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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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Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 8.50.57 AMMarriage should never be boring … right?

So, I recently learned something about my hubby of nearly twenty-nine years, and it all started with an invite to a shower (no, not a bridal shower … the one in the bathroom) … is that too much information? Probably … oh well …

So, he was heading to the shower and I said, quite innocently, “can I pop in too?”

His response was … typical (I am NOT going to define that), followed by a shocking comment, “as long as you don’t wear that shower cap”.

Truly the floor fell out from beneath my feet.

I mean I had just gotten it (new house, new shower cap) and it was so nice to replace the one with the broken elastic that could easily have been replaced with a Ziplock freezer bag, with better results.

What followed was a hysterical conversation about how … uninspiring my (pretty) (new) (practical) shower cap was, in his eyes.

This was a breath-of-fresh air, humorous sharing that felt so good … so … not serious.

Sometimes marriage can become all about the decisions, the hard stuff, the heart-breaking stuff, the mundane stuff. Sometimes marriage just needs laughter that is inspired by something unimportant and silly. Sometimes marriage just needs giggles about something that no one else would understand. That laughter is from a place that is deeper and more intimate than any other words or act.

“Live happily with the woman (man) you love
through all the meaningless days of life
that God has given you under the sun.
The wife (hubby) God gives you
is your reward for all your earthly toil.”
Ecclesiastes 9:9

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Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 8.01.09 AM

I am a big fan of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. Though I did not read this story until I was an adult, and a mother myself, I would have to say it had a profound effect on my life, how I think, how I live.

It is the story of what it is to be real, and how one becomes real

… by being truly loved.

One of my favourite parts (and there are many) is when the Skin Horse explains to the Velveteen Rabbit what real means: “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

There was something in that message that spoke to my young mama heart, and it transformed how I lived, how I saw the experience of living … real living.

As I look back now, I think I understand why that message penetrated my heart.

As a stereotypical first born individual, I was a seeker of perfection, of pleasing others, of doing what is expected of me. That worked well for me as a child and a teen, but adults know well that there is no perfect formula for living that will draw the perfect, desired results.

Sometime, life is hard.

Sometimes, life does not work out perfectly.

It was as I began to internalize the message of the Velveteen Rabbit that, bit by bit, I began to allow my worn bits to show. I did not hide the reality of life and living to others around me. Not overnight changes, but, like the Velveteen Rabbit, slowly, through the years.

Just the other day I laughed at myself … like great big belly laugh … in front of a cashier in a store, for some silly thing I had said or done. As I was laughing at myself I realized that I would not have done that when I was a teen, a young adult. Instead I would have interpreted my error as failure, I would have hung my head in shame and embarrassment, hiding my flaws and foibles so that no one would know that I made mistakes …

… that I was real.

Learning to be really real, learning to embrace the lack of decorum, the kinks in our armour, the flaws in our personalities, is what it is to be authentic, to be real. And we are all real! We just aren’t all comfortable in the fact that being real is to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly, that we all really are.

Those years ago, when I discovered the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, it was then that I realized that, like the boy in the story, it is God who truly loves us. It is he who made us real, it is he who love us for who we really are … not who we think we need to become. And when we learn to accept the price of his love for us (the sacrifice of his own son), it is then that we become real to others around us.

“If you stick with this, living out what I tell you,
you are my disciples for sure.
Then you will experience for yourselves the truth,
and the truth will free you.”
Jesus
(John 8:31-32)

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Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.36.09 AMOne would have to have been living under a rock to have not been aware of the royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle yesterday.

There was pomp and circumstance, movers and shakers in many arenas, delightful children being … children, spectacular music and decor, the exchange of rings and vows and even a rather evangelistic message of love and redemption.

The vows that were made were simple, traditional and sombre (serious). There were vows spoken by many before them, from the most prosperous to the lowest pauper. Perhaps that universality is what makes them as significant as the promises themselves, for the effort to keep such vows is as daunting for all, no matter their circumstance.

A vow is many things. It is a promise, but more than that it is a pledge, a commitment, a dedication, a pledge … a guarantee. When one makes such a vow, as one at a wedding, one is saying,

I will see this happens, until death.

Vows are not necessarily a mandatory custom of marriages all over the world. Nor are they legally binding. So, why say them?

Tradition is probably the main reason that many people still respond to or repeat in their wedding ceremonies. Yet, is that all that wedding vows are for those who repeat or speak them?

In the Bible, vows were addressed, by Moses,

“This is what the Lord commands:
When a man makes a vow to the Lord
or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge,
he must not break his word
but must do everything he said.”
Numbers 30:1-2

This message from God reminds us that the words we speak, whether to God or another promise or pledge, is a serious commitment, and must be honoured. Truly we could say that this scripture is the same message as the phrase, my word is my bond, which is “used to indicate that one will always do what one has promised to do” (Mirriam-Webster).

Our vows, spoken in a wedding ceremony, are not just words of tradition, but words of the will. We rise each day willing ourselves to fulfil them, in honour of our word.

May God grant Harry and Meghan, may God grant us all, strength and will to do what has been said … as long as they, as shall live.

 

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harvest

The celebration of Thanksgiving, in many countries, around the world, share the origin of giving thanks for the harvest, after the growing season.

The past few days I have been thinking of how thankful I am for one of my grandmothers. The mother of my father, but not a blood grandmother, for I am a child adopted into her family.

She taught me two important things, for which I am so thankful.

The first is something she told me, the second is something she showed me.

Once, when I was facing a new and challenging experience, I called her. She had the uncanny ability to read into how I was feeling without me sharing all of the details. After I mentioned the upcoming experience, she replied, “just be yourself.”
just be

Her words have returned to my memory frequently.

Then there is what she showed me … every day of her life. Though this lesson wasn’t one she shared verbally, she shared it with every action, every fibre of her being.

As a child adopted into her family, she adopted me fully. I cannot fathom feeling more loved by a grandmother by blood.

My memory of her is that she would do anything for those she loved. She baked bread, and pies, and meals. She invited people over, she went to their homes. She bought gifts, made phone calls and attended every concert her grandkids performed.

She didn’t wait to be loved, before she gave love, before she showed love.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of the
others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

It didn’t matter if her family no longer visited as in the past, or if we called her as often. For her, love was in the selfless giving, not because it was deserved, but because she  choose to always communicate love. 
there-is-no-remedy-for-love-but-to-love-more19

Today, technology has allowed for the growing season, and harvest, year round in heated greenhouses in even the coldest temperatures. As such we should give thanks year round as well.

When I look at the legacy that my grandmother left, her building of confidence to be oneself and the gift of modelling selfless love, I hope that I can continue planting seeds as  she did. I hope that they will reap an amazing harvest too.

 

 

 

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Despite the fact that, when asked, I almost never know how many years hubby and I have been married (it’s twenty-eight today), I never forget how very much I felt that I loved him on that day … oh, and I still do 😘.

But anyone who has been married long enough to have had a disagreement, an all-out fight, knows that they had no idea what love was on their wedding day. For love is not a once-for-all feeling, but a gradual, ever-evolving metamorphis.

This past summer I watched a video that reminded me how very little real love was involved in the early days of our marriage. As a matter-of-fact, I would say we really only found, in each other, someone who would meet our needs.

In this video Rabbi Dr. (psychiatrist, professor, author) Abraham Twerski introduced me to the concept of Fish Love. Fish love is described as how one might say they love fish, when what they mean is that they love to eat fish, because fish tastes good to them, and it satisfies their appetite. The fish meets their needs.

Twerski said,

“True love is a love of giving, not a love of receiving.”

When we were first married the knowledge and feelings of love were greatly defined by what we received from the other. He filled my cup of needs, wants and desires, and I filled his. In a sense it might be hard to tell where the love originated … was it in the giving or in the receiving? One can feed the other, and in the early years of marriage the give and take is constant.

But, as the years go on it is not so constant, and the cups empty.

It is then that one realizes that fish love doesn’t last. For it is in the selfless, sacrificial giving to each other, even when we aren’t sure that our giving will be recripricated, that we know that we love and are loved by the other.

Ephesians 5:1-2 continues this theme of giving and sacrificial love …

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a grant offering and sacrifice to God.”

There is to our twenty-eight years, and counting, of learning to love beyond fish love, hubby. Let me take you out for dinner … but maybe not seafood.


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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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