Archive for September, 2019

Pivotal moments in our lives can be grand occasions, with multiple witnesses, but they can also be in the solitary and still moments when the only with you is your Creator.

I remember such a time, driving in my car, feeling very much alone in every way.

It was a drive when the frustrations of that current season had reached a peek. I was unable to positively impact the situations going on around me. I felt that the dreams had in years previous, would never come true.

As I drove I remember saying, out loud,

“The life I had hoped for will never come to pass … it is a dead dream.”

As soon as the words slipped through my mouth it was as though a lightbulb was switched on and I knew what I needed to do to survive the grief and bitterness that I was already feeling …

I needed to grieve that dream, for it was gone … and there was no future until I bid the dream of the past adieu.

So, I found a safe and private place to park, then took some time to identify and grieve the things that I could no longer hold tightly.

It hurt … it hurt deeply. I felt as though I were standing over a hole in the ground of a cemetery, dropping flowers, intermingled with tears into the open grave.

Then, when I named the dead dreams, when I finally opened my hands and let them fall into the earth and they were mine no more … a calm washed over me, filling all the empty places. I realized that letting these dreams go didn’t leave me empty, but instead they made space for God’s comfort to fill me.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4


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It was mid evening and my mood was broody.

“when I am the wasteland
you are the water”

That day I returned home feeling like I had run the equivalent of a marathon with students, with little to show for it.

“when I am the winter
you are the fire that burns”

I had also chosen to do something I hadn’t really wanted to do, but felt I ‘should’.

“when I am a long night
you are the sunrise”

Then there was the surprisingly snappish response of one of our three to something I had said.

“when I am a desert
you are the river that turns
to find me”

The shoulders sag.

“Hallelujah (God be praised)
Hallelujah (God be praised)
Hallelujah (God be praised)
Hallelujah (God be praised)”

All days are not like this one … I so wish that all days would be like this broody, shoulder-sagging day. Throughout the day, a song from the drive to work, that morning, kept playing in my mind and heart. Despite the circumstances of the day, my soul kept singing,

“What have I done to deserve love like this?
I cannot earn what You so freely give
What have I done to deserve love like this?”

The words pierced the pursuit of darkness all around me, slashing the shadowy corners, levelling a fatal blow to all that could discourage me, that could steal the joy in my heart.

“Your voice like a whisper
Breaking the silence
You say there’s a treasure
You’ll look ’til You find it
You search 
To find me”

Throughout this broody day God whispered into my ears that contentment does not come from outer circumstances, but from Him alone.

“What marvelous love
the Father has extended to us!
Just look at it—
we’re called children of God!
That’s who we really are.”
1 John 3:1

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The marriage relationship is not an easy one. If the classic rose colored glasses were ever worn, by either party, they have usually been shoved askew before the nuptials even take place.

The bonds of marriage are legal as well as spiritual and at times (for all people) it can feel like a life sentence.

The marriage of two people, is often the language used of God and the church.

“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Sometimes I look at my own marriage and cannot, for the life of me, see any comparison to how God loves his church.

I am selfish … He is unselfish

I seek my own well being … He seeks our well being.

I give up easily … He is committed eternally.

Perhaps if our focus is on how he loves the church, rather than on how our spouse loves us … perhaps then we would see his plan for us in our marriages. Perhaps that is the true mystery.

First we need to understand His purpose for the church, as well as for our marriages.

The purpose of the church is to glorify and worship God … such is the purpose of marriage.

Now that is a mystery! For few of us can say that others would see our marriages as examples of the glorification and worship of God. Yet, our marriages are to be the mirror through which others see the love, the sacrificial, selfless love of God. If we were to achieve this lofty goal, it is a mystery as to how profoundly our world might change.

Two flawed mortals tied together in marriage can make a great deal of knots, twisting and turning us inside and out. It can also be the binding that can make you feel more freedom than anything else … I think the later is how it was intended. Loving our ‘other’ as an outpouring of our love for God … that he, God, be glorified … and in fulfilling this we are more freed than bound.

“The covenant that binds can be what sets you free to be.
The covenant that binds can be what holds

when everything’s blowing up.
The covenant that binds

can bond your heart to your one place of belonging,
when everything else lets go.”
Ann Voskamp

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Parenting is helpful for understanding God. Parenting adults even more so.

Perhaps it is just me, but I have frequently wondered why they don’t take my advise (which is always available).

“If my people …”

the words of God to, of and about his people, his children. He, the heavenly father, who knows all, can see all … surely we, his children would hear his suggestions through the knowledge of his love for us?

Perhaps it is just me, but I frequently ignore, scoff at, even forget to seek his advise, his words of wisdom. I will seek the advise of a friend (who acts like me), a blog post (that communicates like me), or a video or podcast (that would agree with me).

I am like my own children, like the Israelites …

I am blind, I am deaf, I am ignorant to the wisdom that is available to me if I would only listen.

Psalm 81:13-14 tells us:

“If my people would only listen to me …”

Ezra speaks for God, when he says (2 Chronicles 7:14):

“If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways …”

These are the if/then statements of God to his people … us. He is making it pretty clear that there is a correlation between our not listening, humbling, praying and turning our faces toward God … and our grand mess ups in life.

Now, don’t hear this from a micro perspective. It does not mean that if we listen to God everything will be free and easy … God is speaking of the macro …

listen to me (God),
humble yourself before me (God),
pray to me (God),
turn your face to me (God),
and you will walk in His ways

I love how Deuteronomy 28:9 speaks to the macro of this if/then :

“The LORD will establish you as His holy people, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.” 

I am no different from my children. Even though I know I prosper when I listen to my heavenly father, I seek wisdom among those who are not wise … and then wonder why I am peddling so hard and making so little progress.

Today, I am reminded to turn my face, my ear to my God … so that I might walk in His ways.

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Just the other day I knew it was really coming.

As I drove around the corner and down the hill the valley was blanketed in fog … autumn morning fog.

It was beautiful! On that overcast day, the shadows replaced the clarity of the mountains, hid the lower part of the road, allowing only towers and mountaintops to be visible. The scene was one of black and greys, of varying degrees.

Autumn fog is hauntingly attractive. It also makes me desire a cozy blanket, a hot cup of refreshment, my wonderdog and a book on my blue sofa by the window.

Autumn fog settles on me like a weighted blanket, whispering ‘slow down … take more time … just listen.’

I like to think of this whispering fog as a reminder that even when my view is obstructed, when I am confused and unaware of what is ahead, I can rest … I can still relax, be refreshed. I can be confident and content that what is unseen by me is being looked after.

When I see that blanket of fog, I hear the words of Paul say,

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

That fog is like the unknowns of my life … what will tomorrow bring? how will heath play out in the future? will my children have happy and productive futures? will they seek God? … and so many more humanly unanswerable questions.

But, like the giants of the Old Testament, named in this chapter … Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses and more … I have available to me faith in a God who has it all covered, like a blanket of fog on the valley. It is faith in him that allows me (us) to rest, to have confidence, in what we hope for … assurance in what we can not see.

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Almost thirty years of marriage!

That’s what hubby and I will be celebrating in a few weeks.

Thirty years ago our understanding of love was not what it is now. There have been seasons when my perspective on marriage was all about me, or all about him … not where it should have been. Eventually we all need to land where it is supposed to be, if we ever hope to thrive in marriage … in life.

Gary Thomas said, “the irony is that thriving and celebration is rooted outside the marriage rather than within it …

When God rather than your marital status defines your life, marriage changes dramatically. ” 

“don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life” (1 Cor. 7:17).”

God, not your marital status, defines your life

I had thought that in being married the definition of my life was being constructed, but then I discovered that if I first allow God to define my life, my marriage is one of the first areas of life to improve, to thrive. Mainly this is because …

love is no longer defined by what I do for hubby, or what he does for me, but by who God is.

This marriage (ours, everyone’s) is not about me, it’s not about him … it is and was and will ever be the outliving of our relationship with God. Not about me or he, but about God’s strength in the midst of our weaknesses, God’s purposes in the midst of our wanderings, God’s love in the midst of our selfishness.

Our marriage is a reflection of God in our lives … some days a poor one, some days much clearer. We reflect best when we are reflecting the love of God, rather than reflecting each other or ourselves.

We love each other best when we love each other as God’s creation and through His eyes, rather than our own.

God, not your marital status, defines your life.

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There is just so much to look forward to in life! Counting days to desired events comes natural for me. I love counting down to the next ‘event’.

We count down everything from years to retirement, to weeks of a pregnancy, to days until Christmas, to hours until the weekend. Having something to look forward to is motivating, exciting.

Looking forward is not a bad or wrong thing, but our life is to be lived, not in the past or the future, but in the present.

This is the very day of the Lord that brings
gladness and joy, filling our hearts with glee.

(The Passion Translation) Psalm 118:24

Today, as we take our first breath awake, as our eyes open to this morning, as we smell the coffee brewing, as we taste it’s anticipated aroma, as we hear the noises of our family, pet or the floorboards beneath us …

this is the day.
the one that God himself made.
the one that we need to receive with joy, gladness, glee.
the one that is all that matters.

No looking back.

No looking forward.

Just this very day, a day to celebrate …

simply because,

He made it

and we get to breathe it in.

How will we breathe it out?

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When we live and breathe and experience life we all experience injuries, bruises and trauma. These leave us with scars … some that leave a mark on our skin, some on our minds or hearts.

Probably the oldest scar I have, which is barely visible, is from when I fell into the corner of a door, gashing my head just beside my eye. My mother is always amazed at how it is almost invisible, for the injury was so deep.

There are other scars that are more recent, more visible. A couple of years ago, while trimming branches on a tree with a reciprocating saw, the hot blade lay, just for seconds, on my arm and it burned into my skin. The freckles are just starting to darken this almost two inch area, still very visible.

Then there are the invisible scars. The ones that leave no physical mark, yet they scar, altering other areas of my life … my mind, my habits, my thoughts.

Scars can be like the stones that God told Joshua to have the Israelites bring up out of the Jordan River, after God opened it up so that they could cross through the middle of it. God said to have one man from each of the twelve tribes carry a stone on his shoulders to the place where they would sleep that night (I am hearing Annie Lennox singing “Sweet Dreams are made of this”).

“They will be a sign among you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ Tell them the water stopped flowing in the Jordan when the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord crossed the river. These rocks will always remind the Israelites of this.” Joshua 4:6-7

I love the thought that scars could be reminders of the depths of pain that we have gone through, by the grace of God. Reminders that we did not go through the waters alone, but that God was always with us. Memorials to our faith in God, when that is all we had left.

Scars are the evidence that we survived.

Sure, they remind us of pain, and sadness, and hurt. They take us back to a time of tears, of prayers beginning with “why, God?” But they also remind us that that pain is finished, that, by the strength of God in the midst of our human weakness, we are still here, we survived.

Like those stones from the river Jordan, our scars can provide opportunity for us to tell our children of the faithfulness of God during painful seasons in our lives … the telling gives good for the bad, blessing for the curse, redemption for the pain.

“Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use
So I’m thankful for the scars”

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When one wants to speak at an Alcohol Anonymous meeting they must state their name and that they are an alcoholic. It is the first step in the twelve step program to recovery.

When I think of 12 Step programs, I often think of the necessity of that first step (admitting that I have a problem) to experiencing the intimacy that is offered to us, through Christ. The humility of admitting wrong, admitting sin with our words helps us to accept responsibility, but it also helps us to accept the grace that is offered to us.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts,
for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

James 4:8

Matthew Henry’s Commentary, on the above passage tells us:

“All sin must be wept over; here, in godly sorrow, or, hereafter, in eternal misery. And the Lord will not refuse to comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who humbles himself before him.”

I remember the day we were told, by the principal, that our son had hit another (younger) student and that he had apologized. When he got home, I assured him that I was so proud that he had apologized to the boy, but that I wanted him to call the mother of the boy, because I knew that she too was hurt by his actions. He agreed. I made the call and explained to the mom why we were calling, then I passed the phone to my son, who sincerely apologized for hurting her son, that he knew that his own mom would be so sad if it was he who had been hit (previous bullying toward our son, by an older boy helped his understanding of this) and that he was so sorry for his actions. She told him that she was, indeed, sad that it had happened, but that she was thankful that he had called and apologized to her, and that she forgave him.

Since that day, whenever they see each other, this lady and our son have a different relationship. It is as though there is a bond, an intimacy between them, refined through humble admittance of sin and forgiveness of one hurt.

So is our relationship with God, our savior.

We need to come humbly to our God and confess that we are sinners.

It is through this humble act of contrition that we gain, not just eternity with our saviour, but also an intimate relationship with him.

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14).

“We Your children pray Lord
Humbly seek Your face
We turn from our sin Lord
You hear us as we pray”
(King of the Broken by Darlene Zschech)

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My heart was saddened to hear a colleague speak of a relative’s grim cancer diagnosis. When I expressed my sorrow, he responded by telling me that the family were encouraged by Psalm 116:15 (Living Bible):

“His loved ones are very precious to him,
and he does not lightly let them die.”

Those words sunk into my soul, as I grasped the message within.

I guess I had always presumed that, because God is eternal, he does not look at the end of our earthly lives as significant. Yet, if we look at this verse, from the Psalms, in light of Jesus’ weeping when arrived to the home of the dead Lazarus, we get a glimpse of the significance human death is for our God.

This verse … this week …

The news of the unbelievable damage of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, this week has been humanly heart-rending. Watching the news of those who are missing loved ones is painful. One cannot observe such fear and loss and grief without feeling it within oneself.

This verse from the Psalms reminds me that God feels similar empathy for these people and their heartache … that “he is close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18).

Death was never in the plan of God for our lives. It is the result of sin entering our world … a constant reminder to him and us that this is not how it was supposed to be, that we were created for more.

For today, for now, God is mourning along with all of us who mourn … whether from the devastation of a hurricane or a cancer diagnosis.

“Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!
E’en though it be a cross
That raiseth me.
At the moment of death
My strength is from heaven
God helps, nothing should be feared
For ever”

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