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.

mar142mar14

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.

mar144

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

 

Army of Trust

“I feel bad for it. It’s got enemies in there and I’m sending in the best army I have!”

My friend giggled. “I’ve never heard someone describe their body parts in third person context before.”

I’ve been a bit under the weather lately, so to speak.

I’ve had to send in armies for these uncomplicated conditions. Armies of antibiotics, vitamins, herbs, and ‘google’ remedies to fight the battles against these viral and bacterial critters. It’s taken a few tries though, to find out which armies are going to win that battle, and bring peace once again!

I used these medicine armies to battle something I could only feel in the flesh, but I could not see. The pain I experienced a warning to something that needed attending to, needed help in the fight to become healthy again.

trust2

Our pain experiences in life are so often derived from our challenges, felt not in the flesh, but emotionally in our mind and in our heart too. We might find ourselves wrestling with forces that ask us to compromise our integrity, our values, our morals for the sake of a corporation’s definition of success, or for the sake of wanting to belong, or for the sake to avoid conflict with that relationship we feel we could not live without.

God’s word says:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

We may fear feeling the pain of being alone, rejected, judged, so carefully navigate away from possible battles by hiding in timidity, or not using our gifts for God’s glory.

Thankfully, in God’s goodness He gives us the medicine we need, fights for us to become restored through Him, provides the remedies to withstand the attacks that can snare us.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trust in the Lord will be kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

Instead of fearing man, relying on man to build-us up, we can be free by trusting in God promises to renew us, strengthen us, and carry us, always.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

We can rely on His promises that He will fight for us.

“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15

 Do not fear them, for the Lord your God is the one fighting for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22

trust

And God, in His goodness, has provided His power within us!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

“For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.” Colossians 2: 12 

Whatever battle you may find yourself in today, my friend, may you place your hope in the One who can fill you with the joy and peace His goodness wants for you.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Thank You for just BEING You

Jan252

“I’m just so grateful for how great my God is, for my room that I have here. I just pray someone doesn’t pull the fire alarm again tonight,” she says, wrapping her pink-flowered terry robe around her tighter.

There’s a murmur of agreement that comes from the other ladies at the table. Someone else begins to speak, to share what they are thankful for, but I am still fixed on the one who just spoke. With long fingers she gathers her dark hair, threaded with silver, and tucks it into the collar of her robe. Her eyes are deep brown, and seen many things I have never seen, and most likely will never see.

Earlier she spoke of a trial she’d endured this week, a temptation she’d overcome, a judgement placed against her, a struggle she’d been dealing with most of her life, and a child-hood memory on the reserve with her father.

Tears formed in the corner of her eyes when she spoke of her son who lives many miles away, on the west coast.

She misses him very much.

Yet, this woman, who’s in the last quarter century of her life, with few clothes and little resources that only allow her to live in an accommodation centre that houses other women, is ever so grateful for God.  For God just being God.

And I’m humbled.

My gratitude list can be long of things like coffee, my car, my healthy kids, my vacations, my money in the bank, my working mind and body, an answered prayer…

But when have I just been thankful to God for just being God?

In the book of James, James tells us, “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters, Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” 2:5

This woman, this woman who wraps herself in a terry robe to stay warm understands what faith is. There is no barrier of things, of world riches that block her with pride or idolatry. She is rich in faith, grateful for her wonderful God for just being God–her strength and her redeemer; her rock and her salvation.

The God that even though the steps she takes are without many comforts of worldly goods and may even have disaster or ruin, she is confident is by her side and protecting her.

Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtake the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared. Prov. 3:35

Later as I slip on my thermal winter coat, step into my car, start the engine and feel heat on my bare hands, I thank God for heated steering wheels. And pause, then find myself whispering this simple prayer.

I do thank you for all my comforts and blessings Lord, but more than anything I just want to thank you for being here with me, for being in my life, and loving me. The best thing about my life is you….

Tandy 4 copy

Simplifying the Steps

Jan10

I am borderline obsessive when it comes to learning new ways to make goals, get clarity, open up your dreams, and other such life desires. As a professional life coach helping women who are struggling with creating the life they envision for themselves, it’s important that I keep learning so can be creative too, in helping leading others to their next steps.

But, with notebooks filled with scribbles of a multitude of methods and each method having it’s five or so steps, and then the many ads that come up on my social media feeds for learning how to live your best year yet, it gets overwhelming.

Which is the right way? They all are good and really have the same message, just said in a different way which is important so they reach the people they need to reach.

Yet can seem so complicated!

This week our church has Solemn Assembly, a guided prayer service each evening. As I closed my eyes in prayer and asked God the question I wonder if He may just be tired of me asking,- “Where should I be spending my time and efforts?” a repeated word of our scripture passage that particular evening flashed across my mind.

Treasure.

Earnestly seek My treasure and you gain wisdom. 

Be persistent in the pursuit of My treasure, and I will give you common sense, guard your path and protect you. 

It’s that simple.

One step.

Start by seeking His treasure, His wisdom.

And I will find the right way to go.

He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the path of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Proverbs 2: 6-10

I am linked up with Five Minute Friday today where a topic is chosen and you have 5 minutes to write your words. You can check out how to be involved and read others musings on our prompt Simplify this week at Five Minute Friday

 

 

The Call Part 2-The Present

rooftops

“I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah 2:2-3

It was my turn to share. I looked down at my notes. Paused. The circle of friends resting on the grass too, hold pages still for bibles and journals as the breeze played, wait.

Even though Nehemiah was very much afraid, he put himself into action, I read aloud from my journalling notes. Prayed first, always, and then even though afraid, put himself into action. Fear, being afraid is never from God, yet sometimes–truthfully–I see it as a reason to not take action.

bike

What am I so afraid of?

I look up, my friends locked on me, waiting, whole-heartedly listening, encouraging, and supportive. This is only the first station on this mornings Soul Formation event, the fourth I’ve facilitated from an idea emerged during a leadership course. Four other small groups are also rested on grasses that circle an urban pond, Canada Geese drifting in the waters, some with huddles of goslings following.

Why do I fear following whole-heartedly?

Nehemiah was sad, his heart breaking over the ruins of his city, Jerusalem, and the walls that had not been rebuilt.

His heart breaking, he wept, fasted, prayed.

And then he took action, approaching the king, afraid, but asking him favour to take leave to Judah to rebuild.

door

His heart-breaking over a cause, he felt the fear but did not let the fear stop him to take action to rebuild. He refused to allow the fear to become more powerful than God.

He refused to allow the fear to become more powerful than God.

I continue to look down on my journal notes from the first station where we read, reflected, and responded to these passages I had picked in Nehemiah and Chronicles.

In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered. 2 Chronicles 31:20

A King this time, not an exile, yet also sought God wholeheartedly. Hezekiah, like Nehemiah, fasted, prayed, obeyed and prospered.

And then it happened. The fear exposed, in blue ink, a playful breeze lifting the page corners.

I’m afraid of what prospering is. Feels like a lot of pressure….How will I be taken care of? 

Nehemiah, with guards set up strategically from his enemies, did build that wall. Hezekiah, although at a time did fall into pride, did always turn to obedience and prospered.

flaglerdoor

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called; he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8: 28-30

Called according to his purpose.

Called through the invitation to serve and honour Him, like Nehemiah and Hezekiah, whole-heartedly seeking God’s guidance through prayer, first,  in all things of this world.

Called in the understanding of being predestined through the knowing of God’s love that  changes us with a new perspective, a new mindset and an understanding of security in treasures in heaven, not on earth.

Called to live in the security of God’s love, His wisdom and His protection, always.

Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

My companions, my friends, these sisters ‘n brothers in Christ, affirm me. They understand the fear that can come from whole-heartedly following a hearts desire to serve in a way that may not prosper in money, in relationships, in treasures on this earth.

It’s a choice to let go, surrender, and do even when afraid.

It’s a choice to let go of pride, repent, and be obedient.

It’s a choice to trust, and follow the call.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

ducks

We stand, my companions and I, on a solid ground of grass, the breeze rustling leaves in trees of the park. I glance to the pond where a mother goose awaits for one of  her goslings that has drifted behind. Her baby turns in the drift of the pond that leads back to her, and swims.

Is there a step you’ve been called into and like Nehemiah, stand before it afraid? Or like Hezekiah, been called to let go of pride and take a step into seeking His will again for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be really brave

trees
Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia

You’re so brave, she says.

I tuck behind my ear a strand of blond hair that has escaped my ponytail. I wear no make-up and my feet are bare, my flip flops flipped off  as soon as I relaxed in her garden chair.

It’s a warm spring day and although there are still marshmallow mounds of snow scattered in dry, wheat coloured grass, the day calls for flip flops.

It’s a big thing for us northerners, after months of knit socks and snug boots, to bear sun-deprived feet and then don a pair of flip flops.

A piece of heaven on earth.

But I digress.

It’s easy for me somehow, I reply to my friend. Her pink nails tap her coffee cup encased in her palms that cover a Starbucks logo. But then, I elaborate, it’s really not even that brave. It’s actually kind-of comfortable.

Her brown eyes widen.

pews
Cathedral of St. John Baptist, Savannah, Georgia

Yes, bravery to me isn’t solo travel, airline flights to new places, navigating new roads in a rental car, exploring new streets on foot, and figuring out where the Air Bnb is that you booked on line.

Courageous? Maybe. But brave, no.

No, true bravery to me (and some may not agree), is when suddenly there is a call on you, a duty, maybe even unforeseen, with no preparation, and you step in. Bravery is when the call is so strong that saying no feels disobedient, and you say yes even though your life may be at stake.

Bravery is Mary, a young virgin, saying yes to the Lord.

Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.” Luke 1:38

Bravery is Paul, a converted young man facing those who want to execute him for his past transgressions, on the call of the Lord to speak the good news of the gospel.

“So you know Greek, do you?” the colonel replied. “Aren’t you that Egyptian who not long ago raised a riot and led those four thousand assassins into the dessert”

“I am Jew,” replied Paul. “I am a man of Tarsus, a citizen of that not insignificant city. I ask you to let me speak to the people.” Acts 21:38-39

And BRAVERY is Jesus, the son following the will of His Father even though he knows the cross he will bear will lead to immeasurable suffering.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

stationofcross

I slip my feet back into my flip flops, lean back in my chair, close my eyes and turn my face up to the spring sun. What I glorious day, I say.

I feel my friend’s hand on my arm, warm and soft. Just be careful, she says.

And I still think you are being brave, she comments.

My eyes closed, the sun warm on my face, my lips curl up in a slight smile.

I sure hope so.  I do want to step into action when God calls me to something that I cannot say no to out of obedience.

candles

When called, I want to be brave.

And be a bearer of His light in this world.

Psalm 56:3-4 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

What is bravery to you?

 

A Loving Reminder

love-3

Usually I just scroll by or hit the delete tab, but this time I didn’t. Maybe the picture of an international city on my bucket list to visit or the tag line appealing to my growth mindset were the draws. Regardless, I clicked on the embedded video link in this email from the advertiser that I’d still not yet ‘unsubscribed.’

You know you are loved, she says, this beautiful woman gowned in a dress that flows gracefully to the top of her knees, and wearing such high-heeled shoes that I wonder if she practices walking on stage prior to addressing the few hundred woman that attend her conferences.

The camera spans across the women at white-clothed tables, women eager to better themselves and their businesses, of different nationalities and faith.

Her bracelets dangle as she sweeps her arms up and around as if to embrace someone. You are absolutely loved and it is from knowing that love, that you can give your best to the world, she continues.

Continue reading “A Loving Reminder”

Awakening the wonder

silent2

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for awhile, will yourself himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:1

I started something new today. In a spiral notebook, using my new gel coloured pens,  I created the following legend:

Gratitude                                                                                                                                                               Miracle                                                                                                                                                                   Where I am at                                                                                                                                                      Success                                                                                                                                                                 Quotes and Scriptures   

With my pink gel pen in hand, I wrote today’s scripture verse which is also my verse for the year as it encompasses my word for 2017: RESTORATION

But do you notice the strike-through, the mistake I made when writing? Instead of himself, I originally wrote ‘yourself.’ In other words, I slipped (unconsciously) into restoration by my own efforts.

God sure does work in mysterious ways doesn’t He?

silent

The other day, after opening up to a friend where I am at, questioning, she said, “It sure isn’t always easy during those times when God is silent.”

I stared silently back at her. Silent? I hadn’t even contemplated that God is being silent. I’ve been asking a lot of ‘why’ questions lately, and praying for something, anything to show He works here among us, while in this world of flesh. With my own intellect and reasoning, I want to know and see.

In today’s reading time:

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3   

“The childlike heart is vulnerable, teachable, joyful, creative and filled with wonder. There’s a difference between being childish and childlike. Childishness is a posture of stubborn challenge. Childlikeness is a perspective of hopeful curiosity. Every question you ever ask is one of challenge or curiosity. Let childlike wonder awaken you again as you let go of all offense at the past and fear of the future.”                                                                                          The Creative Way Meditations, Ted Dekker

silent3

Yes, I’d say His ways are mysterious but hopeful…

As this year of 2016 comes to a close and if, like me you are in this season where God seems so silent, my hope for you is that your childlike wonder is awakened and that you know God’s grace restores making you, as He has promised, “strong, firm and steadfast.”

Happy New Year, my friend. Thank you for sharing in my travels this past year, and for sharing your perspectives which has ministered and blessed me beyond words. I look forward to our continued awakenings and wonders expressed in 2017.

 

                                                                                                                                                          

 

 

 

Roads still traveled

And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way. Isaiah 35:8-

iceland-2015-178-of-173

During this season, just before another year has ended,  I’ll often find myself looking back down old roads. Some of these roads were crowded highways of twists and turns with various travel speeds dictated by traffic ahead. Also on these busy roads were detours created by others mishaps, or necessary repairs, or new construction.

iceland-2015-148-of-173

Other roads were quieter, with a clear destination ahead. Sometimes there were a few twists and turns to reach these new places, new people, new learning, however never was the way removed from my vision.

iceland-2015-86-of-173iceland-2015-115-of-173

And then there were those roads that I started on, with excitement and anticipation of hopes and dreams coming true. But to only lead to a complete dead end, barren and dry except for my own grieving tears.

iceland-2015-138-of-173iceland-2015-179-of-173

There were roads with bridges to cross but never to burn, and roads with intersections to navigate, choices to make.

iceland-2015-57-of-173

And then there were those times that the road could be barely seen, if at all. There seemed to be no way to go, my vision of my future gone and not seeing any new route at all. And I wonder if Mary felt this way when suddenly her life road was gone with the news from the angel Gabriel.

 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. Luke 1:30-31

Many plans of the road she would be taking as a young woman engaged to be married, now gone with this startling news.

And she chose a new route, a new way by surrendering to this unseen road.

Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away. Luke 1:38

road-35-of-1

I don’t know what twists and turns, detours and dead-ends, completions and horizons are on the roads ahead in this soon turning of a new year.

What I do know though, The Way is always there even if unseen. And sometimes surrender brings the best gift of all.

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”  (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23

Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

(All photos are mine taken in Iceland, summer of 2015).

 

The Illusion (Stop IT! Part II)

But I’m not sentimental. This skin and bones is a rental. And no one makes it out alive. Lyrics from Up Where I Belong, by Switchfoot

Wintry droplets of water from a scatter of rain clouds overhead settle, soften and slip on the palms of my hands, and the back of my neck. My spine shivers, then calms, stretched straight as my eyes are drawn, lifted and squared on a strip of light ahead. I stride toward the glow, my hikers silently bending tall blades of wild grass. The bright beckons.

And my mind, even though observing my thoughts and perceiving my senses, is hushed in this place. Hushed even as I move, focused on a strip of light, a glow and bright that beckons. But this shine that invites also dims my sight to my temporal surroundings, and I’m tempted, my body favored to feel the pains of thistle needles or the ache of a marathoner’s lungs, to look away from this light.

img_1889

My body is pulled toward the concrete of the world, to cement itself in the securities it proclaims: money, food, possessions, relationships and careers. This is the concrete that not only through doing one possesses, but is also the concrete that possesses. The cement, the element of concrete, when believed to lead us to security, to freedom, instead I know, hardens and enslaves.

For when serving the system of doing, the system of gaining that which is only temporal to obtain security, we do not receive freedom, only death.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

 What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.  Ecclesiastes 1:1-4

But the allure of the glossy, polished and sparkling, the satiny, slick, and silken is tempestuous with promises of instant gratification and stimulated sensory fulfillment.

Cold, letting my thoughts interpret the water as uncomfortable dampness, a shadowed shelter I see lies just steps to my right, on another path away from the light. This path is not wild grasses, but instead concrete, not unlike a walkway to a neighbour’s front door.

shelter

I hesitate. I draw my eyes from the right and look ahead again. I see a glow, but no shelter, no structured comfort can my worldly eyes see. Yet, my skin warms, my thoughts hush. The eternal beckons. I step seeking the light, my hikers silently bending the wild grasses. 

And as I walk, I don’t look but just know. Know that if I was to look behind, the shelter would not be there–the shelter that is only an illusion, an illusion of safety, disappeared from sight.

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 eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33

Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path. 119:105

And even though I step, I stop inside this journey, peaceful when turned toward the Light, beginning to understand, the journey is more than a means to a destination. The journey is the end itself.

tree

May you be resting in Him in all that you do today, knowing you are already complete with Him and in Him.