The adventure around the corner…literally!

Oct30192

“You’ve been out on adventures, I see,” said my friend. We sat at a high table, our lunches ordered, and catching up during a long overdue visit.

I guessed he was referring to my pictures I’d shared on social media, mainly of forest and prairie lands, some of old farm houses and wheat fields.

I didn’t want to disappoint him but I also needed to be honest.

“I’ve been taking photos just around the corner, actually!” I explained. “About 20 minutes down the highway from my house. Some at a park and some at a tourist historical site.”

nov620192

Oct3019

He lights up as he starts telling me about his hour walk just the other day that took him into wetlands he didn’t even know existed, even though he’d lived and worked in the area over 20 years.

His adventure just around the corner from where he lives.

Facebook pictures of friends in far away places, emails from travel bloggers, and overheard stories in coffee shops of warm places can make our hearts and minds discontent.  We become aware of what we think we are missing out on, and our awareness starts to focus on where we are not rather than where we are.

Thankfully God created our minds to change.

It’s our choice, though.

For awhile now uncertainties around finances had me choose to stay closer to home. Believe me I wasn’t pleased about that at all especially when my sisters flew off to their Ireland and Scotland adventure (that was my idea in the first place)!

And sometimes my mind did wander to poor me…

So I began to ask myself what adventures can I take myself on closer to home that are affordable and new?

Once the focus shifted to where I am, my list of places to explore exploded along with new (and always wanted to try) activities. It’s probably going to take me a couple of years to get through them all!

One of those activities is to find owls! So far I’ve photographed chickadees and hiding wood peckers, but still have a list of places to explore and seek for birds of prey. So if you are patient with me, I’ll be taking you on my owl seeking journeys.

oct272oct27nov62019

And borrowing the words of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz “There’s no place like home,” is there?

What places near you have you yet to explore? Or activities still to try?

If in a place and time where travel and activities seem limited (and I know those times are tough), I pray God shows you the delight that’s in the very corners of your present places, filling your mind and heart with contentment.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12:13

 

 

 

 

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.

aug156aug142

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!

aug144Aug143Aug14

familyboat

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 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!”

july24ff

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

July8

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.

july14

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.

july9

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?

Are we connected yet on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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!  

Where We Live (is all just temporary)

spring (1 of 1)

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).

sept21

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

apr104

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.

apr102apr94

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.

 

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

silent2

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?

Linked up at #TellHisStory

 

Living Full Heartedly

The Mighty One, God, The Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising sun to where it sets. Psalm 50:1

mar132

Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honour me. Psalm 50:14-15

mar133

God’s creations are in abundance. Every day the sun rises and the sun sets, warming and cooling the earth, bringing us the light of day and darkened nights. Although God is timeless, He knows we need these cycles of light and dark to refresh and rest our bodies, minds, and souls. He knows what the earth needs to grow our food, and the amount of waters required to quench our thirst. In places though, fresh water and food is lacking. People are thirsty and hungry, and sick. Animals are migrating, trying to find new habitats, some populations dying away to extinction.

Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s abundance in the world among it’s sufferings.

Yet, God calls us not too lose heart. Why? Because He, our Creator, knows that through a heart of gratitude we are delivered from our anxiety and worries. He commands us to call out to Him when we are troubled, so He can provide rest for our minds even when all seems to be in chaos. When we wholeheartedly trust in God’s abundance, hope prevails. Instead of being downcast, we are energized to continue to seek ways to make the world a better place. Through heartfelt love and obedience to Him we honour Him and all His creations.

Where is God showing you His abundance today? How might He be asking you to make the world a better place?

Linking up at:

Counting My Blessings

Tell-His-Story-button-badge

A Wednesday Wintery Walk

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

nov174 copy

nov173

nov28

Life is full of twists and turns but, like a nature hike, the view around the curve can leave us breathless.

nov172

nov17

Where are your eyes looking to today?

nov27

I’m traveling for work presently, and will be back next week. If not already, I hope we can connect too, on Instagram at Lynn J Simpson and Inspiring Hope In You

Love,

Lynn