As
we enter into this new season those of us who observe Lent usually see
it as a time of penitence and reflection, a time to purify ourselves by looking
deeper inside and by cleaning out what is not of the Lord.
 
With Lent also comes a time of seasonal change in the natural world with
those of us in the Northern hemisphere entering into Spring and those South of
the equator into Autumn. Having always lived in the North I always equate Spring with hope and renewal, and so the cleaning out and purifying of Lent
seems very easily to fit with the awakening of the Earth. It is interesting to
ponder how our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world find ways to
link the seasonal changes as they look towards Autumn.
 Around here when each new day brings more and
more complexity into the planning of the coming Day Camps summer it is really
easy to begin to stress and worry about all those tiny, but important, pieces
of the “puzzle” and to slide into a frazzled state of mind. Taking a whole lot
more time to slow down and dig deeper and not to let Satan mess with one’s mind
helps to bring things into balance and makes the road through Lent more
peaceful, filled with hope and expectation.
  In
the past week I have already seen several special “pieces” fit into the big
puzzle- a new Day Camp location at a Lutheran Church in Calgary, the final
proofreading of more Program Manual chapters, the perfect Worship Director
found for our Training Retreat (woo hoo!!) and a start being made, by Jessica,
on the Team Leaders Binders.
Even today a small step forward was taken
as I began the big (very big!) job of baking for the Retreat.

Something really special happened on
Wednesday. Janice, (a long time Team Member, Leader and Committee Member,
currently serving a year as an intern with IVCF) attended an Ash Wednesday
Service at a church in Regina that had hosted a Day Camp and to her joy,
hanging on a wall was a Paper Quilt, made during the Camp! This may seem like a
small thing but it gives us great joy. The fact that the people of that church
recognise and honour the work of the children who created it and give it a
place to be seen instead of simply dumping it in a recycling bin, is huge. So
often we never know if the seeds sown by the Teams will bear fruit or what the
impact of a Day Camp really was in a community, seeing that quilt means so
much, a tangible symbol of ministry, the valuing and respecting of children’s
contributions to the life of a church. I am so thankful that Janice took a
photo and sent it to me, it made my day and I know the memory of that small
triumph will be a source of encouragement when the way ahead gets rocky 😊
 My
physical surroundings have been cleaned out and purified, the first dozen eggs
have been cleaned and prepared for the discipline of crafting Pysanky, some
books and podcasts selected for devotionals and Hot Cross Buns waiting in the
freezer; yes, I’m ready to dive into Lent!
 Many
people choose to “give something up” for Lent, it has always been our family
practice to “take something on” thus I have not given up chocolate and feel no
compunction in sharing a recipe, today, for brownies since they were part of
first batch of “Retreat Baking”!!
Big Brownies

1 cup butter or margarine
½ cup each cocoa powder and dark chocolate
chips
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup unbleached flour
½ cup finely chopped almonds.

Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan. In a
double boiler melt the butter, cocoa and chocolate, stir in the vanilla and set
aside to cool. With an electric mixer, bet together the sugar and eggs until
they are pale and form ribbons when the beaters are lifted. With a large
spatula fold in the chocolate mixture until well combined. Finally, fold in the
flour and nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth evenly. Bake in a
preheated 350º oven for 25 minutes; do not over bake. Place on a rack and cool
for 10 minutes before cutting into bars with a sharp knife. Cool completely
before removing from the pan. Makes 28 large brownies. They freeze well!