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Archive for September, 2016

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Holding on to the arm of a handsome man, she took her first step through the doors of the sanctuary, smiling from ear to ear, and every eye was on her. Her dress fell to the floor, and she moved down the aisle with ease and with a playful joy in her steps. She glowed from the inside out.

For the first time in my life, it was she, the mother-of-the-bride, to whom I could most closely feel a connection.

And NO, my daughters are not getting married!

The rest of the wedding and reception festivities continued, but those steps down the aisle, by the bride’s mom, were what captivated my the most. Not only did they captivate me, but I felt a kinship with this mom.

With our youngest in his final year of high school, and our daughters in the post secondary educational stage and beyond, I am closer to the mom stage than the bride stage.

As this mom was making her way down the aisle, I wondered if the marriage was everything that she had wanted for her daughter? Was the groom the man she had hoped to steal her girly’s heart? Was her daughter in the ‘right’ place in life to be making such promises?

Then I realized what this marriage was …

imperfect and messy and beautiful,

no doubt, just like that mom’s, just like my own.

The dreams I have for my children are good dreams, well intended hopes, desires that come from the heart of one whose heartbeat was the first music in my children’s ears.

But, one day, they may choose to marry, and it will be their dreams, their hopes and their desires that will send me walking down an aisle … not mine.

This is not to say that I cease to pray for the greater things for them … that they marry one who loves God, that they unite with one who will share all of life with them, that they choose a partner who will encourage them to grow and live better (as iron sharpens iron), but I acknowledge that, like their parents before them, they will make that choice.

And it will be imperfect, and messy, and beautiful.

“For this reason, a man (a daughter) will leave their mother and father …”
(Mark 10:7)

 

 

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It was Benjamin Franklin who is credited for saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

but he was wrong …

no, not wrong …

but what he said was incomplete.

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Experiencing childhood in the 1970’s, I was subjected to the music my mother listened to. One of the songs I remember hearing frequently was sung by Lynn Anderson (and my mother), called “(I Never Promised you a) Rose Garden.”

I expect that we all love life when it is good, when it is easy, when health is good, and loved ones are loving, and there are a few bucks in our wallet, and we have simple pleasures in our days. What we forget is that those things are not certainties, not guaranteed, not promised to us.

The words of Jesus, the Christ, were spoken to his followers, as he was preparing them for their lives, after his own Earthly demise. He knew not only the trouble that was just around the corner, for himself. He also knew that there would be a life-time of trouble awaiting his followers (and all who would follow after them).

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Not an encouraging prophetic message, coming from the God of all hope!

But there is not only doom and gloom in this foretelling.

The verse begins with the offer of peace, a peace that goes beyond placards and marches, guns and war. He offers a peace that passes all fleshly understanding. A peace that mysteriously can happen right in the middle of trouble. It is, in a sense, our spiritual bullet vest. Oh, we will still feel the impact of the trouble, but it cannot mortally pierce our soul.

Then, the verse ends with hope.

“take heart! I have overcome the world”

What he is saying is,

I have fought the fight, I have worn the scars of your trouble, I have defeated death in the pit of hell. And he said it all before the triumphal entry, before Gethsemane, before the scourging and the cross.

He knew the troubles that would bomb our lives. But our troubles, to him, were worth the troubles that he would experience in the days to come.

Though our lives exist with the guarantee of troubles, we have the hope that he has overcome the world, and because of him, we truly can face tomorrow.

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he brings;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

 

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I always get a bit nervous when I get a notification for a comment on a blog post.

Could someone have noticed the horrible grammar? the run-on sentences? a spell correct that resulted in a risqué statement? maybe I offended their political, religious or dietary views? or, maybe it will be a comment from someone who knows me, and they are calling me a hypocrite?

Most of the time, though,  the comment goes like this:

“I so needed that today” or “that is exactly what I am dealing with right now”

These comments are always the most precious to me, for they remind me, over and over, that

I am not alone.

For I can only write from the place of experience, having been there. I can only be sincere, if I have sincerely had the same thoughts, fears and wishes that I write about.

To discover that we share a life of experiences, thoughts and feelings that is parallel to another oxygen-breathy, fleshly human being is to find kinship, commonality, friendship that is soul-deep.

May we continue to experience the birth of friendships from that which we share. So, don’t forget to share your joys and sorrows, strengths and weaknesses, with those around you … you might just find that you are not alone.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Romans 12:15

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I feel as though I spend much of my life waiting … in a line at the grocery store, for someone to come to the dinner table, for a student who processes thoughts slowly, for pay day, for hubby to be ready to leave for vacation, for the weekend or summer break.

Waiting drives me nuts!

We all wait for many things. It is a commonality which we share.

A friend recently told me to “crap or get off the can” (or something similar) in regards to something that I have been waiting for, but keeps passing me by … while I just wait. You see, my problem is that, though I am an aggressive and passionate trouble-shooter, I am also frequently passive when it comes to the desires of my own heart, submitting myself to the ‘safety’ of waiting, rather than taking the risk to pursue the dreams God has placed in my heart.

When my friend spoke pointedly to me, she challenged me that maybe waiting was not what I was called to do, but to jump, trusting that God has my back.

I was secretly frustrated with her challenge, after all, she doesn’t know all of the circumstances and challenges in my life. There was so much fear in jumping! It was so easy for her to say, not so easy for me to do.

Then I read the following verse, from Ecclesiastes 11:4, and it seemed to hold my eyes on it’s message:

“Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds;
those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops.

The story/parable that Jesus told of the man who left his property with his servants, is an example of what God wants us to do with what he has entrusted to us (Matthew 25:14-30). One of the servants was afraid, so he hid what was given to him. When the man returned, he was livid that this servant had not invested what was given to him to care for.

To leap is to risk failure, but to do nothing with the resources God has given us, is an even greater risk.

What are you waiting for?

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I ate them all!

“I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
Satisfaction”

It started as a normal Sunday, but by nightfall I had eaten far too much.

Thankfully it had been many weeks, even months, since I had last experienced a day when I went searching for satisfaction through my pantry.

I wasn’t hungry for food, I was simply experiencing dissatisfaction in one part of my existence, and thought that perhaps I could find it through the edibles in my kitchen.

By the time I crawled into bed (with antacids strategically placed on my bed table) I was feeling the crash after a sugar high, my tummy was uncomfortable and my satisfaction … still unsatisfied.

My head hit the pillow with guilt and self disappointment flooding my mind. As I drifted off into my food coma, I pondered why I accepted food as a replacement for what I was really desiring satisfaction from?

I expect we all seek out satisfaction in things or people as replacements for what we truly desire or need. Sometime we turn to exercise, or work, or shopping, or gaming, or reading, or drinking, or drug use, or, or, or …

The list of things we go to for satisfaction is great, individual, and all share the same commonality … they do not satiate our hunger, for we hunger for something greater.

What we often desire is peace, relationship, recreational time, to be heard, solutions to our struggles, health, love.

What we often do is seek replacements to satisfy the voids in our lives, and our hearts. In doing this, we feed our loneliness, our anxiety, our heartache rather than placing it in the hands of one who gives true and full satisfaction.

“For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
Psalm 107:9

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

 

 

 

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Sitting in the driver’s seat, I struggled to focus on my task behind the wheel.

My vehicle was filled with myself and four teenage bodies.

Driving ‘shot gun’ was our DJ for the ride. He plus two of the back seaters had started school together. They have gone through the trials and excitement of starting kindergarten, school trips, group assignments, team sports, puberty, crushes on girls and pounding on each other on the playground.

Those three … they are friends.

Perfect, inseparable, ever-loving friends?

NO!

They have fought, cursed each other (out loud and silently), ignored each other, and put their individual self ahead of the others.

In other words, they are real friends.

I have had friends like that over the years too. Friends who are close for a season, then not so close. Friends who have ignored me. Friends who I have put behind my own desires.

But, back to my journey. 

We had been on a school-related outing for the day.

Our DJ for the drive had hooked his phone up to my vehicle, and he was confidently rocking to the music … hitting every note … I mean EVERY note that exists! He was revelling in sharing his favourites, at very high volumes.

Some days I really struggle with how to ensure that this young man has interactions with friends. After all, he lives life with a diagnosis, and developmental issues that make it harder for him to ‘keep up’, socially with his peers.

But, this day, in my vehicle with these young men, I realized how very far school has come, since I was there age, when I had little interaction with the students of similar diagnosis.

Now these are not perfect, inseparable, ever-loving friends.

They have fought, cursed each other (out loud and silently), ignored each other, and put their individual self ahead of the others.

In other words, they are real friends.

We all sang along with him, for a few lines of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. 

He LOVED it … and sang louder.

Sitting in the driver’s seat, I struggled to focus on my task behind the wheel.

Because the joy of everyone in my vehicle shone on the faces of all within, and it reminded me that when it comes to friendships, we should never stop believing.

 

 

 

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I remember dreaming and anticipating those rare middle school dances  …

Girls on one side of the room, guys on the other.

MUCH too much make-up.

Not enough deodorant worn by many.

Too much cologne worn by many more.

Couples dancing with barely any part of their bodies touching, or so close there was no room for the Holy Spirit, let alone Jesus (a little Christian dating humour … not humour that my kids would find funny, but humour that is funny in my imagination).

And I remember the song, by Straight Lines, (the hardest part of love is) “Letting Go”.

Recently, I was reminded of it when at a Christian Conference Centre, listening to Charles Price speak on the story of Abraham and Isaac. This is my personal favourite story from the Bible, and one that I have written about in a 3-part blog series:
https://itsawonderfilledlife.net/2015/03/24/gods-test-abraham-father-of-isaac/

Years before Abraham took his son on a hike up the mountain to make a sacrifice that Abraham didn’t want to make, God had made a promise to Abraham that he would one day be the father of many nations (Genesis 17).

Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice the son who was the premier star in his sky? And why would Abraham actually follow through with God’s instructions?

God had promised that Abraham would be the father of multitudes, but Abraham had to let go of his human understanding of how that would happen, in order to trust that God would keep his promise, and that Isaac would not simply be a falling star.

Remember, Abraham had learned this lesson, the hard way. When God had taken his good ‘ol time in fulfilling his promise, Sarah and Abe took matters into their own hands and utilized Haggar to begin Abraham’s nation. This had not turned out so well, for anyone involved. And this is often what happens when we attempt to fulfill a God-sized promise with human-sized perspective.

When we believe that God has made a promise to us, we begin to dream of how that promise might be fulfilled. But, we need to let go of our dream, releasing it back to the one who has hung the stars in the sky. For it is through him that our dreams are born, and it is through him that our dreams come true.

The hardest part of love is letting go … but what we get back, in return, could fill the night sky with the brightest lights.

 

 

 

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The first week of school is full of beginnings, big and small.

There’s new teachers, new classes, new expectations … new shoes!

For most students (and school staff, for that matter), showing up may seem small, but it can be the biggest thing!

There are assemblies, course outlines, going over rules, and even a short week.

It can seem as though there is not much happening, not much being accomplished, but these small beginnings are not insignificant.

As I was reading commentaries on Zechariah 4:10, I felt more productive in the small beginnings of my own week.

In the Pulpit Commentary, I read that the small things that were being referred to were actually promises of what is to come, therefore what is being declared is actually more like, “can any one, after these promises and prophecies, presume to be doubtful about the future?”

And that is what small beginnings often are, promises and prophesies of what is to come. These small beginnings are actually the ground level, the foundation on which a year of learning, growing and maturing are built.

So do not despise the baby steps that begin this journey … they are the birth of our momentum.

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Might be good better adjusted further

Might be good better adjusted further

As a kickstart to summer, hubby and I took a road trip to visit dear friends.

On this trip we learned something new about each other.

Hubby likes to take the road less travelled, whereas I desire a more purpose driven trip.

As we travelled, hubby loved the meandering country roads, in the valley of a mountain range. Periodically encountering farm vehicles, who we would need to wait patiently behind, until a safe location spot in the road availed passing the slow moving vehicles.

I, on the other hand, yearned for the three (or four) lane highways, on which good time could be made, and progress toward our goal of reaching our friendly destination would be achieved.

In the middle of summer we took another trip, across the state of Washington, from West to East (from the coast to the desert … in August! But, that is a story for another day). For hubby, our destination was the reason for the trip. For myself, it was the mountain highway vistas that had my interest peeked.

Were I driving, we would have stopped at every pull off, to see all that we could see.

Hubby, on the other hand, just wanted to reach our destination, as soon as possible.

For this trip, it was I who desired the road less travelled, and he who wanted purpose-driven travels.

Then, last weekend, we packed up and pointed the vehicle south, to the Oregon Coast. This is our favourite vacation destination, and the trip was entirely a purpose-driven one, from north to south to north again. The only roads less travelled were in and around the area where we stayed.

Through our individual and combined responses, these road trips have shown me something about our years together.

It doesn’t matter which road we take.

There have been times when one of us is heading in a very specific direction, and it’s full boar ahead, whereas the other just goes along for the ride. Sometimes the driver is reversed. Then there are the times when we have both been intent to get to our destination, redeeming the time to get there.

What matters is that we are heading to the same destination.

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This is the final first day of school, for our son, for our family.

Nineteen years ago, our oldest daughter entered kindergarten. Today, as with each first day, teeth and hair will be brushed, new (or at least clean) clothes donned, and a rushed photo was taken at the door, before loading the vehicle with bodies and new school supplies, to make the short journey to their place of higher learning.

It was only this weekend that this reality sent me back through the years of schooling. There were the friendships, the teachers, the school photos, the field trips, the science fairs, the works of art, the sports, plays and musical activities. There have been enough smiles to light up a city, enough tears to fill a bathtub.

Through all the reminiscing, my mind kept bringing me back to one thing which involved each of our three children in their elementary years, but the message of which has become a lifetime challenge, particularly for our son, for whom this is the final first day of school.

When our three attended elementary school, they would return home on the first day of school with a letter that struck fear and nightmares into my momma heart. It was the annual note about the need for an earthquake kit. 

Having grown up on the East Coast of North America, earthquakes were something that happened someplace else. Even now, when I cross a bridge, I recognize that the ‘big one’ might happen before I return to terra firma.

Within that letter about earthquake preparedness would be a list of needed items … granola bars, fruit leathers, juice box, a large plastic garbage bag, a family picture, a letter to comfort your child until you reunite … IF you don’t reunite.

And so, that evening, I would sit, with paper and pen, ready to write.

And I would sob, because what momma wants to write what might be their final communication, to their child?

Eventually, I would take a big girl breath, and write the same message that I wrote the year before, and the one before that. It’s the only message that matters, and it matters whether I am dead or alive.

My child,

I love you more than words could ever describe,

But,

God loves you more,

And he will never leave you.

Whenever I would tell my son this message, that God loves him more, he would place his hands on my cheeks and shake his head saying, “no mommy, you love me more.” And I would reply, “but God loves you most. He gave up his son for you, and I could never give up my son. God loves you more.”

I hope that whether my children are starting at a new school, moving to a new city, starting their own families, struggling with relationships, experiencing failing health, or survived an earthquake they will always remember that they are not alone, but they are surrounded by one who loves them, even more than me.

God loves you more, from the first day to the last, from beginning to end.

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