Each post this month of April will be a Devotional on the security we have in God. My hope is that God will use these words to encourage you on your daily paths. Therefore he… More
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. Matthew 27:51
Have you ever stood, feet bare or protected, in a river’s rushing water? The river’s rocks slippery under your soles, the water colliding with your body somewhere between ankle and knee? The river’s water pressure as it rushes by you feels strong enough to sweep you away too, taking you unwillingly along it’s travels downstream.
Yet you stay placed, as the water sweeps by. Your body stronger against the current, your confidence deepening in your stance as moments pass along with the hastening river.
As the calm confidence settles your mind, the once roar of the rushing waves becomes a symphony to you, and the greasy rocks now glisten with polished colours like sun illuminated stain glass.
And you breathe, breathe freely and openly in this place now that the fear is edged out, replaced with the assurance that your posture will hold you from being swept away.
My friend, I believe, know that is what God wants for you too. He wants you to breathe even when those thundering waves of difficulty threaten to sweep over you, to take you places along the currents you swore you would never go.
Sometimes these threats are pressures from relationships, where convictions and obedience are strongly opposed. That friendship, that mentor, that boss, that potential romantic partner you seemed to have waited for forever, is now asking you to join in to activities that once was the old way of living you turned from when cleansed that day in baptism, in acceptance of His way.
Sometimes threats can be from circumstances we never imagined we’d be in: a divorce, an estranged child, disease, a crime against us, and injustices.
We may even create our own threatening waves from our brokenness leading us to seek solace in things of this world that harm rather than bring life.
Yet Life is where we can turn to–no threat can defeat it.
We celebrate this weekend the Hope that was given to us, the new way of freely living that opened to us with the tearing away of the veil.
Paul reminds us in Hebrews:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10: 19-23
This gift of freedom, this forever grace from our transgressions is due to the shed of blood on that cross of an innocent Man by ones who were slaves to their pride and self-righteousness–ones who felt threatened by the freedom that was being offered to them.
But you, my friend, can accept this freedom gifted through His offering to have your heart cleansed with the sprinkling of His grace, and your body washed to purity.
There is no barrier between You and the One who will not let the threatening rivers sweep over you. Will you accept His invitation to draw near to Him, the forever faithful One who will be your help, your protector, and your strength giving you His peace no matter how thunderous the rivers waters rush around you?
Will you, my friend, accept the invitation of an unconditional Love that surpasses all our understanding?
Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God, that you died on the cross to rescue me from sin and death and to restore me to the Father. I choose now to turn from my sins, my self-centeredness, and every part of my life that does not please you. I choose you. I give myself to you. I receive your forgiveness and ask you to take your rightful place in my life as my Savior and Lord. Come reign in my heart, fill me with your love and your life, and help me to become a person who is truly loving—a person like you. Restore me, Jesus. Live in me. Love through me. Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Retrieved from Ransom Heart
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27
There’s a greenhouse just a five minute drive from my home. Not a greenhouse in a traditional sense as it is open year around with a restaurant serving organic greens and gluten-free treats, and gifts galleries that change with the calendar celebrations.
Christmas time fills the floor with decorative trees and already overflowing shelves with ornaments, wreaths, and garland.
Approaching Valentine’s Day more red and white candles, silk and real roses rest on bursting shelves of trinkets, jewels, and framed mottos.
Now, drawing near Easter, pops of pastel colours adorn the interior design with baby blue vases, soft pink stuffed bunnies, and sun set orange ribboned baskets.
I walk past all this splendour into another room unseen from the entry. All my senses refeshen in the humidity that seems to steam from the hundreds of cacti plants that rest on shelves against the walls, stand in tall pots in the corners, and more aesthetically arranged on round tables creating a centre aisle.
And I breathe.
I breathe in this place where not a ribbon or jewel or ornament occupies.
I step slowly scanning the various cactus plants, some barely two inches in length, some warped in their roundness, others gangly in their tallness. Some bodies plentiful with spines, others edged with scattered thorns.
And it’s all so beautiful, in it’s rawness, it’s unadorned form.
What is it that draws me to this place where beauty and refreshment comes from the misshapen, the undressed? Where symmetry isn’t and where thorns are exposed?
Maybe it is stirring in me that restlessness for that perfect place of ancestry, in a Garden where all was perfect, nothing hidden until tampered by temptation.
Maybe it is stirring in me to remember, to be, to come exposed, scars, wounds, prickles, and thorns, no adornments that mask.
Because we are all so most beautiful, my darling, in our raw, unadorned form.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7
Come surrender your hidden scars
Leave your weapons where they are
You’ve been hiding, but I know your wounded heart
And you don’t know how beautiful you are
I’m tired of hiding who I really am
Underneath these alibis
I want to know who you really are
I want to meet you here tonight
We’re not born with these defenses
We’re not destined for this pain
We hide ourselves and put the fig leaves on
But a mask can never cover up this shame
“I feel bad for it. It’s got enemies in there and I’m sending in the best army I have!”
My friend giggled. “I’ve never heard someone describe their body parts in third person context before.”
I’ve been a bit under the weather lately, so to speak.
I’ve had to send in armies for these uncomplicated conditions. Armies of antibiotics, vitamins, herbs, and ‘google’ remedies to fight the battles against these viral and bacterial critters. It’s taken a few tries though, to find out which armies are going to win that battle, and bring peace once again!
I used these medicine armies to battle something I could only feel in the flesh, but I could not see. The pain I experienced a warning to something that needed attending to, needed help in the fight to become healthy again.
Our pain experiences in life are so often derived from our challenges, felt not in the flesh, but emotionally in our mind and in our heart too. We might find ourselves wrestling with forces that ask us to compromise our integrity, our values, our morals for the sake of a corporation’s definition of success, or for the sake of wanting to belong, or for the sake to avoid conflict with that relationship we feel we could not live without.
God’s word says:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12
We may fear feeling the pain of being alone, rejected, judged, so carefully navigate away from possible battles by hiding in timidity, or not using our gifts for God’s glory.
Thankfully, in God’s goodness He gives us the medicine we need, fights for us to become restored through Him, provides the remedies to withstand the attacks that can snare us.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trust in the Lord will be kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
Instead of fearing man, relying on man to build-us up, we can be free by trusting in God promises to renew us, strengthen us, and carry us, always.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
We can rely on His promises that He will fight for us.
“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15
And God, in His goodness, has provided His power within us!
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
“I’ve been making major decisions on my own for 20 years now. Why am I so fearful right now that I might be forgetting something? Maybe even making this situation worse?” I pulled my knees up to my chest, stared at my phone pocketed in the white duvet of my bed, it’s speaker icon highlighted.
I had just finished a week where nights were sleepless tossing, and the days hours were dealing with the aftermath of a theft that had me gripped in a fragile vulnerability.
A fragile vulnerability that had left me awake with worry, fear and aloneness.
Worry that more misfortune was to come; fear that I may have forgotten to do something to get the situation under control; and feeling alone in dealing with it all, alone.
Later, my phone off and silent, I found myself drawn to open my Book to Psalms, resting on David’s story when he fled Jerusalem, from his son Absalom and his men.
But you Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. Psalm 3:3-4
Even though David was fleeing for his life, and all seemed to be going wrong for him, he lifted his head high, and called out to the Lord in confidence that God was still with him.
I lie down and sleep, I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though ten thousands assail me on every side. Psalm 3:5-6
Even with an army gathering, and his son rebelling against him, David chose not to fear and slept peacefully with the assurance that God was in control.
He did not worry or fear, give into the overwhelming feelings that can come when everything seems to be going wrong. Instead, he rested at night in the assurance of God’s promise of being a ‘shield around me’, always.
He rested in the knowing He was never alone in His battles.
He rested in the knowing of God’s unfailing love, that sustains and flows from Him no matter the circumstances.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are God; may your good Spirit lead me on ground level. Psalm 143:8-10
May you know this Valentine’s Day, my friend, that nothing can overwhelm or consume God’s love for you. No circumstances is bigger than the One whose compassion and faithfulness is yours, as His beloved.
“You are altogether beautiful my darling, beautiful in every way.” Song of Songs 4:7
Lifeless leaves in colours of blood and coffee on a dusty foot path crush beneath my worn hikers. I pull my wool hat lower over my ears with one mittened hand, the other grips my camera. Ahead, I know, is a low lying bridge, over a cheerless pond, just four steps wide and seven steps to the other side.
I’ve been here before, on this trail in this national park close to my home. Been here too, during the times of chirping frogs and singing sparrows.
But today, under a silvery sky, the life sounds seem hushed. And this feels right. As my brother of only a few years longer in life than me, was recently stilled and silenced. His path moved now beyond this world.
You can read the rest at Time with Tandy where I had the pleasure of being a guest blogger!
My apologies for not being at your places this week. I had technical security issues I needed to sort out for my online presence. God bless!
“I’m just so grateful for how great my God is, for my room that I have here. I just pray someone doesn’t pull the fire alarm again tonight,” she says, wrapping her pink-flowered terry robe around her tighter.
There’s a murmur of agreement that comes from the other ladies at the table. Someone else begins to speak, to share what they are thankful for, but I am still fixed on the one who just spoke. With long fingers she gathers her dark hair, threaded with silver, and tucks it into the collar of her robe. Her eyes are deep brown, and seen many things I have never seen, and most likely will never see.
Earlier she spoke of a trial she’d endured this week, a temptation she’d overcome, a judgement placed against her, a struggle she’d been dealing with most of her life, and a child-hood memory on the reserve with her father.
Tears formed in the corner of her eyes when she spoke of her son who lives many miles away, on the west coast.
She misses him very much.
Yet, this woman, who’s in the last quarter century of her life, with few clothes and little resources that only allow her to live in an accommodation centre that houses other women, is ever so grateful for God. For God just being God.
And I’m humbled.
My gratitude list can be long of things like coffee, my car, my healthy kids, my vacations, my money in the bank, my working mind and body, an answered prayer…
But when have I just been thankful to God for just being God?
In the book of James, James tells us, “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters, Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” 2:5
This woman, this woman who wraps herself in a terry robe to stay warm understands what faith is. There is no barrier of things, of world riches that block her with pride or idolatry. She is rich in faith, grateful for her wonderful God for just being God–her strength and her redeemer; her rock and her salvation.
The God that even though the steps she takes are without many comforts of worldly goods and may even have disaster or ruin, she is confident is by her side and protecting her.
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtake the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared. Prov. 3:35
Later as I slip on my thermal winter coat, step into my car, start the engine and feel heat on my bare hands, I thank God for heated steering wheels. And pause, then find myself whispering this simple prayer.
I do thank you for all my comforts and blessings Lord, but more than anything I just want to thank you for being here with me, for being in my life, and loving me. The best thing about my life is you….
“Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasures, then you will understand.” Proverbs 2:4-5
The above scripture started a workbook on a study that soaks in the scripture of James. When I read those words earlier this week, I was surprised but then again not.
I’d read the same scripture exactly one week prior as the reading for a group gathering. And in that gathering I’d written to be persistent in seeking His treasure, His wisdom.
And just weeks before, I’d chosen a word for the year-PERSEVERANCE.
Honestly at the time when I chose the word I’d defined it as persevering in the places I wanted to grow in-my writing, my photography, my coaching business, for example.
And in those places of growth were multiple tasks of how to get myself BIGGER, more into the market place through social media and networking.
And hopefully creating new, valuable product as that is my favourite part.
But I left that goal as a possibility only because I felt I hadn’t reached the success level to create something new.
I didn’t think it wise to create more when I still had inventory of past collections.
And not wise as (getting real and honest here) having not collected the amount back of the investment I’d already made into all my current creations. So making money an arching goal seemed like a wise thing to do.
I joined an entrepreneur group to learn the multiple ways of marketing, made a binder of goals broken down into steps, vision boards, and daily, monthly, year success sheets to consistently “plan, do, review.”
I started listening to daily motivation videos.
But with all these items, just days in, my motivation began to slip away like water into a drain.
I am borderline obsessive when it comes to learning new ways to make goals, get clarity, open up your dreams, and other such life desires. As a professional life coach helping women who are struggling with creating the life they envision for themselves, it’s important that I keep learning so can be creative too, in helping leading others to their next steps.
But, with notebooks filled with scribbles of a multitude of methods and each method having it’s five or so steps, and then the many ads that come up on my social media feeds for learning how to live your best year yet, it gets overwhelming.
Which is the right way? They all are good and really have the same message, just said in a different way which is important so they reach the people they need to reach.
Yet can seem so complicated!
This week our church has Solemn Assembly, a guided prayer service each evening. As I closed my eyes in prayer and asked God the question I wonder if He may just be tired of me asking,- “Where should I be spending my time and efforts?” a repeated word of our scripture passage that particular evening flashed across my mind.
Earnestly seek My treasure and you gain wisdom.
Be persistent in the pursuit of My treasure, and I will give you common sense, guard your path and protect you.
It’s that simple.
Start by seeking His treasure, His wisdom.
And I will find the right way to go.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the path of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Proverbs 2: 6-10
I am linked up with Five Minute Friday today where a topic is chosen and you have 5 minutes to write your words. You can check out how to be involved and read others musings on our prompt Simplify this week at Five Minute Friday
The wind was gentle on this particular late summer morning. It was a Saturday. My eyes cast downwards at grass clipped short, scanning for the entry.
My journal entry an hour later:
Walked in and decided the entry was not what was laid out. The path was wrong. The start was three steps in, passing two blocked paths on the right. Should not the opening to the circle been the first step in? Took a step clockwise in the direction the lines laid out and then decided to go differently for the heck of it and stepped over a line to start in the opposite direction-counter clockwise.
So I decided what was the right way to go, and then realized my mistake 20 minutes later.
The start point was right all along.
As I took each tentative step I wondered if the circular, meandering path really did lead me out eventually or would I get caught up in it’s loop forever? I wanted to step out completely a few times. I didn’t trust the design.
Could I trust the designer?
Do I trust the Designer?
“I realized how much I still want to be in control. Crazy because if I would have just followed the path as it was laid out, I wouldn’t have been so anxious and enjoyed the walk and beauty all around me.”
The facilitator of our weekend retreat looked at me kindly. We each sat in chairs placed in a circular pattern–about 20 of us.
Each stepping differently on life’s meandering path.
Each stepping in either a choice of holding back in fears that present as control, worries, and excuses, or letting go in trust.
Jeremiah 17: 7-8 But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I pull the zipper up on my jacket, my eyes scanning the tree shadows that reach out like fingers upon the unicursal path. It’s early Saturday evening. The sun has begun is descent behind me.
I take three steps in and turn to the right-clockwise.
I enter the lines of the pathway, following as designed.
A fallen leaf lifts, the wind catching it’s stem, and skims the cropped grass. Five sparrows suddenly let go within a tree and flutter above me. I stop, watch their flight that leads them to another tree, and they rest on a new branch like it was designed just for them. It holds them safely. I tuck my hair behind an ear, the breeze light and refreshing on my face.
I take the next step.
Inspired by Linda Stoll’s blog and timandolive.com, I’ve been posting at my Instagram account a daily photo for Advent. I’ve compiled the first 11 days here for you as well as Advent scriptures. I hope these bring you peace in this season that can seem so crazy at times!
For a limited time I have FREE SHIPPING on my journals (maximum two). Ready for a daily practice to create a healthy mindset and breathe in a Breathing Space? Each order includes a free Breathing Space notebook (value $10) that fits great in purses and book bags. You can purchase at The Marketplace.