Soul Food Sunday: What Time Is It?

I was recently encouraged by a dear friend who wrote this lovely devotional for us. I asked him if he would mind if I doctored it up a bit and shared it with all of you, and he so graciously agreed.

Sometimes the roads we travel are not those we originally set out upon… and that’s ok.

From HC,

Take a look at your wrist watch.  The longer side has many slots, the shorter side has the hook.

Imagine that your journey starts in the first hole on the long end of the strap. As life comes, you journey along the band until you come to a milestone event along the road. The first notch in the strap. You hook the clasp there. Surely you have arrived. Everything fits so perfectly together. The “right” spot for you. The trouble is, that when you turn your wrist over to check the time, you are frustrated to find that the watch just hangs on your wrist – upside down! This is not the “right” spot.

It is easy in that moment, to feel discouraged, to believe that somehow you have made a mistake. Everything seemed perfect! How could this spot be wrong? Take heart! It is not wrong, simply a step along the journey. It is time to unhook, continue to journey, and to look for another notch in the band.

Eventually, you will find yourself at another crossroad or milestone.  It is time to reset. Prayerfully and faithfully, set the clasp again. Thinking that surely this is the “right” time, the “right” place, you turn your wrist to verify the time.  But, the watch is still too loose – it is being used correctly, but it’s not the right setting.

BUT, now you know what to do! Keep learning, keep growing, keep journeying to the next fork in the road. The next milestone. The next decision. This is our journey! Not one of frustration, but of knowing that we are continually closer to the best version of ourselves and to the best life available to us! It is tempting to go back to familiar settings. Don’t. That is the wrong way – it will simply loosen your strap, not lead you closer to where you want to go. Keep moving forward. Always.

This journey called life can be hard. And tiring. And frustrating. We can become so focussed on the events that seem to be the “wrong” fit, that we fail to appreciate all that we are becoming in the process.  Continuing on takes a great effort. But that effort is what it is truly all about! Don’t stop. Don’t be complacent. Look for the next place to HOOK IN – readjust, rethink, persevere. Continue the journey – faithfully, prayerfully.

God has your journey all worked out. He can see the time and is walking along with you every step. You don’t need to worry about “getting there.” He is in charge of that. You are in charge of your forward steps.

So… keep journeying. Keep ticking along. Keep adjusting those settings and eventually, it will all come together. In His time. By His grace. And ultimately for His glory. WATCH it HAPPEN!

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13

Note: HC is Mr. to the lovely Sarah over at Pure Simple Change

Rest Easy

I have felt this uneasy feeling of late… it’s one that creeps up now and then when I get a little off-course, often when I start doing too much, trying too hard, scheming and scrambling to keep all the little pieces of my life in neat order and perfect symmetry. I forget to be a human-BEING. I forget to just BE. And, eventually, I find myself suddenly (although it really happens tiny step by tiny step) stuck in a pattern of controlling. In these times, I rely ever more solidly on my abilities… to manage time, manage circumstances, manage any eventuality, because somewhere the lie has taken root that if only I can control these things, I will get through “it.” Whatever “it” might be.

I… I can do it. I can fix it. I can control it. I can plan it. I.

And then, out of the darkness, comes the whisper.

“Why are you striving again, sweet child? Won’t you come to me, lay down your heavy burden, and rest awhile?”

I wish I could say that I crumble in that moment. That all my striving stops and that I am able to fall headlong into the arms of Jesus. I want to. I want to just lay it all down. Let it all go. I want to be like a little child and sink into that safe, strong place. But I don’t. Sometimes, in my stubbornness, I push the invitation aside until I can’t anymore. But always, always, the gentle whisper remains.

It was like that today, as I contemplated where we have been and where we are going. The road in this life is bumpy. There are all kinds of twists and turns that we can neither plan for, nor avoid. The adventure of trusting the Lord along this road… even when we doubt, even when we are fearful, even when we try to take the reins, is that comfort, peace, and rest, are only a moment of surrender away. We are all so loved. That He continues to use us and choose us in the midst of those moments of greatest fear, greatest doubt, and striving to take control, shows just how much.

I can be too much like Martha… striving for perfection, instead of simply focusing on the One with the plan. If you are like me, then lets together, today, PLAN to let go. Plan to rest in the arms of the only One who really knows what tomorrow will bring and who is already prepared to carry us through.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Have a peace filled day. 🙂

Soul Food Sunday: February 7

Getting to church on Sunday morning can seem like a challenge (some weeks are better than others, right?!), so for those that didn’t make it this morning, I thought I might share my take-aways from Alliance Community Church this morning.

Here’s how Pastor Kevin started us off:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge or controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

We were asked to decide how we, as Christians, conduct ourselves at such times. In particular, we were asked to consider how we are currently conducting ourselves in the political climate we are living in.

I think for many in the room, this was tough medicine to swallow. There are many Albertans that did not choose our current national government. There are many Albertans that did not choose our current provincial government. There are many that are extremely frustrated as they watch these new authorities make choices on our behalf that they would not choose.

So, what are we to do? What does the Bible say we are to do in times such as these.

Pastor Kevin pointed us to some very relevant scripture written by Peter in a time of extreme political and cultural upheaval. Read 1 Peter 2:11-17 and decide what stands out to you.

Here’s what I took away:

  • We are aliens and strangers in this land, merely ambassadors of Christ in this life, meant to represent our heavenly home with justice, righteousness, and peace.
  • No matter what we are called to in this world, and particularly in those instances where politics and justice are concerned, we are NEVER to choose any kind of evil in the service of our cause. Loving God and loving people ALWAYS comes first.
  • We are called to pray for and respect our leaders. ALL our leaders. Those we agree with and those we don’t. We are called to promote peace.

Our human hearts become so easily entangled in webs of anger, frustration, and controversy, that we can easily forget our true mission. I intend to go in to this week trying to remember that even as I speak out against those things that I do not agree with, I must temper my words and my actions with grace and love.

Have a Simple, Sweet, and Special Sunday everyone!

Legacy

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks musing (like so many of you) about the state of affairs in our beautiful blue world. It’s been a rough month. Hate. Disaster. Greed. So much destruction and death. Heavy, heavy, ugly, ugly, stuff.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

My thoughts were consumed with my hearts true cry for peace. With my belief that peace can only come from individual declarations of peace, kindness, compassion, and love extended outwards to each and every human life – in our speech, in our actions… and yes… in our posts on Facebook.

“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Some might say these are dreams. Naive whimsy from a simple woman who can’t possibly understand the complexities of a frightening world. 

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” -Nelson Mandela

I say no way, and call as witnesses a host of sages through time who changed the world with peaceful ideology.

“But here is what I tell you who are listening. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who call down curses on you. And pray for those who treat you badly.” – Jesus Christ

If we truly are better. If we truly are right. If we truly wish for freedom FOR ALL. I believe that it can start at home. It can start in our hearts. Those who have gone before and accomplished unmeasurable gains for goodness, justice, peace, love, and freedom have always done so in the face of fierce opposition and extreme personal sacrifice. I believe that to promote peace with love and unity is the most challenging, the narrowest, and the most personally dangerous path. However, I also believe that it is the only path we are truly called to choose.

“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” – David Brower

Our family was granted a healing miracle this week. A dearly beloved, once sentenced to death, is well again. Her life is one devoted to legacy in many ways and her battle to become well again hinged upon her love, devotion, and trust in truth and goodness. I wish to also live such a life. I hope that one of the hallmarks of my legacy will be peace and love when faced with great adversity. I believe that cultivating that legacy must happen in each decision I make.

Every. Single. Day.

As a mother, as a friend, as a daughter, as a human being… I choose love.

Grace. Amazing.

In these two years, our little family has felt some sorrow, some joy, some failure, some hope, and so much grace. It is the latter that has shaped us the most.

Two years ago, my life was churning along a straight, predictable, well-formulated path. I believed that my hard work, careful planning, and attention to every detail would ensure that we continued on that path, undeterred, and always. My trust in God and assurance of his goodness was steadfast. However, I did not realize how conditional my trust was.

My purpose here is not to delve into the details of these past many months, but to share what learning has come through:

Dreams crushed. But new hope realized.

Questions of purpose. Questions of Calling. But these are not for us to decide, rather to discover.

Cancer. Pain. But healing in the dawn!

Fear. Sadness. Sickness. But new respect for perseverance.

Loss of control. But Freedom!

Unsettled. Transition. Change. Weariness in heart and spirit. But oh, have I learned to trust.

When our road becomes muddy and the way becomes unclear, that is when we realize what grace is all about. That is when I realized that my trust was less in a good, faithful, just, and loving God, and so much more in my ability to manage my circumstances and carve a path for myself by my design. My efforts. My work.

I am (and always will be!) a work in progress, but what I do know for sure is that this path we have been on is not easy. It is a path less travelled. Marked by faith, and tread upon lightly by hopes and dreams. I am learning that my God is good. And faithful. And just. And so loving. My guess is that I might not be so sure of these things if it weren’t for the winding path we have taken. So, I am grateful for it all. There is always beauty in ashes. We just have to be willing to sift through a little.

Be blessed today.

Joyful. Patient. Faithful.

It seems to me that far too many people dear to me have been dealing with far too much turmoil and heart ache recently. Enough already. In my human view of things, the world would just make a whole lot more sense if things (at least eventually) turned out good for the good ones, you know? But, that’s not how it is at all, is it? Sometimes the good ones finish last. Sometimes they don’t get to finish at all.

In a broken, fallen, grieving world; in the world of here and now, things don’t always add up the way we think they should.

So, as I was spending some time in quiet meditation and prayer this week, and this verse washed over me in such a new and vibrant way, thoughts of all these dear souls flooded over me and I just knew that they needed to feel encouraged as I was.

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(This lovely version was not created by me, so my thanks to the artist who posted this here).

If today is one of the best days of your life, dear friend… be joyful in hope. I am so grateful for these days you are in. Let them be strength to you for the days that are not! Don’t look for ways to darken the light. It is good. Bask in it. Be joyful in hope.

If today is one of the darkest you have ever trudged through, dear friend… be patient in affliction. The old adage is true – this too shall pass. The darkest of days are always followed by dawn. It is a universal law. It will not be broken. You already have within you whatever you need to walk this road. Trust that you will. Trust that you can. If all that you can muster is one breath, Take it. Take the next one, and the next one, and the next one. And before you know it, some time will have passed. You will be a tiny bit further through the shadows. Keep moving through them. Be patient in affliction.

And covering, like a warm, soft, fragrant cloak over these two extremes – the high and the low, the strength and the weakness… be faithful in prayer. You are held, dear friend. In higher esteem than you can ever imagine. You are heard. Cherished. Beloved. So, pray. Pray in disbelief, in anger, in fear, in sorrow. Pray in love, in abundance, in fits of giggles and triumph! Words sent up to heaven, the cries of your heart, are holy. Speak them in earnest, never-ceasing. Be faithful in prayer.

Wherever you are today, be encouraged. I sure am.

Life. Interrupted.

If you are reading this, and have read anything else published by me, you might notice that there has been a bit of a lag between my last public wordsmithing and this one. A 2-year hiatus.

That’s a long time. Over time, I might be able to share some of the fruits and some of the sorrow of this past season, but for now, I would like to share this. I missed writing for you. I missed imagining your smile, or tears, nods of agreement, or head shaking at my thoughts. The words have kept rumbling around in my head for these two years. I just couldn’t bring myself to give them out.

In these two years, we have moved 3 times, settled in a new town, said good-bye to some dear friends, and watched our kids sprout up from little boys to young men. It seemed to me for a great deal of this adventure that our “real life” was simply interrupted. I made it my mission for many months to work diligently to put our “real life” back in place. To gather up the pieces that were lost or broken and bind them together with whatever glue I could muster. Sometimes love. Sometimes faith. But it seems that no matter my efforts or how tirelessly I toiled, the pieces kept falling down around me again. Sometimes anger. Sometimes hopelessness.

Until recently. I am clearly a bit more obtuse than the average bear because it has taken me these many months to realize… There is no going back. There is no rebuilding my version of life. Because the reality is, life is about change. Life is about learning and growth, which never come in a vacuum void of challenge or difficulty. It is time to embrace the journey. It is time to lay aside MY impression of the destination and at last surrender to the ebb and flow of comfort and transition. I have made it my prayer to be able to say, like Paul did, that “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.”

That seems to me, to be a good place to start.

Welcome back words. You’ve been gone from me too long.