Archive for September, 2017

Despite the fact that, when asked, I almost never know how many years hubby and I have been married (it’s twenty-eight today), I never forget how very much I felt that I loved him on that day … oh, and I still do 😘.

But anyone who has been married long enough to have had a disagreement, an all-out fight, knows that they had no idea what love was on their wedding day. For love is not a once-for-all feeling, but a gradual, ever-evolving metamorphis.

This past summer I watched a video that reminded me how very little real love was involved in the early days of our marriage. As a matter-of-fact, I would say we really only found, in each other, someone who would meet our needs.

In this video Rabbi Dr. (psychiatrist, professor, author) Abraham Twerski introduced me to the concept of Fish Love. Fish love is described as how one might say they love fish, when what they mean is that they love to eat fish, because fish tastes good to them, and it satisfies their appetite. The fish meets their needs.

Twerski said,

“True love is a love of giving, not a love of receiving.”

When we were first married the knowledge and feelings of love were greatly defined by what we received from the other. He filled my cup of needs, wants and desires, and I filled his. In a sense it might be hard to tell where the love originated … was it in the giving or in the receiving? One can feed the other, and in the early years of marriage the give and take is constant.

But, as the years go on it is not so constant, and the cups empty.

It is then that one realizes that fish love doesn’t last. For it is in the selfless, sacrificial giving to each other, even when we aren’t sure that our giving will be recripricated, that we know that we love and are loved by the other.

Ephesians 5:1-2 continues this theme of giving and sacrificial love …

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a grant offering and sacrifice to God.”

There is to our twenty-eight years, and counting, of learning to love beyond fish love, hubby. Let me take you out for dinner … but maybe not seafood.

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Emily Dickinson said, “forever is composed of nows.”


As an experienced procrastinator, such words sit heavily on my conscience.

I wanted to set a new goal for this new school year (which always seem more like the start of the year than January, for me). It came to mind, quickly, that I needed to have a goal of daily accomplishments … little bites of things to be done, rather than waiting for the next weekend, the next holiday.

So that is what I have been attempting to do.

One day it was cleaning the bathroom, another it was dusting the furniture (you know, one of those jobs you do when you can write on the furniture, with your finger, and it stays there like a not-so-secret message), another it was cleaning my bed table (you would have to see it to understand what a job that was), another was waxing chairs I had painted (two chairs each day).

These were all little jobs that, having been left to a weekend, would have seemed to have stolen the concept of day off or sabbath.

The words of Emily Dickinson take us beyond my simple goal of getting things done, now.

Her timeless words remind us of the words in Ephesians 5:16, “redeem the time, because the days are evil.”

There is so much in our days that take us away from the things that actually redeem or best use our time. Things like prayer, worshipping our God and Creator, spending time in God’s word.

But there are also ways to intermingle our one-to-one relationship with God with our days full of work, and chores, and maintaining life. When we take care of God’s creation, when we love our neighbour (or family, or co-worker), when we do our jobs to the best of our abilities, when we clean our toilets with thanksgiving we are walking on holy ground, experiencing and expressing worship to our God. We are redeeming the time … making the best use of our time.

We still need to pray and read God’s word, for that is for our own, personal growth and development with Christ, but we also need to take what we learn and spread it around in our daily lives.

And now is the time!


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Change is hard, and not always comfortable.

As I write today, I am sitting in my comfortable chair, feet up, coffee beside me, the Wonderdog snoring at my feet and the sky slowly lightening with the rising sun. I am delightfully comfortable, and I like it.

To change is to accept that we might be uncomfortable.

If I change chairs, it might not be as cozy.

If I try a new food at a restaurant, it might not be as tasty.

If I get a new hair style, it might not suit me as much.

This month I left what was known, safe and comfortable for a new job. As people have asked how I like the new job, I have opted to be completely honest …

“It has been good and bad, encouraging and frustrating … overall, change is hard when you are older.”

The first week of my new job I was frustrated with my commute and  lonely for familiar faces … specific familiar faces of students and staff. The second week I was growing in affection for the new faces, the delightful team I get to work with and the students whose names I started to know. The third week I had figured out the commute, had a student initiate playing chicken in the hallway, began to revel in getting to help students with math (a personal love) and started praying for my co-workers.

I have also realized something about change …

change is hard, change is uncomfortable, but maybe we are not created to be comfortable.

In the there are numerous accounts of Jesus telling people to GO.

  • in the Great Commission, Jesus says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)
  • Jesus told an adulterous woman to, “Go, and sin no more.” John 8:11
  • after healing the man with leprosy, Jesus told him to “go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded.” Luke 5:14
  • to the woman who was healed from many years of bleeding, by, through faith, touching his cloak, he said, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace. You are free from your suffering.”  Mark 5:34

And in Isaiah, when commissioned as prophet, by the Lord, Isaiah showed how to respond to the call to go:

“Then I heard the Lord’s voice, saying, “Who can I send? Who will go for us?”
So I said, “Here I am. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8)

We are called and commissioned to go.

Though this job change is uncomfortable, I am coming to realize that is is good to be uncomfortable, challenged and even a bit lonely. These experiences give new insights, and prompt reliance on the God who promises to already be where we are going.

“Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9


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fallJust days ago the calendar was announcing the beginning of autumn. For weeks, the moon and all of nature were already offering us sneak peaks in the season that is now upon us.

The days come to their dark end much earlier, the sun has slowed her morning rise in the skies, there is a distinctive chill in the air each morning, the gardens are slowing in their production of vegetables and the deciduous trees are showing their fall colours.

I mourn the end of summer’s heat, yet I delight in the variation of colors on the trees. Their twisting and swaying in he air, as they cascade from branches to earth creates a peaceful, dreamy contentment within.

The trees seem so eager to let their foliage fall from their life source, as if separating from them was life-giving.

What do we hold on to that, on first appearance, might be beautiful? What if those things of beauty were actually strangling the life-breath from us, keeping us from maturing fully?

love of self?
dependence on another (above all else)?
desire for things?
working overtime?
time online?

The example of the autumn trees is that they bear beautiful leaves, then release them. It is not until months later that beauty re-emerges, in the form of spring buds and green leaves. All the while, growth is occurring throughout the entire tree, for the leaves, that have been sapping (love the pun?) it’s energy, have fallen. This, cyclical, process continues because that which is so attractive (but temporary) gets released, making room for new growth.

What if we released and reduced our hold on the temporary things that draw us in, taking our time and all other resources from that which has eternal value? From that which promotes growth?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:1-17



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Firmness of character.
Harmony of practice.

Those are the two most common definitions of the word, consistency that I found while looking through numerous dictionaries.

The word can refer to a practice (harmony of practise), such as how my father-in-law (and another family member in my house) sets the table for his breakfast … at night, before going to bed. People can also have physical rituals that they become obsessive about completing. This can essentially imprison such individuals in their own behaviour.

It can also refer to the regular and predictable character traits in a person’s everyday life, such as my friend who always greets me with a smile and warm welcome (even when I am late, haven’t returned her emails, or missed her birthday). As well, individuals may be consistent in that they are mean, lie or take advantage of others.

If I were to be totally honest, to me, the word consistent is synonymous with boring.

I, typically, love variety, flexibility and the opportunity to change things up … often.

Whenever I have things that I do regularly (such as getting ready for bed, cleaning the house, shopping at the grocery store), I, intentionally, do not do those tasks the same way, every time. I am so resistant to being consistent in my practice that I actually kind of fear that I will get myself ‘locked in’ to doing things only one way.

Yet, whenever I go to a good funeral (and we all know what those are like), the things that catch my ear are the characteristics and practices of the deceased that were … you guessed it … consistent.

The mom or dad who would always stop what they were doing when someone walked in the room.

The parent who read their Bible every morning.

The grandparent who came to every school, sport or arts event.

The neighbour who always made a meal for others when there was a crises, death or birth in the household.

These consistent behaviours and traits are not necessarily what can earn one the most money, fame or worldly forms of success. A life lived without these behaviours and traits (and others), though, can be quite unsuccessful in terms of those who share life with us in our homes, workplaces and communities.

Consistency is not about boring regularity, but persistent steadfastness that is focused on making life, and our world better for others, through the stability that our behaviours and character traits produce.

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
constantly mentioning you in our prayers,
remembering before our God and Father
your work of faith and labor of love
and steadfastness (consistent practice) of hope
in our Lord Jesus
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3




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The vehicle was filled with the sounds of a baseball game. Barely a word spoken for dozens of miles. Contentment filled my heart, my soul.

I remembered hearing my grandmother say that a good marriage is one where a couple can drive in a car for miles and the silence be comfortable.

Numerous times over previous years, driving in the same direction, on the same highway, with the same baseball team playing on the radio, barely a word spoken for dozens of miles …

but my heart was filled with the emptiness of discontent.

The silence so uncomfortable.

The seasons in a marriage, like the seasons in the northern hemisphere, can be such a contrast, one from another. The sunny summer days can seem like endless picnics, cookouts and sweet days at the beach.

But the storms of winter can rage, blowing out electricity, and snowing you in, torrential rains causing permanent water damage.

I remember one such winters day in our marriage when we drove this very route, and I had prayed (with little investment of hope) for a miracle for our marriage. Truly it was a last ditch, faith-lacking prayer.

We had reached the point that, though we did still love each other (in a covenant-commitment manner of love), neither one of us liked or had affection for each other.

Why would I share such weakness, such imperfection?

Because I believe that heartache and suffering just have to have purpose outside of personal growth. If telling our story resonates in the heart and experience of another who is trying to protect themselves from the wintery blizzards of marriage, then I can look back and be thankful in all circumstances.

This is marriage … real marriage. Though we go to the alter and make promises in clean, perfectly altered attire, we live in the sandbox of reality. It’s not clean, or pretty, nor does it always fit. We all have these winters in our marriages … not one is perfect, not one is a bed of summery roses every day.

As we, wordlessly, comfortably drove that same highway, one night this summer, I felt the gentle, fresh breeze of summer evening coming into the windows of our car.

Suddenly, I realized that the comfortable silence we were surrounded by was the miracle of my hope-lacking prayer of years past …

when the season was not so gentle to our relationship, and we were not so gentle to each other.

The hopeless had been reborn, redeemed through the groaning of the Spirit, when we were weak, and did not know (feel) in our hearts that hope that was available.

hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what they already have?

But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.”
Romans 8:24-26

(Image above Lawton Wilson)

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There is much hesitancy in our world today to identify as … anything.

Gender is, obviously, much discussed, but it is not the only issue with great debate.

Interestingly, there are many people who go to church, attend youth or small groups, pray, participate in communion and practise many other activities related to Christianity … yet they struggle to identify as a Christian or Christ-follower.

The most common reasons I have heard for this lack of ability or willingness (or is it a lack of faith?) to identify as a Christian is:

  • they do not yet ‘have it all together’
  • they so not want to identify as a Christian because there are so many ways that Christians have messed up

In the early days of Christendom, identifying with Christ was very public.

Baptism was the initial identifier of those (Jews) who were identifying as followers of Jesus, their Messiah. It was John the Baptist (the cousin of Jesus) who was inviting them to confess their sins, then come to the Jordan River, where they would be symbolically, publicly cleansed or redeemed of their sins.

The Jewish people could relate somewhat to this practise, as the Jewish custom of Tvilah was common. In this ancient practise, people of the Jewish faith went to be cleansed, purified, restored after having encountered something or someone (ie. a corpse) unclean, according to Levitical law.

The baptism that John was inviting the Jews, the early Christians, to was a once-for-all cleansing. It was symbolic of the forgiveness and redemption that Jesus had come to offer …

Forgiveness and redemption for our sins
yesterday, today and tomorrow.

John the Baptist did not invite people who were already purified to participate in the baptism that he was performing, but those who were dirty and who desired to be clean … those who acknowledged their sin-dirty condition, and who were choosing to be identified with the only one who could make them clean for all eternity.

For those waiting to identify with Christ until they ‘have it all together, the identifying comes before the purification … and the having it all together is a goal, not a destination.

For those not wanting to identify with Christ, because of the many Christians who have, are and will mess up … see above. They are not perfect, as you and I are not perfect “not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

Paul said,
“John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
He told the people
to believe in the one coming after him,
that is, in Jesus.”
Acts 19:4



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