Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Seaside Retreat
by
Fred Buchwitz

Who would have thought that sitting in a dentist’s chair would have been where God decided to speak clearly (though I am certain that many have called out to God from a dentist’s chair)?

I have sat in that chair, facing that painting for probably over twenty years. I have admired it while taking my seat in front of it (or was it in front of me?). I have yearned to be there, standing on that pathway bridge, taking in the waves crashing on shore, the eagle soaring out over the water, the light streaming down from beyond the clouds.

This day, as I walked into the room, I was only able to see one facet of the painting and I was in it.

Right there, standing on the smaller rock. On this rock, in the foreground, the waves crashing onto it and my feet. I could feel the icy cold of the water on my feet, ankles and lower legs. I could feel the cool air on my face. My back to the beach, I could see only the waves, the threat, as fear gripped me.

As I took my seat, chatted the same introductory conversation about work, children and the news of the day that we have had every six months for over twenty years, my mind’s attention was still in front of me. Finally, as our conversation was silenced by the work that needed to be accomplished, I could focus completely on my perilous situation, as the breakers crashed at my feet.

“you are not hopeless”

The words of a song I’d heard while driving to my appointment.

“I hear your SOS, your SOS”

More lyrics. Chill ran through me as the waves hit at me.

“you’re not defenseless”

As I sat there in the chair, my eyes continued to be focused on the painting … the painting that I had been somehow been transported into. Though I could no longer see the physical scene, for my position was now mostly fixed to the ceiling … to a place above and beyond my physical self. Now my inner gaze also drifted higher.

“I hear you whisper undernearth your breath
I hear you whisper you have nothing left”

In an instant my mind’s eye lifted from the waves, to the eagle, soaring effortlessly on the air thermals. To the light streaming down, those crepuscular sunbeams (sometimes called the “fingers of God”). The fear eliminated, dissolved.

“In the middle of the hardest fight, it’s true,
I will rescue you”

I was now standing above the water, on the other side of the cabin, facing the light pouring down from the clouds. I have no idea what the other side of the cabin looked like, for my back was to it, my face focused on the light.

The description of this painting, by Fred Buchwitz, writes:

“The morning sun bursts through the clouds, casting its warm glow in this remote
bay on the northwest coast. The crest of each wave is illuminated by the golden
rays of the sun. The crashing rhythm of the ocean and the cries of the gulls
provide the musical backdrop for this enchanted vista.”

“The crest of each wave is illuminated by the golden rays of the sun” … for me, that day, the threatening waves were illuminated by the reminder

that I,

that we,

have a rescuer,

a Saviour,

who will reach down and fight for us.

Read Full Post »

So, what’s your main thing?

You know, the thing that you love above all else?

We all have a main thing, a love greater than all else.

Exodus 20:3 tells us:

“You shall have no other gods before me”

Are our main things like gods in our lives?

Are they the main things in our hearts?

What if they ceased to exist, to live? Could we carry on with just the love of God?

I ask myself these questions sometimes … wondering if the things, the ones, that I love most have become idols in my heart and mind. I wonder if I have elevated them above my reliance on the one who made me. I wonder if I love him above all else.

As I was pondering my God, my loves, my heart, I sought out what Jesus had to say about this first commandment, for, though he does not retract from the Old Testament commandments, he does provide further clarification (Mark 12:30)

Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and with all your strength.

It would seem that whereas the OT commandment sounds very much like a rule, the NT version would seem to sound sound like an act of choice (can love ever be anything but a choice?). To love with heart, soul, mind and strength is to love with every part of us, who we are.

Love is a pretty big deal in the ministry of Jesus. After expressing the greatest commandment (above) he left us with one additional commandment,

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

They really go together, for in our choosing to love God, we seek to be like him and there is no greater expression of our love for him than to love others.

Now back to the beginning … our main thing?

I think I have come to realize that God has to be my main thing. That I have to love him above all else, not just as a security blanket that keeps me safe for all eternity, but because I cannot love anyone else well if I do not first dwell in my love for my Creator. For it is in loving him that I am able to love others.

Read Full Post »

Progress,

From Latin …

pro – ‘forward’

gradi – ‘to walk’

progress … to walk forward.

We walk … forward

Taking in the sights, the smells, the sounds, the tastes, touches.

We take in as we walk forward.

But, to really walk forward is to pause with those senses,

to see as far as the eye can see,

to stop and smell the roses,

to be so quiet as to hear a pin drop,

to eat and know when it tastes like more,

to know the comfort of a soft touch.

Slowly walking forward,

to what lies ahead.

Not for grandiose destinations.

Not for

more,

bigger,

fame,

but simply to progress,

simply to be moving …

forward.

simply because walking forward is better.

better than moving back,

better than staying put.

progress is walking …

it is physical,

takes effort …

so. much. effort.

Sometimes it seems that we do not move forward, do not progress.

Yet, as our feet ache,

as our wheels spin,

our hard efforts propel us

when our feet cannot.

Progress …

tiny, sometime indiscernible, movements forward.

We can do this!

because we are making progress.

“Beautiful things take time. This is true for so many things.
Progress goes beyond what is easily noticeable or seen.
As sure as the tree bears fruit, stay in the light and be patient.

You will grow, too.”
Morgan Harper Nichols

Read Full Post »

Lately I have realized that I have a great teacher, right under my roof.

He rises when he’s ready, or when his people are getting up … because he knows that being with his people is the best.

He never worries about food or drink (though, like me, he does think about them all. the. time.) … because, at the appointed time, his bowls will be filled (and there’s often a toilet seat that doesn’t get put back down … so there’s that option, though I am not endorsing that life choice of his).

He doesn’t care about his appearance, EVER! Though he does love to be told he’s pretty, handsome … heck, just say it in a higher pitch and he’s eating it up.

He can and will sleep anywhere and anytime … the floor, the sofa (crushing my cushions, despite many, MANY reprimands not to), the bed.

Walk? Heck ya. Hubby just has to click the clasp on his leash and he comes running. And while out for a walk he notices everything in his proximity. He loves seeing people, barking at other dogs (sigh) and spotting bunnies (my arm does not appreciate this), sniffing anything in his sight.

Greeting others with excitement is a gift of this guy and his breed. As a Wheaten Terrier (terror fits too), his line is known for their Wheaten greetin’ including leaping for joy … at face level. Except for the unnerving surprise that this can be to a first time visitor, he knows how to show joy when someone comes into the home.

He sticks close to those who meet his needs. He knows his people … those who feed him, speak gently to him, those who take him out for his (multiple) bathroom breaks … at all hours of the day (and sometimes even the night). He knows whose touch is gentle, who he can count on. And he sticks close to them.

So, here I sit, on an early Sunday morning, learning from the best.

Read Full Post »

Where we live, in the Pacific Northwest, we typically enjoy a temperate climate … never too hot, never too cold. During our wet winter season it seems as though we live in a rainforest.

The recent days of early summer here have seemed like we moved to a desert. With daily temperatures reaching the mid 40°C (105°F) range and nighttime temperatures only lowering to near 30°C (86°F). These temperatures are not normal for this area.

Heat-related deaths have even been a very real reality over these sweltering days (and nights).

As the temperatures are now cooling my daily walks around our neighborhood have resumed. As I walked the other evening, I saw something that I had not ever seen before. Plants and trees showed clear evidence of having been damaged or killed by the heat of recent high temperatures.

Azaleas, lilies, rhododendrons, ferns, hydrangea, coniferous trees, roses and more browned and withered by the intense hot sun. Though many of these plants are native to this area, they were not created for such heat and they withered in place.

As I walked the devastation was everywhere. Not a garden was exempt from the damage the heat inflicted on the Earth. Some of the plants and trees will recover, but others, quite literally, have no life left in them.

The words of Isaiah 40:8 echoed in my mind,

The grass withers,
the flower fades,
but the word of our God
will stand forever.

In the Bible there are numerous references to our Earthly life as being like grass, trees or other plants. Often the verses compare their short existence to the brevity of our life.

Those comparisons were on my mind as I walked and, I have to say, there was a sadness in my heart. Sad to see these beautiful growing things burned by their environment. Sad to think of the areas where my life has also been burned.

Then my thinking drifted a bit. These plants that have been killed or damaged, it wasn’t because they failed, or weren’t watered, or were poor quality plants. They withered, faded and were burned not because they were in the wrong place, but because the conditions of the place they were created for changed.

This is our reality, as well.

When God created the human race he did so placing them in an environment where we could thrive. Then sin became a part of our DNA and we began to feel the burn of the world around us.

The thing is, we are in the right place, it is the conditions that changed. Yet, our souls continue to long for the life-giving refreshment of what they were created for. As long as we long for that Eden, we have certainty that it awaits us, that it is promised to us as we stick with the One who created us.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. … If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthy pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. … I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and help others to do the same.” CS Lewis (Mere Christianity)

Read Full Post »

As I walked a couple of times in the last month, various lyrics from songs I was listening to penetrated into my mind.

Does this happen to you? You hear a song a couple, maybe a dozen times … you might even sing along to it, unconscious as to what you are singing? Then, all of a sudden, POOF! You hear the words, as though listening to for the first time.

It happens to me ALL THE TIME!

So, when I heard these words, I was aghast that I could have missed them up until now. Especially since they are the words that I would claim as the unplanned soundtrack of my life.

They are words that I sing when I am needing a reminder that no matter what else is going on in my life, in my world there is one assured constant,

the state of my soul is the same.

These words, lyrics, originate in the Horatio Spafford hymn, It Is Well (click link to read the story behind this hymn).

(Whatever my lot,
You have taught me to say)
It is well , it is well with my soul

Theses words have been the soundtrack of my life.

Since my teens years, when I first heard this hymn, they have appeared in my life

just. when. I. needed. them. most.

They have come to my consciousness while worshipping in church, listening in the radio in the car, sitting in a hospital bed, standing at graveyards, walking along the beach … walking not far from my home.

Those words have been present in that original song as well as numerous other songs with the same words, the same message of the reminder that, though so much can change and challenge in our lives, when God has control of our souls that does not change.

Below is the latest song which includes the reminder that “It is well with my soul” … this soundtrack of my life.

It has been the best, most powerful reminder of the reality of my state, in any situation.

Though mountains may tremble and sea billows roll
I’ll sing it is well with my soul
My God is still in control

And it is well with my soul
It is well with my soul

Read Full Post »

So, you made it to Friday … after thinking it was Friday twice this week already.

You feel like you simply are doing your best to put one foot in front of the other, accomplishing each expectation upon you one slow step at a time.

You are living for the end to this day, this week … knowing within your soul that this is not satisfying, not life-giving … not what you were created for.

Bone tired … that is what you feel, what describes you best right now.

It is a weariness that zaps your energy, your joie de vivre (joy of living), drying up the body, mind and spirit.

Refreshment …

That is what you need. Like a cool lake on a sizzling hot day, a tall glass of water when utterly parched. You need to be refreshed, from the inside out.

come …

It is a beckoning, a pursuing, an invitation. A word that opens the door for one on the outside.

to me …

To Jesus, to God himself. He is the one giving the invitation. It is personal. Not an invitation delivered by another, but offered personally, physically.

all …

Not everyone except, not only a certain group, but all.

that labor and are heavy laden …

This covers the things that encompass our work (jobs, physical work) as well as the weight on our hearts and souls. Are you tired from your work and your heavy heart?

and I …

This is gonna be the promise, the commitment. And it comes from the Creator of heaven and Earth, and of us.

will give you rest.

This is the outcome of the promise. The result, the then of the if/then.

This is for you who are bone weary.

Read Full Post »

As I stood in the kitchen a thought passed through my mind,

I need to sit.

So I walked to my sofa and I sat.

It was a simple, yet odd occasion.

I had a thought. A thought that originated in my body and mind. A thought communicated from my body to my mind. And, without pause, I responded immediately and physically. I gave in to what my body needed.

How is it that such a basic human need was met and yet, it is unique, worth reflecting on, worth writing about?

Our bodies deliver messages to us since our first days. As newborns we cry out our need of food, of discomfort. As children we fall asleep almost in motion, while sitting in our high chairs, car seats, in the sandbox. As teens we pass out while doing homework, we ravage the fridge when hungry. As adults we tend to ignore our needs. We ‘tune out’ the voice within, opting for the voices of could and should. We begin to fit a mold, as opposed to work as body and mind are designed.

Rest is a requirement of our bodies, minds and souls. It is a requirement for our lives. We attain rest not just in sleeping, but in coming away from our work, our mission even, to rest as God himself modelled on day seven of creation. When we seek rest, that rest needs to be rest that we find in God … for resting in Him is where we find complete refreshment.

Walter Kaiser quoted Gerhard Von Rad, in his observation of human rest :

“Among the many benefits of redemption offered to man by Holy Scripture, that of ‘rest’ has been almost overlooked in biblical theology….”


We can see the truth of this in Hebrews 4:1-13. Here’s a few excerpts :

Although God’s promise still stands—his promise that all may enter his place of rest—we ought to tremble with fear because some of you may be on the verge of failing to get there after all.  (his rest is a promise … but with a condtion)

For this wonderful news—the message that God wants to save us—has been given to us just as it was to those who lived in the time of Moses. But it didn’t do them any good because they didn’t believe it. They didn’t mix it with faith (faith is the condition).

For only we who believe God can enter into his place of rest. He has said, “I have sworn in my anger that those who don’t believe me will never get in,” even though he has been ready and waiting for them since the world began (belief is a choice we are freely given) …

“Today when you hear him calling, do not harden your hearts against him” (listen … and rest) …

there is a full complete rest still waiting for the people of God. Christ has already entered there. He is resting from his work, just as God did after the creation. Let us do our best to go into that place of rest (to go into is to make the choice, the choice to listen to that still small voice …).

To rest in God is always a choice. It is ours to make. Life does not get easier or better, the realities of life (good and bad, pleasant and horrible) still happen. But, in choosing to rest in God we choose what our bodies, minds and souls most need … are created for.

Read Full Post »

It is high school graduation time again. The season of finals is upon us. Final classes, final assignments, final exams, final walks down the halls, final bells ringing in their ears.

Moms of grads don’t think of these endings, so much as the many beginnings in earlier years. The graduate’s birth, first steps, first days of kindergarten, grade one, first overnight away from home, first heartbreak, first performance (sport, arts etc.), first time behind the wheel, first day of high school.

I feel a bit like those moms.

I remember September of 2017. It was my first day in a new job, at a new high school. I was scheduled to start the day in a learning support class in another part of the school, along with my colleague. We walked in to a class of maybe six students, three in grade nine and three others … I really don’t remember them well. It was the ninth grade students who I remember, maybe because they were feeling all of the newness, stress and awkwardness that I was feeling.

Now they are graduating.

Working in learning support, I got to help these students to understand and complete their assignments, break them into smaller chunks, help them create a plan for completion, sometimes the job is to just sit in a seat, silently (or not so silently) and cheer them on.

But, I also got to hear about them, their lives, their families and friends, successes and struggles. There have been hours of research, and discussions, and paper-writing, and math problems, and laughter, and tears, and excitement, and discouragement shared together. I heard about their move to another house, the latest superhero movie, friend drama, fishing trips, first jobs, driving tests, vacations, pets, plans for the future.

And now they are graduating.

And more beginnings are ahead than what they have already experienced.

This class of 2021 is to experience yet another Covid graduation, filmed days ago, to be shown at a drive-in venue (in this particular high school). Nothing if not unique and memorable.

Because this grad class has experienced the past two years of high school while meandering through a pandemic, they have developed different skills and strengths than other grad classes. They have experienced forced group home school, followed by a final year with half-day classes, few field trips, post-phoned driving road tests, the wearing of masks (over mouth and nose (if I had a dime for every time I have made that reminder), no hugging of friends, eating lunch in a classroom, trying to sanitize your hands upon entering the school (while you are carrying books, lunch, a coffee and your car keys) and re-learning of hand washing skills.

Resilient … that is the word I think of when I think of these graduates. Often they have been more able to go with the flow than we ‘adults’ around them.

And if resilient is the word that signals the ending of high school, then it is also the word … the life-skill … that they take into their new beginnings.

When I think of this grad class of 2021, I think of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:

“We are hard pressed on every side, 
but not crushed;
perplexed, 
but not in despair
persecuted, 
but not abandoned
struck down,
but not destroyed.”

May they know the One who can give them strength, may they seek Him, may they hold tight to the only One who will never leave them, never abandon them, wherever they go.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

Becoming the Oil and the Wine

Becoming the oil and wine in today's society

I love the Psalms

Connecting daily with God through the Psalms

Memoir of Me

Out of the abundance of my heart ,I write❤️

My Pastoral Ponderings

Pondering my way through God's beloved world

itsawonderfilledlife

looking for wonder in everyday life

What Are You Thinking?

Theology is a conversation, and you're invited.

Sealed in Christ

Sixth Seal Ministries

Amazing Tangled Grace

A blog about my spiritual journey in the Lord Jesus Christ.

FisherofMen

Giving a unique view and input on information to help individuals establish a concrete perspective on terms, words, topics and the world around them.

Following the Son

One man's spiritual journey

Fortnite Fatherhood

A father's digital age journey with his family and his faith

Raise Them Up

Parenting with Purpose

Frijdom

encouraging space to think deeply