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Firmness of character.
Harmony of practice.

Those are the two most common definitions of the word, consistency that I found while looking through numerous dictionaries.

The word can refer to a practice (harmony of practise), such as how my father-in-law (and another family member in my house) sets the table for his breakfast … at night, before going to bed. People can also have physical rituals that they become obsessive about completing. This can essentially imprison such individuals in their own behaviour.

It can also refer to the regular and predictable character traits in a person’s everyday life, such as my friend who always greets me with a smile and warm welcome (even when I am late, haven’t returned her emails, or missed her birthday). As well, individuals may be consistent in that they are mean, lie or take advantage of others.

If I were to be totally honest, to me, the word consistent is synonymous with boring.

I, typically, love variety, flexibility and the opportunity to change things up … often.

Whenever I have things that I do regularly (such as getting ready for bed, cleaning the house, shopping at the grocery store), I, intentionally, do not do those tasks the same way, every time. I am so resistant to being consistent in my practice that I actually kind of fear that I will get myself ‘locked in’ to doing things only one way.

Yet, whenever I go to a good funeral (and we all know what those are like), the things that catch my ear are the characteristics and practices of the deceased that were … you guessed it … consistent.

The mom or dad who would always stop what they were doing when someone walked in the room.

The parent who read their Bible every morning.

The grandparent who came to every school, sport or arts event.

The neighbour who always made a meal for others when there was a crises, death or birth in the household.

These consistent behaviours and traits are not necessarily what can earn one the most money, fame or worldly forms of success. A life lived without these behaviours and traits (and others), though, can be quite unsuccessful in terms of those who share life with us in our homes, workplaces and communities.

Consistency is not about boring regularity, but persistent steadfastness that is focused on making life, and our world better for others, through the stability that our behaviours and character traits produce.

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
constantly mentioning you in our prayers,
remembering before our God and Father
your work of faith and labor of love
and steadfastness (consistent practice) of hope
in our Lord Jesus
Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

 

 

 

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spirit

The vehicle was filled with the sounds of a baseball game. Barely a word spoken for dozens of miles. Contentment filled my heart, my soul.

I remembered hearing my grandmother say that a good marriage is one where a couple can drive in a car for miles and the silence be comfortable.

Numerous times over previous years, driving in the same direction, on the same highway, with the same baseball team playing on the radio, barely a word spoken for dozens of miles …

but my heart was filled with the emptiness of discontent.

The silence so uncomfortable.

The seasons in a marriage, like the seasons in the northern hemisphere, can be such a contrast, one from another. The sunny summer days can seem like endless picnics, cookouts and sweet days at the beach.

But the storms of winter can rage, blowing out electricity, and snowing you in, torrential rains causing permanent water damage.

I remember one such winters day in our marriage when we drove this very route, and I had prayed (with little investment of hope) for a miracle for our marriage. Truly it was a last ditch, faith-lacking prayer.

We had reached the point that, though we did still love each other (in a covenant-commitment manner of love), neither one of us liked or had affection for each other.

Why would I share such weakness, such imperfection?

Because I believe that heartache and suffering just have to have purpose outside of personal growth. If telling our story resonates in the heart and experience of another who is trying to protect themselves from the wintery blizzards of marriage, then I can look back and be thankful in all circumstances.

This is marriage … real marriage. Though we go to the alter and make promises in clean, perfectly altered attire, we live in the sandbox of reality. It’s not clean, or pretty, nor does it always fit. We all have these winters in our marriages … not one is perfect, not one is a bed of summery roses every day.

As we, wordlessly, comfortably drove that same highway, one night this summer, I felt the gentle, fresh breeze of summer evening coming into the windows of our car.

Suddenly, I realized that the comfortable silence we were surrounded by was the miracle of my hope-lacking prayer of years past …

when the season was not so gentle to our relationship, and we were not so gentle to each other.

The hopeless had been reborn, redeemed through the groaning of the Spirit, when we were weak, and did not know (feel) in our hearts that hope that was available.

hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what they already have?

But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.”
Romans 8:24-26

(Image above Lawton Wilson)

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There is much hesitancy in our world today to identify as … anything.

Gender is, obviously, much discussed, but it is not the only issue with great debate.

Interestingly, there are many people who go to church, attend youth or small groups, pray, participate in communion and practise many other activities related to Christianity … yet they struggle to identify as a Christian or Christ-follower.

The most common reasons I have heard for this lack of ability or willingness (or is it a lack of faith?) to identify as a Christian is:

  • they do not yet ‘have it all together’
  • they so not want to identify as a Christian because there are so many ways that Christians have messed up

In the early days of Christendom, identifying with Christ was very public.

Baptism was the initial identifier of those (Jews) who were identifying as followers of Jesus, their Messiah. It was John the Baptist (the cousin of Jesus) who was inviting them to confess their sins, then come to the Jordan River, where they would be symbolically, publicly cleansed or redeemed of their sins.

The Jewish people could relate somewhat to this practise, as the Jewish custom of Tvilah was common. In this ancient practise, people of the Jewish faith went to be cleansed, purified, restored after having encountered something or someone (ie. a corpse) unclean, according to Levitical law.

The baptism that John was inviting the Jews, the early Christians, to was a once-for-all cleansing. It was symbolic of the forgiveness and redemption that Jesus had come to offer …

Forgiveness and redemption for our sins
yesterday, today and tomorrow.

John the Baptist did not invite people who were already purified to participate in the baptism that he was performing, but those who were dirty and who desired to be clean … those who acknowledged their sin-dirty condition, and who were choosing to be identified with the only one who could make them clean for all eternity.

For those waiting to identify with Christ until they ‘have it all together, the identifying comes before the purification … and the having it all together is a goal, not a destination.

For those not wanting to identify with Christ, because of the many Christians who have, are and will mess up … see above. They are not perfect, as you and I are not perfect “not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

Paul said,
“John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
He told the people
to believe in the one coming after him,
that is, in Jesus.”
Acts 19:4

 

 

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person-waiting_1048-1707

This week seemed to just fly by, filled with work, creating, play family and friends.

It was so full, I simply forgot to write a post yesterday.

So, in lieu of a more typical post here on itsawonderfilledlife, I am going to share a song that I discovered this week, while working on furniture in my garage.

I discovered it, after listening to a song on YouTube, and songs kept playing. As this one played, names of people were laid upon my heart … the woman receiving stem cells, the new teacher with so much to learn in order to teach it, the young woman hoping that she will get the job she interviewed for, the couple hoping to adopt a child, the woman whose dad had suffered a health decline with no indicators as to what is happening, the couple whose adult daughter wants nothing to do with them, the woman who is caring for her dying mother and child with special needs …

SO many people are waiting …

So, if you are waiting, or if someone you love is, I pray that the message of the lyrics of this song, might bring encouragement. You are not alone in the waiting.

Take Courage
(click link above for video)
(Kristene DiMarco)

Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He’ll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory
And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory!

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He’s never failing
He’s never failing!

He’s in the waiting…

 

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person-waiting_1048-1707

This week seemed to just fly by, filled with work, creating, play family and friends.

It was so full, I simply forgot to write a post yesterday.

So, in lieu of a more typical post here on itsawonderfilledlife, I am going to share a song that I discovered this week, while working on furniture in my garage.

I discovered it, after listening to a song on YouTube, and songs kept playing. As this one played, names of people were laid upon my heart … the woman receiving stem cells, the new teacher with so much to learn in order to teach it, the young woman hoping that she will get the job she interviewed for, the couple hoping to adopt a child, the woman whose dad had suffered a health decline with no indicators as to what is happening, the couple whose adult daughter wants nothing to do with them, the woman who is caring for her dying mother and child with special needs …

SO many people are waiting …

So, if you are waiting, or if someone you love is, I pray that the message of the lyrics of this song, might bring encouragement. You are not alone in the waiting.

Take Courage
(click link above for video)
(Kristene DiMarco)

Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He’d reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He’ll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He’ll finish all He’s begun

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory
And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory!

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He’s never failing
He’s never failing

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He’s never failing
He’s never failing!

He’s in the waiting…

 

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cast out fear

 

Every parent alive knows of the experience of being the security and safety that a scared child needs.

When they are scared, children will usually go to an adult, often a parent, who will hold their hand, offer reassuring words or pick them up and wrap their arms of protection and assurance around their little bodies.

It is so easy to be that stronghold, that place of safety, for a child.

We, as parents, are big, and they are small. We are their protectors, their defenders. The security that we provide casts out the fears of childhood.

It is our job, as parents, to ensure that our children are safe, that they are comforted. But it is also our job to ensure that our children know that we are not their only stronghold, even that we are not their best, or most reliable stronghold.

Even if my father and mother abandoned me,
the Lord would take me in.”

Psalm 27:10

In Psalm 27 David writes of his trust in the Lord. The trust of a child in his father, the trust for a God who has saved him, held him, kept him from danger in the past.

David understood, what we too must acknowledge, that it is the God of all creation who is our ultimate stronghold, the most protected place in the kingdom of this world.

 

 

 

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biking

Since I recently admitted my physical out of shape condition in the post What Doesn’t Kill You, I thought I would share about the last time I was on a bike, fifteen years ago. Perhaps it will provide understanding as to what might have kept me off the (dreaded, uncomfortable) bike seat.

My kids were three (B), five (C) and ten (B2). It was a sunny Friday morning, and we were riding our bikes to school, as we were a one vehicle family.

Actually, it was my oldest daughter and I who were biking, the younger two were in a bike trailer, facing each other. On this particular ride, I was in the front, with C & B trailing behind and B2 picked up the end.

The pair in the trailer (C & B) seriously loved each other, they also fought like banshees.  Which is exactly what they were doing that morning.

We were barely half way to our destination of school, when the memorable situation occurred.

“Moooommmm, B hit me,” said C (with a whiny voice).

To which I replied (with motherly wisdom), “B, no hitting, please.”

It continued …

“Moooommmm, B hit me again.” This time with more whining, more pleading.

To which I replied (with restraint), “B, hitting is not acceptable.”

“Moooommmm, B hit me again.” Now with cries of pain.

This time, with no restraint whatsoever, (but much motherly frustration), “hit him back!”

To which B2 cried out, “Mom did you just tell her to him?”

Now, you need to know that, though C was quite able to get her brother (B) in trouble, she did not, does not, have a physically violent bone in her body. So if she were to hit him back it would be the equivalent of whipping someone with a wet noodle.

We continued on.

“Moooommmm, B hit me again.” 

This time I could barely hear her words, for the belly sobs coming from within C.

In total and complete frustration (and the secret wish within me that I was dropping off the two of them to school, along with their sister), I yelled back, “Hit him back, and make sure it hurts!

We did eventually get to school, and drop off their sister (who, no doubt, was shaking her head as she went into the school, having lost any respect for me as a mother that morning).

I am certain that I found a private spot, got off my bike and threatened B to never, EVER, hit his sister again.

And that was the last time I rode a bike …

until last weekend …

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