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Archive for May, 2021

Hubby and I got to enjoy a meal, in a restaurant recently. What a joy it was to be seated at a table (indoors) and to have our meal served to us. We were also particularly impressed with how the restaurant had pivoted when indoor dining had been banned. They utilized one of their parking areas for covered seating which looked fantastic. In speaking with the owner, we learned that this outdoor seating was not going away, but has helped them to birth the idea of how to make this extra outdoor seating permanent and incorporated into their indoor seating. The owner said, “we had a choice, to curl up in a ball and cry or to think creatively. We chose to think creatively.”

It makes one think of the proverb, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

This pandemic year plus has been one of lemons … cases of lemons.

There is much that has been lost, missed. There have been sorrows, injustices and forced alterations to our lives.

There have also been discoveries, innovations and creativity that have been stirred into the mix.

Poet Mary Oliver said, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Wild, indicating the the unpredictability of our days. Precious, reminding us of the value of our life, our days.

John 10:10 tells us :

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

That is a verse about lemons. It is a verse that reminds us of how loved we mere mortals are, by the one who gives us breath.

Because sin (lemons) entered into our human DNA in the Garden, through the disobedience of man, we needed saving. Through the very son of God, whose willing death paid the price of that sin, we have been redeemed, made new. God could have left us as we were, but his love for us was too great for that.

Life delivers lemons … right to our doors. But we have been given the example of making something good, better out of what we are handed. What will we do with this pandemic (and the struggles and losses that have accompanied it)? What will we do with the other tough stuff, the sour stuff that enters into our days? Will we curl up in a ball and cry, or will we get creative, adding to the sour to create something sweet?

What will we do with this wild and precious life?

“I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

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Just this week, I realized I have never written about Elijah. A giant of the faith! A hero. A prophet. One who God used to orchestrate miracles. One who teaches us so much … about God.

Not only have I not written about Elijah, but I realized I did not know well the stories of Elijah. So, guess what I have been reading this week?!

A friend had referenced the story of Elijah and how God encouraged him to eat and sleep when Elijah was in the depths of despair. That it is a model of how God encourages the same of us.

I checked out the story.

Elijah had done the work of God, faithfully, confidently. He was the one through whom God’s plan to thwart the intent of Ahab and Jezabel in the indoctrination of the worship of Baal upon people of God. Through the challenge given by Elijah, 450 prophets of Baal were killed after they could not elicit a response from their god (thus proving the lack of existence of such a god).

Lets just say Jezabel was a bit miffed at this loss of ‘her’ prophets (and perhaps the egg left on her face) and she threatened Elijah’s life.

Now, one might think, after such a great success that the threatening words of a mere mortal would be as nothing to the ears of one who had just shown God’s strength and power through such a large scale miraculous show. But this was not the headspace of Elijah … (1 Kings 19:3):

“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”

Fear is a response. Sometimes our fears are valid. But, sometimes fear is a response not to the threat, but because we are weak, tired, not in a place of good health.

Elijah’s fear, that took him to fleeing … it (his fear) originated in his own deficiencies, not in his fear of Jezabel.

Not only did he run away (into the desert), but his fatigue was so great he didn’t even want to live (1 Kings 19:5)

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Then he lie down and slept … I expect there was nothing else that he could do at this point.

We don’t know how long he had been sleeping, but (and I love the next verses, v. 5-6)

“All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”

So … this angel shows up with a midnight snack, which he eats then goes back to sleep. No awe, no wow … he just eats and drinks and rolls over. Why? Because he is so exhausted that the natural responses are muted.

“The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 

So (v. 7), the angel comes back, wakes him to yet more food and drink. This time introducing a journey.

“So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.”

Without a word (v. 8-9), Elijah just does what he is told. He gets up, eats and drinks, then travels for forty days and forty nights (still in the desert … hum, didn’t Jesus spend the same time in a desert?). He went into a cave and slept yet again. He is exhausted! Yet, he does as he is told. Is it because he is too exhausted to put up a fight? Does he instinctively know this angel of the Lord is God’s own messenger? Why doesn’t God correct Elijah’s despair of life? Why doesn’t God tell Elijah to pull himself up by his bootstraps? Why doesn’t God frown and say, “stop the naval gazing and get on with it”?

God knows that Elijah is exhausted. God knows that he cannot see the forest for the trees … he is not thinking right. God knows that Elijah’s soul needs are best first met through physical ones.

Eat, sleep, move …

These are the instructions that Elijah receives from this angel of the Lord (a pretty significant entity throughout the Bible).

What is the lesson? Well, I am still studying this one, but this I am coming to see … God’s medicinal care instruction for us, when we are exhausted, is to care for our physical needs … the basic needs we have as a newborn … so that we can begin again to live.

This is the way of the Lord.

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The temptation is so real.

Whenever I see a dandelion that has gone to seed I revert to my childhood years and am inclined to pick it up in my hand and blow every last seed from its stem. I realize how unneighbourly this might be, as not everyone has an affinity for these bright yellow ‘weeds’ so I resist that inner child. But, when I am out in the wooded areas and I come across this natural temptation (and when not another soul is around), I fully give in and let those seeds blow in the wind.

I have no idea where the seeds land. How far they might travel. If the seeds carried gets nourished to continue the life cycle. All I know (and, truly, all I care about) is the joy of releasing those fluffy seeds into the air.

As I came across a photo of a dandelion on my phone, I thought about how the experience of blowing the seeds off its stem was like the words we speak.

The Bible speaks of the power of words throughout its pages.

“Dishonest people use gossip to destroy their neighbors; good people are protected by their own good sense.” Proverbs 11:9

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15: 1

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

“Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.” Proverbs 20:15

“Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” Proverbs 25:18

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is those things that make a person unclean.” Matthew 15:18

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6

Over and over the Word of God instructs us on how to use our words. Wisdom and foolishness are linked to how we choose to use our words. Our words, used in wisdom, are described as being like honey, precious gems, and constructing. Our words, used in foolishness, are described as weapons, corruptions, worldly, evil.

We all have moments when we slip, when the thoughts we have come pouring out on the poor soul in our presence, before we have had the wisdom to speak or write them. No one is sinless in this most human of behavioural inclinations.

Yet, we are all responsible for our words, for the damage they might do those around us, to our reputation as Christ-followers.

I pray that I might have more wisdom than folly as I speak today, as I spray my words in the wind like dandelion seeds.

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!”
Psalm 141:3

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Are there things in nature that remind you of your childhood?

There are many for me.

Just yesterday the Wonderdog and I took a meander (because that is the speed of this canine buddy of mine of late) in the wooded pathways near our home. The sun was warm and life-giving to my soul, making the speed of the walk redundant, for a slower walk meant more time under the sun, more bird’s songs, more fresh air to fill the lungs.

It is a common occurrence that, when I am out in nature something will remind me of my childhood.

The first reminder of childhood made me smile, wide enough that the person walking towards me, I am certain, thought I was smiling at them. Buttercups. Plentiful and petite, but bright and moving together like waves. Do you like butter? I could hear the voices of the past ask.

Another visual that had me reminiscing were the sun dapples, through a treed area along a stream. Quite truly sun dapples might be the most dreamy of all that nature possesses. I saw them yesterday and immediately saw them again, many years before along a brook while hearing stories of childhood fishing from my dad.

Yet another were the berries on the bushes, from flower to ripened berry. Though these were (I believe) salmon berries, my mind saw raspberries on the vine, reminding me of sunny days with my maternal grandmother, picking berries to fill a bowl, then returning to her home where she whipped up the most delicious pie I ever remember eating.

Finally were the roses. Though planned and purchased by a landscaper and not the wild variety that they remind me of, their scent was just as I remembered. It is truly where ‘rose-scented’ perfume originated. And I was inhaling their scent at my childhood home.

Things in nature so easily bring memories of the past to the surface, for they are always there. These are the warm and fuzzy reminders of good memories.

I love that the Bible also speaks of the value of memories, or remembering.

“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” 2 Peter 1:12-15

Peter is obviously intent on leaving a letter to those who receive his letter, at the time as well as in the future, focusing on the promise of reminders. These promised reminders of the teachings of Christ, the redemption provided, the responsibilities as a follower of Him. These reminders that the Good News would continue after he departed (this life).

What are our reminders? Perhaps they are in the rituals of Christian life, such as prayer, worship, reading of the Word. Perhaps they are in nature, in the guarantee of the sun’s rise, the phases of the moon, the changing of seasons … buttercups moving in the breeze on a sunny, warm day.

I love how Charles Swindoll spoke of this:

“Allow the things familiar to point you to things essential.”

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A beautiful day. The sun, high in the brilliant blue sky. The air warming to the skin.

I felt beckoned to go out, to join in the revelry of nature.

As I walked down the sidewalk I glanced to my right to see a most unsettling sight (image to the left).

The dark cloud almost seemed to have a silent but dominating presence. It moved in my direction, east to west. If one were to have an active imagination, it could be said that it seemed to be hunting for a place to land, for a location to unleash upon.

I imagined I could be that location.

To continue or go back for a waterproof jacket? That was the question.

A tug at my arm reminded me of the presence of yet another indomitable force, the Wonderdog.

I submitted to his will and we continued our trek along the sidewalk. Townhomes and a condo building hid the Cloud (for it seemed imposing enough for a proper name) for a number of minutes as we walked on the sidewalk, turned the corner and continued along.

As we passed the tallest building, I looked to see where the Cloud was currently ‘hanging out’. I looked left and right. I even digressed from our regular walk and moved toward the back of the condo building, thinking it had moved more quickly than I’d imagined.

It was gone. The remnants of it dispersing, dissolving into the atmosphere.

Then Solomon said,
“The Lord has said that
he would dwell in a dark cloud”
2 Chronicles 6:1

God dwell in a dark cloud?

I can envision him in a cloud, but … in my imagination it’s a white, fluffy cloud reminiscent of that commercial for cream cheese. I simply do not imagine God on or in a dark, thunderous, threatening cloud.

Now, some have said it is because God is light and so his brilliance would make the cloud appear dark. But, what if we look at it as God being in the midst of dark clouds that sometimes surround us? What if he comes into our dark clouds with us, so that we are not alone, so that there is still the presence of light, even when we cannot see it?

Isaiah 25:4 :

“For You have been a strong-place for those who could not help themselves and for those in need because of much trouble. You have been a safe place from the storm and a shadow from the heat.”

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Which way? A common human question. When there are options of which way to go (or what decision to make) we want to make the best decision, the right decision, the decision which will incur the least harm, the most joy.

Prior to the death of Jesus, he is readying the disciples for his death at every opportunity. They had lived life together. Jesus, knowing that his time with them was coming to an end seemed to be ramping up his lessons on life without him, on how to continue his work.

After they had enjoyed the meal of the last supper, Jesus is trying to prepare them, to give confidence in the process to come. Unfortunately he makes the common error (yes, I just said that Jesus made an error … give me a moment to explain).

“Do not let your hearts be troubled”

There is nothing like one putting their hand up in a “just a minute” gesture, then saying “now, don’t worry” to cause we mere mortals to begin to worry. Saying the words almost always secures that that the hearer will do the absolute opposite of what is being said.

(don’t worry … I really don’t think Jesus made a mistake … I think he, who was a question asker to answer questions, was baiting his eleven (Judas had already left) to keep the conversation going).

He then goes on to speak of preparing a place for them. That they know the way …

Then Thomas … I just love Thomas. He is the most human of those disciples. He asks the questions that the others want to, but they just do not have the pure-hearted curiosity to actually speak them. He asks :

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Can’t you just see his face? Can’t you imagine the face of Jesus in hearing the question. There’s gentleness written all over the face of his Saviour, in my imagination.

I think Thomas was chosen to be part of the group as a kindness to Jesus, as a kindness to us. He reminds us that curiosity, that asking the obvious questions is good, normal, real. He reminds us that there are no wrong questions. And I think that maybe, he reminds Jesus of who the human race was created to be like … not that Thomas does not carry the weight of human sin, but that he also carries the reflection of Adam, prior to his choice to eat of the fruit.

You just know that he is the guy in the crowd who everyone rolls their eyes in response to pretty much every time he opens his mouth. But, you also know that they would all die for him, for he is harmless to anyone or anything around him. He is pure of heart.

Maybe, just maybe when we are confronted with the question, when we, like Thomas, have the guts to ask … which way? Then we can be reminded that the answer is not us, but Him. Then we have opened the door to his response that we also need to be reminded of daily.

“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. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:1-6

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Seven days.

Seven mornings.

One week.

I lift the top of the jar, filled with paper.

Some lined.

Some floral.

Some shiny.

Some colored.

All of them with words.

That was their happy Mother’s Day gift to me last week, my three.

(because I had said, quite firmly, NO SPENDING MONEY ON ME!)

A glass jar filled with little pieces of paper … enough for one a day, for eight weeks.

Each piece of paper inked with quotes, memories, little tidbits of joy.

It is the BEST GIFT EVER!

I head to the jar early each morning, while my coffee drips. Eagerly I lift the lid, reach inside (not looking, of course), pinch a paper between my thumb and index finger, lift the paper out of the jar. Then, not too fast, as I don’t want to rush the moment, I enfold the paper, til the words face me. It is then that I begin to read the words, hearing the voice of the writer. I smile, laugh, sigh … a few times tears form in the corners of my eyes.

This is the BEST GIFT EVER!

words speak … to the heart

The Bible reminds us of the value of our words, in many places:

“Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.”
Proverbs 20:15

“Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
Proverbs 18:20

“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
Proverbs 18:4

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 16:24

In this past week I have been so reminded of the encouragement in words, through this simply, inexpensive gift. The written word, especially, holds great weight, for it can be read again, and again, and again … replenishing the soul each time afresh.

Speak your words to those you love. Write your words of encouragement to one who holds a special place in your heart. Leave your words for others to read, to know of their value in your eyes … to know their value.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”
William Wordworth

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Just a few items to pick up at the store. Plant fertilizer for my outdoor growing greenery and flowers. A new filter for the coffee maker to replace the one with a rip.

Of course I bought more than those two items. Girl guide cookies greeted me on a shelf facing the entrance (and how can one not support the Girl Guides? … the ‘guys’ in the house would be so thrilled). Descaler for the coffee machines (yes, that’s plural, two of them, in use every morning … that is a subject for another post). Then I noticed that Nairn’s Ginger cookies (biscuits) were on sale and, well I had to buy them in honor of my Scottish Nan (and the fact that I love all of their products).

So, in for two items, out with a bag full. If I could only go into a store, pick up what I want and go home! But no, I have to check out every aisle, as though I am some sort of Proverbs 31 woman … “She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar”
(v. 14) … from the beauty counter to the electronics department, from the shelves of sweeties to the coffee machine paraphernalia.

Though the clock just turned half past seven, the sun was still high in the sky, beckoning me to pause my mental to do list. My body felt more worn that the time, so a mini drive chosen … and I knew exactly where to go.

Just a short walk from my home, this spot is perfect for viewing Mt. Baker. This giant of the Pacific Northwest is known as “the Bride of the Pacific” for it is always cloaked in white (snow) year round. Though it is roughly 100 kms. from this spot, it is perfectly visible.

Mt. Baker is always there, yet it never looks the same way twice. The weather conditions, sunlight, snow pack, cloud cover all change the daily appearance of that mountain, yet it is always there. It is always covered in white snow, this Bride of the Pacific.

Makes me think of ourselves, who, as the church are frequently called Bride of Christ (who is the Bridegroom).

Like me, heading into the store for an item or two, I got distracted from what was my purpose. I spent my time focused on things I never intended to spend my money on. As the Bride or church, we too have gotten distracted from our purpose. We have spent time on things God never intended for His church. We have wasted our resources on things that, as stewards of His good gifts, we should not.

As the church, we have frequently blown it, forgotten our purpose, our first love. We are scarred by our corporate sin.

Yet, as the Bride of Christ, through the eyes of Him, our hard surfaces are covered over by his sacrifice, by his love. It is as if we are permanently cloaked in white, like the Bride of the Pacific.

In this, there is still hope for us, as His bride.

“ … just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” Ephesians 5:25-27.

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Seriously?

I have this experience periodically. I will be musing, or mourning, or making sense of life in my heart and mind on something for days … days, maybe even weeks. Then, suddenly, I am flabbergasted by what seems like intentional communications to me, from the Creator of heaven and Earth.

They will come in the form of social media posts, song lyrics that are playing on the radio, or words from another who has no idea what is going in my heart and life.

It makes me feel a bit as though I am experiencing Zephaniah 3:17 :


The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Except that, in these cases, the verse might be re-written as :

The Lord your God is always right beside you, a mighty one who will save, support and encourage; he will rejoice over you with joyfulness through your co-workers; he will quiet you by his love written all over instagram; he will exult over you with whispers of encouragement through singing on the radio; he will speak his message of care to your heart and mind, while you listen to that podcast.

It is as though God is listening to the silence around us, hearing every beat of our heart, whispering into our souls,

I see you

I know what you are experiencing

I love you

and will pursue you, even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).

There is no other god who reaches so far to show himself to us. No other who sticks closer. No other who knows us so well that he knows our silent thoughts, and fears, and insecurities, and doubts.

People, the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and Earth, the one who loved us so much that he sent his Son … he is worth following, he is worthy of our praise. Follow Him and you will experience a love and freedom beyond anything else.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

Psalm 139:7-8

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To mine …

I am thankful for you three who have spoken mom, mum, momma to me since your lips and tongue could first form the word.

You three are precious gifts to me (and your dad).

I am your mom. I write those words with pride in my heart, for I do not wish to ever take this gift of your life for granted. Each inhale and exhale from your lungs is a gift, one that I had little to do with.

I gave you so little. DNA, a place to grow (both from within as well as after you were born), nourishment, love … all of the basic building blocks, the scaffolding from which you grew, developing the person who you are today, who you will be in all of your tomorrows. It’s not nothing, but in the totality of a human life, what I provided for you was embryonic.

I think, if I were to look back with honesty and openness, I would have to admit that my initial reason for wanting each of you was totally and completely selfish. I wanted you because I wanted to mother you. And I am so very thankful that you three were who I given to fulfil this selfish desire. My hope is that, in my selfishness I also have given you more than just the task of meeting my desire …

I hope that I have given you a desire to fulfill your hopes and dreams. I hope that I have given you a need to be the best you that you can possibly be.

As each of you has walked into adulthood, I have realized how very selfish we moms can be, when it comes to our children. Though you may not live under my roof, I still want to have opportunity to mother you, to love on you all, to be a part of your futures. The thing is, I realize that when it is all about what I want for and from you, then our relationship is still about my desires and not about releasing you to make your choices, to live in the freedom of making your own path.

Even in your celebration of me today, this day is not about what I deserve as your mom, but it is about who you are choosing to be, as adults, irrespective of how I mothered you. For today you choose how and if to celebrate and that reflects not on me, but on each of you and how you choose to live your lives.

I don’t want you three to be mirror images of me … not in how I look, how I live, how I think. I want each of you to be a better human, a better soul than me. I want you to make your choices, willing to live with the good, bad and ugly that come from them.

And I do hope you will share your experiences and learning with me. That you will allow me to celebrate with the good, cry with the bad … knowing that I will pray for you through it all.

For your every breath has been in the hands of your Creator, it is His gift. He have overseen every day of your existence. My goal has, is and will always be to remind you of that, of Him. For it is only in and through Him that you can truly be the best and most free you.

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