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Archive for the ‘WONDER’ Category

Angel-army

 

It is so easy to look at our life, or a particular situation and blame systems, governments, society or individuals for the problems in our lives. It is so easy to vilify those around us; their actions and motivations.

Years ago I read a fictional book that was very popular at the time, about spiritual warfare, called This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti.

Ephesians 6:12 encapsulates the them of this book:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

When the book title came up in a conversation, recently, I was intrigued to return to Ephesians 6, and to see what it said, in context.

The instruction, from Paul, is to encourage the believers to be prepared. This makes me think of the motto for the Boy Scouts, “be prepared”. When their founder, Robert Baden-Powell, was asked what it is that they should be prepared for, he responded, “why, for any old thing.”

Ephesians 6:10-18 begins with an introduction:

“… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

Not from us is our strength found, but in him! A good reminder for those of us, who independently, and arrogantly think we can do it … alone.

Then, wrapped around verse 12, is the recipe for his strength:

(“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”) verse 12

He tells us to:

“Put on the whole armor of God” (v.11)

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (v.13)

His instructions to “put on” and “take up” stand out to me. It would seem as though his armor is fully available to us, but we are responsible to dress ourselves.

And this is part of the freedom we have, as believers. He does not force us to wear the armor, that will save our very existence. He lays it all out, he tells us that putting it on is his plan … and then he leaves the door open, and it is up to us to choose whether or not to dress for battle.

No guilt trip, no pressure … freedom to choose.

And this is what he presents for us to dress in”

  • the belt of truth
  • the breastplate of righteousness
  • as shoes for your feet, the readiness given by the gospel of peace
  • the shield of faith
  • the helmet of salvation
  • the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

But, he doesn’t end with the armor, for he reminds us to cover all of this with prayer, and to not give up.

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication … keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (v.18).

I think that my favourite part of this letter, from Paul, is how he ends it,

 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” (v.23-24)

As I reread this letter, as I contemplated the darkness in our world and in my individual life, I found myself feeling … well … a little under dressed. I am guilty of taking God up on the freedom he gives to me. I am guilty of walking into battle short on armor. I wonder how much more prepared I might be if I were to accept the protective armor that God has waiting for me?

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This is the day!

Tuesday …
Not that regretful Monday, or that anticipatory Friday.
Just Tuesday, humdrum, mundane, Tuesday.

But, this is the day.

A gift …
It has never been before, and will never will be again.
Just how will you and I unwrap it?

This is the day.

Unmarred …
With not a single mistakes in it (yet).
Just to keep it that way.

This is the day.

This is …
The day that the God has given us,
With no promise of another.

We do well to rejoice,
be glad,
and squeeze every bit of life out of it.

This_is_the_day_the_lord_has_made_16x16_-_600

 

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A mom, juggling a toddler in one arm, her purchase in another and a preschooler at her side was being asked by the preschooler if she could carry the purchase.

“As long as you don’t drop it,” came the moms cautious reply.

In seconds, milliseconds really, the purchase was dropped to the floor.

The mom and I caught each other’s eye, as we both laughed, hearty and uncontrollable.

Her stunned daughter, eyes swaying from her mom to myself, stood in amazement as her faux pas was not corrected, but the focus of laughter between her mom and a stranger woman.

Though we did not know each, the sharing of time and space, and common experience, provided a human connection that allowed laughter, normally reserved for comedians and close relationships.

Once our shared laughter came to an end we wished each other well, and went in our different directions, to our different lives.

But … this momentary meeting stayed with me.

I found myself recollecting this meeting throughout that evening and the next day, smiling, once again, at the instantaneous error and laughter. Each time I recalled that moment, I found myself thankful for child-like joy, with a stranger, over a little child’s mistake.

It was a unity, though, not just in humour, but also in the realities of being a mom of developing humans.

You see, we laughed together, because that instance is just one of many (though, usually, the mistake doesn’t happen so immediately after the instruction), in the life of a mom, of a parent. Raising children is a guarantee that there will be mistakes by the child (and by the parent).

This young mom had the wisdom to recognize in her littles, what we sometimes forget as they grow up … they are still learning, and mistakes happen.

But, mistakes don’t stop when childhood ends. Teens and young adults, moms and dads, keep making mistakes.

It reminds me of a response my grandmother gave me once, when I made a statement about someone who was living a less than exemplarily life,

“it’s not over yet”

She was stating that mistakes are often the result of learning, and that the real life-learning assessment doesn’t come until the end of our lives.

Certainly one mistakes can affect our life, but it is a step in the journey of life, and our mistakes can help us in our learning journey. Our mistakes are not the definition of our lives, but what we learn from them, how we react to them.

That old saying, don’t cry over spilt milk communicates a similar message, in reminding us to not concentrate on the mistakes we make, but simply clean them up, and move on.

I have to say that as I have reminisced about my laughter with a stranger, I keep whispering prayers of thanks for her ability, as a mom, to laugh at childish mistakes. And for her reminder to view my own adult children’s mistakes similarly, and, for that matter, my own.

 

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Boxing Day I was roasting a turkey, anticipating the arrival of some of the most special people to our Christmas feast all while padding around the house in my pjs and bare feet.

As I was placing napkins at each spot, movement outside the doors caught my eye.

A small crow walked to the bottom of the deck stairs, looking up as if it’s stare would bore hole in me.

I went outside towards it. It did not fly away.

I wondered if it was hungry with snow covering the ground. The peanut and almond butter I set at it’s feet went untouched.

I approached, slowly, cautiously. I bent low, and noticed how soft and fluffy the feathers on the top of it’s head looked … as if it were still young. I took a deep breath, and reached out … it didn’t move as I gently touched it’s head.

The day before, a crow was hovering near our front patio door, our kitchen window and deck. I felt certain that this was that same bird. Felt certain that it was asking something of one of us, of me.

I rummaged through my container of rags for an old towel.

I approached, reached out, petted it’s head, then slowly, carefully, lay the towel over the back of the bird, and scooped it up into my arms.

And it let me. It was as if I was simply fulfilling it’s wordless wishes.

For the next fifteen to twenty minutes I held that bird in the crook of my arm, watching it’s chest rise and fall, it’s eyes open and close, standing, barefoot, on my deck, while my turkey roasted and my preparations stood still.

Until the bird was still, and tears fell.

God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

 

 

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A couple of months ago I had an experience that made me realize that our kids are grown up.

I happened to check my phone in between classes, one afternoon, to see that I had a couple of voicemails, and a number of texts. As I am rarely that popular, I checked them further, only to realize that hubby was in hospital (but okay).

As I only had one class left, I opted to stay at work, and just leave a few minutes early, in order to avoid the crowded parking lot upon school dismissal.

Once in my vehicle, I made a quick call to one daughter, who informed me that she and her siblings had all been in contact with each other. She was headed to hang out with her brother, while her sister had gone straight to the hospital to be with their dad.

I arrived at the hospital to see that hubby was being well cared for by hospital staff, with his daughter at his side (and even a few church friends).

Once we got home, the kids had arranged to get hubby’s car home.

As I lay my head on my pillow that night I was a thankful woman. Thankful that hubby was sleeping beside me and thankful that our kids have moved beyond childhood and into independence.

This experience reminded me that they choose how to practise their independence as well as their sense of interdependence within our family care of, and for, each other. But this is not because of exceptional parenting … this is because they have chosen to act in such a way. For they are responsible for their actions … that is part of what growing up is all about.

I was also thankful that, though our parenting has not been flawless, they love each other and that leaves me thankful beyond words.

“In your love for your brothers (and sisters),
show tender affection toward one another.”
Romans 12:10

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It has been happening again …

the obvious sense of God’s intentional stalking of my heart and thoughts, reaching into my very being, taking me on a journey that will test my preconceived notions beyond anything I could ever imagine.

God has been leading me to a variety of teachings, on a specific topic, but he keeps bringing me back to Hebrews 12.

And it all starts with nudity choosing freedom.

“let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”

I’ve gotta admit … I am not so comfortable talking about my sin. I can talk about the sin of others, or the sins of my past, but … present sins (yes, sins, as in plural) … kinda gives me the heebie jeebies.

It kinda makes me feel … naked, exposed, stripped down.

when sin is exposed, and we feel exposed

It is as if the sin becomes us, we become the sin.  As if the light that illuminates our wrong way of living, shines a spotlight on our very selves, our very souls …

But, to “throw off” our life-hindering sin, it has to come to light, so that we can live.

dark to death
light to life

So, we are to throw off this hindering sin. It is hindering because it becomes like heavy baggage, resulting in bitterness, sorrow and feeling stretched and weighed down. To throw it off means to move on, 

And to move on … well, isn’t that what we need to do? Isn’t that what New Year’s resolutions are all about? moving on from the old, and toward the new?

This stalking by God, that I have been sensing … it is all about moving on, it is all about throwing off the sins that are hindering,

but first, I have to call a spade a spade,
and admit that I sin,
so that I can strip it from my life.

Day one, the journey has begun.

 

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conviction

In lieu of words from me, today I am bowing to words of another.

And all I am going to share is the comment I left on her post:

“This was my favorite post of the year! You documented the process from the start in such a way that it is undeniable that you were experiencing a very personal and spiritual conviction. Thanks for sharing your transformation.”

Enjoy the thought-provoking words of author, speaker, momma, wife and Jesus-feminist ;), Sarah Bessey, and her personal story of being convicted that God wanted her to do something, So I Quit Drinking.

 

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