You just need to know

All my posts for the year fit on one page! Of my Home page, that is. At least, they did until this post… we’ll see.

I have a feeling I’ve made posts about this before–the desire to say something to help, though you don’t because you know it won’t help. And, people are not always ready to hear it, no matter how true it might be!

In this case, I’m thinking about people who are suffering, and feeling like nothing is ever going to go right again. So many times, God allows things to get desperate, just to get people to realize they need Him. When they finally do (how often I’ve heard this testimony), life turns around in amazing ways.

However, bad things DO happen to “good people”, Job being the perfect example. This is the question that so many ask, and so many just can’t get by it. The various answers will sometimes help, but often they just don’t: we live in an imperfect world because of sin, trials help us grow, the view is beautiful after the climb, etc. etc. In fact, this question of God allowing suffering is the big question in the book of Job, in the Bible. And here’s the surprise: it doesn’t answer it! God does join the discussion, at the end of the book; but what He does is point out the myriad wonders in creation, mysteries unfathomable. In other words, He is saying that humans just have no idea… we are not able to understand (the word is “perspective”). But God does!

So, just now I’m checking over my “one words” for August, and yes, there are some that fit perfectly!

  • Less noise, more sound.
  • Less rumble, more thunder.
  • Less Earth, more Universe.
  • Less lips, more soul.

To me anyway, these speak of mightiness, purpose, depth. When you’re in blackness, sometimes you just need to know, to know–that God IS.

 

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less heat, more fire… or, less fire, more heat?

August is almost finished already! How about this for being so late with July’s “less”?

I’ve been trying to think of something else to talk about, besides just the One Word “discoveries”, and finally this has come to mind: it’s been a very long time since I’ve done sermon notes!

We have always been spoiled with such good sermons, and that hasn’t changed since we started going to The Met. But… this one from a couple of weeks ago was especially good, entitled “The Dark Side of Sin”.

Pastor Jonathan wanted us to think about four areas of biblical truth (along the lines of “sin”) that have to become bigger for us.

  1. We need to have a very big understanding of sin.
    1. Sometimes we diminish it, but we shouldn’t be too surprised to “find rot behind the drywall”; as it is mentioned in many places in the Bible, “the heart of man is deceitful beyond cure, who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Never look at someone who has been “caught” in what seems to us an especially ugly sin as if they’re an alien–“There but for the grace of God go I!” And the only difference between a Christ-follower and a nonbeliever, is that the Spirit causes us to feel it more–that constant battle within that Paul talks about.
  2. We need a big view of grace.
    1. It’s easy to rejoice in God’s forgiveness for the everyday sins of character (not being as joyful as we should, etc.), but when something “big” needs forgiveness (i.e. sexual sin,  etc.)…. a wonderful quote from Pastor Jonathan: “When the weight of sin comes crashing down on the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, can the Grace of God hold, or will the structure collapse and the sinner come crashing through it; can the grace of God bear the weight when the stain of sin is deep and wide and ugly? Can the blood of Jesus cleanse it? …The answer is yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes…” (Of course, there must be full confession and genuine repentance.)
  3. We need a big view of the sovereignty of God.
    1. God’s plans do not suffer a setback by sinful/ugly/evil situations! Remember Joseph, and how the evil his brothers did, God planned for good, even if He wasn’t the source of the evil.
  4. We need a big view of the future.
    1. The evil and ugliness that happens often will force us to “grow out of love with the world”, and that’s when we repeat from Revelations “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (I’ve often felt like that when I get tired of my own sinful self!) 1 John 3:2  This is what keeps Christ-followers going in the present, knowing that God’s purpose is ultimately working towards that Future Day that will be very wonderful!

(Sorry about the ‘A.s’, WordPress seems to insist!)

Oh right–Less! There are actually four favourites this time, albeit the last one is something I saw somewhere else (not mine): less drone, more chirp; less steam, more breeze; less heat, more fire; less bark, more wag!

 

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Forget about obligation

Half-way into July, and we finally have a day available to post! It took that long for a rainy morning to come. There’s no way I’m taking a computer outside on a hot day! And cooler mornings are for weeding.

June was Father’s Day month, and originally I was thinking of posting for that… My Dad has a gift of serving people, which we always notice when we visit, but he also had lots of serving to do when Mom came home after her triple bypass–he did a wonderful job! In fact, she’s improving double-time, I think, in part due to his help (but of course, it also has a lot to do with her own determination and cheerful outlook).

It was my privilege to help with weeding some of Mom’s Amazing Gardens, a couple of times, though really I did very little. Dad (who has bad knees) said that if his kids kept having to come and help with weeding, that they would be shutting down more and more of their gardens. “It’s not fair”, he said. Well, I have something to say about that, just in case he thinks I feel obligated to help…

If I switch it around, and think about everything I’ve done for my own child, and everything I’d be willing to do… which is pretty well anything, I’ve had the thought before that Sam shouldn’t feel obligated to me because of this. I’m only doing/have done, what comes natural. Of course, one always has that “sense of duty” to family members, but when the relationship is good, or when there is love–forget the obligation part, you’re doing it because you love them. You want to do it.

So, I’m not helping because I feel obligated, but because I want to!

Now, lets see if my One Word choices for June have anything to do with any of this. :D

  • Less counting, more feeling. (There you go!)
  • Less hands, more arms. (Hands may be needed for weeding, but arms are for hugs. ;) )
  • Less wall, more window. Or, how about less window as well? Since summer is the time for sitting outside every. day. all. day. (Enjoying the gardens!) Unless it rains.

 

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A List of Happy Things, and May’s “Less”

It doesn’t take much these days, to think up a long list of amazingly wonderful things:

  • my Mom is recovering at home from a triple bypass;
  • my son is working and loving it (for other than the family company!)
  • the lilac bush flourished and produced lots of blossoms this spring;
  • the rain sounds wonderful on the hot tub roof;
  • favourite friends from Toronto are visiting in June;
  • other favourite friends in Toronto are expecting TWO grandchildren (their first) within a month of each other;
  • I finally found a haircut I love;
  • my weight-gain was not quite as much as expected…

Well, I could go on and on! So, moving right on to my One Word “less”, the best ones for May:

  • less anger, more acceptance–when you accept that you simply disagree, or that someone will never change, it can change anger to living in an attitude of (mutual) forgiveness;
  • less sleep, more moonlight–there was a glorious full moon recently, and it made me feel like sacrificing sleep just to enjoy it;
  • less screen, more sky–self explanatory, I think! Looking at the sky, or watching clouds on a fluffy-cloud day, is so wonderful to do, though it may be hard to make yourself take the time to do it.

 

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April’s “Less”

Eight days into May isn’t bad for finally getting to this, considering all that’s been happening lately. And that’s not including the things that lead up to summer: a last lesson to mark for Perspectives today (and then the projects), a last kids lesson to prepare this weekend, and probably a last “regular” small group meeting this week. Then all I’ll have to think about is Weeding and Dusting! Well, sort of… but not really of course.

For my One Word (“less”), I almost chose all my favourites this month, from one week–the first week of April. But one from the last week is pretty good too: “Less talking, more singing”. Sometimes there just seems to be soooo much talking! It would be better to balance that out perhaps, with more singing instead. Even if you can’t carry a tune, haven’t you ever spent time just belting out your favourite songs? Into my mind comes several instances when, as teenagers, my friends & I used to just sing, for no particular reason– well, maybe just to praise God… but if we hadn’t been Christians, we probably would have been singing anyway, for fun. Sometimes we sang from the back of a pick-up truck, riding down the highway; sometimes on the beach of Lake Ontario; or sometimes just driving somewhere in the car. Memories! Nowadays, my husband puts some old-time Gospel music on when we have a long drive to our business, and he seems to delight (or laugh?) in my singing along. Or, Sam has shown me how to play some great, modern worship music from Googleplay, which, since I’m far-away-upstairs and not heard, means “yelling” along with, while on the treadmill!

Oh right! Back to my One Word stuff. The other two I chose:

  • Less tiptoe, more jump (use your imagination);
  • Less pretend, more self–because you should just be yourself!

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to read again

I’ve quoted from Amy Jo’s blog before (song lyrics, I think). She does such wonderful writing! This post was just so good, and so… “Ottawa” (and yes, I’m STILL amazed that I now live in Ottawa, even though we’ve now been here for 4 years). The best way to make sure I read this again (shamefully?) is to put it in my own blog…

It’s been too long. My fingers miss the flow of thoughts turning to page…the reminder as I go through busy days to stop and look between the lines. For lessons, for what gets missed as I speed by.
And these weeks have been speeding by…filled with good. And hard. And spilling over
with moments calling for me to stop and pay closer attention. 

This was one of those…and several months later I need to re-read right to that very last sentence. 

November 2017

My hands gripped the bicycle brakes, slowing my speed and easing my tires over the uneven asphalt, avoiding the cars speeding past on my left and the curb on my right. I can never cross that bridge without a quick look at the canal flowing underneath and the window of sky flashing past till it’s covered in a high-rise apartment building again. Breathing in the freshness of an October morning…even if it is a chilly gray one and I’m a little out of breath from the uphill climb.

It’s the best place close to home to watch the morning…or the evening sun. Sometimes I run up there just because I need to see it’s rays before they leave for the day.

Back to focusing on the speeding cars inches away and pushing away the thoughts of what a bad place this would be for a spill. It’s been 4 years but I still can feel that foot slipping off the pedal, the catapult over the handlebars and my face landing first, body following after. Ouch.

But at least that was an empty bike path. Here…well I don’t want to think about it.

To the left I see a welcome white line spring up beside me signaling the start of my own lane…a benefit of living in an active Canadian city with infrastructure for bike lanes.  (They didn’t have those in Pachacamac Peru where I daily stepped over gaping sidewalk holes just a few months ago… sometimes no lanes at all and it was a free for all, cars, four legged creatures, and pedestrians).

My shoulders relax and my grip loosens, coasting as the downhill eases into a flat stretch.

Maybe my bike seat is a better place to think because there’s no Spotify, no morning news…no cell phone to glance at or blue dot on the Google map to follow . But for some reason that wide bike lane made me think of the ‘wider’ places in life. The days, the weeks, the seasons we can breathe a little lighter, ease the weight off of our shoulders and coast a little more.

And we wish those seasons, those stretches would come without the climb.

Without the speeding cars and curbs and bumpy pavement and the fear at any moment of landing facedown.

But I’m pretty sure the hills are what give my legs the best work out. And also that gripping those brakes and engaging every sense makes me more aware, more awake, more engaged in the journey. Pretty sure it makes me arrive at school more teacher-ready for 20 little people who need all my focus for the next 7 hours. And it definitely makes me appreciate that white line and wide lane at the bottom just a little more.

So if tomorrow is a day where I’m wishing for a smooth straight stretch…please remind me that good things happen outside of my ‘comfort zone’ …and that the view is always best at the top of the hill…

…after the climb.

 March 2018

Most mornings recently I’ve been cocooned in my car, trying to ward off morning chill and find the quickest lane in the rush of Bank Street traffic.  It’s been harder to see that window of sky. But the few days when I ‘ve left my cocoon of warmth and donned my skates instead…the view of sky was there to reward…

…after the work-out.

(She closes with a photo of skating on the Rideau Canal.)

Thank you so much Amy!!

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Less for March

Feeling very lazy about posting these days. But I’ll just have to force myself, if only to keep up the ability.

This idea of choosing a “Less of… more of… ” is starting to feel old already. However, if you think that 90 of them have been charted so far, no wonder! Consequently, I sometimes have put down some very cliche-type ones, or some that seem, well, not that good. My goal has been to not spend too much time thinking about it, each day.

In spite of all that, it’s surprising that there are still favourites to pick out! For this month:

  • Less time, more forever. In other words, less worrying about the present, more looking to the hope we have in forever.
  • Less safety, more life. Again, about not worrying all the time–not worrying about every little detail of being safe, which frees you to enjoy life.
  • Less meaning, more fun. I believe this came out in my last post. Especially around Easter, some (like me) like to do things with meaning… but sometimes, you just have to have fun.

Each of those things could be detailed, and highlighted with personal examples, etc. But, that is probably not really needed.

 

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Less of this, more of that

This is late for February’s One Word post…

It seems I’ve latched on to the number ‘3’, for choosing the best “one words” of the week (and posted to Facebook), and for choosing the best of the month. Not sure why!

In January I commented to someone that it “should be easy” to think of 365 “Less” of this and “more” of that phrases, but almost 3 months in and I’m starting to have trouble! Probably because I’m trying to think of creative ones, and not just the usual phrases that you often hear. However, realizing that some of them can be statements of what has been happening in a particular time frame, has opened up more possibilities. And sometimes, the negative one comes first and the positive second (e.g. “Less bristle, more submission”), and sometimes it’s the other way around (e.g. “Less exercise, more sleeplessness”). Many of them are kind of ambiguous, like “Less blazee, more amazement”. What does that mean? I can’t even remember, HA!

Oh well, let’s see how much we can keep going with this!

This month’s “best”:

  • Less snowball, more snowflake – sometimes you have to intentionally look close, in order to see the beauty that is part of the whole. And it can be such a teeny, tiny part of it, while so breathtakingly beautiful!
  • Less busy-work, more value – so many things are able to keep you busy, but seem to have little value! That’s not to say that they don’t sometimes have value though… and often it’s hard to tell.
  • Less cleaning, more real – perhaps “cleaning” is one of those busy-work things that are not always valuable… and presenting yourself (including all those things in your “realm”) as spotless, can sometimes hinder people being “real”/honest.

These were all from one week, but they’re definitely favourites! Eventually though, I’ll have to give up trying to think of things with meaning. After all, does absolutely everything in life have to be deeply meaningful? :D

 

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And that is life!

If you’ve never read The Mitford Chronicles by Jan Karon, you should try them! I’m just finishing my third time through, and I love them even more than the first time! They’re all about an Episcopalian priest who loves everyone, but has a hard time finally deciding to marry at age 60. But he does, and then we enjoy the continuing story–with such memorable characters, in the North Carolina mountain town of Mitford, in other towns where Father Tim does temporary fill-in, and in the Mississippi town of Holly Springs, where he returns to his roots to discover all the family secrets.

Father Tim loves his books, and packs a huge load of them wherever he goes. There are often quotes from well-known authors, which of course he, and his friends/loved ones have memorized. I came across a really neat poem in this last one, and was ready to type it all out dicta-style (since this is an audio book), but decided to copy the first 2 lines in Google–and there it was! Along with this link about the author, Paul Laurence Dunbar, who was born to parents who had escaped from slavery. (I’m looking forward to reading his other poems!)

Life, by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
And never a laugh but the moans come double;
And that is life!

A crust and a corner that love makes precious,
With a smile to warm and the tears to refresh us;
And joy seems sweeter when cares come after,
And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter;
And that is life!

 

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good article re being a “firekeeper”

We still remember the interim pastor we had at Good Shepherd in Toronto, with fondness. When I have a question, I think of asking him–he always said we should investigate things for ourselves, but my wont was to trust his thinking, knowing how well he researched things.

Anyway, turns out his wife is pretty good at “pastoring” as well! I’ve subscribed to her blog, and this article is so good that I just want to keep it here, to read again.

She talks about “reclaiming” things in her life, and I suppose that’s what I’ve done, in going cross-country skiing here in Ottawa (at least I’ve been once this season!) Also, the camping thing really resonates with me, of course.

As she says, starting a fire might be hard enough, but even more difficult is keeping it going. That fits with part of what we were saying in our small group last night, how it’s important not only to convince someone to turn to Christ, but to keep following him (“discipleship”) as well.

 

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