Friday, 23 June 2017

Affirmation #69 by Susan L.

  I am created in Christ for good works. Ephesians 2:10
  "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." NKJ
  "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned long ago." JCB

  My Lord? What do You have planned for me?
  And I have to chuckle. Why do I think the "plan" needs to be something great, something extraordinary?
  I supposed there's a good whack of social conditioning in there.
  "What do you want to be when you grow up? An astronaut? A doctor? The Prime Minister?"
  No. I want to be me because...the me that is me was created to do good things that are great. It may only touch a single person but the greatness of simplicity is in the expression of Christ's love.
  Why do I think I need to do more or be more?
  I suppose there's a good whack of social conditioning in there.
  "You work in a drop-in for people whose lives are touched by mental health and addictions? Oh."
  People frequently look away at that point because it's not a comfortable topic of conversation.  
  "That's nice."
  I am blessed when someone hears what I do and they feel comfortable enough to quietly share their own struggles. This happens a lot.
  I've heard that doctors and lawyers get that a lot, too.
  Maybe I need to look at my life through the eyes of Jesus...

  Maybe the blog is a good work, too. I'd never thought of it that way because it's a tool used to ground myself in the Lord nearly every day. Yup, I write for purely selfish reasons. I selfishly want to let go of self to find the self God made me to be.
  I hadn't really thought about the ripple effect this has yet, every time I sit down to write, I eagerly check out the places around the world where someone has popped in for a visit. It's like opening a gift every time a new place shows up!
  The little eight by ten inch map I highlight new places on doesn't really reflect how big this ole earth is. It's waaaay bigger than I can wrap my head around. Perhaps one day, every single country will be highlighted. I'd have to throw a party to celebrate that achievement wouldn't I?
  For someone without letters after her name, without social standing, with very few of the identifying markers society views as levels of success, that's pretty awesome. It's humbling at the same time, too.
  I rarely share that I am a blogger. It's never dawned on me before that it is part of the good works the Lord has equipped me to do. Even when I make mistakes quoting scripture. There's a richness in that, too. It's a growth opportunity.
  Perhaps part of identifying what is a good work is that it not only blesses others but generates a richness in my own life. Especially when I make mistakes only to end up growing as a person, as a child of God.
  Jesus' good work on the cross meant sacrifice.
  I am thankful to have the time I need to dedicate to the blog. Is it a sacrifice if it doesn't feel like one?
 
 
 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I am Courageous by Susan L.

  "And David said to his son, Solomon, "Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed for the Lord God--my God--will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord." 1 Chronicles 28:20 NKJ

  Courage is facing or doing something despite being afraid.
  I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. For a brief moment He faltered because He knew what lay ahead. He asked His disciples to stand watch with Him but they slept instead. He even asked His Father to spare Him the things that were coming.
   I've often pondered these events because Jesus experienced everything people experience. He has first hand knowledge of the temptations that lead us astray. I think of how His mortal flesh battled against the reason why He was there. In the end, He embraced His destiny because He knew that His Father was there to support Him during the upcoming terrible trials and eventual crucifixion.
  "Your will, Father, not mine." He said and the fear left Him. Inhuman strength, His Father's gift of courage, filled the hole where fear once coursed through His body.
  I find such comfort in Gethsemane. It's a garden I've often visited in my imagination especially when the Lord was urging/encouraging me to step into my memories, to face down the pain of past events, to "crucify" the old man. Knowing it was because He wanted me to be free, I'd square my shoulders, lift my chin and softly pray, "It's time but oh, Lord, I am afraid."
  Like a mantle, God's gift of courage would wrap itself over my shoulders. It doesn't mean I didn't' feel pain or grief or torment. Sometimes I wished it would be over.  Some days there was no hope that it would ever end. Some days I didn't want to get out of bed. Some days I couldn't feel the mantle. There were a lot of those days but despite all these things, God's gift enabled me to persevere, to boldly go where I'd never gone before.
  Together He and I would work through the tough stuff. Unlike Jesus, I wasn't alone. There have been many companions who have supported me along the way: my mom, an amazing therapist, a few close friends, the people at the centre. I am thankful for every one of them because sometimes we need love with skin on it. Sometimes we need a shoulder to help us bear our trials.
  Lord, I thank You for courage. I thank You for the inquisitive determination that demanded I find truth. I thank You for granting me the space and place to work things through at my own pace. Thank You for the gifts of art and writing that have been so crucial in breaking down the biggest burdens into manageable pieces. But most of all, I am thankful for Your Son, for the path He walked that makes mine much easier to travel.
  "Because Your loving kindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You." Ps 63:3
 
 
 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Word Choices by Susan L.

  The affirmation for today reads, "I am controlled by the love of Christ." 2 Corinthians 5:14
  "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died." NKJ
  "Either way, Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe we have all died to our old life." JCB
 
  I baulk a bit at the use of the word "control" in the newer Bible translation. Control negates free will, something God, the Father, gave us right from the get go. Control isn't love. It's subjugation and is entirely against His nature.
  Being compelled to do something on the other hand means we are urged to make the best choice about what we are being asked to do. That same compulsion also shapes how we choose to do it. Being compelled by love is the insistent drive to act in and out of love. Even though it's the best way to live, it's still our choice whether or not we follow the compulsion.
  Without the ability to choose, there would be no need for grace and forgiveness. Both are different facets of God's love. Knowing God's grace means we are compelled to offer the same grace to others.  
  At least, when we are ready.
  Sometimes it takes a while. Wanting to forgive another is often all that is needed because it sets our feet on the right path. It's a conscious choice to walk the Love path of Jesus.
  Choosing to forgive others isn't about them, it's about us, our heart, our walk, and our freedom.
  The Love path is having a relationship with Him. That, too, is about choice and our willingness to embrace change.
  Still, knowing what true Love is and being able to live accordingly are often miles apart. That's where the light of Jesus shines like a beacon, leading us out of the darkness into paths of righteousness, of holiness and love.
  We aren't alone either. Jesus gave us a Helper, the Holy Spirit. He is the indwelling source of compulsion and guidance.
  Even though I embraced Jesus as my Lord, change wasn't instantaneous. It takes His tender tutelage to carefully strip away the layers of the old self that shapes my world view. More than anything, I want it to be a Godly view. This has compelled me to travel the Black River time and again as the profound impact of life events has been explored and truth has been uncovered.
  Because Christ died for me, I can also make the choice to die for Him. My soul hungers to be better than I am, to love better than I could ever do on my own.
  I had taken a mental health break from work to collect my thoughts. Being truly happy and anxiety free for the first time in my life, it was a challenging to be there. I knew I was being selfish, wanting to hang on to the joy like a miser holds onto gold. There's some fear in there, too, that something would happen to steal it from me. Yet, over the past week, I've come to realize that my Joy is my strength. So, feeling refreshed, I can go back and allow it to overflow because I will be filled.
  My joy also has the deepest Foundation. The love of Christ.
  "And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:24

Monday, 19 June 2017

Route 66 by Susan L.

  I am continually with God. Psalm 73:23

  "Nevertheless, I am continually with You. You will hold me by my right hand." NKJ
  "Yet, I still belong to You; You hold my right hand." JCB

  Route 66 is the original highway that cuts through the US from coast to coast. It's long been replaced by major, four lane highways or toll roads and is mostly forgotten except to the locals. This affirmation, #66, reminds me that God is the route I've chosen and even if I wander off, His road is always before me. It is free to travel, too! It's even better because His path stretches for miles behind me. I only had to look through the rear view mirror to see where His hand touched my life time and again.
  David wrote this Psalm when he was feeling bitter and envious because of how people who mocked God were prospering and seemed to be living a life of ease. He couldn't figure out why. He momentarily laments his life of faith and dedication. God spoke to him in the sanctuary and explained how He had these people in His sights, that their final destiny was not a good one.
  Then came Jesus who has them in His sights, too. He has redemption planned for everyone and anyone who turns to Him.
  Yet, I have to wonder, are those who prosper without knowing God truly happy? I know I wasn't. All the wealth I once had was like Paul's thorn in my side because of the personal cost, the life I lived trapped by lies. Thank You, Lord for Your limitless grace and forgiveness. Thank You even more for setting me free.

  This has taken me a lot longer to write this morning because I keep getting distracted watching a crew with a tall boom truck take down the massive black willow in my front yard. Between age and the ice storm two years ago, it was a scraggly looking thing that threatened to come down on its own. The power lines were in its path and at risk of getting pulled down with it if it fell. I've waited three years for them to come courtesy of the township. The rest, a threat to the house and my neighbours house, was taken down then because that half was on my property not the township's so therefore it was my responsibility.
  A tree that has taken fifty years to grow is being demolished in a few hours by a team of accomplished woodsmen. A tree that has taken fifty years to grow will provide my neighbours with firewood aplenty.
  Seeing it down has made me realized how subconsciously worried I was that it could fall on its own.

  I am happy it's done. 
  I am happy to be on a journey with Jesus so that watching professional woodsmen has me delighted because I can relate it to my walk with Him. The rotten stuff is being clear cut right out of my life. None of it will remain standing.
  "But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works." Ps 73:28

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Topsy Turvey by Susan L.

I am content with weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:10

  At first glance, this affirmation generated a great big, "What?" But it's better than simply being content!

  "That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." JCB

  Paul was given a thorn in his side following a fantastical journey into the third heaven. The thorn was a messenger from satan to keep him from becoming proud of this blessing. It was a reminder that the knowledge wasn't permitted to be shared because it was beyond anything his brothers and sisters in Christ would be able to understand. He had kept silent about it for fourteen years before writing about what had happened.
  Paul begged the Lord three times to take away the painful thorn. You know what His response was?
  "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9 JCB
  Five times the Jewish leaders gave Paul thirty-nine lashes. This might get a bit grim but bear with me or if you like, skip to the paragraph after the break.
  The average human can't take that kind of punishment all at once. It would be divided over several days to give the body time to heal: a period of grace if that's another way to look at it. Those doing the punishing wanted their victim conscious.
  But the break only lasted long enough to enable the sentenced to take the next set of lashes without dying. This cycle would go on until all thirty-nine were completed. Not only is this a physical torture but it's also a mental one. The brain and body would constantly cringe at the thought of what was coming. There were probably people sentenced to this kind of punishment who lost their minds during the process.

  To go through this five times and survive mentally intact is a work of God. To even be alive is a work of God. To be thankful for the experience? Wow. Maybe this is why:

  I took a moment to reflect on the scourging Christ experienced before being crucified. It must have shocked and confused those doing the whipping that He neither fainted or died from blood loss. All He did was lean on His Father to help Him get through. I am reminded that every lash represented sin cut into the flesh of the Innocent for one purpose: that my sins can be forgiven. Therefore, I can be reconciled to my holy Father. 

  To know first hand a fraction of His suffering must have filled Paul with an undying gratitude. Paul got it. He knew the richness of God's grace and the immeasurable strength of One who knows no weakness.
  My sufferings are only a fraction of Paul's experiences because the Lord has spared me much. I have not been persecuted for my faith. I am not afraid for my life because of what I believe. I am free to worship where I choose, to pray, to write. But most of all I am free to celebrate all the trials when the Lord has sustained me.
  Lord, help me reach deeper into Your sustenance when life is good!
  "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,. For My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9 NKJ
 
 
 
 
 

  

Friday, 16 June 2017

I Am Content Phillipians 4:11 by Susan L.

  "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." NKJ
  "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have." JCB
  Paul then goes on to add, "For I have learned how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Phil 4:12-13
  I've taken a few days off work but hadn't made any plans. It appears Someone Else had a great idea how to best use the time!
  So the last three days were spent in the basement. It was utter chaos down there. My tiny workshop had been dismantled last year when Hydro reconfigured the power supply to the house. Whenever I'd done a project, the kit needed had been simply chucked downstairs. Every time I went down there, it was overwhelming. Every time I tried to find the tape measure, it took forever to find! Aaaargh!
  A new, bigger workbench has been built using thick pine boards I'd salvaged from a discarded waterbed eight years ago for just that purpose. It has one shallow shelf for clear bins containing hand tools and other bits and pieces intrinsic to woodworking. It has a deeper shelf on the bottom for small scraps of decent wood that might come in handy down the road. I hung peg board above it to hang the tools used all the time. No more hammer hunting either!
  Shelves are set up to hold power tools. Another holds nails and screws and a small but mighty ghetto blaster for playing worship music while I am working. Loudly.
  The shop was moved to the other side of the basement away from the oil tank and furnace. There's now plenty of safe space for working around the bigger power tools that have their own stands.
  The entire basement was swept and de-cobwebbed. Five bags of trash are waiting to go to the dump. I've a pile of metal stuff waiting for a friend to come pick up and recycle. There's three massive bins of garbage wood to burn. Why I'd hung onto it, I've no idea!
  A keeper is an old, 1970's era, soft seated, chrome legged chair that invited me to sit for a moment and enjoy the finished product. Content? You betcha!
  Where's this leading? Because I was not happy with the situation down there, opportunity opened up for change to happen. Out of discontent comes the contentment found in making those changes as well as being able to enjoy the arrival at the end. But I don't think this is what Paul is talking about here.
  Am I content with what has grown over the years into an amazingly well equipped shop? For the most part. I'd like to build a router table so it's safer to work with. It's a powerful beast that can take on a mind of its own. A small wood planer would be nice, too. (Chuckle.) A few days ago I was bemoaning the fact I didn't know my heart's desire besides wanting to know Jesus better. Lord, I lift this little wish list to You.
  "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19

That is waaaaaay more than power tools!
 
 
 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

I am a Conqueror Roman 8:37 By Susan L.

  "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." NKJ
  "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." JCB

  I had another epiphany at home church two nights ago.  I needed yesterday to let it percolate, grow and solidify because it rocked my world in an amazing way. These affirmations were given to me as a tool to learn my identity as a follower of Jesus. It was also an opportunity to explore the gifts that living in Jesus unlocks.
  At least, that's how I have approached it up to now.
  I realized there's an entirely different dynamic involved in these affirmations. It's not about me being this or that. Although, it is still an important aspect because it's easy to fall away from God's truth when other "truths" try and move in.
  What's more important is this long list tells me about the attributes of Jesus. The capital "I" at the beginning of each statement belongs to Christ, His Father and the Holy Spirit. A little "i", meaning me, is wrapped securely within it.  The I Am is the holy Trinity. An i am is me. Or to clarify, the list's heading is "WHO I AM IN CHRIST" but I am now seeing it as  "Who Christ Is, therefore i am."
  I have been given a wonderful opportunity to grow my knowledge of Jesus on so many different levels. More than anything I want to be like Him. There's something assuring in knowing this is a done deal, that this destiny began to unfold the moment I accepted Him as Lord.
  I am also seeing more clearly the idea that He had never left. I had.
  Being like Jesus is something I can't do on my own, though. There's a couple of things called independence and self-reliance that shape how I approach the world and my place in it. It's been so much a part of the fabric of my life because not knowing Jesus for most of it, there were no other options based on the circumstances. They still creep in because there is an enemy of my soul working very hard to keep his poisonous ideas flourishing. The old ways have a way of resurfacing.
  I falter. I sin. I don't always turn to the Lord. I get angry and frustrated and run out of patience. I rarely ask for help...hold on.... Jesus is all that is needed for the strength to overcome all these things (and many more). My Conqueror won the battle already through His once-and-for-all-eternity victory at the cross.
  "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8:38-39
 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

More Confidence by Susan L.

"I am confident He will never leave me." Hebrews 13:5-6

 I've gone and done a big, "Oops!" Before putting in the scriptural base for this affirmation, I want to apologize to God and my readers for messing up His name. Jehovah means "Lord" not "God with us." I should have written "Immanuel" yesterday instead. Some days the brain is better than others! Thank You, Lord for grace.

  "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"" NKJ
  "Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?" JCB

  I prefer the King James translation in this case. Covetousness covers more than money. It describes a need to possess worldly markers of status. It can feed a vicious determination to get what is wanted at all costs. No share-sies allowed. That's avarice. Scrooge, from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", is the personification of a covetous person. Jealousy plays a huge part in this insatiable need to have more.
  So let's back up a bit. Where does the need for "stuff" come from?
  There's the cultural element. There's media bombardment fueling inadequacy. There's the endorphin rush that comes with buying something new. The birth of easy credit in the late 50's created the immediate gratification syndrome with the consequences that people in the wealthiest nations are carrying unprecedented debt.
  We can never pay enough or do enough to fill ourselves with a sense of self worth.

  Jesus bought it for us. He paid the value His Father holds for every single person. Forever.

  There was a long pause after writing that last sentence.
   Lord, there are so many areas in my life that I haven't embraced Your perfect love for me. It's only in Your perfect love that fear will be cleansed from my beating heart. I want to live securely and confidently in Your promise that You will never leave nor forsake me. Help me discern where this isn't happening, where covetousness and greed enter into my life.
  I also want to thank You for Your provision of everything I need to live and more. Help me learn to be content and grateful in all things. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Heb 13:8
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Philippians 1:6 by Susan L.

  Affirmation #61 "I am confident He will finish me."
  "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." NKJ
  The Jesus Centred Bible reads, "will continue His (good) work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
  I think there's a possibility that this could also mean until the day our Lord takes us home. We'll meet Him then, too. Or does completion continue after life as well? Food for thought.
  Although I've also pondered and found comfort in the idea that some hurts in my life might not be healed until the day the Lord takes me home. Then He will finally "wipe away every tear" Rev 21:4. (Those wounds I surrender to His will because I am more than willing to be healed this side of Heaven.)
  This is such an inspiring verse for me. It has also affirmed what I wrote about the other day, that from moment to moment we are completed until the next set of completions begins.
  G(o)od in action. It's a work that is even more important than the creation of a universe full of good things.
  Humans have tried to create a mini-earth: an enclosed, self-sustaining, environment. With little success. Microscopic bacteria poisoned the air of one such experiment and nearly killed the people inside.
  Our Lord was meticulous in His design, in all the elements, the creatures, the plants, the air we breathe. Even the weather and ocean currents that vitalize this planet were part of His plan. From atoms to the sun, He set in place a careful balance necessary for life to thrive.
  From Adam to the Son, He set in place the careful balance necessary for us to thrive, to rise above the dark forces of this world. But only if we let Him help us to live according to the promises He has given us. His plan for us is beyond good.
  Christ's work on the Cross means I, we, don't have to wait to die to meet Him. He is Jehovah, God with us. Always.
  "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and discernment." Phil 1:9

  Beloved, be loved. If you don't know Jesus as Lord, I once again invite you to invite Him into your life. He has been waiting especially for you for a long, long time.
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

1 John 5:14-15 by Susan L.

  Affirmation #60 I am confident of answers to prayer.
 "And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for." JCB
  I've been reading Bruxy Cavey's book "re(union)" which is the foundation for the teaching series we are going through at church. It's challenged me on a number of levels. One of which ties into today's affirmation.
  It's wonderful to be able to look back through past posts and see that prayers have been answered time and again. Most of these prayers are spur-of-the-moment, heartfelt requests for healing and a deeper understanding/relationship with my heavenly Father and even more so, Jesus. Many of them have answers that are still unfolding even as I type. It is definitely something to give thanks for.
  I'm being nudged towards making a different type of prayer. One that has me voice my dreams for the future. It scares the pants off me! Even though I have a most welcomed hope for the future, it's still vague. As I read a section in "re(union)" about asking God for our heart's desire, I was a bit sad because I couldn't think of anything that was wanted enough to ask/hope for.
  S-t-r-e-t-c-h...
  So, why is it so hard to make a wish, a prayer for my future life?
  I guess it's because it is such a foreign concept. It's learning a new language. Future-speak. It's also bigger than just asking for stuff. Although, time and again, the Lord has blessed me with road side finds fulfilling a need needed. Each time I've done a shameless, happy dance of gratitude.
  Maybe "bigger" is the wrong word. "Different" is better, not so imposing.
  So I have to ask myself, what do I want?
  Do I want a partner to share life with? Part of me says yes, the other isn't so sure. What sort of person would suit? Could I think about what he would need to be like?
  Most of the time my prayers have been to remain single if a human relationship would take me away from God. Now I am learning how relationships are a way of drawing nearer to God, it's got me thinking about those prayers. Am I ready for something completely different? Is it time to move out of isolation, the protection of my sanctuary and singleness?
  Whoa! Back up a moment! I need to be kind about this. I have not hidden behind being single. I have not been well enough for a long time to even consider having another person in my life besides a few special friends and Pumpkin. Cats are demanding partners! If anything, this is a celebration moment because I am even entertaining the possibility of a relationship with a man. Talk about a change!
  Do I want to go back to school? For what? To become a pastor? Why a pastor? Hmmmm, is it possible to do online courses towards that purpose? It's an idea that has been whispering around the edges of my mind for quite a while now. I've never put it "out there" before. 
  Lord, let Your calling for my life come through loud and clear.
  There I go again. Finding a way to escape asking for something. :)
  This new language is going to take some getting used to!
  "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 1:20-21
 
 
 

Friday, 9 June 2017

I am Confident 1 John 4:17 by Susan L.

  "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as He (Jesus) is, so are we in this world." 1 John 4:17 NKJ
  "And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world." JCB
  There's no such thing as coincidences. Our small group studied these passages. They were blogged about yesterday and, lo and behold, here is 1 John 4 containing today's affirmation.
  The Lord has blessed me with a gift: freedom from my generalized anxiety about everything and anything. I keep writing it, saying it, because the over the last few months, the wonder and joy in such a profound peace keeps surprising me! It pops up like a laughing Jack-in-the-box. It is unlike anything I've ever experienced. The be-on-guard-cause-something-bad-is-going-to-happen watchfulness is gone. Poof!
  My meds are still part of my daily regimen because they are important to my wellness. It's no different than if someone uses insulin to control diabetes. This healing has eradicated the issues the meds, on their own, could not help with. I need to walk in this brand new me for at least a year before considering making a change.
  Even so, there's a feeling of permanence in this healing. It's not a blip, or a reprieve from the struggle to just get by. It's a forever done deal. My human cautiousness, is well, being human. :)

  Lord, I can't thank You enough. For everything. Even the dark days on the Black River.
  Even though I am wrestling and even stumbling over the big ideas of what being a follower of Jesus means; even though there is plenty of room for improvement, hope and a solid assurance that my quests, my Triple T's will be answered, feeds this newfound confidence. There's so much ahead to explore and embrace and celebrate!
  Oh, Lord, there's a gazillion questions! It's okay to have questions! Even doubt is okay. Guide me into truth. In Jesus' name. Amen!
  And once again I am surprised how wonderful it is to imagine a future. Lifelong depression in its various forms stole that ability from me. It's even more wonderful knowing that the future God has planned for me far outweighs anything I could imagine.
  Why?
  "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involved torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him (Jesus) because He first loved us." 1 Jn 4:18-19
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Affirmation #58 by Susan L.

  "I am complete in Christ." Colossians 2:10

  In home church we discussed 1 John 4. It's all about love and the perfecting qualities of God's love. It's a verse that makes me squirm in discomfort. It's also a verse I've struggled with because of this:
  "But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18
  Ergo, I fear. A lot. Therefore I am not perfect. I have felt condemned, inadequate, and unworthy whenever I've read this particular passage.
  On Tuesday, for the first time, I heard the compassion I believe this sentence was written with. I could almost see John's tears as he wrote it down so many years ago. I heard the grace of God in the spaces between the words, filling the gaps. I felt the sorrow that human understandings of love hinders my ability to embrace a Love that is beyond comprehension. It is beyond most of the "love" experiences I have had in this ole world.
  It has brought me a great deal of peace.
  Why?
  Because it's okay if I mostly don't get it. Today, anyways. My prayer is that one day I will.
  This sets me free to live in the identity of who I am a this very moment; to be the person God predestined me to be right now. Fears and all. I don't have to wait until I think I am perfect or acceptable to Him because, if the truth be told, that will never happen as long as my feet tread the dust of the world.
  In the end, even though I get hijacked by fears, I no longer have to be afraid.
  Today, in this very moment, with each breath, with each tick of the second hand on the clock, I am complete in Christ. Tomorrow, after learning more, surrendering more, I am complete. And in the next hour and the next day and the next month, I will be completed all over again.
  Completion isn't a destination. It's a gift of freedom, of security, of living in and through the love of God.
  Wow. This is one of those forever changed moments. Thank You, Lord for lifting a weight from my heart.
  "For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority." (JCB) Col 2:9-10
 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

I am Comforted Jeremiah 31:13 by Susan L.

  I've been doing some thinking, some Triple T's, about how perfect love casts out fear.
  We had our church's AGM two Sunday's ago. There were two men sitting directly behind me. Both of them are tall and well built. Having them there had my senses on high alert, my body ready to spring out of danger. It's silly. I know both of them quite well. They are kind and caring. So why did I feel threatened by their presence behind me, out of sight? Even the hair stood up on the back of my neck it was that intense.
  I admit I was extremely tired and feeling rather vulnerable because of it but these unwarranted, unwanted reactions have bothered me ever since.
  Lord, how do I feel safe? How can I ever feel safe when my body hijacks my emotions especially around men? Even my step-dad is regarded with extreme caution. It must impact my relationships with my sons as well.
  How can I grow to love all men (and women, too) with Your perfect love?

  So I don't know if this thought is coming from God but I have to wonder if trusting men, people, is the same as loving them.
  I guess that's the fear part kicking in. Fear of reprisals and condemnation due to my own imperfections.
  Imperfection is a punishable offence. Now there's a core belief that has it all wrong! Thank You, Lord, for uncovering it.
  Boy oh boy do I struggle with criticism. Why is someone critical? Is it because of their own insecurity? Forgive me, Lord for being critical of others. I choose to forgive those who have criticized me. The list is long on both parts.
  I really need the perfect love of Christ to help me here. Not only through embracing His love for others but for myself as well so the voice of the critic will be silenced and unheard.
  This boils down to the fact I am tired of being afraid. It's not just men. It's prevalent in most aspects of my life. Another long list takes shape.
  Thank You, Lord, for grace but most of all this terribly insecure woman needs to feel the security of Your presence in my life. It's been an emotional roller coaster this morning.
  "The young women will dance for joy, and the men--old and young--will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. The priests will enjoy abundance, and my people will feast on my good gifts. I, the Lord, have spoken." Jer 31:13-14
 
 

Monday, 5 June 2017

I am a Co-heir with Christ Romans 8:17 by Susan L.

  Yesterday was a special day. My son and his wife dedicated their baby girl to Jesus. It was wonderful to witness and was a perfect opportunity to link arms with her other Nana and my mom,  her Great-gramma, to pray a grandmother's blessing over this little, laughing bundle of joy.
  They attend The Meeting House in Oakville. It's the same church my own church follows, albeit our streamed teaching is a week behind. Our small church is in the process of leaving our non-denominational calling behind to become full-fledged members of the Be (formerly Brethren) in Christ family alongside The Meeting House.
  I also purchased a new Bible. (Thank You, Lord, for the freedom to do so.) It's called the Jesus Centred Bible and has easier language to follow than my New King James version. I'll probably use both going forward but will add the honorific capitals when Jesus is referred to as Him or He simply because I feel it is right to do so. I am still a bit old fashioned that way. (Perhaps I need to examine further why they have been dropped from modern Bibles and teachings. Not today, though.)
  Yesterday's teaching was a week early for me but it was a lesson I needed to hear in light of my last post.
  "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to Scriptures." (NKJ) 1 Cor 15:3-4
  Today's verse is "For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs to God's glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later." (JCB) Rom 8:16-18
  How does all this fit together, my Lord?
  Generations. Inheritance. Family. Community. Connectedness. All of these give strength...to overcome, to persevere, to let go and let grow new understandings, new truths and to embrace the full knowledge of just how much God loves His children.
  My own love for all my children and grandchildren is a fraction of His love for me, for us. I love them so much that at times, it hurts.
  Nothing will separate us from the love of God because, "Be encouraged! Your sins are forgiven!" Mat 9:2
  As an aside, part of the teaching included The Gospel in Chairs. It was a powerful visual representation of our relationship with God. It's in The Meeting House's teachings under (re)union, week 4, Separation Solution.

 
 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Affirmation #55 by Susan L.

  "I am clothed with Christ." Galatians 3:27

  I find I am being challenged to get all this head knowledge into my heart which I know I can't do. At least, on my own. I admit that once a post is written, the ideas explored tend to wither into the forgotten corners of my mind.
  There has to be a better way to make these affirmations real.
  So what's stopping this from happening?
  Am I finding myself burdened because I should be able to live according to these affirmations? There have been many nudges in the areas where that's not happening. Usually guilt follows especially when I find myself not being very Christ-like. So who, exactly, is doing the nudging?
  Perhaps I am being too legalistic about the whole process.
  Here's the list. Memorize it. Get it. Live it.
  And the greatest legalist of them all chuckles and rubs his hands together in glee. Hint: it isn't God.

  These affirmations are meant to be a daily blessing, not a rule book. I think that's been forgotten over the last couple of months. I've begun to treat these wonderful, life giving words as a daily obligation, a chore, a task. Somewhere along the line, the joy in writing about them up and went.
  I didn't write yesterday because of an internet glitch. My phone, which I use as my internet connection, wouldn't hold a charge therefore it wouldn't turn on. Last night I discovered it was because I'd plugged in the wrong USB cord. I am sure it was divine intervention although it was frustrating at the time because things weren't going according to my routine.
  It has given me a couple day's separation to gain some perspective about what's going on behind the scenes. It makes me glad, in hindsight, that yesterday was an unexpected holiday.
  So where do I go from here?

  Remember, Sue, you started this project to help you understand the meaning of these affirmations.
  How about some grace? It's a lot to learn.
  How about some more grace? Change doesn't happen all at once. It takes time.
  How about even more grace? You are clothed with Christ. He is sufficient for all things and in all things. In Him, in His time, these blessings will become living things, pertinent today just as they were two thousand years ago.
  Be patient, girl, even though you don't necessarily consciously remember everything, each affirmation seed has been planted in your heart and soul. It takes time to grow and bear fruit.

  Lord, forgive me for being so hard on myself.
  "Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." Gal 3:12-22
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

I am Cleansed 1 John 1:7,9 by Susan L.

  Verses five to nine in 1 John are a clear depiction our calling as followers of Jesus.
  "Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
  I read this verse backwards because it struck me that it is an Alpha and Omega moment. Beginning is the end, the end begins. Reading forwards and backwards is like unravelling the warp and weft in the fabric of our Christian calling.
  By knowing Jesus and embracing Him as Lord, my foundation is in the love of Jesus Christ. Brotherly kindness follows because I cannot do otherwise. Brotherly kindness is godliness because I have been called to love others just as God loves me. (There is room for growth here.)
  Godliness, the love of God and for God, grants the ability to persevere. Perseverance enables self-control. Self-control is the open door to knowledge because I've allowed God to guide my life, to show me, to grow me into the knowledge of Him. (One step at a time, sweet Jesus.)
  Knowledge, knowing His heart, means living a life of virtue is blessed with all the help I need to make it so. All because of faith.
  Faith is love.
  What does it meant to live a virtuous, or love filled life anyways?
  I have to thank my Catholic brothers and sisters for the following on-line list of how living virtuously can eradicate sin in our lives. (changingminds.org) I used my own verbs.
  1. Humility wipes away pride. 2. Kindness squashes envy. 3. Abstinence subjugates gluttony. 4. Chastity (I'd like to add chivalry to this) diffuses the power of lust. 5. Patience usurps anger. 6. Liberality shatters greed. 7. Diligence protects against sloth.
  I am so thankful God is a God of grace. Forgive me, Lord, for my sinful ways.
  Even so, there has been much growth and many changes as the wages of sin are slowly being cleansed from my life. It's an ongoing process because sin has some slippery tentacles. I give thanks that God is in my life so, one day, sin will be utterly eradicated. More than anything, this is my heart's desire because once that happens, I will be the woman God called me to be.
  Hmmm, you know something? Right now, this very moment, I am who He asks me to be!
  "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." 1 Pet 1:2

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

I am Clean by Susan L.

  "For I (God) will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you." Ezekiel 36:24-26
 
  There's another verse assigned today as well.

  "You are already clean because of the word which I (Jesus) have spoken to you." John 15:3

  You are forgiven.
  Why?
  Because you asked.

  Simple. No ongoing rituals of washing. A single Baptism into Christ is sufficient.
  There's no atonement. No hard labour. No act on this earth that could earn God's grace.
  It's a forever gift.
  Letting go is the challenge because there's an enemy who delights in rubbing our noses in our mistakes, our sins. He delights in holding us back by using weapons of shame, blame, guilt and self-loathing. His sole purpose is to keep us separated from God. He'll do anything to make that happen. Besides the shame/blame route, he will place temptation in our paths and laugh when we fall.

  You are forgiven.
  Why?
  Because you asked.

  Because God loves all of us so incredibly much that He sent His Son to the Cross.
 
 
 

 

 
 

 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Affirmation #52 by Susan L.

  "I am clay in the potter's hand." Jeremiah 18:6

  I recently used an air dry clay to make some ornaments for an indoor fairy garden. These mini-landscapes are all the rage right now so ready-made accessories are rather expensive. Besides, the challenge of making something out of whatever is handy is a favorite past time.
  I decided to try and sculpt a fairy in a sitting position. She's all of two inches high and ended up with fat legs and a rather ugly face.
  Her translucent wings were cut from a clear plastic, fast food container then painted with veins of gold. They got glued on once she was dried and painted.
  The body began as a fat, short sausage. I used scissors to cut the clay, dividing it into body and limbs. I needed to use water while manoeuvering them into place. This kept the bends smooth and prevented the clay from cracking as it was folded. The joints, hands and feet were shaped with the help of a toothpick.
  To give her feminine curves and a neck, some of the clay was carefully scraped away.
  Shaping facial features on a soft lump of clay the size of a cultivated blueberry was difficult. I kept squashing her nose! Ergo, she is far from beautiful.  :)  It's okay because she ended up having a character that is outside the box of fairy normalcy. (Another smile.)
  The whole exercise of miniature making was rather humbling. Adult fingers aren't conducive to working on an itty-bitty scale. It has me in awe of the people who do the original sculptures for any manufactured plastic or resin miniatures.
  Throughout this process, this scripture came to mind. It's one of my favorites and as I mused on my own artistic efforts, I imagined the great Sculptor working to shape and mold me into something that is perfect. (Not there yet!)
  "Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the Lord, "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!"

  As I copied the scripture, it made me realize that I have an influence on the shaping of others. I need to be mindful that my hands are hands of tender care, grace and compassion.
 
 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Heaven's Own by Susan L.

  Today's affirmation is, "I am a citizen of heaven." Philippians 3:20
  I am...not I will be.
  So that means now. Not tomorrow or after the Lord takes me home. Now.
 
  (A long pause.)

  There's no dress code. No secret language of social status. No prejudices. No class entitlements.
  Come as you are and be welcomed.

  It's not complicated. There's no red tape. No forms to sign. No dotted i's or crossed t's. No court appearances. There's no judge deciding who is worthy or unworthy to receive this honour because it's meant for everyone. 

  I have done nothing to deserve this honour. I have done nothing to earn it. I have not paid for the privilege.
  It's a gift. It's the happily-ever-after promise held in trust long before the Lord was invited into my life and heart.

  "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved." Phil 3:20-21


  
 

Friday, 26 May 2017

I am Circumcised Spiritually Colossians 2:11 by Susan L.

  I've read the various scriptures about circumcision many times but have never taken the time to investigate the historical context. Thanks, Singing Waters, for adding this to the affirmation list. Thanks again, Google, for being a source of reference.
  It's one of the key scriptures that unlocks a mountain of understanding about other scriptures.
  Circumcision is the Jewish ritual of removing a male's foreskin when the boy is eight days old. It is done because, according to Jewish custom, "this human act marks the completion of the human body. It teaches that spiritual, emotional, ethical, and moral perfection requires human effort. God cannot do this." (Chadabad.org)
  Now I understand why Jesus says we have been circumcised in Him! It's all part of the New Covenant His life and death and eternal life brought into the world. His covenant overrides the power of the laws given to Moses.

  I'm curious, is this another reason why, historically, Jewish women are seen as less than because they have not undergone this rite of completion?
  Bat Mitzvah's are a twentieth century invention. It's the female version of a Bar Mitzvah where a boy becomes a man through ceremonial readings. The Bat Mitzvah rites still hold to a lot of traditions that exclude women from the religious practices given to men based solely on gender. For example, women cannot read the Torah, the Jewish holy book, in front of men. Just wondering how these attitudes percolate through society in general. (Google has a lot of information about these rites of passage.)
  How have these attitudes percolated through Christianity?
  Sorry, I got off on a bunny trail there...
 
  I can feel puzzle pieces falling together. (Grace! Grace! Grace!)
  Jesus isn't gender specific in His declaration of circumcision. A woman can be circumcised in Christ just like a man can be the Bride.
  My goodness! He turned the world upside down, didn't He?
  In Christ, gender is superseded by personhood, by the value of my, our, being.
  This new knowledge drives home a further understanding of the lengths God went to for us. This understanding is already helping me see His Word differently.
  Sooooo, what does all this mean? It means I am, we are, complete, redeemed, whole, washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb. It's a done deal. Fait acompli. Signed, stamped, sealed and delivered. Amen!
  There's nothing I can do or say that will ever change this.
  It's another, "Wow!" day!
  "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Col 2:13-14
 
 
 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

I am Chosen 1 Peter 2:9 by Susan L.

  It's a sunny spring day. The excited kids in gym class line up in the schoolyard, happy to get this extra time outside. The teacher struggles to get the class to settle down then appoints team captains for the day. They begin the slow process of choosing their teammates for a game of soccer. One by one, the more athletic ones are chosen. The best are greeted as royalty, the average with high fives, until there's one person left.
  They aren't good runners. They are far from being a good soccer player. Maybe they are last because they look a bit different or dress a bit differently. Whatever the reason, they aren't wanted by either team so have ended up being assigned by default. They join the rest of their team amidst groans of despair, turned backs and assumptions that their team would be the losers. All because of this last person on.
  I don't know if this team selection method is still used in schools today. I hope not. It's terribly cruel.
  I've been the last person standing, waiting, hoping for someone to pick me...want me...

  Whew...writing those forgotten experiences has stirred up some old hurts! But I will say, these early wounds explain a lot about the choices I made later in life. It's another facet of understanding revealed. Thank You, Lord!

  It's in stark contrast to why Jesus chose me or why He calls any of us to His side.
  It wasn't because I had anything to offer His team.
  The world's hierarchy of worth like the pedestal placed sports superstars, beautiful actors, or even brilliant minds has no place in His domain. I'm not saying these wonderful, talented and gifted people have no place in His kingdom. God's playing field is a level one. They need His Son as much as anyone. He wants them, too, more than anything!
  The devil has a grand time using everything we do or say or believe against us because he wants to make sure we never feel worthy enough for Christ.
  That makes it extra special, His choosing us because in His eyes, we are worthy no matter what our station in life is. Doctor, homeless, white, black, man, woman, married, divorced, tea totaller, living with addictions, famous, infamous, angry, joyful...this could be a long list. Seeing as I am a human, I am bound to miss someone. God won't because we are all worthy.
  Worthy enough to sacrifice His Son for.
  Worthy enough for that same Son to die for.
  Worthy enough to forgive, encourage and strengthen.
  Worthy enough to bless with a Guide for life.
  Worthy because His Father predestined us before the dawn of time for a wonderful, beautiful, relationship with His Son.

  I've used the term divine inheritance to refer to the many gifts God has given to me. I'd never thought of myself as Jesus' divinely willed inheritance...
 
  Chosen.

  Wow.

  "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." 1 Pet 2:9-10

  I invite you to choose Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour. He is waiting with delighted anticipation because He chose you and only you long ago.
 
 
 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Body Image by Susan L.

  "For no one ever hated his own body, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church." Ephesians 5:29
 
  Sticks and stones will break my bones,
  But names will never hurt me.

  I have no idea who penned that gem. All this sing-song admonition did was encourage me to feel weak and stupid and inadequate because being called bad names does hurt. Terribly. Most of my flashbacks are rooted in instances of verbal violence, not physical violence.
  Childhood taunts, "Fatty, fatty two-by-four..."
  Teenaged cruelty and being the butt of jokes like having a tack put on my chair in Geography class. Ha, ha, ha. I laughed when I felt like crying. (Lord, I think we need to talk about this because I can still see and hear the kids in the class laughing at me. I can feel the waves of shame flowing through my veins.)
  Rejection.
  Abandonment.
  Betrayal.
  My body, my gender, the first building block of identity, has been used against me. I confess I hated it. I hated that it was inadequate. I hated the vulnerability, the powerlessness. I hated that femininity predestined me to live according to unspoken, gender specific social rules. I hated that I have a solid frame and muscular build and would never have a ballet dancer's physique...
  Most of all I hate when this body of mine kidnaps my mind. A flashback has no warning.

  This is the most revealing blog I've had in a while and even though there's been much healing, it's a long journey. I wonder, am I still angry at those who taught me the "rules"?
 
  God forgive me...yes.

  So, here's the million dollar question, "If I can't love me, how can Jesus?"
  Here's the million dollar answer, "Because His Father loved me first."

  All of me! Lumps, bumps, and sags. Anger, bitterness, rage, un-forgiveness, resentment, the whole ugly package which, praise God, is being healed and refined and forever changed thanks to the indwelling of the Spirit.

  Thank You, Lord, for Your love because only an indwelling Love can lead the way to something far better. Forever. Lead me beyond the anger to a better place. Cleanse me of the self-loathing and shy insecurity that is still part of my life.
  Shape me, mold me to be more like You.
  Open my eyes to the beauty in others and myself. Help me see Your children with Your eyes and Your love for all of us. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen!
  "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Eph 2:4-7



 
 
 
 

Monday, 22 May 2017

I am a Child of God John 1:12 by Susan L.

  I have to start off by making a comment about a movie, a Christian movie called "Broken". It's a story about a teenaged boy who lives with depression and asthma. The girl who was on a mission to save him, at one point, ranted to a friend about the fact he was taking medication to help with his depression.
  "He is using pills to numb his feelings!" she says in angry frustration.
  If a doctor has prescribed so much medication that it leaves a person numb, it's waaaaay too much!!! That's not what meds are for! My own psychiatrist gets visibly upset when his peers go that route and don't take the time to work with their patients to find the best solution. Meds are meant to help alleviate symptoms and facilitate a better life.
  Being able to get out of bed or even have a full night's sleep is a better life!
  Anyways, as the plot unravelled, the boy went on a church retreat with this girl. Perversely, his parents were terribly upset because he didn't have his asthma medication with him.
  It's not an old movie. It's fairly recent but clearly reflects the misunderstandings about mental health and medications still rampant today in many movies and TV shows. Sigh.
  "It's okay to take medication for a physical ailment but not for a mental one," was the not so subtle but sadly familiar message being delivered.
  I changed the channel but regretted not finding out who had produced it. It will probably be aired again so I'll take the time to find a contact. I'd like to send a letter to them because it's my mission to share what I've learned about mental health.
  Why?
  Mental ailments are often physiological: chemical imbalances, emotional trauma brain injury, genetics, physical brain injury, chronic pain, chronic illness. Thyroid issues often first manifest as a mental health one. There's also a situational aspect that is often overlooked like being isolated, or aging or having a new baby. There's much more involved than simply being a "mood".
  Maybe I should have watched the whole movie. I have a feeling that when the boy was saved, his depression would have been healed. The same with the asthma.
  I would never deny that God can work healing miracles. Let my life be a testament to that.
  Most of the miracles of healing weren't instantaneous (a few were) but mostly wellness has grown through a relationship with Him and His Son.
  It has took me a long time to accept that I need medications to stay well. When I was first diagnosed, I had attitudes of judgement fully rooted in ignorance just like the people who made this movie and others. I came down awfully hard on myself. "Weak! Incompetent! You have God, what do you need with pills?!" Ouch.
  I have heard my own thoughts echoed by many others who live with a mental health challenge. Sometimes a choice is made to go without meds. It ought to be a personal choice. I tried to go without for a while but am thankful that my decision to work with medications was the right one for me.
  Grace smoothed the way to knowledge, understanding and acceptance.
  Why? Because I am a child of God.
  You are a child of God!
  Broken is okay. Broken is more than okay.
  Lord, let my mission be filled with compassion and grace. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen!
  "He (John) said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness; Make straight the way of the Lord." Jn 1:23
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

I am Changed, 1 Samual 10:6 by Susan L.

  This verse is part of the story when Saul became the first King of Israel. I confess I am mostly familiar with it because of its brief appearance in "The Bible" mini-series. What struck me the most about this verse is the order of events. Saul would be changed after the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. In a few brief moments he was promoted from being a judge to being an honoured prophet. A few short verses later, he is proclaimed King.
  The next verse goes on to assure him that because he has the gift of the Spirit, God is with him.
  I am not Saul or Esther or Mary or any of the great people in the Bible. I am an everyday sort of gal. Flannel and denim are my preferred wardrobe. Mucking in the garden or making something brings me a great deal of joy. Getting dirty and making a mess is a barometer of fun.
  Yet, God has chosen to bless me with a king's gift. His Holy Spirit.
  Because I chose to believe in His Son.
  As a new Christian, I joined a small group. In one of the conversations, the topic of feet washing came up. I remember being rather grossed out by the idea and stating most adamantly I would never wash someone's feet! Bless the ladies, Lord, for not making this an opportunity to correct the understandings of a baby Christian. Bless them for their grace. Bless them for knowing that, when the time was right, the Holy Spirit would open my eyes to the truth of feet washing!
  It wasn't long after the Spirit revealed what this act of humble service represented.
  This happened before things turned really bad... I don't want write about that right now.
  Instead, let me celebrate the good that has enveloped my life. No anxiety for a few months now!!! It's enough to make me weep with gratitude, having this foe on the run. The upset because of the flashback at the movies a couple weeks ago was barely a blip on the wellness radar. Even though the stirred up memories whisper around the edges of my conscience, they have no sting.
  I give thanks for the Holy Spirit who took me by the heart and led me to this wonderful, joyous time in my life.
  I have been forever changed. Praises be to God!
  "And I (Jesus) will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." Jn 14:16-17
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, 19 May 2017

I am Carried, Exodus 19:4 by Susan L.

  God says, "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself."
  I have to ponder the circumstances of God's chosen people during their time of wandering in the wilderness. It must have been an exhausting and difficult slog. It was probably more so because there was no definitive destination, no hope of arrival at the vaguely labelled "promised land".
  It would have been a hot journey. Dust from countless feet would have swirled around, choking the last drops of moisture from tongue and skin. Their eyes would be full of grit blown in on a breeze that gave no cooling relief. Food became scarce over the years as most of the flocks of sheep and goats were slaughtered to feed the masses. Water was even more scarce in this land of desert and sun.
  Feet would have blistered in the beginning, unused to such labour. Callouses on heel and toe would have cracked, making each step a painful one. How many people walked the sandals right off of their feet?
  Parents would have grown weary of carrying the little ones unable to walk for very long. Others would become exhausted as they helped the elders to journey on.
  Setting up camp and taking it down every day is a laborious job. I have to wonder if many simply sat down and slept where they were, huddled together against the chill of a desert night with no fire to warm themselves by...
 
  What man sees as difficult, God portrays as being borne on eagles' wings. But then, His is a heavenly perspective. Ours, not so much.
  This reminds me of the well known poem, "Footprints" and the part where there were two sets of footprints along the beach but, at times, only one set in the sand remains. It's meant to represent the moments in life when God walks beside us and the times of trial when God carries us.
  "Today, if you will hear His voice; do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness."
 
  Lord, I lift to you those who are going through troubles and trials. Let Your comforting presence be revealed from out of the dark and dreary wilderness. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen!
 
  
 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

I Am Cared For, 1 Peter 5:7 by Susan L.

  There's a verse where Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times. Sorry, I couldn't find the reference but I heard a teaching about it a while ago I think is worth sharing.
  The first two times, Jesus uses the Hebrew word for agape love. It's the full on, no holds barred kind of love. Peter responds, yes, Lord, like a brother. The third time Jesus asks, He uses the word for brotherly love.
  Grace in action. He met Peter where he was at.
  In his letter, Peter calls the followers of Jesus sojourners and pilgrims. A sojourner is someone who resides temporarily in a place. A pilgrim is someone who seeks a sacred destination. It's a paradox that it's possible to stay put yet move forward.
  When Peter wrote these things to his fellow believers I have to wonder if he met them where they were at. Maybe they weren't ready to receive God's full on agape love just like he had been earlier in his walk with the Lord. Peter had walked and talked with Jesus but still held back a piece of his heart.
  Hmmm, isn't that validating!
  Lord, show me where I am holding back. More importantly, show me why I am doing this. Thank You for meeting me where I am at because this only fills me with a desire to be more than I am. It deepens my desire to know You better and to understand this thing called "love".
  "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Pet 2:4
 

 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

I am Calm, Philippians 4:6 by Susan L.

  Gratitude, a grateful attitude. Being thankful is the healing balm that soothes worry, fear, and discontent. A life filled with gratitude is like living in the eye of a tornado where the destructive winds have no power. Gratitude is the gateway to calm because in being thankful for all things, the devil's swirling blasts of worry, fear and discontent have no power.

  It's a slow writing day today. Those few short sentences have taken almost an hour. Grrrr! There's a whack of frustration creeping in because normally the words flow. (I am not so calm after all.) Maybe it's because it's such a lovely day outside and I've a list of chores to get accomplished. Taking extra long over the blog is not part of the agenda. Ooooo, there it is... Why I am frustrated. This needs to be in God's time, not mine.

  Gratitude can also be prophetic. :)
  "Thank You, Lord, that this post will bear fruit and what is said will point to Your heart. Thank You, I will be able to surrender control of the process to Your more than capable Spirit."

  Hmmm, maybe that's all there is for today even though it doesn't conform to the "usual" length for a post. Now that's a struggle! Knowing when to stand. Knowing when to push past resistance. It's also learning to acknowledge my limitations. Being thankful for limitations? You gotta be kidding me!
  So I acknowledge that today's post is being written out of obligation and duty. I acknowledge I didn't listen to the gentle whisper that writing after doing some chores would be better. I acknowledge my mind is not completely on the task at hand. It is such a lovely day. The birds are singing. The open kitchen window is a distraction.
  I am so thankful our God is a God of grace.
  "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy--meditate on these things." Phil 4:8
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

I am Called, 1 Peter 5:10 by Susan L.

  The last summer of working the farm, I was on my own to get the hay into the barn. The equipment terrified me. The steep and rolling hills in the field terrified me. The consequences of not getting it done terrified me more. True to form, the "git 'er done" drive meant I stuffed those fears deep down but that first day, I did something I'd never done before. I prayed for safety for myself and anyone who was helping me.
  Cutting went smoothly. The older than ancient hay baler was as cantankerous as ever. I can still feel and hear the one-beat-per-second rhythmic heartbeat of the fifty year old beast. Ka-thunk. Ka-thunk.
  At the crest of one of the hills, there was a tremendous bang and thud. Whipping my head around, I realized the power shaft had broken free from the tractor. The heavy, steel post was flailing around. The front part of the metal guard around the shaft had jammed solid, pulling the shaft free but keeping it firmly attached to the baler.
  It was a long time before I made the connection between this happy accident and baby prayers. Had the shaft not jammed, I could have been fatally injured by an airborne fifteen pound steel tube.
  Just writing about it make me realize what a close call it was.
  So, why did I pray?
  I felt called to regardless of how stupid I felt about the whole thing. It was an urge I couldn't resist. I felt stupid because prayer was not part of my life. I believed God was not part of my life. I felt stupid because a neighbour saw me sitting on the tractor and drove in to ask what I was doing, if I was okay.
  My embarrassed, mumbled response was, "I'm fine, just sayin' a prayer".
  My spirit and heart knew what my mind had yet to embrace: God was part of my life. He hadn't turned away. I had.
  But not for much longer.
  I believe this obedient prayer was the first step of finding comfort in something good and pure and lovely. The simple prayer offered a glimmer of hope in the fear filled darkness that enveloped my life.
  "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Pet 5:10-11
 
 
 
 

Friday, 12 May 2017

I am Buried with Christ, Romans 6:4 by Susan L.

  The third verse in Romans 6 goes on to say, "Or do you not know that as many of us were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?"
  What does that mean? What is the significance of Christ's death?
  I don't think I have time to write a book this morning. It needs a book because this is the biggest moment in Christ's life: His death.
  And resurrection. In two fateful events this accomplished what all the religious laws in the universe couldn't.
 The death of sin.

  God had tried to meet His people one-on-one after He freed them from Egypt. The very idea terrified them so they asked Moses to act as a go-between. God gave them rituals and rules instead of relationship. He met them where they were at.
  I wonder, was this because they still held on to a master/slave mentality? Five hundred years is a long time to be held captive.
  So many questions! But I think it goes to show the love God has for His people. He didn't try and force a new way of life on them because they simply weren't ready.
  It's a good thing Abba Father had a plan in place. It's a good thing everything is different now!

  I've been thinking a lot about how Jesus' death destroyed the Jewish temple and tore the veil. The veil was a curtain. Only those who had undergone purification through animal sacrifice, extensive prayer and ritual could go past it and enter into the holy presence of God.
  This ties into my meandering thoughts on being the Bride of Christ.
  It's been on my mind a lot.
  I think it's only a more recent wedding tradition where a bride wears a veil. Maybe this is why it was started the in the first place. After saying the wedding vows, the happy groom lifts the veil to see his wife for the very first time.

  I have imagined Jesus gently lifting a veil woven by sin and rules and ignorance off my face. Not only can I see Him better but I can sense Him looking into the depths of my soul. As I look back into His bright and warm, honey-brown eyes, all I see there is an amazing, unbridled love.
  What was done in the past, slips away. The poor choices, the judgements, the fears and regrets vanish under His unwavering joy and delight.
  It's a rolling stone moment. A resurrection moment made possible by the One who died and rose again. It's made possible because His life put law to death.
  My heart swells with gratitude because I have the joy of intimacy with my Lord. My "old man" has been laid to rest in the empty tomb of Christ.
  "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 6:22-23

 I will be taking a short break for the weekend. I hope to be back writing on Tuesday. God bless.

 

 


 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Under Construction by Susan L.

 "I am built up." 1 Peter 2:5
  Yesterday was full of aftershocks from the flashbacks Tuesday night. A flashback is a powerful memory that has the ability to disconnect the mind from the present and transport it into the remembered event. The world around vanishes as sights, sounds and even smells flood the senses. It's rather frightening when it happens, when reality is suddenly gone. I think the hardest part is coming to terms with not being able to prevent this from happening. Flashbacks don't have warning signs.
  In saying this, I can fully acknowledge that the sources of previous flashbacks have been disarmed through prayer and much therapy. They don't happen anywhere near as often as they used to. Once they were daily. This was the first time in months.
  Yesterday was spent in a flashback "hangover". Once the fight/flight response is triggered, it takes a couple of days for it to settle down. The world was terribly loud. My nerves were jangling. I went and talked to a friend about what had happened. It was a beautiful day so I also took my bike out and went for a long ride (9.2 Kms. A first for me.) The exercise helped a lot. So did the sunshine.
  It's a good thing Jesus was a carpenter because I also prayed, seeking insight into the truth of my own circumstances at the time of this particular flashback. He put the pieces together one plank at a time. That is, using the planks in my own eye.
  I had a lot to be forgiven for. Mostly because following my ex's admission of infidelity, I waited for an apology from him. It never came simply because he didn't think he'd done anything wrong. He had learned from his father's example and Irish heritage that this sort of thing was something men did.
  It was also the first time in twenty years there had been consequences because of his behaviour. This did not go over well to say the least.
  I shared yesterday what the devil was throwing my way. Jesus built a shield of understanding to fend off these darts. The covenant of marriage had been broken, releasing me from "wifely responsibilities". Reconciliation takes two people willing to change the status quo. If I'd simply carried on as though nothing had happened, nothing would have changed. In fact, it would have given an unspoken permission for him to step outside the bonds of marriage whenever he wanted.
  A bad situation would have gotten a whole lot worse.
  I give thanks that Jesus helped me remain steadfast in my decision because it was the right one for the circumstances.
  I have found peace. Thank You, Lord. I ask You to remind me to pray for him often. In Jesus' name. AMEN!
  "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." Eph 2":19-22
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

I am Brought Near, Ephesians 2:13 by Susan L.

  I need an affirmation today. It's a good one. They are all good but this one is a healing balm to my unsettled soul.
  Our small group went to see the movie "A Case for Christ". It's the story of how Lee Strobel, in a quest to disprove God's existence, ended up believing. He is now a renowned Christian author.
  A couple of the scenes when he was drunk and fighting with his wife, a new believer, triggered some vivid and unpleasant flashbacks. The actor's script was nearly word for word what was directed at me so long ago. I would have left the theatre but was afraid that once I got moving, someone might have been hurt by a panic filled scramble to GET OUT NOW!
  I know it was actors playing the roles but on a huge movie theatre screen, it's hard not to get wrapped up in what's happening.
  I am feeling a bit down this morning. Or maybe haunted is a better word.
  So, Lord, I am drawing near to You. You are Redeemer, Healer, and the Captain of my heart. Guide me through this landmine of memories into truth and understanding. Show me the way to peace.
  Any story of reconciliation between spouses is always hard for me to watch. I guess it's the devil trying to steal my peace: "You could have done more. You could have handled things better. You should have stayed like a good Christian wife and brought your ex to the Lord. (That's the biggest lie ever!) You did a really bad job of portraying the love of Jesus."
  Now isn't that a heap of garbage! I had no voice in the marriage anyways. Becoming a Christian had only created another weapon of oppression. Which takes me back to the drunken fight scenes in the movie and why I am blogging about this now.
  I was hanging onto the Lord for my life. In shock. PTSD had been born although I didn't know it at the time. Yet, in the face of such adversity, I never let go of my newfound faith. The price was too high. The great, hoped for "something better" had been found. It had never been lost. I was.
  The Lord had planned the season and the reasons for restoring me to Him. For that I am eternally grateful. He succeeded.
  "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." Eph 2:13
 

 
 
 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother by Susan L.

  "I am His brother" is the outtake from Hebrews 2:11 which reads in the NKJV, "For both He who sanctifies (makes holy) and those who are being sanctified (made holy) are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren."
  There is a lack of feminine pronouns in the Bible. Most of the books were believed to be penned by a man's hand, inspired by the Holy Spirit with the exception of the Book of Esther, inspired by the same Holy Spirit.
  Two of the most important aspects of Christianity are given feminine titles. First, the Bride of Christ (see yesterday's post). Secondly, in the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is referred to as a woman. I believe newer versions of the scriptures have expanded their translations to include the use of gender specific pronouns like she, her, etc.
  More often than not, the feminine honorifics are given over to the face of evil. It must delight the devil to no ends because division is his greatest weapon.
  Sigh. Poor Eve, if only she knew what was to be unleashed. To this day, some men still blame women for their choices just like Adam did. Another sigh. Perhaps, one day, it won't be so.

  Although, if Adam and Eve hadn't taken the fruit, would I have come to know God, His grace and salvation?
  I doubt there's enough Triple T's (thinking things through) that would ever get to the bottom of that question! It will have to be part of the mystery that is God.
  I'm getting off track. So here goes: if a man can be the Bride of Christ, there's no reason why I can't be a brother.

  I wonder, how do men wrap their heads around being called a bride?

  I wonder if we are being asked to set aside defining ourselves as men and women so we can embrace being children of God?

  My upbringing included learning gender roles. Was something "men's work" or was it the domain of a woman? It was a holdover from the fifties when mama stayed home to look after hearth and home while papa brought home the bacon. Ewww...talk about boxes!
  Sadly, gender roles are still around. My son buys his new daughter boy's t-shirts because they have statements geared to success while little girl's clothing only has glittery and disempowering, "daddy's princess" written all over them. Even though my granddaughter can't read, it's not about her. It's about breaking the restrictive roles that are still gender defined.
  It's why I knit my other granddaughter a frilled, purple sweater because she loves frilly purple only this has a hockey player on it because she's also an awesome hockey player! I'm trying to let go of archaic, barbaric lessons and embrace the new and improved attitudes regarding gender.
  My life as a single means I have to accomplish things that have been traditionally "men's work". Grass always needs cutting come summer! A frequent joke of mine is about having a "honey do" list only there ain't no honey! I confess to being much happier with a hammer in my hand than a vacuum cleaner. (Is there guilt there?)
  Hmmm, it's back to the old idea that identity is found in what I do. Man, that's a slippery one!
  So, I am Christ's brother with a wealth of experiences because I set aside gender roles. I set aside the idea that a woman couldn't learn how to do "men's work". I set aside the restrictions imposed through the misuse and misunderstanding of scriptures.
  Living outside the box has given me a way to relate to men, a common bond of experience. Thank You for that, Lord, because the bonds of brotherhood have done a whole lot of healing in my heart.
  "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end." Heb 3:14
 
 

Monday, 8 May 2017

I am His Bride, Isaiah 54:5 by Susan L.

  "For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth." Is 54:5

  My Bible says that the Book of Isaiah spans the reigns of four kings and took at least forty years to write. It's humbling to think of the One, who inspired Isaiah, who is so great that a span of ages is not bound by the restrictions of time as we mortal souls know time to be.
  Chapter 54, in my New King James Version Bible, is titled, "A Perpetual Covenant of Peace."
  That means it's full of promises for all eternity, forever, and always no matter where I go, what I do, the choices I make...it's there. Permanently.
  It warms my soul and shakes it free of shadows. It makes me want to live better, love better and make better choices because sometimes they aren't the best or wisest decisions. My ability to love is broken, too, but my Redeemer will fix that right up if I let Him.

  This is a slow day, a day I have needed to pause often and bask in the simplicity of God's truth.

  My soul also dances with delight in the knowledge that I am His and He is mine. It's a forever covenant. No strings attached except an unbreakable, holy thread of connection.

  Yet, I still baulk at being called His Bride. Human experiences taint the idea of what a bride "should be". I guess there's still some unhealed hurts from my time as a wife...

  Wait a minute... I am not Jesus' wife... I am His bride!

  Hmmmm...a wedding day is a day of excitement, happiness, and hopes for the future. It's a day of promise and celebration. It's when the groom stands at the front and waits for his beloved to come to him or when the couple walk hand in hand to the front to enter into a covenant of marriage. It's the day when two become one in front of a cloud of witnesses.
  If I am the bride of Christ, this is what happens every moment of every day over and over and over!
  Shakespeare wrote, "Love is blind" as a way of pointing out that when a person is head over heels about someone, they tend to overlook any flaws. This all too human "blindness" is a glimpse into God's heart. We are, after all, made in His image.
  Jesus' love is blind. He only sees me, sees all of us, in the Truth of who we are. He doesn't see the bulges and sags and bags of age. He doesn't see the scars on our hearts. He doesn't see the sin.
  His love washes all those things away because all that matters is His delight in joining with His beloved bride. To have and to hold. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health.
  Except death doesn't come between us. Our covenant with Jesus stretches far beyond the boundaries of this mortal coil. (Thanks again, Shakespeare).
  "Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore." Is 54:4
 
 
 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

I am a Branch of the True Vine, John 15:5 by Susan L.

  We've had nothing but rain and more rain for days on end. There was a burst of sunny weather last weekend so I took advantage of it and spent some time in the garden. The shrubs and plants are starting to sprout new leaves so it's easy to see what winter killed off. With pruners in hand, I tackled the elderly lilac tree at the back. It always has a lot of dead branches each spring that need to come out. Too much dead wood creates a breeding ground for disease and parasites.
  One of the treasures in my back yard is a mature, ornamental crab apple tree that has a stunning explosion of deep fuchsia flowers each spring. The fruit is tiny, about the size of a pea, and a favorite feast of birds in the autumn. When I moved in, it had a split trunk. Half of the tree was an actual crab apple because the ornamental part is grafted onto a crab apple trunk. This is when they take young branches, cut them carefully, then insert the ends into a slit in the bark of the trunk stock. Apple trees are grown the same way and now there are trees providing five different types of apples!
  The unwanted trunk had grown unchecked until it was big enough to provide small, sour and wormy apples. Tired of cleaning up the mess, I had my son use a chain saw to cut the crab apple half down. It's taken a number of years but the ornamental part is slowly filling in the hole. If the unwanted growth had been nipped in the bud, the tree would have grown into a nice shape.
  Whenever the pruners come out, I always think of this particular scripture. I imagine the Lord tending the garden of my soul. It's fertile soil. Weeds sprout just as readily as the finest of blossoms. I imagine Him looking at what is going on now with an eye to my future as He decides what needs to go and what needs to be encouraged.
  I love the paradox in all of this: growth needs to be cut back to grow more and reach its full potential. In Christ, that potential is limitless.
  "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:1-2
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Bride Price by Susan L.

  Affirmation #35, I am bought with a price.
  After some quick investigating, I discovered that a dowry and bride price are two different things.
  A dowry is the wealth, belongings, or such gifts a parent gives their daughter husband as part of a marriage contract. In the days of "hope chests", a young girl would begin to set aside items like hand embroidered linens for the day she had a household of her own. That chest would be part of her dowry.
  A bride price is what the groom pays the family for the daughter's hand in marriage.
  I heard a story again a while ago that has been making the rounds for a number of years. I'm going to try and capture the gist of it.
  In India, there was a plain woman of a poor family. She was constantly told how ugly she was by everyone in the village. She was treated poorly because her parents thought she would never become a bride. They were burdened with the idea of having to take care of her for the rest of their lives.
  One day, a young, wealthy landowner rode through town and saw the woman in the streets. He fell in love with her simple looks and humble manners. Later that week, a herd of ten cows was delivered to her parents. It was a bride price of extravagant wealth! No one had ever paid that much for a bride in all of India.
  She left home to be with her husband.
  A year later she returned to her village. People bowed down before the caravan, not recognizing the woman they had treated so harshly because her head was held high. She glowed with radiant beauty simply because one person knew she had hidden deep inside a ten cow woman.
  It's a version of the Cinderella story. This favorite plot line appears again and again in stories and movies around the world. It seems we can't get enough of it.
  My Lord paid a greater price than the one paid in all of India. He paid for my hand with His precious blood.
  "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's." 1 Cor 6:20