Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Love Him

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

He hears.
He listens.
I love Him.

I called on the name of the Lord: "Please, Lord, save me!"
How kind the Lord is!  How good he is!  So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.

When darkness threatened to suffocate my soul
and despair tried to choke the life out of me,
I remembered His kindness, His mercy, His love.
He hears my prayers and rescues.
I love Him.

Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.

So good, so very, very good.
My soul is at rest.
I love Him.

What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me?

His love is so great.
Gratitude overflows into a song of worship.
I love Him.

Psalm 116:1-7.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Real Life Promises

I almost forgot this morning in the dark hours when awake came to my brain.  My mind began to organize and shuffle all the to-do's of today and tomorrow.  Overwhelming, but if I just put my head down, get 'er done, and survive until Thursday, it'll be feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest, but I can handle that for another day or two.

"Seriously, are you willing to settle for that?" the still, small voice whispered.

How do I forget so easily?  So quickly?  I wasn't made to "settle" for anything..."get 'er done" sounds so competent and reliable, yet is less than my birthright.  We're created for glory, but we miss it all when our heads are down and we're just surviving.

The promises of "good plans...a hope...that you will prosper" don't come with a disclaimer of "except for on the really busy days."

What good is the promise of being "armed with strength" to "scale any wall" and "stand on any mountain" except for on days containing walls and mountains?  These verbs are strong and full of energy, not limping along in survival mode.  Thriving and victorious.

The busy days hold gifts too.  I miss them all with my head down and an elephant sitting on my chest.

I can receive them all with face up, arms lifted, and a shout of praise on my lips.

I'm tired, but there's no elephant sitting on my chest.  Still looking forward to Thursday, but today was a  good day.

Thankful for grace, for gentle reminders in the morning darkness, and for promises that apply to real life.

For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations;
I will sing praises to your name.

Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 18:29, 32, 33, 49

Monday, November 28, 2011

Forgiven and Blessed

She said, "You said..." and I said, "I didn't say.."  But it didn't make any difference so what do you say?  Sorry.  I never meant for you to feel that way.

It rankles and burns.  Sometimes you just can't make things right no matter what you say.  When you don't want the poison to sour your soul what do you do with it?

Take it to the One who knows, who's been misunderstood a thousand ways.  Tell Him how much it hurts and then forgive.  What is the forgiving but giving up my right to vindication?  Surrendering it to the One who sets all things straight some day in some way.  Giving you freedom from my revenge, giving me freedom from bitterness.  Giving what I've already received in abundant measure.  Grace.

He's given one more instruction...after the forgiving, bless.  What better blessing than to pray that the offender would sense the incredible love of the Father?  That peace and calm would come...that they would discover rest in the Father's arms.

Extending grace is a God-sized job.  Thankful for the abundance of His grace toward me...thankful that I am free of a debt I could never repay...thankful for His Spirit within that makes the impossible possible.

You're familiar with the old written law, "love your friend,"
 and it's unwritten companion, "Hate your enemy.
I'm challenging that.  I'm telling you to love your enemies.
Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer,
for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.
This is what God does.  He gives his best--
the sun to warm and the rain to nourish--to everyone, regardless:
the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
If all you do is love the loveable, do you expect a bonus?  Anybody can do that...
In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up.
You're kingdom subjects.  Now live like it.  
Live out your God-created identity.
Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Matthew 5:43-48 MSG

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Five Senses of Christmas

The kids are decorating Christmas cookies.  They're pretty independent about it and only want my help on demand.  No unsolicited advice, thanks.  Yesterday the dough was mixed and rolled and cut and baked.  Warm ones were sampled and given an "ummmm" of approval.  Unsolicited advice is required at this point to keep them all from disappearing.  Now it's time for the really fun part.

I love listening to their conversation...they're having fun with the design, but the best part seems to be anticipating how much our guests will enjoy them.  I'm reminded once again that love looks like something...a baby in a manger, a man on a cross, and little hands decorating cookies.

Love sounds like something...  A young woman whispering, "Be it unto me according to your word."   Angels singing, "Glory to God in the highest!"  Children saying, "They're really going to love this one!"

My son thinks love smells like food cooking and that it tastes like caramel corn.

Tonight love feels like sticky hands and the warm spot in my heart that's filled with gratitude for these gifts...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Light

The countdown to Christmas is on now and slowly the decorations are coming out and the baking has begun.  There is a lot of bah-humbug around Christmas and I get it that the commercialism is nauseating and the pace can get out of control, but none of that can steal the sacred joy for me.  The season is full of poignant symbolism.  Everywhere you turn there are reminders of Truth.

Today we put up a little greenery with twinkling lights.  When the sun went down and all was bleak and gloomy at 4 p.m. we turned on the lights.  Ah!  Gloom was gone.  Suddenly all was cozy and comforting and the room looked like a refuge.  Those little lights were beacons drawing everyone in close.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness
a light will shine.

The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

For God who said, "Let there be light in the darkness,"
has made this light shine in our hearts
so that we could know the glory of God
that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

For those who live in darkness a light will shine...the darkness can never extinguish it...this light shines in our that we can know the glory of God.

Thankful for the Light.

Isaiah 9:2; John 1:4-5; 2 Corinthians 4:6

Friday, November 25, 2011

Awesome Kids

Sometimes I rhetorically say, "I wonder what should I blog about today?"   Inevitably two of my kids say, "Blog about how awesome I am!"  I smile and think that I could definitely do that!  If you're a reader lucky enough to know and love my kids you might read and smile indulgently...  If you know my kids, but don't feel the love, you  may just find it downright annoying..  The rest might think I'm just bragging...

Instead, I'll tell you a couple of ways that parenting awesome kids has given me a glimpse into the Father's heart.

First, I absolutely and unabashedly do think my kids are awesome!  No one is more aware of their flaws than their dad and I and no one loves them more than we do.  That's how your Heavenly Papa feels about you!  There's a sneaky little lie that tells us that His love is lessened by awareness of our shortcomings or that He somehow love us less on our bad days.  Not true!  When you love someone enough to give your life for them...that's exactly what you do.  You give your life for them, committing all of your self and your resources to help them be the best they can be.

Having said I think my kids are awesome, I have to tell you that they definitely don't always act that way.  I hate it when they make bad choices... 

...I'm human so sometimes my reaction is impatience or anger--this is when God reminds me that He's never reacted to me that way.  His love brings conviction and He always gives grace to help with the mess I've made.  I need to do that with my kids. 

...Their poor choices also break my heart because they bring painful consequences.  This pain in my heart gave me a whole new perspective on the heart of the Father.  How many of us grew up with the notion that God had an awful lot of rules and most of them were to keep us from having fun?  It's distressing to me when my kids don't trust that my rules are to protect them!  How much more, the guidelines from a perfect Father?  All He has in mind for us is for our good.  Oh, how He loves us!  The more we grow in His love, the more we understand that He is worthy of our trusting obedience.

I'll wrap up this thankful week by expressing gratitude my for the amazing kids I've been given.  They may have taught me more than I'll ever teach them!  Also, I'm more thankful than I can say for the grace that has been given to make up for my learning curve in the whole parenting process.  Love and grace.  That's what He's given.  Thankful, so thankful

And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love,
you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. 
Reach out and experience the breadth!
Test it's length!
Plumb the depths!
Rise to the heights!
Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know--
far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!
He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us,
his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Ephesians 3:17b-20 MSG

Thursday, November 24, 2011


My blogger dashboard tells me that this is my 100th post.  Seems like there are so many clever and witty things I could do with that, but all my heart wants to do is sing Psalm 100...

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!

Odd how easy it is to raise our voices when we're five minutes late already and none of the kids are in the car...but how culturally or socially awkward we find it to randomly shout for joy.  Try it.  Shout with joy!  Feel the atmosphere around you change--it will.

Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.

My heart is singing for joy!  All this intentional focus on gratitude and worship has totally changed the dynamic of this jam-packed week.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

He made us and we are his.  Beloved.  I love being one of His sheep.  I have felt His care for me this thankful.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.

Perhaps the writer was recommending an attitude of thanksgiving and praise when entering the courts of the Temple?  I have discovered that it is through thanksgiving and praise that I enter His presence...the place of joy.

For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Love the promise that I can count on His love never failing me.  Ever.  It will never fail my kids either.

Keep counting...


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Joy of His Presence

But you are holy, You who inhabits the praises of Israel.
  Psalm 22:3

God is everywhere, yet scripture says he inhabits, lives in, is enthroned on, or dwells in the praises of His people.  Can He be everywhere and especially in praise?  Does praise attract His presence?

Of this I am certain:  as I begin to praise Him I become more aware of His presence.  Awareness of that presence makes everything so...much...better.  He's been with me all the while, never left more or forsaken me for a moment of my life, but it's the awareness that makes the difference, that strengthens me.  And in His presence there truly is fullness of joy.

So I shout His praises as I count blessings:

~  My co-workers make me laugh!  I love that.

~  My husband taught the kids this morning so I could catch up at work.

~  My daughter is at an amazing youth program tonight.  Other people are volunteering their time to make that grateful.

~  My electronic connections with people I love...staying so connected with them wouldn't be possible without it.

~  My friend Joanne was born on this date--she's enriched my life in so many ways!!  So glad God created her and gifted us.

~  The list would not be complete without including the hard things...the place of praise for that which is not yet...the faith step of giving thanks before the answer is received...  Someone I love has been waiting months for surgery that has been delayed yet again.  I yearn for a miracle of the "rise up and walk" type, but I'll shout for joy over a surgery date too.  Giving thanks for the gifts that are yet to be received... Please join me in praying and praising for Erin?

Just the highlights...the recounting of His gifts has no end.  I invite you to keep counting with me, growing in awareness of His presence, living in the fullness of joy.

You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


King David of ancient Biblical times knew about thanksgiving as a key to survival and success.  I challenge you to come up with some sort of difficulty that he couldn't relate to.  He was the runt of the litter, mocked by his siblings, had his life threatened repeatedly by someone he'd only honored and tried to help, messed up big time in life, love and parenting, but God described him as "a man whose heart beats to my heart."*  How can this be?

David knew how to "strengthen himself in the Lord."*

This is evident throughout the Psalms.  David had no trouble being really honest about how troubled or discouraged he was.  He would pour it all out with gut-wrenching honesty.  Then he would begin to recount the ways that God had met his needs in the past, all the many blessings he had received, and he would begin to offer praise and worship.  All the remembering and recounting would increase his faith for the current challenge he was facing.  Through thanksgiving and worship his heart would be encouraged and strengthened.

I want to be strengthened and encouraged.  I want my heart to beat with His heart.

Counting and recounting...

~ Really good new winter tires.  The roads are frightful today and I find myself very grateful!

~  Thankful for the snow kids are having a ball and it's putting me in the mood for Christmas planning.

~ The beauty of the snow when the sun came out...such intricate beauty, such fantastic sparkling loveliness!  No accident, but by incredible design!  I worship the Creator.

~ My son has discovered Calvin and Hobbes and won't put them down.  Love finding something he really wants to read.  Amused that I think he's a bit like Calvin and he thinks Calvin is crazy.  Amused and blessed.  That's me.

~  My new co-worker.  We've hired someone to share my (paid) job which will hopefully bring some relief to my overfull schedule.  She's got a joyful heart and I think she'll do a great job.

~  Watching Kaleigh skate...the swooping, spinning and jumping looks like worship in motion.  My heart soars in ways that my feet will never take me.

~  I survived Tuesday!  EVERYTHING happens on Tuesday, well, almost everything.  Piano, guitar, skating, etc., etc.  I planned it that way to get it over with, but I also feel quite triumphant when I've completed the marathon.  My reward is to snuggle on the couch and watch a favorite show with my honey.  That's where you'll find me tonight.

I'd love it if you'd keep counting with me...

Acts 13:22 MSG, 1 Samuel 30:6

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stay Calm, Count On

Ann Voskamp is, without question, my favorite blogger.  Her post today on A Holy Experience had a graphic with the words "Keep calm and count on."  This is in keeping with her theme of thanks appears to be the only thing I can blog about this week.

The only way I'm successfully coping with my to-do list this week is to "Keep calm and count on."  Stay calm.  Count your blessings.  It seems to be keeping me from complete and utter panic.


1.  My son has been praying for more friends that are boys.  Someday he'll probably be grateful that so many of our friends are cute girls, but for now he needs more boys to play with.  Today friends from Fort St John are shopping in the city and dropped off their son to play.  A friend that's a boy.  All day.  How cool is that?  As strange as it may sound, this actually helped me accomplish more and I got caught up on some stuff.  Two blessings in one.

2.  Maybe I should count that as three blessings in one because said friends brought pizza for supper which meant I had time to blog!!  (I wish I knew html so I could insert a very happy smiley face.)

3.  Our care group.  Monday nights we have the privilege of hosting a care group in our home.  If you saw me acting slightly insane as I try to whip my house and kids in order at the last minute before everyone shows up, you might question the "privilege" part, but it's true.  These people are the people who divide my sorrows and multiply my joys.  We're committed to caring for each other, encouraging each other, and praying for each other.  My life wouldn't be the same without them.

Each one of these blessings is from the loving heart of my Father.  My heart is filled with worship and thanksgiving as I recognize His kindness in my life!

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.
The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.
There is nothing deceitful in God,
nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.
James 1:17

Please feel free to keep counting with me in the comments.  Every blessing shared is an encouragement!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Blessings

A post of random blessings...may you discover random blessings in your day too!

I slept in today--almost unheard of!  It was a glorious thing to realize that I'd just slept more than an hour past my regular automatic wake-up time, but I felt so unorganized and rushed getting ready for church that I think I'm glad it's not a regular thing.  Boring creature of habit that I am, I think it's best to stick with my habit of going to bed early.  Sleep is good AND I like lingering over my coffee. Sleeping in=mixed blessing.

Some people like to quote, "Don't forsake the gathering of yourselves together..." as though God is sitting in heaven taking a tally of everyone who doesn't go to church.  I hate that.  They leave off the best part of the quote, "...but encourage one another."*  That's why I go.  To be encouraged.  I was so encouraged today.  Besides hugs and laughter with wonderful people, we dedicated our Christmas shoeboxes and saw a video from Operation Christmas Child in which a story was recounted of a girl in Bosnia receiving a shoebox.  I admit that I bawled like a baby.  God doesn't just know your name, He knows your shoe size.  You can live in the middle of a war zone and He'll let you know that He loves you.

Also at church, my daughter sang with her dad accompanying on the guitar.  He hit a few wrong chords.  Ouch.  Lucky for him he didn't see the glare she gave him...though she kept on singing like an angel.  Wish I had a video!  I thought it was hilarious.

My son was put to bed an hour ago and he just called out, "What does eradicate mean?"  Seriously.  That's not a question you should ask your mother when she's already told you to be quiet three times! The definitions I could give...though I'm secretly amused.

Oldest daughter and hubby are chatting and working on a puzzle while I write.  It's good.

Sunday isn't the end of my weekend, it's the launch of my week.  I'm soaking up all these blessings...gathering strength to face the tasks of the rest of the week.

I will answer them before they even call to me. 
While they are still talking about their needs,
I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
Isaiah 65:24

A God who knows the shoe size of a little girl in Bosnia can handle the needs of my week.

May you be blessed with courage and strength as your face yours!

*Hebrews 10:25

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankful Things

Years ago when my kids were still quite little, I started a bedtime tradition of, "Give me five!"  I'd hold up my hand with five fingers spread and they'd tell me five things about the day for which they were thankful.  I was hoping to develop an atttitude of gratitude.  Little did I know that I was just giving them more ideas about how to delay bedtime--now they often insist on up to twenty "thankful things" and I've been told you can't rush gratitude.  Sigh.

Well, it's day nineteen of the thirty day blogging challenge and way past my bedtime so I'm going to give you five:

1.  Fresh blackberries for breakfast.  How is it that I live in place where mid-November brings snow and -25 degrees and I get to eat fresh blackberries?  This is proof, I tell my son, that we are indeed rich.  Nothing to do with the bank account--wealth is a sweet black stain on my yogurt and a warm, wiggly boy at my side.

2.  Having enough "wealth" to fill some Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes with treasures to send to faraway kids.  It was fun to linger in the toy aisle with my kids, picking and choosing and imagining joy and delight on an unknown child's face.  Tomorrow is dedication Sunday for the shoeboxes.  Love doing this!

3.  My husband blessing me with the opportunity to spend a kid-free afternoon shopping with a friend.  Can't remember the last time I did that.  I may have almost forgotten what it's like to try stuff on and have someone say it like it is: "You've got to buy that!" or "Nope, that would be a big mistake and I like you too much to let you do it."  So.  Much.  Fun.

4.  A clerk giving me 20% off even though "the sale doesn't start until tomorrow."  Seriously. Gotta love that!  I hope she gets hugely blessed in some way.

5.  Finding a song that says what my heart needs to say, to soak in the music, and let it wash away all the weariness.  This was the blessing that completed the day.

Maybe I'm a little bit like my kids because I need to add more:  I'm super extra thankful for my warm house wherein beloved ones are sleeping and that I'm off to an incredibly comfortable bed!

May you be blessed with sweet dreams and your own list of Thankful Things.  I'd love it if you'd "Give me five!" in the comments.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Refuge

If yesterday was the unexpected day of rest, today was the unexpected day of overload and when the "pile" teetered and began to slide around four p.m., some of the tension leaked out onto the coverall-ed shoulder of my husband...  I don't like to admit that I'm overwhelmed.  I'm afraid you'll be disappointed in me--after all, I am.

I've identified what needs to be removed from the pile and I'm in process of passing some of it off, but I wonder if I've got what it takes to carry on until that's accomplished.  Sometimes it's a relief just to admit that.  Some of the tension leaks out of my shoulders with the sigh of admission...

Knowing and doing the right thing is good, but it is not enough to do it solitarily apart from the community of love. I cannot simply be willing to share your burden, I must share mine too.

Then a phone call from a beloved friend with family distress unleases the flood of tears and in that moment we bear each other's burdens and instead of feeling the weight of the combined load, each load is lightened as we turn together to the Refuge. 

So tonight, this frosty Friday night, is for tucking into the Refuge of Rest.  Together.  Gathering strength to go on.

Have mercy on me, O God...
I look to you for protection. 
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings.
I cry out to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.
He will send help from heaven...

My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God
We are the people he watches over,
the flock under his care.

Psalm 57:1-3, 63:8, 95:6-7

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Treasures of the Snow

"All buses are canceled..."  the message drifts across the radio waves and into my sleepy brain and suddenly all my plans for the day are rearranged.

And it's okay.  We still did home school, but it had an extra flavor of fun because the big sister was home, popping in and out of the room with her witty comments.  Instead of rushing so I could go off to work we lingered over the marvels of some sea creatures and discussed pacifism at length.  All the while my firstborn was sorting laundry and baking cookies.

The snow piles deeper and the wind carves huge drifts and we snuggle down on the couch to watch a movie and eat not one, but two or three gooey warm chocolate cookies.  In the middle of the afternoon.

I'm really disappointed about the canceled evening plans.  I'll grieve a little, but I know that other happy evenings await me.  Giving thanks in all things...

You can call me Type A, and I'll admit to being goal-oriented, but today the gift--wrapped in fluffy white--is in finding joy and contentment in not being the boss of my universe.  In having my plans upended and finding it's not the end of the world.  The to-do list will still be there tomorrow and it may be a little longer, but it won't be a disaster--some of it may even turn out to be completely irrelevant.

The Book of Job talks about "treasures of the snow"...

Today I have found "treasures of the snow" in being relieved of the compulsion to keep my busy universe on its axis.  It's all safe in His hands, the ability to do any of it only possible by His grace, the sense of accomplishment a gift for another day,

Job 38:22 KJV

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Prayer for the Morning

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
Psalm 143:8

This morning's sunrise.  Photo by Kaleigh.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From the Archives

It could be a coincidence, but I don't believe in them.  Today is the halfway mark in the month-long challenge to write a blog post per day.  For me personally, it's been a challenge to "stir up the gift".  I really didn't feel like I had much to say today.

My mom has been going through some old stuff and found a few things and mailed them to me thinking I'd enjoy the memories.  They arrived today.

I didn't remember the little booklet I made for her entitled "Encoragements".  It was my kids that noticed the theme and said, "You need to blog about that!"  More than thirty years ago (circa 1978) I wrote a booklet of "Encoragements" and now the subtitle to my blog is, "My purpose in writing is to encourage you..."  The subtitle on my homeschooling blog is, "A journal of encouragement..."

To discover this thread through my life stopped me in my tracks.  It was humbling and inspiring at the same time.  To see it is to recognize a gift and a destiny designed by the Creator.  The inspiration is to keep on!  He is the Source...

For God who said, "Let there be light in the darkness,"
has made this light shine in our hearts
 so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, 
but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure.
This makes it clear that our great power is from God, 
not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7

My encouragement for you today is to to remind you that you may feel like a fragile clay jar, but a great treasure has been placed within you!!  Stir it up and pour it contains healing for the nations.

I carefully took the (yellowed!) pages of the booklet apart and scanned a few...  We'll call it a "repost from the archives."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Through the Eyes of a Child

I hate cleaning toilets.

In fact, hate isn't a strong enough word.  Detest.  Despise.  Abhor.

There's only one thing I hate worse--you got it:  dirty toilets.

I must admit that my disposition isn't always at its sun-shiniest when tackling the dreaded job.   When my oldest was about three years old she came racing into the bathroom and asked what I was doing.  I grumbled something (unkind and impatient) like, "What does it look like I'm doing?!"

Completely undeterred by my grumpy attitude she joyfully shouted, "Making bubbles!!!"

Yep.  Making bubbles.  To this day I think of that every time I clean toilets.  It doesn't make me love it, but it does make a twitch of a smile cross my face.

Today it's snowing and blowing like crazy.  Grownups see it as something to shovel, a hazard for driving, and the beginnings of lots of mess in the entry way.  The kids see it as the beginning of lots of fun.  Undeterred by cold or discomfort, they're rioting around, making trails everywhere, snow angles are randomly flying around the yard, and they just can't wait for enough to sled in.

It's so good to see things through the eyes of a child.

About the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking,
"Who gets the highest rank in God's kingdom?"
For an answer Jesus called over a child,
whom he stood in the middle of the room and said,
"I'm telling you, once and for all, 
that unless you return to square one and start over like children,
you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.
Whoever becomes simple and elemental again,
like this child,
will rank high in God's kingdom."
Matthew 18:4 MSG

Celebrating bubbles and snowflakes.

The kingdom of heaven.

Here on earth.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wake the Dawn

"...I will wake the dawn with my song."

The coming of the beginnings...fresh starts...hope...the end of the darkness.

Is it possible to wake the dawn?  With a song?

I think so.

This I know for sure:  worship/praise/thanksgiving brings freedom, provision and miracles.

Enemies flee.  (2 Chronicles 20:21-22)

Prison walls fall down.  (Acts 16:25-28)

Provision multiplies.  (Matthew 15:36)

Hearts are encouraged and strengthened. (I Samuel 30:6)

I will wake the dawn with my song.  For every place where I long to see freedom, I will lift up my heart in worship.  For every place I see need I will thank the Provider.  In every situation where I see torment I will seek the heart of Peacemaker with worship.  Where worry and despair weigh down, I will lift up a song.

Wake the dawn.  With your song.

"My heart is confident in you, O God;
no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!
Wake up, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn with my song.
I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
I will sing your praises among the nations.
For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
May your glory shine over all the earth."
Psalm 108:1-5

Saturday, November 12, 2011

His Hand on My Head

When we were kids my Dad would put his hand on our heads and pray for us every night when we went to bed.  We love to tease him now about how he would punctuate his prayers by pushing our heads into the pillow.  It would go something like this, "I thank you, Lord (push), for Michelle (push).  I pray that you will bless her (push) and give her a good night's sleep (push).  In the name (push) of Jesus (push), Amen (push!)! I couldn't go to sleep without it.  Our kids love when we reenact this for them and my dad mutters something about "trying to knock some sense into you".

Now when I'm having a challenging day, I go to my husband and place his hand on my head.  He knows exactly what I'm asking for and, though he doesn't use many words or any pushes, his prayers are very effective.

Could be why I love this verse:  "You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!"

His hand of blessing.

On my head.

Oh, how I need it there!  Just pausing and thinking about it does wonder for the contents of my head!

I need that hand of blessing to fill me with joy in this gloomy fill me with strength for the duties of the fill my mind with thoughts of blessing for those who may be annoying or even fill me with awareness of His grace for me when I'm the one being a make me alert to His thoughts about the people and situations around make me aware of the many blessings He's placed in my life...  And it does!  His hand of blessing contains everything we need.

May you sense His hand of blessing on your head today!

Psalm 139:5-6

Friday, November 11, 2011


I grew up on stories of my family's experiences in World War II.  I never got tired of any of them, but my hands-down favourite was the story of the day Canadian soldiers liberated their village.  The idea of being born into occupied territory, always living in fear and hunger, and then  having handsome young soldiers show up and tell you that you're captivated my imagination.

I love the movie Braveheart too.  All the gore and action that would normally turn me off completely is no match for the passion it stirs in my heart.   The thought of a man who will stop at nothing to gain freedom captivates me.

The idea that young men would leave their homes and families to sail across the ocean to liberate a country and a family that they'd never met is more than I can fathom.  That someone would die for my freedom is...breathtaking.

We were created to be free at any cost! I have a passion for freedom.  I want the whole world to know that our freedom has been purchased for us.  Someone did give everything for our freedom!  Freedom from every form of oppression has already been purchased for us...from fear, addiction, depression, anxiety, self-hatred, anger, bitterness, rejection, abuse, despair--you name it!  The one who the Son of God sets free is truly free.

However, it is necessary to believe and receive the gift.  The first step is to believe that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God and that His death and resurrection purchased your freedom from the ravages and pain of a sin-broken life and world.

How sad would it have been if my father's family had told the liberating soldiers, "That's nice," and then returned to their home to live as though nothing had changed?  Every life that had been laid down for their freedom would have been wasted.  The gift had to be believed and received.

To receive the freedom we need to follow the guidance of the Liberator.  He leads us into more and more freedom...through forgiving those who have hurt and harmed thinking His kind of receiving and using the gifts of His trusting that He can make something beautiful out of everything that we give to believing that through faith in Him all things are possible!   Relationship with Him heals the wounds of the past and transforms a life.  Failure to follow His directions in these things will leave the shackles on even though they've been unlocked.

He loves us so much!  Everything He has ever done has been about connecting us to His heart of love and freedom.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the broken hearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord's favour has come...
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of morning,
festive praise instead of despair.
Isaiah 61:1-3a
John 8:36

Thursday, November 10, 2011


It started snowing Wednesday afternoon.  My kids had been waiting for it, longing for it, ever since we took the pool down.  Within minutes they were outside.  There was only the barest skiff  of white on the ice of the dugout and they were making snow angels.  No need for two feet of the stuff before they feel the joy.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for..."  These words go through my head as I watch from the window.  A more modern translation says, "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen..."

The kids are hoping for enough snow to ski/board on.  Hopefully by tomorrow.  The fact that there's only enough to make the skimpiest of snow angels isn't hampering their joy one bit.  They've seen evidence of things "hoped for".

I think we grownups need to live like that.  We've got the down payment.  Party like you know the rest is on the way!  It is.

 "Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave it up for us all,
won't he also give us everything else?"
Romans 8:32

Hebrews 11:1

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Act of Worship

I dropped the ball today.  A couple of balls, in fact.  An extra got thrown into the juggling act and everything came crashing down.  Or dripping down.  In little salty puddles on my desk.  I uttered my most eloquent prayer: "Help!"

A desperate woman once came to Jesus and threw herself at his feet.  It's recorded that she came "and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me!"

Turns out that desperately calling out isn't a sign of failure, but of worship.  She worshiped him saying, "Lord, help me!"

Worship isn't just about giving the best we have to offer, our talents, our hearts or our obedience.  It also includes acknowledging that He is the source of all that we need.

No magic wand swept away all my "dropped balls" this morning, but within minutes I had an encouraging phone call with a friend.  While on the phone another texted and said, "Praying for you right now.  How are things?"  Half an hour later another text from another friend saying they were thinking of me.  Really? 

Oh, how He loves us!  Jesus showed up "with skin on" in the form of my friends.  Their expressions of love strengthened my weary heart and gave me the courage to pick those balls back up and to get juggling again.

Matthew 15:25

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I knew there would be days (probably Tuesdays, my marathon day) that it would be hard to keep up the daily commitment to blog...

I did a poll at suppertime for suggestions.  Only one was made, "Blog about determination!  Determination to do what you said you would do!"  Out of the mouths of babes...  It did remind me of one of my favorite verses.

"Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore I have set my face like a flint,
determined to do his will.
And I know that I will triumph.
Isaiah 50:7

Determined to do his will.

His will...loving the unlovable...patient in parenting...serving the unthankful...faithful in the things no one else will ever know in all things...honoring each other...

Difficult, if not impossible, to triumph in all of that apart from His help.

I like the word triumph.  It's not "barely" or "limping across the finish line".  We might be able to manage that on our own strength.  However, with His help we can triumph!  Not disgraced.  Exuberant and emphatic victory!

The trick is not trying to do it on our own strength or out of our own ability.

Lean into Him for help.

With His help we will triumph.  Guaranteed.

Monday, November 7, 2011


The word of the day--perhaps of the week--is definitely flexibility.

We have two precious like-family little girls with us for a few days, my mother-in-law is surprising us a with a visit, and this is the week I need to train someone at work.  Each one a blessing, yet 'all at the same time' with the potential to push my I-want-to-manage-everything-perfectly-and-with-a-minimum-of-chaos brain into panic.

"My peace--my shalom, a calm in the midst of the storm--I leave with you...don't let your heart be troubled."

Breathe, bend, flex, release control.

Years ago I exercised at a Curves Fitness Center.  Many elderly women also exercised there and I was surprised at the difference in their mobility and balance.  Some of them were well into their 80s and quite flexible and strong.  Some were in their 60s and not nearly so mobile.  Of course I struck up a conversation with them!  Besides finding people so interesting, I wanted to discover the secret.  I want to be a strong and flexible ninety-year-old!

The ones who were strong and flexible had maintained a practice of regularly stretching and exercising.

Ah, stretching.

I found a of list of benefits to stretching and it includes:  increased energy and flexibility, better range of motion, stress relief, improved posture and coordination, greater circulation of blood to various body parts, and a greater sense of well-being.

When I'm rigid and controlling there's potential for breakage--mine or perhaps someone I love!  When I stretch and bend there's stress relief and a sense of well being.  That thought makes me smile.

My prayer for today is for your grace to fill me, Lord.  I choose to stretch and to be okay with things not going according to my plan.  I invite your shalom to increase my energy, range of motion, and coordination.  Please keep me from becoming twisted up in self-centeredness.  I want greater circulation of your life and love flowing in me and through me to others.  Help me to stretch and flex.  All and only by your power and grace.  Amen.

John 14:27

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Day of Rest

My Opa was a dairy farmer who never made hay on Sundays.  Even when the forecast called for rain for the rest of the week.  He took some ribbing for it, but every year he got his hay done.  I love that he had that kind of faith.

That being said, I don't for a minute think that God is waiting to catch us "breaking the Sabbath day".  Which day of the week would that be anyway?  Rather, I see His instruction to take a day of rest as an expression of His loving care for us.  It is good for us, spirit and soul and body, to take a day of rest.

"You must keep the Sabbath day, for it is a holy day for you... For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed."

At this point, I must confess that I've definitely indulged in a little self-pity that there's no such thing as a day of rest for a mom!  Also, Sundays can be a very busy day around here.  So what does it look like to take a day of rest?  I'm pretty sure it's something different for everyone.

The New Covenant says, "For all who have entered into God's rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world."  There are many, many layers of meaning in this verse.  I know that for me to take a 'day of rest' from my labors means to take a break from The List.

There's a to-do list in my life that never ends and I get great satisfaction from crossing things off of it.  However, that list that never ends can sap my strength and be a vicious task master.  For me it is an act of faith to take a day off from The List.  In taking one day every week wherein I don't let myself do anything on the list, I'm saying that I trust Him to provide the energy and the time I need to get the important stuff done if I honor His instruction to take a day to be refreshed.  Part of the refreshment definitely comes from consciously using that time to connect with the heart of the Father.

Trust is a form of worship.  That trust is what makes this day of rest holy--whether the time is spent "laboring" in hospitality or reading or enjoying a day outdoors.

What does it mean or would it mean for you to take a day of rest from your labors?

*Opa is Dutch for Grandfather
Genesis 31:14, 17; Hebrews 4:10

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Adam and Eve lived in a beautiful garden as God's friends.  Then their glorious relationship was smashed to bits by sin.

The results were devastating.  Loneliness.  Insecurity.  Hunger for connection.

Until Jesus came and made a way back into friendship.

"...our friendship with God was restored by the death of his now we can rejoice...because Jesus has made us friends of God."

He is the best of friends.

Friends listen and they speak.

If you've never experienced this kind of friendship with God, just tell Him that you'd like Him to be your friend.

In fact, He's hoping you'll ask...

"If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

Talk to Him as you would to a friend and be sure to listen too--He has things He wants to tell you.

"Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets..."

It could have been a lonely day, but it wasn't.  I'm really thankful for His friendship.

"My sheep hear my voice..."

"I have loved you with an everlasting love."

Romans 5:11; Revelation 3:20; Jeremiah 33:3; John 10:27; Jeremiah 31:3

Friday, November 4, 2011

Love is an Action Word

Today I visited a friend with very precious little girls.  My kids love being there and it's always hard to leave.  I was trying to pull away and the little girls were hanging on, begging us to stay just a while longer.

"Don't go!"

"I need to go.  I want to go."


"Because Uncle Brian is at home and he's probably hungry."

Perplexed looks.  "But he's okay.  Please stay."

"He is okay and he's very kind and patient, but I still want to go make supper for him.  He's worked really hard all week--it's one of the ways he shows us he loves us.  I want to go make supper to show him that I love him... Love isn't just words.  It looks like something."

I loved their wonder-filled eyes and my wonder-filled heart.

Love doesn't have to.  It gets to and wants to.

Love is an action word.

"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us..."
Romans 5:8a

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sensory Gifts

Today I'm thankful for my five senses.

I had the rare treat of going out for lunch at an Indian restaurant.  The dazzling smell as I walked through the door...mmmm.  The sound of the Bollywood music...impossible not to smile.  The laughter of friends, even better music.  The colour of the vegetables in the gorgeous yellow curry sauce...  Butter chicken.  Taste bud heaven. (If you have a good recipe, I implore you to share!)  *sigh*  It was all so good.

I'm sure that our senses are a gift.  They're practical in the way they keep us safe, but I'm also convinced that He had our delight in mind when He created them.  Of course these gifts have been corrupted--we're all too well acquainted with how they've been misused.  This has caused some to regard all pleasure with suspicion thereby creating a fear-based religion that demeans the very things that were meant to delight.

Perhaps you've been exposed to this type of religion and it's hard for you to view God as a Father who delights in giving His children sensory gifts.  Perhaps you're a bit resentful toward Him because you've wanted to enjoy these pleasures outside of the parameters that He says are good and beneficial for you.

Just as we are thrilled when our kids like the gifts we give to them, I know He likes it when He sees us enjoying His gifts.  Tonight as I made tortillas, I felt His pleasure in my joy.  The feel of the soft dough in my hands, the sweetness of the time spent with the boy who was flipping them as fast as I could roll them, and the moment in which we all shared one hot off the grill and slathered in butter and honey--all gifts.  The joy in our hearts was all worship...

"Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.
For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Recipe for Joy

This is my least favorite time of the year.  The glorious leaves are gone, the gracious mantle of snow hasn't yet arrived to cover the bleak landscape, and there's so...much...less...sunlight.  I'm pretty sure I'm solar powered.   For the rest of the year I cannot sleep in.  In October/November, it seems I cannot wake up or remain awake.  As a substitute for sun, my body demands carbs and sleep.  It is as though I'm overtaken by a primal urge to hibernate.

However, nothing else in my life recognizes or validates my hibernation theory so I trudge on determined to hang in there until my body adjusts.  I take my vitamins, try not to eat as much chocolate as I'm inclined, go to bed early when possible, and...well, I'm thinking about dusting off the elliptical machine.

Kindly, graciously, (might I add humorously?) my Father reminds me that my attitude also has a huge effect on my body, that there is a Source of strength greater than my circumstances.  Through the "mouths of babes" He speaks to me.  My daughter gave me a lovely picture--this is where the "humorously" comes in as I recognize it as a smack up the back of my head!

This is now posted beside my bathroom mirror--the spot where my day more or less begins and ends--to remind me of the best way to start and end.

"Every morning tell him, "Thank you for your kindness."  Starting the day by thanking Him that it's going to be a good one is a really good plan!  Something physically changes in my sleepy mind and body as I say, "Thank you for your kindness," out loud, first thing in the morning.  It's surprising that choosing this stance of anticipation of His kindness actually positions the heart to recognize that kindness throughout the day.  I spot it in the laughter of my coworkers, in an encouraging phone call from a friend, in the hugs of my children.  It's everywhere!

"Every evening rejoice in all His faithfulness."  Ending the day by counting it's blessings rather than groaning under the weight of it's challenges has a good way of putting those (very real) challenges where they belong:  in the faithful Hands that carried you through this day.  Remember, pause to make yourself aware, and rejoice in His faithfulness.  Faith grows.

"You have done so much for me...I sing for joy!"

It's true.  It's a recipe for joy.  Even when the sun's not shining.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Taking the Challenge

My Little One inherited my love of verbal expression.  One of the things she was really excited to try in our homeschooling adventure was the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program.  She's committed to writing a story of 7500 words in the month of November and we get to count it as her Language Arts program.  This isn't the first year that someone suggested I do it too, but adults have to write 50000 words and that's not going to happen at this stage of my life!  However, this is the first year someone suggested that I participate in NaBloPoMo--National Blog Post Month, a blog post a day for a month.

She should never have done here I am committing myself.

I spent a whole day and part of night deliberating, arguing for and against the idea.  I swung from excitement to lame excuses (I don't want to be under pressure and turn out poor quality--ha!).  I like to wait for the inspiration (which, by the way, means "breathing in") of the Holy Spirit.  Yet I do have a commitment to myself to blog once a week.  So I know that inspiration and discipline do have a meeting place.

The thing that cinched it for me was this verse that has been rolling inside me for the last few weeks.  I know this always happens for a reason...  The Apostle Paul was instructing Timothy, a man very young in his ministry, to "stir up the gift that was placed within you".

Stir up.  Sounds a bit like choosing.

The gift placed within you.  Sounds a bit like something given rather than earned, put inside you and me by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sounds a bit like inspiration meeting discipline.

I know part of the gift placed within me is for the purpose of proclaiming hope and healing and restoration to hearts made weary by life (and perhaps by religion).  Blogging is one of the ways I do that.

So I'm committing to the discipline of writing a blog post every day for the month of November.  Trusting for the inspiration!

What's the gift that's been placed within you?  (If you don't know, ask Him to show you.  You do have one.)  How can you "stir it up"?

2 Timothy 1:6-7