Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

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Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days: Who Am I? {When you Have an Identity Crisis? Look to your Identity IN CHRIST -- Who is the I AM}



Faced with a trial, or a troubling, traumatic experience that has left you wondering who in the world you are?

Do doubts of your identity rise so high you're gasping for a breath of fresh air rich in pure grace?

Maybe the mundane slowly seeps the meaning and purpose out of your very existence?

Are you running this hamster wheel of life and failing to live in the victory of the race already won?

Perhaps its your past or present that pushes you to perform, but you can't keep up this pace any longer?

Have you've been hurt by some mean girl and who ever said that names will never hurt you?


Could it be you're living an ideal, but its leaving you insecure 'cause who can keep up to all the comparing and illusions of perfection?

Maybe it's the pain of a broken family that aches so deep at times you can only limp along this road that so many others have already travelled. It doesn't matter what age you experience this pain it will rock your world and threaten to shatter your identity. Leave you in a crisis that only Christ can cure.

When your family line has been marked with generational sin, {and really isn't that the family tree we all shoot from} you need a marvellous, astounding, amazing grace.

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind  
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christby grace you have been saved  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus"{Ephesians 2:1-6, emphasis added}

By grace you have been saved. 

A grace that sent a perfect Son to become sin and a curse for us by hanging on a tree, that God could transplant you from a race rooted in sin to establish you rooted in Christ

"You aren’t what’s been done to you but what Jesus has done for you. You aren’t what you do but what Jesus has done. What you do doesn’t determine who you are. Rather, who you are in Christ determines what you do.’ (Mark Driscoll, 'Who Do You Think You Are?')


This identity of being in Christ is our life, our hope, our destiny, our future.

It's time to refuse to find our identity in what we do or don't do, or what we accomplish or fail to accomplish, the names we've been called, the lies we've believed, or who others think we should be, but to live abundantly the life that we have been called to live in Christ to the praise of His glory

There's a reason the words 'in Christ', or its variations, such as 'in Him' and 'in the Lord' are mentioned over 200 times* in the New Testament.

We need repeated reminders of who we are in the I AM. 


Will you join me in October for 31 Days to remember who we are In Christ?




I invite you to follow on  Facebook and Twitter.



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Linking here with The Nester and so many other brave bloggers who are writing for 31 Days.






*Mark Driscoll, "Who do You Think You Are?"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seven Things I Learned in September 2013


{Updated to add: this post contains some 'sensitive' facts and statistics}

September is drawing to a close. We pulled the curtain on summer and welcomed the breath-taking performance of autumn. Although spring runs a close second, fall is my favourite time of year. A bonus for me is fall happens to have my birthday month, so there is always some celebration, and special outings, and just plain lovin' on me. I am blessed.

This month, I look back and reflect on what I have learned and share little snippets of the hard lessons, the joyful times, mundane and tedious particulars, or just plain practical sensational information I gleaned.




1. As kids, don't we love getting closer to our birthdays. As we age, some still revel in the coming celebrations, and some, I realize, dread getting older. As I celebrated 37 years this past week, I give thanks for the years God has blessed me with. I'm learning life is sacred and short and why not slow down for a day and simply live it up and have a party. We all live on borrowed time, life is fragile, so marvel in each moment, celebrate the goodness of God, and taste the wonder of life a little before we look back and regret that we were too busy to take time to enjoy the gracious gifts He pours out every day.


"This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 188:24)


2. I love surprises. My husband loves to surprise me and this year he totally surprised me with an early birthday gift!! I have had much learning to do as I get familiar with my new computer as a first-time Mac owner. I learned that it is way more fun than washing/folding laundry.




3. When you are a part of a high risk breast cancer screening clinic and you go in for your annual routine MRI, and five days later are called back for a second-look ultrasound and then asked to come back for a follow-up MRI in 3 months, you learn that it is scary. But, you don't need to live in fear of whatever may come, when you look up verse 6 of Psalm 23 and understand that the Hebrew word for 'follow' is 'pursue me' and when put with the verb it means to run after, to track, like a hunter does, 'suggesting that the Gentle Shepherd is relentless in His care and love for His sheep. God will haunt His followers with the truth of His goodness and unfailing love all the days of their lives.' 

I have no need to fear when I trust in His care and put more confidence in faith in a loving Shepherd than in science.


"Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, 
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever." (Psalm 23:6)






4. I don't know how you would get through tough times in life without family and friends. As I saw my own father in an ICU bed this month suffering with gastrointestinal bleeding, I witnessed my siblings rally around with loving care and concern for his physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being and restoration. I learned how hard it is to see your father so fragile and desperately desire healing to take place. I learned how we need friends at this time to come along and love and support by watching your children, teaching them, making broth, sending a meal, texting reminders that they are praying, going before the throne of grace with you, and walking along in whatever way they could, enabling me to take the time to go visit. 



5. A visit to the Toronto Zoo on a perfect fall day proved to be a wonderful day to meet the giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao. I learned that there are less than 2000 giant pandas living today in the wild as well and in zoos and reserves and they are listed as an endangered species. Obviously, the main reason is their habitat has been vastly destroyed by man, their main predator, but what I was't aware of is their low birth rate of one cub every two years. Pandas are not very sociable animals and the female is only able to conceive during a 24-72 hour time frame in a given year. She will also stay with her cub for a full year and will not be receptive to breeding until she has weaned her cub.





6. On that note, we have attended a video marriage seminar this month entitled, 'Laugh your Way to a Better Marriage'. One of the sessions was on the '#1 Key to Incredible Sex.' 
Mark Gungor presented five steps to what women need for a couple to improve in this area of their marriage:
5. Romance 
4. Time 

3. Foreplay 

2. Privacy 

1. Exclusivity 
One of the statistics that Mark quoted while discussing the steps was that 50% of men 'in the church' are wrestling with sexual addictions. Pornography is destroying marriages. Men especially are being 'rewired' as they are engaging in behaviours that are not healthy for marriages and they are increasingly becoming unable to 'perform'. 

Also, part of the problem is the selfish attitudes in couples. He mentioned the statistic that it takes on average 11 minutes for a woman to reach orgasm and on average only 2 minutes for a man. We have a math problem, he says. No wonder there are so many wives longing for real love and affection if there are husbands not desiring to look beyond their own 'needs'. 

Although this information was sobering, most of the material was presented in a light-hearted and humorous manner and led to great discussion for us as a couple and a renewed appreciation for the marriage we do have and our desire to make in even better.





7. I have been reading and studying for a couple of speaking engagements at ladies events as well as preparing for writing 31 Days in October. It is life-changing to learn about who we are In Christ. I look forward to stepping way out of my comfort zone on both accounts--speaking and writing (with consistency, I hope) and being vulnerable with how God has unfolded His story in my life. 

The series I did last year for 31 Days was rewarding as an exercise to be more consistent at writing as well as in life it was a beneficial time of growth. 

Come back on Monday as I begin unpacking this 31 Days series of our identity "In Christ"





{Birthday photos taken by my daughter}

Linking with Emily at Chatting at the Sky

Words of Wisdom for the Weekend {Unceasing Worshipers and Continuous Outpourers}



"We then, created in God's image, are also unceasing worshippers and continuous outpourers. [Harold] Best says:
'We are created continuously outpouring. Note that I did not say we were created to be continuous outpourers. Nor can I dare imply that we were created to worship. This would suggest that God is an incomplete person whose need for something outside himself (worship) completes his sense of himself. It might not even be safe to say that we were created for worship, because the inference can be drawn that worship is a capacity that can be separated out and eventually regulated to one of several categories of being. I believe it is strategically important, therefore, to say that we were created continuously outpouring--we were created in that condition, at that instant, imago [image of God].'
Worship is not merely an aspect of our being but the essence of our being . . .
Our worship never stops and starts. It's not limited to a building which we attend sacred meetings and sing worship songs. Rather, our entire life is devoted to pouring ourselves into someone or something. Saying it another way, we're "unceasing worshippers" We aren't created to worship, but rather we're created worshipping.

Everything is life is sacred, and nothing is secular. It's a lie from Satan that life can be compartmentalized in such a way. Everyone--from atheists to Christians--worships unceasingly. In the eyes of God, our choices, values, expenditures, words, actions, and thoughts are all acts of worship. They make up our identity. The only question is, what is your object of worship?"

~Mark Driscoll, "Who Do You Think You Are?"

*****

{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 
For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}



Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Minute Friday: True




"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, 
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."(John 1:14)

" . . . whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things." (Phil 4:8)

There are days I think I must be crazy to pour out my heart  and expose myself bare and transparent. It would be safer to keep it all to myself, to not put myself out there at risk of being misunderstood. 

There are days when words freeze because comparison left me hanging limp. It would be easier to not be so vulnerable.

There are days when I want to pull back and keep to myself and only let the good side be seen. It would be simpler to not dig quite so deep.

There are days when I am brave and I face the truth and hit publish.

There are days, that truthfully, I wonder what difference will it make anyway. Why spend these moments stringing words in a line? Why share joys and sorrows, laughter and chaos, peace and turmoil in my own heart?

Why?

'Cause I am a seeker of truth.

And when I seek Truth, I see that He sought me first.

The Word became flesh to rescue me. It's no tale, it's gospel truth.

He took on humanity and He knows what its like to walk this world. The road he chose was more treacherous than mine will ever be for He took on sin and conquered death and I get to live in the victory. 

The One who tabernacled among us, took up residence with the very sinners He came to save, is full of grace and truth.

He lived life here. His life was all about what is true. And true isn't always pretty. He knows about mountains and valleys, sickness and health, disease and death, tears and traitors, love and laughter. 

The Word clothed in humanity dwelt among us, displaying His glory full of grace and truth. It's His mercy and unfailing love that pursue me all the days of my life. When I face the valley of the shadow of death, when the enemy tries to steal my joy in life, I fix my eyes on Truth and I am set free.

In His presence I do not fear, but I am comforted. 

The table has been set and I can pull up a chair, chew on the bones of truth, savour whatever is true, and serve up dish of good, honest, words of life.  It may not always be pretty, but it is all for the praise of His glory.


***

Reflecting and writing on the word prompt given here for Five Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo's place. This week the prompt is: True

Officially, the rules are:

Five Minute Friday1. Write for 5 minutes  {To be honest, I usually break this rule ;) }
2. Link up at Lisa-Jo's  and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When You Need To Keep Preaching to Yourself {on the good days, the bad days, and on the eve of my birthday}



I really blew the last day of being 36.


It was a gorgeous autumn day and the golden beams filtered in beckoning me to believe mercies are new every morning, but exhaustion was so heavy in my weary bones, I wondered how in the world I was going to keep going.


At the end of the day, dirty laundry overflowed and the basket for clean folded clothes still sat empty on my bedroom floor. The only laundry done today was the towels my husband graciously folded when he came home from work, weary and worn, but still ready to serve.

I did manage to do a few dishes, bark orders, organize drawers to pack up a bag of clothes for children in Haiti, bathe my three year old, listen to my son read, referee sibling squabbles, and read page after page of 'The Hiding Place' while the children crafted cards on the living room floor. And I used the steam mop at the end of the day. Scrubbed the sticky, blackened, soiled spots off the white ceramic.

Boy, did I need to steam clean at the end of today.

Oh, I'm not talking about the kitchen floor. I needed some serious cleansing done, and no mop is ever going to touch the filth that sticks to the bottom of my soul.

By the time I get here, feelings of failure, loser, worst mom ever take right over.

Why can't I be more patient and not allow my tiredness to take over all sense of decency, pursue love and not sow discord, pause to breath in grace and not spew dragon-fire.


I keep wrestling with the old nature, while looking to the One who has made me new, whispering for His grace to get me through and make me more and more like Him in the process.


The only thing that keeps on cleansing me is the blood of Jesus. His continuous gracious work as He keeps on saving me from the wretched, poor, vile sinner that I am.
"My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, he is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what he has done, and in what he is now doing for me. On the lion of justice the fair maid of hope rides like a queen." ~Spurgeon 
I blew it like the dandelion seeds that scatter on the breeze spreading weeds of disharmony, instead of breathing in grace and sowing perfect love.

But, I'll mount up on wings of hope. 



Hope that only comes from the God of hope who will "fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

For when I am weak in the flesh, ride the waves of discouragement, wonder how on earth I am ever going to get through the day, and sin entangles and weighs down, I need to keep my eyes fixed on 'Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.'


Look to Jesus, repent, confess, and hope. Drink deep of his overflowing grace and joy and peace.


Yesterday that I read these words but day after day I need them:
"Most of us have 'good days' -- when life pretty much goes along as we desire and we have no serious struggle with sin -- and 'bad days' -- when in one way or another we are conscious of struggling with sin all day long . . . On our good days we think God must surely be pleased with us and is smiling at us. We forget . . . that all are righteous deeds are like polluted garnets in the sight of God. (Isaiah 64:6). On our bad days we tend to think we have lost the favour of God because of our sin. We forget that he no longer counts our sin against us because Jesus has already born that sin in His body on the cross. 
This is not to say that we should not take our sin seriously. We do need to confess it and repent of it. But the greatest motivation for doing that is to reflect on the fact that Jesus bore those very sins you committed that day in His body on the cross, and God has forgiven you because Jesus was crushed for those sins. 
So in order to experience the subjective reality of our justification we must every day look outside of ourselves to Christ . . . 'preach the gospel to yourself everyday'. That is what we must learn to do if we are to enjoy the present reality of our justification. That is what Paul did two thousand years ago when he wrote, 'And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me' (Galatians 2:20)" ~ Jerry Bridges, "Who Am I?" 

And I keep preaching to myself.

His mercy is new every morning. 

I will wake up and celebrate not just a new year, but I will keep on giving thanks for the new life that I live by faith in the One who loved me enough to lay down His life for me.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Words of Wisdom for the Weekend {"How could God Himself show truth and love at the same time in a world like this?"}




"I had never had Nollie's bravery--no, nor her faith, either. But I could spot illogic. "And it isn't logical to say the truth and do a lie! What about Annaliese's false papers--and that maid's uniform on Katrien?"
 
"Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth," Nollie quoted. "Keep the door of my lips.' Psalm One hundred Forty-One!" she finished triumphantly.

"All right, what about the radio? I had to lie with my lips to keep that!"

"And yet whatever came from your lips, Corrie, I am sure it was spoken in love!" Father's kindly voice reproached my flushed face.

Love. How did one show it? How could God Himself show truth and love at the same time in a world like this? 

By dying. The answer stood out for me sharper and chiller than it ever had before that night: the shape of a Cross etched on the history of the world."
~ Corrie Ten Boom, 'The Hiding Place' [bold emphasis added]

*****


{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 
For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She {"It's Tough Being a Woman"}





"It's tough being a woman" is the subtitle for the Beth Moore Bible Study a group of women started this week. I've never thought about that particular concept in my reading through the book of Esther ever before. The book of Esther, Beth laughs, as she conclude her introduction, gives lots of room for estrogen.

Esther is only one of the two books of the Bible with a female name.

Esther, the protagonist in the story, had to follow in the steps of the most beautiful Queen who definitely had a strong and determined way about her. After all, she refused to come before the King of Persia and Media when he summoned his wife to show her off before all his officials of his kingdom at the great feast he was hosting. Beth reminds women that it is tough being a woman in 'another woman's shadow'. Simply put, she says, 'sometimes the hardest thing about being a woman is other women.'

Esther was clearly called by God 'for such a time as this'. However, there is not one mention of God in the whole book. God dramatically used Esther to save the Jewish people at a time when they could have been wiped out. In a humbling and inspiring fashion, Esther was used by God in a brave and courageous way.

***
I've also been spending precious moments reading, "The Hiding Place" to my children. Corrie Ten Boom was another woman who, thousands of years after the story of Esther, was used greatly by God at a time of extreme ungodliness and evil in the world. She willingly offered what she had been given and allowed God to work powerfully through her to help Jews escape evil and untimely death.

God can use us when we seek Him and simply offer what He has blessed us with, even though we may not always see God actively at work in the world around us.

We can be sure that He will fulfill His purpose.

Don't you want to be a part of such a generation of women that will use what He has given to them to the praise of His glory?

It's tough enough being a woman without other women dragging us down.

Let's spur on and encourage one another to be a part of God's plan to be a generation of women who love God wholeheartedly and be used by Him powerfully that His kingdom would be extended further and He would be eternally glorified.


***

Reflecting and writing on the word prompt given here for Five Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo's place. This week the prompt is: She

Officially, the rules are:

Five Minute Friday1. Write for 5 minutes  {To be honest, I usually break this rule ;) }
2. Link up at Lisa-Jo's  and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...


Thursday, September 19, 2013

"He is My Refuge" {When you Believe it, Boldly Proclaim it}


"To take up a general truth and make it our own by personal faith is the highest wisdom. It is but poor comfort to say `the Lord is a refuge, 'but to say he is my refuge, is the essence of consolation. Those who believe should also speak—"I will say", for such bold avowals honour God and lead others to seek the same confidence . . . it becomes the duty of all true believers to speak out and testify with calm courage to their own well grounded reliance upon their God."
~Charles Spurgeon, "The Treasury of David" 



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Communion with God is Safety" {The Incomparable Protection of Jehovah's Shadow}




"Those who through rich grace obtain unusual and continuous communion with God, so as to abide in Christ and Christ in them, become possessors of rare and special benefits, which are missed by those who follow afar off, and grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Into the secret place those only come who know the love of God in Christ Jesus, and those only dwell there to whom to live is Christ. To them the veil is rent, the mercyseat is revealed, the covering cherubs are manifest, and the awful glory of the Most High is apparent . . . Those who commune with God are safe with Him, no evil can reach them, for the outstretched wings of his power and love cover them from all harm. This protection is constant—they abide under it, and it is all sufficient, for it is the shadow of the Almighty, whose omnipotence will surely screen them from all attack. No shelter can be imagined at all comparable to the protection of Jehovah's own shadow. The Almighty himself is where his shadow is, and hence those who dwell in his secret place are shielded by himself. What a shade in the day of noxious heat! What a refuge in the hour of deadly storm! Communion with God is safety. The more closely we cling to our Almighty Father the more confident may we be."


~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Treasury of David" [emphasis added]



There are days and nights when we know there is nothing else in this life that will bring more comfort than His presence. 

To dwell in this place all of our days, is the cry of our hearts.

To know Him,
to love Him,
to be with Him.

Nothing else will ever satisfy.



{For email subscribers, listen to the song by clicking here.}

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Words of Wisdom for the Weekend {When You Must Trust Your Father to Carry Your Answers to Hard Questions}



"Once -- I must have been ten or eleven -- I asked Father about a poem we had read at school the winter before. One line described "a young man whose face was not shadowed by s*xsin." I had been far too shy to ask the teacher what it meant, and Mama had blushed scarlet when I consulted her. In those days just after the turn of the century s*x was never discussed, even at home. 
So the line had stuck in my head. "S*x," I was pretty sure, meant whether you were a boy or a girl, and "sin" made Tante Jans very angry, but what the two together meant I could not imagine. And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, "Father, what is s*xsin?" 
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but, to my surprise, he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. 
"Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said. 
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. 
"It's too heavy," I said. 
"Yes," he said. "And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you." 
And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions; for now, I was content to leave them in my father's keeping."
~ Corrie Ten Boom 'The Hiding Place

*****


{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 
For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Mercy

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."



It's been a week of recounting.

Looking at the good deeds of the Lord, breathing in grace to carry on.

On a Monday when you receive a call that lends you to gnawing fears, and then on a Tuesday night after you've witnessed the joy of your three year old taking flight on a two-wheeler, your joy is mingled with sorrow as you take another call, and on a Wednesday you look on a bed in the ICU and see your very own father. And by Friday morning you are not sure what the day could bring.

What about mercy?

He extends compassion and forgiveness to one who is not deserving. He withholds what I truly deserve and He is good and does good and He chases me down with His goodness and mercy. Right there in that verse, the Gentle Shepherd who leads me beside quiet waters, He follows me all the days of my life with His goodness and mercy!

As long as I am dwelling in His presence I have nothing to fear.

On a Friday, the cold winds whips around in the ash trees, but the warmth of His presence surrounds me as I rise, and whatever I may face I drink deep of His steadfast love and I hold fast to the promise that His mercies are new every morning.

And as I have received may He love through me and as I dwell in His presence - walking humbly with Him, acting justly and loving mercy, may I learn to extend this same love, grace and mercy.


***


Reflecting and writing on the word prompt given here for Five Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo's place. This week the prompt is: Mercy

Officially, the rules are:

Five Minute Friday1. Write for 5 minutes  {To be honest, I usually break this rule ;) }
2. Link up at Lisa-Jo's  and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...


Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Poverty, Potatoes, and Pure Joy Leaves Me Pondering










My girl is on my lap and my husband is at my side and our pastor is telling the congregation all about his trip to Kenya and Burundi.

He shares the joy he experienced as he preached the gospel and hearts responded to the call of God, the exciting times of churches being planted and believers being baptized by the dozens in Africa and he speaks of the joy they have even though they have absolutely nothing, but they have the Lord and that is more than enough and he challenges us by saying that their faith is bigger than ours and they know that God will provide!

He shares pictures of churches and says he doesn't remember the name of the church but he remembers the people.

He shares some of their stories. One man who provides for his family of four on only $40.00 a month. A woman who wondered why he has such a small family with only four children and he laughs when he relates the rest of the story of when he asked her how many children she has and she told him fourteen!



Then it's the pictures of the slums and my heart breaks. He shows a picture* of sweet children and they are smiling and then he tells the children in the congregation to remember to pray for these children because they don't have a dad or mom.

Lastly, the orphaned girls who have been rescued from the slum. And they are in need of a building and some land to build one on. These girls, they were naked and had no food and were being used in ways no woman should ever be used. He tells us they range in age from 13-25 and that they all have at least one child. My heart says, 'No. No way. Please no. My own daughter will turn 13 in a few short months.'

I'm not naive. I've heard this before. But, my heart breaks afresh and I choke back the tears and I want to do something for these children and these daughters.

And he shares a video of one of these girls.  In broken English she talks about how she has lived in the slum and had to find her food in the dump and she would sleep outside in a sack and the mosquitoes would bite, but she knows God will help her and she looks straight into the camera and says God will help you too.

The last slide on the Powerpoint leaves us with these words:



We sit here in Canada and we can give resources, but it doesn't seem enough.

My heart says we have to do more. I'm just not sure exactly what that is. But, I tell God, 'Whatever you want me to do, show me.'



Hours later, we are about to start a simple meal of Shepherd's Pie for supper. We pull out the bag of potatoes from the cupboard and reach in and find a couple of small, wizened up, rotting potatoes. We either need to come up with a different plan for supper or go get some more potatoes.

I remember the field. We happen to live in potatoe country and right near our home is a potato farmer's field that was just harvested. The locals glean in the field. My husband and kids and a neighbour kid or two make the short trek across the road ready to find dinner.



I stay at home to brown the beef but never get to it and just as I head back to the kitchen to heat up the frying pan I hear three calls of: "Mom! Look what I found!" My kids pour in with their buckets full and bags breaking and tucked in their arms and they surely have a more than a sack of potatoes.

The littlest one rushes in first; straight in the front door with her sun hat on, her purple sandals, and the dress she wore to church all excited about the little treasures she dug up. She spills them all out right there on the front hall mat and barely leaves room for her sister to squeeze in the door with her big red bucket. Their brother comes in the back door with I'm sure as much sand in between his toes as in the field he just came back from with his Dad. All the bags they took are full. Everyone agreed they better take the wagon next time!

My husband tells me about how adorable it was to watch our little "Ruth gleaning in the field". And my 12 year old daughter admits to me she didn't like the dirt in her Birks so she went barefoot instead. My son, of coarse, pulls potatoes out of his pockets.

We throw supper together and we sit at the table and amidst the conversation and complaining, the laughter and loudness, I wonder about it all.

And I don't know how to make sense of it. How we have so much here in this country. We are not in want of good food. We don't glean in dumps like the people in the slums in Kenya. Our children still have their parents and our daughter is not sleeping outside in a sack on stinkin' sludge and being used in ways I never even want to imagine for any daughter.

The pastor, he says they have joy. Yes, that man who sells shoes in the slum and supports his family on $40.00 a month laughs with joyful confidence that God will provide for them. The woman holding her sleeping child next to her bosom tells us that God will help us.





My heart aches, what are we to do?

How can we live here in abundance with anxiety and there they live in poverty with pure joy.

This isn't just about a pot of potatoes.

This is about people living in poverty and souls starving for God.

And I wonder which country is really the poorer of the two.





*used with permission


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Our Strong Tower in Times of Tragedy. {Remembering 9/11}






It was the time of year when the last of the Queen Anne's lace lingers at the side of the road. Tragedy struck and left us reeling. Towers crumbled to the ground.

And now, it's twelve years later.

It seems like a lifetime.

In fact, it has been the lifetime of my firstborn. I was leaned up against my headboard, letting down warm life-sustaining milk for my baby girl, partaking in this most basic nurturing of human life and listening to the morning news.

The normal reports of weather, morning rush-hour, and daily happenings were interrupted for heart-wrenching news. My ears couldn't believe what was took place at 8:46am and with the rest of the world I sat in horror as acts of terror claimed innocent lives.

As the horror continued all morning, and we watched and listened to the tragic things taking place at the twin towers and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania where the one plane crashed down, we tried to carry on with the activities of the day. We continued on with our plans for the day to visit to my sister in college, but travelled with the somber cloud of the sickening realization of what had taken place.

Lives were claimed, families were shattered, fear of more terroristic attacks loomed, and the world screeched to a stand-still; almost stopped spinning, it seemed.

I held new life close to me all that day while others desperately looked for their loved ones, and screamed in the face of injustice at broken lives and shattered peace.

It's the war this generation has grown up with and their children and grand children will read about in history class.

But it's the lives of the people lost that we remember.

The world still cries for peace. Fights for it.

Oh, how do you say it without diminishing the lives of those who have sacrificed so much, but ultimately it's not war that will bring peace, but love.

A love that already won the battle over evil and sin and death.

On a cross that stands taller than any tower.

In a world warped by evil and undone by a serpent's deception according to the sovereign plan of a gracious God.

At Calvary where the sun stopped shining and light was shut out as He became sin that we might be rescued from darkness.
And we keep looking to the Prince of Peace who knows our pain, our suffering, our tears. He knows what has been, what is, and what will be. He knows our sin, our shame, our sickness. He knows our 9/11s.

He is our Peace for the present, our Strong Tower for all times, our Rock to cling to when waves wash over us, our Hope for the hurting, our God of all grace for our grieving, the Way, the Truth and the Life!

Through Him we find our way through the wars, and terrors of life, through sin and death and hell. To the day when all will be restored and Peace will reign eternally.


"I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end."


Today. twelve years later, in the waves of troubles, trials, and tragedy we remember we 

have a hope secure in the Strong One that sets our feet on high places and on the Rock that will 

never crumble.



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