Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Way to Look Forward Into A New Year {and a Brief Picture Recap of 2015}

The sun is setting on this year. In a few short hours it will all be mere memories and stuff that history is made from. It has been a hard year for so many around the globe and it is sobering to realize that there are many who have suffered so much more than I could ever imagine.

I sit in the silence now in the last few hours of 2015.

By God's grace alone, we made it! He brought us all through this past year.

As this past year began and I was trying to think of what my one word would be I asked for a suggestion from Jon. He nailed it and ended up naming it for me: Endurance.

Sometimes you look out at what is ahead and wonder how you will ever make it through. 

I was weak, lost in a world of recovery, anxiety, loneliness. It was a dark, dark place.

I really wasn't sure how my body could keep on in all its frailty. Time is what they all told me; it takes time to heal. But, when your days drag on and your body is weak, time can feel like a curse and you end up having too much time to let your mind wander and your anxiety mount.

So, really with time, the greater thing is trust. 

Every step forward was all part of this journey in trusting God. 

I believed my way forward was looking away unto Jesus. Focusing on my dark, hard place would only lead me further down. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Perfector of my faith, the One who is sovereign over all, enabled me to take one small step at a time. 

I purposed to get outside in the great outdoors every single day to help me physically and emotionally. I relied on others to pray for me and was blessed with care, support and love from family and friends.

There were a few set backs as well as some huge milestones that we celebrated. Some days now my small steps look more like bigger leaps. 

I am actually looking forward to this next year and all that God has planned for coming year.

I took a quick glance back over the year and give God praise that we are once again moving forward and eagerly expecting God to faithfully do all that He has purposed for us. 

The terrain will be different, there will still always be hard and dark and difficult times where the Light will shine brightest, but the way ahead is always to trust in the God who does all things for His glory and the good of His people. 

Whatever lies ahead for you this next year, time is precious, but trusting God, that in His wisdom, love and sovereignty He will faithfully lead you on, is the only way forward.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Trust God in the Dark This Christmas

"God constantly encourages us to trust Him in the dark . . . 
It is heartening to learn how many of God’s mighty deeds were done in secret, away from the prying eyes of men or angles.

When God created the heavens and the earth, darkness was upon the face of the deep. 
When the Eternal Son became flesh, He was carried for a time in the darkness of the sweet virgin’s womb. When He died for the life of the world, it was in the darkness, seen by no one at the last. When He arose from the dead, it was ,’very early in the morning.” No one saw Him rise. 

It is as if God were saying, “What I am is all that need matter to you, for there lie your hope and your peace. I will do what I will do, and it will all come to light at last, but how I do it is My secret. Trust Me, and be not afraid.” 

With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favoured of all creatures."

~ A.W.Tozer, 'The Knowledge of the Holy' [emphasis mine]

Whatever dark you face this Christmas, trust in Immanuel . . . God with us.

All you have need . . . your life, your hope, your joy, your peace . . .  is found in Him.

Merry Christmas, dear friend.

May the joy of the Lord be your strength.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Greatest Gift to Give This Christmas

There are some of us (which, really means: all of us) who come from a long, long line of broken and busted up people. 

A line of hurting and selfishness and unforgiveness that cuts deep and runs on and on and ends up sprouting roots of bitterness and stifles love and slaughters relationships.

And no matter how perfect any family appears on the outside not one person is untouched from the Fall and every single soul is in desperate need of forgiveness. 

The only hope all of us ever have is the Messiah who was wrapped in swaddling cloths and placed in a manger, with the full purpose to be one day stripped of his clothes and nailed to a cross so that He could make us new, and 'though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow', and cover us with His righteousness. 

For days I've been thinking about my own hurting family line and how I could relate to this:

"You can stand around a Christmas tree with a family like Joseph's, with cheaters and beaters and receivers, with a family like Jacob's, who ran away and ran around and ran folks down. But out of a family line that looks like a mess, God brings the Messiah." {Ann Voskamp. The Greatest Giftemphasis mine.}
For days I've been thinking about mercy and grace and forgiveness.

It's never neat and tidy, never perfect and pretty. It's never easy or even our default, but it is possible. There is one way to forgiveness and it cuts away the bitterness and grows love and restores relationship. 

And even though many of us imperfect people will meet with imperfect families over the next few weeks during the Christmas holidays, and some may be dreading it, there is this mercy: our Messiah reached down into our mess to redeem us from the fall and place us in His family and calls us to live in grace, grow in love, and give the gift of forgiveness and it is all made possible by His righteousness alone.

The greatest gift we, the ones who have been grafted into His family tree and given so much, could give one another this Christmas is forgiveness, wrapped in grace and humility, served with love.

There are some of us who are slowly realizing that better than perfect is grace, better than health is holiness, better than fortune is forgiveness, better than anything this world could offer is the God of all mercy who made this world to be in an intimate relationship with us.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sowing Tears ~ Reaping Joy

One year ago today I came home after three months in intensive care following once-in-lifetime open-heart surgery.
God has showered his mercy upon us and brought us all home. 
His praise is on our lips.

We dream,
laughter fills our mouths,
shouts of joy are on our tongues,
we proclaim the great things God has done. 

We can look back on times of lament and recall how God pours out His mercy, and know that His mercy and steadfast love will follow us all the days of our lives. 

Lament is a song in our soul—
played in the hauntingly beautiful minor key;
the part in which we weep. 
Followed by the shouts of joy;
the dance when we rise up with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
The music of mercy and grace, tears and joy never ends;
keeping the rhythm of life steady, bringing us home. 

This day we pause,
sing a lament,
and praise the Lord:
we have sown in tears,
we shall reap shouts of joy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Light unto My Path

When you are not sure how to move forward, walk in the Light.

The Light leads to life.

Eighteen months ago, when trilliums carpeted forest floors, the heart doctor told me to stop taking hikes in the woods; my heart couldn't take the strenuous activity. It was hard news to digest. He really wasn't sure any surgeon could do what my heart needed.

By the time the trilliums had faded and children were jumping into lakes or running through splash pads, my cardiologist had put me in touch with Dr David. He was willing to take me onif tests proved my body may have a fighting chance. It was highly unlikely.

Weeks after we went through with the surgery, when the leaves had changed from green to gold and red, Dr David was making his daily rounds. He admitted, when he had me open on the operating table what he found proved that the tests did not reveal the true condition of my heart. If they had, he would not have been able to confidently proceed with surgery because of how grave my situation really was.

The Light was guiding my path all along.

For four months I was attached to oxygen and during those months I grieved that I was not able to hike in the woods.

When I arrived home after 80 days in ICU, I had strength enough to climb four stairs, one slow step after the other. The winter was so frigid, my oxygen line would freeze, but I had set a goal to get out into the great outdoors for I truly believed it would help my physical and emotional recovery. 

Putting one foot in front of the other is all you have to do to move forward. There are dips and set-back that feel like giants leap backward, but one step at a time is how you run in this race of life. 

Always looking unto Jesus; the Everlasting Light

Last week, the cardiologist said my heart should be able to handle small hikes once again. Slow and steady. One small step at a time. 

Who could have ever imagined all those many moons ago that I would take my first nature hike with my family on a first week of November—so warm that it may break records? The sun kissed our faces today and we breathed in the musty fallen leaves that now carpet the ground.

We looked high into the bare branches and low at the moss covering the rocks. We listened as the brook babbled. We slowed down and focused on the beauty all around us. We gratefully received the sheer grace of it all.

I came home weary and refreshed. Hushed. Exhilerated. Humbled.

God's mercy is ever new. His faithfulness never fails.

The Little One gives thanks at the dinner table today. She thanks God for the hike, for her family, all the things He has made—the flowers, the birds, all creation. And all these months have passed and she still mutters thanks for: "the Doctor who helped my beautiful Mom so she could take care of me. She loves me so much. Thank you for being with her in the hospital to save her life."

I whisper, Amen, humbled once again.

His Light leads me on. One step of faith at a time.

{Photography helps me stop and focus on the beauty surrounding me, to catch the light, pay attention. When I look at life through the lens, it stirs up the deeper, hidden parts of the bigger picture.
To be outdoors in a great wood, capturing my children running free under a canopy of trees, climbing old mills, and shaking trees to make leaves fall like rain was absolute grace that flows steady from the hand of God.}

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