Saturday, July 11

unexpected gifts

This morning as I was waiting for retreaters to come, my daughter-in-law ran in and dropped off my coffee order, and also a beautiful polkadotted bag with tissue coming out of it.  She said, "and this is for you."  I was puzzled and she said, "its from Jenn, it came to Josh at the firehall last night."

Jenn and I go back to 2009 when we decided to get the basement room repainted as we were putting our house on the market and I am not sure if it had ever been painted.  Jenn works with the fire dept. and had gotten to know the boys (husband and son).  She also was painting as a side job, so she came to do this small job for us.  I made coffee for a coffee break, and we had our first chat!  I remember that.  You know, sometimes women firefighters can be intimidating!!  (never thought, maybe it was intimidating talking to an ex-pastor LOL)  ANYHOW that day, we became friends too.

Jenn has blessed me before - as she had at one time also sent another gift to me via Josh (my son).  I look at it every time I walk into our "sanctuary".  I guess I have just realized that she is a generous person!

When I got the gift this morning - each a musical note - and each one with a different saying ...
"Sing like no one's listening"   "Dance like no one's watching" "Work like you don't need the money" and "Love like you've never been hurt"  - I unwrapped each one - again surprised at the gift - and then it hit me ...  little did Jenn know that her generosity to this gal was more than the gift she wrapped!

Let me explain.

Lately I have been struggling.  Struggling may sound like a bad word.  I don't see it that way at all - as it is in this struggle or wrestle that I am finding out more about myself - and more about how God has called and how He is working in my life. I have shared with some close prayer warriors in my life - that God has me so far out on a proverbial limb - that I am afraid I am going to fall off.   Allow me to explain a little:

You see ... yes, He called me to this ministry back in 2000 with 10 or so words.  "Open a place where women can go to just be."  He called me out of a 25 year career.  THEN thinking I was going to "open a place" He took that, put it on the back burner, and called me into full-time pastoral ministry.
During that 7.5 year time of pastoring we lost our firstborn grand baby Jay.  THEN as clearly as He called me into ministry, He called me OUT of ministry.  We left our home church of 32 years and found a new home to worship at.  We sold our home.  Moved 3 times during the course of two years as we built the ministry house which we own, and live in the basement of.  During that time, we lost our last remaining parent to cancer.  We also had during that time prior to our grand opening - two more grandsons, and one granddaughter.  This time frame - 13 years to the time we opened, and then 2 years since - we have grown in so many ways.  We are older/wiser/more joy filled/and yes financially poorer!  But we have learned so much!
We have learned that "success" is not measured by how financially viable we are.  We have learned that our eyes are opened in a new way to God around us.  We have learned that God sends people our way - and we can provide this place for them - but we see how He provides the peace in this place.
I can not manufacture the overwhelming sense of "calm" "serenity" "peace" ... sure I can play music, and use warm colours of paint, and keep candles lit - but folks, regardless of what you call it - it is GOD that fills this place with the "thing" that you sense as you walk in.

ANYHOW back to the story ... lol .... yes, the limb that I am clinging to feeling like I am going to fall off.  I have found out something which has totally taken a weight off my chest.  I knew I was called to this.  Never been surer of something in my life.  HOWEVER I have struggled with how hard it is.  Terribly Hard for a few reasons.  At least once a week God hears me say again "God ... I think you have the wrong person for this - I just can't do it any more ....."  Usually within half an hour He hears me again "LORD I know you have the right person - I just really need you to give me strength here."
The thing that I have found out is that in my OWN strength - I can NOT do this.  HOWEVER in the power of the HOLY SPIRIT I CAN!"   Part of the struggle for me over past couple years (since I left Canadian Blood Services job) was the fact that I am not bringing in an income yet.  Oh the ministry is - don't get me wrong.  However I am not yet making a wage.  Now, that being said, my husband has never put a guilt trip on me for not bringing in any money.  Never has - pretty sure he never will.  HOWEVER I feel like somehow I need to contribute financially as he is working so incredibly hard.
The "wage earner" thing has been heavy on my mind as I have adopted the title of what someone called me "a full-time volunteer".  NOW PLEASE - I AM NOT COMPLAINING (lest you read this an think I am)  The things that the LORD gives me through blessing from people who come - far outweigh any salary I would make.  But lets face it - I am human, and I know that making some income would make me feel more like I was contributing.  Enough said.

Now the other thing - is that I have been thinking a lot about my relationship with the LORD.  I have been reading a book by Angela Thomas called Do You Think I'm Beautiful.  She refers to our relationship with the LORD as that of a dance together.   Dr. Larry Crabb (when I studied under him) also referred to our relationship with Jesus as a dance.   NOW lately I have been at my niece's social, and a week ago, at her dance.  I did not get up to dance even though my toes were tapping.  You see ... I want to dance - but I feel so incredibly inhibited.  WHERE DOES THAT COME FROM?  Perhaps my conservative Brethren background (although my parents did, contrary to other christian parents I knew, let me go to some dances).  I loved to dance and I did.  Somewhere along the line - all of a sudden, I lost that freedom, and I am inhibited.  YESTERDAY I actually googled and read an article on "Dancing before the LORD" and I have decided that I need to begin to dance with HIM on a regular basis.  That is my first desire - and then well, maybe He will take the inhibition and I can begin to slow dance again with my husband!

And the other thing that the LORD has been working on with me - is loving and extending grace.  (blogged about "grace" the other day).  I think I love well - I love my family - I love my friends - I love my life.  But that has not meant that I have not struggled from time to time with loving someone who has hurt me.  That has been a wrestle that I can thank God He helped me overcome ...
loving when you have been hurt is not easy - but it is possible!  I know that - and what freedom that gives when you realize true forgiveness has happened and has been overcome with love and grace.

So I have been thinking of those three things .... working, and loving with grace, and dancing.  And along comes the unexpected gift from Jenn.  A reminder to work like I don't need the money!  (in other words - give it all you've got - work with excellence because that alone is important and enough) ~ and the reminder to dance like no one is watching!  Believe me - that is how I dance and will dance - with only the eyes of the Almighty watching this girl dance!!  AND last but not least the lesson from a while ago - Love like you've never been hurt.  That is something that I can say - I can finally do.

If you know me well enough - you know that I look for God's fingerprints all over my life.  WHY?  because for one thing - I know they are there!  God in each moment of each day.  Sometimes He surprises me - sometimes He makes me fall before him in awe and often He takes my breath away.  You will know that I don't believe anything is an accident - or a coincidence.  My dad used to say - "People think answers to prayer are just coincidence but you will find that if you stop praying - coincidences stop happening.    I often call them "God-things" when they happen.   I know that sometimes God uses people without any knowledge on their part .. just because He is God, and He can.  I think that what happened today - the unexpected gift from Jenn - was a "God thing".

The only thing that He hasn't worked on me about lately is the singing part ... the last one:  Sing like no one's listening.  Hmm... maybe HE is telling me something.  Guess I should go sing a few notes!

Bottom line:  remember that unexpected things are really blessings in disguise!

Thursday, July 9

HE asks me if I get it?


It’s all about grace
my amazing grace
full, overflowing
amazing grace!
That’s it - in a tight little nutshell

how do I live in it?

This morning, the LORD challenged me with those thoughts
asking me if I get it fully
if I live in it?
and if I reach out because of it?
and more so, do I extend it to others.

I hear Him speak to me 
and write down the words as He talks
I sit back
silencing the many thoughts about many things on this day
and focus on this one question to me
HIS question
“do you get it?”

While I believe that I do -
I cannot help but be reminded of the reactions I’ve had -
the thoughts in response to situation,
perhaps even a laugh or two at a story at the expense of another
(often not present as the story is being told)
what does grace have to do with my every day?
absolutely everything!
and grace

His grace covers me -
but it also needs to flow through me
regardless of how people make me feel
i need to respond in and with grace
Regardless of how people may hurt my feelings with words or actions
I need to respond in and with grace
Regardless of broken promises, unfulfilled commitments
underserved ridicule or laughter at my expense
perceived or unperceived
Always Grace!!

Grace - as Jesus showed us - it is undeserved.
My grace is undeserved yet fully given
no strings attached
given out of the greatest most unconditional love ever ... through Jesus dying for my sin

It’s all about grace
my life
my reason for being
my hope for eternity with Jesus
my faith is grounded and alive because of His grace
I am redeemed
and because of that I stand amazed by grace
that I (such as I am)
have this life - this promise - this relationship with Jesus

It’s all about grace
as I see others
talk with others
pray for others
interact with others
in all situations
in all circumstances - good and bad ...
Grace prevails

As He asked me this morning “do you get it”
I stop
I revel in the feeling of tangible grace wash over me, into me, through me
and whisper with a voice of awe
Yes LORD yes ..  I get it.

Thursday, July 2



the grandkids blow with small puffs into their wands that are dripping with soapy water
screaming with glee
as bubbles form
and let loose
blowing across their yard
some breaking immediately with a quiet pop
some piggyback onto another one
and some fly away into the distance
never to be seen again

such are my th0ts

the th0ts  in my head
whirl and spin
sometimes bumping into each other
and once in a while pirouetting

i marvel at them
and other times i am left breathless
and often exhausted

there are many th0ts
some eloquent
or they would be if given voice
well, kind of messy
as if perhaps discarded ?

mixed with messy

old ones from years gone by
some in fact, are defining moments
that have been stored away in my mind and heart

other th0ts are merely not true
but they sometimes take a life of their own
and i sometimes live as if they were
th0ts about me as a child
a teen
a young adult
a young wife
a mom
a working woman
oh there are so many th0ts there 

some feel like they should be buried
and i often wonder why they keep coming to the surface
others feel like they were yesterday
and they bring joy as i recall them
th0ts on marriage
truthful th0ts
some shared
some journal led
some remain unspoken
and others unwritten
except in the indelible ink of my memory and mind
the unwritten ones
especially about marriage and love
are full of intrigue and warm fuzzes
lest perhaps some may think my marriage has been perfect
or without drama
i would hate to burst your bubbles with my th0ts


all mine
old ones
new ones
happy ones
sad ones
exciting ones

i sit
i watch
i think
i think a lot actually
my th0tcome
and go
and sometimes come around again
some stay

and those th0ts
are all mine