sat in the church nursery and talked to a beautiful young woman in her twenties. While I watched some of the toddlers of people who were attending the service, Christina sat in the other rocking chair and cuddled her baby boy. The worship music and then the preaching began to fade to silence in the background as I listened in shock to the story of Christina's family. She told me how she, her parents and sister escaped from the harsh regime of a dictator when she was a child. Sitting in the safety of my church nursery with the smell of baby lotion and arrowroot cookies scenting the air, there was no fear for us, that someone would come pounding on our doors. No soldiers would appear at any minute to stop us from worshipping God. But I was awakened to the fact that persecution is a terrible reality for so many Christians around the world. In Christina's young life she had seen it first hand. The following is her family's story written by her mother, Cornelia. I hope and pray it gives you courage for whatever your situation is.

ESCAPE FROM ROMANIA--by Cornelia Schellenberg

My name is Cornelia Schellenberg. I was born in Romania and grew up in a Christian family, born again since the age of 19. I came to Canada 19 years ago with my ex-husband and our two daughters. Personally, I never wanted to leave my country. I was happy there, even though it was under a communist regime, with a lifestyle of oppression. As Christians, we weren’t allowed to talk about God.

Romania has always been a country blessed with beautiful mountains and hot springs, mineral water, gas, petroleum, and mines. It’s also a tourist country. But due to many years of communism and dictatorship, Romania started to suffer economically in a big way. Also, human rights were affected and hope for many was destroyed. That’s the reason many Romanians, along with my husband, decided to leave.

So you could only imagine the tremendous decision I needed to support, while risking my life and my daughters’, as well as leaving my home church, family, and friends behind. Therefore, against my will, in September 1989, my family and I tried to flee Romania. Our daughters were 4 and 7. In order to have our escape as discreet as possible, we needed to leave in the night and wear dark clothing. We had to instruct our girls to not speak nor ask questions for us to be very quiet because we were on foot the entire night. Due to a long and difficult journey, we only took the necessities, such as some food and change of clothing. As the night progressed, our bodies became very exhausted, taking a few stops along the way, looking each and every direction, observing anyone watching us. As soon as we set foot again, we noticed a herd of cattle chasing us. We all became very frightened and fearful of our lives. I remember crying out to God to drive the cattle away and soon after my cry was heard.

Prior to arriving at the Yugoslavian border, we had to cross a very cold and deep river. My husband and oldest daughter went first and before it was my turn to go, I heard a loud warning voice that said, “Stop, or I will shoot you” as the two soldiers pointed their guns at us. My husband on the other side told me to continue crossing, but I froze at the soldier’s threat. This was the first time in my life that I faced death head on. My daughters cried with fear. I prayed like never before that our lives would be spared. My husband on the other hand tried to bargain with them, offering some money and gold, in order to let us go, but his attempt failed.

We needed to go to several police stations as we were interrogated for two days. They locked us in a very small and dark cell for several hours. In the meantime, we ran out of food and the girls became hungry and tired. Thankfully, they allowed my daughters and I to go home but kept my husband for 4 more days.

During this time, I began to physically suffer the consequences from our journey, through sickness and temporary paralysis. But I can still recall through all my prayers that God was with me in the painful trials, thereby healing me. In the meantime, my husband came home and reassured me to not worry and that in a month we will try again.

I looked at him and said, “You must be insane!”

He convinced me to go again and this time two young men came along, for they wanted to escape as well. Fear came upon me once more as I thought back to what I have been through and what was more to come. In this moment, my continued strong faith in God gave me hope that we are in His hands and He will lead the way, and His word was true, because we succeeded.

Finally, after a long and tiring night of walking into open fields, we arrived in Yugoslavia where we met many other Romanians. After two months, December 1989, a large revolution started in Romania where thousands died for freedom and liberty. We heard the news on TV and we prayed that God’s will be done in our country. Several days after, communism fell, and therefore, President Nicolae Ceausescu together with his wife were shot on December 25, 1989. Since then, Romania became a free country.

So, we stayed 9 months in a refugee camp in Yugoslavia, where the Canadian Government sponsored us. Thereafter, we came to Kitchener, Ontario, staying two years. My husband’s occupation as a tourist bus driver, found greater opportunities in British Columbia and we decided to move here. But it was in this time that true and real disaster hit our home because my husband continued to be abusive to our daughters and I, and finally our marriage ended in divorce.

This time was the hardest and darkest period in my life, where I felt alone, raising two girls on my own, learning a new language and how to drive, being jobless, having limited family and friends; basically, having lost all moral support and connection. At one moment I sensed that even God left me, not understanding the reason for all these trials. I had the feeling that God was punishing me. So I called out again to Him, “You knew it wasn’t my intention to come to Canada and you knew my family would separate, so why would you allow me to go through all this hurt, allowing me to be alone and helpless?”

For awhile, I didn’t understand God and His purpose. I wanted answers, but didn’t find any. Until one day, God gave me overwhelming peace, stating, “I am with you always and my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). It was in this waiting response that my soul was at rest in all of the brokenness I experienced and was made complete.

I have always found much meaning and purpose to the serenity prayer. For that reason I will share it with you, that it may carry and lift you from any dark pit because only the one True God can do that:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The following is my grandmother’s story of her faith in Christ. She wrote it out and copied it for her children and grandchildren not long before her death. I have changed a word here and there, or repeated a refrain of her heart for clarification only. Her 15 grandkids called her Nanny, and we all adored her, as well as her own 5 children. She was a special lady; she listened to you no matter how young you were, she was so easy to talk to, stimulating you to higher thought. She never had any formal education like her brother and sister, which was a shame, because she had such a quick, intelligent mind. Her secret desire was to be a doctor. After my mother and father’s immigration from Ireland to Canada I only knew Nanny through letters and a few visits. It broke my young heart to be so far from her, but I know that my propensity toward writing began through the letters between my grandmother and I. It was in those letters that I learned how to share my heart and soul on paper, and so did she.

Nanny's letter, dated September 1983: By Bella Roberts

I never at any time publically stood and gave my testimony of how the Lord saved me, so now I have decided to put it into writing.

Fom a very early age I knew that except a person ‘be born again’ they cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But it was at the age of 16 years old, at a week-long Gospel mission near my home that I attended every night, even attending the children’s meeting before the regular service began, that this became real for me. At the end of that mission week, I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart, and from that time on, I thought . . . that was it.

The years passed; I got married, had 5 children and we all attended the Church of Ireland on a regular basis. My husband and I sent the children to Sunday School. They were all christened and confirmed, just as my husband and I had been. Time went on and then in 1956 I became ill and started to see the doctor for several months.

In January 1957 I was admitted to Whiteabby Hospital in Belfast, but it took the doctors a long time to get to the bottom of my sickness. At first they thought it was tuberculosis, but later diagnosed it as the lung disease, sarcoidosis.

At this time my youngest child was only 6 years old, and I was in hospital for 9 months, and then back again in 1958 for another 9 months even worse than I was the first time. I thought then that I would never see my family again, and I think they all believed so too.

As I lay on that hospital bed, so weak and sick, I began to wonder where I had gone wrong. And I thought I had not done enough for the Lord over the years. I had accomplished so little. It was then I decided He had put me in that sickbed for some purpose, and I just brought it all to Him in prayer. I prayed day and night if it be His will, that He would heal me back to health and strength, and that I be spared to see my children grow. I felt so badly having to leave them for such a long time—nearly 2 years in all. But I left it all in the Lord’s hands, if it be His will. I had a very special prayer day and night, often including a few verses of a hymn;

She only touched the hem of His garment, as to His side she stole,
amid the crowd that gathered around Him,
and straight away she was made whole.
Oh, to touch the hem of His garment, and thou too shall be free!
His saving power, this very hour, shall give new life to thee.

After 26 years I can say the Lord answered all my prayers, and has kept me in His care ever since. I will go on trusting Him as long as I live or know how.

My family is all grown, and all married with children of their own. Some of them believe and are saved, and serving the Lord. I am still praying for all my loved ones that have yet to take that step, or have slipped away from their faith in Christ. My prayer will always be, if it be His will they will all be saved before it is too late.

I cling to Jesus’ promise, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you, and He that comes to me, I will in no way cast out.” I know that it is not His will that any should perish, but have eternal life with Him.

Many of my loved ones are already in Heaven, waiting for me. And when I get there, I too will be waiting for all my loved ones to join me there with Him. What a wonderful day that will be.

Jesus is coming again very soon. We do not know the day, or even the hour. So dear ones, you need to be ready to meet Him. Now is the day of the straight and narrow that leads to Glory, not the broad road to destruction. I do pray that all will accept Jesus as their own personal saviour. God gave us the privilege of making our own choice which way to go.

And when we get to Heaven we shall know Him, we shall know Him,
we shall know him, as redeemed by His side we shall stand.
I shall know Him; I shall know Him, by the print of the nails in His hands.
He took me from a fearful pit, and from the miry clay.
He set my feet upon a rock, establishing my way.
He put a new song in my mouth, my God to magnify,
and He’ll take me someday to His home on high.

There is an old saying, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way'. When there seems to be obstacles that keep me from achieving success—like so long ago in my hospital bed—I keep my mind firm in the knowledge that there is always a way. God is constantly with me as a source of light and strength, ready to help me find ways to accomplish my goals. With God’s help I have the determination and strength to keep on keeping on. I know that I cannot fail, God will see me through, and will enable me to have the courage and the stamina I need to succeed in this life.

I do not become discouraged, but stand firm in the faith, that I can reach my highest goal. God never fails me. I trust in His guidance, and know that as I put into action the divine ideas I receive from Him, I will be an achiever.

"He gave power to the faint, and to him who has no might, He increases their strength." Isaiah 40:29

May His blessing be upon each one always,


Amen . . . so be it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

TWO MOUSES IN THE HOUSE? - Guest Blogger, Peggy Griffin

This Sunday, I'm introducing another of my writing friends, Peggy Griffin. Peggy sends me hilarious emails which always leave me in stitches, and under her warm Southern charm beats a heart for Christ. In Peggy's words, she is a dreamer, a storyteller, a preacher's daughter, and somewhere in the backwoods of Southern Mississippi she's plotting a murder. Only on paper, of course. Nothing hollers whodunit like the humid tangle of swamps and creeks that she shares with her husband of twenty-four years. They live on the homestead his family settled in 1808 where there's inspiration behind every shadow. But today Peggy shares her more recent woes in the cyberworld of computers.


"Can two walk together, unless they be agreed?" Amos 3:3

Well, slap me twice for driving a mouse without a license. Its ball just fell out. Honest. I had to chase it clear to the back of the desk. But it wasn’t driving straight anyway. My computer whiz friend, Paula, said to gently dislodge the family-size blanket of lint from its innards with a toothpick. How sissy was that? Naturally, I went to work with a screwdriver. Uh-huh. Mouse brains and whirly gigs went into orbit around the ceiling fan.

After Paula, the computer whiz, caught her breath from laughing at my ignorant bliss, she told me that mouses and keyboards are kinda generic, and to get the one off the CRASHED computer, plug it in, and pour myself a long glass of sweet tea with extra ice. Her last bit of advice was to dump my gallon of M&M’s into a jug, plaster the empty bag over my mouth and nose, and just breathe. A lot

That was the beginning of my unequally yoked union with electronics. How was I to know the little one-eyed computer monster didn’t believe in my gold-plated rule of ‘don’t snatch a person’s stuff like a greedy pot likker hound on a pone of cornbread?

Of course there were clues that this technical honeymoon could be a tad rocky. Barely out of the box and grinning atop a stack of milk crates, it demanded my social security number, my mother’s maiden name, and my super-secret-don’t-yap-it password. I had no choice; Company payroll was a’waiting.

Login popped up. My finger trembled.

And I said, “I do,” to every term of endearment in the licensing agreement of Big Bubba’s Bookkeeping And Tractor Repair Program.

I was typing along like nobody’s little darlin’ when Big Bubba turned meaner than a cross-eyed rattler. Payroll took a flying flip to Never-Neverland. The printer started jamming and spitting crooked checks. If y’all aren’t familiar with these programs, there is no making up with Big Bubba and starting over. Once it prints a check, sideways or cattywumpus, you don’t get a duplicate without signing over the deed to the farm. My brother, Wayne, now does payroll for a wicked sum. He invented Big Bubba. Could those glitches be a mite suspicious?

But, I have good news. Last night’s calamity was purely the fault of the web browser. Yep, y’all have one. Seems you have to throw it a bone once in a while. In computer lingo that means upgrade. Live and learn. It refused to ‘unload’ the crazy puzzle—y’all know about those word verifications—when you want to post a comment on somebody’s blog.

I know. I actually said unload when I whined at Whiz Kid Paula to fix the thing. You’re right. She answered the phone laughing. My lack of technical grace is kinda like the running joke about the guy who thought the CD tray was a cupholder. I hope he's still alive somewhere so I won't be the dumbest hick with a mouse.

Anyway, the web browser said “Upgrade Now”, and I clicked—what's Paula's number one rule about clicking on stuff you aren't cross-your-heart and-hope-to-die sure about? Don't touch it. Call an adult. You've got it. But as usual, my finger clicked before my itty-bitty mind shifted to drive. Satellites started hugging and kissing and yoking in yet another unholy union, and that, my friends, is the famous night that the lights went out in this Mississippi.

But not before Big Bubba’s Bookkeeping and Tractor Repair had a cyberspace shade tree meeting with my new browser, Godzilla Firefly. They did a hostile takeover of my homepage and changed my email account to Sizzlemail. Give me a break! My glasses haven’t fogged up like that since my quickdraw trigger finger clicked—yes, Ma’am, I did—into one of those hmmhmmhmm chat rooms. Of course I tried to get out. Eventually. I just think it's important for a country girl to further her education when opportunity knocks.

Trust me. Things my sweet Mama never told me about were going on in that cyber joint.

That’s when I felt another knock, a small, quiet tap reminding me that this country girl had once more plowed ahead without considering the consequences. Curiosity? I’ll admit to having a gracious plenty. And independence? I have a heaping helping of ‘I can do this myself’.

Seriously, folks, we’re all guilty of these from time to time. We get so bogged down in the clutter of daily life that we try to solve all the little pesky problems and wait until our worlds are falling apart to ask for God’s help. We forget that He’s a constant in our hearts, loving and patient and waiting, and yes, He must have a sense of humor, for He spoke to me in language I understood.

As I slammed my generic mouse into reverse, and backtracked from that chat room, I got His message loud and clear.

Get out of the woods, child. This dog ain’t gonna hunt.”

Psalms:6-7 Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee: for Thou wilt answer me.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

DATING; Daunting, isn't it?

The following five questions were put to me from a friend's blog:

1. Are you single, in a relationship, married, divorced, separated, etc?
2. When was the last time you went on a date?
3. Describe your ideal date.
4. Do you think dating has become archaic?
5. What are your feelings on online dating services?

Hard questions for me to answer from my own comfortable stance. My marriage for the majority of the time feels like the proverbial compfy old slipper. But I ask you; what's wrong with that?

For those who are young and panting for that perfect, fulfilling relationship you might assume my compfy old slipper of a partnership boring. For those married only a few years--10 or less--you may be yearning for the sparks of when you first started dating to flare up again.

There was a time back when my husband and I had been married about that length of time and we both struggled with some of those questions. We wondered if there was something wrong with us that we didn't experience those dizzy sensations that we had the first year and a half of our marriage. Had the magic gone from our love? It was during an especially stressful time in our life that my husband and I read a book, Divorce Busting by Michele Weiner-Davis.

This author and counselor had talked to many couples like us, who had been married for a while and felt the fire of their marriage had died out, and that they were left only with that comfortable slipper feeling. Like a lot of people they assumed there was something wrong with this, and maybe they should hit the divorce courts and find that sparkling effervescent feeling with someone else. But in response to that, this counselor said the same thing as me. What's wrong with feeling so comfortable in your marriage that you feel you're at home wearing your slippers?

The right answer is; there is nothing wrong with that. I should point out, I'm not talking about those marriages that have severe issues to work out.

So after my husband and I got over that hump in our marriage, somewhere around our 12th anniversary, we continued on as we had been. We loved each other, were kind to each other, both of us took our responsibilities as spouses and parents to our children seriously. And we looked to God's guidebook on everything, the Bible.

So years later, at first glance dating would seem to be a non-issue for me. But upon closer look I realize that I date and have dated my husband a great deal. Most of the time it's simply coffee or a Sunday drive, or going out for lunch just the two of us. And as our kids have grown and left the nest, or when they boomerang back to it, my husband and I love to get into our car and go wherever. Just the two of us.

But back to the questionnaire. When was the last time I went on a date. Aside from going out for coffee, officially my last date would be about a week ago. We strolled through a rose garden at Point Defiance in Tacoma Washington. The sun shone, the scent of flowers clung to the air, and we dandered. I was content. He was content. No fireworks, our relationship filling us with the pleasure of a deep flowing river.

Perhaps that's why I find question # 3 difficult. Ideal date? Champagne and a dozen roses ceased to cut it for me years ago. I suppose being filled with contentment after 29 years of marriage, I may be unqualified to have an opinion . . . at first glance. The way I see it, dating is for those who are seeking. Seeking a permanent love relationship, or seeking to deepen that love relationship. I guess God has blessed my husband and me; we've reached that point and gone further. Our life seems to be one long, compfy date. And I say that from a well of gratitude, for so many people I love do not have what I have.

Is dating archaic? Now there's something I do have strong opinions on. You see I have children who date, one is married and two are single. My husband and I encourage our married son and his wife to date as much as possible. But for my two single children, I believe the reason for dating is for them to find their partner in life--if that is what God has planned for them.

And here is where I might shock a few; I don't believe people who are not at the stage of looking for a life partner should be dating. I also believe that if you've dated someone for a while and discover that relationship is not moving toward marriage that you should stop dating. Move on. Strong opinions, but then it's filled with the passion of a mother for her kids, and from that of being a wife who has for many years dated while wearing slippers. I want my children to have what I have.

Lastly, how do I feel about on-line dating services? Again I may shock a few.

I consider myself a romantic who loves to watch the romance of life. To describe my style of romance I'd have to say it's got a strong dose of the prosaic to it. I look back in history to the pioneer days when people used to write letters to get to know a prospective mate. Then if they felt this was a worthy person, they'd travel thousands of miles on a wagon train across prairies and mountain ranges to meet that person. It was hard for them in those days. So, to my thinking, what is the difference for modern-day people to use a reputable on-line service to write "letters" to people, and then if you like them, meet them for coffee?

All I add to this is, use your brain. Just make sure you really know this person before you walk down the aisle. It's a lot easier for someone now-a-days to back out of a dating relationship. At least if your date doesn't work out, you don't have to hitch a ride on a wagon train going east.

Dating really boils down to common sense, and a lot of marriage does too. There are no short cuts, but if you're sensible and trust God, then just maybe you'll be lucky enough to have what I have, that compfy old slipper feeling when you sit on the couch and hold hands with your mate. That's what you really want, deep down.

I Corinthians 13: 4-7 "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."