Breath of Contentment

My brother ‘n law loves to fish. After he and my sister secure their fifth wheel for another weekend at a lake campground, he’s soon seen steering the electric motor of their inflatable boat to a cove where the fish most likely are to be. He is a catch and release fisherman. And so content that my sister, generally after he’s been gone a minimum of four hours, will try to catch his attention by waving her arms from the shore. And often he does not see her, so wrapped up in the moment of fishing with no regard of how much time has gone by.

In the meantime, and perfectly understandable, my sister thinks he should be back at the campsite after a certain amount of time. And I sympathize with her. Yet, I also am inspired by my brother ‘n law and his ability to not ‘should’ himself into the next thing. Instead he catches and releases moments, reacting to both the tug and slack of his fishing line as they come–content with either.

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In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul teaches us how to be content even when we don’t have what we think we should have, or be where we think we should be.

 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 

This summer I’ve had the opportunity to learn how to be content, however doing so I have not been as graceful as a casted fishing line. Instead, I’ve tugged with the “I wish that turned out different because…” or “I wish I could have afforded that vacation to…” or “I should be instead of….” And tension is created between the past and the future, instead of keeping me in the stillness of the present. So I hold on to these words of Paul too:

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Pressing on is not letting go of what you hope for, however it is trusting God’s got you in your place for a purpose and to stay present with a heart of gratitude. What helped me over the summer is starting to write my gratitudes down daily (a habit I had stopped).  And, of course, included in these gratitudes are camping weekends with my sister and brother ‘n law!

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What circumstance is God wanting you to be content in?

And, if you are a camper, where is your favourite spot to go?

A Breath of Waters

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. Matthew 14:22

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
― E. B. White

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A Breath of a Past Adventure

We’ve had a very rainy summer in my part of the world. How about you? I’ve not had new adventures this summer, however I have been blessed by past summer adventures taking me off my beaten path. One such adventure was during an early July weekend in 2014. Three friends and I explored the highest peak of Mount Assiniboine in the southern continental ranges of the Canadian Rockies.

We reached Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park by helicopter from Canmore, Alberta  The park can also be reached by 15 hour hike that includes an evening at Byrant Creek Shelter.  But the helicopter ride up was worth every cent in my opinion! I remember exiting the helicopter and saying to my friend, “No other moment this weekend can get better than that!”

However, there was no moment that topped another. Our two days were full of stunning scenery, satisfying hikes, and a lot of laughs along the way. Yes, we were clothed in many layers and our rain gear (mine completely out-fitted by MEC, my favourite ‘forever lasting’ adventure clothing gear store) was well-used, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. Instead, the weather added to the adventure. Later my girlfriend remarked how one of my photos captured our one minute of sun breaking through the clouds.

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We spent our nights in one of the 5 Naiset Huts. and cooked our meals in the adjacent cooking hut. Cooking huts are a wonderful place to easily engage in conversations with other travellers. We spent our first evening enjoying a beverage in the charming common room at the Assiniboine Lodge.

When it was time to leave, my friends L & J decided to hike out.  When B & I took the helicopter down, we also got to sit in the helicopter’s front seat! A couple of days later I found out from L that they missed a turn, leading them on the wrong trail and adding six hours to their return hike. Yikes! Having an experienced, excellent map reader is a must on any back country trail! Yet, even then, we can all make mistakes and get on the wrong path. But thankfully, with perseverance and a hopeful spirit, our way is righted.

 

I’m ready for another adventure. How about you? What is one of the favourite places you have visited? Or, what place do you recommend for my next adventure?

 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

A Breath of Promise when Following-through

july24fLast Sunday the worship team led our church in the song “Yes and Amen”. As we sang my mind wandered to my volunteer position at the Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre. The ladies there come from many different backgrounds and cultures, some struggling with addiction, others with mental health diseases, and some with life circumstances that have suddenly left them financially poor.

It’s not an easy gig, I must admit.

But almost every week when our team starts with worship, these ladies choose the song “Yes and Amen” and sing out the words of His faithfulness and how He keeps His promises. These ladies struggling with battles of addiction I do not fully understand, and fighting to overcome their health and financial difficulties, humble me. And I start to see them as the bravest ladies I know, ladies who walk toward and in victory regardless of their circumstances.

Yes, some are tearful and fearing, and trying so darn hard to create a better life but running into obstacle after obstacle, but they have hope. And that hope also comes from us four or five ladies that show up on Monday nights for an hour with snacks, songs, and God’s word.

It’s not an easy gig, and one I have considered letting go of time and again.

Recently I was challenged by this statement from Love God Greatly:

“Believe God’s promises, be strong and brave in the land He has strategically placed you in and trust Him as you face your battles, always remembering you never fight alone!”

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Joshua 22:3 For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you.

Joshua was complimenting these Israelite tribes on their follow-through with carrying out their duties to help out the other tribes to conquer land on the west side. Once they completed helping, these Israelites could settle down in their promised land on the east side of Jordan. They diligently completed the work God has placed before them, before moving on.

So often, when things get hard, I can pull away and move on to something else before completion. But God calls us to bravely continue, to be faithful where He has strategically placed us, and to live out His promise that we are never alone in our battles.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord God will be with you wherever you may go.”

Can I get a Yes and Amen to that?

“Follow-through is vital to God’s work. Beware of the temptation to quit early and leave God’s work undone.” NIV-Life Application Study Bible commentary on Joshua 22:2-4

What work is God asking you to follow-through on presently?

Would you like to have Breathing Spaces be part of your daily routine? These journals include captures of Breathing Spaces in places like Georgia, Florida, Iceland and the Canadian Rockies!

Linked up this week with Soaring with Him and #TellHisStory

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?