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.

Monday, 14 August 2017

I am Filled... by Susan L.

...with the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law!" NKJV
  "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" JCB

  I don't know about anyone else, but if someone tells me I can't have a chocolate chip cookie, it quickly becomes an obsession, something I absolutely have to have! Daydreams fill my mind about the cookie. My taste buds yearn for the crunchy sweetness. I imagine the chocolate chips melting in my mouth. The cupboards get searched even though I know there are no cookies hidden in some forgotten corner. There's only about four corners in my tiny kitchen so the search doesn't take too long. Opening and closing the cupboard door doesn't make cookies magically appear either! Darn it!
  The next time a trip to the grocery store becomes a necessity, I stand in the cookie section, practically drooling over the gourmet chocolate chip cookies. Especially over the ones with added roasted pecans. Yummy!
  I reach for the bag...(If the blog had a sound track, I'd add the scary, shark theme from Jaws here.)
  I pick it up, studying the picture, weighing my allotted grocery allowance against the ridiculous cost of a dozen cookies.
  Then I think about all the weight I've lost.
  Nope. Better stick to fruit. There were ripe pears, peaches, new apples, and strawberries in the produce section at a fraction of the price of a skimpy bag of cookies. Sprinkling cut up fruit with cinnamon makes for a fool-the-mind-there's-sugar-here treat.
  And I am rewarded by achieving victory. Peace fills my heart the moment the cookie bag is returned to the shelf. The cravings slink back into the shadows from where they came. In its place, my body longs for good and wholesome foods.
  There isn't a law against cookies. It was fully my choice to indulge or not. Sin is a choice.
  (Long pause.)

  Sigh. Sometimes the cookies win. That's okay. The Lord helps me start over again in my ongoing fight against sugary treats.
  Lord, let me recognize the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life. Fill me with patience and kindness when the cookies prevail and I come down hard on myself for failing. Show me how to be more patient and kind with the people who are in my life. Give me life speaking words. Help me be more like You. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Philippians 1:11 by Susan L.

  Affirmation #99: I am filled with the fruit of righteousness.
  "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." NKJV
  "May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation--the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ--for this will bring much glory and praise to God." JCB

  The tomatoes are coming along nicely. I've already been blessed with two, vine ripened, delicious fruit that tastes above and beyond anything bought in a produce department. There is one ready to pick, one that will be in a couple of days, and one with a slight rosy blush that means it, too, will soon be ready. The rest are green but growing in size every day.
  Most of the leaves have been removed to allow the plant to spend its energy on the fruit while leaving enough for the vine to survive. I've also stopped it from growing any taller than it is by nipping the new growth at the top because there are plenty of tomatoes on the vine for just one person. Pruning also lets the sun shine uninterrupted on the fruit to speed up the ripening process which begins at the bottom with the oldest fruit ripening first. The top of the plant has little, green, berry sized tomatoes that have a long way to go before they can be served at the table. I don't know if we'll have enough summer for that to happen.
  In years past, I've had to uproot a vine full of green tomatoes before the frost hits it. Hanging it upside down in the basement lets most of the larger fruit ripen, utilizing the last bits of energy from the vine.
  What are the fruits of righteousness?
  Salvation, love, knowledge, discernment, excellence, freedom, confidence, deliverance, abundance, unity, fearlessness, humility, generosity, service, peace, perseverance, determination, blameless, harmless, gladness, citizenship, and most of all, joy in the Lord.
  I might have missed some. The list came from a very quick read-through of Philippians. got missed. Living out the fruits of righteousness couldn't happen without it.
  Which leads me back to thinking about tomatoes and grace. I couldn't be a gardener without grace.
  I know the calling with which I've been called, to love others just as Jesus loves me. I know I fall short. Often. I also know the Lord has made a garden of my soul. He's done a lot of weeding and pruning. He's done a lot of sowing. He's done a lot of fertilizing by pouring His love over me.
  I fall short of being His image bearer often, but there's one thing for sure, the little fruits of righteousness growing within will ripen.
  If I let them. If I give them time. If I am patient.
  My part is to let go and let grow. My part is to allow the Son to shine in the deepest, darkest corners of my soul where undiscovered fruit lay hidden in the shadows.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Filled to the Brim by Susan L.

  I am filled to the fullness of God. Colossians 2:9-10
  "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." NKJV
  "For Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you are also complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority." JCB

  Only, how come it doesn't feel like it? What is stopping me from walking in this most wonderful truth?

  (Long pause.)

  (An even longer pause as I lift up the current events in my life to the Lord.)

  I am starving for connection to the One who raises me up, Who sustains me in trials and in good times, too.
  I need to include worship music in my day.
  Missing blog posts isn't good either. Missing a daily affirmation isn't good. It leaves me vulnerable to the one whose sole purpose is to suck life and joy from us. Somehow, I need to include blogs in my day even if it isn't in the morning. Lord, I ask for opportunities to do just that, to have the time to explore Your Word, Your truths, Your revelations.
  This is even more important because my church attendance will be sporadic as events I have no control over unfold. I'll be missing a lot of fellowship with my small group as well once it starts up in September.
  To be filled is to surrender. All the time. In all things.
  Lord, help my day be filled with prayer and a dialogue with You. Help me see Your hand in things as they unfold.
  I will abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will take refuge under His wings.
  In Jesus most precious name.

Friday, 11 August 2017

I am Filled. Acts 2:4 by Susan L.

  "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." NKJV
  "And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability." JCB

  I was able to accomplish a lot following Wednesday's abbreviated post. The car needed new licence plates because the old ones were peeling. It was in ticket territory because the front one was almost unreadable. Thankfully, we have the least busiest Department of Motor Vehicles around so in a matter of about ten minutes, the old plates were off, the new plates were on and I was on my way.
  Then the garden. Ah, yes, weed haven. Coated in mosquito repellent, I tackled the sorely neglected beds. Two wheelbarrows full of weeds left me with a deep sense of satisfaction. There's still a bit more to do but the weeds aren't as obvious. Those are my "organic" gardens.
  The black currants are ready, too, so I started picking. Now this isn't hard work at all. I pull up a chair to the bushes, set up a table to hold the currant container and leisurely pick while basking in the sunshine. They are fussy things, needing the flower end to be pinched off as well or the jam could have a bitter aftertaste. This year there's enough, hopefully, to make a couple batches of jam. It's one of my favorites and well worth the work. The berries are residing in the freezer until the short season has run its course.
  This short list of accomplishments has me thinking about all the "languages" I know. There's many an acronym in government offices. Had I written DMV for Department of Motor Vehicles, it probably would have been something someone from another country wouldn't understand. Different countries have their own names for such places.
  It's the same with gardening. There is a whole whack of words totally relating to this particular hobby. Cooking, knitting, woodworking and even my job all come with their own lingo. Mine is entirely in English although many French words have worked their way into some familiar (to me)expressions. Globally, everyday language has its own personal, cultural context. Many Bible passages have worked their way into the fabric of Canadian idioms.
  I can't imagine how amazed the listeners were when the disciples began speaking in all the different languages. That means the slang, the shortened forms for words, the acronyms, context and influences...everything was directed personally to the listeners so they could fully understand the message of Jesus. It's even more amazing to think that God knew who was in the area and the Holy Spirit revealed the Lord to them in their native tongue.
  I know that many churches today tend to gloss over this gift. Some even condemn it or go out of their way to discredit what happened in the upper room.
  It's a morning for going out on a limb.
  This gift is alive and well. As is the gift of translation and interpretation.
  I've heard people say that those who speak through the Holy Spirit are only making it up. When the prayers go on for would be impossible to continue making up an imaginary language for that long a stretch.
  I watched a show a long time ago where a Catholic nun had electrodes hooked up to her head as she spoke in her prayer language. The words didn't come from the speech and language section of her brain like the people doing the test thought it would. It came from somewhere else.
  I love when science proves the existence of God.
  I think we struggle with this so much because it's so hard for us to let go of control to the extent that the Holy Spirit can use our tongues and bodies to proclaim God's truth. But the best part, if we want a gift like this, all we need to do is ask. God will find a way.
  Lord? I want all the gifts you have in store for Your children. Help me let go of control so that my body, mind, heart and soul are fully in Your service. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

I am a Fellow Worker, Colossians 4:11 by Susan L.

  "And Jesus who is called Justus. (This finishes a list of a few brothers in Christ from the previous verse.) These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me." NKJV
  "Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been!" JCB

  The post is going nowhere this morning. I am having a hard time staying focused on the writing because of gazillion other things keep interrupting my train of thought. Rather than getting even more frustrated, I think I'll call it quits and take care of the most urgent things that need doing like getting new licence plates for the car. The old ones are in ticket territory because the colour has peeled off.
  Tomorrow is another day.
  God bless.




Monday, 7 August 2017

Citizenship by Susan L.

  I am a fellow citizen with the saints. Ephesians 2:19
  "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." NKJV
  "So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family." JCB

  A belonging longing. It's a fundamental piece of what being human means. We are engineered for community and relationships with each other as well as our Father in Heaven. This desire, planted into our DNA before the dawn of time, shapes our behaviours and guides our choices.
  Sometimes those choices aren't the best. I am an expert on making wrong choices. Many of them were simply so I'd be accepted by those around me. Guess what? It backfired every time. Instead of acceptance, rejection reared its ugly head.
  Hmmmm, I am being corrected. The choices I made weren't completely wrong, not all of them anyways. It's not a black and white world. They were the only choices I could have made with the tools I had at the time. At the time I didn't have Jesus to lead me, encourage me and guide me.
  I'm not so quick to sell myself down the river in an effort to gain the illusion of acceptance any more. I am not so quick to toe the party line so I am "one of the crowd". I am not so quick to squash what makes me uniquely me in order to be like "everyone else".
  Now there's an interesting thought. What does "everyone else" look like? This is something we talk about in some of the recovery oriented programs I've taken like WRAP. It's called mind reading. But, it's really projecting our own experiences, understandings, motivations and prejudices onto others. It's making the assumption they think like we do.
  It's really no surprise that they don't.
  It's Canada's 150th birthday this year. As I travelled to PEI for my daughter's wedding, I came into contact with all sorts of different people, in all colours, faiths, and languages. This was only a third of my own country.
  God's country is the universe.
  And we belong to Him. All of us. Even if we don't know it yet.
  My belonging longing has found a home. It's not completely gone, though. A persistent, unquenchable hunger for relationship with my heavenly Father makes me dig deeper into uncovering the riches of His world, His heart and His family.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

I am Favoured, Job 10:12 by Susan L.

  "You have granted me life and favor, And Your care has preserved my spirit." NKJV
  "You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love. My life was preserved by your care." JCB

  I have to share about the bench my daughter asked me to make. That was all she asked. "Could you make a bench as a wedding gift? One that guests could sign on the top as a permanent reminder of this day?" No details. No hint at what it should look like.
  Here's the miracle of God's hand revealing itself.
  The baskets I chose to go underneath had rope handles. I'd chosen another type but ended up putting them back on the shelf before making this choice. The piece of trim my friend gave me was shaped to look like twisted rope. It was exactly the same size as the rope on the baskets.
  Here's the really amazing thing: part of the wedding ceremony included my daughter and her betrothed tying a fisherman's knot using two pieces of satin rope. It's one of the simplest yet most secure knots ever invented to join two pieces of rope together. It is incredibly strong. It was a symbol of the bonds of marriage between them. I don't think there was a dry eye in the audience as they did this. Myself included.
  Her slim wedding band was in the form of a rope. His also had a rope motif.
  I knew nothing of this.
  So here's the thing. God did. His hand guided my hand in basket choosing. His creativity guided my creativity as the bench began to take shape in my mind. His timing put me in position to get a single piece of trim that was going to be discarded, that had no purpose. Actually, it did. They had hung onto it for years until the last moment because God knew I would need it.
  Lord, thank You for blessing me with such favour. Thank You for reminding me that benches and sparrows are the same. Thank You for reminding me that I am safe and secure in Your love in everything I do.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Affirmation #93 by Susan L.

  I am far from oppression, Isaiah 54:14
  "In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you." NKJV
  The title of the entire chapter is "A Perpetual Covenant of Peace."
  All I can think of is those silver marbles hanging from a frame, a simple perpetual motion machine. The impetus of one striking the row of marbles makes the marble on the other end swing out then return to strike the row. Back and forth they go. Click, click, click, click. Despite its label, it doesn't last because air causes friction making the marble's swing gradually lose strength.
  Action and reaction.
  "For you shall not fear." Click. "You shall be far from oppression." Click.
  I confess I've got a long way to go to live without any fear. It's a gazillion times better than it was but fear still creeps in on a regular basis. Fear of what? It's mostly personal stuff like feeling inadequate in social situations.
  Although, I went deep sea fishing earlier this week. It was a three hour trip for mackerel and cod. There was no need for Jesus to lead us to the fish, the captain had an electronic fish finder that pretty much guaranteed we'd catch something. It was a blast. I caught about thirty mackerel that kicked up a fight making them extra fun to catch.
  There was a single man beside me around my age. I didn't ask his name, nor did he ask for mine. We chatted about this and that, about how wonderful it was to be on the water watching the sea gulls and gannets dive bomb for the remains of the fish being cleaned by one of the boat crew. (My kind of fishing. They even took the fish off the line for me!)
  Despite the language barrier, he was a French-Canadian whose English was far better than my French; despite the noise of the wind rushing by and the powerful motors on the boat, we ended up getting to know one another quiet well. We shared our common love of the outdoors; about our grandchildren and families. We talked about trips we'd like to take. He shared he was a teacher.
  I don't know if he will ever know how blessed I was by him. His quiet manner, his kind but sorrowful eyes and gentle smile made him a man I wasn't afraid to talk to.
  Thank You, Lord, for this gift. Click. And another layer of healing falls into place.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

I am Family Psalm 68:5 by Susan L.

  "A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation." NKJV
   I've only brought one Bible with me because I will be flying home from PEI and didn't want my suitcase to be overly heavy especially since my weighty laptop has come along.
  It's been a two and a half day journey along the Trans Canada Highway. One thousand, seven hundred and sixty eight kilometers later, we have successfully traversed roughly a quarter of Canada. Looking at a map, it's hard to fathom just how big the place is!
  The highway now bypasses Montreal and Quebec cities making it a quick passage through the province of Quebec. I must give thanks that the people at the hotel and restaurants spoke far better English than my dimly remembered grade nine French.
  Once past the cities, hours were spent winding through seemingly uninhabited boreal forests with glimpses of water to break up the stunning green carpet. Flashing lights and massive signs warned of moose being in the area.
  In many places the highway was protected by eight foot fences. We drove over tunnels that had been built for the wildlife to move freely from one side of the divided highway to the other. The only creature actually seen was a fox. It was as big as it got, praise God. Moose and car are not a good combination. At a hundred and twenty klicks, it's often lethal for both parties. That was New Brunswick until the divided highway ended at the PEI turnoff.
  Here it slowed down. The road was lined with quaint houses, farmland and small villages.
  I got to drive over the Confederation Bridge linking the island with mainland New Brunswick. It's a thirteen kilometer long bridge and an amazing feat of engineering that towers above the water. It was a thrill. The last time I was in PEI, it didn't exist.
  We arrived at the cottages to find that we'd been upgraded to one that had been fully upgraded less than six weeks ago. The only sign that it's an older building is the slight list to the floor in places. The front porch overlooks a harbour and fishing village in the distance. The view was an upgrade too!
  So how does this tie into family? I was with my Mom and step-dad happily doing most of the driving while they cat-napped. I am here because of my daughter's up coming wedding. I realize as well that we came into contact with many different types of people in all shapes and colours throughout our journey. Even the language barrier was really no barrier at all. Sign language worked when needed.
  Isn't that what God's family is made of? It surpasses genetic connections and reaches around the globe. As the verse says, He is a father of the fatherless.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

I am Faithful. Revelation 17:14 by Susan L.

  "These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." NKJV
  "Together they will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will be defeat them because he is Lord of all lords and King of all kings. And his called and chosen and faithful ones will be with him." JCB

  This morning practice of exploring God's Word has been sorely missed. While time is limited today, every fibre of my being knew I needed to sit down and do this. So while the washing machine is doing its gurgling swish, there is time before I need to hit the road again.
  I feel a bit convicted by this passage today. Just before leaving for Hamilton again on Sunday, the pump in my pond stopped working. Having a grateful heart was the furthest thing from my mind. It felt like it was the last piece of overwhelm I could handle. It meant racing into town to find a new one, get it installed, then get on the road before the traffic heading south got too heavy.
  Or maybe I am being too hard on myself. I prayed the whole way down the road that one particular store close to home would have exactly what I needed. They did. Of course, they did.
  And even though my temper exploded in frustration, had I not gone to clean the filter before leaving, the broken pump would have gone unnoticed. Stagnant water is not good. The new pump has no filter. Yay! One less thing to have to do.
  I have done a lot of praying, muttering away as I have ran errands for my uncle, as we waited at the hospital for five hours for much needed tests. I've prayed as my patience grew thin, as the world started getting loud and tears of overwhelm would prick at my eyes in unfamiliar grocery stores.
  I prayed when waves of homesickness washed over me, when the dirt and constant noise of the city made me long for the lush green fields and woods of home. (It's amazing how quickly I forgot about the mosquitoes! Stagnant water is not good.)
  There were prayers to facilitate getting everything my uncle needed in place before I head out of province for the next ten days.
  They were all answered. Not only was everything my uncle needed set up, but everything I needed like getting a friend to stay and look after Pumpkin was perfectly timed. So maybe that's what this is about today.
  Many posts ago, I commented that even though these affirmations are meant to build and enforce Christ-like qualities in my life, they are also clear descriptions of who Jesus is.
  He is faithful.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Right Hand Man by Susan L.

  I am exalted at His right hand. Acts 2:34-35
  "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, Till I make your enemies Your footstool." NKJV
  "For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, The Lord said to my Lord (Jesus), Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet." JCB

  There are so many expressions rooted in the Bible that have been woven into English daily language. Now I understand why someone is called a "right hand man" or someone who helps things run smoothly. They are a committed partner, determined to help us succeed in whatever we do. They are the type of person who would be hard to replace because they are so good at what they do.
  In Jesus' case, it would be impossible.
  As much as this is a prophetic passage, hinting at the day of Jesus' return when all His enemies are brought into submission, it's also a statement about what happens in a life lived with Jesus. That is, if we allow Him to be our "right hand Man".
  Nothing can stand against us.
  Since the anxiety has vanished in my life, I've found that imaginary catastrophes pop up out of nowhere all the time. Gruesome accidents, especially in the car, or falling down the stairs, or my favorite: spilling boiling water down my legs, all make themselves known in gory, painful detail. The other day while driving over some rough pavement, I swore a sinkhole was going to open up and suck me into the bowels of the earth! Sheesh!
  I never put a sharp knife in the sink because for some reason, I have imagined it cutting a finger clean off. Yuck. This is why I don't watch horror movies.  Sometimes having a vivid imagination isn't all that great. But, as quickly as these terrible images come, I just as quickly push them away...well, maybe not all that quick but for sure as soon as I realize where my mind is going.
  Someone is out to steal my peace. Someone is out there doing their best to make me afraid of doing anything. If I focus on being afraid, I lose sight of Jesus, the Right Hand Man I couldn't live without. The Right Hand Man who has already defeated this enemy of mine. Forever.
  As for the catastrophes? Maybe they will be the birthplace of a really good story.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Philemon 6 by Susan L.

  "That the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." NKJ
  "And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ." JCB

  A few weeks ago, I took some time off work. Instead of doing the beach or travelling around, three days were spent in the basement building a new workshop. When that was finished, the small bench my daughter had asked me to build as a wedding gift was completed.
  My absences from the blog are a result of having to help a ninety-two year old uncle. His health is failing fast. It's cancer. Most of the time, I've been staying with him, making phone calls to set up some sort of home help until we can place him a long term care facility. The home help is important because of the trip to PEI for the wedding. He has no other family. If it wasn't a wedding, I'd have cancelled the trip.
  I am taking him to the hospital Monday for a batch of tests. Once those are done, we'll know exactly where we stand.
  I want to give thanks. Big time. Thanks that the Lord urged me to take care of my own business of organizing the basement so it wasn't hanging over my head any more. I give thanks that the wedding gift was built and wrapped, ready to go before my uncle called, asking me to come.
  I give thanks that I had been reenergized by the time off. and for the ability, physically and mentally, to be there for him. I give thanks that even though these days are busy with lots of running back and forth an hour and a half away, He is keeping me safe in my travels. I give thanks for the 407 highway, a toll road, with far less traffic, and prettier scenery than the "free" roads making most of the drive to Hamilton most enjoyable and relaxing. I give thanks that the Lord is providing the means to pay for this luxury.
  I am so thankful He is with me as I struggle to be patient and full of grace. (God bless nurses and personal support workers and doctors.) Thank You, Lord, for helping me find the words to get my uncle sharing how he's feeling and for the childhood stories my uncle has been sharing with me. I give thanks for my job as a peer support worker which has given me many of these tools.
  I give thanks that I've enjoyed preparing meals for him. Thank the Lord I to know how to make a batch of homemade biscuits and a hearty chicken stew to temp someone whose appetite is gone.
  It's good to be home for a couple of days. Not much can happen until Monday and my folks are going to spend some time tomorrow with him.
  Lord? Thank You for revealing Yourself to me in the busy-ness, in the running back and forth, in the patience found.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

I am Established, Deuteronomy 28:6 by Susan L.

  "The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just has He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways." NKJ
  "If you obey the command of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do." JCB

  I think of businesses like the one I bought my refurbished laptop from. The venue was risky: a flea market up the road open every weekend that's full of vendors selling all sorts of things. Buying a laptop from a place that's rather transient when it comes to vendors took some serious thinking. Were they trustworthy?
  The young man assured me they also had a main store elsewhere that was open seven days a week if I had any problems. He also gave me a business card with the owner's home address and phone number! That's one thing most business owners never do.
  He went on to tell me how long they'd been in business, and about product guarantees and so forth.
  It was an established business. Knowing these things helped me be willing to buy a used, basic, inexpensive, laptop that saved spending several hundred dollars. She ain't pretty but gets the job done. That was roughly four years ago.
  I hadn't been to the market for a long time but a couple of weeks ago went to wander around. The computer company is still there selling new and used computers. It will be the first place I'll go  when the time comes to replace my laptop.
  How does this tie in to being established in Christ, established as holy people? It means trusting and being trustworthy. It means His ways become our ways. It means life comes with a guarantee that He will always be there. It means even if we wander away, He'll be waiting for us to come back. He doesn't leave.
  The next little while, or maybe long while, is going to be challenging. An elderly relative with no family of his own has cancer. The prognosis isn't good. As much as I'd like to become his primary care giver, to live with him, I know it's beyond my abilities. I can spend as much time with him as possible taking him to appointments or preparing easily accessible meals and snacks.
  Right now, the task at hand is to set up some sort of daily home care until he can be placed in a long term care facility. The waiting lists are long. 
  I will continue to help empty the house of the bric-a-brac that gathers when a person has lived in the same place for over forty years. There's not much left to do in that regard until we get him settled somewhere.
  I am thankful for my faith, that I know, without a doubt, what is needed will fall into place perfectly. I am thankful that He will give me strength to do what is needed. I am thankful for the faith that the Lord will keep me alert and safe on the long drives there and back. I am thankful that everything is in the palm of His hands.

  It means the blog will be rather sporadic. So, dear readers, thank you for your grace. I'll also ask for prayers for my uncle and all those involved in helping him through this transition. Thank you.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

I am Equipped 2 Timothy 2:16-17 by Susan L.

  "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." NKJ
  "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." JCB

  Yet the devil has a way of taking God's Word and twisting the truth so we end up far removed from the love of God that pervades every single page. When God's Word is used as a licence to hate, to oppress, to control, to bully, it must make Him so sad. There have been many terrible wrongs done in the name of God based on an incorrect understanding of Scriptures. In many churches, these wrongs continue. It isn't a history thing but sadly, is alive and well today regardless of denomination.
  I've heard many people malign Christians because of it. I was one of them myself not so long ago. The Dalai Lama commented, "I like your Christ, I don't like Christians."
  How did we get so far off track? How do we get back on track to live in the rich inheritance Jesus has given us?
  The Lord saw fit for man to invent the printing press then the internet. The Bible has been translated into countless languages. There are more Bibles accessible to more people than at any other time in history. Is this a dangerous thing? Some say it is. Why do they say that?
  Which takes me back to the first paragraph.

  How do we, as individuals, discern whether our own or another's interpretation of Scriptures is right?
  I have a feeling this is a question many a Bible scholar has asked themselves. I am not a Bible scholar by any means but that's okay because Jesus's message is a simple one.
  "So now I (Jesus) am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Mat 13:34-35 JCB
  Lord, I seek to live a live of unadulterated, purest love. It's something I fail at regularly. Forgive me when I fall. I ask that You open the eyes of my heart to see the Love in every syllable of Your word. Help it become an integral part of my every day, not just in the morning's blog. Equip me to love others better, to do no harm. In Jesus' name I pray.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Affirmation #85 by Susan L.

  I am enriched in everything. 1 Corinthians 1:4-5
  "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge." NKJ
  "I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way--with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge." JCB

  There's something about belonging that makes life extra special. It helps so much when we are filled with be-longing, when we want to find a special place where we can be ourselves.
  When we find it, it's like finally coming home.

  If I lived in a house with Jesus, what would it look like?
  There'd be no such thing as cat hair for sure! :)

  I imagine it on the top of a high mountain with a view that stretches for a gazillion miles. The land is a patchwork of colours, harvest colours, that would be there every single day forever because it's a land of plenty. It would be misty in the distance where sky meets land, blurring the boundaries between the patchwork pieces.
  There's a balcony where Jesus and I stand together to watch the great flocks of birds soaring far below, weaving around the clouds beneath us. It's not a hunting type of flying or because they need to escape a predator. The birds fly for the sheer joy of being birds. They perform acrobatic swirls of gratitude and worship for their Creator.
  Sometimes we share a meal out there. Good foods with colours and textures never seen on earth come from the fields and orchards below. There's a platter that is never empty but the simple foods never spoil. We don't eat because we have to. We taste and sample because it's an opportunity to celebrate the eternal harvest.
  There's only one room in this mountaintop house of ours. In it, I feel like a Persian princess. There's oodles of soft, gauzy fabrics around the windows and the balcony door. They float and shimmer in the warmest, sweetest breeze imaginable. The marble floors are cool to the feet and a stage for sunlight and shadows to dance.
  There's a place for Jesus and I to lie down. It's soft, full of pillows in turquoise, gold and purple. It's a place of quiet conversations, of questions asked and finally answered. There's rest and peace unlike anything I've ever had as I curl up safe and secure in my Saviours arms.

  Lord, I hope You don't mind me sharing our special place. It's been far too long since I've even thought about it. Thank You that I can go there whenever I want. Help me carry the joy and peace it fills me with throughout my day on this ole mortal world.
  Thank You for the gift of words. Thank You for imagination. Thank You so very much that my own be-longing meant You became my Lord and Saviour. Forever.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

I am Enlightened, Ephesians 1:18 by Susan L.

  "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." NKJ
  "I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he has called--his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance." JCB

  I wasn't going to do an affirmations today but instead, take a day and reflect on everything I've learned over the last eighty-two posts. God knows so well beforehand what each of us needs doesn't He? His timing is perfect. Today's scripture is an ideal opportunity to do just that.
  In all these days of writing, what has sunk in? Where have changes happened? Where has growth and newness of life flooded into my being?
  Each day has left the terrible life of constant anxiety further and further behind as I travel forward into truth.  Because of this incredible gift of healing, there is such a hope filling my breast I am excited about tomorrow and the limitless possibilities it contains in Christ. Even when there's a bit of a hiccup or my heart is troubled, it doesn't last because the trust I have in my Lord is continuously being cemented more and more firmly into the foundation of my being.
  I've also come to realize that as much as I love answers and solving puzzles, it's okay to live without them because it's only in God's time will they come. Mind you, it doesn't stop me asking questions. :) He did give me a generous dose of curiosity.
  He knows I have difficulty grasping His divine love. Yet, even in my small human way, bits and pieces of understanding are growing into bigger bits and pieces of understanding about what His love is.
  There's been a lot of letting go. Each day finds another layer of forgiveness given freely and also received when I have repented. Grace, grace and more grace keeps moving in. The more I forgive, the easier it gets because of the incredible freedom this gift of words brings. Sometimes I have to forgive someone over and over but that's okay, too. Each time lets go of the hurts a little bit more.
  Laughter comes easily. Especially when I laugh at myself. There's been an increasing element of play in everything I do. It continually overrides the performance drive, the perfectionist in me. Mistakes are okay. Ha ha ha! Who am I kidding!?
  Sometimes life gets pretty serious because I can be a bit too serious and intensely focused at times.
  And lastly, a joy has moved in that is so great it brings me to tears. Joy in the peace. Joy in the letting go and letting in. Joy in the writing, the art, the music. Washing dishes? Not so much.
  But isn't that because I am much happier making sawdust or getting hot and sweaty and dirty working in the yard? A domestic I am not.
  Oh, for sure there's room to grow. That's how everything ends up seasoned with humility.
  Thank You, Lord, for filling me with a growing confidence. And there is the greatest joy of all: the journey with my Lord and King, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

I am Encouraged 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 by Susan L.

  "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work." NKJ
  "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say." JCB

  What a beautiful passage. What a blessing!
  What does it mean to live knowing eternal comfort? Knowing we need comfort for eternity must surely mean we also need comforting.
  Being troubled or hurting doesn't make us poor followers of Jesus. It's what we do with the pain. It's how and where we direct it. It's the words we say, the thoughts we think...It's doing no harm to others...
  It's doing more than not harming, we are called to love.
  I struggled for a long time as a new Christian regarding this because I believed it was okay for someone to keep hurting me, that loving them like Jesus meant I had to be a doormat. That's not love. For them or myself. I slowly came to realize that I can love them from a distance if my safety or well being is at risk. I confess in some situations it has taken a while to love them. It's a work in progress. :)
  Paul uses the word "comfort" twice in the JCB translation. The first time, he is using it to describe a thing. Comfort is a soothing balm applied to our wounds. It's peace in the midst of trials.
  The second time, comfort is a verb, an action. That's when Jesus wraps our hearts and minds in His presence. Anyone who has ever thrown their arms around a friend who has lost a loved one is doing what Jesus does for us. He doesn't tell us to stop hurting, stop grieving, He simply lets us know He is with us and grants us the strength to persevere by shoring up our faith in Him.
  Faith is a gift worthy of kings. It's a gift the King of kings used every moment of His life; in laughter, in trials, in sharing the Good News His presence on earth meant.
  A few posts ago I was broadsided by the ungodly, hope stealing belief "You'll never be good enough." Since then there's been so many positive things happen, so much comfort poured my way that it has been sent scurrying back to the dark depths where it came from.
  The lie may pop up again, it's got many roots but they are slowly being pulled out. In that I am encouraged. I am also greatly encouraged because not that long ago, if something like this came up, it would have put me into a tailspin for a long time. It didn't this time. Praise God! Jesus threw His comforting arms around me so fast, it didn't have a chance to grab hold and suck me into the Black River. Being in His arms has changed me so much that the lie was more like a mosquito bite that only itched for a couple of days.
  I know what it is to live without hope. Even as a Christian there were many dark days when putting one foot in front of the other required a monumental effort. If you are going through hard times, let me hold onto hope for you. Whenever you're ready, it's here because I know that one day you will be able to hold onto it all on your own. Besides, there's one thing guaranteed to get you through that's better than hope, it's faith.

Monday, 10 July 2017

I am Empowered to Obey Phillipians 2:13 by Susan L.

  "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." NKJ
  "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him." JCB

  Yesterday, the worship team shared the reading of the day's scripture. We were each given part of 1 Corinthians 13:18.
  I was given verse five. "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged." That's how it reads in the Jesus Centred Bible. The last part in my New King James reads, "is not provoked, thinks no evil."
  I felt convicted when I read the part about keeping no record so I need to explore what that means.
  In 2007 I was hospitalized following a major breakdown. After getting a copy of the hospital report, I read where the psychiatrist had written, "The patient is only able to talk about the bad that has happened to her."
  Yes. It was the first time I'd ever acknowledged some of the events that were crucial to me being there in the first place! The doctor's note, once again, reinforced the idea I had no right to talk about anything "bad". (I need to forgive him yet again. Sigh.)
  Why had I been silent for so long? Because I wanted to be a good person. I believed that talking about someone else wasn't nice. I believed I had no right to even accept the idea they had wronged me through their choices to do harm. But most of all, I believed their choices were my fault.
  That's one area those who choose to abuse have mastered, victim blaming.
  Lord, there are so many lost souls who really need You. Open every single heart and mind to Your immeasurable grace. I ask this in Jesus' name.
  I've tried really hard to not be a victim and now realize that what has happened in the past is not entirely my responsibility. I've tried really hard to find forgiveness simply because the Lord has forgiven me for so much. Not judging? There's some room to grow in that aspect. Like the verse says, God is working in me and giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.
  Without truth, there can be no honest answers.  Without truth, grace cannot be extended. Without truth, everything is based on lies. I was done with lying to God and myself. The biggest step, the first step I was empowered to take was into a new world of soul baring honesty. I was finally freed from the stifling beliefs about what a "good" person is.
 Seeking healing and freedom when discussing events that involve another is not gossip. Thank You, Lord for helping me to discern who to share with and for providing sound counsel. 
  Maybe that's what "convicted" me, the old teaching that I mustn't talk about others or I'm not a "good person".

  A sunflower appeared in my front garden courtesy of the neighbourhood birds. It's a red one, the kind with small, black seeds, and has at least twenty buds waiting to flower. The wind took it down on Saturday, fracturing and twisting the stalk near the root. It wasn't a clean break. If it was a bone, it would be called a green stick fracture.
  With hope in my heart, I carefully staked and tied the five foot tall plant upright, re-aligning the stalk as best I could. The wound was wrapped with a cotton strip like a bandage to hold it securely together. I wasn't sure if it could be saved.
  The half where the stalk had been completely severed was a bit wilted yesterday but with some generous watering and a rain last night it would appear the plant surgery was successful. The entire sunflower is now standing tall and healthy looking.
  It will end up being a wonderful feast for the birds who planted it.
  Lord? Thank You for sunflowers. Thank You that You have carefully realigned the pieces where I was broken. Thank You for the freedom and the time it takes to learn Your ways, the stake that has held me upright. Thank You that the wrongs of the past that once crippled me as a person have been wrapped in Your love and tenderness. Thank You that I will continue to grow and learn and learn to love better.
  "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Cor 13:7

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Affirmation #81 by Susan L.

  I am drawing near with confidence. Hebrews 4:16
  "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." NKJ
  "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." JCB

  Just out of curiosity and because it is a practice that irked me, I investigated why the capital letters in the pronouns He or Him, referring to God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, have been dropped in newer Bible translations. Thanks to Google, I discovered the original Hebrew and Greek texts didn't use capitals for these words or other pronouns identifying the Divine Beings. The recent translators wanted to provide a more accurate translation. They weren't dropped due to some modern idea of bringing the members of the Holy Trinity to "our level" like I'd thought.
  I wonder if these capitalized pronouns are a stumbling block for some of us. Do they make God less approachable? Do they create a barrier? Do they generate distance between our Lord and His children? Do the capitals instill a hierarchy of power? I am wondering because, for me, when these pronouns are written with a capital, it stirs a sense of awe and wonder in my heart. For me it's also an offering of honour and respect to the One who has authority in my life.

  Okay, I felt a nudge after writing that last sentence. There are many areas in my life where I haven't surrendered. :) Actually, there are a lot of areas!
  Why is that? It's not like I can keep secrets from the One who knows me more intimately than I know myself. Has something as small as a capital letter prevented me from coming boldly to the throne of grace?
  (There was a long pause in writing here.)

  So when did reverential awe become tainted with cringing fear? Why am I so afraid of letting go and letting in?
  The ugly thought just went through my head, "You'll never be good enough."
  It makes me so sad that this idea is still floating around. There's no grace in it. It's merciless. There's no room for being helped or the space to ask for help. I think I can figure out who keeps fertilizing this toxic idea. It isn't my Abba Father.
  This poisonous core belief has coloured my relationships with people as well. The need to disprove the lie, the need for approval to help disprove the lie has only reinforced this ungodly belief because nothing of this earth will ever be enough to dispel it. No human approval could ever be enough.
  Lord, You have brought me a long way from the battered and oppressed woman I once was. I am reeling a bit this morning because of what You have revealed. Thank You for dredging this out of the depths of the Black River because it explains a whole lot about why I do the things I do. It explains my defensiveness and guardedness when dealing with others and in my relationship with You. It explains why I have found it so difficult to seek Your face, Your presence in ALL things. Guide me along the paths of forgiveness and grace for others and myself . In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Friday, 7 July 2017

I am Disciplined Hebrews 12:5-11 by Susan L.

  "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." Heb 12:5-6 NKJ
 "For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening--it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." Heb 12:10 JCB

  Punishment. It's a hard word that's used instead of chastening in the newer, Jesus Centred Bible's translation of verse six. I find it's hard to wrap my head around.
  My experiences with earthly punishment created shame, guilt and a whole bunch of self-abasing behaviours in order to please the punisher. That's part of my journey, coming to understand the intrinsic worth I inherited as a daughter of God. It's been a long road because those I gave authority to or were in a place of authority abused that right.
  It would appear my road continues. Lord, do I have some questions!!
  What does "punishment" look like without those two terrible weapons?
  Was God "punishing" me all those years I didn't look to Him? Did He allow all the crap to happen as punishment because I'd turned away?
  What about what happened when I was a child?
  Lord, these wounds still run deep. The anger that has stirred in my heart is strong. I lift it all to You. Help me understand Your ways.

  Maybe I am confusing the hand of God with the devil's influence in my life. Maybe I'm twisting it into the idea of God punishing me. Maybe I am confusing consequences with chastening.

  I know one thing for sure. The Lord is pouring His unfathomable love into my life. I've never felt punished by Him for getting it wrong. I've never felt chastised for slipping up. Convicted? Yes. The quiet whispers of the Holy Spirit are all it takes for me to recognize that I've strayed or where perhaps I could have made better choices.
  This is definitely a Triple T subject.
  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." Heb 12:1-2 JCB

Thursday, 6 July 2017

I am a Disciple John 8:31-32 by Susan L.

  For anyone new to the blog, beginning in March, I began a journey to delve into a list of  affirmations. They were given to me as homework following an inner healing retreat. Originally, I was to read ten a day to my reflection in the mirror as part of the healing process. It's like dressing a wound until it heals. Reading the list out loud with a lack of understanding felt like there was something missing. Taking the time to look up ten verses was terribly overwhelming although it makes me smile to realize some mornings writing the blog probably takes a whole lot longer! I decided one a day would be manageable and to take an entire year to work through the list. So here we are, seventy-nine posts later with two hundred and twenty-one to go. I am so excited to see what comes!

  "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." NKJ
  "Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, "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." JCB

  I have to wonder if Jesus chose the original twelve disciples so everyone would find a way of connecting to them and to Him. Time and again Jesus redeemed them just as He is the Redeemer now, in this very moment.
  Judas betrayed Him. It always makes me sad that he didn't come to know the Lord's grace and forgiveness.
  Peter...out-of-the-boat-water-walking Peter...denied he knew Him three times.
  Mathew was a tax collector, the most corrupt and hated people of their time.
  Thomas doubted the resurrection until he placed his fingers into the wound left by the spear.
  There was one who resorted to violence in trying to stop his Lord's arrest.
  I am not too familiar with the other human traits of the remaining disciples but surely they had their flaws. Every single recorded flaw is an opportunity to learn about how high, how broad and how deep the love of God flows.
  Jesus called the twelve His apostles. An apostle is "one who is sent out." (Thanks, Google!) He spent three years with them, preparing them to take His Message to the world.
  A disciple is a follower, a student. Jesus' practice of teaching everyone regardless of where they came from or what their gender was rocked the world. Mary, Martha's sister, was blessed for getting out of the kitchen and sitting at Jesus' feet to learn more of His ways. Martha understood the truth of what He was doing and was later blessed when she went to Him after her brother had died. Jewish traditions about mourning couldn't hold her back from pursuing her Lord and asking Him for a miracle.

  Fairy gardens are all the rage right now. I love little things so I made one for the yard. In looking at it this morning, I realized I'd built ladders to allow the "fairies" to get from level to level. Silly me, fairies have wings!
  Being a disciple is like using a ladder of knowledge and understanding to reach for truth and to allow that truth to grow us into the best we can be. Bible studies, community, and relationships with fellow believers are all part of the process like the securely fastened steps on the ladder. The best part? The love of Jesus gives us wings so we can become far more than we ever thought possible.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

I am Determined Philippians 4:13 by Susan L.

  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." NKJ
  "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." JCB

  I've been part of a miracle. Every time I think of this event, I am in awe of what the Lord can help us achieve. I might have written about this before but it's one of my life's most unforgettable events. It's so vivid, I can still feel the cool, misty rain falling that day: a Mother's Day Sunday.
  I am also going to offer a warning. The contents of this post might be too graphic for some people. Reader discretion is advised.

  My ex, who wasn't a large man, and a slight, young woman had enough strength to raise a rolled over, two-and-a-half ton tractor. It had pinned her father face down underneath the massive rear tire when it flipped. The rain had turned the grass into a treacherous, slippery surface.
  We had very little time to get him free. We couldn't wait for the emergency services who she called after calling us for help. We couldn't wait for my older son to arrive with our tractor. Time was of the essence. We needed a miracle
  We got one.
  My part was to slide him out from underneath once the tractor was lifted high enough. He was a tall, well built man yet he weighed nothing as I gently slid him free, mindful of his back and neck, careful to keep him in relatively the same position to prevent further damage. I remember being surprised at how light he felt; how strong I felt. He could have been a small child in my grasp.
  His face was purple-black from a lack of oxygen but he was conscious and his colour improved as he was able to finally get some air in his lungs.
  We covered him with a blanket and I kept talking to him until the ambulance and professional paramedics arrived to take over. It had taken at least twenty minutes but may have been longer because the local, rural fire department was only staffed by volunteers. (God bless them!) Either way, it would have been too late had we done nothing.
  His hoarsely whispered pleas to get the tractor off broke my heart. I assumed broken ribs stopped him from feeling much relief. All that could be done right then was wait, hold his hand and keep reassuring him he was free.
  It's an experience I'll never forget even though it was probably twenty years ago. Sometimes his blackened face haunts me in the wee hours despite going to see him in hospital the next day where he was much improved. I am haunted by watching him finally lose consciousness after the firefighters placed him on a backboard and gently rolled him over. Up until then, he'd been awake. Up until then, I had no idea how battered his body was.
  Our neighbour survived. His neck and back were fine although there were many other bones broken and internal organs crushed. They were organs he could live without. They were bones easily healed.
  He was a long time recovering. Yet the fact he lived is a miracle all its own because 99.5% percent of the time a tractor roll over is fatal.
  I don't know how this ties into today's affirmation. I suppose the entire sequence of events, the choices all of us made, were an exercise of determination to save a life. Yet without God intervening, it could have ended far differently.
  The best part of all is God intervened even though none of us followed His Son.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

I am Desired Psalm 45:11 by Susan L.

  "So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him." NKJ
  "For your royal Husband delights in your beauty; honour Him, for He is your Lord." JCB

  I have to confess this topic is one of my stumbling blocks. When it comes to discussing beauty, it makes me cringe. Echoes of the past hammer down on any glimmer of belief that maybe I am beautiful after all. A lack of "beauty" has been thoroughly reinforced through rejection, abandonment, and betrayal. Some days it feels as though these things have built an insurmountable mountain that keeps getting in the way of truth.
  The sad thing is most of us women are in the same boat. Studies have shown that we average thirteen negative thoughts about ourselves every day. Even a quick glance at a vague reflection in a window is often met with an "ugh" thought.
  So, here's the question...What happened to the joy I should feel regarding this amazing body the Lord blessed me with? How old was I when I learned shame because it was imperfect?

  It would seem there's a lot of forgiving to be done. There's a long list of people and situations that keeps trying to remind me I am not beautiful. Once again I need to forgive those who rejected, abandoned and abused me. I need to forgive myself, too, for believing what I was taught either directly or through innuendo.

  What is seen as the epitome of human beauty is a transient thing, a constantly changing standard. Marilyn Monroe was a curvaceous size twelve. Twiggy, a 1960's model was, well, twig thin. Size 0 is now in stores. How can someone be a size 0?
  Maybe I need to look beyond what the bathroom scales say. Maybe I need to pray that the Lord will fill me with the knowledge of how He sees me. Maybe I need to ask Him to change the head knowledge these many affirmations have instilled into heart knowledge...
  There's no "maybe" about it.
  Lord, I lift the "maybe's" to you.
  Psalm 8 asks the question, "What is man (woman) that You are mindful of him (her)?"
  Who are we that You are mindful of us?

  Here's what gets me every time..
  Universal events were mapped out so every single one of us would have the opportunity to know God the Father. Macro events, the little things when viewed against the entirety of time, were set in place so every single one of us would have the opportunity to know God the Father.
  God is not a God of coincidence but intention.
  So why did He do all this?
  Our royal Husband delights in us. In Christ, we are wrapped in a mantle of beauty that shines like a beacon to the world. Honor Him, for He is our Lord who died for us.
  Lord, grant us eyes to see and ears to hear. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Monday, 3 July 2017

I am Delivered Psalm 107:6 by Susan L.

  "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses." NKJ
  ""Lord, help!" they cried in their trouble, and He rescued them from their distress." JCB

  Deliverance: being utterly set free from the influences of evil, of sin's consequences, its fallout, its sneaky tendrils that try and worm their way back into our lives.
  Deliverance is a done deal.
  "He sent out His Word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death." Ps 107:20 JCB

  "It's a bird! No! It's a plane! No! It's SUPERGIRL!" The crowd ooohs and ahhhs in wonder at the red and blue streak racing across the sky.
  We love our super heroes, don't we? We love the Good vs. Evil plot line where evil is vanquished every single time. The hero may suffer hurts. It may look like she's down for the count but in the end, she finds the means to rise to the challenge and win the battle. Except, evil has a way of escaping to a secret hideaway where plans to take over the world start all over again.
  I have a feeling Supergirl was created to fill a gender imbalance in the super hero collection. There aren't too many women in the genre. What's with that anyways?
  Even Superman pales by comparison to our ultimate Hero. Superman can only save one person at a time. Superman is after the villain, to bring him or her to justice and punishment. Jesus is after the "bad guy", too, but He wants to redeem them, save them, bring them into the sanctuary of His Father's arms. Jesus came because God wants to deliver everyone out of their distresses. (Note: in the King James version of the Bible, "distresses" is plural. God knows full well that we struggle with many things.)
  So here's the thing. We have all been endowed with the most amazing super powers ever. The Blood of Christ covers us and those we love as a shield against harm. God's Word is a mighty sword that shreds the lies we believe about others and ourselves. The Holy Spirit is with us, helping us to walk in paths of righteousness and truth. Repentance changes our minds and hearts. Forgiveness sends the joy stealing thoughts and feelings scurrying away. Being forgiven means knowing that we are utterly delivered of those joy stealing thoughts and feelings. Gratitude...ahhh to love, it is the greatest peacemaker of all.
  There's something even more wonderful about being a Jesus superhero: we can always turn to the One who is far greater than us. We don't need to find the inner strength to beat the bad guy. All the strength we need flows through us and around us with each and every prayer we make.
  "Help!" is not one of those four letter words!
  I'm going to close with the Lord's prayer I remember from childhood. We used to say it each morning in school so it's as fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday. When things were at their darkest, this prayer would comfort me and drive the shadows away. These are words of deliverance and hope.
  The prayer is found in Matthew 6:9.

  Our Father, who art (is) in Heaven, hallowed (holy) be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses (our sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine (Yours) is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. AMEN!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

I am Delighted In. Isaiah 42:1 by Susan L.

  "Look at My servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen, who pleases Me. I have put My Spirit upon Him. He will bring justice to the nations." JCB (This Bible highlights the prophecies about Jesus in blue. This is written in blue. I added the capitals.)
  "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold. My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles." NKJ

  It always amazes me what leaps out of a particular passage on any given day. Even the same passage on a different day might have something else leap off the page. And what's jumped out for me could be something entirely different for someone else. It truly is the Living Word of God...


  Today's leap feels as though it has zero connection to the affirmation...I was astounded to think that God has a soul. I'd always thought it was something we earthly beings were given. But then, we are made in His image... Whew! Big thoughts for a mortal brain first thing in the morning!
  This has me wondering...what exactly is a soul? A quick search on Google gave almost 46.6 million responses. It looks like this is not the first time this question has been asked! :) has a beautiful way of explaining it. A soul is the spark that every living thing needs to give it life and purpose. Everything has a soul, a spark of Godliness that gives its life meaning. "A soul is not just the engine of life; it also embodies the why of a thing's existence."
  Sometimes it's hard to see the "why". God sees it though. He designed us perfectly to fulfill the "why" of our existence.
  I am going to have a bit of fun here.
  Grass has a purpose. So do elephants and sparrows. I wonder if I would be able to embrace a blade of grass as a role model?
  What does grass do? It grows. It provides nourishment with tender shoots and later, its seeds feed many a mouse or horse or cow in the dead of winter. It provides shelter for wee things. It looks beautiful. It protects the soil. It can do no harm except when it starts to grow up through the driveway but that's not intentional, it's utilizing an opportune crack in the surface. Grass doesn't worry. When times are hard, through flood, fire, and frigid temperatures, the roots persevere with a doggedness that can be frustrating for a gardener.
  Hmmm, maybe there's something to learn here. Maybe my human life, my human soul, could use a good dose of simplicity in a sometimes complicated life.
  Truthfully? I have so much more than the front lawn to inspire, encourage, teach, and grow me. My soul delights in the knowledge that Jesus is part of my life. My soul delights in knowing God the Father was so delighted in His creations that He laid plans for us to be brought together again long before Adam.
  "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Mat 24:3

Friday, 30 June 2017

I am a Delight Psalm 147:11 by Susan L.

  "No, the Lord's delight is in those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His unfailing love." JCB
  "The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy." NKJ

  I had to go hunting through my concordance to find the passage that got me thinking about the idea of fearing God.
  "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involved torment." 1 John 4:18
  How can God be delighted by my fear of Him? The Jesus Centred Bible's concordance defines fear in two ways. The first is to have a reverential awe of God. The second part is what most of us know fear as: being afraid or apprehensive.
  Back in Moses' day, God wanted to be with each of His chosen people on a personal level. It scared the pants of them so they asked Moses to act as a mediator between them and God. They got laws, rituals and practices because it was what they needed to go through before they felt worthy enough to enter into communion with God.
  Jesus came to open the door for everyone. That's how badly God, the Father, wants to be in a relationship with every one of us. He gave us His only Son. Jesus was the expression of perfect love capable of casting out the fear/terror humans had of God.
  He doesn't want us to be so afraid of Him that we end up like Adam and Eve, hiding from Him. He doesn't want us to be afraid because we have sinned. The floodgates of grace were opened up the moment Jesus opened His eyes on Christmas morning.
  So, what is reverential awe? It's those jaw dropping moments of childlike wonder and amazement. It's being thankful. It's honouring the One who died for us. It's being speechless when we see God's hand clearly working in our lives. It's sharing those moments with the world in celebration.
   It's kneeling humbly before Him in prayer and supplication. Or sitting, if kneeling is beyond our physical ability. Or having a chat in the car on the way to the dentist.
  It's moments of quiet contemplation.
  It's realizing God is bigger than anything we could ever fathom.
  It's returning ownership of our lives back to God (again) on the way to the dentist.
  I think of the times in the past when the Lord intervened and saved my life. Foolish mistakes could have cut my story short. A Lifesaver candy nearly did. So did a hay baler. Yet, as I reflect on these moments which happened long before I turned to Him, I know He was there to save me.
  I am one of billions, a grain of sand on the beach, yet God has His finger on my heart and my life every single moment of every day...All fear is gone. In its place is an upwelling spring of hope because there is no place I'd rather be than right here with Him.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

I am Dead to Sin Romans 6:11 by Susan L.

  "Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." NKJ
  "So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin but alive to God through Christ Jesus." JCB
  "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts."  Rom 6:12

  "Lusts." Hmmm, that's a plural isn't it? It covers pretty much everything we covet, desire, want, or absolutely have to have that takes us away from God. How many of our actions are motivated by lusting after something?
  Lust flies in the face of trust.
  It separates us from exercising the faith, the belief, that anything and everything we need will be provided by our Lord. It turns us away from the greatest Source of anything and everything we need.
  It's all about choosing the higher road.

  I'm not very good at it sometimes.
  The phone rang the other day. It was from a man who claimed to be a manager at Fed Ex. He told me I'd won 2.3 million dollars, a Mercedes coupe, a microwave and a blender courtesy of the Clearing House and Readers Digest. I wanted to believe but after making a couple of phone calls, it was obviously a fraud. That's as far as I went with it.
  If a winning ticket isn't sitting in the palm of my hand, it's for sure a scam. That's sound advice from the Anti-Fraud people here in Canada.
  What this brief invasion from the land of the lost did was stir up discontentment with what I have. I went on a mental spending spree that ended up with me looking around my home and picking out its inadequacies: the kitchen, the bathroom, the driveway, the lawn, my bedroom, the tree stumps, the cat claw marks on the furniture (grrrr!)...yah. I mentally trashed the place.
   A phone call was all it took to wipe away the gratitude I usually have for my home, the sanctuary God provided, and sent me lusting after the most expensive renovations imaginable.
  Gratitude makes home improvements an exercise of stewardship. Gratitude means I can do these things when I have the means the Lord will provide. It doesn't have to be today. I don't have to go in debt to make it happen NOW! (That's something else the phone call stirred up, the need for instant gratification.)
  Lust is a garden that only grows toxic, invasive weeds.
  Gratitude is the weed killer we can use to overcome our foe: the thief who steals joy. The betrayer of souls wants nothing more than to keep us unhappy with the way things are.
  I am content to wait, to do a little bit at a time. I know the Lord has a master plan that far outweighs anything I could possibly imagine. He's got an amazing eye for design after all. :)
  Father, forgive me for the times I've let lust dictate my thoughts and actions. Grant me the insight to recognize lust and strength to chase ungodly desires from my life. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

I am Dead in Christ Romans 6:4 by Susan L.

  Not being the author of this list, I find this a rather odd affirmation to explore because the truth of the matter is that I am alive in Him. Let's see what the scripture says...
  "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from he dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." NKJ
  "For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives." JCB

  This same passage was used about a month ago for Affirmation #41, "I am buried with Christ."
  It's all about leaving the old man behind by submitting to the second most important step in being a follower of Jesus: baptism.
  I had been baptized as an infant according to Anglican practices. I also attended several lessons about what communion was prior to going through the ritual of first communion. Something rather important got missed: the love of Jesus. I went to the classes but couldn't tell you a single thing that was taught at the time. I accepted first communion feeling a bit like an imposter because I didn't understand the reason why such a thing was done. Being thirteen, it was the proper time according to the church.
  Lord, maybe it's time I forgave the Anglican Priest who ran the communion classes... Forgive me for viewing holy Communion as a church ritual. Thank You that it has become an incredible gift of intimacy and connection with You. Each time, I sit with Your disciples in the upper room and hear You speak the words so carefully written down.
  Thank You, Lord, that no experience is wasted because You filled my heart with the desire to be baptised as an adult. It was on my own terms and as a proclamation of the newfound faith You placed in my heart.
  But it's more than a proclamation isn't it? Understanding the profound impact this act of obedience has had on my life continues to grow as I mature as a Christian. Part of it is a proclamation of faith. Mostly it is another intimate moment of physical connection with the final work on the Cross: the Lord's death and resurrection into eternal life. 
  Re-birth and resurrection, the gift of Baptism. The old man is left behind in the waters. The new one, the true, God ordained, person emerges.
  And I have to smile. A friend just called and provided my closing comments for today. We were talking about last Thursday night's once-in-a-100-years storm. Torrential rain fell, in some places 130 mm. Rivers overflowed their banks causing some people to be evacuated from their homes. Bridges, roads and driveways were washed away in a matter of moments. Massive culverts were undermined and pulled from the ground.
  Nothing of man will withstand an assault by water if there's enough of it. The waters of Baptism are a gazillion times more powerful. Nothing of man can stand against them.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Page Turning by Susan L.

  I am crucified with Him. Galatians 2:20
  "So I died to the law--I stopped trying to meet all its requirements--so that I might live for God." Gal 2:19 JCB
  "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." NKJ
  Paul then goes on to add, "I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die." 2:21
  There are laws in this world to keep us safe, to try and deter us from harming each other or ourselves. There are bi-laws in every township like only being able to own three dogs. I guess that's about keeping the neighbourhood bark free. There are provincial laws and federal laws. There are unspoken, social "laws" regarding conduct and appearance. Laws, laws everywhere.
  The courts are jam packed with people whose choice to break the law has landed them in hot water. Not all of them break the law willingly. Many are coerced. Many are simply innocent bystanders who ended up living in addictions because their doctor opened the door. I hesitate to use the terminology about some being victims of circumstances but sometimes a bad choice is the only option. Especially when it's better than the worst choice. Fear is a terribly efficient motivator.
  Laws change and evolve through public demand and as a society progresses. We women got the vote. Internet fraud didn't exist a couple of decades ago.  Marijuana is going to be legal in this country starting next July.
  Jesus turned the page on the laws given to Moses. He's really turned the page on all laws written down or implied because if we allow His love to guide our choices, we truly can do no wrong. But, because it's an earth where evil lives, wrong is part of our lives as well. Brokenness tends to colour our human understanding of love.
  In Mathew 5, Jesus commanded us to love each other as ourselves but in John 13, just before He was crucified,  He superseded this one with a greater commandment, that we love each other as He loves us. Maybe it's because He knows how hard it is for us to love ourselves.
  In the same conversation with His disciples, He also promises to ask His Father to give all believers the gift of the Holy Spirit to help them fulfill His commandment. I am so thankful for this gift because some days my own brokenness has me falling short of loving others unabashedly and unashamedly.
  Which turns yet another page. This one is full of life and light and hope and grace. Jesus came to accomplish the purpose of the laws that had kept the Jewish people, the chosen people apart so that the words of the prophets would come to fruition. Jesus was the Promised One.
  Lord, I am ready to turn the page on my own brokenness. I want to live a life that is based on Your immeasurable love for others. Help me see what that looks like. Help me live what that looks like. I also lift up to You those trapped in circumstances, the law breakers, the fraud artists, the lost. Help them avoid hot water experiences and guide them into the joy found in the Living Waters. May Your love reach into the darkness and lead them into paths of righteousness. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house." Mat 5:14-15 JCB

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Almost There by Susan L.

  I am created in His image. Genesis 1:27
  "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." NKJ

  The title, Almost There, is because this is the last affirmation on the first page. It's double columned so there's seventy on each page. It is such a thrill to have reached this first of three milestones. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to persevere with the goal of blogging about each one. Instead, I find myself looking forward to each day's challenging explorations with a sense of excitement that increases with each one.
  That's something to give a whole whack of thanks for: having a joy filled reason to get out of bed in the morning.

  There are probably books out there written by far more learned people than myself exploring the nature of God. To understand God is to understand ourselves. Living in a sin filled world kinda hampers our understanding. :) Isn't that the understatement of the year!
  Until we get to sit with Him in Heaven, our understandings fall miles short of the truth. That's why He gave us a Guide Book, the Bible. That's why He sent His Son to die for us.
  I often think about the time before time when God started laying plans for each one of us. I have imagined Him humming joyfully to Himself as He lovingly puts us together with a dash of this, a splash of that, a whole whack of this for sure!
  Brown eyes? Hazel with flecks of green? No, this lovely child gets deep blue eyes that sometimes look a little bit sad. I'll give her a generous helping of perseverance, too! She's going to need it. And He sighs, His own eyes sorrowful for a moment, knowing what the world has in store for His child. Then He smiles a smile that lights up the heavens because He knows that eventually she'll decide to turn back to Him.
  It boggles this little brain because no two people are alike. Even identical twins are different. Drawing from the knowledge of Himself, He predestined everything that makes us uniquely us. 
  Is that another reason why it's so hard to fathom God? We, you and I, are only given a small share of His identity?
  I've learned it takes relationships and community to help understanding grow. Which is part of Him as well: the Holy Trinity. He is a Community within Himself. There's books on that, too.
  No one has it "all". Sometimes it's hard to recognize those gifts which are part and parcel of  God's identity. Some have a way with children or animals or mechanical things. Medicine, public service, teaching, languages, science, mathematics, art, music...if I was to write a list of all the jobs in the world, each one contains a clue, a hint of God's nature that was incorporated into our DNA right from the get-go.
  The world says, "What we do is who we are."
  God's love turns that on its head, "What we are, we do."
  Our enemy likes to make sure that gets twisted. Actions and behaviours based on half-truths or outright lies are used to keep us apart from each other and the Lover of our souls.
  Beloved, be loved. Before the dawn of creation, you were lovingly formed. No matter what you're doing at this moment, no matter what the past held, throughout it all you were and are loved by a Love that surpasses everything. It's why He made you, to pour out His love upon you so you can pour out His love on others.
  Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice that made coming home to my Father possible. Thank You, Holy Spirit for guiding me into truth and actions. Thank You, Father, for making me just as I am.