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Archive for February, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 6.13.43 PMWithin the Bible is the record of creation, the fall of humanity, the great successes and failures of people of faith, the prophesy of redemption through the Christ, the fulfillment of it in the life of Jesus, the history of the early church, and the future that awaits all of humanity when Christ returns for the grandest of grand finales.

The Bible is the source of truth, for those who choose to accept and follow the message held within it’s pages. Although my understanding of the Bible is incomplete, I believe that it is where the answers for all of life are to be found.

Recently I came across what I thought were conflicting messages, all within the same setting, spoken by Jesus himself. Then I looked more closely, and understood that I had only known what was being said, in part.

It is the Passover feast.

The disciples have been cleaned up (foot washing), fed up and soon to be split up.

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
(John 13:36)

Then, in the next chapter (still around the table, in the upper room), and seemingly just moments later, Jesus says,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And 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 14:1-3)

So … you can follow … but not now.

Jesus had to die. He had to suffer and experience separation from his Father, to complete his purpose for coming to Earth. This was something that only Jesus could do, a voyage only he could take, so he told them, you cannot follow now.

He had to go and prepare a place for them, for us. But he didn’t just leave them/us here, with no hope, for he promised to come back and take you to be with me. 

These verses have even more meaning when you read 1 Corinthians 15:50-54:

“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the deadwill be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

I will never fully understand all that Bible teaches, but it does not negate the fact that it is truth, and that it is applicable yesterday, today and tomorrow.

“Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

 

 

 

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(obviously I love alliteration …)

Sometimes we forget what we know in exchange for what we feel.

I had that happen when I read a news article about Canada’s Prime Minister, rolled my eyes and thought … well, not nice thoughts. That was the feel part.

In the midst of my negativity, another thought, one might even say a still, small voice quieted my negativity …

pray for your leaders

I knew I had heard it before, and I was pretty certain that it was from (what I declare, over and over as the source of truth) …

the Bible.

That still, small voice followed me, for days and weeks. It haunted every social media feed, every radio and television newscast. Finally, I did what I knew it was whispering in my ear to do … see what the Bible does say.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 reminds, instructs us:

I urge, then, first of all,
that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for all people—

for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives
in all godliness and holiness.

This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
who wants all people to be saved
and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Well now … that’s a bit of a spanking of biblical proportions!

And so, I (and maybe we) do a bit of a readjustment.

Timothy (that younger, right-hand-man of Paul), tells the Christians of the day (and every day after) to:

  • make petitions/requests of God for all people— for kings and all those in authority. 
  • pray for all people— for kings and all those in authority. 
  • interceed/speak for all people— for kings and all those in authority. 
  • give thanks for all people— for kings and all those in authority. 

Our leaders, whether we voted for them … or not, whether we agree with them … or not, whether we like them … or not, live in a fish bowl of pressure, responsibility and with divergent voices all around (kinda like that of a pastor … but I digress), need our prayers … even if our leader does not acknowledge to whom we are praying. It is our responsibility, straight from the Bible, to pray for our leaders … and it pleases God our Saviour.”

Do you ever wonder might be the fruit for our countries, if Christ-followers, committed our leaders in prayer?

“It is a great privilege
as well as our responsibility
to pray for our government leaders”

Billy Graham

 

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Some days …

We just want to be carried,

like a child,

on the back of their loving, gentle father.

Through a meadow,

green and lush,

warm, but with a light, cooling breeze.

With birds singing,

and a nearby babbling brook,

and bees buzzing from blossom to blossom.

With your arms wrapped around his neck,

held secure by his arms,

with your head resting on his.

With your eyes taking in the beauty,

your nose inhaling the fragrant air,

’til your taste buds can savour it as well.

There is so much to see,

and hear,

to taste,

and smell,

and touch.

The rhythm of being carried

lulls the incessant activity of your mind.

Security for the fearful.

Rest for the weary.

Peace has finally come.

A peace that passes all understanding.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

 

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It is when our children were in their toddler and preschool years that I came to understand the back and forth, the yin and yang of change.

With each stage of growing independence and change, there would be two steps forward and one back. They would take their first steps towards that independence in walking, and become more parent-needy. They would move from crib to bed, and become even more attached to their teddy. They would excitedly start preschool one day, and play ever the more intentionally with their siblings the next.

Children are not alone in this response to change.

As an adult, I find as my summer break ends and I head back to work, within days I am longing for time with my loves. When the road trip starts I look forward to not having to prepare meals, but on the drive home I am excitedly planning a menu for the days after we return home. All those years of longing for the kids to grow up to adulthood … then we miss their daily presence.

Change is never easy,
you fight to hold on
and you fight to let go.

This reality is not necessarily negative, as a matter of fact, it is most healthy to both strive for something new, while mourning that which is behind. That is the life balance that we are all playing with, no doubt, all throughout our lives. The past being like a teddy bear, to run back to and embrace … just a one-step-back kind of embrace.

And so we keep moving forward, we keep changing and growing, not forgetting where our strength to change came from.

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UnknownIn my current job I get to help students with math almost every day … and that makes me happy … honest!

I am not a math expert, or teacher. I don’t always know what to do, nor do I always get the right answer.

My regular message to students is that my goal is not to make them love math, but to not hate it anymore.

I simply want student to love the challenge of the problem … because I know that there is and answer to find, and it will all make sense once the problem is solved.

Really it is not a bad life lesson!

So that is my day job … and then hubby and I went to look at houses and townhouses for sale the other day.

We are about to list our house for sale, and to downsize into one that is more affordable and less time (and money) to spend on maintenance.

Thankfully we have a good amount of equity in our home, sadly, even a townhouse is more than half a million dollars in our area.

We decided to take in a few open houses yesterday, just to get an idea of what is available in our price range.

A house can look good online, but to walk through and smell bad smells, and see dirt marks all over the walls … depressing. And that is what yesterday was for me … depressing.

Then I awoke this morning to a beautiful blue sky and fresh snow all over everything, what a lovely start to the day.

I opened my computer and saw the image (above), and thought about the students who I desire to birth a love for the challenge of the problem.

I often tell people that if one can learn to love the challenge of a math problem, they have a good foundation for facing all of life’s problems, for we can look at all of life’s problem as a challenge to work to solve.

And so, today I am looking at our near future house hunt as a challenge to be solved … because I know that there is an answer/house to find, and it will all make sense once we are looking back.

“Now we see things imperfectly,
like puzzling reflections in a mirror,
(or algebra in a textbook)
but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial and incomplete,
but then I will know everything completely,
just as God now knows me completely.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

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Hey you!

It is the end of the week … or maybe just the beginning.

You are tired, weary to the bone.

There is a fatigue in your steps, an exhaustion in your face.

Your heart is weary, your mind is full, your hands are busy and your soul …

When is the last time you thought about your soul? That which gives life, that which is life, given by the Giver of life itself.

There is so much competing for the life within you, so much to divert your attention away from that which feeds, that which satisfies your soul.

Even that which is good can pull us from that which is better.

Today … right now, whisper to the one who can satisfy, the one that can fill us till we are truly filled …

“I am listening”

I am listening to you.

Remind me who you say I am.

Remind me that I am because you are.

Remind me to just be still and listen.

God, lead us to hear your voice today. Still all the noise. I am listening.

Satisfy my soul.

“For He satisfies the longing soul”
Psalm 107:9

 

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Love is in the air …

in the kindergarten classes,

in the stores,

and all over Amazon.

But what is love? Can it be created? Can it be purchased? Sold?

It’s Greek to me!

No, seriously. The Greeks, in their word wisdom, understood that love is too vast for just one meaning. So they gave it numerous sub titles.

There are four main, distinct words for love:

  • Agape
  • Eros
  • Philia
  • Storge

Storge can often be used interchangeably with affection. It is a love that is not a visual love, but is used often in familial relationships.

Philia is brotherly love, thus the origin of Philadelphia’s name, which is known as the city of brotherly love! It is a love for equals, friendship, caring.

Eros … the origin of the word erotic, is about the physical, intimate, sexual part of love.

Agape is selfless love. Love that is given, with no expectation that it will ever be reciprocated. Thomas Acquinas is said to have explained that agape love is “to will the good of another.”

Four definitions, four separate meanings, encapsulated by one, four-letter word

love

Today is known for it’s focus on love, yet love is not reserved for just one day, any more than love has only one meaning.

To celebrate love is to celebrate all that we love.

It is to celebrate those who we share affection for and with. The family members who give us life, and make life worth living.

It is the friends who we look at, eye to eye, heart to heart. The ones we laugh and cry with. The ones we call, email and text first when we are deliriously happy, or in the depths of despair.

It is the ones whose mind, soul and body seem like an appendage of our own. The ones who we reach for in the dark of night and the light of day.

It is the one, the only one, who created, defined and proved his love for us … yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Happy Valentines Day … every day.

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The Olympic games in Korea have begun, and with them inspiring and heartwarming advertisements.

I have seen a few commercials made for this year’s Olympic games season, but it is still one from 2014 that grabs my attention, and heart. The commercial is for and by P&G called Thank You Mom (click the link to see … get your tissues ready), and it follows the lives of children who eventually become a skier, figure skater, snow boarder and hockey player.

After the stories of the four children to Olympians, through all of the attempts and failures, learning and injuries, each of the Olympians are successful in their respective sports and look to their moms, who have been with them from the beginning. The ad then finishes with these words on the screen:

1234

As a mom, at the end of parenting children (they are all adults), I sometimes find myself looking back and evaluating parenting decisions I made over the years. Sometimes I pat my back and sometimes …

I also look back at my life experience as a daughter, and the decisions, actions, love and consequences (good and bad, natural and enforced) that were part of my childhood.

Failing and falling, disappointments and discouragements, consequence … good and bad,  are part of every life. To stop trying after the downfall, tragic.

My parents did not soften the blows of life, nor did they ‘save’ me from the hard stuff. They were, though, always there for a hug and encouragement afterwards. I am so thankful to them for this.

Being a different generation of parent, I admit that I did sometimes step in and attempt to ‘save’ them. It is interesting to me, now, that it is in many of those times of ‘saving’ them that are the parenting actions that I regret most, for they lost the greater lesson of falling and of having to get back up again.

This lesson builds greater strength, perseverance and tenacity … things that not only Olympians need, for success in life.

 

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JustPassingThrough_Archive

 

There is a story of Jesus, just passing through a town one day, and an extraordinary turn of events occurred.

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through” (Luke 19:1), is how the story begins.

Just passing though.”

No plans to stop, to folks to meet, no sights to see … just passing through.

I love the start of this story, because it is relaxed, it sounds like a carefree day.

I also love the start of this story because when I think of Jericho, my mind wanders to the Old Testament book of Joshua, and how that chapter opens is quite a contrast:

“Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.” (Joshua 6:1)

“No one when out and no one came in.”

The doors were locked, those who we in, stayed in … those who were out, stayed out.

All because of the Israelites … the Jews who threatened the safety of the city (and hey, when Joshua blew his trumpet, after he and the soldiers marched around it … well, the Israelites did kinda crush Jericho).

And who is “just passing through” all these years later, but Jesus … king of the Jews. Just passing through

It doesn’t take one long, as we read and study about the life of Jesus, to know that he may have been just passing through, according to Luke, but Jesus never did anything without purpose.

For his purpose was always redemption.

And on this day, redemption was in his heart for Zacchaeus, the dreaded tax collector.

I love that Jesus is just passing through this city that was once locked to keep the Jews out, and he meets up with Zaccheaus, the Jewish tax collector who was well known for ripping people off, in the name of the Roman Empire (basically, he was working for the other team … imagine Tom Brady dropping his Patriots and signing with the Eagles, days before the Super Bowl … I believe that would make him (Brady and Zaccheaus) a traitor).

Though Jesus may have been just passing through the whole of Jericho was out to see this man, named Jesus, who they had heard was coming their way.

You see, his reputation had reached Jericho before his sandals ever touched that ground.

So, Zaccheaus, the rich Jewish tax collector for Rome (traitor), climbed up a tree to see this Jewish king, teacher, rabbi. He had to climb up a tree because he was short … one might say (and, perhaps, he would agree) that he was not only short in stature, but short sighted as well, when he chose to collect taxes for Rome, for though he acquired wealth, he lost community, birthright and belonging.

For Zaccheaus to choose such a job would set him apart from his people … by his association with Rome, his wealth and his greed.

Zaccheaus wanted to see this Jesus, perhaps because he knew that he was, by cultural connection, his redemption too … for we are all just passing through.

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”” (v. 5)

When he reached the spot … so much for just passing through!

Jesus (king of the Jews),

went to Jericho (a city once locked to keep the Jews out),

to see Zaccheaus (rejected by his people, the Jews, for working with the enemy),

to remind Zaccheaus that he was a descendent or son of Abraham (the Father of the Jews) …

“for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (v. 10)

Redemption, through Jesus, came to Zaccheaus

And he comes for you and I too.

 

 

 

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“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness
It took me years to understand that, this too, was a gift”
Mary Oliver

box

I do not always live it, perfectly, but I do believe that we should look for the positive in all situations … even the dark ones.

That said, I also believe in living authentically, in being really real.

Last week I discovered psychologist, Susan David through a TED talk video. Through listening to her words, my brow furrowed … not in disagreement, but in wonder.

“When we push aside normal emotions
to embrace false positivity
we lose our capacity to develop skills
to deal with the world as it is
not as we wish it to be.”

As I listened to her words two, divergent, experiences came to mind.

One experience was when people would say, “you are always smiling,” with great delight in my (obviously) happy condition.

Another was a lady who would see me and say, “you’re smiling, but I think there is something else going on, on the inside.”

On the one hand I was disappointed that I was not truly being seen, and on the other I was disappointed that I was being seen clearly.

 

Though I will continue to smile through the tough stuff, it is imperative that we have people in our lives who allow us to drop our false positivity fronts. People who love us and want the reality of who we are … the good, the bad and the ugly. We all need people in our lives who give us the freedom and space to laugh our belly laughs, and weep our tears.

What I bet is that when we are living the dark and twisties in our lives, your smiling front meets my smiling front, and we are both feel alone. Both feeling that there is no one to be really real with. No one who understands disappointment, hurt or fears. No one to share the load, no one wipe our tears.

And so we smile brighter, so that we can hide our stress and disappointments and sorrows, creating a sort of hopeful utopia of our mind, rather than really living a real life … with all of the good and bad, struggle and sweetness.

Ms. David continues:

“I have had hundreds of people tell me what they don’t want to feel.
They say things like,
“I don’t want to try, because I don’t want to feel disappointed”
Or, “I just want this feeling to go away”.

“I understand, (I say to them) but you have dead people’s goals 

Tough emotions are part of our contract with life
you don’t get to have a meaningful career
or raise a family
or leave the world a better place
without stress and discomfort.

Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”

If discomfort is, truly, the price of admission to a meaningful life,
and if we all desire a meaningful life (and we do),
we all need to embrace the reality that stress and discomfort are part of the package,

and it is worth it, because it is the only life we get to live, and to really live is to live authentically, acknowledging that it isn’t always easy, or pretty or happy, or good.

No more “dead people’s goals” of perfection and happy,
Lets just live this real life, with grace.
Giving others, and ourselves, the space to be real.

 

 

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