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… More
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.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary came from his faithfulness to the law, but his wanting to do it quietly shows how he wanted to protect Mary too. By quietly divorcing Mary, not loudly exposing her to the judging public, he may have been intentionally protecting her from being stoned. I can imagine, between wanting to uphold the law and protect Mary, that he must have felt he was between a rock and a hard place. And there was only one option to make the best out of the situation.
But God had another plan, another option for Joseph, beyond the law, and beyond his own rational thinking.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
Matthew 1: 20-21
Chuck slithered, his belly against the ground, his fur barely clearing the space between coffee table and his back. Under the table, his front and rear legs stuck out the ends, and just the tip of his nose.
“You crazy dog!” My friend stood, hands on her hips surveying the scene–a tipped mug and a coffee puddle by her feet, the result of enthusiasm (for me) shown through the wagging tail of her blonde Labrador Retriever.
I leaned down from my sitting position on her couch to peer under the table. Chuck’s head lay between his paws and his sorrowful, shame-filled eyes looked into mine. “It’s okay, buddy,” I whispered. “I know you were just trying to show you were happy to see me.” I hear his tail pump on the floor. “I make mistakes too, even when I think I’m doing what I’m suppose to do.” I stroke his nose.
Just recently I found myself slithering away from people too, after a misunderstanding of directions. Although not meant to harm, comments by others over my misdemeanour left me feeling raw, stirred my ‘not good enough’ gremlins. Shame washed over me like a tidal wave and caught me in its under current.
It was a door I had walked through many times, but all wasn’t as it was. To the right where once my eyes scanned a spacious place lit softly but brightly enough to highlight the displays of books, paper and household items–my favourite bling–wasn’t anymore. Plywood, popular in all construction spaces, walled the once Chapters store from the Starbucks where I now stood. Feeling a bit conspicuous (how could I have not known?) I walked past customers waiting for their embellished caffeine pretending I had to use the washroom.
I’d driven by the large sign on the shopping centre in my town indicating a new Indigo Store. It was just a block walk from the original Chapters store in the same centre. They were expanding and moving into the old Target store under the Indigo label. (For my outside-of-Canada-friends, Indigo is similar to Barnes & Noble, and the Chapters name under the same umbrella. And just in case you didn’t know–Target came and left Canada as quickly as a fox spotting a rabbit. It never made it.) Now it seemed the new store was open, and the old now empty and boarded.
I pulled my hood up, stepped back outside making my way to another door in the direction of the new sign I’d seen, the new home for the items of the old space I’d spent many hours in over the years, browsing, buying, and discovering.
Adventure being a top value of mine, I found myself light in step. Yes, it was just a new store, but adventure can be had in the smallest of activities….yes?
Adventures, though, can turn out the unexpected. And the unwanted.
It’s that moment, ski poles gripped in one gloved hand, other circling steel pole, body shimmering up to edge of chair, waiting, waiting as elevating and then levelling. Point ski tips up, loosen grip from steel pole, push off, disengage. Skis hit flattened snow, bend knees, lean forward, let pressure off right leg. Empty chair circling right, poles pointing down, skis coasting left, stop, plant poles in loose snow. Skis point just slightly downward, hill trails ahead, signs with coloured circles of either green, blue, black.
And then that first interruption from complete engagement with the moment.
Which run shall I take?
Whenever asked when was the last time I felt completely in the moment, I don’t have a specific one time. Yet while down-hill skiing, that moment just coming off the chair lift, or navigating the turns, the bumps, the bare spots, and powder while skiing down the mountain, I can’t NOT be in the moment. Plant pole, turn, plant, turn, plant, turn, bend (for speed), lift, plant, lean right, wide right turn, plant, turn…
And then there is the wind that caresses my bare cheeks under googles and over my neck warmer, the swoosh sound of skis on snow, and my mind, my body, even my soul gliding in the moment feeling fully present and purposeful.
Aware and engaged.
Honestly, it has been a couple of years since I last pointed my feet into stiff ski boots, and snapped them into bindings, and then feeling that awkward body position where lower body is forced forward and upper needs to lean back for balance.
But, ah, I miss it!
However, maybe it’s more the feeling of my body and my mind needing to be fully present– focused– so to see the trees ahead, to move my body correctly to navigate the bumps, or to tune in my hearing to what is coming up behind–that I crave, rather than gearing up, bearing cold temperatures, and sliding down a mountain.
For it is in the missing of details, when my senses are dulled, when my mind moves away from the moment, that could lead into snow up my back, googles skewed on my face, poles lost up hill, bruised limbs, and a very sore behind!
When skiing those in-the-moment details of sounds, sight, and touch not only give me a bolder experience but also, I can see now, keep me safe.
So what’s the trick? How can we be fully present, aware and engaged, alive, without needing a mountain to transcend? What are ways we can create a presence of ourselves that navigates the ordinary to boldly experience every moment?
- Stay Focused: Focused on what is happening now, and navigating each bump and turn with no worrisome thoughts invading. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
- Be Content: Content in the moment, tot struggling against or wishing we were on a different mountain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, as we can take nothing out of it. 1 Timothy 6:6
- And Thankful: Thankful for our senses, alive and firing to fully experience the all in the moment that is a gift to us-now. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“The greatest moment of your life is now. Not because it’s pleasant or happy or easy, but because this moment is the only moment you’ve got. Every past moment is irretrievably gone. It’s never coming back. If you live there, you lose your life. And the future is always out there somewhere. You can spend an eternity waiting for tomorrow, or worrying about tomorrow. If you live there, you likewise will lose your life. This moment is God’s irreplaceable gift to you.” ~John Ortberg,“God is Closer Than You Think.”
Do you have something that has shown you how to navigate the ordinary to boldly experience each moment, engaged and alive?