Category Archives: Life

Out with the Old

I don’t know about you, but after ten months of relative isolation due to Covid-19, I have been forced to come face to face with some habits that need to go. They’re minor things that wouldn’t even be noticed under ordinary conditions. Yet, these seemingly insignificant routines have potential to grow into big problems over time.

One of those dangerous habits is waiting.

I understand that there will always be situations where waiting is required. That’s life. But I’m referring to fruitless waiting. Waiting for the right time to start that project. Waiting for someone else to spark the flame to get motivated. Waiting for the pandemic to end so I can get back to normal. Waiting, waiting, waiting. If I could tack on all the time I’ve spent waiting to the end of my allotment of years, I’d live to be 125.

Here’s the big one. Waiting to do/be something new because it’s scary or might be hard or someone else might not like it or it might not work the way you thought. Guess what? It is scary. It will be hard. Someone, maybe even more than one, won’t like it. And there’s a good chance it’s not going to work exactly the way you thought.

But what if, despite the scary and hard, the new thing is better than the old? What if the new thing can’t happen until you get rid of the old? The problem is that the old stuff has taken root and now there is no place for the new stuff to be planted amidst the gnarled, twisted, unproductive tangle. You’ll never know how much better the new will be until you attack the old growth, get rid of it, and prepare the soil for that new thing.

This is where you decide. Will you yank out old roots – habits, thought patterns, excuses – to make room to plant new things? If you say yes, it will take determination. Commitment. Hard work. Faith.

I am done waiting for something to happen so I can embrace that new thing. The housecleaning process has begun and there is a growing pile of dead stuff in the trash. I am keeping my focus on Jesus Christ, the One who knows everything about me and loves me anyway. He will stick with me while I make room for the astonishing new He is holding out for me to receive. And He will stick with me to see it through.

Out with the old.

Trust Him with the new.

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (TPT)

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Wearing Pastels

How to Wear Pastels - Pastel Colors Outfit Ideas

I don’t wear pastel colours. They don’t flatter me. Never have and never will. That’s probably the reason why I have never been drawn to pastels. Except for babies. And maybe a wall.

I mentioned in a previous post, That I May Know Him, that I had recently visited a Christian bookstore and found the women’s interest section almost exclusively filled with pastel-coloured covers, many with the smiling faces of their authors. That got me thinking.

Those who don’t look their best in pastel colours may choose to wear them anyway, perhaps accessorizing with a bright scarf or jacket. They can make it work. Good. Others may throw caution to the wind and boldly (?) put on that pale pink sweater or the baby blue dress all on its own even though it makes the wearer look washed out. Not good.

To the ones who can flaunt those pastels with flair and look fantastic, I commend you, and sometimes I even wished I was you. To the ones who can’t, there are other colours in the paintbox. That’s where I’m going with this.

There is a wide-spread expectation for women to look and act and speak a certain way, and that is to be pastel – look good, behave yourself, and be quiet. Don’t make a scene by standing up for yourself and speaking truth, because what would other people say? A mere woman couldn’t possibly have a valuable opinion anyway, right? For all the progress we’ve made in women’s rights, there is still a prevailing mindset that the female gender is inferior in every way that counts in the world’s gauge of dominance. I know there are many, many exceptions, but let’s be honest. It’s not the rule.

Pastel colours are burned into our brains to represent soft and gentle and feminine. That’s okay. But when you extend the reach of pastels to include acquiescence, subservience, and compliance to the extremes, a disconnect occurs and the pretty colours become labels for an unpretty life. The outside may look great, but the inside is in shambles. And I’m not talking about actual colours here, but rather the condition of the heart.

Take a good look at yourself. Have you put on the robe of pastel because that’s what is expected of you? Are you wearing those colours because someone(s) told you that you don’t have what it takes to speak, sing, write, paint, teach, lead, preach, invent what God has placed in your heart because you’re a woman? I will tell you right now that if you believe that, you’ve believed a lie. It’s time to ditch the pastel and put on the robe of many colours. Bright, bold, vibrant colours!

What’s in you – that God-given treasure inside you – does not depend on whether you are a man or a woman. It depends on you, and the boldness God gives you to get it out. You can choose to remain pastel and keep wishing it could be different. Or you can choose to be the colourful, vivid, multi-faceted, talented, extraordinary woman you were created to be.

Allow the Spirit of the Living God to fill you and sustain you and work through you and in you. Amazing things will happen!

Paul grasped the concept when he wrote:

I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (TPT)

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This is Now

The Time is NOW wall clock | Zazzle.com | Diy clock wall, Cool clocks, Wall  clock

It’s that time when we are reminded to reflect on the past year and set goals for the next. This is all with the hope that the new year will be everything that 2020 was not, as if that last tick of the clock at midnight will reset our lives.

Sorry to disappoint, but it doesn’t work that way.

This is now. It’s what you have.

I’ve concluded that I spend far too much time thinking about what happened in my past and, on the flip side, wasted so many precious minutes fretting about what could happen in my future. Really, how dumb is that? I don’t want to use my brain power on things I can’t do anything about.

The past is done. Over. Finished. You can’t change it. Remember the good stuff and learn from your mistakes. Move on.

The future is yet to come. Set your course to accomplish the things you need to in order to achieve whatever prize it is you’re reaching for and do it.

My point is: THIS. IS. NOW.

Are you missing the blessing, the love, the wonder, the joy of today because you’re mired in the past or caught up in what could happen in the future? Our Father, in all His infinite wisdom, gave us NOW.

Stop what you’re doing. Look around. Smile. Send a text message to someone you haven’t talked to for a while. Pick up the phone and call a friend or a family member. Write something positive in your journal. Thank God for your life, your health, your home – for His care.

No excuses.

Let this be your focus:

Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Ephesians 3:17-19 (TPT)

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Obstacle Course

I’m fairly certain that I am not only one who feels like life is one big obstacle course. A lot of things seem to stand in the way of things I want to do, but I am beginning to realize that often my very own thoughts have been creeping through my mind, hindering my desire to move forward. Sneaky things, those thoughts. And they can present some enormous roadblocks.

It’s good to recognize and acknowledge that there will be obstacles along the way. Although I am fully aware that there are legitimate obstacles that we must overcome, it’s also good to recognize and acknowledge that we have created many obstacles by neglecting the way we think – allowing anything and everything to crowd into our heads, causing all kinds of trouble.

Remember this little piece of scripture?

So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. (Philippians 4:8 TPT)

Forgot that one, right?

This is something I am always grappling with, given my rather vivid imagination. I know that I can very easily get sucked into a black hole of self-pity, depression, stress, and even fear when I fail to keep my thoughts continually fixed on God. For me, it has to be a conscious effort, hardwired into my brain so I’m not dependent on an unreliable wi-fi signal.

I love this verse:

We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One. (2 Corinthians 10:5 TPT)

The truth is that when something is blocking your way, preventing you from moving ahead, you always have a choice. It doesn’t matter whether that obstacle is self-inflicted or an outside challenge. You can either curl up on the couch with your favourite cozy blanket and Netflix, or you can actually get up and do something about it. The choice is yours.

Take those thoughts captive and go through, climb over, go around, or dig under your obstacles.

God says you can.

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Filed under Bible, Faith, God, Imagination, Life, Writing

The Library

The library has changed.

Oh, there are still lots of books and frumpy librarians, but it’s not the same. Gone are the reverent whispers of book-lovers. Gone are the muffled sounds of volumes being shelved. Gone is the quiet.

Rustling papers and turning pages have been replaced by the tapping of computer keyboards. Sacred silence between the stacks has been replaced by cell phones ringing and loud conversations. Children’s story time has disappeared and a library visit is now an opportunity for kids to run and shriek while their parents shout at them from across the room.

I came to the library to write. Should be a good place to concentrate, you’d think. Perhaps it is. When it’s closed.

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Giving Thanks

It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and we will be celebrating with our family later today. Turkey, mashed potatoes, salads, desserts – yes, we will be “feasting”, as our nine-year-old grandson Caleb likes to say.

While we zero in on giving thanks for this one weekend every year, it’s something I have been striving to do on a regular basis.

Thankfulness is an attitude.

A mindset.

A way of life.

Even when I don’t feel grateful because of some sort of crisis (often of my own making), I have much to say thank you for. There are the usual things like family, friends, health, and home, none of which I take for granted. But then there are these:

The laughter of my grandchildren.

Technology that allows me to Skype with my mom and my kids.

The beautiful women in our Wednesday morning bible study group.

The cashier at our local grocery store who always smiles and chats and brightens my day.

Tim Hortons extra large decaf double-double (Canadians will know what I’m talking about).

My husband who knows me so well and loves me anyway.

Books.

A brain that thinks and reasons and imagines and creates.

And I am always and forever thankful for my Father who loves me, for His Son who saved me, and for His Spirit who guides me.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. – Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)

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Moving Day

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We start moving tomorrow and despite the seemingly never-ending task of packing up twelve years of accumulation, I am so excited! We are leaving the Big City and settling in a much smaller community about an hour’s drive away. Take a look at the view from the deck of our new home.

I’ve moved a lot in my life (23 times, I think) and every one of those moves has been an adventure. When I was young, that meant a new school, new friends, a new neighbourhood to explore. I rather enjoyed the opportunities to start over. As I got older, however, moving wasn’t so easy. Uprooting our children, leaving our friends, packing and unpacking the belongings of a large family – all of that had to be considered, and we found ourselves moving less often. And now, the house we are leaving is the one in which we’ve lived the longest in our entire lives.

There are those who have asked why in the world we would consider starting over in a new city at this point in our lives. I could answer that question in many ways, but the bottom line is this: we just wanted to. We prayed about it, asked God to give us wisdom and to guide us. We talked about it, explored our options, and did our homework for many months before we made the final decision. Then, God opened the doors. Wide. And He gave us complete peace about our decision.

The past year has taught us much about how the Lord leads and directs when we allow Him to. He always gives us the choice, but He wants to be involved in our decisions, no matter how large or small.

The key is in the consultation – giving God the opportunity to provide His input.

It’s the only way.

We are going forward with this epic move, knowing we have the nod of approval from our Father. He’s made a clear path for us when it seemed like there was none, and He’s given us the promise of a good life in our new home.

Therein is liberty.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

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It Matters Whom You Marry

As the mother of two single daughters, I pray daily for the godly men who will one day be their husbands. Both of these women deal with frequent remarks from well-meaning friends and family who seem to think they are being too picky. This puzzles me. If you’re going to be picky about anything, shouldn’t it be about whom you choose to spend the rest of your life with?

Then I read this blog post.

It Matters Whom You Marry

My husband and I were once with a youth group. There were three kids sitting across from us at a meal: two guys and a girl. The one guy was a computer geek with glasses. The other one was a college student with slightly cooler hair and no glasses. The girl was obviously with him. But while the computer geek was busy serving everyone at the meal, clearing plates and garbage, the college student got angry with the girl for a small accident and poured red juice over her leather jacket and white shirt. She picked the wrong guy, and the juice didn’t seem to change her mind. She is in for some grief if that relationship continues and especially if it leads to marriage.

So to all the young, unmarried Christian girls out there, listen up: who you marry matters. You might think that the way he treats you isn’t so bad. It’s not going to get better after the wedding. You might think that he’ll change. It’s possible, but most don’t. You might think that you’ll be able to minister to him and help him. Possibly, but if you can’t now, you won’t then, and you will be at risk yourself. A husband should lead and cherish you, not need your counsel for basic personality or behavior issues.

Unless someone married is very frank with you, you can’t understand how much a husband will impact your entire life. Next to salvation there is no other long term event that will change so many areas of your life so deeply. Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living.

1. It will impact you spiritually. If the guy is not a believer, you can stop right there. You have no business yoking a redeemed soul with an unregenerate one, even if he seems open to change. Christ has bought you with a price and it is not an option to give away that blood bought heart to someone who doesn’t know and love your Lord. It will cripple your spiritual development, open up a host of temptations, stifle your prayer life, make regular church going difficult, and cause massive parenting conflict if you have children.

If the guy is a believer, is he a strong one? Will he lead you in prayer, Bible reading, family devotions, and public worship? Or will you be on your own? Is he going to make spiritual growth a priority or do other things come first? Is he going to ask you how it’s going with your soul so he can help you grow in holiness and love for Christ, or will he leave that to your pastor? Is he going to lead the children in this, or will you have to spearhead that? In church, is he going to help the kids sit well, pray, find the hymn, or will you be the one pointing out what is happening next and helping the family keep up? Many women have married spiritually immature men, thinking that it wasn’t a big issue, or that the man would change, and they were wrong. They bear the scars.

The health of your eternity is at stake. Think carefully.

2. It will impact you emotionally. Is the guy you’re thinking of going to encourage you, love you, be kind to you, and seek to understand you, or will he want to go out with the guys when you’re having a hard night? Will he listen when you are struggling with something or will he be preoccupied with a video game? Is he going to be annoyed when you cry or will he get you Kleenex and give you a hug? Is he going to going to understand that you are probably more tender than he is, more sensitive to issues and comments, or is he regularly going to run rough shod over your feelings? One woman was struggling to breastfeed her new baby, believing that that was the best thing for her, but it was very difficult. Instead of giving support and encouragement, the husband would make mooing sounds whenever he saw his wife working at it. We have to get rid of princess complexes, but we do have emotional needs. Any guy who is uncaring about your feelings and self esteem is selfish and should be left alone.

Be careful – a husband can cripple or foster emotional health.

3. It will impact you physically. Is the guy you’re with going to provide for your basic needs? Will he be able to shelter, clothe and feed you? At one point in our marriage, I was worried that there was no employment opportunity. My husband assured me that he would work at McDonalds, dig ditches, clean up roadkill – whatever it took to provide for the family, regardless of his gifts and training. That’s the kind of attitude you want. A man who doesn’t provide for his household is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). You might have to help ease the financial burden, but unless your husband is disabled or there is another unusual circumstance, you shouldn’t have to carry it yourself.

Will the man you are with care for your body or abuse it? If he gives you little smacks, kicks, etc. when you’re dating, get away. It’s almost guaranteed that he will abuse you after marriage, and stats show that’s especially true when you are pregnant. Is he going to care for and protect your body or will he hurt it? There are women in churches across America who thought it was no big deal to have little (sort of friendly) punches or slaps from their boyfriends, but who are covering up the bruises from their husbands.

Will the man you are with care for you sexually? Is he going to honour the marriage bed in physical and mental faithfulness to you or will he flirt, feed his porn addiction, or even leave you for another woman? You can’t always predict these issues, but if the seeds or practices are already there, watch out. I recently saw a newly married couple and the husband was flirting openly with another woman. Unless something drastic happens, that marriage is headed for disaster.

Is he going to be tender and gentle to you in bed? An unbelieving co-worker once told my sister that after her first sexual encounter, she had trouble walking for a few days because her boyfriend was so rough. In other words, he wasn’t selfless enough to care for the body of the woman he said he loved.

Watch out. Your body needs care and protection.

4. It will impact you mentally. Is the man that you’re thinking of going to be a source of worry or will he help you deal with your worries? Is he going to encourage your intellectual development, or will he neglect it? Is he going to value your opinions and listen to what you are thinking, or will he disregard your thoughts? Is he going to help you manage stress so that your mind is not burdened that way, or is he going to let you struggle through issues alone? Is he going to care for you and be thoughtful of you if you are experiencing mental strain, or will he ignore it? I know of a woman who could handle pregnancy and child birth very well physically but postpartum depression took a huge toll on her mind. The husband overlooked it, continuing to have more children, until his wife ended up in a mental institution.

You might think that the intellectual or mental side of a marriage is small. It’s bigger than you think. Consider it seriously.

5. It will impact you relationally. How’s your relationship with your mother? Your dad? Do you love them? Does your boyfriend? Fast forward ten years: you tell your husband that your mother is coming for the weekend. Is he excited? Disappointed? Angry? Making snide jokes with his friends? Of course, a husband should come first in your priority of relationships, as you both leave father and mother and cleave to one another. But parents are still a big part of the picture. Whatever negative feelings he has about your parents now will probably be amplified after marriage. Your marriage will either strengthen or damage – even destroy – your relationship with your parents. The people who know you best and love you most right now could be cut out of the picture by a husband who hates them.

It’s the same with sisters and friends. Will they be welcomed, at reasonable times, in your home? Will the guy who you’re with encourage healthy relationships with other women, or will he be jealous of normal, biblical friendships? Will he help you mentor younger women and be thankful when older women mentor you, or will he belittle that?

Don’t sacrifice many good relationships for the sake of one guy who can’t value the people who love you.

So how will your boyfriend do after the vows? Because this is just a sampling of the ways that a husband can bless or curse his wife. The effects are far reaching, long lasting, and either wonderful or difficult. True, there are no perfect men out there. But there are great ones. And it’s better to be single for life than to marry someone who will make your life a burden. Singleness can be great. Marriage to the wrong person is a nightmare. I’ve been in a church parking lot where the pastor had to call the police to protect a wife from a husband who was trying to stop her from worshiping and being with her family. It’s ugly. Don’t be so desperate to get married that your marriage is a grief. If you are in an unhappy marriage, there are ways to get help. But if you’re not married, don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t marry someone whose leadership you can’t follow. Don’t marry someone who is not seeking to love you as Christ loved the church. Marry someone who knows and demonstrates the love of Christ.

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How to Start a Conversation

We’ve all experienced that awkward silence when no one knows exactly what to say. So, to help you out in these predicaments, I found a few useless facts ideas to get you going.

  • Coca-Cola was originally green. (You had to know I’d throw a Coke fact in here.)
  • The Hawaiian alphabet has 12 letters.
  • Men can read smaller print than women; women can hear better.
  • City with the most Rolls Royce’s per capita:  Hong Kong
  • Percentage of Africa that is wilderness:  28%
  • Barbie’s measurements if she were life size:  39-23-33
  • Percentage of American men who say they would marry the same woman if they had it to do all over again:  80%
  • Percentage of American women who say they’d marry the same man:  50%
  • Cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $6,400
  • Average number of people airborne over North America any given hour: 61,000.
  • Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
  • The world’s youngest parents were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910.
  • Iceland consumes more Coca-Cola per capita than any other nation.
  • First novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.
  • A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.
  • The only 15 letter English word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
  • Did you know that there are coffee flavored PEZ candies?
  • 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  • Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them would burn their houses down – hence the expression “to get fired.”
  • “I am.” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
  • Hershey’s Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it’s kissing the conveyor belt.
  • The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
  • An ostrich’s eye is bigger that it’s brain.
  • The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.
  • Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.
  • If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
  • The first toilet ever seen on television was on “Leave It To Beaver”.
  • Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.
  • J.M. Barrie made up the name Wendy for his book “Peter Pan”.

Now wasn’t that fun?

Let me know how those conversations go . . .

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The Moving Adventure

We are two and a half weeks away from moving day. As you can imagine, our house is littered with boxes and storage bins, and almost every spare minute is spent filling them. It goes without saying that we have a lot of stuff, pack-rats that we are, but we really are purging as we go. There are interruptions in this process as we find pieces of our past – old letters, pictures, baby clothes, keepsakes. Of course, you have to stop to read or reminisce and then make the decision to keep or toss. Seems like we’re doing more keeping than tossing. Regardless, the packing is going well.

The fact that we are actually moving still seems surreal. We’ve been in this house for twelve years – the longest I have lived in one place in my whole life. One kind of puts roots down in that length of time. But we are carefully digging up those roots and we’ll replant them in our new home. They will grow and new memories will join them.

It’s an adventure.

We are full of anticipation and excitement at the prospect of settling into a beautiful home, getting to know a new city, cultivating new friendships. We see the hand of God leading us. He’s shown us a tiny little bit of what our future looks like, and it’s amazing. We are giddy just thinking about it!

So, a new chapter begins. This is the first home since 1977 that we are establishing without any of our children. This is the first home we’ll have with central air, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, and a gorgeous view. This is the first home we’ll have in a city of less than 100,000 people. In some ways, this feels like our first home. Period.

Stay tuned. News and pictures to follow over the next few weeks.

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