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Archive for July, 2017

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Last month hubby and I went to the funeral of an older man.

I have been to many funerals that made me cry, laugh and sigh, but this one made me want to live better. Not eat healthier foods and get more exercise, but to live each day with a desire to make life better for others.

It was said how he adored each day with his wife of the last few years. They had met each as widowers and found that the other made their days better.

Children, by birth and by marriage, spoke of his support, his acceptance of them.

Grandchildren spoke of how their grandfather always had time for they and their friends, at his home or the family cabin.

Others spoke of his support as a friend. How hard working he was in his occupation, before retirement. His joy in supporting a summer camp, with his physical strength, his financial support and by sending his children and grandchildren to attend. His commitment to his creator, and his joy in sharing that relationship with others. His active attendance in his church, and to his church family.

As I sat through the memorial, I found myself making mental notes. I found myself desiring to live the rest of my days, with my own funeral/memorial in mind.

Maybe that is what we should all do … live our lives as if each day would be taken into consideration for what would be shared at our final service.

Most of all, I hope that, in the end, I have left a legacy of love and that I have pointed to Christ, for all the joyful blessings as well as for the strength when the blessings are fewer to see.

 

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I just realized that I hadn’t posted yesterday!
I have been hard at work (avoiding) preparing a message for this weekend (on aging!!).
So, in lieu of a belated new post, here is my contribution, from over five years ago.
Now to get a handle on this message …

Although I am only thirty-nine (with four years experience) I am becoming more acquainted with aging, and it’s changes each and every day.

There are some changes that come with ‘time passing on’ (this is hubby’s way of referring to aging) that I quite like.

I love the lines that are forming just outside of the corners of my mouth, and my eyes, because they are evidence to smiles and laughs. I may not remember every individual event that caused my face to smile, but the lines will never hide that joy has filled my days.

I love that I have been plucking my eyebrows for so many years that the hairs almost never re-grow anymore.

I love that I do not have to concern myself with pimples, other than the odd one or two.

I love that, because my hair is … silvering … I have a natural excuse to become an even more blond, and I now have a number(s) to identify and define my hair color ūüėČ

There are also some changes that have occurred that I do not favor so much.

I do not like that my knees have decided I need to pay more attention to them, and they attain my attention in the most uncomfortable of ways.

I do not like that some foods that I ingest want to burn themselves into my memory (or at least into my esophagus).

I definitely do not like the anticipation of body parts migrating in a southerly direction.

But, I especially do not like that the appearance of my hands is changing.

The famous, all-knowing ‘they’ say that the way to most accurately guess the age of woman, you need to only to glance at her neck or her hands.

As each year passes, I have noticed subtle changes happening in my hands, that I am not so happy about. The lines in them are deepening. They need constant re-hydration from rich lotions. I seem to have lost the ability to grown my fingernails to even the slightest length, without their splintering. There seems to be more skin, as it is losing it’s youthful elasticity. They sometimes even ache … but it is their appearance that is more disheartening to me.

It is a frequent occurrence that I glance at my hands, and have no idea whose hands they are. They surely cannot be mine, because mine do not look so … so … aged. Then I realize they move when and where I will them, and so they truly are my own.

Maybe the changes in them bother me, because my hands were the body part(s) that I actually liked about myself. Maybe I thought I would be immune to the normal, natural results of ‘time moving on.’

All that said, maybe the wrinkles, the lines, the shorter nails and the loosening skin are all characteristics of hands that have been held by generations before me, that have held on to the children I gave birth to, that have made meals for those I love, that have held the hands of people readying for eternity, that have written or typed words of encouragement, that have touched the shoulder of one carrying the weight of the world, that have folded in an act of pray, that have been kissed by the man of my life, that will one day be taken by my Redeemer as He welcomes me into eternity.

Maybe they are like the laugh lines I so adore on my face. Maybe they are the lines of hands that have loved, and been loved in return.

So, I’ll keep slathering rich lotions onto them, so that, although they will be marked by the lines of time, they will still be welcoming to the touch of those who need a hand.

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messy

I walked by the mirror in my bathroom and almost audibly shrieked (but I didn’t because it was 5:05am). I had been too tired the night before to blow-dry my hair after washing it the night before, and the results were … Ursula-like (think the villain in the Little Mermaid movie).

I knew a straightening iron would be the most important tool of the day to come!

Messy hair makes me laugh. Well, of course it does, but I laugh because it reminds me of what my insides are like.

I think that most of us do well at cleaning ourselves up, and presenting ourselves to the world as put-together, calm, cool and collected.

I also think that, much of the time, we are a little messy on the insides.

Outwardly, we walk with grace, while stumbling through our days full of stress, worry, anxiety and regrets.

Outwardly, we sit, regally, while inwardly sitting in the remnants of the refuse that has been heaped into our lives, by others or by our own choices.

Outwardly, we smile broadly, while the tears of loneliness, failure and sorrow are held in the ducts of our eyes until we reach our vehicle, our pillow, our shower where they will flow like a waterfall with no end.

And so messy hair makes me laugh. Dust that covers my house makes me laugh. Sticky floors make me laugh. Laundry piles makes me laugh. Words tumbling out of order or words that fail to come when we just can’t think of that one word, make me laugh. They make me laugh because they are real. They are¬†out there for all the world to see.

They are obvious, and messy and real.

The great thing about the messes in our lives is that, once they are obvious to all who can see them, hear them, experience them, they can be dealt with, cleaned up.

Life is messy, on our insides as well as on the outside.

Don’t be afraid to let your mess show to someone … they might even pitch in and help clean it up.

 

 

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Who is the Alpha?

duke

He is finally catching on!

Our Wonderdog needed to be reminded that he was not the alpha male, and so we had to inject some tough love. 

One tough lessen for him to learn is that no longer is our bed, his bed. This was not an easy lesson (for any of us).

He has a lovely wooden bed, with a lovely cushion, covered by a hand made flannel baby blanket (nothing but the best for this guy). It is more than roomy, and sits at the end of our bed … but he finds our bed, with our warm bodies in it, to be far superior. 

About a month ago, hubby was coming to bed. The WonderDog and I had retired awhile earlier, and he was snuggling near my feet. When hubby attempted to evict him, our canine friend growled at him with great venom in his snarl. It took a bit of effort to get him to his bed, and calmed down. This was the incident that whispered to us “he doesn’t know who is in charge, and he thinks it might be him.”

This incident with our dog’s natural desire to be the alpha in our house makes me think of how often I forget that I am not the queen/king of the castle of my life. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us of our proper, intended, place:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Natalie Grant released a song called, King of the World. It is about this very real creature struggle for that alpha role in our lives. Our pursuit should not be comfort, like my WonderDog, but contentment that comes from obedience. 

God is our alpha, and omega, our beginning and end.

“Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas

So who am I to try to take the lead

Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough

When you’re the one who made me from the dust
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?

I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world

How could I make you so small

When you’re the one who holds it all

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

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Chatting with a friend, it was clear that something had changed in her life, for I had never before known her to be so comfortable in her own skin.

As a matter-of-fact, she oozed confidence, joy and strength.

“What had caused the change?” I asked.

The answer was not a quick one, waiting on the tip of her tongue, but one that came from asking it of herself … again, and again. For her answer was not in an event or epiphany, but in a slow and gradual change from the inside out.

As we talked, I found myself suggesting different possible events and choices she had made, in the last year, or more. Each suggestion caused her to pause and not, but not in total agreement.

At last we discussed some of the more difficult things she had been through and experienced. The more we talked the more clear it was that life had actually been more challenging, more difficult, through this process of her metamorphosis. There were events and frustrations she had faced that might put many of us back in our beds with the blankets over our heads.

Finally I smiled at her, “I know what precipitated this changed! You chose bravery. You did the hard stuff, you¬†faced the challenges and you kept moving forward.”

She smiled, reflecting on my words, but also reflecting on what had gone on in her life.

She was an overcomer, and doing that hard stuff, the uncomfortable stuff, challenging herself to keep going actually strengthened her, making her even more prepared to forge on when the next, even more difficult challenge presented itself.

Often in our society, today, we are gracious with ourselves, giving ourselves the permission to say no, to bow out and to not complete the tasks that are difficult. This is not all bad, but maybe, what we need to consider, is that it is through perseverance, through humility and through hardships that we condition ourselves, growing in strength as we commit to completing the challenge?

“A sense of weakness may bestir us to a bravery
which else we had not known.”
C.H. Spurgeon

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sparrow

I had a great morning yesterday.

I spent the morning in the garden, cleaning up an area where the roses needed a trim.

I had, intentionally, planned to do anything that resembled work (though the garbage can full of clippings and weeds might indicate that work did occur).

It was in the garden that I experienced the most joy. Earlier in the day, I had listened to a song produced by my daughter’s friend, that I loved in my youth,¬†“His Eye is on the¬†Sparrow”.¬†As I wandered through the thorns of the roses the song was still in my mind, on my lips (thank goodness not a human pair of ears were within listening range, for I am only a large group singer).

The garden was a mess. The last time I had weeded and trimmed was mid March. The weeds had gone to seed, the roses were bundles of withered mess.

I sing, because I’m happy
I sing, because I’m free
For his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know he watches me.

The words played in my mind the whole time. The longer they played, the more daringly I sang (no one was home, and our neighbours live a safe distance to avoid ear damage from my version of singing). As the moments ticked on, the affirmation of security in the truth of those lyrics created the beauty of sanctuary in my weeds.

And that is what my life is often full of … weeds, and the need to have what is withered, what is worn and draining energy snipped, pruned and carried away. But, whatever state my heart and life are in, I have a heavenly father who is also the master gardener of my soul and life, and he watches over me.

“Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?
And yet not one of them will fall to the ground
apart from your Father.
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
“So do not fear;
you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10:29-31

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more

It isn’t until summer that I remember how very much I love the colour of the walls in our bedroom.

They are a soft, pale yellow, like butter. I had painted the ensuite bath, in our previous house, with the same colour, and I loved it so much, that I immediately painted our bedroom with the same buttercream yellow, once we moved … thirteen years ago!

It is in the late afternoon, when the sun is shining into the south and west windows of our bedroom that the colour comes alive, and emits not just a brightness, but a sense of delight that brings a smile to my face.

The thing is, I never have or take the time to enjoy this glorious, sacred space.

But, in summer, I sometimes wander into my bedroom, and realize that it is a place of visual magic. I lay on the bed (or get totally irresponsible and slide into the bedsheets … in the middle of the day … gasp!) and my eyes wander as the light is reflected off of my golden walls and into my sun-starved soul.

Pure delight!

As I enjoy yet another summer of such opportunities, I am learning to not take these golden opportunities for granted. These summer days are complete blessings, full of so many opportunities to fill one’s cup.

I think I am finally reaching the point of maturity that I am learning to drop what I think I must do, and just “be still … and know that I am NOT God” (Psalm 46:10 … with edit ūüėČ ).

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hobbies

EVERYTHING hurts!

Yesterday I worked at trimming a tree, two shrubs and clearing rock away from a pathway that hubby and I will install brick.

And today, EVERYTHING hurts!

Usually when I spend a day of physical labor, I am wise, and take an anti inflammatory medication at the end of that day. This usually ensures that I sleep well that night and that I do not awaken the next day in agony … yesterday I was not wise!

That said, I love that summer avails me the time and opportunity to get some physical labor done around our property … in the most creative of ways.

Often we look at that activity, which pays the bills, as our one and only. We invest one hundred percent of our time, energy and creativity into that one thing.

But we humans are more than one dimensional.

We can be injured (physically), deal with a mental illness or suffer with spiritual starvation … three parts of who we are.

In the same way, we are healthier when we work hard our bodies, work for money and participate in creating things. Not one is more important, and all make for a healthier whole.

It gives me perspective into looking at when work/school begin in the fall. I need to remember that my whole is not defined simply by what brings home a paycheque, but also what keeps me moving, and what keeps me dreaming and creating.

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Driving down the road, listening to the news about the increasing numbers of forest fires overnight, I found myself whispering Lord hear our prayers.

Though I was driving by myself, I had a sense that anyone of faith, listening to the destructive power of the fires in British Columbia was making the same petition.

Lord hear our prayers, is a prayer of intercession and of faith.

The beauty of it is that it is simplistic and unifying.

This petition, this intercession is a reminder that there is so much more that we share in common, than that which we differ. We share in our love for those dear to us, our concern for the health and safety for our fellow humans, our desire for peace, that we would be good caretakers of our world and it’s resources, and¬†our hope for eternity.

So today, I am praying, but I am so aware that I am not praying alone, or in my own steam.

Lord, care for our loved ones.

Lord hear our prayers.

Lord, for those who are ill, please bring healing.

Lord hear our prayers.

Lord, bring peace to our world.

Lord hear our prayers.

Lord, guide us in being good stewards of this world and all that is on it.

Lord hear our prayers.

Lord, we rest in the reassuring knowledge that our forever is with you.

Lord hear our prayers.

And Lord, please be with those affecting by the forest fires. The fire fighters, emergency personal, those displaced, those fearful. Please bring refreshing rains to these fire endangered lands.

Lord hear our prayers.

Amen.

 

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Death and taxes, those two fatalistic certainties of life. Neither desirable, but both inevitable.

It is a difficult thing to walk in the shadow of the valley of death with someone.

I say this mostly at a distance from experiencing it, as my walks with the dying have been rather few. My hubby, though, is a pastor, and he has walked this road much more frequently.

When death is imminent, daily life gets postponed, for to live with the dying can be the most real of living life.

I often think of this valley walk as one on holy ground … living in the space between no longer and not yet.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, he would preach, ‚ÄúRepent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near‚ÄĚ (Matthew 4:17).¬†As Jesus gave his famous Sermon on the Mount, he spoke of the kingdom of God/heaven. It would seem that the kingdom of God/heaven is wherever He was/is. So, when he was walking this Earth, as a man, he was delivering the Kingdom, just as we, who live with the Spirit of God in our lives, also bring the kingdom with us where we go (“for the kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21).

But, Philippians 3:20 also tells us:

our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ.”

You see, our residence is here, and we bring the kingdom of God and heaven wherever we go, but our passport … we are citizens of the eternal kingdom of heaven, ruled by the God of all time.

For the believer,¬†“we do not grieve as those who have no hope”.¬†Our hope is in the promise of Jesus, himself, who said, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”¬†(John 14:3).

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!”

Will L. Thompson

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