Sunday, 30 July 2017

I am Family Psalm 68:5 by Susan L.

  "A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation." NKJV
   I've only brought one Bible with me because I will be flying home from PEI and didn't want my suitcase to be overly heavy especially since my weighty laptop has come along.
  It's been a two and a half day journey along the Trans Canada Highway. One thousand, seven hundred and sixty eight kilometers later, we have successfully traversed roughly a quarter of Canada. Looking at a map, it's hard to fathom just how big the place is!
  The highway now bypasses Montreal and Quebec cities making it a quick passage through the province of Quebec. I must give thanks that the people at the hotel and restaurants spoke far better English than my dimly remembered grade nine French.
  Once past the cities, hours were spent winding through seemingly uninhabited boreal forests with glimpses of water to break up the stunning green carpet. Flashing lights and massive signs warned of moose being in the area.
  In many places the highway was protected by eight foot fences. We drove over tunnels that had been built for the wildlife to move freely from one side of the divided highway to the other. The only creature actually seen was a fox. It was as big as it got, praise God. Moose and car are not a good combination. At a hundred and twenty klicks, it's often lethal for both parties. That was New Brunswick until the divided highway ended at the PEI turnoff.
  Here it slowed down. The road was lined with quaint houses, farmland and small villages.
  I got to drive over the Confederation Bridge linking the island with mainland New Brunswick. It's a thirteen kilometer long bridge and an amazing feat of engineering that towers above the water. It was a thrill. The last time I was in PEI, it didn't exist.
  We arrived at the cottages to find that we'd been upgraded to one that had been fully upgraded less than six weeks ago. The only sign that it's an older building is the slight list to the floor in places. The front porch overlooks a harbour and fishing village in the distance. The view was an upgrade too!
  So how does this tie into family? I was with my Mom and step-dad happily doing most of the driving while they cat-napped. I am here because of my daughter's up coming wedding. I realize as well that we came into contact with many different types of people in all shapes and colours throughout our journey. Even the language barrier was really no barrier at all. Sign language worked when needed.
  Isn't that what God's family is made of? It surpasses genetic connections and reaches around the globe. As the verse says, He is a father of the fatherless.
 
 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

I am Faithful. Revelation 17:14 by Susan L.

  "These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." NKJV
  "Together they will go to war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will be defeat them because he is Lord of all lords and King of all kings. And his called and chosen and faithful ones will be with him." JCB

  This morning practice of exploring God's Word has been sorely missed. While time is limited today, every fibre of my being knew I needed to sit down and do this. So while the washing machine is doing its gurgling swish, there is time before I need to hit the road again.
  I feel a bit convicted by this passage today. Just before leaving for Hamilton again on Sunday, the pump in my pond stopped working. Having a grateful heart was the furthest thing from my mind. It felt like it was the last piece of overwhelm I could handle. It meant racing into town to find a new one, get it installed, then get on the road before the traffic heading south got too heavy.
  Or maybe I am being too hard on myself. I prayed the whole way down the road that one particular store close to home would have exactly what I needed. They did. Of course, they did.
  And even though my temper exploded in frustration, had I not gone to clean the filter before leaving, the broken pump would have gone unnoticed. Stagnant water is not good. The new pump has no filter. Yay! One less thing to have to do.
  I have done a lot of praying, muttering away as I have ran errands for my uncle, as we waited at the hospital for five hours for much needed tests. I've prayed as my patience grew thin, as the world started getting loud and tears of overwhelm would prick at my eyes in unfamiliar grocery stores.
  I prayed when waves of homesickness washed over me, when the dirt and constant noise of the city made me long for the lush green fields and woods of home. (It's amazing how quickly I forgot about the mosquitoes! Stagnant water is not good.)
  There were prayers to facilitate getting everything my uncle needed in place before I head out of province for the next ten days.
  They were all answered. Not only was everything my uncle needed set up, but everything I needed like getting a friend to stay and look after Pumpkin was perfectly timed. So maybe that's what this is about today.
  Many posts ago, I commented that even though these affirmations are meant to build and enforce Christ-like qualities in my life, they are also clear descriptions of who Jesus is.
  He is faithful.
    

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Right Hand Man by Susan L.

  I am exalted at His right hand. Acts 2:34-35
  "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, Till I make your enemies Your footstool." NKJV
  "For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, The Lord said to my Lord (Jesus), Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet." JCB

  There are so many expressions rooted in the Bible that have been woven into English daily language. Now I understand why someone is called a "right hand man" or someone who helps things run smoothly. They are a committed partner, determined to help us succeed in whatever we do. They are the type of person who would be hard to replace because they are so good at what they do.
  In Jesus' case, it would be impossible.
  As much as this is a prophetic passage, hinting at the day of Jesus' return when all His enemies are brought into submission, it's also a statement about what happens in a life lived with Jesus. That is, if we allow Him to be our "right hand Man".
  Nothing can stand against us.
  Nothing.
  Nada.
  Zip.
  Since the anxiety has vanished in my life, I've found that imaginary catastrophes pop up out of nowhere all the time. Gruesome accidents, especially in the car, or falling down the stairs, or my favorite: spilling boiling water down my legs, all make themselves known in gory, painful detail. The other day while driving over some rough pavement, I swore a sinkhole was going to open up and suck me into the bowels of the earth! Sheesh!
  I never put a sharp knife in the sink because for some reason, I have imagined it cutting a finger clean off. Yuck. This is why I don't watch horror movies.  Sometimes having a vivid imagination isn't all that great. But, as quickly as these terrible images come, I just as quickly push them away...well, maybe not all that quick but for sure as soon as I realize where my mind is going.
  Someone is out to steal my peace. Someone is out there doing their best to make me afraid of doing anything. If I focus on being afraid, I lose sight of Jesus, the Right Hand Man I couldn't live without. The Right Hand Man who has already defeated this enemy of mine. Forever.
  As for the catastrophes? Maybe they will be the birthplace of a really good story.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Philemon 6 by Susan L.

  "That the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." NKJ
  "And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ." JCB

  A few weeks ago, I took some time off work. Instead of doing the beach or travelling around, three days were spent in the basement building a new workshop. When that was finished, the small bench my daughter had asked me to build as a wedding gift was completed.
  My absences from the blog are a result of having to help a ninety-two year old uncle. His health is failing fast. It's cancer. Most of the time, I've been staying with him, making phone calls to set up some sort of home help until we can place him a long term care facility. The home help is important because of the trip to PEI for the wedding. He has no other family. If it wasn't a wedding, I'd have cancelled the trip.
  I am taking him to the hospital Monday for a batch of tests. Once those are done, we'll know exactly where we stand.
  I want to give thanks. Big time. Thanks that the Lord urged me to take care of my own business of organizing the basement so it wasn't hanging over my head any more. I give thanks that the wedding gift was built and wrapped, ready to go before my uncle called, asking me to come.
  I give thanks that I had been reenergized by the time off. and for the ability, physically and mentally, to be there for him. I give thanks that even though these days are busy with lots of running back and forth an hour and a half away, He is keeping me safe in my travels. I give thanks for the 407 highway, a toll road, with far less traffic, and prettier scenery than the "free" roads making most of the drive to Hamilton most enjoyable and relaxing. I give thanks that the Lord is providing the means to pay for this luxury.
  I am so thankful He is with me as I struggle to be patient and full of grace. (God bless nurses and personal support workers and doctors.) Thank You, Lord, for helping me find the words to get my uncle sharing how he's feeling and for the childhood stories my uncle has been sharing with me. I give thanks for my job as a peer support worker which has given me many of these tools.
  I give thanks that I've enjoyed preparing meals for him. Thank the Lord I to know how to make a batch of homemade biscuits and a hearty chicken stew to temp someone whose appetite is gone.
  It's good to be home for a couple of days. Not much can happen until Monday and my folks are going to spend some time tomorrow with him.
  Lord? Thank You for revealing Yourself to me in the busy-ness, in the running back and forth, in the patience found.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

I am Established, Deuteronomy 28:6 by Susan L.

  "The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just has He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways." NKJ
  "If you obey the command of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do." JCB

  I think of businesses like the one I bought my refurbished laptop from. The venue was risky: a flea market up the road open every weekend that's full of vendors selling all sorts of things. Buying a laptop from a place that's rather transient when it comes to vendors took some serious thinking. Were they trustworthy?
  The young man assured me they also had a main store elsewhere that was open seven days a week if I had any problems. He also gave me a business card with the owner's home address and phone number! That's one thing most business owners never do.
  He went on to tell me how long they'd been in business, and about product guarantees and so forth.
  It was an established business. Knowing these things helped me be willing to buy a used, basic, inexpensive, laptop that saved spending several hundred dollars. She ain't pretty but gets the job done. That was roughly four years ago.
  I hadn't been to the market for a long time but a couple of weeks ago went to wander around. The computer company is still there selling new and used computers. It will be the first place I'll go  when the time comes to replace my laptop.
  How does this tie in to being established in Christ, established as holy people? It means trusting and being trustworthy. It means His ways become our ways. It means life comes with a guarantee that He will always be there. It means even if we wander away, He'll be waiting for us to come back. He doesn't leave.
 
  The next little while, or maybe long while, is going to be challenging. An elderly relative with no family of his own has cancer. The prognosis isn't good. As much as I'd like to become his primary care giver, to live with him, I know it's beyond my abilities. I can spend as much time with him as possible taking him to appointments or preparing easily accessible meals and snacks.
  Right now, the task at hand is to set up some sort of daily home care until he can be placed in a long term care facility. The waiting lists are long. 
  I will continue to help empty the house of the bric-a-brac that gathers when a person has lived in the same place for over forty years. There's not much left to do in that regard until we get him settled somewhere.
  I am thankful for my faith, that I know, without a doubt, what is needed will fall into place perfectly. I am thankful that He will give me strength to do what is needed. I am thankful for the faith that the Lord will keep me alert and safe on the long drives there and back. I am thankful that everything is in the palm of His hands.

  It means the blog will be rather sporadic. So, dear readers, thank you for your grace. I'll also ask for prayers for my uncle and all those involved in helping him through this transition. Thank you.
 
 
 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

I am Equipped 2 Timothy 2:16-17 by Susan L.

  "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." NKJ
  "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." JCB

  Yet the devil has a way of taking God's Word and twisting the truth so we end up far removed from the love of God that pervades every single page. When God's Word is used as a licence to hate, to oppress, to control, to bully, it must make Him so sad. There have been many terrible wrongs done in the name of God based on an incorrect understanding of Scriptures. In many churches, these wrongs continue. It isn't a history thing but sadly, is alive and well today regardless of denomination.
  I've heard many people malign Christians because of it. I was one of them myself not so long ago. The Dalai Lama commented, "I like your Christ, I don't like Christians."
  How did we get so far off track? How do we get back on track to live in the rich inheritance Jesus has given us?
  The Lord saw fit for man to invent the printing press then the internet. The Bible has been translated into countless languages. There are more Bibles accessible to more people than at any other time in history. Is this a dangerous thing? Some say it is. Why do they say that?
  Which takes me back to the first paragraph.

  How do we, as individuals, discern whether our own or another's interpretation of Scriptures is right?
  I have a feeling this is a question many a Bible scholar has asked themselves. I am not a Bible scholar by any means but that's okay because Jesus's message is a simple one.
  "So now I (Jesus) am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Mat 13:34-35 JCB
 
  Lord, I seek to live a live of unadulterated, purest love. It's something I fail at regularly. Forgive me when I fall. I ask that You open the eyes of my heart to see the Love in every syllable of Your word. Help it become an integral part of my every day, not just in the morning's blog. Equip me to love others better, to do no harm. In Jesus' name I pray.
 
 

 
 
 
 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Affirmation #85 by Susan L.

  I am enriched in everything. 1 Corinthians 1:4-5
  "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge." NKJ
  "I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way--with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge." JCB

  There's something about belonging that makes life extra special. It helps so much when we are filled with be-longing, when we want to find a special place where we can be ourselves.
  When we find it, it's like finally coming home.

  If I lived in a house with Jesus, what would it look like?
  There'd be no such thing as cat hair for sure! :)

  I imagine it on the top of a high mountain with a view that stretches for a gazillion miles. The land is a patchwork of colours, harvest colours, that would be there every single day forever because it's a land of plenty. It would be misty in the distance where sky meets land, blurring the boundaries between the patchwork pieces.
  There's a balcony where Jesus and I stand together to watch the great flocks of birds soaring far below, weaving around the clouds beneath us. It's not a hunting type of flying or because they need to escape a predator. The birds fly for the sheer joy of being birds. They perform acrobatic swirls of gratitude and worship for their Creator.
  Sometimes we share a meal out there. Good foods with colours and textures never seen on earth come from the fields and orchards below. There's a platter that is never empty but the simple foods never spoil. We don't eat because we have to. We taste and sample because it's an opportunity to celebrate the eternal harvest.
  There's only one room in this mountaintop house of ours. In it, I feel like a Persian princess. There's oodles of soft, gauzy fabrics around the windows and the balcony door. They float and shimmer in the warmest, sweetest breeze imaginable. The marble floors are cool to the feet and a stage for sunlight and shadows to dance.
  There's a place for Jesus and I to lie down. It's soft, full of pillows in turquoise, gold and purple. It's a place of quiet conversations, of questions asked and finally answered. There's rest and peace unlike anything I've ever had as I curl up safe and secure in my Saviours arms.

  Lord, I hope You don't mind me sharing our special place. It's been far too long since I've even thought about it. Thank You that I can go there whenever I want. Help me carry the joy and peace it fills me with throughout my day on this ole mortal world.
  Thank You for the gift of words. Thank You for imagination. Thank You so very much that my own be-longing meant You became my Lord and Saviour. Forever.
 
 

 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

I am Enlightened, Ephesians 1:18 by Susan L.

  "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." NKJ
  "I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he has called--his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance." JCB

  I wasn't going to do an affirmations today but instead, take a day and reflect on everything I've learned over the last eighty-two posts. God knows so well beforehand what each of us needs doesn't He? His timing is perfect. Today's scripture is an ideal opportunity to do just that.
  In all these days of writing, what has sunk in? Where have changes happened? Where has growth and newness of life flooded into my being?
  Each day has left the terrible life of constant anxiety further and further behind as I travel forward into truth.  Because of this incredible gift of healing, there is such a hope filling my breast I am excited about tomorrow and the limitless possibilities it contains in Christ. Even when there's a bit of a hiccup or my heart is troubled, it doesn't last because the trust I have in my Lord is continuously being cemented more and more firmly into the foundation of my being.
  I've also come to realize that as much as I love answers and solving puzzles, it's okay to live without them because it's only in God's time will they come. Mind you, it doesn't stop me asking questions. :) He did give me a generous dose of curiosity.
  He knows I have difficulty grasping His divine love. Yet, even in my small human way, bits and pieces of understanding are growing into bigger bits and pieces of understanding about what His love is.
  There's been a lot of letting go. Each day finds another layer of forgiveness given freely and also received when I have repented. Grace, grace and more grace keeps moving in. The more I forgive, the easier it gets because of the incredible freedom this gift of words brings. Sometimes I have to forgive someone over and over but that's okay, too. Each time lets go of the hurts a little bit more.
  Laughter comes easily. Especially when I laugh at myself. There's been an increasing element of play in everything I do. It continually overrides the performance drive, the perfectionist in me. Mistakes are okay. Ha ha ha! Who am I kidding!?
  Sometimes life gets pretty serious because I can be a bit too serious and intensely focused at times.
  And lastly, a joy has moved in that is so great it brings me to tears. Joy in the peace. Joy in the letting go and letting in. Joy in the writing, the art, the music. Washing dishes? Not so much.
  But isn't that because I am much happier making sawdust or getting hot and sweaty and dirty working in the yard? A domestic I am not.
  Oh, for sure there's room to grow. That's how everything ends up seasoned with humility.
  Thank You, Lord, for filling me with a growing confidence. And there is the greatest joy of all: the journey with my Lord and King, Jesus Christ.
 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

I am Encouraged 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 by Susan L.

  "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work." NKJ
  "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say." JCB

  What a beautiful passage. What a blessing!
  What does it mean to live knowing eternal comfort? Knowing we need comfort for eternity must surely mean we also need comforting.
  Being troubled or hurting doesn't make us poor followers of Jesus. It's what we do with the pain. It's how and where we direct it. It's the words we say, the thoughts we think...It's doing no harm to others...
  It's doing more than not harming, we are called to love.
  I struggled for a long time as a new Christian regarding this because I believed it was okay for someone to keep hurting me, that loving them like Jesus meant I had to be a doormat. That's not love. For them or myself. I slowly came to realize that I can love them from a distance if my safety or well being is at risk. I confess in some situations it has taken a while to love them. It's a work in progress. :)
  Paul uses the word "comfort" twice in the JCB translation. The first time, he is using it to describe a thing. Comfort is a soothing balm applied to our wounds. It's peace in the midst of trials.
  The second time, comfort is a verb, an action. That's when Jesus wraps our hearts and minds in His presence. Anyone who has ever thrown their arms around a friend who has lost a loved one is doing what Jesus does for us. He doesn't tell us to stop hurting, stop grieving, He simply lets us know He is with us and grants us the strength to persevere by shoring up our faith in Him.
  Faith is a gift worthy of kings. It's a gift the King of kings used every moment of His life; in laughter, in trials, in sharing the Good News His presence on earth meant.
  A few posts ago I was broadsided by the ungodly, hope stealing belief "You'll never be good enough." Since then there's been so many positive things happen, so much comfort poured my way that it has been sent scurrying back to the dark depths where it came from.
  The lie may pop up again, it's got many roots but they are slowly being pulled out. In that I am encouraged. I am also greatly encouraged because not that long ago, if something like this came up, it would have put me into a tailspin for a long time. It didn't this time. Praise God! Jesus threw His comforting arms around me so fast, it didn't have a chance to grab hold and suck me into the Black River. Being in His arms has changed me so much that the lie was more like a mosquito bite that only itched for a couple of days.
  I know what it is to live without hope. Even as a Christian there were many dark days when putting one foot in front of the other required a monumental effort. If you are going through hard times, let me hold onto hope for you. Whenever you're ready, it's here because I know that one day you will be able to hold onto it all on your own. Besides, there's one thing guaranteed to get you through that's better than hope, it's faith.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, 10 July 2017

I am Empowered to Obey Phillipians 2:13 by Susan L.

  "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." NKJ
  "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him." JCB

  Yesterday, the worship team shared the reading of the day's scripture. We were each given part of 1 Corinthians 13:18.
  I was given verse five. "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged." That's how it reads in the Jesus Centred Bible. The last part in my New King James reads, "is not provoked, thinks no evil."
  I felt convicted when I read the part about keeping no record so I need to explore what that means.
  In 2007 I was hospitalized following a major breakdown. After getting a copy of the hospital report, I read where the psychiatrist had written, "The patient is only able to talk about the bad that has happened to her."
  Yes. It was the first time I'd ever acknowledged some of the events that were crucial to me being there in the first place! The doctor's note, once again, reinforced the idea I had no right to talk about anything "bad". (I need to forgive him yet again. Sigh.)
  Why had I been silent for so long? Because I wanted to be a good person. I believed that talking about someone else wasn't nice. I believed I had no right to even accept the idea they had wronged me through their choices to do harm. But most of all, I believed their choices were my fault.
  That's one area those who choose to abuse have mastered, victim blaming.
  Lord, there are so many lost souls who really need You. Open every single heart and mind to Your immeasurable grace. I ask this in Jesus' name.
  I've tried really hard to not be a victim and now realize that what has happened in the past is not entirely my responsibility. I've tried really hard to find forgiveness simply because the Lord has forgiven me for so much. Not judging? There's some room to grow in that aspect. Like the verse says, God is working in me and giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.
 
  Without truth, there can be no honest answers.  Without truth, grace cannot be extended. Without truth, everything is based on lies. I was done with lying to God and myself. The biggest step, the first step I was empowered to take was into a new world of soul baring honesty. I was finally freed from the stifling beliefs about what a "good" person is.
 Seeking healing and freedom when discussing events that involve another is not gossip. Thank You, Lord for helping me to discern who to share with and for providing sound counsel. 
  Maybe that's what "convicted" me, the old teaching that I mustn't talk about others or I'm not a "good person".

  A sunflower appeared in my front garden courtesy of the neighbourhood birds. It's a red one, the kind with small, black seeds, and has at least twenty buds waiting to flower. The wind took it down on Saturday, fracturing and twisting the stalk near the root. It wasn't a clean break. If it was a bone, it would be called a green stick fracture.
  With hope in my heart, I carefully staked and tied the five foot tall plant upright, re-aligning the stalk as best I could. The wound was wrapped with a cotton strip like a bandage to hold it securely together. I wasn't sure if it could be saved.
  The half where the stalk had been completely severed was a bit wilted yesterday but with some generous watering and a rain last night it would appear the plant surgery was successful. The entire sunflower is now standing tall and healthy looking.
  It will end up being a wonderful feast for the birds who planted it.
  Lord? Thank You for sunflowers. Thank You that You have carefully realigned the pieces where I was broken. Thank You for the freedom and the time it takes to learn Your ways, the stake that has held me upright. Thank You that the wrongs of the past that once crippled me as a person have been wrapped in Your love and tenderness. Thank You that I will continue to grow and learn and learn to love better.
  "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Cor 13:7
 
 
 
  

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Affirmation #81 by Susan L.

  I am drawing near with confidence. Hebrews 4:16
  "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." NKJ
  "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." JCB

  Just out of curiosity and because it is a practice that irked me, I investigated why the capital letters in the pronouns He or Him, referring to God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, have been dropped in newer Bible translations. Thanks to Google, I discovered the original Hebrew and Greek texts didn't use capitals for these words or other pronouns identifying the Divine Beings. The recent translators wanted to provide a more accurate translation. They weren't dropped due to some modern idea of bringing the members of the Holy Trinity to "our level" like I'd thought.
  I wonder if these capitalized pronouns are a stumbling block for some of us. Do they make God less approachable? Do they create a barrier? Do they generate distance between our Lord and His children? Do the capitals instill a hierarchy of power? I am wondering because, for me, when these pronouns are written with a capital, it stirs a sense of awe and wonder in my heart. For me it's also an offering of honour and respect to the One who has authority in my life.

  Okay, I felt a nudge after writing that last sentence. There are many areas in my life where I haven't surrendered. :) Actually, there are a lot of areas!
  Why is that? It's not like I can keep secrets from the One who knows me more intimately than I know myself. Has something as small as a capital letter prevented me from coming boldly to the throne of grace?
  (There was a long pause in writing here.)

  So when did reverential awe become tainted with cringing fear? Why am I so afraid of letting go and letting in?
  The ugly thought just went through my head, "You'll never be good enough."
  It makes me so sad that this idea is still floating around. There's no grace in it. It's merciless. There's no room for being helped or the space to ask for help. I think I can figure out who keeps fertilizing this toxic idea. It isn't my Abba Father.
  This poisonous core belief has coloured my relationships with people as well. The need to disprove the lie, the need for approval to help disprove the lie has only reinforced this ungodly belief because nothing of this earth will ever be enough to dispel it. No human approval could ever be enough.
  Lord, You have brought me a long way from the battered and oppressed woman I once was. I am reeling a bit this morning because of what You have revealed. Thank You for dredging this out of the depths of the Black River because it explains a whole lot about why I do the things I do. It explains my defensiveness and guardedness when dealing with others and in my relationship with You. It explains why I have found it so difficult to seek Your face, Your presence in ALL things. Guide me along the paths of forgiveness and grace for others and myself . In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
 

Friday, 7 July 2017

I am Disciplined Hebrews 12:5-11 by Susan L.

  "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." Heb 12:5-6 NKJ
 "For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening--it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." Heb 12:10 JCB

  Punishment. It's a hard word that's used instead of chastening in the newer, Jesus Centred Bible's translation of verse six. I find it's hard to wrap my head around.
  My experiences with earthly punishment created shame, guilt and a whole bunch of self-abasing behaviours in order to please the punisher. That's part of my journey, coming to understand the intrinsic worth I inherited as a daughter of God. It's been a long road because those I gave authority to or were in a place of authority abused that right.
  It would appear my road continues. Lord, do I have some questions!!
  What does "punishment" look like without those two terrible weapons?
  Was God "punishing" me all those years I didn't look to Him? Did He allow all the crap to happen as punishment because I'd turned away?
  What about what happened when I was a child?
  Lord, these wounds still run deep. The anger that has stirred in my heart is strong. I lift it all to You. Help me understand Your ways.

  Maybe I am confusing the hand of God with the devil's influence in my life. Maybe I'm twisting it into the idea of God punishing me. Maybe I am confusing consequences with chastening.

  I know one thing for sure. The Lord is pouring His unfathomable love into my life. I've never felt punished by Him for getting it wrong. I've never felt chastised for slipping up. Convicted? Yes. The quiet whispers of the Holy Spirit are all it takes for me to recognize that I've strayed or where perhaps I could have made better choices.
  This is definitely a Triple T subject.
  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." Heb 12:1-2 JCB

Thursday, 6 July 2017

I am a Disciple John 8:31-32 by Susan L.

  For anyone new to the blog, beginning in March, I began a journey to delve into a list of  affirmations. They were given to me as homework following an inner healing retreat. Originally, I was to read ten a day to my reflection in the mirror as part of the healing process. It's like dressing a wound until it heals. Reading the list out loud with a lack of understanding felt like there was something missing. Taking the time to look up ten verses was terribly overwhelming although it makes me smile to realize some mornings writing the blog probably takes a whole lot longer! I decided one a day would be manageable and to take an entire year to work through the list. So here we are, seventy-nine posts later with two hundred and twenty-one to go. I am so excited to see what comes!

  "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." NKJ
  "Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." JCB

  I have to wonder if Jesus chose the original twelve disciples so everyone would find a way of connecting to them and to Him. Time and again Jesus redeemed them just as He is the Redeemer now, in this very moment.
  Judas betrayed Him. It always makes me sad that he didn't come to know the Lord's grace and forgiveness.
  Peter...out-of-the-boat-water-walking Peter...denied he knew Him three times.
  Mathew was a tax collector, the most corrupt and hated people of their time.
  Thomas doubted the resurrection until he placed his fingers into the wound left by the spear.
  There was one who resorted to violence in trying to stop his Lord's arrest.
  I am not too familiar with the other human traits of the remaining disciples but surely they had their flaws. Every single recorded flaw is an opportunity to learn about how high, how broad and how deep the love of God flows.
  Jesus called the twelve His apostles. An apostle is "one who is sent out." (Thanks, Google!) He spent three years with them, preparing them to take His Message to the world.
  A disciple is a follower, a student. Jesus' practice of teaching everyone regardless of where they came from or what their gender was rocked the world. Mary, Martha's sister, was blessed for getting out of the kitchen and sitting at Jesus' feet to learn more of His ways. Martha understood the truth of what He was doing and was later blessed when she went to Him after her brother had died. Jewish traditions about mourning couldn't hold her back from pursuing her Lord and asking Him for a miracle.

  Fairy gardens are all the rage right now. I love little things so I made one for the yard. In looking at it this morning, I realized I'd built ladders to allow the "fairies" to get from level to level. Silly me, fairies have wings!
  Being a disciple is like using a ladder of knowledge and understanding to reach for truth and to allow that truth to grow us into the best we can be. Bible studies, community, and relationships with fellow believers are all part of the process like the securely fastened steps on the ladder. The best part? The love of Jesus gives us wings so we can become far more than we ever thought possible.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

I am Determined Philippians 4:13 by Susan L.

  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." NKJ
  "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." JCB

  I've been part of a miracle. Every time I think of this event, I am in awe of what the Lord can help us achieve. I might have written about this before but it's one of my life's most unforgettable events. It's so vivid, I can still feel the cool, misty rain falling that day: a Mother's Day Sunday.
  I am also going to offer a warning. The contents of this post might be too graphic for some people. Reader discretion is advised.

  My ex, who wasn't a large man, and a slight, young woman had enough strength to raise a rolled over, two-and-a-half ton tractor. It had pinned her father face down underneath the massive rear tire when it flipped. The rain had turned the grass into a treacherous, slippery surface.
  We had very little time to get him free. We couldn't wait for the emergency services who she called after calling us for help. We couldn't wait for my older son to arrive with our tractor. Time was of the essence. We needed a miracle
  We got one.
  My part was to slide him out from underneath once the tractor was lifted high enough. He was a tall, well built man yet he weighed nothing as I gently slid him free, mindful of his back and neck, careful to keep him in relatively the same position to prevent further damage. I remember being surprised at how light he felt; how strong I felt. He could have been a small child in my grasp.
  His face was purple-black from a lack of oxygen but he was conscious and his colour improved as he was able to finally get some air in his lungs.
  We covered him with a blanket and I kept talking to him until the ambulance and professional paramedics arrived to take over. It had taken at least twenty minutes but may have been longer because the local, rural fire department was only staffed by volunteers. (God bless them!) Either way, it would have been too late had we done nothing.
  His hoarsely whispered pleas to get the tractor off broke my heart. I assumed broken ribs stopped him from feeling much relief. All that could be done right then was wait, hold his hand and keep reassuring him he was free.
  It's an experience I'll never forget even though it was probably twenty years ago. Sometimes his blackened face haunts me in the wee hours despite going to see him in hospital the next day where he was much improved. I am haunted by watching him finally lose consciousness after the firefighters placed him on a backboard and gently rolled him over. Up until then, he'd been awake. Up until then, I had no idea how battered his body was.
  Our neighbour survived. His neck and back were fine although there were many other bones broken and internal organs crushed. They were organs he could live without. They were bones easily healed.
  He was a long time recovering. Yet the fact he lived is a miracle all its own because 99.5% percent of the time a tractor roll over is fatal.
  I don't know how this ties into today's affirmation. I suppose the entire sequence of events, the choices all of us made, were an exercise of determination to save a life. Yet without God intervening, it could have ended far differently.
  The best part of all is God intervened even though none of us followed His Son.
 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

I am Desired Psalm 45:11 by Susan L.

  "So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him." NKJ
  "For your royal Husband delights in your beauty; honour Him, for He is your Lord." JCB

  I have to confess this topic is one of my stumbling blocks. When it comes to discussing beauty, it makes me cringe. Echoes of the past hammer down on any glimmer of belief that maybe I am beautiful after all. A lack of "beauty" has been thoroughly reinforced through rejection, abandonment, and betrayal. Some days it feels as though these things have built an insurmountable mountain that keeps getting in the way of truth.
  The sad thing is most of us women are in the same boat. Studies have shown that we average thirteen negative thoughts about ourselves every day. Even a quick glance at a vague reflection in a window is often met with an "ugh" thought.
  So, here's the question...What happened to the joy I should feel regarding this amazing body the Lord blessed me with? How old was I when I learned shame because it was imperfect?

  It would seem there's a lot of forgiving to be done. There's a long list of people and situations that keeps trying to remind me I am not beautiful. Once again I need to forgive those who rejected, abandoned and abused me. I need to forgive myself, too, for believing what I was taught either directly or through innuendo.

  What is seen as the epitome of human beauty is a transient thing, a constantly changing standard. Marilyn Monroe was a curvaceous size twelve. Twiggy, a 1960's model was, well, twig thin. Size 0 is now in stores. How can someone be a size 0?
  Maybe I need to look beyond what the bathroom scales say. Maybe I need to pray that the Lord will fill me with the knowledge of how He sees me. Maybe I need to ask Him to change the head knowledge these many affirmations have instilled into heart knowledge...
  There's no "maybe" about it.
  Lord, I lift the "maybe's" to you.
  Psalm 8 asks the question, "What is man (woman) that You are mindful of him (her)?"
  Who are we that You are mindful of us?

  Here's what gets me every time..
  Universal events were mapped out so every single one of us would have the opportunity to know God the Father. Macro events, the little things when viewed against the entirety of time, were set in place so every single one of us would have the opportunity to know God the Father.
  God is not a God of coincidence but intention.
  So why did He do all this?
  Our royal Husband delights in us. In Christ, we are wrapped in a mantle of beauty that shines like a beacon to the world. Honor Him, for He is our Lord who died for us.
  Lord, grant us eyes to see and ears to hear. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
 
 
 
 

Monday, 3 July 2017

I am Delivered Psalm 107:6 by Susan L.

  "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses." NKJ
  ""Lord, help!" they cried in their trouble, and He rescued them from their distress." JCB

  Deliverance: being utterly set free from the influences of evil, of sin's consequences, its fallout, its sneaky tendrils that try and worm their way back into our lives.
  Deliverance is a done deal.
  "He sent out His Word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death." Ps 107:20 JCB

  "It's a bird! No! It's a plane! No! It's SUPERGIRL!" The crowd ooohs and ahhhs in wonder at the red and blue streak racing across the sky.
  We love our super heroes, don't we? We love the Good vs. Evil plot line where evil is vanquished every single time. The hero may suffer hurts. It may look like she's down for the count but in the end, she finds the means to rise to the challenge and win the battle. Except, evil has a way of escaping to a secret hideaway where plans to take over the world start all over again.
  I have a feeling Supergirl was created to fill a gender imbalance in the super hero collection. There aren't too many women in the genre. What's with that anyways?
  Even Superman pales by comparison to our ultimate Hero. Superman can only save one person at a time. Superman is after the villain, to bring him or her to justice and punishment. Jesus is after the "bad guy", too, but He wants to redeem them, save them, bring them into the sanctuary of His Father's arms. Jesus came because God wants to deliver everyone out of their distresses. (Note: in the King James version of the Bible, "distresses" is plural. God knows full well that we struggle with many things.)
  So here's the thing. We have all been endowed with the most amazing super powers ever. The Blood of Christ covers us and those we love as a shield against harm. God's Word is a mighty sword that shreds the lies we believe about others and ourselves. The Holy Spirit is with us, helping us to walk in paths of righteousness and truth. Repentance changes our minds and hearts. Forgiveness sends the joy stealing thoughts and feelings scurrying away. Being forgiven means knowing that we are utterly delivered of those joy stealing thoughts and feelings. Gratitude...ahhh gratitude...next to love, it is the greatest peacemaker of all.
  There's something even more wonderful about being a Jesus superhero: we can always turn to the One who is far greater than us. We don't need to find the inner strength to beat the bad guy. All the strength we need flows through us and around us with each and every prayer we make.
  "Help!" is not one of those four letter words!
  I'm going to close with the Lord's prayer I remember from childhood. We used to say it each morning in school so it's as fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday. When things were at their darkest, this prayer would comfort me and drive the shadows away. These are words of deliverance and hope.
  The prayer is found in Matthew 6:9.

  Our Father, who art (is) in Heaven, hallowed (holy) be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses (our sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine (Yours) is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. AMEN!
 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

I am Delighted In. Isaiah 42:1 by Susan L.

  "Look at My servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen, who pleases Me. I have put My Spirit upon Him. He will bring justice to the nations." JCB (This Bible highlights the prophecies about Jesus in blue. This is written in blue. I added the capitals.)
  "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold. My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles." NKJ

  It always amazes me what leaps out of a particular passage on any given day. Even the same passage on a different day might have something else leap off the page. And what's jumped out for me could be something entirely different for someone else. It truly is the Living Word of God...

  Wow.

  Today's leap feels as though it has zero connection to the affirmation...I was astounded to think that God has a soul. I'd always thought it was something we earthly beings were given. But then, we are made in His image... Whew! Big thoughts for a mortal brain first thing in the morning!
  This has me wondering...what exactly is a soul? A quick search on Google gave almost 46.6 million responses. It looks like this is not the first time this question has been asked! :)

  Chabad.org has a beautiful way of explaining it. A soul is the spark that every living thing needs to give it life and purpose. Everything has a soul, a spark of Godliness that gives its life meaning. "A soul is not just the engine of life; it also embodies the why of a thing's existence."
  Sometimes it's hard to see the "why". God sees it though. He designed us perfectly to fulfill the "why" of our existence.
  I am going to have a bit of fun here.
  Grass has a purpose. So do elephants and sparrows. I wonder if I would be able to embrace a blade of grass as a role model?
  What does grass do? It grows. It provides nourishment with tender shoots and later, its seeds feed many a mouse or horse or cow in the dead of winter. It provides shelter for wee things. It looks beautiful. It protects the soil. It can do no harm except when it starts to grow up through the driveway but that's not intentional, it's utilizing an opportune crack in the surface. Grass doesn't worry. When times are hard, through flood, fire, and frigid temperatures, the roots persevere with a doggedness that can be frustrating for a gardener.
  Hmmm, maybe there's something to learn here. Maybe my human life, my human soul, could use a good dose of simplicity in a sometimes complicated life.
  Truthfully? I have so much more than the front lawn to inspire, encourage, teach, and grow me. My soul delights in the knowledge that Jesus is part of my life. My soul delights in knowing God the Father was so delighted in His creations that He laid plans for us to be brought together again long before Adam.
  "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Mat 24:3