Archive for August, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-08-30 at 6.55.56 AMAt ten in the evening I was exhausted and ready for bed, and by eleven o’clock I was hunting down Melatonin to help me get to sleep. At around one in the morning (and again at five thirty) I was awakened by the Wonderdog, as he paced and moaned beside my bed. Half an hour later I let him outside to relieve his suffering with gastric distress.

My return to sleep seemed to take forever.

Such is often the way a night goes before returning to work after a break.

There is the fine mix of excitement and dread. Excitement to reconnect with the work community and dread that the first day might be filled with extrovert-friendly get-to-know-you games.

I have a routine each year that the evening before the first day back to work, I go to a movie. This year my movie choice was Christopher Robin.

It was truly a wonder-filled story, with redemption a strong theme.

As might be expected, Winnie the Pooh had the best quotes.

As I reflected on the words of Pooh, I found my own goals for this school year, which I hope I can learn, practice and teach to the students whose lives intersect with mine.

“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.”

To pursue our goals we need to be willing to move away from our comfort zones. There is no such thing as growth without leaving where we are.

“I’m playing say what you see.”

Pooh, while sitting on the train played this game which was simply to name what he say … tree, stone, house, etc. I need to keep my eyes opened, to keep my head lifted up so that I don’t miss anything. I may even need to name what (who) I see, using their names, because we humans benefit from hearing our names.

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.”

It is okay to do nothing, to leave margin in our days with no plans. Not ‘nothing’ time with our phones, folding laundry or surfing Netflix, but time to sit outside at night, eyes focused above in anticipation of a falling star, or time to walk out your door, and just walk, with no goal or destination in mind, Perhaps it could become the catalyst for creativity, for growth, new adventures and dreams.

These are not the goals of our society today. Though they do not guarantee financial or career growth and success, I think they may just challenge and inspire us to be ready for change, acknowledge those around us and take a break each day.

Not bad advice from a silly old bear.



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Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 9.26.58 PM   My most favourite, most challenging story in the Bible, that I come back to again, and again and again, is known as the binding of Isaac. This is the story of when God tells Abraham to take Isaac to Mount Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering.

There are two important factors in this story:

  1. Isaac was God’s promised heir to Abraham, given, miraculously, when Abraham was a very old man.
  2. Abraham was prepared to do as God asked of him.

This account in Genesis 22:1-19, challenges me greatly, for I do not know that I would pass such a test.

It also reminds me of the great verses in the middle of Lamentations:

Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
The Lord‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue,
Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
 The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.”

It is the final line (above) that speaks to me as fitting with the binding of Isaac account …

The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope

That line is the It is well with my Soul parallel. It is the affirmation that if God is all I have, I can be satisfied, I can even have hope.

Sounds good, yes?

Okay, but what if, we were to define things that we might not have, yet still proclaim that if the Lord is all I have, in him I put my hope?

So, how about not getting accepted into the trade or school program you have always dreamed? Or having a medical diagnosis that will change your future planning? Or your child dying? Or finding out you cannot have children? Or someone else getting the promotion you so wanted? Or losing your job? Or your spouse having an affair? Or your spouse dying? Or, or, or?

Can we still say if the Lord is all I have, in him I put my hope?

This is not just an Old Testament teaching either, as Jesus reiterated where God should rate in our lives, when he was being tempted by the devil (Luke 4:8):

Jesus answered,
“It is written:
‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

I admit it is uncomfortable, yet, could you (could I) bind up that which we value most in this life, and lay it on an alter in obedience and willingness to pass the test, to show that we fear God more than we love that thing, that dream, that person?

Could we pass such a test?

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IMG_4194How are you, really?

This is not a question that can be answered with that four-letter F-word (fine).

Really, how are you?

Got some worries? Got fears? How about disappointments? discouragements? … heartbreaks?

Is your mind cluttered with a never-ending to do list? To pay list? People whose needs need to be met list?

Is your prayer list filled with ill health? more bills than money? loneliness? job searches? broken relationships? home searches? sadness?

Jesus understands the tough stuff of life, and much of his message, when he was on this earth, was instruction on how to give our anxieties, our sorrows, our frustrations to him.

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

“Come to me,” he says, “cast your anxieties on me for I care for you” (1 Peter 5:7)

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

I do not have answers for life’s difficult days, but I know who does.

More than that, I know that even though I do not have the answers, even though I do not see the big picture, even though I do not understand human suffering, “I have the God of hope that fills me with unexpected joy and peace, as I trust in him” (Romans 15:13). That hope is available to all who trust in him, who had the keys of our lives over to him.

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Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 8.39.50 AMWho do you think you are?

A question I remember being asked as a child and teen. I bet I am not the only one who, after making a stupid decision, speaking arrogantly, or treating someone in a hurtful manner.

This question doesn’t have to be one that comes from arrogance, stupidity or failure. I can also be a question that brings us to remember who we are … in spite of our arrogance, stupidity or failure.

So, who do you and I think we are?

I think that in the darkest moments, when we are are along with our thoughts, we focus on our failures, we hang our heads in shame.

Though I think we can most certainly learn by reflecting on our mistakes and failures, to perseverate on them does no one any good, ourselves included.

Here’s the thing, in John 8:36, Jesus is talking to Jewish leaders who were beginning to believe that he was, indeed, the Messiah (v. 31). He is explains to them that if they follow him and what he is is teaching, they will be free. But if they do not, they will be living lives of slavery.

“The Son has an established position,
the run of the house.
So if the Son sets you free,
you are free through and through.”

Though you and I may not think of ourselves as slaves, we are indeed slaves to our sin when we turn our backs on the truth that is Jesus. He our emancipator, leading us to the most valuable experience … freedom.

While singing a song in church last Sunday, I was struck by the question, “who do you think you are?” So many negative traits and behaviours ran through my head, as I sang “Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?”

Then came these lines:

“I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am”

Who do I think I am?

I am who You say I am …

The theme of the song is from John 8 which is you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Jesus says, ‘who the son sets free, is free indeed.’ It’s a real declaration of identity. When I introduced this song into our church I read John 8, the scripture this song is based on. It talks about how a slave has no place in the family, but once we’ve been brought into the family then we have this identity as part of God’s family and that identity is an identity of freedom.” – Hillsong Worship

Who You Say I Am
Who am I that the highest King

Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Free at last, He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am




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Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 9.11.14 AM

As I sat in a boat, being shown the lake in it’s entirety I was intrigued by how beautiful yet asymmetrical were the mountains surrounding it. As a lover of symmetry, I kept thinking how perfect they were in their imperfection.

Our daughter has been painting mountains this summer (@rangaart) and I love how in each painting it is the colours of the lower ranges that accentuate the grandeur of the mountain’s heights.

The mountain tops are beautiful because of
the lower ranges and the valleys below them.

I know from experiences hiking up mountains, that I need to climb with my eyes focused   either on where I am presently (ie. focused on each step) or where I am going. My eyes do not look back down the mountain until I reach the destination, the summit. It is then that I can look down and appreciate from where I have come, the efforts to get where I am and breath in the accomplishment of my efforts.

Psalm 121 is one of the Songs of Ascent in the Bible. It was written to be sung as one were to climb to Jerusalem.

Like my own hiking experience, it begins with the words “I lift my eyes to the mountains.” The Psalmist had obviously climbed to a summit before, for he knew that he needed to focus on where he was going.

The passage continues with “where does my help come from?” Not only did he know where he was heading, but why … his eyes were not on the destination, but on who would help him make it to his destination.

Our lives are made up of hills and valleys, and, like the mountain ranges, no two are the same. As we pursue these times in our lives we need to keep our eyes focused on the one, on God, who will will keep our steps steady, who watches over us, who protects us.

As the phrase says, keep your eyes on the prize … but the prize is not the destination, the prize is the help for the journey.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.”



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As I write this post it is Tuesday evening.

I am sitting at a long ‘staff’ meal table, looking down on the lake, watching someone doing periodic flips in the air from the back of a boat, the sun setting in the smokey  (forest fire) skies, and I am listening to nearly one hundred teens play a bonding game for the prize of a table of candy (see pic, below, of the eight foot long table).


I am back at the camp that has been the soul home of our son for eleven summers. Today I got to meet another ‘camp’ mom, whose son is completing his tenth season (and they just ‘happen’ to be co-counselling a cabin of teen boys).

She and I shared similar memories, similar stories told to each of us by our sons, similar responses and feelings about the impact this place and it’s people have had on our sons.

But we shared more than just mutual blessings that our sons reaped.

We shared the pride of being asked by a fifteen year old guy if there was any way he could help out … while on his break from work crew.

We observed an insecure teen grow in stature as another teen reached out and befriended him.

We heard the most sincere prayer for a meal by a male teen, whose confidence comes, not from his outward appearance, but from a knowledge that he is unconditionally accepted by this community.

We heard a volunteer who drives the boat for tubing and other water sports, tell of his long-term involvement at this camp with no end in sight.

We spent a day with a well-retired, still hand-holding couple volunteering in the August-hot kitchen, because they just love teens and want to give.

We spent the day with each other … working, observing, listening, absorbing the blessing that is summer camp.

As I reflected on the joys of being a mom who got to be in this place, and saw teens being encouraged, supported, taught and loved in a way that moms dream their children might receive in this life …

As I looked at that table covered with sugary candy …

I was reminded of a story that Jesus told. He was around a Sabbath table with religious scholars and one of the top leaders of the Pharisees (whose eyes were closely on him, waiting for Jesus to slip up and break a law). These were the crème de la crème of Jewish society.

The story comes part way through Luke 14, and I love how it is told in the Message (the title starts it well):

Invite the Misfits

He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table … if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!”

This is what summer camp is, or can be … a dinner of misfits.

Sure there are those who come every year, know everything there is to know about the camp and it’s people. There are those who come with their people, their besties. There are those who come with confidence in any situation. But there are also the … misfits. The ones who come alone. The ones who didn’t want to come. The ones that come because an individual or fundraiser supported their attendance.

They arrive, maybe excited, maybe scared, maybe angry. They may arrive and look around at others with their familiarity with the camp, with their people, their confidence. They may look around and feel dressed wrong, feel financially inferior, feel like … a misfit.

What I have observed is that if someone works or volunteers at a summer camp, they are the ones who have learned that “if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself”. You’ll become a blessing to others … to the misfits.

And they do.

Not every child or teen comes from a home with the means to attend a summer camp.

As a matter of fact, I was one of those misfits. Thanks to a Grandmother who had the means, and the generosity to go with it, I got to go to summer camp and be blessed by the experience of being encouraged, supported, taught and loved.

Today I am reminded that if I have the means, I need to provide the means for others to attend summer camp. Maybe I even need to make this a monthly plan … maybe you do too?

“They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!”



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Today is Not the End


Today is not the end …
stop looking at the reality of today as the reality of an eternity …
God is still working things out

That has been my mantra for about a year. I do not remember exactly when, or where or what prompted me to adopt those words and their meaning as my mantra. I do know that it was born out of great fear and sadness and anxiety for those who I love.

When phases of our life come to completion we often think that we should have it all together.

When we graduate high school or university, when engagement turns to marriage, when our final child is born, when our final child graduates from high school or college, when we retire, when we reach thirty, or forty, or seventy …

Often, not long after having completed that milestone there is a crashing down, as the expectations we had for where we should be come crashing down, leaving us with feelings of inadequacy, disappointment and failure.

It can result in us feeling a failure.

But …

Today is not the end …
stop looking at the reality of today as the reality of an eternity …
God is still working things out

I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:12:

“We don’t yet see things clearly.
We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.
But it won’t be long before the weather clears
and the sun shines bright!
We’ll see it all then,
see it all as clearly as God sees us,
knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

Whether we are agonizing over what to do after high school, finding that dream job after  university (with the student loan payments knocking at your door), wondering where the love is gone after the ‘I dos’, frustrated that giving birth has not brought the fulfillment you had dreamed of, are not experiencing the job successes anticipated at this age, relationships are not joy-filled, children are not walking with God, health is not optimal, and so on …

Today is not the end …

If we still have breath in our lungs, we and life and everything and everyone in it still have time. There is still hope! It is not over yet!

stop looking at the reality of today as the reality of an eternity …

Whatever is our reality today can still change. Today is not the reality of tomorrow, of eternity. We still need to live in today, be thankful for today and pray for tomorrow.

God is still working things out

He is still on it! He has not given up, nor does he necessarily have the same timeline that we do. The final product may look very different than our dreams, but God does have a final product in mind … we need to pray that our mind is his mind.

God’s love for us is greater than we can reciprocate. It is for success and fulfillment that is beyond earthly ambitions. His goal is that all of his children come to Him.

We need to remember that :

“We don’t yet see things clearly.
We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.”

Our imperfect vision is impaired today. We may not be able to see clearly, but we can live faithfully, trusting that the God who creates, sustains and redeems is still on it … one his timeline, and in his way.

“But it won’t be long before the weather clears
and the sun shines bright!
We’ll see it all then,
see it all as clearly as God sees us”

And to that, all we can say is “amen”.


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While watching the news, a few days ago, I learned of a man who died. It was not his age of ninety-six that caught my attention, or that he was a speaker to organizations and to youth for thirty years, or that he came to find home in Newfoundland in 1946.

What caught my attention was something he had said,

“Don’t you ever hate anybody.
By love, you conquer the world.
By hate, you’ll only destroy the world
and you destroy yourself,”

More than platitudes, these were the real-life, words of Philip Riteman … a Jew born in Poland, captured by the Nazis, imprisoned in Auschwitz, Birkenau and Dachau. In 1945 he was liberated, freed by American forces, weighing only seventy-five pounds. In 1946 he found “humanity” in Newfoundland, and in 1979 made his home in Halifax, after expanding his import business there.

One would think that, if anyone does, he had good reason to hate (having lost all of his immediate and over eighteen of his extended family to the Nazis). But, this man who was so dramatically affected, in every conceivable way, by hatred, spent (at least) his final thirty years teaching people to conquer the world with love.

Love is a powerful force, but to have the ability, as a victim of brutality, to choose love?

Mr. Riteman knew that his survival, after his liberation, was because he chose to focus on something stronger, something more beneficial to himself, something that could indeed conquer a world of hatred.

He, of course, is not the only one in history to know about the power of love over hatred.

The Apostle Paul, in 1 John 2:9-12, also speaks of love and hate, in terms of light and darkness:

“Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.

I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name.” 

He gives us the comparison of hatred to the dark, love to light. And, like Mr. Riteman, Paul understood the force of hatred, for, in his previous life, he had lived in the darkness of hatred, killing the followers of Christ with the hope of eradicating the Earth of them … like the Nazi’s who did the same to the Jews. But, like Riteman, he learned that it is not hatred, but love that can conquer the world.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry said of Paul’s experiential learning, “it is the Lord Jesus that is the great Master of love: it is his school (his own church) that is the school of love. His disciples are the disciples of love, and his family must be the family of love.”

May we walk in the light of love, and enlighten our world to how it can keep us from destroying ourselves with hatred.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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FullSizeRenderIt is an age old question …

Does prayer, does praying, make a difference?

I heard a line in the movie Shadowlands, many years ago, that has become my own understanding and belief for why I pray:

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

Though I cannot find evidence of CS Lewis actually saying those words, Lewis does lead us to a model for prayer: “for most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model.”

It was in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed “my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39). His  request, offered up, to his God and Father, was offered up three times, and was denied. This reality of God not answering Jesus prayerful request, is a reality that we must remember, for if God would deny Jesus … we too will sometimes be denied.

Lewis also reminds us, “prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted.”

At Gethsemane, Jesus also gives us an example of how to make such a request to God in saying “if it is possible” and “not as I will, but as I will but as you will.” I believe that this is what the author of Philippians is referring to when he wrote,  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). We need to seek to have the mind of God as we pray, acknowledging that he is the author of life, that his plan is sovereign.

Even those things that we pray that we think could have only a ‘yes’ response, for it to be the ‘godly’ outcome. I remember laying on a hospital bed, awaiting just one more sonogram. I remember praying that God would allow us to see that heart beat, to show his power, to allow us to praise him for a miracle. The following day, recovering from surgery to remove that heart that remained still on the sonogram, as I looked up to the sky, I tried to gripe and complain to him … about his denial of my request, but all I could say were the same words from Gethsemane … “not my will, but yours”.

I can think of recent times when it seemed as though God was silent in response to my crying out to him. Yet, in the days and weeks and months that past, my prayers were indeed being answered, by other people, who God has used as vessels for encouragement, to meet real needs, to cheer on and to be the hands and feet of him. These people, being our Aaron, holding us up to God, so that the enemy would not have the victory.

God’s mind, his will, is never for the enemy to be victorious.

Prayer makes a difference.

It causes us to acknowledge God’s sovereignty.

It is request … and we have to accept that the response to a request is in the hands of the one we ask.

It is submission to the answer.

Prayer of others, for us, is the support that keeps us from failing, that keeps the enemy from victory.

It is an evolution of our human minds to God’s own mind.

I pray to change me, to change my heart and mind and will, but not change the unchangeable God.

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SnapseedAs I climbed into bed, with only the sweet sounds of hubby’s breath, and the waves breaking on the beach outside our window, I whispered a prayer …

“Thank-you God, for this peace after the storm
or is this the peace before the storm?”

As I lay there, my thoughts drowning out the sweet sounds of moments ago, I became keenly aware that,

on either side of peace is always a storm
on either side of a storm is always peace

These are realities in life. Like peanut butter and jam, like waves coming in and going out, times of peace and times of storms are realities in our lives, flowing from one to the other unexpected and predictable at the same time.

The one (storms) for all people.

The other (peace) for those who accept it, from the hand of God … always held out to us, never taken away. It can either be accepted or rejected, but it is always offered.

Jesus came to provide that peace in the midst of the storms, the troubles of this world and life. He came to die, so that the hand of God can offer this peace that surpasses our human understanding.

The storms of life come, sometimes like an unexpected flood, sometimes like a dripping faucet. Both bring us to our knees in forfeit, begging for mercy, for saving … for peace.

God offers that peace. Hand stretched out, always in our direction, always within reach. Sometimes even right in the midst of the storm, when the water is creeping to our chins, when it seems that it might just take up down.

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

Or, (Carole version):

“Take the peace I am holding out to you.
There will be storms in your life,
but I offer the peace that passes understanding,
so that you do not drown in the storms.”


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