A Breath of Summer & Beginnings

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Summer is not my favourite season. I know many would challenge me, but somehow the pressure of the summer days to be more active, socialize more, BBQ more, go to all the outdoor city festival events, try to keep the lawn free of weeds and the flowers growing, makes me feel that I’m never doing enough.

Summer just doesn’t seem to work for me. And I can feel weary rather than energized. So I put off editing those writings pieces, or getting that photo album done for the children, or finally cleaning up that room my youngest moved out of a year ago. ‘Cause it all just seems so darn hard.

How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?” Joshua 18:3

When Joshua led the Israelites to their promised land, there were several tribes who put off possessing their inheritance. They held back from going in, possibly not looking forward to the hard work it would take to settle the land and fearing the obstacles such as battles with their enemies. They may have grown weary of their situation and began to wonder if it was worth it to continue on anymore. And the procrastination delayed receiving the blessing God promised them.

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When I recently read Joshua’s story, I saw myself like one within those tribes that put off entering into God’s promises. I’d been wondering if the time and money I’d put into writing and photography, and other activities was really worth it anymore. Even though kingdom building is what I strived for, I fell into measuring my success from my bank account and how many social events were listed on my calendar, and comparison.

A habit developed of reading or watching Netflix, or even studying, rather then enter into my office to write or enter into a new place to photograph.

However, thankfully God’s promises do not have an expiry date. With the leadership and encouragement from Joshua, all the tribes did enter and take possession of the land the Lord had promised them. With the leadership and encouragement from God’s word, we too can take possession of His promises and come out of our procrastination, or our putting off of doing the hard work for fear of potential obstacles.

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No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Joshua 1:5-6

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled. Joshua 21:45

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

It is never too late to begin again. And I do…and maybe even make summer work for me after all. 

How do you fight procrastination? Or is there someone that needs your leadership and encouragement?

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Did you know that journaling has proven health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and increasing brain memory? If you, or if have a friend that’s not sure how to start journaling, check this out!  

Disappearing Ladders–a breath of Creative Non-Fiction

 (Personal Essay and Creative Non-Fiction are genres that intrigue me and challenge me! Is there a genre of writing that intrigues and challenges you?) 

 

One summer when I was small, a ladder appeared against a corner piece of fence that separated my backyard from Rhonda’s, my best-friend. I saw the silver top of another ladder on Rhonda’s side of the fence. That ladder was taller than the one in my yard so I had to swing my leg high over the fence to reach the rungs on the other side. When I journeyed back over to my side, I’d turn backwards, balancing my tummy against the wood, and stretch my leg blindly until my foot reached the top step of my ladder. I learned early that flip flops were not the shoe of choice to climb ladders. Sometimes a pair of flip flops would be in my hands and bare-footed I navigated the hot metal steps between my backyard’s and Rhonda’s.

I don’t know whose idea it was or remember who it was that added these ladders that linked my backyard with Rhonda’s. I do remember my mother, years later, telling me she’d once found me half way to Rhonda’s house after my three-year old self wandered out my front door. And she told me too, about the later times when I was five years old and she received a morning call from Rhonda’s mom to let her know I was safe at Rhonda’s house, pajama- dressed and shoeless. This all must have been before the appearing ladders.

I don’t remember wanderings to Rhonda’s. Mom is gone so I cannot ask her. I do remember Rhonda’s favourite breakfast of crust-less buttered toast. I thought it very special, to eat bread with the crust cut-off. I wonder if I ate Cheerios before I wandered over to Rhonda’s. I do remember floating Cheerios in milk, and my brother, Mark, beside me eating his cereal in our kitchen then. I can’t ask him either about my wanderings to Rhonda’s since he is gone too. At my last visit with Mark, he nibbled on a crust-less sandwich while the sound of distant chimes came from the open hospice window.

I was too late to see Rhonda in hospice.

Rhonda had the prettiest baby doll pajamas. I felt big around her but she was smarter. Her house had four big rooms on the main level—the living room where we made card houses and the family room where we watched cable television, the kitchen, and the dining room with tables bigger than the one at my house even though my family was bigger. I had four older siblings compared to her two however, a big space of nine to twelve years in ages is between the three eldest and I. I remember dinners in our kitchen, a small gathering most often, with my mom and Mark, and a plate of food in the oven kept warm for my dad.

I don’t remember when the ladders were taken down. Maybe it was months before leaving to move west- my parents, Mark and me. Both my parents are gone now along with Rhonda and Mark; my memories behind fences only I’m left to climb.

I miss those ladders.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

A Breath of Wind

“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” John 3:7-8 The Message

Take a breath and meditate on the passage above as you watch & listen to the wind rustling through the trees. (best in HD and fullscreen).

A Breath of Experience

Open yourself up to the love that will come with hurt and the hurt that will come with love; and to the success that will come with failure and the failure that will come with success. Susan David, PhD, Emotional Agility

We can’t love without experiencing hurt, have success without experiencing failure, and live without experiencing those cloudy days.

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 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

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What verse in the reading from Ecclesiastes resonates for you today? What might God be saying to you through His word?

Road tripping Breathing Space

Listening to the morning local CBC radio show, the broadcasters raised the question: What was a memorable road trip for you? One mentioned a trip from the Yukon to Edmonton. This made me a tad sad, as I was suppose to be taking my own road-trip to the Yukon in mid-June. However, needed to cancel. Yet, I do have many memorable road-trips including the maritime province of Nova Scotia.  Below are a few pictures of rural life. And the last, a popular tourist spot: Peggy’s Cove.

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It was July 31, 2008 when my daughter and I started out on this road trip around the island. I was very new to photography and drove her a bit crazy with all my picture taking. 🙂

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Have you done road trips? If so, what has been your most memorable? Or what road trip would you recommend?

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
-C.S. Lewis

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
-Ralf Waldo Emerson

Breath of Spring

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
― Mark Twain

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It was so much fun getting to know some of you better from your comments in my last post! As summer approaches, my life gets a bit fuller with the extra work around the home.  And I also spend more time in my favourite places outside. So over the next few months, I’ll be bringing you a little more of my home through less words but more photographs, creating a breathing space just for you.

(A small note regarding writing. I recently won a contest at Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship  for this piece. And it’s encouraged me to fix up a few other pieces I have to be contest ready. Have you ever entered writing contests?)

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.  The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

Song of Songs 2:11-13

What are your favourite things about spring and summer?

Where We Live (is all just temporary)

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Oprah Winfrey’s current tour includes our provincial capital city. That is surprising to me. Canadian-American actor Seth Rogen’s character in the movie Like Father demonstrated perfectly how us Edmontonians tend to introduce ourselves to our American neighbours: “I’m from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,”  he tells actress Kristen Bell’s character. Not just “I’m from Edmonton.” Or from, “Edmonton, Canada.” Rogen’s comment when interviewed regarding that line:

“Yes, Canadians do that 100 percent. City, province, country. Canadians are always afraid, and rightfully so, that Americans won’t know where Edmonton, Alberta is. That’s a legitimate concern (laughs).”

I must admit when watching the movie, I laughed out loud at that line. It’s so true! Sometimes when I’ve found myself travelling and answering where I’m from,  I’ll add “It’s close to Calgary. You know, where the Olympics were in 1988.”

The hockey fans I’m chatting with will generally  know of Edmonton with our NHL team and Wayne Gretzky history. And the city and surrounding areas have been homes to Olympic medalists in skiing and figure skating, hockey and curling–all sports so-very Canadian.  Oh, and then there is the West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America and 14th overall in the word. So, thinking this further through, I’d say Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is more than Oprah tour worthy. (Disclosure: I’m not interested in going to Oprah’s talk but would have gladly gone to see Michelle Obama, however the tickets were too high for my budget. So I’m waiting in line for her book from my library–I think I’ve moved up to 98th spot).

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All in all, we may be able to boast about world wonders in our home cities, or not. Where we live may be recognizable on a worldly scale, or just known by those within a 100 km radius or less. We may have to point on a map or show an Instagram post for others to understand where we call home. Or just say the city name like those from New York or Dubai and receive wide-eyed responses of wonder and questions.

Although our countries and cities, attractions and landscapes can shape our likes, dislikes, choices of career and hobbies, our identity is rooted in the One who created all. We need not ever be afraid we are unknown, or that we need to lean on a neighbouring place to be seen. We can be rest assured that in Christ we always know where we come from and where we are going.

For all this is temporary, until we are called home.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35

Let’s get to know each other better! Tell me where you live and something you like about it.

I’ll start:

I’m from Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada which is just east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that is a four hour drive north from Calgary where the 1988 Olympics were held! 🙂 I love the wide-open spaces of the wheat fields, watching CFL football on a summer day, and skating in the winter. On cloudy days and my birthday, I like browsing Williams & Sonoma, Anthropology and Pottery Barn all at the West Edmonton Mall!

Now your turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unexpected Way

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With my faithful blue back pack that carried my camera within, I walked the familiar path. My plan was to reach the pond on the western side of this provincial park I had visited many times before. At the pond, I’d hear and see the life of spring with whistling frogs and blooming cattails. However, it’s been a cool spring. Rounding a lower and shaded corner where ice capped snow covered the pathway, my hikers slipped instead of keeping me upright. Stubbornly I crouched, hoping I could somehow crawl myself to my wanted destination. Soon I resigned my plans and turned back, discouraged and saddened that I wouldn’t be able to complete the journey I’d set out for myself.

But then when I reached my starting point, I kept on, walking an easterly route I had never taken before. Soon I found myself at the edge of a boardwalk much longer than the familiar westerly one. I unzipped my jacket and removed my gloves noticing how the mid-morning sun shined the wooden slats of the boardwalk and lit the tips of the surrounding cattails. I easily navigated the bends and curves of this newly discovered pathway. I rested on one of it’s benches watching a pair of Canada geese, surefooted even on the frozen pond.

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If I hadn’t had to turn away from that westerly, familiar path, I would never have discovered the place on the other side of this park. Often, I can get so caught up in the familiar, that I don’t see that there just might be another way, even a better way, to navigate my places and situations. Sometimes it may take a complete roadblock or impassable path before I turn to look another way. And then discover something so much better than ever expected.

It reminds me too, how the disciples had thought Jesus’ life and power was the path for them to conquer the Romans. But the path was in the opposite direction, wasn’t it? It was through Jesus’s death that conquered something so much greater than just the Romans-the bondage of sin. The disciples familiar path to conquer with power and war was gone with Jesus’ death on the cross. And, in it’s place became an unexpected but much more better way.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 2:18-19

Is there a pathway you are turning to go His Way?  Or a familiar one you are being asked to turn away from? May you rest in knowing the unexpected path can lead to the unexpected and a better Way….

Happy Easter, my readers! I will be back here again after our Easter celebrations.

 

Peace from an Empty Place

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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.
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Then….

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 world upon Him…
You can read the full post at Inscribe Writers
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Your all in all

They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Hosea 8:7

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In Hosea 8:7 who are they? They are the Israelites who had sought forbidden relationships with Assyria and Egypt for military power, and had mixed in worshipping forbidden gods along with God. They were no longer being faithful to the One who could provide them all they needed. Harvesting good seed in grounds bathed by sunlight and filled with nourishment, produce a sturdy crop. The Israelites, though,  expended their energy on activities without roots for their souls, leaving them vulnerable. Danger was coming from foreigners–eventually the Assyrians invaded and conquered Israel.

I know I too, can spend time on hollow activities instead of taking the time to plant, sow, and wait. I can Netflix binge, or mindlessly scroll my Instagram and my Facebook accounts to ‘numb’ out. I can seek instant gratification that only leaves me unsatisfied. I can eat those four girl-guide cookies instead of taking the time to cook the nourishing spinach and eggs. I can try to fight my own battles by seeking out who I think will agree with me, commiserate and create an alliance, instead of seeking God first.

But these attempts at self-preservation only pull me apart from God. When I try to become more secure in the world without God, I’m left vulnerable to the pull of all things that only blow away in the whirlwind of time.

When we put our security in God, we become too deeply rooted to be swept away. We are less tempted to engage in that ‘quick fix’ or reach out for things that leave us hollow and wanting. Instead, we grow closer to the One whose faithfulness is everlasting.

“Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, Ordered in all things, and secured; For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow? Samuel 23:5

What things are you putting your security in? Is there something God is asking you to give up so He can be your all and all?

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