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IMG_4462An early morning drive to take my son to his weekend job at a camp out of town was such a gift as the weekend began, and the previous week came to a close.

As I returned home yesterday, under the cobalt blue sky, as I absorbed the serenity of the silence in the vehicle, as I reflected on the week, I realized how many times I had experienced something like kisses blown from heaven, and was completely unaware.

When the week began I had a plan of self preservation, to ensure that I would not be working on empty. Within hours of deciding on my plan, it became apparent that my plan was thwarted before I even gave it breath.

Isn’t that a common human experience?

Don’t we all have days, times, situations
when our plans for good are halted?

Don’t such times
just make us throw our hands up
to the heavens in frustration? defeat?

The rest of the week passed … a week of  living for the weekend.

(don’t tell me you’ve never had one of those)

It wasn’t until I was contentedly driving home alone, until I whispered one sentence …

I so needed this drive full of visual beauty …

And, like a light being turned on in a dark room, pushing all that hindered full sight of what the room contained, the blessings of the week came into full view.

  • the end of the horrible, awful, terrible cold early in the week
  • the celebration of our son’s birthday with he and his friend
  • the laughter in the kitchen one night as our daughter regaled us with a spider story
  • attending the birthday party of a long since graduated student
  • the words of affirmation and thanks from another long since graduated student
  • a forecast of sun, sun, sun
  • the warmest greetings from a mom I barely know, whose daughter graduated with ours
  • an unsigned, cheery postcard in the mail

Each event, as I reflected, were like lightly placed kisses on ones forehead. The kind that  are more about adoration than passion, more about giving than taking, sometimes barely felt at all … yet they build up, are more intimate and last longer than any other.

Though we can interpret each of these events as simply just individual events, just the happenstance of life, there is more benefit from them, more purpose and life-giving in them if we can see them as (I believe with everything in my being) the gestures of love from a very loving God, who desires that we see his love and care for us as constant, as abundant.

And so, I look back at the events of this week and I can see the love my heavenly father has for me.

May I prompt you to also look back at your week, and see if you too were so busy living life that your missed the kisses blown from heaven into your week.

“For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17

 

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perseverence

In my job I get to work with students who may have adaptations availed to them through their Individual Education Plans (IEP). Some of these adaptations might be to have tests and assignments read aloud to them, decreased problems on a test, more time to complete assignments or tests, etc.

None of those adaptations actually change the ability to show that they have learned what is required, but simply to show it differently, so that they are not being ‘tested’ on being tested but on the material learned.

Over the years I have had opportunity to see students thrive once the playing field was levelled, and they were given the chance to show what they really know.

One does not have to have an IEP, though, for there to sometimes be a need to have the playing field levelled to accomplish a task.

Sometimes our paths are not in a direct line, do not follow a prescribed method or journey.

Sometimes we need to take the road less travelled to reach our ultimate destination.

Sometimes we need the help of others to get to where we are going, relying on the family, friends, the community around us to get to make the desired achievement.

Our lives are unique to us, and we do not all succeed best by doing things as others, as expected.

The key is to keep moving forward, not back.

Easy words, but not always easy in practise.

We need to remind ourselves that we too can persevere to accomplish the task at hand. It is not how we get there, or how long it took, but that we didn’t give in and give up.

 

 

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IMG_4033It’s official! I no longer have any ‘children’, for my baby turns nineteen today.

But this is not about me 😉

You were and will always be my best surprise, just what our family needed most, but didn’t know it.

And now you turn nineteen, and in so many ways today signifies your independence, your autonomy as an adult, a man.

The thing is we don’t become adults by awakening to the day of our birth, we become adults by, as the Bible says, “putting childish things aside” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

When I think of you, of your birthday, I cannot help but think of how the past year was one of putting many childish things aside … not necessarily by choice.

In a year you have accepted the transition from high school as final, the understanding of what it is to work a job, pay rent and look after your own needs, but there were other circumstances that pushed you to choose to be an adult.

You have also experienced the unexpected death of a peer, moving from your childhood home, the loss of a church community and the illness of your dad.

Through these very real changes and struggles you have had to choose how you would respond, and it is through your responses to these changes that I have seen and admired your metamorphosis as you transition into adulthood.

The main thing you did was talk. You chose wise and caring people and you shared your inner burdens, rather than keep them inside.

You also acknowledged that there are some things you cannot control, and so you have to acknowledge limits to what you can do, for a person or within a circumstance.

You have shown compassion and care, irrespective of it being reciprocated.

My son, you have accomplished much this past year!

1 Corinthians 13:11 says,

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Then, along comes verse 12, and it is like the carrot before the cart, the incentive for hauling the, sometimes, heavy load (of adulthood):”

“For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

Each opportunity we have to choose adulthood (or not) leads us into a future where the pieces fit together, where the whys of life might be answered, where our past might make more sense.

So, young man, continue in your pursuit of adulthood, and, while you are heading in that direction, don’t forget to take joy along with you.

“The time has come to make a choice
And I choose joy

 

” ‘Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you’ is the greatest phrase ever written. If everyone followed that creed, this world would be a paradise.”
STAN LEE

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42984856_1050599855088981_2229169008232366080_n

What if we started this day with the one intent to be grateful, thankful for everything that we have in our lives?

For me the thanks would start before I step out of bed, for as I inhaled the breath of a new day, fresh with so many possibilities.

The coffee brews hot, while I take our fun-loving, ever-present WonderDog out to the little piece of grassy soil, that is ours.

The soil on which our home sits … our home is warm and cozy, spacious and compact. Our home, where we live, have life and breath

Our home, where our two youngest still live … each day that we are still together is a gift, not to be taken for granted.

Our home, where we two live, together in committed, real-life love relationship … each moment a sacrifice to and for the other … love received, because it was first given.

Our home, where we will host others tomorrow … our third child, and others who we adore, who we get to sit around a table and feast, and pray and be thankful. This is abundance.

This home, from which we exit each day into lives of work, using what the good Lord gave us, to work, to earn and to be empowered by Him working through us.

Through the windows of our home we see others, neighbours, from different homes, cultural backgrounds, lives. We are better for how our lives intersect with others who are not just like us.

Those in our lives who are with us through the thick and thin, the ones who stay when others disappear, reminders of what real friends are and can be.

For God the creator, the saviour, thanks for redeemed life, through the one who teaches us how sacrificial love is the one that gives life.

We live our lives in a constant cycle of work and play, both giving joy and learning and purpose to every day.

At the end of the day, so much to be thankful for as my head rests on it’s pillow.

If we could just be intentionally grateful, thankful for everything that we have in our days, I think we might see a change in how we view life. It is not about what we do not yet have, but grateful for what is already our reality.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough”
Ann Voskamp

 

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Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 6.54.35 AM.pngIn Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving this coming weekend.

It is my most favourite holiday of the year, for it is always good to be reminded to give thanks … and there is always something to be thankful for.

Over the past number of weeks I have encountered, in a handful of places and ways, St. Ignatius’ prayer of Examen, and I find it to be a good outline for sincerely thankful prayer.

Ignatius of Loyola was born, in Spain, in the late fourteen hundreds and lived into the mid fifteen hundreds. He was a Catholic Priest who founded the Jesuits. The Prayer of Examen is from his book The Spiritual Exercises.

The Prayer of Examen is not rote but is reflective and personal/intimate.

The steps and order of prayer are as follows (from http://www.ignatianspirituality.com):

1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.

Basically one starts out seeking God’s presence. Really this is more about us entering consciously, into his presence, then it is he entering into ours, for he is always with us … we simply are not always aware of this fact.

Then you look over your day, noticing all in it that you are thankful for.

Though we Christians do not normally put much stock into our emotions, and many would even say to not trust them. Yet God can speak to us in our feelings of joy, sorrow, melancholy, fear and anger. He may even awaken us, through the noting of our emotions of the day, to act in some way.

Then, choose one specific part of the day, it will come to you, to specifically pray about. Perhaps it will prompt to make an apology, a confession, a dinner for a friend in need.

Finally, pray for the day to come. For strength, for courage, for wisdom.

(click here for more details on how to pray the Examen).

Basically such reflective, personal prayer can not only be relevant when praying, but throughout the day, as our reflections begin to make us aware of God’s presence in all of our days. We can become sensitive to God’s presence in our life, in our days, not just when our head is bowed, or hands lifted in praise but when we are paying the bills, running kids to soccer and dance, standing in line at the grocery store.

It can convert us to followers of God who are intimately aware of his presence in every part of our day,  not just the times we bow our heads.

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They are with us from birth to death, from morning to night.

Tears. The overflowing of moisture from the eyes which originate in their very own ducts, prompted to release and overflow in the presence of pain, or joy, or sorrow, or strong scents or strong emotions.

Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 6.08.30 PM

Increases in the hormone estrogen can encourage their release, and an increase of progesterone can dry them up.

The Bible speaks, numerous times of tears in relation to Jesus.

From the prophesy in Isaiah 53:3, we know that well before his birth, Jesus the Messiah was to be “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”. Tears were in the cards for him, right from the beginning.

Interesting, though, that in Revelation, it is not the tears of Jesus that are spoken of, but those of us, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).

The shortest verse in the Bible has to do with tears … and Jesus. John 11:35 tells us that “Jesus wept.” Short and to the point, those two words remind us of Christ’s humanity, and of our being like him in our weeping.

When Jesus wept, he did so upon entering the home of Lazarus and finding him to be dead. Though he knew that he could and would raise Lazarus from the dead, facing his friends sorrow, over the corpse of their mutual friend … a corpse is always the symbol of a world in need of a bloody Saviour. So, he wept. He wept for the women there, for Lazarus dead before him, for sin that had swept, uninvited, into the world, for humanity whose only chance was a redeemer. And he wept.

That is not the end of our tear-jerking moments in the Bible, for our tears are of great importance to our God, for he not only sees and hears our cries, but, You (He) keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8).

tears

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Psalm 30:5

 

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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

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