Smashing against the end of ourselves and other ways to fall apart

IMG_0723I’ve been thinking a lot about faith lately.

Don’t think I”m trying to be super spiritual. Fact is, hard times have forced me to it.

I usually just pray that trouble would fade away.  Problem solved. Life back to peachy-keen and mighty-fine. No rocking the boat, no upsetting the apple cart, no running blind in the dark.

But I have learned that, without struggles to remind us of who we are and what we need, we can end up with a severe case of spiritual dehydration. Our gratefulness can turn to pride and our compassion for other people crumble into dust.

Hard times push us until we smash against the end of ourselves. Force us to face our limitations. Embrace our need for God. Every day. All the time.

News Flash-

God is not out to destroy us. He loves us and wants to bless us. He hurts for us when we are in pain and He is present with us in our suffering.  

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Every. Single. Minute. Of. Every. Day.

Hard times make us hungry. Thirsty. Desperate for God.

Sure, I am first to admit that our struggles can break us into a million little pieces.

But, It changes our vision. Our faith. We begin to see deeply into the suffering of others. We can speak healing into their lives with a power that only comes from brokenness.

Going through troubles increases our faith. The more we need God the more we seek him.

When I was a little girl, I used to run around like crazy all day pestering everyone on the planet. By bedtime, I was ready to pass out on the bottom bunk bed. I didn’t really think about my parents much before I went to sleep. If they had gone out for the rest of the night I would not have even noticed. Sleep, that was what mattered.

But one nightmare could change everything. I’d wake up terrified and run straight to Mom and Dad’s room. I had to see them. To feel their hugs. Hear their groggy voices.

I had to know that they were REALLY there.

When we come to the end of ourselves and all the things we depend on to keep us safe, we need to know that God is REALLY there.

Finding that God in the middle of the night will increase your faith. Hands down.

Maybe you going through some difficult times right now. Maybe its made you pray like crazy or you swear like a sailor. Maybe you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning or you can’t sleep at night.

When you are overwhelmed, you may not be able to do all you think you should do. Give yourself space just to do what you can. Here are a few simple things that may help.

  1. Move your body even if you don’t feel like it. Ha! I’ve been goaded by my kids to show off some of my crazy dance moves when I just didn’t even feel like smiling Funny thing, by the end of the song I was actually having fun. Stress can make your mind run a mile a minute.  Getting out and walking, running or doing what ever you do to move can actually elevate your mood. It clears your head and helps your heart stay strong.
  2. Share with someone safe. Talk to someone whose love and acceptance you trust. Saying out loud what you are thinking can defuse some of your greatest fears. It’s a way to sort out your thoughts. And it gives true friends get a chance to show you the grace that has been there for you all along.
  3. Write down what gives you hope. If God gives you insight through meditation, a conversation or what ever, write it down. Don’t be afraid to go back and read it again when you are struggling. Hope is meant for hard times.
  4. Eat your veggies. Sounds a little silly. But, as a sugar junkie, I know what stress can do to the everyday diet. And an unhealthy diet can drag you down, make you feel hopeless on top of everything else that is going on.
  5. Try not to let your feelings mess with your mind. The worst thing about going through hard times are the emotional ups and downs. The same emotions that make you cry over a lost little puppy can downright lie to you about your circumstances.  Whether your actions brought you to this point or your response to your circumstances have been pretty nasty, God loves you and wants to show you grace. Accept it. Embrace it. Allow yourself to be ok with where you are.

Whew, writing this blog really cleared my head and helped me see more clearly what God is doing in my life and the life of my family.

God is good. Even in the dark. Especially in the dark.

Why?

Because there is nothing like reaching out when you can’t see a thing and finding the creator of the universe right beside you.

Have a blessed week! And if you feel like you just can’t hold onto God through all that is happening. Take heart! He is holding on to you!

A Canadian American offers help for those dealing with Electoral Emotion Overload (it’s a real thing)

I’m a Canadian citizen but also a proud U.S citizen too. And even though I live across the border in beautiful British Columbia, I must admit that I am exhausted.

After 14,328 hours of

  • he said/she said,
  • 100 and 1 renditions of “ what is the world coming to?”
  • and a constant bombardment of “if you don’t vote for me…”

I’m feeling a little queasy.

Maybe you’ve been dancing in the streets.

After 8 years of Facebook-bashing the a leader you didn’t like you expect everyone to play nice and be happy for you.

Or maybe you’re duking out your disappointment in angry protests.  Or you woke up the day after feeling very, very afraid.

This election has been like NONE OTHER in the history of the USA.  It’s going to take a little while for things to settle down.

I personally felt like I was covered in a fine layer of everything that’s gone on for the last 597 days. You know the

  • rhetoric,
  • mudslinging
  • racial slurs
  • sexism
  • and grandiose promises

coming from either side of the political abyss.

I just wanted to shake it off (yeah, I know you’re going to hate it) Taylor Swift style.

I wasn’t just sure how to do that until this weekend. Then, I glanced up at a flyer on my fridge. It was a notice about a neighbourhood celebration. The flyer went on and on about road closures, parking bans and parade times for the Gurpurab Diwas-Nagar Kirtan celebration.

For the record, I live in a culturally diverse neighbourhood.

Walking the dog is a daily adventure. Exotic smells of foods being cooked. Elderly grandmas and grandpas in traditional dress walking pushing grandchildren in strollers.  Strains of mid-eastern music coming from white tents during wedding festivities.

But, I’ve never really walked the neighbourhood during religious celebrations.

So, I went and checked it out.

Best medicine for electoral emotion overload.

Perfect cure for campaign-rhetoric-induced distortion of what being human is all about.

As my mom, daughter and I strolled up the streets I took in the brilliant colours of traditional dress, tasted delectable dishes served from tents set up in various drive ways.

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Trust me,  we were definitely a minority. But I felt very much at home.

You see, we all share the same neighbourhood. We walk the same streets. Love our children with the same passion and all of us carry hopes and dreams close to our hearts.

People are people. God’s creations. Fellow human beings.

When the posturing of political parties is done, what matters is the kindness expressed to strangers, forgiveness extended to those who have offended, every act of selfless courage, every human bond that transcends race, colour and creed.

America will be truly great when God’s goodness is seen in the lives of ordinary citizens   every single day.

We are neighbours. All of us. From sea to shining sea.

God on Vacation- how to know when you don’t need Him anymore

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If you measure me in song years, I’m pretty old.

For example, I remember singing about death and dying and the glory of God from the time I could formulate a sentence. Every Sunday my siblings and I mumbled out lyrics such as

“I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away…when I die, Hallelujah…”

while mom banged on the piano keys at the front of the church. That was my childhood set to music. Waiting for the world to end.

When we sang A Mighty Fortress is Our God, we sang

every

single

verse.

That meant singing stuff like

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,

No wonder I spent Sunday afternoon contemplating my mortality instead of riding my bike. Life was short. My existence OBVIOUSLY very fragile. And the eternal unknown right around the corner. 

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It wasn’t until I was older, that I gained perspective. Sure, life was fragile. But God was constant. He would never let us drift into nothingness or suffer alone. I could depend on him every single day, until my dying breath.

Was I finally becoming wiser?

Not so much.

After decades of depending on God, I became anxious.

No more take-my-life-and-let-it-be stuff. Even praise songs such as Ten Thousand Reasons or Good, Good Father didn’t move me.

I needed something more.

Like owning my own home.

As I hit middle age I felt guilty that I had not contributed enough to the family income so that we could own our own home. I began to explore “what if” like what if we had inherited a small down payment or had been at the right moment at the right time for some incredible deal.

I admit it. Owning a home became a symbol of security for me. The golden payoff. The end goal.

God could take a long, long vacation. Why? Because we wouldn’t need Him anymore.

Fact is, we still rent. We still have to depend on God day after day after day. But, is that so bad? Not owning a home? Facing challenges? Loss? Struggles?

I realize now that needing God is not a weakness as much as it is an opportunity to cling to him in childlike faith.

I guess that ‘s the bottom line.

There is NOTHING wrong with owning a home, getting married, having kids, a great career, dreaming that big dream and watching it come true. But, if it takes the place of God we are in trouble.

Big trouble.

God is the one who holds eternity in his hands. Our future. Our ever lasting home. Our job is to trust Him more and more each day. I love the way the song Oceans expresses our faith in God-

you call me out upon the waters,

the great alone where feet may fail

And there I find you in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand.

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Our deepest needs call us to deepest truths.  Our greatest desperation can begin a journey of discovery into the  mysteries of faith.

We will always need God. And He will always be there.

No matter what.

It’s not allergies, it’s Jesus

To be honest, I don’t trust music much. Sound tracks and radio play lists are the worst. They get you dancing along and then they hit you with some tune that rips your heart out.

Not cool.

I have places to go and people to see. I don’t want to live my life looking like I came straight from the wailing wall.

Worship music at church is the worst.  You can’t change the channel or turn down the volume. Sure, sticking your fingers in your ears and humming works but so does yelling “Not that sappy song” while unplugging the worship leader’s microphone.

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Not what people pleasers like me tend to do in public. 

So I listen, sniff a lot and pretend my allergies are shoving my  my sinuses out through my tear ducts.

Last Sunday morning I let my guard down. It was sort of a kid’s service, ok?  Skits. Fun songs. Great dance moves. No reason to burst into tears. 

Then, the worship team began to lead the kids in the song Jesus loves me. I thought it was the old version I had sung one million, billion, trillion times. (Yeah, that’s how many times I went to church as pastor’s kid.) 

Wrong. 

It was a different song written by Ben Glover, Chris Tomlin, Reuben Morgan.

One line of the song really got me. I mean, really, really got into my heart.

“Jesus loves me, He loves me, He is for me”

Suddenly, I felt like I did in grade school. Standing in the gym waiting for someone  to call my name. To want me on their team.

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Ha! Like it mattered in the great scheme of things.

Evidently it did because I could still feel my cheeks burn as I stood alone. Again. But, I lived with it. Still knew that Jesus loved me. As a kid I figured He loved everybody -in a group hug sort of a way.

I never thought

of Jesus being

for me.

Me.

Choosing me, specifically me

to be with him.

After church, I casually mentioned how I liked the song Jesus Loves me and my eyes started to well up like some kind of underground seepage.

It was weird.

Well, maybe not as weird as the unexplainable urge to run home from school and tell mom that I finally got chosen for a team. After all these years.

Thing is, I did get chosen. I just didn’t realize it then. Jesus gave his life for me. He loves me. He is for me.

And all those kids in my grade school P.E. class were wrong.

I do belong.

And so do you. Jesus, He loves you. He is for you.

Living the dream one moment at a time

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Another post? Two days in a row?

Ha! Even I’m surprised.

After a year or more of sporadic activity I wasn’t sure if I should even be posting at all.  I’ve been busy tutoring,  working on my learning specialist certificate and and keeping up with all things family.

Yeah, great excuses. 🙂

And, maybe it’s just common sense to focus on what is in front of me. I love tutoring, taking courses to learn new strategies, and, of course, I love interacting with my family as much as possible.

But, I have this thing about writing.

No it’s not creepy. More like euphoric. Or maybe it’s more like I have these moments when I feel so deeply, see what matters in life so clearly I just want to write it down. My head fills with words that shape and form to the hidden depth of everyday moments.

It’s my passion.

But, those words seldom get written down. Days and weeks and months go by without a letter formed because I’m waiting

  1. for the perfect moment when I have hours of nothing to do but write.
  2. for the perfect idea to come into my head so I can put it down on paper.
  3. for someone to encourage me and let me know that my writing is perfectly acceptable and I should do it.

Perfect.

As if I will ever be. That’s not me, not you, not anyone.

And that’s why I”m blogging two days in a row. I”m not perfect but I am passionate. And, I have to get capture the rhythm of everyday life in words.

I want to write. Imperfectly. Any time I can. No matter what other people think of me.

What about you? Maybe you’ve been hardwired to sing, dance, write computer code, run 5ks, paint, speak, garden, sketch, knit, landscape, build, tear down, listen deeply, cook creatively, or something I don’t know how to spell, pronounce or even wrap my head around.

Maybe you’ve done it before.

Maybe it’s something you’ve longed to do but never let your self even imagine what it would be like if you did.

I say that

  1. No matter what people think
  2. even if now is not the perfect time,
  3. or you feel you are not good enough

Do it.

The beauty is not just in the end result. It is in the process.

Today

  •  carve out
  • some time
  • even it’s just a moment or two

to begin to bring your dream to life.

 

In the words of the world’s most famous footwear-

Just do it 🙂

 

 

It’s time to get a grip- on eternal truth

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I’ve been working on a book for the last few months. Its about eternal truth and how what we believe effects how we live. Even though it’s been a slow go of writing (I’m a bit of a lazy butt when it comes to just sitting down and writing). And, yet, I find myself checking my thoughts and my words at the most random times.

This is new to me. I’d always figured my ranting about life in general was part of my “verbal processing” personality.

Maybe, maybe not.

Thing is, if what we say in our “processing” is not clarified within the boundaries of eternal truth, we may just be setting up ourselves and people around us to embrace a lie.

Now don’t get all pious on me. We all spout off now and again.

Take the U.S. election for example. I live in Canada but I was born and raised in the United States. I know how inflammatory election rhetoric can be – not just from the candidates but in everyday conversations of ordinary citizens.

Election 2016 election is like no other. The discussions are fierce and the dividing lines cut deep. People are frustrated, angry and scared.

And, sad to say, lies have made themselves at home in every corner of the debate.

“This election will determine wether America will be great or not.”

“If America ceases to be great, we will all suffer”

“If we suffer, what will become of us?”

Pretty scary stuff for adults, much more for kids.  They are just forming their view of the world. Imagine their takeaway from listening to the adults around them.

But the truth is….

God is sovereign. Not Democrat, Republican or independent. He is more concerned about the condition of our hearts than he is in party agenda. No matter what way the election goes God will use it to humble us, to draw us closer to Himself, to teach us to trust Him.

His existence is not threatened by the outcome of the election. Fact check- He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.

This is what our kids need to hear.

God is in control. He will take care of us no matter what happens. No matter what.

And, this is what our kids need to see.

Mom and Dad and Pastors and teachers and babysitters and leaders seeking God, not for some political agenda but for God to heal our land and our leaders and our neighbours and our friends and strangers we see on the street.

Sorry Nationalists. Eternal truth is global. We are to love and to reach out to the world with the gospel of God’s love.

On the other hand, it is also national. The ties that strengthen this nation will not come through one leader, no matter how charactered, powerful or wise that leader may be. It will come through the moral courage and compassion of individuals, loving families and communities of faith that reach out and embrace to those who have no family, community or faith.

We may not be able to sway an election with one vote. But, we can change the world one honest and loving relationship at a time.

Yes, you can verbally process (if you are like me), but make sure your processing is based on truth, eternal truth.  The kind of truth that heals and transforms hearts and not just promotes a political view.

God’s not dead.

He is alive and well on planet earth. All the earth and every nation. Pretty heady stuff.

Eternal truth.

Talk like it, act like it. Live it in front of your kids.

Moms Just Wanna Have Fun

It’s true.

I know my mom does.

She’s 82 and still having fun. She’s been having fun as long as I can remember.

When I was a kid, camping was at the top of her fun list.

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Camping equipment -not so much. We couldn’t afford a tent much less a pop-up camper. But, like I said, my mom just wanted to have fun. Who cared if we didn’t have money or the latest camping gear?

One hot summer afternoon, she folded down the back passenger seats in our Pontiac station wagon. Then, she foraged several wooden panels from the recesses  of our cluttered garage. While six offspring chased each other around the yard, Mom shoved and hammered those panels into makeshift bunkbeds. Somehow she managed to tucked them into our station wagon as snuggly as a fresh diaper on a newly washed baby bottom. Under Mom’s direction us kids crammed

  • blankets,
  • swimming suits,
  • marshmallows,
  • hot dogs,
  • hamburgers patties
  • buns
  • cans of baked beans,
  • water
  • and a million packets of Kool-aid

into the spaces around our traveling beds. We climbed into the bunkbeds (pre-seatbelt era) and held on tight while mom drove the entire contraption to Dow Chemical where Dad worked. After we picked him up, we headed to the nearest campground.

All this so Mom could have her fun.

Sure, we all knew how she loved washing sticky faces, herding kids to the out-house potties in the middle of the night and then crawling out of a sleeping bag in the morning to rummage up breakfast on a picnic table layered with morning dew.

Not.

It was family that mom loved. We were her fun. Spending time with us

  • Laughing.
  • Telling stories.
  • Wiping tears
  • Taking care of cuts and bruises
  • Listening to our woes
  • Encouraging our hopes and dreams.

Even after Dad died and Mom had to take care of the youngest ones on her own, she kept on having fun. The deep kind that lasts through lots and lots of tears. Mom knew how to have fun. 

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Now, with kids, grandkids and great grandkids spread across the country and across the world, she still knows how to enjoy people for who they really are and love them unconditionally.

Guess that is one of greatest things I gleaned from my Mom- how to have fun. How to get off of the busy train of expectations and obligations and just enjoy spending time with the people around me.

And guess what?

It’s biblical.

Almighty God himself delights in his children. He finds great joy in every moment we spend with Him.

How can we do less?

So Mom, go out and enjoy your family today. Soak in the richness of just being together. Enjoy people. Delight in the wonder of connection with your kids and all the kids God brings your way.

Have fun!