Treasures from a Trip of Remembrance

(Before you read the blog, I just want to draw your attention to the beautiful header on my site and the logo you’ve been seeing.  A huge thank you goes to my very talented friend, Ben Guse who designed it for me!  I love it!  Thank you Ben!)

Now here’s the blog:

I was on a quest this morning. The boys had been asking about old class pictures. I couldn’t find them. After a major move, when you can’t find something you start to get a little worried. Either it eventually turns up or it’s gone.

After another conversation about the said pictures last night, I made it my mission to find them this morning. Closets, bins and boxes were searched. Where were they? I knew I had not knowingly thrown them out. I went back to the only place I could think they would be even though I had looked quickly in the bin already. The scrapbooking bin.  I haven’t really touched it in five years!

I pulled it out into the light and started sorting through it. Eureka! They they were halfway in. Breathing a sigh of relief I put them aside but kept going through the papers and pictures. I was having some fun looking at some of the treasures I hadn’t seen in a while.

 

Besides the class photos, I found a few things I wasn’t expecting.

Friendships. Some have endured and others have not. But every single person in those pictures brought something to my life. Friends are like that, right? Some really are for a season but it doesn’t mean their impact is any less. It was so good to see some old friends smiling up at me. We had some really fun times together. We really don’t have any idea how we make an imprint on other people’s lives. When we don’t have those relationships, we become barren and dry.

Hope. As I sorted and remembered I was filled with hope. Some pictures were of experiences and relationships that were hard. Some were awesome.  That’s life.  I realize sitting here, that if we let the bad go, the good does endure.  Through it all, as I remember, I believe that nothing happened that surprised God. That every step was taken with Him present. Many in the different places we have lived, have moved on and grown. Some of the journeys have been very difficult but here we are. Still standing. For some of us, we’re leaning on others but we are still standing. There is abundant hope in that.

Healing. Pictures of little boys smiling. Eyes dancing. They made me think, “We did have some fun, those boys and I.” I wouldn’t have said that a few years ago or even some months ago. For a long time I could not look at photos of the tiny boys because they made me sad. I didn’t like the person I was at that time. All I saw was a bad mom. Today I didn’t see that. I saw the good. Forts and campfires. Endless days of Thomas. Play dough. Days filled with play. Yes there were some really hard days but they are starting to fade. Today I found some truth to hang onto. A realization that it wasn’t all bad. Today I believe that.

Gratefulness. I found some thank you notes for serving in ministry. Reading them made me feel grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to do some pretty amazing things in ministry. I feel grateful for the many fabulous people I’ve worked with and gotten to know. Their belief in me when I didn’t have faith in myself, was such a gift. It pushed me to do things I would have run away from. We had some fun. Boy, did we!

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Purpose. Those thank you notes also opened my eyes to the fact what we do makes a difference in other’s lives too. It’s easy to forget. We often don’t realize how our actions and words can make a positive difference to someone else. How God takes our gifts and uses them in ways we can’t even imagine. Too often, and I’m so guilty of this, we like to hide our gifts and ignore our purpose because it’s just easier to do so. We can’t give in to that. We make a difference in our spheres of influence. Big or small.

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Goodness. I found some tickets and conference notes. Pictures of new places. I was blessed to be able to go to some really good conferences back in the late 2000’s. MOPS near Dallas, National Pastor’s Conference in San Diego and Just Between Us Pastor’s Wives’ Conference in Nashville. All three had significant impact on my life at that time when kids were little and leaving was hard. But worth it. They were gifts to me. Gifts of friendship, of learning and of travel. The gift and hope of seeing a better future. In some dark times, these were good things.

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I hadn’t planned on taking a walk down memory lane today. Sometimes we find ourselves in unexpected places. It might be a chance to remember and reflect about what has played out in the past and what we hope for the future. Maybe you are at that place. It’s time for you to take a little trip of remembrance. Or maybe it’s time for a new perspective. Time to see the good and give thanks. Wherever you are today, I hope you remember the good and it fills you with hope for a better future.

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me.
Isaiah 46:9 NLT

Every Little Thing

“It’s been one of those days. A twenty-four hour period that was an emotional rollercoaster. The kind that leave you feeling nauseated, breathless and wind-whipped. If you have children, you’ve experienced them. If we’re being honest, and I hope we are, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.”

I am excited to be a guest writer over at Raising Generations Today.  You can read the rest of the blog here.  It’s a great site so I invite you to go check out the blog and then have a look around!

 

 

 

A Beautiful Life

It’s one of the hazards of being married to someone who’s job requires you to move around a lot. It’s also a blessing.

You meet a lot of people. The problem being, you only get to spend so much time with them and then, you move on. So do they. That’s life.

But these last few days it’s been hard to be away from a place we once called home. A Beloved of ours went home to be with Jesus. It was only three weeks ago that she texted me to tell me that awful disease had returned. It didn’t look good but I didn’t think it would take her so fast. All I wanted to do was somehow get out to the East Coast. I couldn’t.

It’s been twelve years since we last saw each other. I thought I’d get to see her again.

Wendy and her husband, Dave embraced Mark and I like family when we lived in Fredericton, NB. They were our family away from home and when we had our first son, out there on the East Coast on our own, they became our East Coast grandparents. East Coast Nana we’d joke. They loved Ian and it’s my biggest regret she didn’t get to see him again. And meet Ben.

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Ian’s first time in the Atlantic.  He got a bit blue and Wendy warmed him up!

Ironically, a few weeks ago the topic of moving came up with Ian. He said he wouldn’t want to move again because he’d already grown up without his Windsor friends and he didn’t want to grow up without his Kitchener friends too. I know how he feels. Because he didn’t get to grow up with his Fredericton friends either, although he can’t remember them. But I do. I know what he missed out on. Because we miss them too.

I miss her big heart. Her sense of fun. There was always a silver lining to be celebrated. I didn’t really like brownies until I ate Wendy’s. And her chocolate marshmallow squares. A little slice of heaven.  I miss her beautiful spirit. And the fun times we had whenever we were together even though some of the circumstances weren’t really great.

I remember looking at each other across our family room, during the Superbowl and the infamous wardrobe malfunction. “Did we really just see that?” and laughing about it later. I remember campsites and painting Easter eggs at their dining room table.

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But it was their example of what a real Jesus follower looks like that left the biggest impact on our lives. They lived it. They belonged to our little church. They stuck it out when things got hard and followed God’s leading rather than anyone else’s. It’s rare to see that in church today. But if you come across people like Dave and Wendy, it’s a beautiful sight to behold. Their example of following Jesus, has probably spurred our family on these past years in ministry. They gave us hope that there might be others. Those who follow Jesus no matter what. That ministry is worth it.

Finally, I love how she and Dave love each other. Always evident. Always real. Something else to aspire to.

Thank you for sharing your life with us for those three short years Wendy. Because that’s what you did. You shared your beautiful self. It was a gift. I will always be grateful for you.

TURN to that Echo

Lately, God’s been trying to get my attention. He may have been trying for more than a while, but it’s now hard to ignore. Because it’s so obvious and blatant.

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My experience with God has mostly been gentle, subtle nudges. As I write that, I am surprised. Because of late, I may not have described God using those words. Gentle.  Subtle.  That’s not been my opinion of Him in recent months.

Stopping to think about it, I may have been hasty. I projected my feelings onto God instead of trusting who He is.  Who I know He is.  Anne Graham Lotz in her book, Wounded By God’s People, warns about not being fooled by thinking people’s behaviour is an indicator of God’s.  It’s not.  Neither should we trust our feelings.  If we are irritated, angry or hurt, we sometimes let our feelings colour how we view Him. How He deals with us. She’s right.   I know I do that. So I’m a little surprised that I wrote that; gentle and kind.  But it is truth. He has been that and so much more even though I’ve been anything but. Stubborn and hostile would be better adjectives to describe myself.  Thankfully God doesn’t stoop to our petty levels.

Even now, it’s not a head bashing he’s given me to get my attention. It’s still a gentle nudge with a little force behind it. Sounds like an oxymoron but it’s not. If you’ve had  personal interaction with God and been a little strong-willed at all, I’m guessing you know what I’m referring to.

The other thing that’s different this time is it’s relentless. That echo.

Margaret Feinberg calls it The Sacred Echo and she wrote a wonderful book about it. The Sacred Echo is when the same message keeps coming back to you. It may be through a song, a book, scripture or even a meme. (It happens, yes even through FB.) Ir can be anything.

The message stays the same even though the messenger may change. Or the message and the messenger can all stay the same.  It’s unique to you.  Because that’s how He made us.

These “Sacred Echoes” are all around us if we choose to listen to them. To open our eyes to them. That is what Feinberg shows us through her book.

For me, personally, it is one of the primary ways God communicates with me. I think because I’m stubborn and strong-willed the echo works for me, because it takes me a couple of times to see it and then it may take a few more echoes to actually get me moving. Or believing. Or stopping. Or TURNING.

TURNING towards those echoes is always the best way to go. You know that too. Although we don’t always do it. Or want to do it. But when we do, it always leads to blessing, fulfilment and contentment. When I write and say those words, I’m not talking about an easy life or material gain. Sometimes that’s a bonus if God desires it for us.

Instead, it’s an inner peace. A knowledge that we are in the exact spot where He wants us. It might be a hard spot but we aren’t alone.  That our relationship is good. A feeling of delight that we are in His Will. Of being unshakable in an eternal sense.

TURNING towards that echo, opens the door to all kinds of spiritual blessings, victories and journeys that honestly, I don’t think we are capable of understanding in this earthly realm. It would blow our minds.

So today, if you hear something and then hear it again, maybe you should stop and TURN towards it and listen. It may be a message to go. It may be a directive to do. It may be an I LOVE YOU, YOU AREN’T ALONE hug. Whatever it is, it’s important enough, that He is willing to keep sending it until you TURN.