Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2018

IMG_4413

If we are growing and maturing, our definition of love changes as we grow older.

From when we are children and love could be defined as who makes us feel secure by meeting our needs, to when we become teens, then young adults and love could be defined as who makes us feel unconditionally accepted, special. Then, as adults, it is all about is he/she meeting my needs.

Hum … no change there really, as it would seem to be defined by what have you done for me lately.

At the mid point of life, if love is still part of your life, if marriage is still part of your life, it starts to change (ever so   g  r  a  d  u  a  l  l  y ).

It becomes more about maintaining each other, caring for each other.

A number of weeks ago I came across this quote by Ann Voskamp:

“Love is always
inconvenient
inefficient
indestructible” 

Not a quote one would expect to hear at a wedding ceremony! Yet, for those who have persevered through love, for love, that quote is real, truth.

We have persevered, hubby and I. Not just hubby, not just I, but both of us, in little and big ways. It has been twenty-nine years (tomorrow) of persevering through love, for love.

Twenty-nine years of inconvenient love. Love that has gotten in the way of our individual interests, love that has been daily overriding individual interests, as we each bend and sway to the other, for the other. For the individual cannot survive in love without sacrificing for the other.

Twenty-nine years of inefficient love. Love that is not slick and polished, but often unproductive and amateurish. Love that doesn’t often work like a well-oiled machine, but often one that requires time adjusting, adjusting, adjusting. So many kinks to work out … and usually, they are not his, but mine.

Twenty-nine years of … how does one say, until at the very end, that it is indestructible love? Though the definition of what love is may change, it is proven only in it’s longevity, it’s indestructiblity. Grit (a determination that is strong-willed and to the end) in love is the major ingredient determining whether or not it is indestructible.

Though it is not flowery or romantic sounding, I’d take the real thing … inconvenient, inefficient, indestructible love … twenty-nine years and counting.

“Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.”
CS Lewis

Read Full Post »

moving.JPGThe boxes and wrapping paper are gone!

It has now been over two and a half months since we moved to our new, smaller home. Our new house is about one thousand square feet smaller and we have gone from about a third of an acre of property to a townhouse with a three hundred and sixty square foot garden.

Once our offer on our new place was accepted we knew that we would need to pare down our belongings, for both the interior and exterior of our new place.

We gave away, threw away, sold and donated many belongings that would not fit, or would be unnecessary in our new home. Even after we moved there was a regular purging of items that simply did not fit or suit our new, smaller digs. Just this week, yet another box was delivered to the thrift store!

It has been interesting to me how we do not miss our excess ‘stuff’. As a matter of fact the  absence of it is fantastically freeing. Less to see, to maintain, to move around. It is as though our purging has made space in our home, our minds and our lives for what is of more importance … people, a book, a conversation.

2 Corinthians 4:18 gives us a good reminder, “… we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

It is amazing how, ridding ourselves of things has cleared our schedule, our minds. We have more margin in our lives for ‘other’ things to invest our time and energies into. We have opportunities to see what is of eternal value.

May this recent and continuing process of purging the unnecessary stuff from our lives continue to impact us in this way.

Hubby announced the other day that the garage storage is maxed out … more purging yet to come.

Read Full Post »

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 5.39.33 PM

As I walk through the high school I work in I pass dozens (hundreds) of faces each day. When I am cognizant, when I am not so wrapped up in my own thoughts, I see the faces more clearly.

I see the big smiles, the laughter, I see the eyes that resist making contact, the faces that are hidden by their downward stare, the eyes that look right through me …

and I wonder, what is their story? what are they dealing with?

During these times when I am alert to those who pass by in the hallways, I am reminded of how significant the insignificant can be, for those who might have a story that is hard, heavy.

To step aside, so they can pass, to hold a door, to smile, to say good morning, to pick up the pencil that fell from their laden arms …

these are the wordless ways we can whisper to another,

you matter

someone cares

someone notices

someone has empathy for you

In Romans 12:15, Paul reminds of a profound teaching, that we are all expected to practise:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” 

We are to not just co-exist with one another, but we are to share life together. We are not just to share life together, but we are to experience, to feel the joys and struggles of each other.

empathy

Read Full Post »

Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 4.52.03 PMThe leaves are changing, falling.

The sun struggles to come up, rushes to go back down.

The birds fly, no longer lazily on their own, but determinedly with others.

Air is not longer stifling, motionless, but moving and with a chill.

The season of harvest is coming to an end.

Autumn has fallen onto our laps.

It is a season of change.

About a year ago I sat in a coffee shop, sipping a warm drink with a woman of great character, reputation and heart. We shared stories of our children, our hubbies, ourselves. We listened, we laughed, we shared what God was teaching us.

It was then that I shared a secret that I felt that God had been whispering to me. I told her of how for days, weeks really, I had a sense of change in the air. Not just change, but a sense of foreboding, that what might be coming might also not be desired, good, or pleasant. That was not all, I also had the most unexpected sense of peace.

Change, whether in the form of seasons of the year, or seasons of life, is inevitable and carries with it both anticipation and dread. Change means our normal is no longer our normal.

There is something interesting in the falling of leaves. Their falling is ultimately caused by lack of daylight, which signals change to the trees. The minerals in the leaves travel to the branches. Eventually the leaves change color, then fall, leaving the tree naked and lifeless … just what it needs to be as it enters the dormant winter season. Then, as winter comes to an end, those stored minerals do their work, and buds form on the branches, heralding new life, a new season.

Changes in our lives can also seem to usher us into dark, lifeless, or dormant seasons. Yet, we can be assured that there is always a spring that follows the darkness, the cold of winter.

“For You have tried us, O God;
You have refined us as silver is refined.”
Psalm 66:10

 

Read Full Post »

yes
We live in an anxiety-ridden society, with stats on people dealing with anxiety-related disorders only climbing.

It would seem that in my fifteen years of working, primarily, in high schools, anxiety has become a regular conversation among students and staff.

Anxiety does not express itself the same in all individuals. There is no more a stereotypical sufferer of anxiety than there is a stereotypical female, for it manifests within the strengths and weakness, the experiences and voids of the individual. It has many faces … sad, fearful, gregarious, kind, angry, happy … as many faces as the individuals who live and struggle to live their best life.

I do not know of a ‘cure’, I am not a certified counsellor, I am no expert, nor even scholar in the field of anxiety. I do know it … first person, professionally and through living vicariously through individuals who I love. None of that makes me an expert.

Something we can do, when helping to love people through the reality of anxieties, is to build them up. Specifically, we could remind them (gently) who God says they are, if not in words, through our care of them, redirecting, reassuring and refilling their dark self-thinking and self-talk with the truth of who they are, in the eyes and heart of the Creator … their Creator.

1 John 3:1a tells us that we are so loved by the Father that we are his children.

1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that we are God’s temple, where his Spirit lives.

Romans 8:37 says that we are more than conquerors!

1 Peter 2:9 says, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Truly, we are worth the world to Him!

Perhaps they could relate and be encouraged by the Lauren Daigle song You Say, which might help them to hear the encouraging reminders of the overcomers they are through Christ.

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity,

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours

And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
Oh, I believe

I am not an expert, and I am not saying that this is the cure for the very real, very complex struggle with anxiety. Yet, if someone we care for is unable to think and see things clearly, perhaps reminding them of the positive, pure and powerful identity that they are in Christ, wouldn’t hurt.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 7.05.04 AM

Early Sunday morning I read the quote (above) by Saint John Chrysostrom. Hours later, as I lifted the communion cup to my lips, his words remerged in my mind.

do I see Christ in the beggar at the door? in the homeless in the park? in the addict standing in front of me?

Typically I would say yes.

I am one who has given money, smiles and run to the store for a bag of food for the beggar, the homeless, the addict. I have included and encouraged our kids to do the same. I have felt a peace that passes all human understanding as one of our daughters has worked with women in addiction and is now on a committee in her community regarding the opiod epidemic.

I am not saying all of this to pat myself on the back, for what I am about to share with you I do so with head bowed low, humbled by my inactions, paralysis of body, mind and … soul.

It was just over a year ago that I was on the Lower East Side of Vancouver. An area rich in the history of Vancouver, BC, and poor in almost every other way. It is a community of contrasts with tourist shops galore, trendy and expensive shops, and tasty eateries alongside the homeless, the beggars, prostitutes, and addicts shooting up right before your eyes on the sidewalks.

As I walked on the sidewalks that day I chatted with a homeless man about his gorgeous, well brushed dog, a toothless woman with a generous smile and a man who I made eye contact with, who said, “God bless you” to me. For balance I also said “sorry, I just gave away my last coin” to a man who was begging, who told me to “F–K off.”

Gotta love when people are real.

It has always been easy for me to see people … all people … as children of the King of Kings.

Then, late in the hot afternoon, walking down the crowded sidewalk, I came face to face with her. She was a bit shorter than my five foot, three inch height, with wild and unkempt hair. She was wearing a romper with spaghetti strap strings draping it over her skeletal frame.

As my eyes met hers …

I repelled.

It was as if something deep inside of me recoiled. It wasn’t fear, for I think that if I had blown a whiff of air towards her she might have collapsed. It wasn’t disgust, or pity, or even sadness.

When I looked into her lifeless eyes I saw a lack of life looking back at me, it was as though I was looking into the eyes of death, but what caused me to repel was my own reaction to our ever so brief meeting … for I did nothing, I felt nothing for her.

I did not see her soul … and I recognized no Christ within her. Something in that moment kept me from seeing her a who she is … a child of God, and I still ache for the missed opportunity to whisper hope in words, or a smile, or …

After we continued to walk in opposite directions, I looked back, wondering if I should seek her out, offer to buy her a sandwich, a bottle of water … inspired by my guilt for feeling no life connection with her. But she was gone, as if she vaporized into thin air.

Over a year later, and I am still agonizing over that brief interaction (lack of interaction) with the woman. I have found myself wondering if God placed her in my path, for some greater purpose, to teach me something.

That interaction has taught me something about myself … that my heart is not yet soft enough, that I do not love everyone, that I am not full of compassion … that I do not, naturally, see everyone as a child of God.

But, what I have also learned is that one poor interaction has caused me to lift that woman up to God, begging that she might find peace from her addiction. I have also learned that I now see her as that chalice cup, contained within her the blood of Christ which gives eternal life.

And, because of her, my communion will never be the same again.

“ … in your journey you will meet broken people, hateful people and people who have lost the sight for their glory. And the beauty of it all is this: I will tell you to love them, to love them deeply and show them how some of us still care. Never give up on them, for to give up on them is to destroy a reflection of ourselves.”
Robert M. Drake, Black Butterfly

Those who give to the poor
will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them
receive many curses.”
Proverbs 28:27

 

Read Full Post »

go to church oftenAs hubby and I visit a different church each week in our quest for a home church, we are now asking different questions, harder questions.

Questions such as:

if we enjoy the preaching, is that reason enough to choose a church? For there is no guarantee that the regular preaching pastor will stay.

is what we see and experience at a worship service what we should base our decision on?

should we find a church that is a good fit for us, and then commit, or just make a choice, commit and then make it fit?

Recently I took a Sunday off, and didn’t go to church. Stayed in my pjs until noon, got a few things done around the house, and just enjoyed a quiet house to myself. Though this was not my first time playing hooky from church, though I have had beautiful and memorable times of Sabbath at home in the past … this time was different.

This time I kept thinking about much I wanted to be part of a church, to be part of a small group, to walk in the doors and be greeted by familiar faces, to serve where there is a need that we can meet, to sing, to learn, to grow with others. To be fed with fork and knife (not from a bottle).

We are not going to find the ‘perfect’ church, for, if such a place existed, it would be tarnished as soon as we entered it’s doors. We aren’t going to always love the songs that are sung, or how, or by whom. We aren’t always going to relate (or even like … did I just say that?) everyone we meet … pastoral staff included.

But,

if there is warmth in it’s walls,

if there is welcome to the imperfect,

if there is a joy in the worship

generosity in the giving

humility in the praying

Good News in the preaching

and invitation to serve …

then we will need to go, and go every week.

For it is in the going, every week, that the church becomes not just a habit, but a healthy dependency.

 

 

Read Full Post »

IMG_3817

As our children grow we are constantly reminded of our own experiences and choices from when we were their age. Their life can be like a mirror into our past, illuminating all that has been good, bad and ugly in our lives.

Sometimes as I watch or listen I am reminded of the choices that I wish I had, or hadn’t, made when I was their age(s). I am reminded of attitudes I had, ways I dealt with people and of my priorities.

It all kind of makes one wish they could redo their past with the knowledge of the present. It also makes one with they could force their children to learn from our own mistakes.

Life doesn’t work that way.

The knowledge we have now has been learned, primarily, through the experience of living, making decisions (good and bad) and living with the consequences. We could not have the knowledge we do now, had we not had the freedom to error, the freedom to choose and our children are no different.

This includes our walk with God. Much of my relationship is sweet because of what he has loved me through … the sins, the lack of love for his word, the incorrigible attitudes, the heartbreaks. He has proved his love for me in how he has loved me despite my mistakes.

As parents the letting go of our children begins the moment we give birth, followed by a million small and big releases of our grip on our children, so that they can lead the lives that we have prepared them to live.

The lives they live, as adults, are out of our hands and that is the way it supposed to be, for we do not bring children into the world to be our clones, but to be individuals, experiencing all that life has to offer, with the hope that they will return to us and share what they have see and experienced.

In the many wedding ceremonies my hubby performed, I always heard him read these words,

“You are giving your children to life’s adventure, and not merely away from yourselves. This is what you raise your children for, to let them go their way. And in their going they come back again to share their discoveries and joys with you.”

I feel it is like our relationship with God. He loves us into existence, then he lets us choose whether or not we follow the guidelines he has established for us. It is in our choosing his way, his love, that we get to experience real living. It is though the freedom, he gives, to choose to love him that we learn what love is.

As parents we are left to stand by, helpless, for we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who whispers our hearts cries. This is our job, as parents of adult children, and what a privilege it is to lift them up to their heavenly Father, who loves them even more than we do.

“It is possible to give away
and become richer!
It is also possible to hold on too tightly
and lose everything.”
Proverbs 11:24 TLB

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 6.41.01 AM

Read Full Post »

IMG_4021

Have you ever messed up … like, really messed up and wondered if you have blown it?

Ever looked back on a decision, an action or words you said and you were pretty sure that you had not only messed up your life, but the lives of those around you?

Ever wondered if your actions or inactions might have thwarted the very plans of God?

I have been guilty on all accounts, both in how I have messed up and how I thought I had ruined the lives of myself, others and the will of God himself.

I expect that most of us have had such thoughts … especially if we are parents! There is a constant fear of failure when one is responsible for breath and life of another human being.

We all make mistakes, we all say the wrong things, do the wrong things, make the wrong decisions. The thing is … our mistakes are not unexpected surprises to God. He has always known of our capacity to mess up, for it has been part of our DNA since that apple incident in the Garden of Eden.

Just the other day, the classroom teacher reminded me of God’s knowledge of our … humanness as she referred to the story of Jonah in her devotions.

Jonah was a prophet … someone who spoke whatever God wanted to be shared (a prophesy) who God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh (aka. sin city) and to tell the people to stop sinning … or else. Jonah was not so keen on God’s plan, so he took off on the next boat to Tarshish (aka. the opposite direction). On the trip, a storm threatens to collapse the boat, and Jonah tells them to throw him into the waves. A whale swallows Jonah … and he spends the next three days inside the belly of the whale, until he agrees to go to Nineveh. The whale burps, and up comes Jonah, who finally does what he was told … travels to Nineveh, tells the people to repent and they do.

(there is more to the Jonah story, so click here to read it all)

Through this story, I was reminded that, when God has a plan, he is ready and able to make sure it happens. God’s will is not and can not be hindered by our messing up or even our refusal or running away. God will go to any lengths to have his plan take place.

Have you messed up? Wondering if you ruined the life/lives of others? Thinking that your actions/inactions have thwarted the will and plan of God?

I’m pretty sure that our God’s omnipotence (having all power) ensures that there is nothing we can do to alter his plans.

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.”
Psalm 139:16

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

12800227_10153974582335789_8508066981741456812_n

“Peace, bring it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at your name”

Driving to work this week, the lyrics of a worship song I had thoughtlessly sung along to just days before in church, became clear, personal, intimate.

When we sing praises and worship we can easily just sing words, even thinking that our investment of worship is sincere … and I believe it is. There are times when we worship, though, when we do not just worship God, but we realize the strength, the truth of what we are singing.

“Breath, call these bones to live,
Call these lungs to sing
Once again, I will praise”

It is one thing to be able to simply praise God, another to praise him in the midst of the storm with pressure approaching from all around, but after that storm has past (is passing) …

when you can look back …

when you can see the bigger picture that was hidden from view in the eye of the storm …

when you can see God’s hand of comfort, of protection on your life.

Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name can not be overcome
Your name is alive, forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome
Jesus, Jesus
You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
You silence fear

And the words proved true.

As the song played on the radio, as I drove to work, that first day reminded me of the previous first day, a year ago. I was reminded of the nervousness, the anxiety, the hope that I felt driving to my first, first day at a new job. I was reminded of the many struggles of the past year …

Emotion gripped me as I contemplated how much more nervous, how much more anxious I would have been had I known what was to come in the following months. The emotions did not flow simply for how paralyzing that knowledge would have been a year ago, but how I could see God’s hand of comfort, of protection on my life.

How many drives to and from work I have called out the name of Jesus in the past year … and as I called his name, more peace than I imagined possible, fell on me. I exhaled the name of Jesus, and he gave me breath to inhale.

His name is alive, it has power, for “even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17). I don’t think that we utilize the power of the name of Jesus, I know that I have not in the past … but …

this year, I understand so clearly how calling on the name of Jesus can silence fear, replacing it with a peace that is beyond all human understanding.

It can truly make the darkness tremble.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the
Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

JustPene

Behind every strong woman, are all the other women that came before!

What Are You Thinking?

Theology is life. Learn to live well.

itsawonderfilledlife

looking for wonder in everyday life

Sixth Seal Ministries

Life and Times Through the Lens of Bible Prophecy

Amazing Tangled Grace

A blog about my spiritual journey in the Lord Jesus Christ.

FisherofMen

Giving a unique view and input on information to help individuals establish a concrete perspective on terms, words, topics and the world around them.

Following the Son

One man's spiritual journey

Fortnite Fatherhood

A father's digital age journey with his family and his faith

Frijdom

encouraging space to think deeply

Life- All over the map

A family journey through childhood cancer and around the world

A L!fe Lived

seeking the full life that only Jesus offers

J. A. Allen

Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins

The Mustard Seed Kingdom

A Blog of the Evangelical Anabaptist Partners