Monday, 16 October 2017

I am Honoured, 2 Timothy 2:20-21

  "But only in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honour and some for dishonour. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work." NKJV
  "In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honourable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work." JCB

  I think of the classic book, "Les Miserables". It's also a movie and a theatrical production. The main character was an ex-convict, a thief. He sought a night's shelter with the only person who would let him in the house: a priest. The priest's housekeeper was concerned at letting such a disreputable person in. The thief did what he knew best, what the housekeeper knew he would do. He stole the silver flatware but, in fleeing the scene, got caught by the police with his bag full of loot. The police returned him to the priest to confirm the stolen items were his.
  The priest reacted by affirming they had belonged to him but, he added, he had given them to the thief. He chastised the thief in front of the police because he had forgotten to take the silver candlestick holders. Motioning to the astounded housekeeper to get them, he had a moment to quietly speak with the humbled thief and admonished him to use the silver to turn his life around.
  He did.
  God used the silver Judas took and used it to write the greatest redemption story ever. One that was set down for all mankind.
  My only concern about today's affirmation is the implied necessity of being "pure" before I can be used by God. There's much more behind this excerpt from the Bible. Other writings affirm we have a helper in the form of the Holy Spirit. Other writings affirm we are already cleansed of sin before God. Other writings encourage us to be better than we are because none of us, no matter what we do, ever has to go it alone.
  I want to add another verse from 2 Timothy that points clearly to the indwelling of Jesus in our hearts and minds. It is what makes it possible for us to be pure, to be ready to be used by God for good works.
  "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." 2 Tim 2:13
  I am honoured to be the recipient of such amazing love.
  Lord, show me how to live in and through Your love. In Jesus' name I pray.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

I am Holy, Ephesians 1:4 by Susan L.

  "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." NKJV
  "Even before he made the world, God loved us, and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes." JCB

  This is a wonderful response to yesterday's post along with H's affirmation that I am not alone in my response to unwanted callers. Today's affirmation brushes away my regrets about the recent, un-Christ like behaviours.
  God doesn't see them because Christ's final sacrifice makes my sins disappear.

  Even so, mistakes lead to growth and they fill my heart with the earnest desire to be a better person. Although, sometimes it takes a while before the same mistake no longer repeats itself.

  What would it be like to live a sinless life?
  It wouldn't be good, at least for now, because then I couldn't learn about grace or the love God has for His wayward children.
  And that, in the end, is all that really matters.

Friday, 13 October 2017

I am His Handiwork, Ephesians 2:10 by Susan L.

  "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them." NKJV
  "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

  The phone rang at ten to seven this morning. That's early for me. Horrible thoughts raced through my head as I leapt out of sleep and out of bed to answer.
  "Did something happen to a family member? Who else would be calling this early?"
  The family is fine.
  It was a phone scam regarding my credit card. They called to tell me someone had just spent a considerable amount of money using my account.
  I confess my morality slipped. After a few choice words about the unseemly hour of the call, and reeling from the rush of adrenaline, I asked to call them back.
  A quick call to the actual credit card company verified my suspicions. It was a scam. Again. An audacious one that would call early in order to catch someone half asleep and off guard.
  Never give out your credit card or personal info to ANYONE who calls you!!!!
  The duct cleaning company has started calling again. I swore at them, too, out of utter frustration in trying to end these calls.
  I don't know if other countries in the world are so plagued by telemarketers or fraud artists like we are in Canada. Some people I know get a dozen a week. I went and checked out my phone company's privacy policy. If the number is listed, they can't stop anyone from calling the number. The next step is to have my number unlisted even though it will add to the bill.
  And I am left sitting here dealing with an extra dose of anxiety this morning because it feels like a mugger just tried to steal my purse.
  Lord, I feel I've let You down because of my lack of love towards these callers. I feel I've let You down in my language choices. I feel I've let You down because I am thoroughly p'd off about the phone thing, and at the people behind the scams. I feel I've let You down because grace has left the building along with patience, forgiveness and compassion. I feel I've let You down because I've let someone's actions shape my behaviour.
  Forgive me and thank You for giving me enough alertness this morning that I didn't fall for the scam.

  (My phone is now unlisted as well as having spam callers blocked which I didn't know the phone company could do. All for the princely sum of a couple of bucks. It'll be the best two dollars I've ever spent!)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

I am His, Isaiah 43:1 by Susan L.

  "But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are Mine." NKJV
  "But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine." JCB

  Verse two in the JCB goes on to say:
  "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown."
  Thank You, Lord, for being with me on the Black River.

  I picked up a counted cross stitch kit yesterday at the dollar store. I've never done cross stitch but the picture captured my attention. It's of a lovely young woman with flowers in her hair called, "Innocence".
  Thankfully there's clear instructions but I figured if I can follow a hockey player pattern for a knitted sweater, the principles are the same. Only the medium has changed.
  I loved the fact that the edges of the fabric had to be wrapped in thread to prevent them from unravelling. Maybe that's what community is about, wrapping each other in friendship, companionship and love so we don't unravel.
  While it takes concentration because of the unfamiliarity, there's a meditative, prayerful element to it that ties in to what's been going on lately. As each colour, dark or light, is sewn into its place, the full picture will begin to take shape. For now, there's a whole lot of background just waiting its turn to be adorned by small, cross shaped stitches.
  As the prayer by Thomas Merton goes, "My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end...Therefore I will trust in You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen." (Thanks, H, for sending it to me.)
  I am God's child after all.


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Affirmation #130 by Susan L.

  I am hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
  "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." NKJV
  "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God." Col 3:2-3 JCB

  This doesn't feel affirming. It feels more like a conviction.

  Lord, how am I supposed to meditate on heaven when this earthly mind and body betrays me? Especially when I don't know what sends me careening down the Black River rapids! How do I get off the boat? How do I lose the anger and frustration being swept away stirs in my heart?
  And I am angry. Very. Very. Angry.
  And tired.
  And feeling terribly lonely.
  I was living a miracle, a taste of peace for several months with zero anxiety. It was wonderful.
  How come it ended?

  What would Jesus say about all this, seeing as my life is hidden with Him?
  I keep hearing the words, "Ask for help. That's what community is for."
  So why can't I?
  Why is it so hard for me to accept help even when it is offered without being asked for?
  I don't want to be an inconvenience or to be a bother to any one.
  Now there's a core belief that has deep roots.
  It's no wonder I am feeling lonely if this is how I think. It slams the door on being blessed or giving others the chance to do the blessing. It slams the door on community and friendships.
  Thank You, Lord, for helping me see the truth.
  Help me learn to trust others, that their motivation is of love. Help me let go of my fierce independent streak or at least learn to tame it. In Jesus' name I pray.


Monday, 9 October 2017

I am Helped by Him, Isaiah 44:2 by Susan L.

  "Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you; 'Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.'" NKJV
  "The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one." JCB

  So it hasn't been a good weekend. I had to battle down a panic attack yesterday morning at church. I walked into the performance hall where we hold the service. Worship music was playing loudly through the speakers. There were busy people busy setting up the equipment.
  Unwanted and unbidden, up came the overwhelming, screaming heebie-jeebies.
  I couldn't breathe.
  I could feel my brain slipping sideways. It's like reality becomes a post card, a flat image utterly disconnected from the actual textures of life. Everything starts to grow distant and surreal.
  I went ahead and set up my flute then tooted a few warm up notes but had to get out of the room. It was like a dream. I walked into the common area, taking some deep breaths which never works for me when it comes to battling the inner forces but I took them anyways. 
  Someone asked me if I was okay.
  Tears pricked at my eyes. "No. I'm not."
  Leaving wasn't an option. We were doing a performance piece in honour of Thanksgiving and I wanted to play, to be a small part in creating something beautiful. There joy in making music!
  I took one of my just-in-case-of-emergency pills. It calmed me enough to get through the service although tears of exhaustion bubbled up as I packed up my flute as quickly as possible and fled when it was over.
  Lord, You are my help. Thank You for sending someone to pray for me in the midst of all of this.
  Protect me from the unrelenting sadness as I face the reality that the Black River still flows and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. Help me let go of the anger, the resentment; of the feelings of powerlessness.
  Because You know the truth of who I am in Christ.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

I am an Heir of God, Titus 3:7 by Susan L.

  "Having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." NKJV
  "Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life." JCB

  The scriptures before today's affirmation bear quoting.
  "Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But--
  When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Titus 3:3-6 JCB
  Because of his grace he made us right in his sight...
  There is nothing I can do. There is nothing I can pay. There is nothing I can say that could earn such a gift.
  It's mine because I am His child.
  So are you.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

I am Healthy, Deuteronomy 7:15 by Susan L.

"And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you." NKJV
 "And the Lord will protect you from all sickness. He will not let you suffer from the terrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all your enemies!" JCB

  I find Old Testament verses at odds with those of the New; at odds with Jesus' message of love.
  Bear with me as I think this through.

  So God's chosen people knew diseases in Egypt but I think this is more than physical ailments. I think it also includes spiritual sicknesses such as despair and hopelessness. Several centuries of slavery would make anyone despair of ever being free.
  So God sent Moses.
  Then the Israelite's path to freedom was paved by plagues visited upon the Egyptians.
  Signs and miracles. Violence and death. Vengeance and revenge upon their captors. The Israelites weren't touched or harmed in any way. The blood of a lamb spared them.
  Maybe this isn't about the Israelites. Maybe this is about the rest of the world. They would witness God's hand caring for His chosen people. They would see them victorious in battle after battle despite overwhelming odds. They would see them blessed with the finest lands, the healthiest flocks. The world would wonder, would want to be a member of God's chosen people.
  In the movie, "The Prince of Egypt", as the Israelites leave Egypt, they portray Egyptian guards dropping their spears and joining in the Exodus. Perhaps it's artistic licence or maybe it really happened. I'd like to think it did.
  It wasn't all happily ever after for them. Forty years they wandered, being tested, being humbled, being refined and purified because through these people, God's Son would come.
  He came so our sickness, our sins, can be forgiven and we can be made well and whole. He came so we can have a personal, intimate relationship with our Father without having to do a thing except believe in His Son who died. The final Lamb sacrifice required to solidify the New Covenant of God for all peoples.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

I am Healed, 1 Peter 2:24 by Susan L.

  "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed." NKJV
  "He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed." JCB

  It was a successful day yesterday. A dump run followed by donating various items to Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store and The Clothesline, a local charity second hand store. It felt good to get the garbage bags filled with worn clothing and items not fit for re-sale out of the kitchen. It felt good to get the boxes filled with extra tools and household items out of the kitchen, too. It's more or less the last of my uncle's belongings put in a place where they can bless someone who needs them.
  I then stopped at a framing place to have the watercolour painting hanging above the bed re-framed because the matts had discoloured over the years. It's one of the few things I've kept from my uncle's house because I've always liked the painting.
Image may contain: indoor  Some of the donations were things of my own. Years ago I'd made a mirror from an old window that still had all the original brass hardware. It's been hung in various places throughout the house but part of the purging that's been going on has been to get rid of reminders of the past. It was a reminder just like the gouges on my bedroom furniture had been a reminder.
  The furniture, now painted, looks brand new.
  It had been damaged by carelessness and utter disregard. The ravages of time had added additional scratches and nicks. It took wood filler and careful sanding to heal it. Pine is a soft wood that marks easily.
  This is a redemption story isn't it? A Jesus story.
  It has me thinking of when He came back. He bore the marks of the nails in His hands and the spear wound in His side proving to the disciples it was He. There's no mention in scriptures of any evidence of the scourging He received or the wounds from the crown of thorns. The marks of sin on innocent flesh were wiped away.

  The ole gray matter is spinning.
  I am hovering around some sort of conclusion but don't know where to begin.
  What I can do is give thanks for the healing that has taken place in my life. I can give double thanks for my Saviour who made it possible.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

I am the Head, Deuteronomy 28:13 by Susan L.

  "And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, Which I command you today, and are careful to observe them." NKJV
  "If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom." JCB

  Jesus commands, "Love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12
  His Great Commandment encompasses all the laws given to God's chosen people.
  I've said it before and I'll say it again, Jesus turned the ten commandments given to the Israelites into the ten promises meant for all God's children. Love takes religious obedience out of the picture because allowing love to shape our behaviours and choices means we rise above the darkness in this ole world. No rules necessary. This isn't simply about doing no harm, it's about bringing life and light and hope in all that we do, to everyone we have contact with in our daily lives.
  I'm not very good at it.

  There was a long pause after that last sentence.

  Perhaps that was a bit harsh. (Smile.) I'm not always good at it. Emotions, environment and experiences tend to interfere with my ability to love others as Jesus loves me. I don't think I'm alone here.
  How do I change tail mentality into head mentality? How do I lose the idea that loving others means I have to be a doormat? How do I embrace a love that doesn't come with conditions? How do I think outside the box?
  I can't. At least, on my own.
  Lord, I lift this up to You. I am feeling rather sad about it all, that I could be better than I am. But then, I have to give thanks because I've come a long way already. Help me go further into love living than I ever thought possible. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Monday, 2 October 2017

I am Guiltless, Romans 8:1 by Susan L.

  "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." NKJV
  "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." JCB

  I heard a story a long while ago about a man who embarked on a forty day fast. Day thirty-seven rolled around. He dove into a family sized bag of potato chips and ate the entire thing all by himself.
  What do you think he did?
  When I first heard this, I assumed he had to start all over again because he had failed to attain his objective of fasting for forty days but I was wrong. He repented of falling to temptation then continued to fast for three more days.
  Guilt leaves no room for grace.
  Guilt is a sledgehammer with shame as its handle. It beats joy down to nothing. It hammers spikes of inadequacy deep into our souls. It pummels the gift of our worth as children of God to dust. It drives in fence posts of isolation. It builds a fence between the posts of fear guarded by razor wire regret. It's an ugly thing, an ungodly thing.
  Grace leaves no room for guilt.
  Grace is love expressed towards others and ourselves. Grace is patience, kindness and forgiveness. If guilt is a sledgehammer, grace is a feather from God's wings.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

I am Guided, Psalm 48:14 by Susan L.

  "For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death." NKJV
  "For this is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die." JCB

  I just wish He was there to advise me when I picked the colour for my bedroom walls! It's waaaay too dark! It's downright oppressive and ended up looking like MacIntosh toffee had been smeared all over the walls instead of the creamy, buttery, b├ęchamel I was looking for. It's not an insurmountable problem. I'll simply get a quart of white paint to mix with what's left of the coloured and hope it will be enough to re-do everything.
  Okay. Mistakes keep me humble.
  I am thankful I enjoy painting. The cat kept me amused, too. He lay on the bed in the middle of the room and was absolutely fascinated by the paint roller as it traversed the vertical surfaces. I am thankful there were no painted paw prints on the floor when I was done.
  My closet doesn't have any doors. It didn't have them when I moved in. A 1950's closet is an odd size so modern standard doors won't work. Custom doors are very expensive so it looks like it's going to be a DIY build. In chatting with the man at the hardware store about options, he kept looking at me rather strangely.
  He didn't know I built my own shed and deck. He didn't know I have a fully outfitted workshop in my basement with all the tools needed to make a set of sliding doors. It's amazing how often preconceived notions about people are wrong...
  First things first. Look out walls, here I come!
  Lord, thank You for being my guide. Thank You that even when I stray, Your gentle presence quickly gets me back on track.
  Thank You for Your provision and all the richness You have brought into my life. Thank You for the people in my life and the natural beauty that surrounds my home. Thank You for helping me see the lighter side of things.

Friday, 29 September 2017

I am Guaranteed, Ephesians 1:13-14 by Susan L.

  "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." NKJV
  "And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him." JCB

  Haven't I already written about guarantees? It rings a bell but finding out where and when it was written has eluded me because this scripture doesn't appear on the affirmation list until today. It must have been an addition to a previous post.
  In reading the passages, one word stood out.
  What does God's inheritance look like? As a guaranteed heir, to believe is to receive.
  It's so simple. Unlike an earthly inheritance, there are no hoops to jump through, no proof of identity, no will (except God's will), no lawyers, no probate period or taxes to be paid on the estate.
  It's a good thing. God's estate is huge covering every single atom of creation both seen and unseen!
  I don't think I'll ever be able to wrap my head around just how big it is because it also surpasses time and the restrictions of a mortal world. A mortal world is all I know.
   Oops, that's not entirely true. I stand witness to the ability of the Holy Spirit to guide not only my path, but the paths of others as well.
  I was at an outdoor/barn wedding last Saturday. It was lovely to see the joy on the couple's faces, to  witness to their love for each other.
  There was a large crowd of about two hundred guests. By the time the dancing started, I was starting to feel terribly overwhelmed from being in such a busy environment. While I tried to take part in the barn dance, having the visual stimulation of so many people swirling and whirling was too much. Stepping outside to collect myself, I knew it was time to go.
  Not wanting to end up having a panic attack and not wanting to simply slip away without taking leave of the bride and groom I turned back to the crowd, the noise and the music. As I came up to the steps leading back into the barn, the bride and groom were just coming out of the door...God is good. He spared me from having to go back in.
  So maybe that's what it's all about. Our inheritance is the overflowing love of our heavenly Father that wraps itself around every single aspect of our existence. Guaranteed.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Phillipians 4:7 by Susan L.

  "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." NKJV
  "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." JCB

  I've written and deleted this post four times now. It's not a morning for writing I guess.
  My bedroom furniture awaits a second coat of paint. Woohoo!


Monday, 25 September 2017

I Am Guarded by God 2 Timothy 1:12 by Susan L.

  "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." NKJV
  "That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one (Jesus) in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return." JCB

  At first I wondered what Paul had committed to Jesus. What, of a human being, is worth guarding? The NKJV Bible contains a cross reference to 1 Peter 4:19 which answers my question.
  "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator."
  Hmmmm. Okay. It's his soul Paul entrusted but this translation makes it sound like God wills suffering onto His children...I know He doesn't. Our suffering is the consequence of living in a broken world.
  "So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you." JCB
  That's better.
  I might have shared this story before but it bears repeating in light of today's affirmation.
  A friend of mine needed a new car but lacked the funds. She was a housekeeper who worked hard for a living. One day a ferocious storm blew in. A tree fell on her car. The first thing she said was, "Praise Jesus!" Seriously, she did!
  Not only did her insurance pay out, but so did the city because they had been warned about how sick and dangerous this particular tree was. The people she was cleaning house for also gave her a bit extra because they felt badly about the loss of her car. In the end, she got a newer, better car than she'd ever thought possible!
  I'm left with a Triple T. (Thinking Things Through.)
  It's easy to entrust my soul to God. Maybe because a soul isn't a tangible, physical thing. It doesn't sit safely on a shelf somewhere. It's my life force, my heart. It's the metaphysical.
  It's the rest of the package that's not so easy. Things like feelings, thoughts, actions, wants, needs, belongings, relationships, responsibilities...suffering. Choices...
  Yet, my soul knows God has these under His wings, that He will guide me along His paths. My soul knows that His Son is the Great Redeemer so even if I stray, even if I wander far from His Father's ways, Jesus is right there because all my wanderings are with Him by my side.
  He truly is my Knight in shining armor.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Look Ahead Next Time :) by Susan L.

I am granted grace in Christ Jesus. Romans 5:17,20

"For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ...Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more." NKJV
"For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ...God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful grace became more abundant." JCB

  Mindfulness. Living in the moment. Being present. They are all catch phrases rampant in self-help books and pseudo-psychology articles. With the stress of daily living increasing, getting people to actively practice awareness of the "now" has become the key to healthy daily living.
  It's not a new concept.
  It's one Jesus taught frequently.
  It's one thing I'm good at. Too good sometimes. In tackling these affirmations, my focus is only on exploring the one assigned for the day. Maybe if I was a person who flipped to the end of a book to see how it finished, I might have found some comfort yesterday by reading today's affirmation. I might have found a bit more grace for my lack of grace! (Big smile.)
  Today's words are a great comfort. They are a reminder that I can't fix what's broken on my own. I don't have to.
  Jesus is, after all, the carpenter of my soul.

Friday, 22 September 2017

I am Gracious Proverbs 22:11 by Susan L.

  "He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend." NKJV
  "Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend." JCB

  So to define gracious, Google gave two definitions. The first is courteous, polite, civil, well mannered, mannerly and decorous. Then there's the Biblical definition: merciful, compassionate and kind.
  The scary part is I can easily live up to the first definition because it is simply about behaviour not about my heart. Although, a polite and sincere "Please and thank you" goes a long way. Maybe that's why loving a pure heart comes first because there's such a thing in this world as having a silver tongue. I think of the salesman who sold me something I didn't really need. He was polite and charming and told me everything I wanted to hear. He wasn't motivated by what was best for the given situation, he was motivated by his wallet.
  I am also feeling deeply convicted by this affirmation. The truth is, at times, I am not overly merciful, compassionate or kind. I am impatient. Judgemental...yah, judgement takes the Godly trio of mercy, compassion and kindness completely out of the picture.

  We need the ability to judge to survive because realizing a cliff is too high to jump from or that the red, glowing fire is dangerous are judgements necessary to keep us safe.
  The judgements that aren't necessary are the ones that oppress another human being. It's a tough one to shake free of because it permeates every aspect of our society. "Different" is not acceptable. "Less than" is not acceptable. It's interesting how they morph depending on the class, society or culture we are raised in. What is acceptable in one culture can be a huge taboo in another.
  We learn how to judge people and ourselves from a very early age. We learn that it's okay to do so. It's a mob mentality thing. It's an industrial revolution thing where cookie cutter education and upbringing define the parameters of who we should be or how we must act in order to be an "acceptable" part of society. Regardless of where in the world we are raised.
  I need to take some time to think about my own "position" in society: a Caucasian woman in North America of the middle class. I was taught how to set a table for company, to artfully display my possessions, to uphold the standards of a pristine, green grass lawn and choreographed gardens. I was taught many rules about decorum and propriety. The fact I take the garbage out to the end of the driveway in my jammies is a faux pas of tremendous magnitude if I look at it based on everything learned.
  I think of the lady who used to live behind us. "Rosie" Dad called her with an edge of contempt to his voice because she would wander the privacy of her back yard in a fluffy, pink housecoat. I could never figure out why he thought this was a bad thing. But then, he had his own cultural baggage and racial prejudices learned from the cradle.
  Nearly every time a car drives past while I am in the middle of the garbage task I hear a whisper of "Rosie".
  Hmmm, having to take out my own trash to the end of the driveway is "men's work". Hmmm..."men's work"...that would take a novel to explore. Is having to take out the trash symbolic of failure? Lord, I need Your grace right now. I think another onion layer has been peeled back.
  Lord, it would appear I need to look into some generational stuff. Lessons handed down that don't fall in line with the grace You want Your children to live in and through. They don't fall in line with compassion or kindness either.
  I want to be better than I am. Let my tongue be guarded. Let my heart and mind be opened to seeing other people as You see them. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

#117 Romans 8:31 by Susan L.

  I know God is for me.

  "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" NKJV
  "What shall we say about such wonderful things? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" JCB

  It means the enemy of our souls is already defeated.
  It means that strongholds will fall. It means ungodly beliefs will crumble to dust. It means the mortar of lies will crack and fail.
  It means we have sanctuary under His wings. (Psalm 91)
  God's feathers are stronger than a Kevlar vest, a tank or a battleship.
  I have to smile here because I can't help but think of the chickens that used to roam freely throughout the yard at the farm. One or two would disappear for a while but eventually turn up followed by a cheeping hoard of little ones. When it got cold or wet, momma hen would cluck and shuffle to round up her charges. The little ones would huddle up under her. Her feathers and wings created a haven of warmth and security. I only knew they were under there because of the occasional peep and cheep.
  There's something about chickens I've always wondered about. When a hen lays an egg, she announces it as loudly as she can with a throat strangled, shrill, "Buck-CAW! Buck buck buck!" She keeps it up for a while in case you didn't hear her the first time. I don't think there's another creature who tells the world they've had a baby except people. Most of God's creatures keep birth a secret until that little one is strong enough to walk or run; strong enough to escape from danger.
  I know God is for me. Even when I talk about chickens.
  (Just so you know, I've been chuckling like a hen myself as I've been writing this.)

  God is for me.
  When an enemy circles like a fox or a crow, chickens get downright ferocious. They splay out their wings like a shield between the predator and their chicks. She has a different cluck that calls her little ones to get behind them. No matter how big the enemy is, a ten pound chicken becomes brave and strong and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to defending her babies.

  If God is for me, for us, who can stand against us?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

John 17:24 by Susan L.

  "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." NKJV
  "Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me before the world began!" JCB

  Verse 25-26 goes on to say, "O righteous Father, the world doesn't know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them." JCB

  There's a one-and-a-half inch pile of paper left from over three thousand, hand written pages. They were journal entries saved from destruction because they are mostly creative writing efforts. It had been a three inch stack but I went through it again yesterday, weaning out anything that wasn't worth keeping.
  In this pile was a timeline I'd tried countless times to assemble by going through the journals and making note of what happened and when. It always ended up fizzling. I know why I did it. The journals were a written record of when my mind wasn't present, the lost days on the Black River I call them.
  I decided to shred what bit of it I'd managed to note down because they held an edge of desperation. Which is rather funny in an odd sort of way. Why I felt I so urgently needed to find the days and hours that vanished into the mists is beyond me. This morning has me realizing there's a lot I don't remember from when I was well. Praise God!
  Looking at this remaining pile, and feeling burdened by all the words they contain, ninety-five percent will end up falling prey to the sharp teeth of the shredder. I really don't need to keep it as a souvenir. I don't want to keep it as a souvenir. How can an earthly timeline even compare to the eternal timeline of God?
  It's a process, this act of closure. It's also a celebration. As my son commented to me, "You're making confetti!"
  The only timeline that matters now isn't even a line. It's this moment. It's this present minute, second, millisecond. It's living in and through this promise that the love, the glory, of God is wrapped around every fibre of my being through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

I am God's Child John 1:12 by Susan L.

  "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." NKJV
  "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God." JCB

  I bought a paper shredder on the weekend. Mostly because I needed to destroy a whack of papers from my Uncle's house. There was a time when these could be simply tossed in the trash but with identity theft and other unwanted activities, it's safer these days to not throw out anything that has any sort of identifying info on it.
  It could have been burned but burning stacks of paper is a slow process and not always a hundred percent effective. Even ash holds shadows of ink that is legible. Paper creates a lot of large, blowing, burning pieces, too. The fire risk is the main reason why I don't like doing it.
  Once everything of my Uncle's was done, I began to work on my own stuff.
  Inside the cupboard of my bedside table were my notebooks, the journals written before I became a blogger. It was full. The floodgates had been opened the moment I came to Jesus. The quest for truth became an epic marathon of journaling that lasted years. The journals were filled with page upon page of soul baring prayer and brutal honesty.
  I'd reached the decision a while ago that there was much written that shouldn't be read by anyone but had put off buying a shredder.
  Part of me wasn't quite ready to destroy the journals anyways.
  The small, domestic use, shredder wasn't made for constant use. It would overheat and require a cooling off period. It gave me time to leaf through each notebook and pull out anything I was led to save like the poetry or stories I'd written before I got a laptop. My thought is to type up the ones worth saving and trash the rest.
  It was the ultimate letting go event of my life. As rage filled, scribbled pages were swallowed by the shredder, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. As the documented days of living in madness disappeared, I felt a weight lift off my soul. As page after page of repentance and gratitude were offered up in sacrifice, I felt a weight lift off my heart. But most of all, as I tightly tied the last, massive bag of shredded paper, I felt a weight lift off my mind.
  That was then, this is now. I am ready for a new beginning.
  I think the smell of an overheated motor will always remind me of freedom.
  I have to do one more thing. My bedroom furniture bears scars from the past. There are scratches on the dresser from my long gone, much loved, German Shepherd, Duke. Pumpkin has contributed his own claw marks. There are deep gouges on the bedside table from the day I moved from my marital home. Those are the worst. Wood filler and a coat of paint will totally erase these last shreds of what once was...
  With a shake of my shoulders and head held high I claim the promise. "I am God's child".

Sunday, 17 September 2017

#114 on the List by Susan L.

  I am glorified with Him. 2 Thessalonians 2:14

  "To which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." NKJV
  "He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." JCB

  I've written about glory because up until know, it's simply been part of my Christian language: rote quotes. Being faced with a scripture that is about us obtaining the glory of Jesus, I realized I didn't fully understand what glory is. Thank you, Google and
  Jesus was given the glory and honour of His Father following His baptism by John. "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." (2 Peter 1:17) Then later, while they were on the holy mountain, Peter heard the same voice when they were with Jesus.
  "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19)

  This is big. The glory of Jesus is the love and delight of His Father.
  I am glorified with Him.
  That means I live under the love and delight of my Father in heaven just as Jesus does.
  Wow. This has put my life under a wholly different perspective. There is much to think about, much to pray about as this understanding wraps itself around my heart.
  Thank You, Lord for the gift of Your glory.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 by Susan L.

  I am given His Holy Spirit.
  "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." NKJV
  "It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised." JCB

  Guarantees. It leapt off the screen at me.
  They are such a fundamental part of our culture. Every appliance, every bit of electronics, and even our cars come with a guarantee that they will work as promised but it's usually only for two years at the most or maybe five for a vehicle. That is, only if we follow the manufacturer's maintenance plan. If we don't, the guarantee is null and void. For a new car, it means doing exactly what the plan requires and taking it to the dealership for all servicing until the warranty expires. It's pricy compared to my local, trusted, long time mechanic.
  The food we buy comes with a guarantee that it is fresh and tasty. Maybe I've got finicky taste buds but some of the pre-packaged meals aren't what they promise.
  Over the counter medications make promises that they will ease a headache, stop flu symptoms, or help us sleep only there's a whole whack of small print listing potential side effects. They have a guarantee but are free to put conditions and warnings on that promise.
  So really, worldly guarantees aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Every single one of them has an expiry date. Every single one of them comes with conditions.
  It's no wonder people ask "What's the catch?" when it comes to exploring Christianity. Yes, we've been good at putting a human twist on a walk with Jesus. Religion is pretty good at putting up walls and making hoops to jump through. I hope the Lord can forgive us.
  Because, there isn't a catch, a stumbling block. There isn't a fifteen page incomprehensible contract to sign. There aren't conditions. A verbal commitment to Jesus is as good as signing on the dotted line because God honours our word. It's good enough for Him.
  The best part is it enables us to live in the assurance and safety of an eternal, unbreakable contract. It enables us to live under the glory of grace, forgiveness and love. It enables us to grow as people under the tender, caring tutelage of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus is our teacher, the Holy Spirit is our Guide.
  How great is that!

Friday, 15 September 2017

1 Peter 1:3-4 by Susan L.

I am given His magnificent promises.

  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." NKJV
  "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance--an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay." JCB

  This is the promise of the Hope of Eternal Life. I confess it's a bit hard to wrap my head around, although my Uncle's passing has had me thinking a lot about what happens on earth after I am gone. I need to take care of some business in that regard.
  It's funny how grief is. Strange things can trigger an upwelling of tears. I wasn't greatly affected while clearing out his room at the hospice. He hadn't been there long enough to form any sort of emotional connection with the space. What tugged at my heart was the fact that most of Harry's last belongings fit into a large Rubbermaid bin. It held the sum total of ninety plus years on this earth. The bin is a poignant reminder that, in the end, stuff doesn't matter.
  I am thankful the Lord reminded me about all the houses he fixed. Knowing that makes the bin less heart wrenching.
  It has me thinking about the kind of legacy I want to leave behind. It has me thinking about the kind of person I'd like to be for my remaining years on this planet. More than anything, I want to live true to the calling with which I have been called.

  There's still a lot to let go of.

  With each ending comes a new beginning. Lord guide me where I need to go. Reveal to me the places where I am not quite right with You. Strengthen me so I can face my own sinful nature. Open the eyes of my heart. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

I am Gifted, Romans 12:6

  "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith." NKJV
  "In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. so if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you." JCB
  The verse continues, "If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership abilities, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly."
  It's all about confidence, isn't it? Confidence in the truth that in Christ, I, we, can do all things.

  ...I am not really focused this morning. It's been a tiring and emotional time these last few weeks.  
  The memorial I shared with you a couple days ago was read at the service yesterday with only a few modifications. I can stand witness that prayers for peace were answered.

  I don't really feel like writing this morning either. That's okay. I want to encourage everyone to read the rest of Chapter 12 because I realize that through the love of Jesus everything is possible, and every gift will manifest itself in our lives. AMEN!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

In Loving Memory of Uncle Harry by Susan L.

  When we were asked to come up with some insight about Harry, his good friend Denis said it all. Harry was, well, Harry. I think he’d like that, that it took few words to describe an uncomplicated man.
  Harry was born December 22, 1924 in rural New Brunswick, the youngest of three brothers. Earl, Bert and Harry were only about four years apart.
  In an era when cash was short and time was long, the old expression “boys will be boys” must have been born. One time, the boys tied handkerchiefs to the chickens and tossed them off the shed roof as parachutists, a new and exciting invention. This grand experiment resulted in the catastrophic loss of a chicken that hadn’t mastered the finer details of landing. The trio buried it rather than face the wrath of their parents. I don’t think his mother was ever told the story.
  When not up to trouble, he earned some money during the school year.  Harry’s first paying job was lighting the one room school house woodstove every bitterly cold, dark, New Brunswick winter morning two hours before class would start. In June, he was excited to take the bill to the town office and have not quite seven dollars placed in his hands by a clerk who peered at him and told him to be careful with his money. It was a lot in those days. Despite the many years that have passed, as he reminisced with me about the excitement of waiting for the clerk to get his pay, I could see the boy that still lived inside the man.
  Harry joined the service in his twenties and was transferred overseas. He didn’t see action in WWII but did end up with a war wound. He and a few fellow soldiers were out after curfew, carousing through the streets of London. Climbing into the barracks through a glass skylight resulted in a gash requiring several stitches. He didn’t get a medal.
  This carefree, mischievous young man was something very few of us got to see. He only appeared in Harry's Cheshire cat, secretive, grin when something amused him. An out and out, burst of laughter was a rare thing to be treasured.
  He was a bachelor for a long time, providing a home for his mother, Lillian. His bachelorhood lasted until he was in his late forties when he married Betty. Comfortable with older men and enjoying shooting the breeze with them, he’d met Betty through her father who eventually lived with them as well. Betty and Harry were together until her passing a little more than eleven years ago.
  He provided for this small family by working as a carpenter and often turned his hand to helping out neighbours and friends by doing odd jobs for them as well. When Harry finally set down his hammer, he was happy to act as chauffeur for the girls next door and a “youngster” in his seventies.
  He was interested in world events, history and cars.  How Harry loved cars! New, old, classics, all of them. He’d often spend time checking out the new models, driving from sales lot to sales lot, peering beneath their hoods. Getting a new, gently used car, was a little piece of heaven on earth and one of the few luxuries he ever allowed himself.
  Harry’s daily routine was simple. Beginning with getting together every morning for coffee with the boys, a tradition that has spanned many years and many different venues. It gave him the chance to work on the daily crossword and debate the woes of the world. He did enjoy poking fun at the Walmart walkers but would often sit with them because they got coffee for free. I guess the clerk’s warning so many years ago had sunk in well.
  Harry didn’t like the spotlight and was especially annoyed with the coffee crowd when they made some fuss over his 90th birthday two years ago. He wasn’t comfortable at formal affairs and often said, “I am just a carpenter”. Yet, a hint of pride would creep in as he would give me a tour of the area every time I visited. He would point out house after house where he had played some small part in its construction or renovation.
   He lived in Ancaster a long time. There were a lot of houses. It’s a fitting memorial for Harry, knowing that this simple, quiet, behind the scenes legacy will be here for many years to come.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Post #1401 by Susan L.

  Today's not the day to do an affirmation. Today's a day to pause.
  Uncle Harry passed away peacefully in his sleep early Saturday morning. I couldn't say anything yesterday until all the family was notified.
    That's all for now.
   There's something comforting about the Gideon Bible placed in every hotel room.
  "The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations." Ps 32:11

Saturday, 9 September 2017

I Am Freely Given All Things Romans 8:32 by Susan L.

  "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" NKJV
  "Since he (God) did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?" JCB

  Wisdom, insight and discernment are the gifts of understanding. Perseverance, patience, grace, and forgiveness are the gifts of healing. Redemption is the gift of new life. Compassion, joy, love and peace are the fruit of that new life; the gifts of a Holy harvest.
  "Everything else" is a long list. It's probably longer because for sure I've missed something. Oh, yah, humility.
  These are gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Helper God gave all believers.

  Lord, thank You.
  And I have to cut this short. I will let everyone know why soon.

Friday, 8 September 2017

I am Free John 8:36 by Susan L.

  "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." NKJV
  "So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free." JCB

  Jesus says earlier in the chapter in verse 31-32, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."
  How do I discern truth?
  More importantly, what is truth? Google defines it as the quality or state of being true. That's not a whole lot of help is it?
  Two people who attended a social engagement are interviewed the next day. Both of them had very different descriptions. For one it was a great time. For the other, not so much. Which is true? Was it a great party or not?
  Is truth subject to perspective? How I remember something is my truth based on the experiences and events that shaped my world view. This doesn't make it wrong...Hmmm...the wrongness only reveals itself based on my responses or choices. If I choose to hurt others because I have been hurt, that's where the wrong comes in.

  Sometimes living on my own can be lonely. I've felt it especially so in these last few weeks of chaos and intense, roller coaster emotions. When these big, life questions come up, Pumpkin doesn't have much to say except for the demand, "Love me. NOW! Prrrrrrrrr!"
  There's something to be said for simplicity and living in the moment.
  How does this all tie in together?
  My walk with Jesus has been an epic quest in pursuit of truth, of finding out how He sees the events of my life. He's peeled me like an onion, layer after layer. Which, by the way, if you've ever peeled an onion, there's tears involved. Every layer was tenderly wrapped in grace and forgiveness. As mentioned before, experiences and events shaped my world view. It is a world view, not a Jesus view.
  The truth of Jesus has its foundation in love.
  "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  Without love, there is no truth. Without truth, there is no freedom.
  Thank You, Lord, that I am being set free.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I am a Fragrance 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 by Susan L.

   "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?" NKJV
  "Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?" JCB

  I am a bit distracted this morning. Dreaming about home renovations and how to squeeze more space into my tiny kitchen. Ideas, solutions, thinking about what would work, what wouldn't, scrapping a plan then coming up with another. Dreams of a mud room off the back door and possibly a garage for the car and the snow blower I'll need one day when the shovelling gets too hard. Dreams of a renovated bathroom. feels good to simply hope that one day these dreams will be fulfilled.
  The reality is a new furnace would come first before anything else. I could repaint my bedroom for a whole lot less of an investment. It's looking a little tired.
  Now, what colour? Hmmm...
  Or maybe this ties in after all. If Jesus is the corner stone, hope is the mortar of faith.
  When the woman who led me to the Lord first came to the farm to train my young mare, there was something about her, something good that drew me like a bee to a bloom. It had been a "chance" conversation at the local corner store which led me to hire her, a horse whisperer. Those few exchanged words with the store owner would eventually lead to my salvation.
  This lovely woman with a passion for horses had an aura of life and light that made her absolutely beautiful despite barn boots and work clothes. The fragrance of Jesus followed her everywhere. She wore hope like a mantle: the hope that there is something good and wonderful in this world. When she left for home, the shadows moved back in. Depression cruelly snickered and settled in for the rest of the day. I couldn't wait for her to come back and do another training session. I was starving for hope and goodness and joy and peace and acceptance.
  She didn't preach at me. She didn't try and "win me over to the Christian way". She didn't have to. I wanted what she had only I didn't know quite what that was.
  God honoured the unspoken prayer of my heart. For that I am ever grateful because now I can pray, I can ask, that I carry the sweet fragrance that is the hope of Jesus to those who don't know Him. This I do in Jesus' name. AMEN!
  Oh, and about the furnace...lead me to the best deal and an honest tradesman. In Jesus' name. Amen again!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Lost and Found Luke 19:10 by Susan L.

  "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." NKJV
  "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost." JCB

  I think I like the older translation better for the simple reason that even though this passage was written a long time ago, Jesus has come and still comes to save us. "Came" implies it was only an historical event, not an ongoing one.
  He has come to save "that which was lost." It's more than our souls. He has come to save our minds, our hearts and our bodies as well. His love and great grace will redeem every single aspect of our existence.
  Maybe that's why I am so angry at myself because of what happened with the landlord. In the blink of an eye, all the work the Lord has done to help me believe in my worth flew out the window. All the work the Lord has done to reinforce the idea that I have a voice vanished. All the healing vanished the moment I was faced with the merest hint of conflict with a man. The old behaviours swept in: the submissiveness, the people pleasing, the fear of rejection, of not being "liked", the inability to ask for's a long list.
  So I am feeling somewhat disheartened. The old road map is more firmly entrenched than I thought. Maybe I need to find some compassion here and patience. It took forty odd years to make this map. It's bound to have hidden pathways still wired into my subconscious.
  Lord? I need Your grace to fill me. I need Your guidance to get back on the right path. I need Your insight to uncover the keys that unlock the old map so they can be tossed away. Most of all, I need to be able to recognize when it starts to lead me astray from Your ways the moment it starts doing so.
  I can let go of being angry at myself now. In a burst of imagination, I am tearing up the old map, scrunching it into a ball and tossing it into the trash where it belongs.
  The pristine, Jesus map is being lovingly unfolded and laid on my heart and soul. It doesn't have a North, South, East or West because all ways lead to Him.
  Hmmm. It would appear the old map does too!


Monday, 4 September 2017

Affirmation #106 by Susan L.

  I am formed in the womb by God. Jeremiah 1:5
  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." NKJV
  "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations." JCB

  I confess to not having lived according to my calling or this truth about who I am in Christ.
  A week ago Friday, I drove my uncle to his final home. Panicking, I thought I'd got us lost in unfamiliar, downtown Hamilton so, after pulling over, I gave the hospice a quick call. It was only two more right hand turns and a couple of blocks away. We weren't lost after all.
  My uncle spent the twenty minute trip laid back in the passenger seat. I can only imagine his thoughts as he left his home of some forty plus years. He's not one to share.
  Getting him settled and assessing his needs took a good part of the afternoon. I left to pick him up some new clothes. It's been a challenge to find something that is comfortable for him now he is almost completely bedridden. His comfort is top priority.
  I wasn't sure how to get back to my uncle's house from the hospice because the one way road we took didn't go back the other way. One of the staff gave me directions. It took me through downtown Hamilton.
  Pulled up at a stop light, a man on a bike was petting his dog and rubbing its paw. The poor thing was yelping in a high pitched, "Yi! Yi! Yi!" that echoed in the stone and cement canyon of buildings. I guess its paw had gotten run over.
  The sound was a huge trigger for me, reminding of when my own dog had broken his leg. Tears bubbled up but were quickly swallowed down.
  Driving block after block and seeing no signs of the highway, feeling utterly overwhelmed and lost, at another red light, I waved to the car beside me. She pulled forward. I asked her where the highway was. She smiled and said, "Follow me! I am going the same way." This lovely woman even pulled over to wait for me when another red light forced a stop. Tears, only this time of gratitude bubbled up but were quickly swallowed. I needed to pay attention to the road. God bless her for her kindness towards a stranger. She only sped away when I saw the highway turn off and gave her a wave of thanks.
  Then: Walmart. The one near my uncle's house is massive. It's not laid out the same as other's I've been in. The amount of merchandise is staggering. As I struggled to locate the few items needed, already running on overwhelm from the emotions of the morning, the drive through unfamiliar streets, and having the daunting task at hand of clearing out the house ahead, more tears bubbled up and were quickly swallowed down. My uncle's comfort was the priority here.
  The tears were mostly because of feeling overwhelmed and tired from all the organizing, the phone calls, and making sure my uncle had everything he needed.
  A quick stop at the house was made for something to eat and to put name tags on the new clothes. An hour later, I went to the hospice for a bit before heading back to my uncle's house for the night.
  A shower helped. Jammies helped dispel some of the feelings of overwhelm and helped me relax a bit for the first time in days.
  As I sat at the kitchen table, a strange man and woman walked past the front door. The landlord showed them around the yard then they came in the house to look around. Potential tenants.
  Wow. My uncle's bed barely had time to cool.
  After they left, the landlord said he wanted me out of there as soon as possible because these new tenants wanted to come in and paint. He dumped his landlord woes, like how he hadn't charged my uncle two months rent as notice of vacating the property (his legal right) so therefore I had to get out ASAP.
  "I was expecting your uncle to live here for at least another three months because the doctor gave him three to six months to live. Now I have to rent the place as quickly as possible and these people want it."
  What?! Did he just say what I thought he said? The floodgates opened and I finally cried.
  (Legally, he needed to give me twenty-four hours notice before coming in. Now why didn't I think of that then?)
  I was mentally and emotionally incapable of stringing any sort of sentence together. Having this bomb dropped in my lap didn't help.
  I really need to lift this up to the Lord because I am not feeling particularly charitable towards this man who was not only the landlord but claimed to be a long time friend. Yes, he helped my uncle out by taking out the garbage and checking in on him regularly. I can find gratitude for that.
  What bothers me the most is why I allowed them in when it wasn't a good time. What bothers me is why I didn't ask him to wait until the next day to show the people the inside of the house. What bothers me the most is why I didn't ask him to speak with me in the morning because I was upset and feeling very vulnerable. It had been a hard, long day. What bothers me is why I felt it was my responsibility to solve his problems. What bothers me is why I didn't ask him to leave but instead felt obligated to listen to him talk at me for over half an hour.
  Sigh. Old habits, old conditionings about dealing with men still run deep.
  As things turned out, with my son's help, I didn't need until the 15th. There was some furniture to be donated that was left behind but I figured (spitefully I confess) the landlord could deal with it because I'd called a charity to come and get it but they couldn't be there until the 15th. Another friend of my uncle was going to do a dump run and look after the rented medical equipment needing to be picked up.
  I am relieved it's done, that I am not at home thinking about having to go back and continue the daunting task of emptying my uncle's house. What bothers me is the bitter taste about how it ended up happening.
  So how does all this tie into today's affirmation?
  Lord, in all of this, many prayers passed over my lips. Thank You that You answered them. Thank You that You answered unspoken prayers as well. Thank You that my uncle has been placed in a Catholic hospice, that there will be an opportunity for my uncle to find comfort in Your arms. Thank You that You sustained me and gave me the strength to control the tears. Thank You for the people who have helped me during these difficult times.
  Well, there's one thing about my identity I know for sure. I am grateful.
  I am also finally feeling more myself. Two good night's sleep has made a world of difference.
  I also trust that the Lord will help me grow beyond the limitations of my experiences, that one day I will be fully who He predestined me to be.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Back in the Saddle by Susan L.

  I am not going to do an affirmation today instead, there's a need to sit back, take stock and have a chat. It's been a hectic, crazy busy, very emotional time over the last several weeks. It was wonderful to finally get to church this morning although, as expected, the moment worship began, the stuffed down tears began to flow. I've been running in "git-er-done" mode and there hasn't been any space or time to allow any grieving to take place.
  A friend came over yesterday and helped me load the car with boxes of household items to be donated. And there were Boxes. Not just from the last load to come out of my uncle's house but from other car loads I'd brought home while helping him clear things out. Just having an extra set of hands to pass boxes to made such a difference. It eliminated running up and down stairs. It wasn't as tiring for an already tired ole body.
  I donated all of it to a local charity store. Not having stacked boxes in the basement has taken a weight off my shoulders. It has also filled me with more incentive to do my own purging when there's time.
  There was one item that absolutely had to go. It was a small, storage bench my uncle had made that had graced their front porch for as long as I can remember. The moment I had tied it to the roof rack of my car, it hit me hard. My uncle wasn't coming home.
  That was why my last long post was cut off so abruptly. A hospice had called wanting to do an assessment. They had a bed available. It was really just a formality because they had spoken to my uncle's family doctor who said he urgently needed the care they could provide. They will do everything in their power to keep him comfortable.
  He was moved in the next day.
  In yesterday's car loading, I forgot that the bench was in the shed before all the boxes were put into my car. Rather than unpack everything, my friend suggested putting it out at the end of the driveway. Just as I was heading out to the charity store, a woman with a pick-up truck was placing it in the back.
  "It's perfect!" she exclaimed with delight, "I've two small children. It will make a perfect toy box!"
  I am glad it's gone to a good home. I am glad that the handmade bench may become someone else's heirloom.
  I've been home a few days but with the laptop on the fritz, I haven't been able to write except for the brief cell phone post. I took the laptop with me today to where I bought it. I was fully anticipating having to replace it. It turned on no problem. (Like the funny noise a car makes until it is at the garage!) They ran a couple of diagnostics but couldn't find anything wrong. They call it chip creak. I called it being up chip creek.
  Apparently, sometimes something gets shaken up then gets shaken back into place which accounted for the lack of life every time I tried to turn the silly thing on.
  Relieved, and happy they didn't try to sell me anything or even charge me for the diagnostics that took enough time to have a coffee and a gooey, sticky, hot cinnamon bun treat. Y2KComputors has earned all my future business. They are at the 400 Flea Market if you live locally.
  I did get a new cell phone on Friday, taking advantage of the back-to-school sales. It too, at four years old was showing signs of leaving this earth. The fellow who helped me went the extra mile to make sure all my contact info, photos, etc. were transferred to the new one. That's a big help!
  I can't tell you how nice it was last Thursday to mow the lawn. It was a massive dose of normalcy amidst all the upheaval and time away from home. I kept having to stop for wood frogs (one was a butterscotch colour!) and toads in all sizes who had been happily living in the long, lush grass. With all the rain this summer, it's extra thick and moist. Only one didn't get out of the way fast enough and I hadn't seen it. That made me rather sad but all the more vigilant and patient.
  Even sitting here, mid-afternoon, typing away is helping restore some balance. If I have another good sleep tonight like the one that started at 9:30 last night, I should be back to normal in no time.
  I have to give thanks for family, friends, strangers and businesses with integrity. I have to give thanks that even though I lost sight of the Lord during these frantic days, He never lost sight of me.
  "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." Ps 116:12-13 NKJV

Friday, 1 September 2017

Patience, Please Lord by Susan L

  This feels like a step back in time. My laptop has quit. My cell phone, after four years has also bit the biscuit.  To be grateful, my cell phone company has back to school sales on. And I even remembered my sign in info for Blogger!
This entry is being done via phone so it's going to be a short one. I hope to get a new, refurbished one Sunday.
Sigh...on top of everything else...sigh again.
  I couldn't do it without the Lord.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

What Day Is It? by Susan L.

  No affirmation today. The list is at home.
  After the abrupt departure last Thursday, it's been a whirlwind of activity. The call came that my uncle could move into a private room in a hospice, Emmanuel House. I had to come down to Ancaster to attend the assessment meeting. It was more of a formality than anything. They had already talked to my uncle's family doctor who was adamant he be placed right away.
  Friday morning I drove him over to his new home.
  Since then, he's been given oxygen that has improved his colour immensely. He's also been given a different, daily treatment that has also helped his breathing. None of this would have happened at the house.
  I've been packing up. The landlord asked that we vacate as quickly as possible because there's a young couple who wants to live here. They've asked to come in early so they can do some work around the house before they move in. The landlord is an old friend who's been good to my uncle. He even came a few mornings to get his breakfast out. Originally I thought I would need until the 15th of the month but everything went much faster than planned.
  Despite most of the belongings having already been cleared away by my uncle, it's surprising how much was left. Between going a couple times a day to visit my uncle, to make sure he was settling in, to go shopping to find comfortable clothes, to getting them labelled and facing what felt like a monumental task of clearing out the house was truly overwhelming.
  My son came over on Saturday night and helped me all day Sunday. Everything that is to be donated is now in one room. He's coming back tonight to pick up the few pieces of furniture that wouldn't fit in his van full of family. Seeing my grandchildren was a wonderful gift in the midst of the storm. Between the two of us, everything is done with the exception of me loading my own car and having the donations picked up.
  My folks came yesterday. They took a few things over to my uncle which left me free to finish what still needed doing.
  I have to learn how to ask for help.
  Underneath all the busy, there's the grief. There's the sadness that comes with all new beginnings which only happen when something ends. I don't know how long my uncle will be on this earth but I am assured that he is where he needs to be.
  I am thankful it all came together so quickly. I am thankful for the amazing people who helped make this happen. I am thankful the Lord has the entire situation under His wings.
  And the Lord's prayer spills off my lips.



Thursday, 24 August 2017

I am Forgiven Ephesians 1:7

  "In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." NKJV
  "He (God) is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins." JCB

 Love is saying you are sorry.
 The greatest Love answers, "It's okay, honey, try and do better next time."
 If we don't?
 The greatest Love answers, "It's okay, honey, try and do better next time."

  Oh, I know there are philosophies out there in the world that say different, that love should never have to say it is sorry, that grace and forgiveness should be given without being asked for. It's a licence to hurt and keep on hurting others. It is a worldly idea after all and we know who has his fingers in that particular pie.
  Repentance is ownership. It is taking responsibility for choices and actions that have harmed others and, I might add, ourselves.
  The practice of repentance means taking the time to recognize the things we do without realizing they are not kind or good or healthy. It is not a religious thing! It's a life choice thing, a door opening thing that t
  Change can't happen without acknowledging there is a need to change. I love that the grace of our Lord lets the evolution of change happen exactly when we are ready to make those changes.

  I have to leave off here. Family business needs taking care of ASAP.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

I am a First Fruit, Romans 8:23 by Susan L.

  "Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." NKJV
  "And we believers also groan, even though we have the holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children." JCB
  It's good to be home for a few days especially when I can confess to being aware of the Holy Spirit working in my life. It's nothing big. Nothing earth shaking. It is, for me, of great importance in achieving peace of mind when all around is rather chaotic for the moment.
  My good-ole-working-extra-hard-this-year sump pump started sucking air. The water level got too low in the pit before it shut off. Imagine a giant straw slurping up the last of a giant strawberry milkshake. Nothing burns out a pump faster than sucking air.
  I tried duct tape to make sure the pump was held level. I made sure that the float was floating freely. I tried wiggling it, raising it, saying more than a prayer over it. Nada. It still slurped air.
  I couldn't figure it out.
  God did.
  He led me to ask Google.
  I guess I am not the first person with this problem. There was reams of information on how to stop a pump from slurping. It ended up being an easy fix because all I needed to do was raise a plastic stopper on the rod that holds the float so it shuts off sooner. The stopper must have wiggled its way down the rod with all the use this year.
  It's a relief and one less thing to worry about when I am not here.
  It's also a relief to be reminded in the chaos of getting my Uncle's needs met that the Lord is clearly involved in everything that needs taking care of even if it's not directly related to his situation.
  It's a relief to be reminded that I already have the divine inheritance given to all believers in the form of His Holy Spirit. That's right now, today, because I am His adopted child.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Stages of Grief by Susan L.

  I don't have my affirmation list with me. It got left at home. So did my Bible. The Bible isn't too much of an obstacle to overcome because there are so many versions online now.
  And maybe it's okay to take this time to sort through my thoughts and feelings about what is happening right now.
  What has surprised me the most is a newly discovered whack of grief.
  Here's the background...I am spending as much time as possible at my Uncle's. He is fading fast. It's cancer...
  I think that says it all.
  As I putter around the kitchen or sit on the front porch, I have been reminded of my beloved Aunt. She's been gone over ten years now. Her passing happened right in the midst of the start of my own difficulties. I guess the sorrow got relegated to the background.
  Memories keep popping up. The sewing she did for my boys. Being taught how to do a crazy quilt. Seeing her sewing room in the basement utterly devoid of anything but dust and cobwebs is especially hard even though it's been empty for years now. I even helped my uncle clear some of the things out.
  It seems a lifetime ago.
  I guess it was.
  I remember her first visit to the farm when she and a young son of mine went through an entire 80 pound bag of chicken feed in two days simply because they were having so much fun feeding them! Oh, how proud she was to lead my giant, gentlest of mares into the barn.
  Come to think of it, I've a photo of my uncle sitting on our pony. He has the biggest, silliest little boy smile on his face.
  Maybe this is what grief is. Smiles and fond memories seasoned with tears pricking at my eyes.
  There is a meeting tomorrow to make sure my uncle has all the support he needs as long as he is able to stay in his own home, until he is at the point to be transferred into hospice care.
  I can't be here all the time for a number of reasons. I can only do what I am able to do.
  I think there's some guilt there. Lord, help me be at peace.
  I am going to close with one of the few verses I have memorized, that has helped sustain me through many difficult days.
  "I will abide under the shadow of the Almighty, Under His wings I will take refuge." Psalm 94

Friday, 18 August 2017

Phillipians 1:6 by Susan L.

  I am a finished product in progress.
  "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." NKJV
  "And I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." JCB

  This affirmation has me puzzling over the word choices the author made in writing it. How can I be finished yet still in progress? A finished product is finished, isn't it?
  Maybe these words were chosen to get the reader thinking about who God predestined me, all of us, to be.
  Okay. So, this begs the question: who would I be if sin hadn't clouded the truth? What would my choices have been if they had been based on Godly love for others and myself?

  Maybe I'd better stop right there. Playing the "what if's" is a dangerous game. It steals joy. It steals peace. It steals grace.
  It's much better to think about all the victories, all the life events and choices Jesus has redeemed. It's much better to think about how I've grown and changed. It's much better to think about the journey of discovery, of finding out more about my Saviour and in doing so, uncovering God's truth about everything.
  Well, maybe not everything. There is still much that remains a mystery.
  Oh, how I enjoy puzzle solving! Thank You, Lord, for making that a part of who I am!

  As an aside, I shared yesterday with my readers about how the crickets were triggering me because they are so loud this year. I talked to a friend about my concerns. They had noted as well that the crickets were unusually abundant compared to the last couple of summers. It was good to know they found them excessively noisy, too!
  What relief because this means I am doing okay. It's the bugs that need to tone it down! :D

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

I Am Filled With Joy, John 17:13 by Susan L.

"But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves." NKJV
 "Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy." JCB

  These are the words of Jesus as He spoke to His Father in prayer for His disciples. This was right before He was betrayed and arrested.
  I find the word choices between the two different versions thought provoking.
  In the Jesus Centred Bible, it has been translated as an action, that we be filled with the joy of the Lord. It implies that being filled with joy is an ongoing process.
  In the New King James Version, having the joy of Jesus fulfilled means it is a done deal. It is complete, achieved and finished.
  So, which is it?
  Maybe I need to think about what exactly Jesus' joy consists of...
  And here is where I stumble because it is hard for a mortal in this world to grasp even a fraction of the peace and joy Jesus had within.

  Thank You, Lord for having me read further in the chapter because when Jesus prays to His Father for all believers He says, "I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one." Jn 17:22 JCB
  There it is. A joy that outweighs the lies of the enemy. A joy that surpasses all trials, troubles and wrong roads. A joy that is firmly anchored in an unmovable foundation.
  All because I made the choice to believe Jesus is mine, forever.

  Lord, You know me better than anyone. You know my struggles. I confess that the sound of the crickets chirping their requiem for summer has triggered an avalanche of conflicting emotions. None of them are joy because the sound has filled me with sadness and haunting memories of the dark days on the Black River.  
  I thought these things were finished because the sound hasn't triggered these reactions or bothered me for a couple of years. Why is this year different...

  I have been reminded that Jesus was with me then. He is with me now. And I understand that I can be sorrowful yet still have joy. Sorrow will end. Trials will end. Troubles will end.
  Joy never will.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Waiting Vessel by Susan L.

  I am filled with the knowledge of His will. Colossians 1:9
  "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." NKJV
  "So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding." JCB

  My pastor approached me about doing some sort of illustrations to dress up the church website. I am meeting with him this afternoon to discuss options and to find out exactly what he is looking for. It's amazing how quickly my creativity gets flowing. Being asked to do this and by simply looking through the website as it is created an avalanche of ideas.
  I have complete faith in God, the author of my creativity. My daughter's wedding bench was a reminder about Who has everything well in hand.
  He has taught me well.
  Art is where my walk began so long ago. He filled my soul with a longing to draw and paint so I sat down at the drafting table and waited. To free a hand and mind that had been stifled for so long, I first put on some classical music and painted what the music inspired. After this, a candle in the darkness emerged and other faith symbols took shape on paper.
  After several paintings of rather stereotypical Christian imagery, I said to Him, "Okay, that's enough. Please, give me something bigger, deeper."
  He gave me the Armor of God from Ephesians. This is the book my walk with the Lord started in. I needed to know how stand firm and tall in my new found faith. And I am a visual learner. (No surprise there.)
  Rising to the challenge of doing one of the biggest pieces I'd ever done, my enthusiasm drove me  to get it finished as quickly as possible.
  It didn't turn out very well. The kneeling figure looked like it was cowering in fear. The armor looked dull and not very solid. The colours in the background looked like the darkness was closing in around it; like the darkness was winning.
  Thankfully, God is a God of grace. "Do it again."
  This time I took my time. I spent many moments quietly contemplating what was taking shape. I painted the armor according to God's vision, not mine. I was able to utilize some of the elements from the first picture. It wasn't completely off base. Using tracing paper I adjusted the figure's position without having to draw the entire thing over again. (Nothing we do is ever wasted.)
  Besides changing the figure's pose, the helmet of salvation was the biggest difference. The second version was completely solid. There was no place for the wearer to see out of. Instead, the helmet of our salvation will enable us to see the world as God sees it.
  I have kept the two pictures safe in a portfolio all these years because they were the birthplace of my prayer life. The best part of all is that even though I took control of the process in the beginning, God is kind enough, loving enough, to give second chances and third and fourth chances to get it right.
  A screwed up painting filled me with a longing for wisdom, clarity, and understanding about what the Christian life is meant to be. It shaped my heart's desire to know God's will in and for my life.
  I am so thankful He keeps giving me the gift of chances and opportunities to learn and grow yet quickly forgives me when I miss the boat.
  I think I am up to at least a thousand second chances.