Saturday, May 24, 2014

Support the Nakekela HIV/AIDS Clinic in South Africa

Every year hundreds of determined bikers head off to the beautiful Niagara Parkway on the first Saturday of June. They have raised money supporting a clinic that provides services and care to those suffering and dying from HIV and AIDS in South Africa.
The bike-a-thon is worth every bit of effort and time. The atmosphere is energetic and exciting. Meeting new people and seeing old friends is a pleasure. The scenery along the parkway is beautiful and the day is a rewarding one for all of the riders.
Please join us on JUNE 7 to help raise money for such a worthy cause!
We look forward to seeing you there!

Register at

Saturday, May 17, 2014

this past week...

Andrew came running inside, "Call 9-1-1...!" I went running outside and sure enough having a big, mean snapper on your driveway is reason to call for help. This thing hissed, and practically snarled at us. When I threw a stick close to the snapper, it's sharp crunch of the jaws echoed. My sisters and I have an intense fear of snapping turtles.  When we were little, it wasn't the "monsters" under our bed that kept us awake; it was the snapping turtles. 
I knew that this thing had to go but unfortunately Adam was out of town. I looked down the road and regretfully remembered that my parents were also out of town. But lo and behold they had a construction guy working there so I drove over and pleaded for him to come and take care of this hissing snapper. Thankfully he came over and loaded it up in a tote to take somewhere far from our home.
I am choosing to believe that this snapper came from the swampy pond, way out back, rather than our swimming pond.

One morning I came home from the bus stop and met this raccoon hanging in our tree. We only have one tree to talk about and there it was. It stayed there for many hours almost as if it was afraid to climb down. It was probably thinking about the box of raccoon skin hats and "guns" that this household owns, along with some very eager hunting boys.
Our laying hens arrived and it is good to hear some clucking again. Tonight at supper, Adam asked Tyler, "What comes out of a chicken?" 
Very seriously Tyler replied, "POOP."

Right outside of my kitchen window this busy robin takes care of her young ones. Seeing these wide open beaks and her flying back and forth scrounging up food to satisfy them, reminds me of -  me. The groceries aren't even out of the van and I am surrounded by a bunch of "starving" boys.

Spring is just so delightful.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Titus 2 woman - Tante Riek

Today our dear Tante Riek turns 80 years old! This past year, I had the wonderful opportunity to be in the same Bible study group as Tante Riek and the wisdom that she shared with our group became a treasure to our hearts. The book that we were working through was hard, heart-probing and at times intense. This book was a resource for equipping but it challenged our every thought and action. Every week, Tante Riek, dressed in her beautiful, bright clothes, would sit down and carefully place her journal and book on the table in front of her. And then she would announce that she quit - this material was too hard for a lady her age! We would all chuckle with her and then she would open up her books; full of highlights, writing, and underlining. We all knew that just like the rest of us, she struggled through the lesson but what she didn't realize was how inspiring she was to our group. She was determined to live in obedience to her Saviour, no matter how hard that could and would be. She was determined to keep on learning and applying, even in her 80th year. She was determined to share and be vulnerable in our group, even at times struggling with the English language. She was determined to be encouraging, praying for each one of us when our season together ended.
I wanted to share a blog post that I wrote about her three years ago.


Just by looking into her eyes you can see a sparkle; a lively personality. This lovely lady is known to
many as Tante Riek. She became my Titus 2 role model 4 years ago.  Our ladies bible study was going through the book "Lies Woman Believe" by NancyLee DeMoss. I was brought to a new level of conviction and became more aware of my sinful heart. At this time Tante Riek  came to me and wanted to do a Bible study with me during the summer. We studied "Walking through the Psalms in 30 Days"  also by DeMoss. Tante Riek often came over and I learned so much that summer. Her words of wisdom and encouragement along with our closing prayers helped me grow in the Lord.  These valuable lessons became my foundation when we found out that at 19 weeks pregnant I miscarried. She came over that night and sat with us. Our little baby was due to be born on her birthday. Tante Riek has known much grief and sorrow. As a young wife she immigrated to Canada with her husband leaving her family behind in Holland. When she was just 27 years old, her husband was killed in a work related accident leaving her with four young children. She took in borders and worked very hard to make ends meet. (This was the time before the government would financially help and the time before automatic appliances.) She suddenly was both mother and father to her four little ones. Seven years later she married a widower, moved 2 hours away and became the mother of his four young children. Together they had one more child. During this time Christ became more and more precious to her. Life was busy but she awoke before 5:00 each morning to find quiet time with her Saviour. She grew in grace and encouraged others to read good books and to have a personal relationship with the Lord. On top of raising nine children, four more children moved into their house for a year and every night their father would come over for supper so that he could see them. At another time of her life, Tante Riek had an elderly lady move in with them and she cared for this lady's physical needs. Years later Tante Riek and her husband moved to Calgary, leaving some of her older children behind. While they lived in Calgary, her 19 year old son died. Years later when the family moved back to this area, her husband died from cancer. She was alone once again. Tante Riek prayed that if the Lord wanted her to meet someone again, He would have to send a man to her door steps. Not much later, a fine gentleman arrived at her doorsteps! She married this kind man and they have been married for almost 20 years! Tante Riek dresses cheerfully with bright colours and always wears a beautiful skirt. She smells like blossoms, and wears fine jewelry. Her hands are busy with knitting needles and she always has a present for every baby born into our church. She greets all those she meets with a hug and a big smile.  She has invited many strangers into her home and has shared the good news. She knows Christ and wants everyone else to know about His saving grace too. She reads many books and wants to know what books you are reading. In the past when I have been struggling, I have called her up and went into her special room in the basement. In this tiny room she has two chairs, many pictures of families, and oodles of books. I have left her home feeling refreshed after spending time in prayer with Tante Riek. Tante Riek visits the lonely and the elderly in our church. She encourages young mothers, and every conversation quickly turns to how you are doing with your walk with God.
Last summer after Tyler was born, one afternoon I was upstairs taking a nap. I could hear someone talking to our boys and as I came down the stairs, I heard, "Yesterday was the Lord's Supper. Boys do you know what that means?" I peeked around the corner and there was Tante Riek sitting on the couch surrounded by three eager boys amongst some piles of laundry and many toys. That is a memory that I will always treasure.
That is who Tante Riek is. She is aware of her sinful heart, but she is also aware of the saving grace that has been freely given to her. She shares this with everyone she meets. God has made her a blessing to many and we cherish her!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Arlene Veenstra: Biblical Counselor

Arlene Veenstra has recently retired as a Biblical Counselor at Elisha House (a Pregnancy & Family Support Centre which provides counselling for individuals, couples, and families who are actively seeking God in the redirection of their lives) after 24 years.
 Arlene has also gifted our church hours upon hours of service through teaching courses, leading Bible studies, listening, redirecting, encouraging, and counselling.

Arlene and her husband Boot have been married for almost 39 years. They have been blessed with 18 grandchildren...9 boys and 9 girls. Arlene has eleven siblings and is an aunt to many. In Arlene's spare time she enjoys reading, scrapbooking, watching TV, and playing games.

How and when did you get into counselling?
About 30 years ago Donna Becket from Niagara Life Centre came to speak at our church.  It was after listening to her that I felt a tug on my heart to get involved.  My children were quite young at that time so I knew it would have to be in the future as my first responsibility was to my family.
 In 1990 I took the volunteer training course through NLC and began to volunteer in the Welland Centre as leader for the Mothers’ Friendship Program.
 As I worked with the girls I realized that I needed to become more equipped so I went back to school.  I attended Niagara College and graduated with my Social Service Worker Diploma  in 1994. 
As I counselled with people I realized I needed to get more training in how to help people apply the gospel to their lives in very real and practical ways.  It was then that I began taking courses through CCEF (Christian Counselling Education Foundation) in Philadelphia.  The Lord has used that education to make the most profound changes in my life and counselling.

What did you do at Elisha House?
I served at Elisha House almost since its beginning (24 years).  In the beginning years of the Centre I did whatever needed to be done.  I did pregnancy tests, pregnancy options counselling, one on one biblical counselling, taught classes, facilitated healing groups and even did a lot of fundraising. 
However over the years as the Centre grew and more people came on, I was able to focus on one on one biblical counselling and facilitating healing groups.
What courses have you taught and what do you enjoy about teaching the most?
I have facilitated healing groups – sexual abuse healing, uprooting anger, emotionally destructive relationships, post abortion and biblical peacemaking. 
I love seeing the Lord at work in people’s lives as He works healing and transformation in them for His glory!  I love seeing people becoming walking pictures of the Lord’s redemption.
I have also taught How People Change and Helping People Change.  These courses teach how the Lord brings about transformation in the life of a believer and how the Lord uses His people in the lives of others for sanctification purposes. 
I truly enjoy teaching these courses, seeing lives changed for the glory of the Lord and watching people grow in terms of living for Kingdom purposes. 

Can you estimate how many people you have taught "How People Change" to? 
I am going to guess between 200-300 people??

What are the most difficult aspects of counselling?
I would say the most difficult aspects of counselling is to hear about suffering people have endured and lived through.  It is at times difficult to come to grips with the presence of evil and how so many lives have been affected by it.

Have you ever felt “down” about a case and not expect a good result?
I guess that would depend on how you might define “a good result.”  If you mean a “happy ever after” result, sometimes I see that and other times I do not. 
I have learned over the years to trust the outcome to the Lord and in that sense, there is always a “good result” as the Lord changes me in the process. 
As far as getting “down”… many times I have been very sad for people.  Thankfully, the Lord has taught me over the years how to not carry responsibility that is not mine to carry.  As a result, I have been blessed to have not experienced any really “down” times.

Did you have times when God revealed Himself in a special way to you?
Many times the Lord has revealed Himself in terms of transformation taking place in the lives of very broken people. 
Many times I have prayed for wisdom and experienced immediate response to His promise to provide wisdom to those who ask. 
Other times while reading His Word, the Lord has revealed to me how that particular passage would comfort and help a specific client.  So I would say yes, the Lord has revealed Himself in special ways to me.

Were you able to leave the problems behind when you came home?
Yes and no.  I did not carry people’s issues with me in that they would preoccupy my thoughts but one is always affected in some way when you are involved with other people. 
I have heard it said that if you are going to get into the mud puddles of people’s lives you are going to get dirty.
 I would say that there have been times that the “problems came home” when I would have to give beyond the hours at Elisha House due to crisis etc.

What courses did you take with CCEF?
Almost all of them… I still have three more to complete but at this stage I’m not sure if I will be doing that as my life is taking a different turn.

Do you see churches moving towards Biblical Counselling?
I would describe Biblical counseling as, "applying the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to the very difficult problems of real life."
 In some sense there has been much growth in the church in terms of the church now seeing more and more how Scripture is sufficient and that Scripture does speak into the difficulties of life. This is not to say that we cannot learn from other means such as psychology or science in terms of human suffering, but this kind of learning must always be understood through the lens of Scripture.  I think over the years the church is seeing this more and more. 

Do you have concerns for the Reformed churches today?
Not really…the church belongs to the Lord and He promises to care for her!! I believe that with all my heart!  So when struggles arise within her, I believe that is evidence of the Lord at work in her and purifying her. 
I believe He will bring her into truth and one day she will be presented to Christ “without spot or wrinkle”.  That does not mean that we as members can just coast along… we must always be dealing with our sin, living with kingdom purpose and manifesting God’s glory to the world around us. 

What do you see as a threat to the family and the Christian way of living?
I really do not believe that the threat to the family or the Christian way of life necessarily comes from without.  
I think the biggest threat to the family is the fact that we are often more influenced by the world than we are by the Word of God. 
Too often we forget to have our eyes focused on the things of the Lord and we live for the values of this world.  That is not to say that there are no outward threats to the family or the Christian way of life but if our hearts are stayed on the Lord- our families will stay strong in Him.

What advice would you give the leaders of the church?
Stay true to the Word of God.
Strive to make the church a safe place for struggling sinners, where they can be open about their struggles and receive help through the application of the gospel.
Strive to do all you can to “equip the saints of service” so that the Lord’s glory will be seen in this world through the church.

What are the top 5 books you would recommend for reading?
These are 5 books (not in any particular of order) that I have enjoyed reading:

The True Story of the World by Craig G. Bartholomew and Micheal W. Gogeen
Shame Interrupted by Edward T. Welch
Seeing With New Eyes by David Powlison
Caught Off Guard by William P. Smith
Pursuing Peace by Robert Jones