The Forgiveness Table.

A couple of Sunday’s ago, Ian was driving me to work for my shift collecting our weekly meals from Second Harvest. We were early, and we were also having a disagreement. We got to the church and Ian pulled over on Cowan Avenue and we tried to talk it out but it wasn’t going anywhere. We couldn’t even agree to disagree. With this in mind, after about 20 minutes of talking, I just decided to say goodbye and go into work. It was not the best farewell.

I was walking up the driveway to the church entrance when I saw a table discarded on the driveway. I had seen it before being used by one of our partner organizations and loved it. I was even keeping my eye out for one similar (if you know me, you know I love finding free stuff on the side of the road or on Facebook Marketplace!). This table was now broken, and the leg was nowhere in plain sight although I did eventually find it in a planter near the door. I stood for a couple of minutes beside the table looking at it, wondering if I should put my name on it and take it home later. I was about to just forget it, thinking I had no way to get it home, when I looked up and saw Ian was still sitting in the car looking at me, waiting to make sure I was okay. I was expecting that he would have driven away quickly after our departure, but there he was at the end of the long driveway.

I picked up the table and started walking back to the car. Ian got out, and silently started moving the seats around to fit the table in. I ran back for the leg, put it in the trunk, and he closed up the back. I looked at him, he at me, and we hugged each other both saying sorry. “You drive me nuts, but I love ya.” – something we tell each other often, covered in deep love. This garbage broken table brought us together in an unexpected way, and is slowly being fixed and repainted in my backyard.

Forgiveness is something I struggle with sometimes. It is hard for me to admit I am wrong, and it is hard for me to know someone may think I had bad intentions. Being married to Ian and working at The Dale have been the biggest lessons in unconditional love and forgiveness I have been witness to and been the recipient of.

There are many times I have seen community members come together with a handshake when I thought their friendships were over. There have been times I have been stopped on the street by a community member and forgiven for things I have done. There have been times that Ian has forgiven me when he could have held onto anger. I am trying to lean into these hard lessons, and remember that the grace I receive from my community and my family is not perfect, but it is important. And the grace I receive from God covers all things, all of my imperfections, and all of the lessons I have yet to learn. I am so grateful.

Sometimes, it takes a handshake to come together. Sometimes an offer to go to a movie together. Sometimes saying “I’m sorry.” And sometimes it takes a table destined for the trash – but God’s love is funny that way. He saved our brokenness and I know he uses these things to teach us some lessons too.

With peace.

Meg


I am a community member at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale. In order to do this work and share these stories with you, I must fundraise for my entire salary. That means asking people like you to support me financially in this work! Please consider giving at https://www.thedale.org/donate/ and indicate that the donation is for me. Thank you!

Peace and a Friend.

As someone who lives with anxiety, the word “peace” (maybe ironically) holds a special place in my heart.

I remember being an intern at Sanctuary Ministries back in 2013. I was very new to community building, friendship based ministry, walking alongside so many people I had never met, deconstructing my faith… I was making some friends in the community but it is a thing that takes time, as with many friendships. I was always so nervous before our big community dinners on Thursday nights. On my way to sanctuary on the subway I would say, “Oh God, please give me peace and a friend. Amen” over and over and over until I got to work. I know He granted me the things I asked for.

I’ve uttered this prayer so many times. On one of my first weeks at The Dale, I was sitting with Erinn and Joanna in the quiet of the room we used to hold our breakfast drop-in at, before anyone arrived. We were sitting together in a corner of the sunlit room, praying together – a tradition I was still new to. I was very nervous, about another drop in where I didn’t know many people, about being new to this role, about praying in front of my new co workers. When it was my turn I offered up the only prayer I could think of – “God, please give me peace and a friend.” I received these things in abundance.

On Sunday afternoons at The Dale service, we take time after opening with singing together to offer each other peace. Erinn says, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” And we say back, “and also with you.” And then those of us who can get up do so, and we walk around offering each other peace, looking one another in the eyes, and giving a hug, elbow bump, wave or peace sign.

I have tried to understand that peace is not just a simple emotion to feel. I think it really is a peace that comes from the Lord, as Erinn says every week. I feel it when I pray to God and ask him for peace inside. I feel it when I remember to regularly take my anxiety medication. I feel it when I greet my community on Sunday in peace and receive it back from them in abundance. I feel it when I’m camping with Ian and watching Charlotte smell the flowers and when I listen to a song I like. It is a deep sense of contentment in my heart and soul that God puts there for me.

Sometimes, it is hard to feel. Sometimes I am reaching for it and it’s not there. Sometimes there is worry and trouble inside. That’s okay. Not everyday will be filled with deep peace. That is when I can practice looking for Hope from God that peace will return. I can practice the art of receiving it from others. Peace comes in many forms.

I got this tattoo today, one that I have been wanting for some time. I got it on the back of my arm above my elbow: a place that I can’t see easily but I know is there. A place that others will see and receive.

So as always, peace to you this week. I leave you with that farewell every blog for a reason. I really do hope you can receive my peace, given through God. And if you don’t just yet, that’s okay. I pray for hope.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. In order to do this work I must fundraise money for my salary. If you would like to financially support my work, please leave me a message at meagan.gillard@gmail.com.

Offering Gladly.

Tithing at church growing up always left me feeling a lot of guilt and shame. I never remembered to bring any money (although I was a child). Growing older, I heard frequently to always give 10% of what you made back to the church, although I could never manage to do that either. When the tithing plate came around I felt bashful, putting in my change and hoping no one would notice that it wasn’t much, as the plate went from person to person. Surely everyone would see my small tithe and think less of me.

As an adult, I have only recently starting my own form of tithing in the form of supporting a person who fundraises for their salary, and yet I always feel guilty that it is in no way close to 10% of what I have. With bills and a toddler and all of life’s expenses, I will always look for more ways to give back monetarily, but it won’t ever equal 10% at this point. Part of me feels so much guilt, although as a person who fundraises, I gladly accept even $1 and cherish it as a special offering from someone’s heart.

Lately, I have been wondering how God feels about all of this.

At the Dale, I have learned that calling what people give us “offering” has felt very freeing. We use a hat or a basket to collect our offering, and recognize that not everyone can give money, such as they normally would during tithing. Instead, offering can be money, art, a prayer, doing the dishes for our meals, bringing a donation of clothes, offering a word of encouragement to other community members, a token, a cigarette, and so much more. We have pictures of our offerings from various weeks, as the unique things dropped in the basket are so beautiful and are deeply cherished by us.

Money and a piece of community art from this weeks offering basket.

Not only are these offerings going to The Dale, which in turn go back into the community. They are also for God. In my opinion, He does not need a certain amount of money to see your love for Him and His people. He needs to see your heart. If all you have to give one week is a prayer, that’s okay. If you have 10% to give, that’s okay. If you have the ability to wash a dish for a friend, that’s okay. Any gift that is offered with a joyful heart, given up to Him through loving your neighbour, is pleasing to the Lord. That’s what I hope anyways.


“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7


I have always struggled with perfectionism. Part of my anxiety stems from always trying to do things to such a high standard. And while there is nothing wrong to holding yourself to a high standard, it needs to be a grey area where there is also room for grace for yourself. My change in the tithing basket never seemed like enough. However, working at The Dale and learning many lessons about the art of giving and receiving, and offering your best, has taught me that God takes gladness in our best efforts – whatever that looks like. Whether it is a penny or a dollar, when we give joyfully, He knows our heart’s intentions. And I hope that He is pleased.

In talking to Joanna and Olivia about my blog, Jo helped me think of the 10% “rule of thumb” in tithing as one that is not meant to be legalistic, but more of a benchmark. When we give more than what we think we can, God also sees that and is faithful to us in taking care of us when we think we won’t have enough. I know that to be true from when I started my work here at The Dale and never thought I would be able to support myself through fundraising my salary. I am grateful for the wisdom of my co-workers turned friends that teach me new things all the time and help me see things in new ways.

I was really nervous to write about this! Talking about money always feels a little strange to me. But I hope you can see through this blog that perfectionism can take over your peace, and instead giving what you have in the form of money or offerings is always gladly accepted by God. Giving your best and going beyond that when you don’t think you are able will be received well by God, and He will care for you.

With peace.

Speaking of fundraising, in order to work at The Dale I must fundraise my entire salary by asking people to walk alongside me financially. If you are able to, I would love to connect with you about this. You can visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-dale-ministries/?mprompt=1 to give and indicate that it is for me, or you can connect with me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com