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.

 

Mothers… My Mom

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

As Mother’s day approaches, I begin to think of all the wonderful women in my life; my daughter, my girlfriends, the amazing women in my church, the women that affected my husband’s life to be the man he is. I also think of those that have passed on, especially my sister and my Mom.

My Mom passed away from cancer on Thursday, August 11, 2005. She was 72 years old and I was 36 years of age. She loved crafts and shopping, which are traits that are characteristic of my daughter and a couple of my nieces, which is very heart warming. My Mom also loved the Lord. She wasn’t a theologian and she wasn’t perfect, but she trusted that in Christ she was redeemed and going to spend eternity with her Lord in heaven. I think too that she was excited to see her son, my brother, who also had passed on due to a car accident around the age of 21 approximately 34 years earlier.

Yes, I think often of my Mom and the life she had and the pain and sorrow she endured. During my lifetime, my Mom clung to her Lord, especially after my brother’s passing and that faith took her home, and I have no doubt that in heaven my Mom and Dad and brother and sister have been reunited. What hope and comfort the thought of such a reunion is for me, for all of us, especially as we are faced with the reality of our final days.

The final faith story I received regarding my Mom, and my assurance that she is where we believe our faith in Christ takes us, is one of joy and hope, and one I will always remember. It is as follows…

On the day of my Mom’s funeral – Saturday, August 13, 2005 – while I was waiting in the church prior to the funeral, a church elder, who had also been a close friend of mine in our youth days, took me aside. He said he had something he wanted to share with me. It turned out that two nights ago, while he was sleeping, he had a dream. In his dream, he was walking through the entry foyer of the church and he saw my Mom sitting on a chair there. chairAs always, they greeted each other with hellos. He then asked, “What are you doing here Marie? Church isn’t for a while.” She looked up at him and said, ” I’m waiting to go home.” At that moment, he was startled awake with the ring of the telephone. Without question he knew why he was receiving a call so early in the morning. He picked up the receiver, and as expected, it was Pastor calling him and all the elders to share the news that Marie Fyfe had passed on.

church8That story has brought me much comfort during many days: days where I especially miss my Mom and other loved ones, days where I may be questioning my own faith or my own worthiness. For my Mom, her church is where she met with her Lord. It was where she found peace and forgiveness when she felt or thought the rest of her life wasn’t quite as peaceful. Her church home was where the Lord met her to take her to be with him. I am thankful that she passed on to me the importance of having a church home, and that one day I too may walk through its doors into my heavenly home.

 

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So with Mother’s Day right around the corner, reflect on those major things in your life that your Mom has passed on to you through her words, but even more so through her actions, especially as they relate to her relationship with her Lord. Then take time this Mother’s day to tell her you love her, and spend time with her if you can, while you still can. Let all those little things she does that annoy you melt away, because when she’s gone, you’ll miss that she’s not there doing those exact things that have annoyed you all these years…like cleaning the oven at the most inappropriate times… Boy do I miss that! Happy Mother’s day, Mom! I love you!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for the women in my life that have guided, corrected, and supported me. Be with them and stir their hearts to know how much they are loved and appreciated. Thank-you for my Mom! She’s not perfect but she’s mine and together we are loved by you. Help me to be whom I need to be for her on your behalf. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN (p.s. For those of us whose Moms are with you, can you say ‘hi’ to them for us, please.)

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Reflection: Take time to call or visit your Mom over the next couple weeks. Be patient and gracious towards her. Lay aside any annoyances you may encounter and simply enjoy the memories you are making with her. There is no one else in all the world with whom she would rather spend time.

Budgeting is a Thanksgiving Necessity

offering5.jpgGood day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Well, today – April 30th – is tax day in Canada. Therefore, it just seemed like the perfect time to connect our stewardship to our treasures for this week’s devotion.

Let’s top up our coffees and peel away this last layer for our final devotion on Stewardship…

Budgeting is a Thanksgiving Necessity

He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the first fruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. The people of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them in heaps. 2 Chronicles 31:4-7

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. … Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” ­Malachi 3:8-10

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

offering6.jpgI am the budgeter and bill payer in our family. Looking after a home and family financially is a constant task. I am thankful for the employment of both myself and my husband to be able to cover all the bills and expenses. On occasions, I need to review our spending pattern and consider how we can cut back or change bad habits we have been displaying. We need to prioritize renovations and maintenance activities according to our available income. However, in all financial seasons, I give thanks to God for a warm/cool home we can come to at the end of a day.

A church home is no different. It has bills it needs to pay. It has expenses no different than your home whether you pay rent or a mortgage and taxes. It has to be able to pay for utilities, maintenance, cleaners, office supplies, the church staff that serve their members, and any activities in which the church members desire to participate, in order to further the gospel. Just like your home and my home, no one is going to pay those bills except you and me.

altar.jpgLike most of God’s laws, tithing is a very practical rule for the people of God to follow. In fact, tithing was given by God to the Israelites which assisted in the care of the Temple and the Levites, who served and maintained the temple. Offerings were not invented by man, but instituted by God himself as a means of thanksgiving back to him from his children, and as a result, it cared for his church. Do you, your family and your congregation view your offerings in this way? If not, perhaps it would be a good time to start considering such a thing.

offering3.jpgThink about it, if all families/households of a congregation willingly tithed – gave 10 percent of their  income – the needs of the church, the outreach of the Gospel and the spiritual care of those who come through its doors would be amply supplied. Even if it was 10 percent of our net incomes, as opposed to our gross incomes, I would bet that all expenses would be paid. Unfortunately, I would bet most families do not tithe. (To be honest, we do not give quite a full tithe either at this point in time, but it is something I am striving for.) We can come up with many excuses not to tithe. Let’s be honest; they are excuses, because whatever the reason, we are putting a greater priority on something else financially than giving back to God what He first entrusted to us.

praise.jpgWith that in mind, the Lord does not want our financial gift of thanksgiving to be one of bitter begrudging or complaint, but one of willingness and joy. Therefore, give with a joyful heart what you have set apart for the Lord. This takes practical steps in order to be aware of returning to the Lord with what he has blessed you, and then including it as part of your household budget. Just like budgets don’t just happen, neither does tithing. Be aware. Be diligent. Satan, the world, and our sinful selves will easily keep that money spent if we are not diligent in setting it aside.

offering7Once you have calculated an amount, make a commitment to put that amount in your offering envelope every pay period, right away. It may help to keep in mind that your offering is a very important part in keeping your church home operational, at the least. I would bet that many church closures now-a-days are not just due to the lack of people, but due to the lack of financial offerings that are required to keep a church home operational, even though we are living in a time of plenty. We are so comfortable in our lives of excess, that it is hard to give up the extras. But I challenge you to challenge yourself, get a bit out of your comfort zone, just as Christ did for you that day on Calvary. Remember, you can never out give the Lord.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you have blessed me in so many ways. All I have is from you. Stir my heart to be joyful in giving back to you the first fruits of what you have given me with my treasures. Being a good steward first means acknowledging your bounty and giving thanks to you through my offering. As a result, just like the offerings of the Israelites were to support the care of the temple and those serving you through its work, I know, like any home, my church home needs to be cared for and requires the means to be able to cover its expenses. I also know that I am an important part in helping to make that happen. My church home, your holy house, is a blessing to me and I thank You for it and the work we do to proclaim Your Gospel of love and salvation. Lord, help me to be a good steward of the financial resources You have blessed me with so that I may proclaim my thanksgiving to you, and be a blessing to my congregation. Guide my heart and mind to make my gift-giving a priority and to set an amount as a priority in my own budget as the first fruits of my financial blessing. Thank-you for your love and patience! In Jesus’ name I pray! AMEN!

Reflection: Do you have a set amount that you offer on a regular basis? Commit to give greater attention to your gift giving. Turn your response to God through your offering and make it a priority, not the left over. To do this you may wish to follow these steps:

  1. Calculate your annual offering amount to be 10 percent of your net annual income, or 5% or 3%, or any percent you feel comfortable with. (To do this multiply your net (after tax) income by .10 for 10%, or .05 for 5%, or .03 for 3%, etc.
  2. Divide that annual offering amount by the number of pay cheques you get each year. This will be your offering amount per pay.
  3. Once you have your offering amount per pay, then divide it up how you wish to cover the number of Sundays until next pay.
  4. JOYFULLY return this thanksgiving offering back to the Lord.
  5. Watch as God fulfills his promise in  Malachi 3:10, Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

 

Sometimes it’s No

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

So how did your time of reflection go this past week? Were you able to consider those interests and abilities with which God has blessed you? Are you asking yourself, “where am I going to find the time?”, “this is a need, but it really is not something I feel God guiding me to do, even after I have prayerfully and honestly considered serving in this capacity. But do I still say ‘yes’? I can’t say ‘no, can I?” … Oh yes you can! And you can say ‘no’ with a clear conscience too!

Let’s top up our coffee’s and peel this layer away….

Sometimes it’s No

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6, 12-14

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Yes2How hard is it for you to say ‘no’? For most of us, we feel by saying ‘no’ that people will see us as being weak or not very accommodating. So, we say ‘yes’ to helping on school boards, more work in the office, coaching another season and the requests continue. Although others may see us as ‘Super Heros’, this is not a healthy way of living. It only leads to burnout, a deprived family, and bitterness. This frantic pace is not at all how God desires us to live our lives.

This feeling of needing to say ‘yes’ is especially present within the church. We can be bombarded with requests to help at an event, lead a devotion, make sandwiches, be on a committee, and the requests go on and on and on. Therefore, when it comes to serving the church, it is so easy to become bitter and burned out. There are so many jobs and so few people willing to serve. Many times we feel we just need to keep saying ‘yes’ to duties; if I don’t do it, who will? What will the other members think if I don’t do it? Again, these ways of thinking are not healthy or beneficial for anyone, and certainly are not the mindset God wants us to have towards serving in His Church and His children. In fact, it is quite a self-centred thing, and a tactic satan uses to keep us from focussing on what is really important.

Despite what satan would have us believe, if something is to happen in the church, than God will raise up the workers to do the work, and if there are no other workers for the task, then perhaps it is something that is not meant to occur at that point in time. Satan would love for us to be run ragged, bitter, non-joyful and cranky with each other. praying4.jpgHowever, clearly these attitudes are not God’s desires for His Church, as they keep the light of Christ hidden and reflect poorly His love for us and others, not to mention, inhibit the nurturing of our own relationship with the Lord. Therefore, it is important to give yourself boundaries and guidelines, like the ones in the previous devotion, especially taking each request to serve the Lord in prayer, and, if need be, get used to saying ‘no’ guilt-free. Saying ‘no’ is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is an honest statement when said after an honest time of prayer and self-reflection. Therefore, let not your ‘no’ be meant as an easy response because you just don’t want to be bothered, but an honest response guided by the Lord’s nudging. If the answer is ‘no’ to one area, he may be guiding you towards another area of service. You just need to be honest and open to his gentle nudges.

friends-e1523710985492.jpgFinally, pray for all the members and families of your congregation to seek to build a strong relationship with the Lord and to be open to fulfilling the duties that God may be calling them to do. If each member of His Body is doing his/her part, than we can trust that God is fulfilling those things He has prepared in advance for you, us, his church to do.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, There are so many things to do. Help me to be honest about the things I should add to my daily schedule and those that would inhibit my time with you, my family and my other responsibilities. For those things I am not able to do now, which may include taking something from my current tasks, please give me the courage to say ‘no’. Open my eyes and heart to joyfully serve in the church and in all aspects of my life that You have prepared for me to do. Please do not let my sinfulness keep me from fulfilling what you would have me do. Please be with all the members of my congregation to seek You, and to have honest and willing hearts open to serve in all the tasks You have prepared for each of them. Help me to be loving and understanding when others say ‘no’, and to trust that you are guiding them too. In Jesus’ name alone! AMEN

No2.jpgReflection: Do you have a hard time saying ‘no’? Are you doing things in the church or in some aspect of your life, where you are feeling guilt-ridden or bitter towards it? Have you been recently asked to be part of something? Do you feel a need to serve, in some aspect, in the church? Take each of these responses, individually, to the Lord. Lift them to Him and let Him guide your thoughts and heart. Just like any conversations with a good friend, He will help you come to a resolve. Be patient, listen and be attentive as he guides you and answers directly to you and/or through others in your life.

 

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