Hello! How is your summer so far? I’ve been restless to travel provincially to Jasper and Banff, however the timing has not yet been right! I still have 8 more weeks of summer, and will… More
“We added the $100 senior discount as well. Thanks.”
What? I re-read the text message. A senior’s discount? I walked to the nearest mirror, scanned my face and hair. Had all this isolation these past weeks aged me? I did look paler, and sure miss going to my aesthetician to swipe (well, rip is a better word) those –ughh–unwanted hairs away. And there are more greys than blonde in my hair, however that has been happening for many years now. Why did the man who scanned my backyard for 10 minutes to give me an estimate on a deck build think I was a senior deserving a discount?
My phone pings. Another text message.
“We trying to help communities and seniors in this Covid19 era…I can add another $75 gift card for groceries for you. Thanks”
He must have me mixed up with someone else. Or does he?
And where did this vanity in me come from? I didn’t think I was that concerned about aging….
In a month I will be 55 years-old. Freedom 55 some call it! I’m far from freedom 55. No sailboating in a Caribbean Sea in a white polo t-shirt and blue knee – length LLBean shorts with a husband at the helm and a school of dolphins playing close by.
Instead on my birthday, after my work day has ended at 4:30PM, I’ll likely don my comfortable runners and a bamboo hat so my ears don’t start aching from the prairie wind, walk around the man-made urban pond in my neighbourhood and watch the Canada Geese (if I’m lucky) leisurely paddling in the muddy water.
Ah…life….it does not often turn out like a life insurance commercial.
(To be fair, I have read recently that the life insurance company who branded Freedom 55 is now rebranding to reflect the more realistic scenario of people having to work much longer, the goal of retiring at 55 becoming less attainable in our economic climate.)
But, on my birthday walk in a middle class neighbourhood of green grass backyards adjacent to man-made ponds, I’ll pass couples walking dogs, kids on bicycles, and flutters of sparrows. I’ll take a 20 minute drive to my eldest daughter’s and her husband’s home where I can take another walk with my two grandchildren and discover a new weed growing in prairie grasses and listen for a call of a nuthatch. We’ll eat cupcakes made from a mix and topped with ready-made whip cream. We’ll play Uno and read Star Wars New Reader books. We’ll make a summer plan of a weekend at a lake. Later, back home to my duplex, I’ll smell the cannabis being smoked by the neighbour who shares a wall with me. I’ll light a lavender candle, tuck myself into bed as I have for 20 plus years as a divorced gal, and read and read and read until my eyes start to flutter closed.
And life…is well…perfect in all it’s imperfections and unmet expectations. Even this aging thing is okay….
The college age boy scoops my items at Bulk Barn. I tell him that my girlfriend owned a bulk store thirty years ago when they always had to scoop for their customers even though no pandemic regulations in effect.
He stops, a scoop of carob chips in his hand, looking confused. “Did you say thirty years ago? Aren’t you like thirty something years old?”
I’m smiling. (I like this kid)
That deck man must have gotten me mixed up with someone else.
What gifts are you experiencing from unmet expectations?
“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
I hope you are finding “simple little pleasures” today. Maybe browsing the below pictures will have you pausing and looking at your gems from past generation in your spaces. The first home pictures are from the Ukrainian Village Cultural Heritage Village commemorating the settlement of east Alberta by Ukrainians.
What simple historical gems do you have in your home that are precious reminders of generations past? Is there a story around the item(s)?
I wish I had three more rooms in my home, I commented to my friend during a phone call recently. I was looking at the items scattered and piled on my desk. Binders, books, day-timers, journals, spiral notebooks, magazines, art cards, microphone, and cameras were just some of the items. I’d like to have a room for painting, another for writing, and another for my work-work (otherwise known as my day job), I told him, have kiddingly but mostly not!
Even though the mess can eventually get overwhelming, I felt content. Even hopeful and driven. Something that had been missing for some time since our country and province began self-distancing rules during the current world pandemic. Feeling better I realized I’m in the grieving cycle. I’m cycling into acceptance, however understand navigating the grief cycle is more erratic than linear. And may cycle backwards into sadness or anxiety.
Just a week ago my desktop was bare.
When my calendar began to empty of sales appointments and open spaces appeared, I wondered what would now enfold in those time slots. What to do with that time? Are the bills going to get paid? Is this opened time now a gift of God? Goodness, then I really do not want to waste it! What to do? As you can imagine, dear readers, this type of thinking only led to confusion and anxiety. I had to find a way to ease my fears and place my time into God’s hands.
Putting our Plans in God’s Hands
- Ask the Helper
John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
When we need clarity around something, such as our time, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us through His teaching and bringing something to mind we need to remember. Our Counsellor is always there to show us Jesus’ way of obedience to His words. When I meditated on this verse, God brought to mind Jesus’ command to love God with all your heart and mind; and to love your neighbour as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31). Practically, how can we do this with our everyday time including some so very ordinary moments?
2. SEEK HIS WILL
Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Jesus taught to be persistent in seeking God. Not giving up seeking takes faith, focus, and follow-through. When confusion from uncertainty sets in, especially when our plans unravel, we can ask God for wisdom, knowledge, patience and understanding. Practically we can full-heartedly go to His word. We may want to look up ‘plans’ in the concordance of our bibles and then SOAK in those scriptures. We will never know God’s plan completely for our lives, yet we can be directed on how to be obedient to His word. God’s word opens the door to His will for us to know Him better and be known.
3. LET GO AND TRUST GOD
First Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
In this time, we can only see what we are experiencing. We don’t see the eternal future that God knows. Like looking through a dark glass, we can’t see clearly what is ahead or make sense of what is happening now. Even in obedience using our spiritual gifts to serve others, we are not assured that our plans will come to fruition. We may become confused about what to do with our time or if we are to continue what we thought we are suppose to do! By letting go of trying to make sense of what is going on we place our plans in God’s hands who promises we will know Him fully when we are with Him eternally.
Never Give Up
Never give up asking, seeking, and trusting God, my friend! We will never be free of confusion on this side of eternity, but God’s plans are good!
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead or Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen Hebrews 13:20-21
What plans do you need to place in God’s hands today?
I am sure all of you had a different kind of Easter celebration than maybe ever before. At my house, I had a Skype call with my eldest and her family as they ate their first turkey dinner prepared in their home. Earlier that day I dropped of a gift of cupcakes and my roaster to my daughter, keeping the 6 feet social distance. For me, my granddaughter left on the porch step a ziplock bag of chocolate chips cookies she had made. Later today they’ve promised to drop off on my step turkey and a piece of apple pie left over from their Easter dinner.
During this time of social distancing, our front steps, our porches, our apartment doorways have become drop off zones of gifts, borrowed items, and left-overs.
I miss walking through doorways.
I look forward to the day when porches and doorways become again just a step before entering rather than the final destination they are today.
But for now, I’m called, like many of you, dear readers, to keep doors closed and stay in for the protection of life for others and myself.
May we always remember though too, we have another protector of life Who lets us through the doorway that brings us into God’s salvation.
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.” John 10:7
When we listen to Jesus’ voice and follow Him through the gate into His pasture, He not only gives us eternal life; we also immediately receive His gifts of forgiveness, love and guidance.
I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:9-10
And He never abandons us no matter the threat.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
Now may the God of peace who through blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen Hebrews 13:20-21
Usually these weeks before celebrating Easter, our sermons, readings, and devotionals reflect the upcoming celebration of Jesus’ resurrection of the cross. This year Easter seems to have been buried beneath the current events. But Palm Sunday is still almost upon us, followed by the Holy Week. These words I post were written a year ago, however like all of God’s words, it’s message is timeless and timely.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came among them and said, “Peace be with you!” John 20:19
An empty tomb.
The tomb which had held Jesus, their Saviour, their teacher, their friend, was empty. The broken body of their King, gone.
Peter and John, along with the other disciples (except for Judas for he had betrayed Jesus, and for Thomas who was not with them that day) drew together behind a locked door. John’s gospel teaches it was a first day of the week, and Peter and John had recently witnessed an empty tomb except for strips of linen, and the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.
An empty tomb.
Although scripture does not name the room where the disciples were hiding that day, bible scholars think it may have been the room upstairs where they stayed before (Act 1:13) and reference it as the Upper Room.
In the Upper Room that day, I imagine the disciples fear and sadness laced the air, along with the lingering smell of bread and wine from their last supper when Jesus, their Saviour, their teacher, their friend was still there.
I imagine Peter feeling regret, the roosters crow still echoing in his mind.
I imagine John, tears flowing freely in grief and wondering how best to honour his Saviour’s request to take care of Jesus’ mother, Mary.
I imagine, even though they huddled together, the room felt empty without the presence of Jesus whose love they had known.
A love that now seemed gone, with an empty tomb while they huddled in that locked Upper Room.
And, I imagine, all the disciples hoping they could have just one more day with Him.
Then, He is suddenly standing before them.
“Peace be with you,” He says.
Peace be with you.
Even after all He had endured—whippings, a crown of thorns, a cross to carry, nails in His hands, and all the sin of the world upon Him…
His first words to His beloved disciples were to settle their grieving, fearful, and shameful hearts.
“Peace be with you!”
And “The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” John 20:20.5
Even when all seems empty, gone–a loved one, a job, a dream, a friend, a child moving out, consequences from a mistake- and your heart is grieving, may you remember Jesus first words to His disciples that day He appeared.
“Peace be with you.”
Those words are for you too, today and forever more.
Lynn J Simpson is just a gal doing life one step at a time. You can find more of her Breathing Spaces Photography at Lynn J Simpson Photography. You can also check out her publications at Publications.
Years ago I met a couple who had recently immigrated to Canada from India. They said one of the most odd things to them about Canadians was how they talked about the weather. For weeks it surprised them when taxi-drivers, teachers, or store-shop owners would say things like, “Crazy weather we’re having, hey?” or “Looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow.” When they realized how much the weather changed in Canada compared to India, they began to understand why Canadians chatted about the weather so much. Soon they found themselves also talking about the constant changing weather!
Since then, I’ve tried to be more clever with topics rather than the weather when engaging in small conversations with others.
On a zoom call with a friend this week we found ourselves talking about the obvious –Covid19–and stating how that is all anyone seems to be talking about these days! Our news, our social media feeds, our work emails are full of pandemic messages. Finally I asked, “Snow in spring, hey? I wonder when we’ll get a really warm day for the big melt?”
It is important to stay up to date to what is happening especially as, like the weather, changes are happening fast. My grandchildren left school on a Friday, all their belongings tucked away as usual, then told on Sunday night they would not be returning, possibly until September. Not even a chance to say good-bye to loved teachers and friends. A friend’s senior high-school daughter still has her grad dress hanging on the back of her bedroom door unsure now when or if it will be worn. And unfortunately due to a possible exposure, I was isolating when I received the news my sister ‘n law had entered hospice. I was not able to visit her before she passed away from cancer.
Many sad stories are happening currently as we navigate this ‘new normal’ for time.
Keeping it real, I must admit, I have felt anxiety over the uncertainties. It showed up as an upset stomach. So I knew I had to start getting my mind away from ‘what if’ and into the fruit of the spirt.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
Ten Ways I Calm my Anxious Mind
- Listen to Bonnie Gray’s PodCast – Breathe http://bit.ly/2QlDORN
- Watch Michael W Smith Live Worship Broadcast from his home. You can watch the recording here.
- Listen to a local radio station with only music, no news
- Learning Art Journaling
- Making a cake just for the fun of it (even though it is just me and the cat in my home)
- Skype with my grandchildren as much as possible
- Plan Easter dinner where I’ll be having dinner with my kids via Skype
- Daily eating my vegetables, making my bed, and getting dressed (I haven’t been putting make-up on but know I will be grateful for the money I’m saving)
- Watch for the chickadees that have recently started feeding from my bird feeder
- Intentionally find new subjects beyond today’s current events to talk about when connecting with others
My Go-To Psalm for Calm
On my bed I remember you, I think of you through the watches of the night, Because you are my help, I sing in the shadows of your wings I cling to you: your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63: 6-8
So how is the weather in your part of the world?
It had been one of those days. Those ‘half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream was gone’ kind of days. And I am a vanilla-liking girl! I also tend to stay away from dairy as it can disagree with my digestion from time to time.
Knowing that my self-control was out of control, I poured hot water over the remaining ice-cream until it was only a mush of brown slime in the kitchen sink while trying to keep my late mother’s voice in my thoughts from interfering: “What about those starving children in Africa?”
I wasted good ice-cream that is also a perfect for a treat for my grandchildren due to my insatiable desire to feel better with a wordly item.
I mindlessly overindulged to try to relieve and distract myself from what I considered a bad day.
What do you indulge mindlessly in hoping to feel better or to numb out? You can read more of how this Lenten season is helping me to draw away from overindulging at Inscribe Writers Online
Inspired by Trudy at Freed To Fly who wrote this week on her blog, “Thank you to all of you who share beautiful nature photos on your blog posts. They always breathe hope into my spirit,” I decided to purely do a Breathing Space post. May you be refreshed in your spirit and restful in your mind.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20
Have you ever considered yourself an Ambassador for the Kingdom? When people ask what you do, have you ever considered answering, “I am an Ambassador?” And when they raise their eyebrows at you, you continue, “for the Kingdom of Heaven.”
I don’t know Ludmilla, but guess she may answer that way! Watch why…
What is an Ambassador?
A bible study I am currently in describes an ambassador as “a dignitary whose full-time job is to live for a period in a foreign land, intentionally building relationships with the people native to the land and purposefully representing to those people the desires of his king or sovereign and is given authority to speak and act on his behalf. Adapted from Chris Patton.”
How are we Ambassadors?
We are living in a foreign land until God calls us home. While we are here we represent our Sovereign King. We live purposely by continuing the work of Jesus through the work of the Spirit that transforms our character and guides our steps. We are called to reflect God’s goodness and speak of His love.
Often I can get wrapped up in my wonderings of what my purpose is. Yet, God has it already laid out in His word!
Have you ever considered yourself as an Ambassador of God’s Kingdom? What resonated for you in Ludmilla’s story?
But you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
(Originally posted on 2016 but a timeless message of love).
In our human world, it is natural to want to have rules to follow, laws to live up to, yet is that what God calls us to? Are His ways the ways of the world? Does He call us to follow the way of rules to become worthy of being complete in Him?
I tried to find my own words to answer these questions with what I think is truth but Paul’s words say it so much superior.
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. Galatians 2:20-21 The Message
I’m struggling friends, of what to write, as there is so much here to unpack! It is the foundation for understanding how much we are loved without needing to ‘impress God.’ It is through this love, our identity in Him, we no longer are ruled by our egos, others opinions of us, and our human vulnerabilities. And we are free to love ourselves and others as Jesus loves who keeps no records of wrong.
(Love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:5
When we grasp this understanding that we are already complete in Christ, loved wholly and unconditionally, we no longer need to be loved by anything else in this world. Often our hurts, offences made against us are from expectations we have on others on how we think we should be treated. Our identity gets wrapped up in our attachment to how others satisfy our egos. So when others do not live up to our own expectations, our character feels attacked, and we take offence. We become afraid and build our walls of defence.
In other words we become a slave to others opinions and treatment of us.
But Jesus showed us a Way out of this entrapment to freedom. He showed us how to love.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24
They do not know what they are doing. No judgement, no unmet conditions, just Perfect Love seeing the brokenness in his offenders, and keeping no record of the wrong. Instead, He rose and came back into a world that crucified Him because He loves us that much!
When we grasp this understanding of this perfect love He has for us, where there is no condemnation, no-need to please or make-up for our transgressions, we begin to love ourselves as the Father loves us, freeing us to let-go of any need to be loved and treated a certain way to feel okay in this world. And in that way we free others too, from our own judgement and conditions. This leads us to take no offence and casts out our fears of being vulnerable because we are complete in Christ, and fully loved just as we are now. We can then take that understanding of God’s love for us and return that same love out to the world.
Friends, I don’t pretend to know it all. Paul’s words again express this so much more superior than mine.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12
Camp on these words for a moment-Christ Jesus took hold of me. He’s got you, looking out for you, because of who He is-Perfect Love.
And how can we understand His perfect Love that holds no record of wrong, that does not take offence and extends only grace? I believe only through the Holy Spirit, asking our eyes and heart to be opened to Our Good Father.