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

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

 

A New Way of Success

 

Jan17“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.

Continue reading “A New Way of Success”

A step into living hope

“And honestly, the loneliness of self-protecting barriers can feel like it will kill you–and the heart-breaking risk of intimacy and vulnerability can feel like it will kill you too.” Ann Voskamp from The Broken Way (2016)

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“I wouldn’t even know,” he says, his eyes becoming half moons with his warm grin. “Truly. You’re all  heart girl but I wouldn’t know how you feel.”

I pierce my lips, furrow my brow, wondering, his eyes now wide open with chestnut eyebrows lifted. He shifts in his cafe chair, waiting.

“Really?” I finally let out, let my breath release.

“Girl, just tell him. What do you have to loose?”

“What?!” I suck in air, hold it, a faint smell of vanilla and chocolate from our hot drinks dusting my senses. I let it out. “I can’t do that!”

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“Well,” I start, my hands twisting my winter scarf on my lap, “it could mess up the friendship we already have.” I bite my lower lip, my eyes darting to the right and then back again, at my companion whose bronze eyes are once again partly disappeared in half moons.

He shakes his head slightly from side to side, then stills my busy hands with his. “Maybe but maybe not,” he says. “No matter the outcome, you’re still you–beautiful, fun you but more open and vulnerable to allow someone to know how you feel. You’ll take a chance, let down the self-protection walls you’ve been creating. And no matter what happens, at least the walls are coming down and I promise you, it won’t kill you!”

Continue reading “A step into living hope”

From flames to forgiveness-Part II

Outwardly I spread out kindness, grace, even good-deeds, believing my actions would convert the pain of betrayal, blame and condemnation. Act yourself into a feeling, so to speak.

Outwardly I resisted, controlling and protecting through avoidance by positioning myself to not be in the offenders presence for a duration. Time heals all wounds, so to speak.

The above is an excerpt from last weeks post Journey from flames to forgiveness. This journey of forgiving started in the upside down way of the world–do and then I will be the forgiver and the forgiven; do and then I will be rewarded; do and then I will receive (worldly) blessing.

Strive to follow the rules and then I will please God and become complete in Christ.

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In our human world, it is natural to want to have rules to follow, laws to live up to, yet is that what God calls us to? Are His ways the ways of the world? Does He call us to follow the way of rules to become worthy of being complete in Him?

I tried to find my own words to answer these questions with what I think is truth but Paul’s words say it so much superior.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. Galatians 2:20-21 The Message

I’m struggling friends, of what to write, as there is so much here to unpack! It is the foundation for understanding how much we are loved without needing to ‘impress God.’ It is through this love, our identity in Him, we no longer are  ruled  by our egos, others opinions of us, and our human vulnerabilities. And we are free to love ourselves and others as Jesus loves who keeps no records of wrong.

(Love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:5

When we grasp this understanding that we are already complete in Christ, loved wholly and unconditionally, we no longer need to be loved by anything else in this world. Often our hurts, offenses made against us are from expectations we have on others on how we think we should be treated. Our identity gets wrapped up in our attachment to how others satisfy our egos. So when others do not live up to our own expectations, our character feels attacked, and we take offense. We become afraid and build our walls of defense.

In other words we become a slave to others opinions and treatment of us.

But Jesus showed us a Way out of this entrapment to freedom. He showed us how to love.

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24

They do not know what they are doing. No judgement, no unmet conditions, just Perfect Love seeing the brokenness in his offenders, and keeping no record of the wrong. Instead, He rose and came back into a world that crucified Him because He loves us that much!

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When we grasp this understanding of this perfect love He has for us, where there is no condemnation, no-need to please or make-up for our transgressions, we begin to love ourselves as the Father loves us, freeing us to let-go of any need to be loved and treated a certain way to feel okay in this world. And in that way we free others too, from our own judgement and conditions. This leads us to take no offense and casts out our fears of being vulnerable because we are complete in Christ, and fully loved just as we are now.  We can then take that understanding of God’s love for us and return that same love out to the world.

Friends, I don’t pretend to know it all. Paul’s words again express this so much more superior than mine.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12

Camp on these words for a moment-Christ Jesus took hold of me. He’s got you, looking out for you, because of who He is-Perfect Love.

letgo3-35-of-1And how can we understand His perfect Love that holds no record of wrong, that does not take offense and extends only grace? I believe only through the Holy Spirit, asking our eyes and heart to be opened to Our Good Father.

Open the Eyes of My Heart-Michael W Smith

 

 

Are you accepting the invitation?

Imagine this, or maybe you don’t have to imagine. Maybe you have an experience, a point of reference that allows you to dive into this story, in heart, in spirit.

Imagine you are peering into a window of a door that you have been invited to open. The brush of a cool wind, and the smell of the fall season’s leaves entertain your senses. You lift your hand to the door knocker, grasp the brass bar. And halt.

You see through the window a table set for two. But not just a table, but one laden with colors. You see so many jewel colors of blue, red, green, yellows that they blur in a melody like a rainbow in motion!

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Your eyes focus in on the beauty of the details: a vase chock-full of your favorite blooms, a table draped in a yellow linen cloth that drips off the edges to a glistening tiled floor, pure white china plates etched with blue delicate vines, two wine glasses with tinted strawberry red stems, and two vine-patterned napkins garnished with a gold rose.

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What is this feast, you ask yourself? Why has my friend gone to this extravagance?

And you let go of the knocker, look down at your empty hands. I have not brought anything, you think to yourself. You turn, look behind you to the shadows of trees on the street. I have not done anything to deserve this extravagance, you think to yourself.

And you begin to take a step away when you hear the door open behind you. There you are! the familiar voice hails. Come in, come in! the recognizable voice summons.  Continue reading “Are you accepting the invitation?”