Securing our steps

Each post this month of April will be a Devotional on the security we have in God. My hope is that God will use these words to encourage you on your daily paths.

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Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park/photography by Lynn J Simpson

My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6

The enclosing canyon walls rise high, grey and daunting under a wintery day’s overcast sky. From an observer above it may seem like an impassable fortress, it’s iced floors too slick to journey. Then a group of hikers are spotted, roaming the narrow gorge, ice cleated boots securing each sturdy step they take.

 

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Ice Climber at Maligne Canyon, Jasper, Alberta/ Photographer Lynn J Simpson

When you’re in a place and see only an intimidating landscape with a path that seems insurmountable, you must not stay discouraged. God has promised He will give you what you need to secure each step you take and be your hope and strength as you navigate difficult terrain. When you wait on God, He will direct your way through the ravines as you pass over the landscape. When you hold onto God, He will steady you so you will not be shaken, will not fall on the uneven patches along the way.  No matter the challenge, do not fear. He is your rock and salvation, your encourager and protector, always with you every step of the way.

I’m linked up today with the Fierce-Hearted Women at Holly Gerth and at also Recharge Wednesday with Patricia Holbrook

A death and an invitation

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. Matthew 27:51

Have you ever stood, feet bare or protected, in a river’s rushing water? The river’s rocks slippery under your soles, the water colliding with your body somewhere between  ankle and knee? The river’s water pressure as it rushes by you feels strong enough to sweep you away too, taking you unwillingly along it’s travels downstream.

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Yet you stay placed, as the water sweeps by. Your body stronger against the current, your confidence deepening in your stance as moments pass along with the hastening river.

As the calm confidence settles your mind, the once roar of the rushing waves becomes a symphony to you, and the greasy rocks now glisten with polished colours like sun illuminated stain glass.

And you breathe, breathe freely and openly in this place now that the fear is edged out, replaced with the assurance that your posture will hold you from being swept away.

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My friend, I believe, know that is what God wants for you too. He wants you to breathe even when those thundering waves of difficulty threaten to sweep over you, to take you places along the currents you swore you would never go.

Sometimes these threats are pressures from relationships, where convictions and obedience are strongly opposed. That friendship, that mentor, that boss, that potential romantic partner you seemed to have waited for forever, is now asking you to join in to activities that once was the old way of living you turned from when cleansed that day in baptism, in acceptance of His way.

Sometimes threats can be from circumstances we never imagined we’d be in: a divorce, an estranged child, disease, a crime against us, and injustices.

We may even create our own threatening waves from our brokenness leading us to seek solace in things of this world that harm rather than bring life.

Yet Life is where we can turn to–no threat can defeat it.

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We celebrate this weekend the Hope that was given to us, the new way of freely living that opened to us with the tearing away of the veil.

Paul reminds us in Hebrews:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10: 19-23

This gift of freedom, this forever grace from our transgressions is due to the shed of blood on that cross of an innocent Man by ones who were slaves to their pride and self-righteousness–ones who felt threatened by the freedom that was being offered to them.

But you, my friend, can accept this freedom gifted through His offering to have your heart cleansed with the sprinkling of His grace, and your body washed to purity.

There is no barrier between You and the One who will not let the threatening rivers sweep over you. Will you accept His invitation to draw near to Him, the forever faithful One who will be your help, your protector, and your strength giving you His peace no matter how thunderous the rivers waters rush around you?

Will you, my friend, accept the invitation of an unconditional Love that surpasses all our understanding?

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God, that you died on the cross to rescue me from sin and death and to restore me to the Father. I choose now to turn from my sins, my self-centeredness, and every part of my life that does not please you. I choose you. I give myself to you. I receive your forgiveness and ask you to take your rightful place in my life as my Savior and Lord. Come reign in my heart, fill me with your love and your life, and help me to become a person who is truly loving—a person like you. Restore me, Jesus. Live in me. Love through me. Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Retrieved from Ransom Heart

 

And It’s All So Beautiful

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 a five minute drive from my home. Not a greenhouse in a traditional sense as it is open year around with a restaurant serving organic greens and gluten-free treats, and gifts galleries that change with the calendar celebrations.

Christmas time fills the floor with decorative trees and already overflowing shelves with ornaments, wreaths, and garland.

Approaching Valentine’s Day more red and white candles, silk and real roses rest on bursting shelves of trinkets, jewels, and framed mottos.

Now, drawing near Easter, pops of pastel colours adorn the interior design with baby blue vases, soft pink stuffed bunnies, and sun set orange ribboned baskets.

I walk past all this splendour into another room unseen from the entry. All my senses refeshen in the humidity that seems to steam from the hundreds of cacti plants that rest on shelves against the walls, stand in tall pots in the corners, and more aesthetically arranged on round tables creating a centre aisle.

And I breathe.

I breathe in this place where not a ribbon or jewel or ornament occupies.

I step slowly scanning the various cactus plants, some barely two inches in length, some warped in their roundness, others gangly in their tallness. Some bodies plentiful with spines, others edged with scattered thorns.

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And it’s all so beautiful, in it’s rawness, it’s unadorned form.

What is it that draws me to this place where beauty and refreshment comes from the misshapen, the undressed? Where symmetry isn’t and where thorns are exposed?

Maybe it is stirring in me that restlessness for that perfect place of ancestry, in a Garden where all was perfect, nothing hidden until tampered by temptation.

Maybe it is stirring in me to remember, to be, to come exposed, scars, wounds, prickles, and thorns, no adornments that mask.

Because we are all so most beautiful, my darling, in our raw, unadorned form.

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You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7

Come surrender your hidden scars
Leave your weapons where they are
You’ve been hiding, but I know your wounded heart
And you don’t know how beautiful you are

I’m tired of hiding who I really am
Underneath these alibis
I want to know who you really are
I want to meet you here tonight
We’re not born with these defenses
We’re not destined for this pain
We hide ourselves and put the fig leaves on
But a mask can never cover up this shame

                                                                                                             Jon Foreman

 

Advent Breathing Spaces

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!

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   HOME: The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Romans 13:12-14
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HOPE: God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Cor 1:9

 

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WAIT: Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.Watch therefore–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning– lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.” Mark 13:33-37

I

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VISION:In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

 

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PREPARE:There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. John 1:6-9
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RENEW: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ Jeremiah 13: 14-16
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JUSTICE: The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended. Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land for ever, the shoot of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified. The least one shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the LORD; in its time I will hasten it. Isaiah 16:19-20
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PEACE: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
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SILENCE: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Psalms 43:5
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PRESENCE :A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:4
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BELONG: Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe thy righteous ordinances. Psalms 119: 105-106

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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.

 

A welcome inconvenience

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I step to open my bedroom closet doors and trip, again, over the television cable cord that runs across the carpet. A cord that was never there until just a week or two ago when life got interrupted. A cord that has made peace and strife simultaneously.

Peace in having the television not in my living room, even it meant running a long cord from the only cable outlet in the upper level of my home, across a hallway and into a bedroom my son is occupying. Strife in having to deal with a long cable cord running from my bedroom, through a hallway and into a bedroom that turned into a grandchildren’s playroom years ago, but now occupied by my adult son.

I feel the inner turmoil of resentment rising up through clenched stomach muscles and then finally released in hands scrambling to get the cord unscrewed from it’s house in the wall.

And then I march a few steps into the hallway and chuck it, the cord landing in the dark room where my adult son is currently still sleeping. A room he only recently began to occupy when his last  roommate situation dissolved.

I turn away from the clothes covered floor, and from the television mounted on a bureau that once was with pictures and grandchildren’s toys. And slam the door.

Hard.

Not one of my finer moments.

Seconds later standing in front of my open bedroom closet, free now of any obstacles to trip over, I take a deep breath. Blow it out. Feel the guilt sink in over losing my patience over something so small.

Life has been interrupted. And I’m tripping over the inconvenience.

But he is safe.  Continue reading “A welcome inconvenience”

A Promise

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Psalm 147:3

 He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.

We walk through the arid pavilion, cobble stones under our feet and sun rays from the glass windows soaking warmth over us. Various species of flowers and shrubs line our path, splashes of chrysanthemum  pink, cactus green, and purple lily touching our eyes. The air is sweet, still and fragrant, but I am not sure what it is I smell. I do know that even though it is a chaos of many scents, I am at peace.

He has led me again, to a place of healing.

Just hours before, anxious and frustrated, I’d followed my friend to the restaurant table. As our waitress layed menus in front of us, I shrugged my heavy coat off, hung it on the back of the chair, and then sat down, thoughts spinning of unread emails, unheard voice-mails, and disappointment of another promise gone.

I force a smile to my friend. “How are you?”

He lifts his water glass, takes a sip, his blue bell eyes searching, locked with mine in care, in friendship, in kindness.

And I want to look away from this display of gentleness.

Resist this friendship.

Not surrender to this kindness.

My mind flickers to a memory. A time of tears, in my car, on a rural highway, alone. In a hurtful time, in a situation I needed to let go of. A situation that brought moment gratification, filled my need for human comfort, but left me broken, ashamed, and soul wounded.

How could I have slipped so far? Continue reading “A Promise”

You are loved

 

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Christian-Coaching-Week-Official-Participant-Logo-2016-smIn celebration of Christian Coaching Week (February 14-20, 2016) I thought I’d share one of my favourite activities I like to do during my Soul Formation Retreats.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is latin for divine or sacred reading. It is an approach to scripture to let go of our agenda, enter into an intimate space with His word, and open ourselves up to what God wants to say to us.

First we Prepare by coming present to our moment, paying attention through our senses of sight, smell, hearing, and feelings. And then we take a deep breath in and on our breath out we can show our willingness to hear from God with the prayer, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Then we Read our passage of scripture three times. The first time out loud, if we can. And then silently. And we ask, “Is there a particular word or phrase God is directing me to?” We underline, circle or journal those words.

Then we Reflect, asking God “What is in my life right now that needs to hear this word, this phrase?” And stay still. Stay silent as we  explore our thoughts, perceptions, and feelings.

And lastly, we Respond by entering into a personal dialogue with God, letting our words and prayer flow freely from us. We may  write down these words or prayers, or continue in communion with Him, as we are. We ask, “Is there a word He wants me to know? A call to action He wants me to take?”

Have you ever had an idea, a goal, a dream and then your mind fills with thoughts like:

  1. I’m not smart enough.
  2. I can’t do that-I’m just a mom, or I don’t have my college degree, or no one likes me, or __________________ (you fill in the blank)
  3. I’ve made way too many mistakes in my past
  4. I tried it before and failed
  5. I’m just not good enough

Do you know that God frequently does not call those who know what they are doing? Instead, He equips those who are called. TWEET THIS

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

Our thoughts come from three places:

  1. God
  2. Ourselves
  3. Satan

We know when our thoughts reflect the truth of us when our words line up with God’s word. In this world we will always have struggle, including in our thought life. But we can OVERCOME.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37

And even though we may have negative thoughts, we can overcome them with the truth of how God sees us, our identity in Christ, and take action from HIS truth. 

Today I invite you to Lectio Divina, to listen to our Father’s Love Letter. What word or phrase does God want you to know, want you to believe is the truth of you, and how He sees you?

I also have included a PDF file of The Father’s Love Letter you can download and print, and display someplace daily to read out loud, solidifying who you are in Christ.

(Download PDF of Father’s Love Letter by clicking My Child)

Whether you can spend this time now in Lectio Divina, or maybe just take a breathing moment and listen to The Father’s Love Letter to you, I am happy you are here knowing that God is leading, every step of your way.

 

Love, Lynn

PS. If you feel comfortable, please share what impacted you when listening, reading, reflecting and responding to His word today.  I’d love to encourage you in the phrase or one word God has brought to your mind and heart.