Monday, September 14, 2015

Beauty Out of the Broken

On June 6th, 2010, a tornado hit in Essex County, Ontario. The destruction in the area was devastating to say the least.  The beautiful tree lined streets that once were, are no longer tree lined. It will take years to recover.

Seacliffe Park on the edge of Lake Erie had a few mature trees that snapped in the storm.  Instead of removing the damaged trees, they were turned into something new.

I love this lighthouse, a replica of the one just a few hundred metres away at the marina. The tree that the tornado tried to destroy was turned into something beautiful in the hands of an artist.

Isn't that the way God works with us?  The enemy of our souls tries to destroy our lives. John 10:10 tells us that "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." He wants to totally annihilate God's kids. He will not be happy until he can.  Thankfully Jesus had the final say, "I have come that they may have life; and have it to the full."  What the enemy tries to do to destroy us, God will take it, turn it around and make it a thing of beauty in our lives.

There are times when we as humans try to hide our brokenness. We try to hide our messes, but it is in letting them come to light that God can make something absolutely beautiful out of our stories. In my life, it is humbling to see how God can use my story to encourage others on their own path. I share my story so that others can find hope.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I want that to be my story. I want God to use my story to bring comfort to others, so that they in turn can be a comfort to others still, becoming a ripple effect, spreading out to bring glory, praise and honor to our God.

Has God given you an opportunity to share your story with someone, but you have been too afraid to open up, too afraid that they will think less of you?  Don't let fear win.  Don't miss out on the beauty that God wants to make out of your story. He wants to make something beautiful out of the broken. He wants to make something beautiful out of your life. Let Him. He is the Master Artist.  You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

More Than Just a Tree

As I go for my walks around town, I love to stop and enjoy the beauty of God's creation.  Time and time again He takes my breath away with all that He has created.  The flowers, the trees, the animals, and even the people all reflect the glory of God.  My Father God loves to speak to me through His creation.

There is one particular tree that really has caught my attention.  You see, this tree tells me a story.  

It is more than just one tree, but when you look at it, that is what it seems to be, just one tree.  These two little seedlings grew side by side, and as they grew and shared the same space, they became intertwined with one another. If you look closely, as the branches grew, their close proximity resulted in a shaping of the branches, a shaping that would not have occurred had they been planted further apart.  The branches had to adapt to the space in order to grow and reach their full potential.  

Isn't that the way we are as human beings?  We have people who are planted in our path; for good or for bad, they are there, shaping us and helping us to become more like the person we were meant to be.  So often we think that we need to be independent, that we can do it on our own, it is a pride thing. "I don't need anyone." Sometimes the opposite occurs, we become too dependent, "I can't do this, I need someone to do it for me."  In reality, we need one another.

In Romans Paul says, "In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t."  (Romans 12:4-6a - The Message)

On one end of the spectrum is independence, on the other end of the spectrum is dependence, and I choose what is in the middle, interdependence.  We can all use our gifts, talents and abilities to hold each other up.  You are not better than me, and I am not better than you, we were created differently so that we could each play our part in the story of life, each one growing, shaped by others planted in our lives. Together we can do amazing things, if only we will allow it.

Every time I pass by this tree I smile and know that I am not alone, I was never meant to be. I don't have all the answers, but then again I don't know all the questions either.  I am blessed to have some amazing family and friends who Father God has planted in my path, people who will speak truth into my life when I need it, people who see me for who I am and value me as that person, people who will make me laugh, people who pray for and encourage me, and people who challenge me to grow.  I am grateful for each and every one of them, and I am blessed to call them my family and friends. 

Every time I pass by the corner where this particular  tree lives, I am grateful for the life lesson. It is more than just a tree to me. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Too Many Voices

Last night I was introduced to the game Heads Up.  If you are unfamiliar with this game, one individual will hold a tablet without looking at the screen, while others on the team try to give clues to the words that appear.  With approximately 10 people on our team, voices got loud trying to communicate the best way possible to the individual doing the guessing.  There was one big problem in the game, there were 9 loud voices all talking at once, all trying to get the attention of our guessing teammate.

Isn't that like life?  There are so many things vying for our attention. Some good, some not so good, some better, and of course there is the best, but with all the noise, sometimes it is difficult to differentiate the voices.  What are the things that distract us in our every day life?  Do we allow work, school, television, social media, friends, sports etc to drown out that which is the best for us?  It isn't that these things are wrong, it isn't that they aren't good, but when we allow something to take too much of our time, when we allow even good things to drown out the best thing, in the end, we lose out.

"Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David."  Isaiah 55:3 NLT

When I first read this verse, I wondered how I could listen with closed ears, but I have come to realize that it is so very easy to allow my mind to get distracted from what is going on all around me. I can be thinking of things from yesterday, or things to do tomorrow, and I am not present in the here and now focusing on listening to the correct voices.  Life itself can get so exhausting that I simply check out mentally, just wanting to be entertained.  Who wants to actively listen?

"Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28 NLT

Who are you listening to today?  In the midst off all the noise, can you hear the voice of the One who is calling you into a loving relationship with Himself? What good things, what better things are drowning out the Best thing, the Best One for us all?

"let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance - " Proverbs 1:5 NIV

I don't know about you, but I know I need to practice more listening to the One who loves me.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Don't Think About It

Do me a favor and don't think about the shoes you are wearing today.  Don't think about what color they are, whether brown, black, or red. Oh a shiny red pair would look stunning with a cute little black dress, wouldn't they?  Don't think about whether they are flats or heels. Don't think about whether they are tennis shoes, golf shoes, or sandals.  Don't think about whether they are cute and comfortable, or gorgeous and feet killers.  Whatever you do, do not think about your shoes. Okay?

Now after reading all of that, how many of you actually did not focus on your shoes?  How easy was it to follow my directions?  Well, had you thought about how great your hair turned out today, best hair day yet, and tuned out the part about the shoes then it would have been a lot easier to forget about ..... oh wait what was it I wasn't supposed to be thinking about?????

It can be so difficult to stop ourselves from dwelling on a situation because it is so important to us at the moment, that job interview, that unpaid bill, the test results from the doctor's office. You name it, we can tend to allow things to overtake our lives. How many times have we heard the cliche, "Let Go and Let God"? It can be really tough sometimes.  The harder we try not to focus on something the more it is in our minds unless we do one important thing, Replace It!

Paul told us in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."  So when we are faced with uncertainty and tempted to worry about something, or to allow that thing to steal our joy, we need to take a look at Paul's list and see just where it fits.  If it's not on the list, then forget about it.

A few weeks ago I had to do something I really didn't want to do. I was nervous of the outcome and just wanted it done.  On the way there, I was tempted to pray more, asking God to allow everything fall into place without any difficulties, but that would still have  kept me focused on the situation.  Instead of focusing on me, I decided to spend some time talking to God about a friend's situation. I had the opportunity to go bold to the throne on behalf of my friend and her family, and doing so calmed my nerves and kept my mind off the situation.  I replaced my thoughts with better thoughts.  Praying for my friend and her family definitely fits into Paul's list.  Don't you think?

Is it easy to take our focus off our situation? No, but it is God who tells us to do it. Sometimes it is difficult to watch others succeed while we stay stuck in our circumstances.  Sometimes it is hard to watch while other people's dreams come true and our dreams remain unfulfilled.  I know, I have been there, and am there right now in some ways, but God's ways and His thoughts are much higher than our own.   (Isaiah 55:8-9)

The bigger picture revolves around trust. Do we trust God enough to know what is best for our lives? So often we think we know what is best for us, but in reality we have so little information that we can't know with our finite minds.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

So what  is the answer to the question on the color of your shoes today? You just have to love great hair days, don't you!

Be blessed, my friends, be simply blessed! :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ready, Set, Stop

You try and you try, then finally the door opens and you begin to walk through the door. Everything has fallen into place for you and all is well, but suddenly a roadblock stands in your path. Have you ever felt that way?

A few months ago, one of the pastors at church saw  me working on some homework for a Bible College course I was taking and he stopped to chat.  He had some great encouragement for me.  He told me that I need to step out in faith, to Go, but that God would send a roadblock to test my faith, to mature me, to make me ready for what he has for me, to make me humble, to teach me what I need to know so that I am fully ready to walk through that door, to keep moving forward.

So often we think that when a door seems to be open but becomes blocked that must mean that it wasn't an open door for us after all.  How often do we give up because it gets difficult? Sometimes we just need to persevere through it all to get to where God wants us to be.  Far too often we want to know what the end is before we get there; we want to know how, what, when, where and why everything is going to end up, but we don't always get to know those answers.

I love Romans 9:33 in The Message, which says, "Careful!  I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion, a stone you can't get around.  But the stone is me!  If you're looking for me, you'll find me on the way, not in the way."  What a beautiful message from God.  It is all about perspective. We see the stone on the road and we think of it as an impossibility, God says, "Wait, it's Me!"

Do we trust God enough to get us to the end of our journey? Do we trust Him enough to allow Him to get us past the roadblocks? Are we willing to allow Him to do what He wants to do in us to prepare us for the next leg of the journey? Do we trust His timing?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

God has great plans for our lives and when we are ready to seek after Him with all our hearts, that is when we will find Him.  Choose today to trust Him, no matter what He brings your way, even if He says, 

Get Set.

Don't worry, if you keep your focus on Him, one day you will hear Him say, "GO!"  That will be an exciting day indeed!  

Thanks for the chat, Paul Black. It was God's perfect timing. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A New Season Indeed

I can't believe it has been almost three years since I started this blog. I think the greatest thing that I have learned through the process is that we are blessed with new seasons all the time. Some seasons are difficult, others are pure joy, but when we invite God to walk alongside of us, the journey is a sweet one indeed.

I love to ask friends to bring me back one thing when they go on vacation, a digital picture that reminds them of me.  When my dear friend Sarah went to Costa Rica this year she sent me back this picture.

The subject line of the email was "Which road will I travel? Which way?"  What I love about this picture is that you don't get to see what is just around the corner, you don't get to know what is ahead. If you choose to go to on the paved road, you don't get to know where it will take you until you turn the corner.

That is the way it is with God sometimes, isn't it?  He leads down a path that we can't see, a path that requires us to trust in Him.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,  and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Sometimes those paths can be scary, but when God is on it with you, it is the best path to take.

I am at the beginning of another new season in my life and I am excited about where it will take me.  I am not sure exactly what is around the corner for me, but I just take one day at a time, one step at a time.  The thing I do know is that God is on this road with me and I am safe in His hands.  Tomorrow is a new day indeed.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wheat Fields

I love that I live in a small town in middle of farm country.  I love getting to drive by the fields as they begin to grow.  I think wheat is my favorite to watch because it is one of the first crops, having been planted in the fall.  After the gloom of winter, it is a breath of fresh air to be able to see the stalks of wheat reach for the sky.

This year I loved driving by blankets upon blankets of green fields, but oh the joy that filled my heart as they ripen to a golden brown.

The fields were beautiful this year, hardly a weed to be found anywhere. How wonderful that the fields aren't overtaken by weeds.  Then it hit me; they were gmos.... genetically modified organisms.  Their genes were spliced to make them resistant to bugs and weeds, allowing farmers to get larger yields from their crops. Many people are scared of what the genetically modified crops will do to them long term. This reality made me cringe.

Suddenly I was reminded of something that truly made me smile.  As God's child I am a new creation; the Bible tells me so.   Second Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  The Holy Spirit works in us to change us from the inside out.   The old me is gone, the new genetically modified, or shall I say Holy Spirit modified me is here.
God calls me to  put on my new nature and be renewed as I learn to know my Creator and become like Him. (Colossians 3:10)  Suddenly, I want to be a modified creation of God.  I want my life to be weed and pest resistant.  I want to be a larger yielding crop for my King.

Maybe some GMOs aren't that bad after all!