Blessed to be a Blessing…

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Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Have you ever questioned your life? Why you were born? Why certain things were happening to you? …Well, as a child, I used to ask myself that question all the time: why was I even born?

It wasn’t until I got older that I learned of the answer.

Let’s top up our coffees and I will share…

Blessed to be a Blessing

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will... Ephesians 1:11
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Please note: Due to the age of the photo, there is discolouring under our eyes. Please disregard.

 

I remember wondering as a child, “Why I was born?” I was told, I’m sure with love and humour, that I was an ‘accident’, which made me think that my family was just putting up with me because they had to. I am the baby in a family of five children. The sibling next to me is five years older than me. There were eighteen years between my sister, the eldest, and myself. My parents were older and tired by the time I came around. And when I got to school age, there was no assistance with homework,  nor cheers in the bleachers on my behalf, when I played team sports. There was nothing special in me, and my life was the average middle class life. Oh poor me! Why was I born? (Please note the sarcasm.)

 

It wasn’t until I began to enter adulthood and I looked back on my family and their love for me, and I watched and I reflected… I saw the relationship of my parents, and I thought on that. I saw my Dad’s lack of faith, and my Mom’s faithfulness to go to worship on Sundays and give her meager $5 in offering, which was what my dad would allow, and I thought on that. I saw the love and the grief of my Mom, in particular, towards my brother who had been killed in a car accident when I was three years of age, and I thought and thought and thought on that.
I remember, as such a wee one, the day the policeman came to the door to tell us that my brother Billy had been in an accident and that he died at the scene. He was 21 years old. Of course, being so little, nothing really registered in me. However, as I got older, and prepared to have a family of my own, I reflected on the realization of the extent of pain that the death of my brother would have had on my parents, in particular, my Mom. I cannot fathom such pain, and it brings tears to my eyes the thought of such pain. …And then it hit me: My purpose! …It was not for me and how I would be blessed, nor what I would accomplish. My purpose was to be my Mom’s purpose for waking up in the morning, for not being able to let herself fall into the bottomless depths of pain and grief and sorrow. My ‘being’, became God’s help to my Mom in order for her to get through the pain of her eldest son’s death.

Upon this realization, everything I had ever questioned began to make sense. I may have been an accident to my parents, but not to God. He knew exactly what he was doing! It was not my faith or my conscious acts that blessed my Mom. God blessed my Mom by giving her ‘me’, and I was just to have breath and live. I did not come to be blessed but God desired me to be a blessing to her.
It was then that God’s words truly sprang to life for me in Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” and the beginning of Jeremiah 29:11,‘ “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord…’ There was nothing I, nor anyone, planned that permitted these events to occur and allow my Mom to survive such tragedy, only what God purposed. He worked everything, in accordance to his desire, to care for my Mom and my family. Even in death, he has guided us all to Christ – my brother Billy came to faith just a year or so before his death, and my Dad came to faith, many years later, just two years before he passed away, and all of us in between have been brought up in the faith. May God guide us in his truth, and to raise our children and grandchildren in his saving grace.
In the same, whatever questions you may have about your existence: why you were born into your particular family, situation, etc…, just know that it wasn’t an accident, no matter how wonderful nor how dysfunctional it may be. God created you to be whom you are to be a blessing to those around you. He will give you the physical, emotional, psychological strength to overcome, if you let him. You may not know what your purpose is, and each day may be a struggle, but trust God to guide you through it, and be strong in the Lord. One day, may he open your eyes to see your purpose. To show the blessing you were to those in your life, and may you see the blessings that he undoubtedly will bestow upon you as you trust in him.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for guiding my life in order to be a blessing to others and for caring for me, even when I can’t see it. Help me to trust you in all things and to know that I am exactly where you need me to be and to be your light and seek your strength always. For I “know that in all things [you] work[s] for the good of those who love [you], who have been called according to [your] purpose.” (Romans 8:28) In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!
Reflection:
1 If you are questioning why the things in your life are happening, cling even more so to the Lord, trusting him to know. May you be strengthened as you seek his strength, courage and peace in the midst of the unknown and chaos. Consider not how you are being denied blessings during all of this, but, instead, how you can be a blessing to others and the light of Christ to them.
2 If you know someone going through such questioning times, let them know they are not alone, and share with them the blessing they are to your’s and others’ lives, and, again, not to focus on being blessed but on seeing themselves as the blessing to others.

Freedom

CanadaGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Yesterday, July 1st, was Canada Day. It is the day, in Canada, when we celebrate and give thanks for this beautiful Nation of ours; to celebrate our freedom and the rights we have.

 

Let’s top up our coffees and reflect on what true freedom means….

Freedom

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
fireworks

Happy Canada Day!

On July 1, Canadians celebrate their country. I love my country – Canada! …and I don’t know a Canadian who doesn’t. We are thankful for so many blessings that this nation gives us – its beauty, its industry, its social care (health care and education), its democracy…but most of all we are thankful for our freedom. We are free from war, free to speak, free to worship, free to dress as we like, and the list goes on and on. In Canada, we live peaceful lives of which I am very thankful, and on July 1st we celebrated this nation and all that it gives us with great joy and pride. 

Canada3In the same way, we should celebrate the freedom we have in Christ. With great joy and pride we need to celebrate this ultimate freedom and peace that is ours. In Christ, we have freedom from the slavery and guilt of our sins, and ultimately, freedom from death and the peace in knowing that life eternal is ours. There is nothing that can take away that peace we have in Christ- “…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation!” (Romans 8:38b-39a) We should be singing from the rooftops and holding a celebration like no other.
No matter what may come to meet us on our life’s journey we can endure it in the security of knowing Christ has conquered any outcome – good or bad- that might come from it. In the good and peaceful times of our life we can rejoice in the blessings bestowed upon us. And in the spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological war zone times of our lives we can remind ourselves that, “I’m but a stranger here. Heaven is my home.” Yes! In Christ, Heaven – the eternal dwelling in the presence of God himself-  is our ultimate country of origin. The country where “he will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4) We can walk securely in knowing that the pain and sorrow of life will pass. No matter what may plague us here and now, we can hold a smile in our hearts in knowing that it doesn’t have the power to take away our freedom and peace that we have in Christ, and his unrelenting love that he bestows upon us. We can be like Paul and Silas as they sang hymns in the midst of being in prison, for it is in our times of bondage when others truly see the joy and freedom we have. So today and every day may we celebrate…

Happy Heaven Day!!heavens.jpg

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank-you for this country I call home! Be with our leaders that they may seek your will and serve us with wisdom and integrity. Help me to do my part in caring for this beautiful land that you created. Thank-you for the assurance that Heaven is my home through the redeeming work of Jesus, my Saviour. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!
Reflection: Take time to reflect on all the blessings your country gives you and give thanks for them. Take to the Lord in prayer any glaring issues that may be a burden to your country and trust God to be guiding the outcome for the good of the people and that the Lord may be glorified. Pray for your leaders. Then…Reflect on the depth of freedom you have in knowing that no earthly burden or trial can have any power over you, in Christ. Rejoice in that and maybe even have a little Happy Heaven Day celebration, even if it is just by yourself with your coffee….lol

Our Shepherds

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

img_5437Last week we reflected on fathers and men who have guided and influenced us. In the same light, I then began thinking about our spiritual leaders, our congregational shepherds, our pastors (or whatever term your denomination may use).

Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll share…

Our Shepherds

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Exodus 17:10-13

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15

 [ Submission to Governing Authorities ] Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. Romans 13:1-2

[spoken by Paul, a shepherd of the gospel] I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Romans 15:30

I have always had great respect for those in authority due to the fact, simply, that we are called to respect and obey authority. Although this is God’s command, I have come to view those in authority quite differently. When I was younger, along with the need to be respectful to those in authority, came my ignorant and naïve thought that the individuals who held these positions of authority were to be perfect, superhumans in their positions and were performing their duties perfectly: all police officers were 100 percent law abiding, politicians were 100 percent truthful to their citizens, and pastors were 100 percent Christ-like. So child-like, I know. As I have grown older, I have come to learn that this respect is due the position- yes, but as for the individual holding such position, he/she is still a sinner, just like you and me. They are no different. They struggle with temptation, addictions, weakness, insecurity, pressure from the sinful world, weakness of their sinful self, and Satan’s lies. This realization particularly blew my mind when I learned this about our church shepherds: pastors, priests, reverends, etc. If you were like me, I respected my pastors because of their Christ-like care of His Bride, the church; their encouraging words, their words of guidance and correction, and the fact that I only saw them as perfect icons among their people.

Holy ScripturesI have since learned that it is not fair to put our shepherds on these pedestals for many reasons. First, because it’s not true; they are sinners, they make mistakes and hopefully our pastors are humble enough to admit their errors and are living examples of God’s gift of reconciliation: asking for and receiving forgiveness. Secondly, when we place them so highly, we can become very critical and begin to pick out every little mistake they make. Soon this attitude allows Satan to stir us to becoming bitter or disheartened with our Shepherd’s service, our church, and at times, God Himself. Finally, I believe this type of attitude gives people an inaccurate view of Christ. When people- especially non-Christians, new believers, and our children- hear the gospel preached from the pulpit and see us all acting on our best behaviour in church, while the whole way home we’re complaining and nitpicking about all of their imperfections, we are seen as hypocrites; no better than the Pharisees. (Check them out in the New Testament. Neither John the Baptizer nor Jesus had positive things to say to or about them.) When others see us in this light, we certainly are NOT the lights that Christ calls us to be. In this light, Satan is winning at using us to keep others from knowing our loving, merciful, grace-filled God, that sent His one and only Son to take to the cross their sin, my sin, my pastor’s sin, my church’s sin, and to pay the deadly price that I, they, we deserve.

praying

Our shepherds need our prayers. We need to pray for their families, for their peace of mind, for their dedication to the Lord, for the wisdom and humility to be leaders that help us see the living, daily presence of Christ in our lives, for their willingness and courage to let Christ work through them to be whom He needs them to be for those souls within the community they live and serve. Then, we need to pray for ourselves and how we can be helpers to him/her in our harvest field. Besides serving, this may mean sharing with them when things need to be changed, added, or removed within the life of the congregation. And if such sharing is truly felt, then after much prayerful consideration and God’s guidance, share it with your shepherd in respect and humility, praying that God give you the words to lovingly express your concerns, and that your shepherd receive such words with an open heart and self-sacrificing willingness to seek what is best for your congregation and community, according to God’s Word alone.

pastor

I believe that our shepherds deserve our respect as our representatives of Christ in the church, but they also need our support which includes lifting them up to the Lord in prayer, acknowledging that they too are forgiven sinners, like you and me, and  openly working with them for the good of those souls whom they have been called to serve, through loving and honest communication and action. God bless our shepherds!

Prayer: Dear Lord, please be with Pastor/Rev./Father__________. Help them to be all you would have them be for this congregation. Give them the strength and will to overcome any adversity in body, mind and soul that they may be facing. Bestow your peace and mercy upon them as they seek you in leading, teaching, and guiding us to a living faith and strong relationship with You. Help me to be whom You need me to be to support them, just as Aaron simply held up Moses arms, when Moses became weak. Forgive me if I speak poorly of ________ or negatively towards the members or events of the congregation. Help me to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, in order to permit our congregation to walk in the path that you have prepared for this congregation. Let my actions and words be an example of your love and mercy to those whom are watching, like the children and those who do not know you yet. Let them see your reflection in me. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: If you don’t already, include your pastor(s) and their family in your prayers each day this week, and following. Take time to thank them for giving of themselves for the sake of the gospel and for being the beautiful feet that brings the good news to your ears, your congregation and community. Finally, take time to reflect on the type of conversation you may have concerning church affairs and your pastors. Do you put the best light on it? How would people view your shepherd and church if all they knew about it is how you speak about them? If need be, take time to repent of any that may need forgiveness. Then, consider how you may be part of the solution for a concern about which you feel deeply.

Fathers

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

fathersYesterday was Father’s Day.  I admire and respect the role of fathers as instituted by God. In fact, I don’t feel fathers are given the respect they deserve. Yes, there are fathers that do not live up to their fatherly responsibilities but neither does society encourage them  in those duty, nor does media depict the role of Father in its proper light.  Over the past couple weeks, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on fathers and their unique and important role in the lives of their children and their love for their children.

Let’s top up our coffees and I will share my thoughts…

Fathers

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.      Psalm 68:5
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

There are a few particular events that have occurred the past couple weeks that have got me reflecting and admiring those men whose hearts and lives are and have been committed to their children and families. The first event that occurred was the birth of my dear friend’s first grandchild on June 7. Among the photos and videos I saw was the baby’s father. There was one where he was dressed in a hospital gown patiently waiting to do whatever the doctor permitted him to do, and another photo of him just sitting watching over his new born pre-mature daughter, as she rested in her incubator. fathers-2.jpgThen, on the same day, my daughter sent a snapchat photo of my son-in-law with his hand on my daughter’s tummy, with the caption, “His hand is forever on my tummy!” The innate sense of love and protection of these young men has been on my mind and has melted my heart these past couple weeks. Their hearts are for their new babies. They weren’t given a manual or a text book. They just know these little miracles, that have stolen their hearts, are their responsibility. Then, later the same day, I read the congratulatory words that my husband expressed to my girlfriend’s husband, the new grandpa, and what a great grandpa he will be because he is such a great Dad. These words also made me reflect upon my husband, and the old saying that ‘it takes one to know one’.

 

All these Fathers, new and veteran, have something in common. No they are not perfect, but they have given all they know how to give to care for, love and protect their children and the mother of their children. They may not be as visually busy and fussing around, nor as outwardly mushy as we moms can be, but they are quietly watching over and worrying about and protecting their families. Speaking only from personal experience, I have found that mothers may worry about their children’s daily needs and psychological and emotional well-being, which is all very important, but I feel that fathers’ hearts turn to their child’s basic needs, their child’s survival, and therefore the importance to provide safety, to put a roof over their head and food on the table. And for that I give thanks for all the Dads that have given their lives to protecting and caring for your children and their wife, and for showing them, if even just a glimpse, what it means to having a father who loves them with their life, unconditionally. It is in your actions that these children grow up to be loving, committed, caring and God-trusting individuals, and for the young men to know what it means to be a good Father.

brokenUnfortunately, many children are not raised with fathers that have given themselves to their children, for whatever reason and, unfortunately, because of sin in this world, there can be a multitude of reasons. However, may there be a person in each child’s life that guides that precious soul to the knowledge of the love that their Heavenly Father has for them; a love that is abundantly greater than any human father can give. As mentioned above, no father is perfect, and some children are plagued with parental deficiency in their days, but it is my prayer that these children know how much our Bible and boyHeavenly Father, through Jesus our Saviour, loves them and desires to be their protection and hope for the future. God is our ultimate Father, but he has given men the desire to be for their children the protector and overseer that allows children to see a glimpse of what God’s self-sacrificing love means for them. Thanks and God bless you, Dads!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank-you for your unconditional love and protection. Thank-you for your ultimate act of self-sacrifice of my behalf by sending your one and only son to pay the penalty of my sin. Thank-you for drawing me back to you. Finally, thank-you for my Dad and all those Godly men that take seriously the role of being the father you desire them to be for the precious souls you put in their lives. Help those men that struggle with the responsibilities and their own sinful temptations, to find strength in you to be the father you desire them to be for their children and their mother.

Reflection: If you are a Father, or parent, take time to just give your children a hug and tell them you love them today. Then, think of the men in your own life who have supported and guided you in your life. Take time to contact them – telephone, text, email- and say thank-you. They may have never known how they impacted your life.

Love Songs

Love.jpgGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Well, the month of June has my husband and I smack dab in the middle of many gigs and practices with our bands. With so much music filling our days, I thought I would share with you a little technique I came up with to help me stay reminded of God’s love and presence in my life, even in the midst of our secular activities.

Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll share…

Love Songs

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

busySometimes I find it is so hard to see or focus on God in this world with all the activities in my day and the busyness of my live, not to mention the many ungodly things happening around the world. There is violence and war, greed and selfishness, lust and sexual connotations everywhere, just to name a few. Is it any wonder than that we adults, let alone our dear young people, struggle to walk in line with God’s desire for our lives, to see and seek him while being bombarded with these ungodly characteristics of our society and selves?

The thing is that God is not separate from all the lawlessness that we are immersed in. No, he doesn’t agree with what’s going on, but he certainly does not have his head in the sand. He knows how ungodly this world is. Remember what mankind did to him 2000 years ago? How much worse can anything be than killing our God!

love 2Well in one little small way, I came up with a way to bring God into my thoughts and heart in the midst of everything else going on around me. While listening to music, especially love songs, I listen to/sing it as if it is God singing the song to me, or I to Him. In some cases, this strategy doesn’t quite work, but in most cases, it is astounding how relevant it can be. In fact, more than once it has brought me to tears, because it awakens me to the reality that only in God’s relationship with me, can I experience such intimate, unconditional, self-sacrificing love that so many secular songs claim. Even the songs that sing of passion and love can be relevant; just read Song of Solomon, which is a depiction of the relationship between God and mankind.

I shared this strategy with the young people of my church’s youth group many years ago, and I have had some of them, now young adults, tell me how they continue to view songs in this way. It really does bring God into the midst of your everyday task, and lets his goodness shine in your life in places that you may not have thought of having him join you.

cross 2Prayer: Dear Lord, the ways of this world are not new to you. You know what sin has done to mankind. Help me to remember you in all aspects of my day, despite what may going on around me. Help me to keep my mind on you, knowing you are with me always. In Jesus’ name I pray! AMEN!

Reflection: Try this little task over the next day or so; when listening to a song – love songs work well- try to imagine God singing the words to you, or you singing the words to God. Take time to reflect how you felt during and following the songs. Did it make you think of the song any differently than you had in the past? If so, how? If you are finding that it does bring you closer to the Lord throughout your day, continue to use this technique when listening to music. My personal favourite is You’ve Got A Way With Me by Shania Twain.

Different birds

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Photo taken by my sister-in-law, Cathy Fyfe, Kitchener, ON.

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.

Once the weather warms up, I love spending my morning devotional time outside. It was during one of these times of prayer and reflection that all the little birds really grabbed my attention.

Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll share my thoughts…

img_5371
Photo taken by my sister-in-law, Cathy Fyfe, Kitchener, ON.

Different birds

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:3-6a

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12: 9-13

I love doing my devotions outside with the birds chirping and frolicking about. One morning this past week, I noticed quite a few different bird species around our feeder.

 

In particular there was a little finch, a red cardinal and a morning dove. Each was so beautiful and yet so very different. It made me think of the array of birds and how each one is magnificent in their own way: precious humming birds, exotic peacocks, gracious swans, vibrant blue jays, and the list goes on and on. From the humming bird to the peacock, I think it is safe to say that most of us watch in awe when we are in the presence of them.

birds 4I then began thinking about how unique each person is; each precious soul, created by God with special gifts and qualities. Why then are we always complaining about what we are not, and what we don’t have. Does the ostrich think she is fat because she isn’t the size of a sparrow, or the peacock think he’s useless because he cannot fly like the hummingbird. In all cases, NO! That would be absurd. And yet we think that about ourselves, when in no way possible can we or should we be any different than we are.

birds 3We – you- are beautiful in the Lord’s eyes. Only in your own way can you care for and love those God sends your way. Be guided by His words and directions to love, but as only you can. That is all he asks of you.

 

birds 5You are unique and beautiful! Many times we do not see these qualities in ourselves, but others do and are blessed by them. And so, when you see and hear our lovely feathered friends, be reminded to stop comparing yourself to others with what you are not, and rejoice in the gifts and abilities with which the Lord has blessed you. You are uniquely beautiful, inside and out, and created to be whom God desires you to be. Seek Him to know how he desires to share your beauty, as you radiate his love birdswith those he puts in your life.

Prayer: Thank-you heavenly Father for creating me to be me. I know many times I compare myself to _____________________ or complain about _____________________. Please forgive me. Help me to be humble and see myself as your precious child. Help me to use my unique abilities and qualities to serve you by serving those you put in my life and fulfilling the tasks I have in my day. Thank-you for all those in my life with their unique qualities and gifts. Help me to rejoice and acknowledge their differences while accepting, not comparing, myself with them, in thankfulness and adoration to you! In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: Consider all the qualities – big and small – that God has given you. I know many times we have difficulty acknowledging ourselves. If going through this devotion alone, perhaps send a message to a Christian mentor or trustworthy friend, explaining the purpose of this devotion and if they could share a couple qualities that you possess. If you are doing this devotion with a group, try this little activity:

  1. Each person has enough slips of paper/sticky notes for each person in the group. Do not include yourself.
  2. Write the name of each person at the top of each slip of paper. One name per person.
  3. Write a positive quality/trait/characteristic/gift for the person listed on the first slip of paper. Continue to do the same on each slip of paper for each person.
  4. In a pile, go around and hand out the slips of paper to the appropriate person.

Now, reflect upon individuals that have a trait that you may be envious of or, to the other extreme, consider unimportant. Thank God for that person and pray for that person, the gifts He has blessed them with, and how you can support them. Finally, ask God to help you be thankful for the gifts you have and to use them to His glory.

Family time

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Last week was Canada’s Victoria Day weekend. It is the long weekend that kick’s off the summer for Canadians. Rick and I took advantage of the time off and whisked our grown kids away to Nashville. Rick and I love Nashville and we were excited to have our kids experience it for the first time. We all love music, especially country music, and we appreciate the talent that goes into playing an instrument or hearing beautiful harmonies.

Let’s top up our coffees and I will share my thoughts on our time with our family…

Family Time

Love your neighbour as yourself Matthew 22:39

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

img_5360We had a wonderful time together this past weekend in Nashville! There were seven of us altogether: four households worth of adults coming together to enjoy the experience that Music City had to offer us. For me, it was a time to be with the kids, to see them laugh together and tease each other, and time to see their faces light up like they did as children when something brought them joy. It was a time to make memories. But, as I watched and experienced the family dynamics, I realized that it was also a time for learning and growing, as God’s children, as well.

Was our time together perfect? No. Did we each have our moments of crankiness or being an annoyance? Pretty much, yup? Did everything go tickadeeboo? Not always. This side of heaven, being with people automatically puts a person in a position of tolerance, compromise, and self-sacrifice, and being with family is no different. In fact, being with family can make it even more difficult because family members are most comfortable to just say their unfiltered comments to their loved ones or, on the other hand, take innocent words and read hurtful things into them.

It was during these not so perfect times – complaints of having to walk so much, words said that felt hurtful, or the unfulfilled hopes of going to a desired destination- that I saw how each of us had the opportunity to display a fruit of the spirit, or to love and forgive when it may have be easier to hold a grudge and complain. I also became aware that, besides enjoying being with my children, I was parenting them and training them on how to create and enjoy these types of opportunities with their family and friends, despite the frustrations. (Organizing a trip and activities for a group of people is not the easiest thing.) However, I also noticed that they taught me. At different times and in different situations, each of the five young people made me stop, reflect and learn from them while they extended a characteristic quality of themselves to another, usually one that is not a strength of mine. It was in these moments I saw God working; I saw some fruits of our hard work of raising them up; and I saw how each of my babes have grown into such unique beautiful, fun, and caring people, and who have chosen partners with the same qualities.

Ultimately, our times away with the kids are precious and their memories always bring a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart, like nothing else this side of heaven. The memories of our time away this past weekend will be among those most precious family memories. Even those few moments, that were less than perfect, have become coloured with love as  I remember them in light of the kids’ responses of grace and mercy.  In fact, this little family get-a-way has been a paradigm in how I see and remember our family time, in all situations- positive and not so positive. In a way it reminds me of how Christ’s grace and mercy washes over our sin-filled dark moments and our Heavenly Father only sees us through Christ’s glorious  reflection and remembers his love for us.

So, may I encourage you to take time to be with your loved ones. Enjoy them. Love them. Forgive them. Watch them as they react to and care for each other during the unwelcoming moments… and learn from them. Together may God strengthen your family in love towards him and towards one another.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for my family. Thank-you for the times we are able to be together. Help us to be sources of love and support, grace and mercy to each person, and not get caught up in the things that could ruin our time together and/or put a wedge in our relationships with them. Help us to treat our family members as the ultimate ‘neighbour’ where you command us to love them as we would love ourselves. Help me not to take them for granted, but help me to be your light to them as well. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection: What memories do you have of family vacations… happy, tense, etc? When was the last time you spent dedicated time with your family? If you haven’t been together in quite some time, perhaps consider arranging a little something. If you already have plans for a gathering, great! Take time during your get-together to watch them and learn from them. Be consciously watchful for ways satan and man’s sinful self is working to focus on the less than perfect moments. Provide an atmosphere of grace and mercy, to turn such situations into opportunities of love and care. Enjoy your family!

When His Timing Comes To Pass

Good day friends! I pray your week and week

end went well!

Last week I shared a devotion with the theme of taking life changes to God and waiting patiently as they unfold in his timing. I shared with you my desire to move to the lake someday; a desire I have always had and a devotion I penned two years ago.  Well let me share with you what has transpired over the past few months….

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

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11

One of the activities I thoroughly enjoy is dragon boating. Not only is it a great team sport, but the practices are in the best location – on the water! Towards the end of the season of 2017, I remember being so overwhelmed at the beauty of the river we were paddling through, that after practice I searched the real estate app for homes or lots for sale in that area.

As it so happened, there was a lot for sale in the river community by which we had just paddled . It had water access and was listed at a very reasonable price.  Even though Rick and I had never really put much thought into purchasing a lot before, the more we thought and talked about it, the more desirable it became for many reasons. So, the next morning after much prayer and contemplation, we decided to call the real estate agent.

As it turned out, we were a day late. The lot had just sold. Yes, we were disappointed, but this process put us on the road to seriously keeping our eyes open for a lot on which we could some day build our retirement lake/river home.

Since we were in no rush to move, and we loved the farm, we were not going to settle on certain things that the lot needed to have like price, lake/river view, lake/river access, and size (big enough for a workshop). I knew we’d have to compromise on some things eventually, but like I said, we weren’t in a rush and we loved where we were living. We had a decade to find our lot, sell the farm, and build our home.

prayer1Well, during the next couple of months, while we were driving by and praying about a few different lots, we were also inquiring about purchasing cemetery plots at a cemetery in a lake front community I had fallen in love with, about a 10 minute drive from our current home. We had visited the community a few times as we have friends that live there. The cemetery is old with lots of history, and it is lake front. I would tell people, “I finally have my lakefront p-lot.” Well, towards the end of November, while we were at the final meeting with the gal that cares for the cemetery -let’s call her the Cemetery Queen- to finalize our plots, my husband asked her, “Do you know of any lots in the community? We have looked at a couple empty lots at the top of the hill, but with no avail.” The Cemetery Queen responded, “There are a couple lots down around the bend towards the lake. I’m not sure if they’re for sale or who owns them, but the people in the little gray house beside the lot would know who does.” We thanked her and headed to the lots she spoke of.

Sure enough there was a piece of vacant land down by the water and a humble gray house stood right beside.  There was no ‘For Sale’ sign posted but if you’ve been reading my blogs from the start, you will know that I am not afraid of the word ‘no’. If God guides me somewhere or places someone on my heart, I will address them/it even if the possible response is ‘no’, and I end up looking foolish. So, Rick parked out front of the gray house. I walked up the driveway, knocked on the door, and waited. An elderly woman came to the door, and the following conversation unfolded:

I began, “Hi! My name is Brenda Ryan. My husband and I live in Forest and are looking at purchasing a lot. The Cemetery Queen mentioned that you may know who owns this lot. Would you happen to know who owns it?”

The woman answered, “As a matter of fact, I do. I do!”

Excitement began to rise from the tips of my toes. I continued, “Have you ever considered selling the lot?”

Again, the woman responded, “As a matter of fact, I have. I would!”

Oh my, my excitement was escalating. I pressed on, “Oh wonderful! Would you happen to have a price in mind for the lot?”

As previously rehearsed, she announced, “As a matter of fact, I do,” and she stated the price. I was through the roof with excitement. The price she stated was in the ball park of what we had said we would be able to pay. I immediately called Rick up from the car.

After much conversation between the three of us, Rick and I finally stated that we would love to purchase the lot, and would have our real estate agent do up the offer. She then dropped a bomb, “You can submit the offer, but I have promised the fellow, who purchased the lot on the far side, that I’d let him know when there is a serious buyer and give him dibs at it. So, I am going to contact him.”

A woman of integrity….now? Things were going so smoothly. Although I didn’t want to go through this little glitch that could break the whole deal, I knew that there was a bigger picture occurring and somehow we and our wise new friend were a part of it.  She needed to stay true to her word and we needed to respect the process. It’s in these times where trusting the Lord is all you have. If this was to be our lot and our future home, then it would be ours, and if the other party purchased it, than it was not meant to be and we would trust God to continue guiding the process.

Well, I cannot tell you the prayers and concerns and conversations that Rick and I shared over the next few days as we waited for our new found angel to get back to us about the offer. My prayer was always, “Dear Lord, you have guided us to a perfect place for us to settle. If you guided us to it because it is to be the location of our future home, than it will be. If not, give us peace and guide us to where you would place us. Give us patience! And in all cases, please be with all those involved; the current owner and her family, the other lot owner, and Rick and I. Thy will be done!”

Well, on December 14, 2017, we took possession of what we feel is the most beautiful lot in the whole wide world. Although we walked through the opportunities that he placed before us, there really was nothing we did to obtain the lot. In fact, there were many times I couldn’t imagine a lot that met all our conditions existed. God did it. He guided us to it and I continue to be in awe of him. He has also given Rick excitement towards our new future home and a peace towards leaving the farm, which will be occurring in 2019. We are so thankful to the Lord and believe all these things are truly gifts from him…in his time!

God can bring to pass situations that seem impossible. Although at times it may seem easier to deny the possibility of them ever occurring, than to continue trusting that it can happen. However, God can do the impossible. Trust him. It doesn’t mean you will get exactly what you want, but in God’s hands and in his timing you will get exactly what is best for you, as a gift from him. Then, when things come to pass with his guiding hand, give him thanks, praise, and share your story of his presence in your life.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, you know me and you love me, you care for me and you desire to bless me. You have blessed me with the ultimate gift – the gift of Salvation. Praise be to you! Every good and perfect gift and positive outcome comes from you! Help me to give you all my needs and desires. Help me to trust you to guide my life according to your will and in your timing. Help me to be a blessing to those people in my life, wherever you would have me go. Thy will be done!

Reflection: Again, reflect on the decisions and desires in your life.  Take them to the Lord. Be patient and open to his guiding. Watch as he works. Then, give him all praise and thanksgiving!

In His Time…

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Today’s devotion is actually a devotion I wrote almost two years ago and had entitled it, “Big Changes”. I wrote it in the summer of 2016. The theme of the devotion is about trusting God to guide your decisions and life’s changes, and it  is something I believe wholeheartedly. Taking our lives to the Lord and trusting him to help guide us, allows us to look back on our lives in awe of God’s presence in our life, as well as, it gives encouragement during those times when things aren’t happening the way or at the speed we were hoping.

So today, I share with you a hope and desire which would mean a big change in our life and has been a big unknown on my heart for years. Then next week I will share how these hopes and unknowns have come to pass… in His Time!

Let’s top up our coffees and I’ll share our journey of this faith story…

Big Changes

[Jesus said,] “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6: 9-10

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4: 13-14

2017 286We are currently contemplating selling our farm and moving to the lake. This is a big decision due to some farm business commitments we have, as well as, the fact that we love, love, love the farm property and the life we are able to have here. However, moving to the lake has always been a dream of mine.

It has been our hope, especially mine, that we would eventually move to the lake, but not for many years. The reality that the sale of the farm could possibly occur a decade earlier than expected could be one of great turmoil and anxiety. Yet, taking it to the Lord in prayer and leaving it with Him to occur in His time, allows both my husband and I such peace, whether it happens next year or next decade or maybe never. Our trust that if it is to be earlier than anticipated then it is only because He has placed a buyer in our pathway and we are to move on, and they are to be blessed in this place. I also believe that because it will be His timing that the home we are to move to will be available. And if it does not happen, we are content where we are, and I have enjoyed the anticipation of ‘hope’, and hope is a good thing.

2017 020
Often the view from our back deck at the farm

So, giving this whole situation and process over to God, we wait. And in our waiting, we thank the Lord every day for this current home and property – this little piece of His creation – that He has blessed us with and that we enjoy and take pride in caring for on his behalf. We trust that nothing will be done sooner, or later, than He so plans as we are part of a bigger picture, including all the other families involved and their well-being as well. We find peace in knowing that if we will be at the lake, it will be in His time, not ours, and we will be thankful, not regretful, for leaving the farm; and we live in anticipation of watching God do His thing.

I’m sure there are many decisions in your life as well, big or small, that you come across each day. Take heart! God is not separated from your life and its occurrences, where you live and what you do. So, I encourage you to take those activities and life events to him each day, and trust him to assist you. Pray that his will is done. Then, be patient and watchful as he works and guides you and your family. In knowing that you have given him the final outcome in any situation through the words “Thy will be done!” gives no greater peace of mind when a decision is made, especially one that affects your current life and family.

light2Finally, in trusting that God is placing you where He desires you to be also makes you accountable to be his light in that place. So for me, it doesn’t matter whether I’m at the farm or by the lake, I am to be his light. This accountability is transferable to all the places we are placed, i.e. our place of employment, recreational activities, church, and even hospital beds – we are his light to the part of the world in which we are placed. As we give ourselves to the Lord, let him guide you into the places where he would have you serve and share his love. And when you go through a life changing decision, give it to him, trust him to guide you where he needs you to be, and in the end, you will have no regrets, no matter the outcome.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, life has many unknowns and there are so many decisions, big and small, important and not so much, however I ask that you guide my life this day, and assist me with decisions where I do not know which way to turn. Let my days be lived in accordance to your will and walk with me through any of the changes that may be in store. Help me to trust You to place me where you need me and my family to be, and assist me to be your light so that others may see your goodness and not my sinfulness. Thy will be done! AMEN!

decisionsReflection:

What part does God play in your decision making?

Are you needing to make any decisions, big or small, right now?

How are you feeling about the decision: content? anxious? headstrong?

In any case, give it to the Lord. Ask Him to guide you. Give yourself a bit more time to work through this with the Lord. Keep your heart and mind open to his response, either directly or through others He puts in your life. Whether it is what you are hoping the outcome to be or not, trust him to be guiding you.

 

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