Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hope Misplaced

I look out my window and see a beautiful winter day. Blue sky, no wind, fresh snow sparkling in the sun. It's a trick sometimes to slow down and just savor these sights, especially this time of year when we are so tyrannized by all the "urgent" items on our to-do lists. Today I made myself pause, however, and not just savor the moment, but think about how I can easily miss a multitude of blessings if I lose my focus.

Have you ever had a plan, and pinned all of your hopes on it coming about, and then realized that it may not after all? That happened to me this week. I realized I had been storing all my proverbial eggs in the same basket. Sadly, that basket did not include much thought about what God's plan might be. It only carried my own. The realization that it might not pan out as I had hoped left me teetering, and eventually, seeing my own folly. I had to seek the Lord to help bring me back to a right perspective, one that focuses on Him, and His will, alone. Not that it is wrong to have a plan, but in everything we need to bring it to Him for approval, and be ready to relinquish it if that approval does not come.

This morning as I contemplated these things, I came upon a blog post. I was just randomly checking out a blog from a list that a fellow blogger follows. She had a list a mile long, but for some reason I clicked on this certain one. She had posted a reflection from Oswald Chambers "My Utmost For His Highest" back in June. When I read it, I knew God had led me there. He is so good and kind to us. He didn't get angry with me for putting my plan on a pedestal, He simply reminded me of some wonderful truths. Anyhow, here is that reflection, which I am borrowing....

"I'm determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone." Reflection based on Phil. 1:20

Lord so often it seems I come to this crisis of faith. Choosing between your will and my own, seeing barely the first step in yours and the full schematic design in mine. Reason would say to choose me. But reason is at times a liar and so I go with the Holy Spirit that whispers "Surrender. My child I know what's best, lay it down. Light a fire to it and offer it up to me. Fear not for I am with you. I alone am your heart's desire, I alone can quench your thirst. These dreams are all counterfeit if I didn't write them. Lose yourself in me and find me in you."

Thank you Father.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Of all the images that surface this time of year, my favourite is the nativity. I love nativity scenes, and the Christmas Story. I love thinking about that time, when Mary gave birth to Jesus; she knew He was special and not just any baby. The angel had come to her and explained what His role would be: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” (Luke 1:31-32) Mary’s husband Joseph also had an angelic visitation, in a dream. The angel spoke to reassure him that he should proceed with his marriage to Mary: “She will bear a Son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 2: 21) The prophet Isaiah spoke also of Jesus, foretelling His birth: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (God with us)” Isaiah 7:14

Imagine, God coming to us in the form of a tiny baby! But the story does not end at that stable in Bethlehem. We love to gaze on that scene, on baby Jesus, so sweet and helpless. But that babe grew up; a man, yet fully God. He walked with humankind, and experienced life as they did. He was Almighty God, yet left the glory of that position to show us what God is like. Not only that, but He gave His own life in payment for the sins of the world.

We love the warm fuzzies we get when we decorate, hang pretty lights, and listen to Christmas Carols. But there is so much more to the Christmas Story than the babe and the shepherds and the wise men. That baby became a man, died for us, and is now alive in Heaven. He was born, not to give us a reason for a Christmas season, but to make a way for us to be reconciled to God. So when you see him there in the manger, fast forward to our ultimate cause for celebration, God’s great love gift to us: He came to die, so that we might have life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


We’ll know You when we see You, Lord
When freed from this life’s hold,
And carried to our final home
To walk on streets of gold.

While in this earthly body now
Our eyes but dimly see.
The beauty that is fully Yours
We’ll view eternally.

For now as in a glass so dim
With feeble sight, in part.
But then full known You’ll be to us,
As us to You now art.

We’ll need no one to introduce us.
Standing at Your throne,
You’ll look at us with that same love
That let us be Your own.

We’ll know You by the wounds You bear.
Though given long ago.
These marks You will forever wear
That all may look and know

The price You paid to set us free,
When led so meek and mild,
You took our place at Calvary
So each would be Your child.

With faith we look to what will be
When we will be transformed.
Completely from all sin set free
Pure worship we’ll perform.

This truth to us an anchor sure
We wait in hope, enduring;
So zealous to have hearts made pure
To show at Your appearing.

All praise and thanks to You we give
For only by Your grace
We have eternal life to live
And strength to run this race.

The here and now is but a taste
Of what You have in store
When not a second will we waste;
We’ll praise forevermore.

So till that time when faith is sight
O Lord be pleased to give
Your grace to make our hearts more right;
Our lives to you we’ll live.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but
then face to face; now I know in part,
but then I will know fully just as I also
have been fully known. (1Cor 13:12)

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Strong City

The mighty walls, made ready, the gates await the day
When righteousness may enter, and evil fade away.
We trust in Thee, our Saviour, we trust in Thee, our King
To smooth the path before us, that praises we may bring.

Thy Name is our great longing, our best and only rest.
Thy hand has been upon us, our head upon Thy breast.
In perfect peace You keep us, when thoughts we keep on Thee.
We know Thou wilt not leave us, thy faithfulness we see.

Almighty Lord, forever, Thy praises we will sing
In that eternal city, our worship we will bring.
Oh help us make our time here, a monument to Thee
Who brings the righteous homeward; forever Yours we'll be.

(Sung to tune of "Oh Sacred Head, Now Wounded")
Isaiah 26:1-8

Monday, October 17, 2011

Starting From Scratch

My husband and I moved to our new home seven months ago. Since that time, we have completed several renovation projects, including the kitchen, bathroom, foyer, den and one bedroom. It has been a hectic time for sure, but the work has been worth it.

When we first saw our house, we realized it would need a lot of attention. It was built in the 1920's, and hadn't had a lot of updates since then. It had been on the market for several months without an offer, and we figure that most people wouldn't want to have to deal with such an extensive "face lift". The house, though humble, is in a beautiful location, and that is what really sold us on it. The "makeover" isn't finished yet, but we look forward to making it our own.

Since moving here, we have been watching a few of the home renovation reality programs that are on television. We are curious to see how others go about fixing those "old house" issues. It's interesting to see people's reactions when they are looking at houses to purchase, even newer ones. So often, they will turn their noses up at a potential home because, for instance, they don't like the color of the paint in a bedroom, or the type of counter top in the kitchen. Meanwhile, the house is beautiful, well built, and shows to perfection. We just shake our head, and laugh, saying "I wonder what they would have said about this place...likely 'tear it down', or 'total gut job'". We are amazed at how fussy people sometimes are, and how they can't see past even the smallest "imperfection" in the houses that they look at.

Recently we hosted a get together for my husband's family. One of them commented that it was a good thing that we could see past what the house was, and envision what it could be. Yes, it did take some imagination, but we knew it could be transformed. It just needed some new life injected into it.

I've been thinking how thankful I am that my Heavenly Father could see past my "imperfections", and envision what I could be in Christ. In my personal renovation, I needed a total "gut job", a whole new heart. And now, He continues to mold and shape me, tearing away my old "infrastructures" and making me more and more dependent on Him. He didn't just paint over the old wallpaper, He stripped it bare, and applied a coat of His own righteousness, with a lifetime guarantee, impermeable, and spotless. The new life He gave me is eternal; I won't ever need any "updates".

What a hope and a promise He gives us, when we come to Him, dilapidated, run down, already condemned. The results are fantastic, not even to be compared with any "reality renovations" that we could see here on this earth. Look to Him to bring you "up to code"; His code of perfect holiness. You can never do it on your own. He is the one and only Master Builder that can.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2Cor. 5:17)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Best Is Yet To Come

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. (Gen. 1:31a)

I'm sitting on the sofa in my living room, listening to the wind whistle around the house. It has been raining off and on all day, and the leaves are being pulled off the trees at a rapid rate, making their way across the landscape to settle at last, somewhere in the distance. Out for a walk earlier with my granddaughter, I admired the multicolored carpet that the leaves from a big maple tree on our property had made. My granddaughter said we were on a 'nature walk'. Clipboard in hand, she was documenting all the nature-type things that she saw: a bird, a bug, a hummingbird....she is only five years old, so the spelling was a bit off, and the huge letters covered almost the whole page. But I am glad that she is noticing nature, and learning to appreciate it.

Many times, especially since living the country, I am moved by the scenery and the weather that I encounter. The sights, sounds and smells can be entirely captivating. Indeed, I wish I could somehow keep them captive. The blue of the sky, the sight of cows happily munching in the field, their tails lazily swishing away the flies. The sound of crickets, the bright colors of the birds that visit our bird feeder, the smell of the air after a summer rain. So many things that bring a burst of joy and praise to my heart. I wonder why I am so entranced sometimes. I wish I could hug it all to myself, bottle it up, preserve it all somehow. There is so much beauty that just happens, seemingly without effort, that we take for granted. We drive by, sit in the midst of, or even complain about (when the weather is less than pleasant) so many incredible vistas.

I am just thinking out loud here. But I believe the thing I am trying to put my finger on is the notion that all of it is sacred. All of it is Gods signature, His calling card, His reminders to us that He is the Designer, Creator and Sustainer of it all. I don't mean to imply that He is literally in all of it, but everything that He has made is good. He said so Himself. Yet even as I wonder at the beauty of it all, I am aware in my heart of hearts that my appreciation and praise falls far short of what is deserved. And too, even the beauty itself has fallen, with the rest of mankind, because of Adam's sin. It, like us, has yet to be restored to its original glory. I so look forward to that time, when all is as it should be, and God's perfect plan of redemption has come to fulfillment.

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Recipe for Success

I love cookbooks, and recipes in general. When waiting for appointments, I often copy out recipes from magazines in the waiting room, hoping my name isn't called until I finish. Sometimes they make it to the kitchen, but more often they find their way to the garbage or recycle box the next time I clean out my purse. My collection of cookbooks is always evolving; when I find I have too many, I vow not to buy any more, then pull a few to give away. I have a few favourites: "Loony Spoons", "The Best of the Best of Bridge", and my absolute best favourite, "The Purity Cookbook". I bought that little gem the first time hubbie and I went grocery shopping together, just after we were married. It cost, I believe, $2.99 at the A&P store. Its' pages, now falling out, are batter spattered and stained with all kinds of spilled ingredients. Held together with duct tape, (the book, not me :o) I still refer to it for recipes that I made as a newly-wed, nearly 39 years ago. It definitely holds sentimental value, and I won't be giving it away, ever.

I enjoy trying new recipes, though. And if I am feeling confident enough, I will change the ingredients around, just to be creative, or try to improve on the original. Some people claim that they can't cook, but cooking isn't that hard. You can whip up some pretty good dishes, if you have some basic skills, and a good recipe. You just have to follow the directions.

Lately, I have been striving to lose some weight. Now, in addition to cookbooks, my bookshelves have seen a variety of "diet" books come and go. Some were foolish, and unbalanced. Others were sensible, and very do-able. If you just follow the instructions. And after thirty-plus years of "practicing" weight loss, you would think I would have it mastered. After all, the information that I need to be successful has been at my disposal. But it isn't that easy. It's one thing to have the knowledge, still another to put it into practice. That takes discipline, which usually equates to self-denial, in my experience. Oh how I wish that losing weight were as simple as cooking. That I could just follow the directions, and get the desired result.

I find my Christian walk somewhat like that. The Bible is full of instructions. Admonitions, commands, and principles are laid out in Scripture. It`s all there, and I just have to follow the directions to get the desired result. But I don`t always. Because, like dieting, it takes discipline, and self -denial. Not that I look to my performance to earn God`s love or approval. I know that I have that in Christ. But, like every child of God, I would love to see some progress, some victories along the way. My humanity is all too often a stumbling block to success. Like Paul, the thing I want to do, I don`t do, and the thing I don`t want to do, I keep doing. It could cause me to throw in the towel, if it weren`t for the fact that I know my God is working in me, and has promised to finish what He started there. And like Paul, I can say

Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh, the law of sin. (Romans 7:25)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sola Deo Gloria

This is the most beautiful time of year, in my opinion, in my part of the world. The leaves are slowly transforming into a breathtaking array of color, and set against a piercing blue sky, it is a spectacle that can take your breath away. Even as they lose the last remaining leaves, I find the sight of bare trees against a dull, grey horizon hauntingly beautiful. More and more, as I consider God's handiwork in nature, I am compelled to marvel, and give Him thanks and praise for the glorious vistas that He presents to us every day.

This morning, over breakfast, I happened to glance at the cover of a magazine that my husband had been reading, and the words "Honor Nature"
leapt out at me. The article talked about capturing the beauty and reality of nature in the artist's work. Nothing wrong with that. But the title is representative of an attitude in the world that falls so short of the truth. "Nature" as a whole, is nothing less than the outworking of an infinitely brilliant and benevolent Creator God. It is not, as some would indicate, a "Mother" or a force unto itself. No, it is designed, created, and controlled by the eternal sovereign of the universe. Of course, not everyone holds to this belief, but I stand on it, nonetheless. Hearing nature referred to as something that, in and of itself, deserves praise, respect, or fear, provokes a response of defense of the honor and glory of God in me. It is God, and Him alone, who provides the landscapes, the animal life, the sunrises and sunsets, that we enjoy each and every day. It is Him that has painted the beauty of nature on the canvas of the universe. He holds it all together, and is faithful to bring the seasons in their order, the rain on the just and the unjust. We would have no beautiful art, or music, if He did not inspire and equip those artists and musicians to try and capture the reality of His creation. To Him alone belongs the honor and the glory. There. Just had to say it.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
(Psalm 19:1-6)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Future Hope

I'm reading a book about godly eating habits. The author suggests writing a list of 10 things that you are thankful for. In making my list, the thought came to me that I am thankful for my future. Now, I can't say that I have ever included "my future" any time in counting my blessings. Yes, I have been thankful for the glorious truth that I will eventually be in Heaven with Jesus. But today, when I thought of being thankful for my future, I was thinking more about my remaining days on earth.

Having struggled with depression off and on for many years, I couldn't help but be pleasantly surprised that I was feeling hopeful about the future. More often, I think of it with a certain amount of anxiety and pessimism. But today was different. Today, as I was thinking about it, I saw the future as only good, because my Lord is in control of it. Even if "bad" stuff happens, I know it will have been ordained by Him. Because His thoughts and ways are so much higher and better than mine, I can trust that, no matter what, He is working on my behalf, in spite of what circumstances might look like.

I hope that you, also, have placed your future, and your hope, in Him. He is in control of all things, and if you are His child, no dark cloud, no plan or purpose of man, can thwart His plan and purpose for your life. He, the ruler of the universe, is for you.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beauty For Ashes

Fall. I love this season. It makes me feel more alive, somehow. Is there more oxygen in the air when it is cool, rather than hot and humid? I'm not sure, but when the temperature drops, and the sky takes on a more brilliant shade of blue, and I get the urge to knit, I know it must be fall. This is when I really miss having little kids around, to make cookies for that they can have after school. I am making them anyway; two kinds today. Molasses spice, and oatmeal with butterscotch chips. My neighbours and friends will have to pick up the slack; there's no way my hubbie and I need that many cookies around.

Still, it's hard to leave summer behind. Such a wonderful season, especially this year. Those hot, sunshine filled days and beautiful evenings are delightful, even though I could do without the really hot ones, and the muggy nights. We are blessed to have four distinct seasons in this country. I think if we were to always have fall, or spring, or summer, we wouldn't appreciate them, and start taking the weather for granted. As it is, each season brings its own positive aspects, as well as some negative ones. (That's why winter seems to take forever to leave!) So as each new one moves in, we rejoice anew at those aspects that we enjoy most. And again, as each in turn leaves, we look forward to the next with anticipation.

Recently, I visited with a dear friend who is going through a difficult time. Her marriage of many years is ending (through no choice of her own). I know that she is mourning this loss, and wishes that things could be different. But she has an amazing attitude. Though she is sad, and grieves the loss, she has accepted it. She has let go of that season of her life. "I'm just thankful for the years that I had," she said to me. And now, she looks forward to this next "season", trusting that God will lead her, and provide all that she needs. In her pain, she has drawn near to her Lord, and as a result, she is being strengthened in her innermost being, and finding a new level of intimacy and trust. Such faith, such dependence on God! At one point during our conversation, she was consoling me, reassuring me that she was, indeed, alright.

I admire her steadfastness, and her positive outlook. More than that, I rejoice and give thanks for the gift of faith that allows her to have these, in the midst of heartache, in the midst of uncertainty. It is truly a supernatural power that upholds us in the face of trials. God promises that He will never leave us, and that He will work all things together for good. His grace is sufficient, and His strength shines through in our weakest moments. All to His glory......

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)

A Face In The Crowd

Yesterday I went to a ball game in Toronto. The Blue Jays beat out the Yankees. It was a good game, a good day, with great weather and wonderful fellowship.

Whenever I go to Toronto, I am amazed at the number of buildings, cars, and people. Yesterday was no exception. As we left the Rogers Centre, we were a sea of bodies and faces. The human traffic moved slowly up the stairs, across the lobby, and out the doors. As we inched toward the street, on our way to find the bus that we arrived on, one lone figure stood out. He was perched at the intersection, faced toward the oncoming crowd. In his hand he held a paper Tim Horton's coffee cup, empty of coffee, and containing one lone Loonie coin. Now, in Toronto, it is common to see people begging on the street. But where I live, I hardly ever encounter it. And as it usually does, yesterday it caused some conflicting thoughts.

In those moments before I reached the man, many thoughts raced through my mind. When I first realized what he was doing, I remembered my wallet, buried under my knitting and all the other paraphernalia I had tucked into my bag. The crowd had me captive, moving me along at a slow but steady pace, and my two companions were somewhere ahead of me. No time to dig for my wallet and extract some change for this poor fellow. I noticed that no one was dropping any coins into his cup. Then my eyes met his, and I couldn't look away. I couldn't have guessed his age. It might have been anywhere from 40 to 60. He had that weather beaten look of someone who had seen a lot of struggles. His posture and countenance spoke humility and desperation, and my heart melted. I held his gaze as I approached him, wanting to wordlessly convey a message of hope, and acceptance. As I got nearer, his eyes holding mine, he gave a little smile of resignation. "Tough crowd" he said. His demeanor seemed to say "yeah, I'm this desperate. I'm ashamed to be here, but I don't know what else to do." As I moved past him, still meeting his bloodshot eyes, I touched his arm, gave him my best smile, and said "God bless you."

Immediately, I thought to myself "how lame was that? 'God bless you?' Sounded so condescending!" I wished I had at least had a bible tract to give him. Most of all, I wished I had been like Peter and John, when they came across the lame beggar at the temple gate called Beautiful. I wish I had somehow given him what they had given that beggar; healing and deliverance. I wanted so badly to convey that love, that healing, that deliverance that only Christ can give. That love that has been shed abroad in our hearts, that love that is not for us to keep to ourselves, and smugly delight in, but is meant to share with a hurting world, with hurting people like that man.

I can't stop thinking of him. He has been popping into my thoughts since then. Was he not someone's little baby at one time, like the rest of us? Someone's son, perhaps brother, or husband, or father? In different circumstances, he could be my brother, or my son. Is he any less valuable than them? Than me, or any of my friends and loved ones? Of course not. We are all equally valuable to God, and all in need of His grace.

It troubles me that this man, and so many others like him, have come to a place in their lives that they are so alienated from whatever security or relationships that they may have had in the past that they now stand or sit or lie in the street, and beg for money. But the thought that troubles me even more is that they might have no one who cares enough to even pray for them. No one that knows them by name, who lifts them up to the Throne of Grace, begging that God would intervene in their lives, and awaken them to the hope that is in Christ. To me, this is an even greater tragedy than having no home or no money.

So I am going to pray for this man, as often as God brings him to my mind. I have named him "Richard". It seems a noble name to me. Like King Richard, the Lionhearted. But I want him to have a heart that holds the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Maybe you could pray for him too? I know he doesn't deserve it, but then neither did I, and neither did you, deserve all the prayers that might have been said, and are still said, for us. Pray that God will bring someone into his life that will be a Minister of Reconciliation, someone that will bring a message of hope, healing and deliverance. Pray that his heart will be opened to hear it. He is only one man, one soul, but if God saves him, oh, there will be such rejoicing in heaven!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sharing His Holiness

I love to hang laundry outside to dry. Today was a perfect day for it. The sun was shining and there was a strong breeze that flapped and flipped the clothes all day long. When I brought them in I noticed how soft they were, and wrinkle free, from all that battering. I thought to myself that I wished it were that easy for us to be "soft and wrinkle free", to have a soft heart and be free of sin and struggles. Just go through a wash and rinse cycle, then be hung out to dry on a windy day. But then again, we are in a process of sanctification, each and every day, whether we realize it or not. So it may seem as though we've been "hung out to dry" or spent some time in the dryer on high heat. Or perhaps you've had an experience that more resembles clothes being beaten on a rock. If you belong to God, then you've "been through the wringer" more times than you would like to remember, I've no doubt.

I've had some losses in my life. We have all suffered through them. It's a theme that has been very familiar to me lately. I'm discovering that loss comes in many varieties. With all loss comes grief and mourning, to some degree. We grieve for something that can never be recovered. Loss of life is at the top of the list. I lost my brother three months ago. Since then I have heard stories of other people's losses. There are many ways to lose people from your life. Sickness, suicide, miscarriage, accidents, divorce. We can grieve other losses as well, like the loss of a job, or a relationship, loss of health, opportunities, a beloved pet. We can grieve the loss of a dream that has died, that we know will never come to fruition. When these losses happen, we are sad, we question, we wonder why these things, some of them tragic, happen to us and to those that we know and love. We get angry, depressed, fearful. Hopefully, though, these emotions give way to more positive ones. We come to terms with the loss, we accept it, and best of all, we trust that God has ordained it, and approved it as necessary in our lives.

To come to a place of acceptance can be a struggle. When my brother passed away, I was shocked, hurt, and angry. Angry at him for not taking better care of himself. And I admit that I was also angry at God. I was angry that He had not intervened in my brother's life in the way that I had hoped He would. Thankfully He continues to extend His grace and longsuffering toward me. Of course I have no right to be angry at him, the very thought is ludicrous, and I was the one that needed forgiveness from Him. But in my weak human condition, it was not an unusual response.

Very recently I was reading through Hebrews, and came upon these verses:

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. (Hebrews 12:7-10)

For some reason, the last few words seemed to shout at me, telling me the ultimate purpose for the struggling and suffering that we endure as Believers. It is so that we might become like Him, to actually share in His holiness! It's not as though I didn't already know this. It is one of the main themes in Scripture, the truth that God works in us and around us to conform us more and more into the image of Christ. But coming on the heels of yet another loss, the renewed realization was precious.

Talking to a dear friend this evening, I was saying how I am trying to "think positively" about some recent events. Often, when there is a particularly painful and bewildering upset in our lives, we paint the whole picture black and bleak, with no redeeming features, no light at the end of the tunnel. We might feel that no good can come from the situation, because it is so devastating. Or we might feel that God is punishing us for some unknown reason. We rant, we rail, we question, and wonder if life will ever be the same again. But we do, hopefully sooner than later, remember that, oh yeah, God is in control! He knew this would happen! In fact, He ordained that it should happen, in order to fulfill His purposes in those whose lives were affected! So..........I can let it go, I can thank Him that He is working every detail together for their good, and His glory. I can rest, be still, and know that He is God, and will continue to be God.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In Memory of My Brother

Peter Anthony Mitchell
July 29 1956 - June 12 2011

There are many things we could say about Peter. He was a character, to be sure. He loved a good joke, was a whiz at Scrabble and Geography, and loved watching Hockey Night in Canada. He loved his kids, and he loved his brothers and sisters. He had many struggles, to be sure, throughout his life, and didn't make the best choices many times. We know that many people loved him, prayed for him, and tried to help him to overcome his battles. It's hard to believe we won't be hearing from him again, or seeing him.Those of us who knew and loved him will cherish his memory in our hearts. We thank God for the grace that He gave to Peter during his lifetime.

When a loved one dies, it is such a final thing. They are no longer living, breathing, and walking among us. We no longer hear their voice, or see them, or include them in our plans. It is a great sense of loss. It is natural to wonder where they are now. Some people might look at Peter's life and think that perhaps he didn't go to heaven. After all, he broke the law. He spent time in jail. He drank too much, and didn't live quite the morally upstanding life that many others have. Still, others might look at his life, his struggles, and conclude that surely God would take pity, and take him to Heaven. But the reality is that it doesn't work either of those ways. The Bible says that there is no one who is righteous, or good, and that we have all sinned. Every one of us. God is a holy God, and He hates sin. Not one of us can earn His favor, or Heaven, by our own merits. We need a Saviour, we need Jesus Christ. All of us. Not just the Peters of this world, the ones with deep rooted struggles, but even the socially acceptable, kind hearted, morally upright people. Apart from turning from our sins and turning to God, apart from trusting in Jesus Christ to save us, none of us has any hope, we all stand condemned.

God offers hope. Those of us who remain here have a hope. The life we live on earth is so short, so temporary, but there is an eternity that awaits each of us. God speaks hope to us in the Bible, and has some wonderful things to say:

"The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'for we also are His children.' Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 18:24-31)

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)

Peter, you were loved.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Home, New Life

Lots of changes since my last post. It's been a while, and I'm feeling rusty, but here goes.

On December 23 of last year I found out that I could have an early retirement package from work. In the first week of January, we bought a house in another town, 45 minutes away. Then about two weeks after that, we sold our house. On February 24th we moved to our new house. On March 31st I officially retired from my job of nearly 20 years. Whew! Just writing it all out leaves me feeling overwhelmed!

Too many changes? Yes, perhaps. But I am convinced that it was all in God's plan and timing. For quite a while, my hubbie and I have been dreaming of that place in the country. And I have been dreaming of being able to retire. Neither of these things seemed to be in the realm of the possible for a few years yet, but then God doesn't look at the possible, or statistics, or any other perameter that we tend to dwell on and make life decisions on. He just goes ahead and does things His way, whenever He wants to. Even as all these events were unfolding, I knew that all I had to do was trust Him and hold on for the ride. And now that most of the dust has settled, I am still trusting him for whatever comes next.

Yes it has been too many changes all at once, at least according to the "experts". And I did expect some low times to come after all the exitement had passed. And come they did. Leaving work was heart wrenching. I didn't expect it to be so difficult. I had to grieve for what I was leaving behind, even in the face of new found freedom and exiting new possibilities. You know the old saying, you don't know what you had until you've lost it. But still, I know this sad time will pass, and I will stop looking behind and start looking ahead. God knows what the future holds, for each one of us. Nothing is certain, no matter what plans we make. He holds every second, and His will for our lives is always perfect. So we keep looking to Him.

But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say "You are my God."
My times are in Your hand;
(Psalm 31:14-15a)