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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Friday, January 29, 2016

That Day He Proposed to Me on the Anne of Green Gables Bridge

Oceans of water has

flowed


under the bridge


since


in our young love

Seventeen years ago

today

He sang to me the love ballad

inscribed on his

heart

and 

He tenderly took my

hand

IMG_7813

and 

We boldly walked

out 

on the battered bridge

together

and as he opened a red velvet box


the diamond danced in the light

on a golden band


IMG_7792

and the

words

He declared down on bended knee

I will never forget

IMG_7816

and the

one blazing word 

I breathed

to my beloved

I will never regret.

Forty of the Endless Ways to Help Others When They are at the End of the Rope




The year I would turn 38 my cardiologist told me I was to stop all strenuous activity as my heart could not and would not hold up to any kind of strain and he was not sure how much longer I had to live.

It was a hard pill to swallow. I had fought hard up to that point and to be told to stop was like being told to give up.

I soon realized, it wasn't giving up, but it was surrendering to a whole new level of trusting God to fulfill His purpose in me to the praise of His glory.

We want to be self-sufficient. We don't want to be dependant upon anyone else. We don't want to be vulnerable.

God used many people in my life to teach me a humbling lesson in life.

In opening up my hands to surrender what God had ordained, I had to open up my life, my world, to those who desired to come alongside us and care for us in this time of crisis.



Not only did doctors and nurses and my husband and family help me when I could not help myself, we had countless others who poured out into our lives in varying ways and degrees.

We can not repay anyone for the kindness extended to us, but we are ever thankful to God for revealing His steadfast love and faithfulness through others.

As we continue on in this journey we are grateful for the opportunities that we can pour out the grace we have received to others in times of need.



There are endless ways to extend practical love and it may be as simple as reaching out a strong arm with a warm hug.

Or as empowering as humbly bending the knee with an earnest prayer.

You may bring comfort when you with come with a listening ear and a silent tongue,

a sincere smile,

a simple meal, a pot of soup, a frozen casserole,

or when you weep with those who are weeping,

and laugh with them when the mourning turns to joy.

Your demonstration of compassion may be as mundane as scrubbing their toilet,

mowing their lawn,

washing their laundry,

sweeping their floor,

weeding their garden,

caring for their animals,

or hiring them a housecleaner.



A little goes a long way when you drop off a sweet treat,

or deposit a monetary gift for the mounting expenses,

set up an online community to provide steady help with a myriad of needs,

deliver their mail,

shovel the snow off their driveway,

knit them a shawl,

take them for a pedicure,

email a Starbucks gift card or two.




Don't underestimate the impact you will have when you hang a wreath on their door,

wash their windows,

write them encouraging words,

drive them to a medical appointment

or their children to school or extra-curricular activities,

repair their vehicle,

surprise them with a completely unexpected gift,

fill their fridge with groceries

or their van with gas,

plant pansies in their urns,

mail them a book with a scarf,

or a cheque,

or come to fellowship with them when they are shut-in and can't participate at meetings at the church.

The way you generously love and care for their children:

teaching them,

feeding them,

shopping for them,

comforting them,

hoping with them

 . . . will be a blessing far greater than you will know.

These are only a small handful of the ways that will encourage those who are
hanging on in hard times and will remind them that they are not alone.

For although suffering is often a lonely road,

no one ought to ever suffer alone.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Going on When You are "Living at the End of the Rope" ~ Book Review and GIVE-AWAY

{We are excited to announce a
~~~GIVE-AWAY~~~
at the end of the post.}












“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus explained to his young daughter, Scout, in the great classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

This is an invaluable lesson for all of us.

There are people we rub shoulders with in our communities, books clubs, cafeterias, classrooms, and on children’s sport teams that we have simply crossed paths with as casual acquaintances.

There are people we share benches with in our families, neighbourhoods, in our churches; people with which we enjoy fellowship and build relationships and hold accountable and clean up messes as life confidants and soul mates.

For many of us, we’ve never actually climbed into these people’s skin and walked around in it and so we don’t understand what they might be living through.

Some of these people are living at the end of their rope. They are hanging on and we may not even know it. If we do happen to know a little about what they are going through, we wonder how they are holding on with such a grip.







Some of the situations are so dire and the end so seemingly near. And some of these people are not just holding on by the final thread, but there--right at the end of the rope--they have a hope with a sure anchor and a peace that passes all understanding, despite their precarious situation in life.

They would confess they are weak in and of themselves, but their white-knuckled grip demonstrates a strength that has been granted to them.

The valleys they are walking through beat them down, fill them with doubts and leave them battered. So how does anyone count these various trials they encounter with all joy?





Ron Hughes, in his book, “Living at the End of the Rope”, introduces us to individuals that are living at the end of theirs. We weep with them. However, they are living out their lives with hope because they have a Lifeline: the joy of the Lord is their strength. We can rejoice with them.

They are living humbled by the goodness of God. Strengthened by His presence, empowered by His Spirit. He is their Rock, their Salvation, their Strength, their Fortress.

Some have accepted difficult consequences due to poor choices, some have walked through the valley of death--of precious children, or a dearly-loved spouse. Some have wandered down the hard road of disease and deteriorating health. Ron shares how parents embrace and care for children with severe disabilities, how a spouse deals with a wife’s debilitating anxiety, another faced divorce after four decades of married life, and still another lives in a miss-matched marriage. Finally, we get to walk in the shoes of one who has accumulated many birthdays, but still has to run hard and strive to the end despite the physical limitations of aging.

The stories are real. They are filled with devastating news, pain, and grief. All of the storylines contain a common thread of suffering. They are not at all tied up with a bow, yet not one is lost in despair.

Woven in these stories are God’s steadfast love, abounding grace and great faithfulness. God knows our suffering and He never abandons us, not even when we wake up and our worst nightmares have become our reality.

In His sovereignty, God permits the suffering. It is a sure thing, the Bible declares that, “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward”. But in His faithfulness and mercy, God has given us Hope—Christ in us, by grace, through faith. He has granted us new and eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, even in that, He desires we would “look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!” that His name would be glorified.



Ron, in his master storyteller style, has captured and eloquently penned these true-life, compelling, heart-wrenching stories. Through them he invites us to climb into the skin of others and walk around in it for a bit, to understand a little of what they are enduring to be able to compassionately care for those who are hanging on for life.

Maybe you are one hanging on and you are grieving the tragic loss of your child or left without your spouse with whom you had dreamed to grow old and desperately lonely or trapped in a loveless marriage or in a battle with mental illness or a disabled or diseased body and need to know you are not alone—then this book is for you.

Maybe you are one that can reach out with a strong arm to help those who are suffering—then this book is for you.

Maybe you have walked a hard road or found your footing and now you are able to help others navigate a similar hardship—then this book is for you.



This book is for you if you need to be reminded of the sovereignty and goodness of God. He knows all about our suffering and is compassionate toward us in our suffering. He will send along others to care.

We need to open up and be vulnerable to let someone in to be able to receive that care.

Other times, we need to stop being so self-absorbed and start caring more for others. To do this, one must begin with understanding a person from their point of view. Climb into their skin. Walk around in it a bit. Take the time to view life from their perspective.

We were never meant to walk this life alone. It may be easier to withdraw from others when faced with difficult trials, or leave others alone in their troubles, but it is more fortifying to keep holding on when lovingly encouraged by others to not lose heart despite the way life tosses you around and beats you up against the relentless rocks and hard knocks.

You may be at the end of your rope.

But there is a way to keep on living.

Ron poignantly writes of these frayed stories and sure Hope and how you “don’t get the resources for living at the end of the rope until we are hanging on for dear life.”

For, as Ron reminds, “ . . . there is hope, even as we dangle”.





Give-Away:

We are excited to be giving away one (1) signed copy of "Living at the End of the Rope" by Ron Hughes.

Leave a comment or tweet to enter for your chance to win.

The winner will be announced on February 1st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Read a free sample chapter from or purchase "Living at the End of the Rope" by Ron Hughes




Ron Hughes writes to enlighten, encourage and entertain. He and his family have engaged in missionary work in Ecuador in the past and currently he works with FBH International in evangelistic media ministry. Ron is a writer, a teacher, an encourager and preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ. 
I was honoured when Ron asked if I might read and write this review on his latest book: "Living at the End of the Rope". I am quite familiar with living at this end of the rope and can relate to those who are hanging on by faith and with hope. This is a book you will be encouraged by as you read it. You will curl up and become acquainted, shed tears of sorrow and joy with fellow sufferers who run with endurance by looking unto Jesus and fix their gaze on unseen things that are eternal as the temporal things of this world are fading away.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When Troubles Weigh You Down, Look Up Unto the Stars


We are almost three weeks into the new year and there have definitely been some hard knocks for many people already. Devastating diagnoses, death, divorce proceedings, distress, grief, sickness, debt, loved ones slowly fading away or homeless and lost in shelters and mental illness or out at sea.

These troubles are more than enough to weigh any soul down.

Oh, there have been exciting things, too, like babies born and birthday celebrations, healing taking place in bodies, hearts and souls.

We are a forgetful people though and when the days are long and the nights are dark and the bad news tips the scales, just as we need air to breath, we need words of comfort and assurance.

On those dark nights, look up. It won't take away the pain, but it will give you new perspective. It will help you breath when life has knocked the wind out of you.

Lift up your eyes unto the stars. Your troubles will grow smaller and you will behold the greatness of God. In God, you will be comforted.




We get to the end of a cold day in January; the saddest day of the year, some say. 

The schoolwork has been spread open all day, the books that were used are still scattered, dinner was prepared while the kids squealed and sledded down the little hill to the side of the house, and the rosy-cheeked and famished kids came in and devoured their steaming lasagna and then scrubbed all the dishes clean.

After the noise, the laughter and the fresh-out-of-the-oven snicker doodles with mint tea, and Bible reading, we settle down in the silence of the evening. Long after the sun has sunk in the Western horizon and the bright stars have been strung once again on the black canvas of the night, the boy and I, we read another chapter out loud from a biography of Nathanial Bowditch: the self-taught, brilliant American scientist and mathematician born in 1773.






We are almost half way through the book, and Josiah tells me he loves the book, but there has been too much dying and he's not sure it can be a favourite book of his with so much death—Nat has already lost five people in his young life. It's not a feel good novel, but a lot of life doesn't feel good.

"Sometimes if you look at the stars long enough, they sort of shrink your troubles down to size." Nat Bowditch thoughtfully advised in "Carry On Mr. Bowditch" by Jean Lee Latham.



Mikko Lagerstedt


I pause.

Did you hear that? I read it again. There is something there that we all need know. 

"Sometimes if you look at the stars long enough, they sort of shrink your troubles down to size." 

Nat knows all about death, disfunction, and shattered dreams, but he presses on and "sails by ash breeze". He teaches himself math, science, astronomy, Latin, French, and navigation while he's been indentured for 9 years and is prisoner in his apprenticeship.

We are all dealing with shattered dreams, broken pieces of our lives, challenging circumstances, and demanding people.



Sometimes, if you look away from your day-by-day troubles and look up to the stars that God hung in place, it sort of shrinks them down.

There, in the darkest night shine the brightest lights.


Mikko Lagerstedt



"Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these [stars]? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing."

These words are words of comfort and assurance to the people of God that would be taken captive by their enemy, but God would never abandon them even when they were deeply afflicted. He brings good news to a people who just received devastating news and He promises through His prophet Isaiah to send a Deliverer—the Son of God would come and redeem His people and call them to Himself.

You cannot know all of His ways, His understanding is unsearchable, just as you can't see all the stars in the sky. But He brings each star out, every one that He has named and in His greatness He will do exactly the same for His people—He will call them by name and will renew the strength for everyone who waits on the Lord.

Look up to the sky tonight. See the greatness of God, trust in His Word; for the starry heavens you gaze up to will pass away, but the words of God will never pass away.


Friday, January 1, 2016

The New Year Dawns Bright ~ And My One Word for Sweet '16 {2016}

"Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!"


We had a green Christmas, but the new year dawned with a fresh covering of white in our world. The year ended with a silent night and we woke to sweet '16 full of promise, expectancy, hope. Many of us are ready for a fresh start.

I spent the last few days working on an old, tired credenza that I picked up at the local second hand store, 'Alliston's Attic', years ago with every intention to refinish it. It sat in its worn, original state in our front hall and was a useful piece of furniture, but not at all pleasant on the eyes. 



Last winter, I could also call it the Long Winter, I spent much time recovering from open-heart surgery surrounded by dark, depressing brown walls in the living room and I longed to be able to get rid of all the dark and depressing and let the light in.

So, as the year was getting tucked in for its final days, we drove down to the paint store to get some paint to make things brighter and, simply, whiter. And right there in the store was a display for Cottage Paint—no sanding, no dust, just brush on the paint and 'antique' your boring furniture. I grabbed a quart of 'cloudy white', some matte sealer, a new brush and was all set to begin the project that had been waiting for me for as long as I had been it's rightful owner.








We've covered all the dark and now the bright light pours in and simply reflects off all the white, like the sunlight on the freshly fallen snow. The light always shines brighter and overcomes the dark.

This new year, 2016, is pregnant with good intentions, plans, purposes. There's no better time than the start of a new year to dream up resolutions, goals, and commitments. Except, I've never really been good at keeping New Year's Resolutions and found something that works better for me—naming my year with 'One Word'.

Jon named it, 'Endurance', for me last year. The year before that, the year Dr. David agreed to take my broken, hardened, calcified heart and restore it as best he could, the year I clung ever so dear to the precious truth that God is with me, my One Word, was 'With'.

It's been a handful of years now that I've been naming naming them and this year the One Word seemed obvious.

As we painted away for a few days—my husband and daughter working on the dark walls, me on the dungy wood cabinet—we had hours of sharing things burdening our hearts and on our minds. When I mentioned to Jon that I was thinking about what I might name the coming year, he told me what he thought it should be and it was exactly what I had been mulling over.

Strength.

He reminded me the doctors told me that my recovery was going to be at least two years and the second year was going to be one for gaining strength.









Last year brought us so far along and this year I'm looking ahead with so much more excitement of what is to come.

As I look back at the wonderful deeds of the Lord, I am anticipating that God, in His faithfulness, sovereignty, love and wisdom, will do many great things this coming year.

I am trusting that as I seek Him more He will increase my faith and strengthen me.

Here is another exciting thing: this is the year I turn 40!

Many dread that year, but when you have lived through childhood cancer, lifelong health struggles, multiple surgeries, and face severe heart failure in your late 30's and undergo high-risk open-heart surgery and 'beat the odds' many times over, turning 40 is a time to give thanks to God and celebrate!

Each of our days are numbered and each one we have here we need to surrender to the Lord, trusting in Him in the days of adversity and in the days of ease and in all the days in between. Look at the birds of the air—the ravens, the sparrows, the bold cardinals, the little dark-eyed juncos that flit about—even these your heavenly Father feeds them and not one falls to the ground without Him knowing. 

It would be great to say that I have been fully healed, but that simply is not the case. I will always face difficult health struggles and not one persons knows what lies ahead.

When I look ahead this year, fear is not my constant companion, but weakness is. I have improved greatly, but when I wonder about what might be in store, I know that I can not accomplish anything on my own. 

I also know that my strength will come from the power of God, through seeking Him in His Word and in prayer.

For now, I can laugh at the days to come, eagerly anticipating God to work all things out for His glory. 




You only turn 40 once and I hope to be purposeful in living this year out as full as possible, strengthen by the Lord. I've been thinking about 40 things, a bucket list of sorts, to accomplish before I turn 40: My 40 Things Before 40.

There are some small as well as some pretty major things I am dreaming up and scratching down that may or may not come to fruition . . . memorize 40 Bible verses, read at least one book a month, refinish a piece of furniture, read through the Bible, share what God has done/is doing in my heart/life, review a book, paint a picture, pray for 40 people who don't know the Lord, see the ocean, make a family photo book, hike, blog at least 5 times a month, take a pottery wheel class, pray with others more consistently, work through a photography book, get-away with my sisters, write…

And I can dream up a plan, and purpose to make it happen, but it is in God's will and purpose that I ultimately place my trust. 

In my weakness, I look forward to seeing how God will strengthen me. Like Paul, who called himself the least of all the Apostles, God's grace is sufficient for me for his power is made perfect in my weakness.

His grace falls down, grace upon grace, covering me, always a fresh start, and His mercy is new every morning.

Let us sit in the silence, the stillness of a new year, wait on the Lord, earnestly seek God, surrender all our weakness, rebellion, anxiety and He will grant us His power and be our strength.

Oh, it is not only a mere covering that is here today and gone tomorrow or an outward display of morals, good intentions and our abilities that we are in desperate need of this year but that Christ may dwell in our hearts and that we could know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God.

Seek the Lord and His strength this new year. Seek His presence continually. There is your hope, your joy, your strength.
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, 
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." 
{Ephesians 3:14-19}




"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 
according to the power at work within us, 
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, 
forever and ever. Amen." 
{Ephesians 3:20-21}

{PDF free printable for anyone else turning 40!!!}
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