Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Life Tapestry

Tapestry: used in reference to an intricate or complex combination of things or sequence of events

"I wonder," I said, my mind recalling a phone conversation just days before. "Maybe we should introduce him to Carol? She's ready to meet someone and loves music. Rob plays in a band. There's a common interest already!"

My best friend Rhonda, and her husband Sheldon, held their wine glasses up, gesturing a toast. I picked up my glass of water, and we smiled at each other. You know, those mischievous smiles with a sense of excitement too from a grand idea that is even better when three are involved, and the other parties don't know!  

And, yes this was a set-up. A long-distance set-up as Rob resided in Ontario, and Carol in Alberta. A set-up eighteen years ago when the newspaper classifieds were the 'dating' sites of the time.

And Rhonda was still healthy.

On the morning of April 12, 2015, Rhonda passed away after 4 years of a hearty battle with cancer. Always a high achiever, she didn't let her cancer take away her ambitions and zest for life. Those four years, between cancer treatments, she participated in fund-raising events for breast cancer, traveled with her two daughters to New York, and other warmer climates,  her last trip to Cuba just this past February with her three children, husband, and other family members.  

Five years ago I wrote a Tribute to Rhonda. my best friend forever 'n ever. We met when we were three so do not remember a moment of my life, my world when she was not in it. She was the 'Stand By Me' part of my life--stomping through creeks, swimming in her back yard pool, hacking worms in half and watching both parts squirm, dolls then Barbies then boys, Holly Hobbie party dresses then Levis and Addidas. I moved west when 14 years old but we still connected, always, through letters, cards, calls and my visits back home.

And she believed in my dreams, in my writings. And if I have any regret, it is that she never saw me be published, her name gracing the dedication on the first page.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

At her Celebration of Life, attended by almost 300, I looked over at Rob, Rhonda's husband's best-friend, and the husband of Carol, my high school friend, another friend forever 'n ever. And my heart filled with gratitude for that moment 18 years ago where three got together scheming the set-up of two, a part of His tapestry, the weaving the together of lives for His purpose.

 Because God has it all figured out, I am woven to Rhonda, forever 'n ever.


Carol, Rob, me, Sheldon, Rhonda
 
The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.

 
Love you,
 
Lynn


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Transferring trust

Christ is not about trying harder; it means transferring our trust away from ourselves and resting in him. Timothy Keller

The gravel crushed under my tires, the only sound I heard above my car engine as I pulled into the empty parking lot. Shutting the engine off, I glanced up at the overcast sky, clouds looming low over the tops of office towers in the distance. Would anyone come?

Outside I opened the gate of my Jeep, and recounted again the number of lime coloured paper bags, red ribbon tying the handles closed on each one. Twenty-five. As of that morning I had twenty ladies registered. But was ready for a few more, if anyone brought a friend or family member. That is, if anyone came at all.

I turned, leaned against my open tail-gate and watched as cars passed by the entrance to the parking lot. I tapped the toe of my right hiker impatiently against the gravel. Then looked up and closed my eyes against the peak of sun that was splitting the overcast sky.

God, I think this is what you want me to do. I'm trying hard to be the  leader I think you are calling me to be. But gosh...if no one shows up...especially after all the work I have done...? At least let me know what I did wrong k?  

And I hear Him whisper.

Is this about you? Or is this about ME? Do you Trust me?

"Hey!" A sweet woman's voice!  I open my eyes and stand up, relief flowing through me. Someone showed up!

And God reminds me of a proverb that I had just read that morning.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.


Proverbs 16:3
 
I call out a greeting back and then turn to grab a few bags from within my jeep, hearing the crush of gravel under more tires as vehicles fill the parking lot now under a clearing overcast sky.

After instructing what the next three hours will be, I sit with four other beautiful women on the cool grass of the warming autumn morning, a river valley below us and legislature building a few feet away. We have come here to read scripture and pray for ourselves, our leaders, and our community. In the silence of my group, I look up from my journal to see the other four groups of 5 women each scattered amongst the trees, gardens and pathways of the park that houses our provincial government buildings.
 
And I hear His whisper.
 
Good job, my faithful servant.
 
I wipe a tear from my warm cheek. I look down at my open bible beside me and my eyes lay on the pencil underlined verse.
 
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21
 
I grin to myself as a pick up my pen again, listening.
 
Later we all gather together to sing. The guitar player I had arranged to meet us at this point is not there, but I don't panic. A woman sits with us who sings in a church choir and she leads us, using the talent God has graced her with. And we follow her lead.
 
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27
 
If interested in hosting a morning meditative prayer walk that includes meditating on scripture, journaling what God is speaking to you, and connecting with other women, please let me know and I can send you my guide.
 
I love you.
 
Lynn
 








Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Journey thus far

 I am a 'leave behind' kind of gal. In other words, I have walked away from my cell phone in restaurants and washrooms. I have friends call me to let me know they are looking at my sunglasses on the passenger seat of their cars or at my hair clips on their coffee tables.  Believe it or not, when I panic the most though, is when my favourite coffee mug is missing. Once when retrieving my left behind coffee mug at my church, I noticed two other coffee mugs that looked awfully familiar (and missing from my home cupboard) nestled in that lost and found cabinet. Bonus! I went to retrieve one and came home with more!

When I started here on this healing journey, I knew the words of scripture, that God was in control, and God had a plan for me as His precious daughter. But I wasn't seeing those words active in my life. There were moments when I felt His loving arms wrap my heart and other times where I shook my fists up at heaven and cried out, "Are you real?" There were times of joy of new activities, new friends, and deep hugs, and times where I didn't want to talk with anyone, be with anyone, or be touched.

But God never left me behind. Even in the darkest moments of my soul, with the bed covers over my head to block out any light, He was there. Like He comforted Elijah, in His gentleness, He would whisper to me, "It is going to be ok. Get up. Have something to drink. And then come back and rest in Me again. I will heal and bless you."

There were times I was on my knees in repentance for uttering words that were not encouraging or uplifting, for being angry instead of demonstrating peace. And most of all, for idolatry, once I recognized I was so self-absorbed, thinking I could fix myself, and validating myself by man's opinion of me, rather than His. And then, finally surrendering my brokenness to the Great Surgeon.

And, brothers and sisters I would have never thought I would reach this place of rejoicing but I can truly say I see how He has bonus blessed me during this journey thus far!

He relentlessly never gave up on me even when I was questioning if He was real.

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. Act 17:27

He searched me out even in my darkest moments when I did not want to see the day, and gave me comfort.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

He brought me the daily bread I needed to heal.

He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, "Arise, eat." 6Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. 1 Kings 19:5-6

He showed me where I was sinning in my heart, blocking the fullness of Him.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24

And He never, ever left me behind.

The Lord is indeed going before you—he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!” Deuteronomy 31:8

Dear brother or sister, if you are on a healing journey and God seems far away, my hope is you KNOW He is pursuing you relentlessly! And if you are lost, and have turned away, He is still THERE, HIS angels on stand-by ready to rejoice when you turn back to Him!

 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:9-10

Love you,

Lynn





Monday, March 9, 2015

Dreaming

It is mid-afternoon and I succumb to the tiredness that has enveloped me. A sunbeam that lies like a broken branch across my bed beckons me. I let the pillow cradle my head and the warmth seep into my skin.

I close my eyes. And dream.

I dream of the home surrounded by acres of land with mountain ash and birch tree lined trails. I dream of walking my dogs on this land with my husband. I dream of grandchildren swinging on the tire swing and jumping together on the trampoline. I dream of mornings in my kitchen, coffee in hand, and looking out onto the sun rising and a surprise kiss on the neck from one who loves me. I dream of preparing for a speaking engagement and my published books blessing others to hope in their dreams and believe in a redeeming God.

But my reality is a side-by-side duplex in a hamlet that nestles just east of the capitol city of the province I live in. It is the status of being a still single divorcee of 18 years, and an empty nester of three except for every second month when my youngest university-student daughter stays with me. It is no pets due to a lot of out of town travel, and grandchildren that I take to recreation centres for activities like skating, swimming, and climbing walls.

It is not where I thought I would be at almost 50 years old.

And sometimes the fear that my dreams will never come to flourish grip me, freeze me. And like Elijah all I want to do is run for cover and sleep.

"Then he lay down under a bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." 1 Kings 9:5

And I pray.

Be anxious about nothing but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

I pray that God restore my hope in lost dreams. That he rebuke the lies that I there is something wrong with me and that I am being 'punished' for my sinful past.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

I name the fear, asking God to show me the truth.  

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people
Ephesian 1:18

I do not know what my future here holds. And if my dreams, the desires of my heart will come to pass in this world. But I know He is always there for me to run to and will provide the food and rest I need on this journey.
                 
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Love you.

Lynn

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Learning to Breathe

(You can also find my today at Inscribe Writers Online writing on The Artist Date and sleeping)

Hello, I'm Lynn Simpson. At 14 years old I accepted Jesus as my Saviour at a bible camp the boy next door invited me to. But as life continued, I stepped out of faith but God was with me all the time. Much later, broken, I was led to see an old friend play in a worship band at a Christian church, the beginning to allow myself to let God love me. From being invited by a group of women who did not know me to sit at their table during a church Christmas event, to the developing relationships I continually make through small group studies, God is working in my life. And using the words of Gospel musician Jon Forman (lead singer of Switchfoot): This is the way that I say I need You. I'm living again, awake and alive. I'm leaving my past behind and commit my life, all areas of my life to Christ.

On June 26th, 2011 at 46 years old, I was baptized. And the above is my testimony I spoke just before being submerged. I consider that day to be the day I fully dived in and became a Christian. And of course, music was a part of my testimony. Even though I did not grow up in a musical family, my love of music started with a boy sitting on my front porch playing his guitar in my early teen years. And without any effort of my own, musical friends just kept showing up in my life.

God was working on me even then, in my rebellious teenage years, knowing music would play a big part in bringing me back to Him again.

It was the music of Switchfoot that played a big part in my journey to faith. First it was Dare You to Move from the popular movie, A Walk to Remember.  And then later, Learning to Breathe which would become the staple song in my journey to leaving my old life, and entering in the New Beginning by "dying to breathe in these abundant skies."

Can I be bold enough, sisters and brothers, to say that Switchfoot's music evangelized me?

Yup, it did!

And that is okay! 'Cause God commands us to be filled with Him through song.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heat to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20

And to continually praise Him and thank Him through song.

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song,
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
Psalm 33:1-3

Because even when He comes again, there will be singing.

And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given to them by and God and sang the song of God's servant Moses and the of the Lamb.
Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name:
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous act have been revealed.
Revelations 15:2-4

Honestly, I cannot carry a tune but I sing anyways. And I am thankful that I have many Christian brothers and sisters that are gifted musically, so they carry me. And together we lift up our voices to the One who calls us to sing!

Do you have a song you regularly sing out to the Lord?

Love you.

Lynn

Learning to Breathe by Switchfoot


Dare You to Move




Friday, February 6, 2015

Surrendering to the Great Surgeon


"Can you imagine," my doctor friend said to me, her dark eyes gleaning merriment, "having surgery and jumping off the table, grabbing the scalpel from the surgeon and cutting yourself open? Why would you even consider trying to do it yourself?"
I shook my head no. Of course not!
 
But how often have I tried to fix myself, and not let the great Surgeon, the Wonderful Counsellor do His work? How often have I grabbed the scalpel using my own knowledge to try to heal myself, push my wants and desires and do as I think things should be done? And end up hurting more in frustration, in disappointment, and then dive into the latest bible course, book, and maybe even a bag of chocolate chips?
 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5
 
Looking out at only darkness from my window seat on a recent flight, the waters of Lake Ontario many miles below me, my mind was quiet. I didn't want to think anymore, figure it out. Figure out the why of how my faith had been feeling like a thin thread barely holding the beads of truth anymore. It seemed life had been easier, trials more easily endured when I ran to sinful comforts before I dived into the tank of baptism on June 26, 2011, and did the 180 degree turn on my life.

During these past almost 4 years after diving in, I have attended and led bible studies, led prayer retreats, been a volunteer for church and community events, and even received my Christian Life Coaching designation.

When I dive in, I DIVE IN, deeply, doing all I can to learn and participate.

But I still was hearing so many sad stories and had my own. And God wasn't changing the circumstances, at least from my window view.

And where lately had my faith been? It feels like I am being tested, I said to a friend recently.

And why when I feel like I have done my due diligence to make up for my sinful past, I feel hurt, disappointed, and sad over losses.  What else do I need to learn, do to receive His blessings? To be whole?

And I thought:

I AM DONE. Done. Done. Done.

I GIVE UP.

And then

I SURRENDER.

And then, in that airplane seat, I saw in my mind myself on my knees, forehead on the floor, hands out stretched in total surrender.  I saw a glass cup, completely shattered. And He showed me that I am all those broken pieces. I then picked up one of those broken pieces of glass, and realized part of me is that piece of shattered glass.

And I finally let go of my pride to admit that I am BROKEN.

And as I gazed at all the other pieces surrounding me, I finally SEE. No matter how much I try, I cannot make those pieces come back together. It has to come from outside me.

Only HE can put me back together.

He says, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!” Psalm 46:10

And I finally GOT IT, on this flight, flying over Lake Ontario. My circumstances, my blessings or lack of are not  measurements of how God sees me. This life will give me troubles. And in my mind, my heart and my soul I SEE now how He is the Great Comforter!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, and that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

There is nothing I need to do to prove my worth for Him to heal me!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4

And I trust that He is doing a good work within me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

And I praise Him for the trials, the hurt and disappointment on this healing journey as they have drawn me closer to who He is, my Great Counselor!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

And knowing His grace I am peaceful in the present and hope is ever present again in my heart.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
 

Brothers and sisters, if You are struggling with your faith, wondering where He is in Your trials, I get it! Drop me a line or two and I will pray for you.

Or have you had moments where God revealed to You His love, His grace, how He is your Surgeon (no more trying to pick up the scalpel yourself)?

Love you.

Lynn





 
 
 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Reality.

"I couldn't turn the steering wheel left. I had to go right," my friend tells me, blue eyes lit like a lighthouse light in a dark night. I needed to turn left to get where I wanted, he continues, but He made me turn right, to drive to the perfect place I needed to be.

I watch him as he straightens his lean frame against the restaurant bench, letting go of his fork into his half eaten salad. "He is with me all the time. I am so grateful."

My thoughts spin like a steering wheel slipping through loose hands, straightening after a turn. Hearing parts of his story, his current struggles, I admire how he Believes even in the hurting.

How God is his Comforter in the struggles.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Just days before, I found myself behind my own steering wheel driving to my church for a special assembly. But instead of being thankful in His comfort, I was being doubtful of His presence again.

Are you Real?
Are Your plans really to Prosper me, not to hurt and harm?
'Cause God the hurt just surfaced again.
Why did you allow this?

Haven't I done everything You wanted?

At my church I slip into a back pew, many rows behind my normal third row seat. I dig for Kleenex in my jacket pocket and removing my cell phone, I see the flashing green light. I flick my phone on in the dim church auditorium.

The bright screen displays a text message.

Are you having a content week?

I look up, my heart steered into humbleness and gratitude, a gift wrapped into a text message from a new friend at the perfect moment, causing my skin to warm, my cheeks to flush.

You are Real.

Content is my God-breathed word for 2015. To be content in all circumstance. And even bigger for me, to be content with exactly who God made me to be.

Creative and sensitive. One who wants to be that girl that wears lipstick all the time but tends to forget to put it on. And one who spends a lot of time going back to places she was just at due to almost always leaving something behind. And one who loves her converse high-tops more than her 3 inch healed boots. And one who talks too much when first meeting someone. Or one who can be very quiet.  

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

The evening continues in God's perfect timing. Activities such as nailing written confessions to the cross (my doubt), locking untruth to a fence (earning grace), and thoughts that do not line up with who God says we are written on paper and burned in a fire (not good-enough, too imperfect to receive His blessings), free me.

He comforts me, in this perfect place He steered me to.

**
The waitress comes by our table and asks if I am finished my salad. I let her take away my plate, but not before noticing only a quarter may have been eaten after an hour, or possibly even more since we received our lunch. Words flash in my head. 'You talk too much!'  I look across at my new friend, his head slightly tilted as he looks back at me. I pause, breathe in the moment and in a flash feel His contentment for me. I say a silent prayer that the Holy Spirit join us, steer our words.

Because He is Real and with us all the time.

We know also that the Son of God has come and given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20