Friday, June 26, 2015

And the Voice calls out

Before you were born-before any of your defects were apparent to you-they were absolutely apparent to God. That didn't stop Him calling your name and setting you apart....even when you can't get your act together, your identity is secure and completely intact. Because in Christ, who you are matters infinitely more than anything you do or cannot do.
Steve Furtick, Crash the Chatterbox

I leaned against a table and took it all in, a crowd of about 45 people, some singing along or moving in their chairs to the beat, others dancing at the edges of this garage and tarp-covered driveway venue. One of my best-friends who blessed us with opening her beautiful gardens for one of my endless stream of ideas to actually fruit,  dances with arms bare even in the cool temperatures of the rainy evening. Another dear friend of 15 years, a professional musician who has drawn in hundreds at his events, acoustically entertains our modest crowd , blesses us with his gift of voice and guitar.

And still I feel there is something missing. Incomplete.

It is just not good enough. I fall apart, struggle with judgements and not always very loving.  Selfish really. It can't be a true success because I am not a success. I am actually a real mess up and deserve none of this.

And on it goes...that chatterbox.

Yet I smile and sway to the music. Only those that I am blessed to know well, can see the hint of discontent behind my smile, in my eyes.

On a table lies an envelope stuffed full of blessings, gifts in forms of pledges for Hope Mission. On another lies door prizes and a jar of 50/50 tickets, and another envelope full of blessings. The next day I count these blessings and am overwhelmed by the generosity, the monies that will bless a facility that serves the needy, the homeless and struggling in our city. And teaches the Good News of the gospels.

Already my mind is formulating a vision for the next Give Back event.

And that chatterbox starts up again.

Who will come Lynn? You know some people just don't like you. And even your friends now are sick of  your struggles, your lamenting and crying, as you bare the dark side of your heart. Do you even have a good heart? You made a lot of mistakes and you talk too much. And look at how you messed up. If you hadn't done blah, blah, blah...you would be in a completely better place. 

But there is another voice that calls out.


I am accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)

I am forgiven of all sin. (Ephesians 1:7)

I am healed by His stripes. (1 Peter 2:10)


Every Christian has a calling. And the chatterbox is assigned to interrupt that calling. The ability to overcome discouragement is driven by our intentional decision to reassure ourselves: God says I can. This is especially crucial at the times when the chatter is most convincingly overwhelming us with reasons why we can't. (Furtick)

And God says I can.

It is a constant battle, this battle for our mind in this world.

But God says I can.

What is He telling you that you can do today?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37







Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Being Salt and Light


In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
 

Praying for an Alberta clear sky for Friday evening this week!

On Friday evening I will be in a friend's backyard, with a whole lot of other friends, facilitating a fund-raising event for Hope Mission, a place that serves meals and provides programs for people in need.

A place where being Salt and Light to others is always in action.

As I began preparing my opening remarks for Friday night, my mind wandered, questioning when have I ever been Salt and Light to others? Stretched out on my comfy couch, a cup of coffee and a bible beside me, typing on my fully charged laptop, alone but not lonely, I struggled to find the right words. But even though I was slightly frustrated with myself, I was reasonably comfortable.
 
What have I done that stretched me to be what Jesus calls us to be--'salt of the earth?' (Matthew 5:13)
 
The other day, while sipping on my $5 coffee at Starbucks, I listened as my friend Cheryl, shared a story of a woman at her church who approached a homeless man, bought him a meal, then extended the invitation to dinner at her home. He slept that night in her spare bedroom and then left her home the next day with a full stomach and a bag of 'new' clothes.
 
Wow. Could I do that?
 
The 'what if's' began blowing up in my brain like fire bombs. What if he robs me? Smells bad? Doesn't squeeze the toothpaste right?  And then there is the matter of safety. As a woman living alone, would I be safe?
 
Then Romans 12:6-8 came to mind.
 
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it encouragement, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."
 
Glancing at the bundle of flowers Cheryl had bought me as a 'pay it forward' love gesture, I commented I was grateful for her ability to see me and just know when I needed sunshine in my day. "You give generously and encourage me," I told her, "lighting me so I can be better."
 
Cheryl smiled. "You are welcome. I appreciate how you listen and help me work through my stuff, teaching me how I can take the next step."
 
I twirled my empty coffee cup. "Can I get you another coffee?" we both said at the same time, then laughed.
 
Although we may meet others that share our same gifts, more often our relationships are with those that have different gifts than ours.  And by working together, using our unique gifts and talents in God's family, Christ's light shines brighter in the world.

Without the unique gifts of my friends including organization, creativity, and musical talent, I would not be a able to do this event. I tend to be the creator, the idea person but without others I would not follow through and complete!
 
Where are you shining your light today?

Love

Lynn

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

And another enters

 
 I hop up on the abandoned picnic bench under an overcast sky. The lake spreads out in front of me, its sides spilling endlessly. A boat motor grumbles in the distance. Ahead at least half a dozen Purple Martins dive, touch the tips of grey waves and then dance back into the sky to hover for a moment, wings never stopping to only dive again. I pick up my camera, peer through the lens and click. Click again. Still too far away to get a great shot even with my 300mm zoom lens. But I click anyway. I stop a moment. And another enters.

My mind drifts, remembering where I was emotionally this time last year. In a very confusing place. I lower my camera and hold it against my chest. I take a breath, shake my head. Stay present, Lynn. I look. I look at the driftwood lying on the small beach just meters from where I sit. I no longer can hear the boat motor in the distance. Instead I hear a rustling of leaves behind me. A squirrel maybe? I shift, and look. But all is quiet again. I stop a moment. And another enters.
 
Hebrews 13:5, ESV Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you
 
Every year I pick a word for the year and this year my word is Content. And on this journey He has me on, I find Him nudging me to be present with Him. In the moment. Just be. And in that being, trust Him. Let Him guide my thoughts, my steps. Respond instead of push in. So often I try to 'fix' which honestly has led only to more brokenness, even more conflict and severed relationships rather than reconciliation.
 
Results of doing it my way, my agenda, instead of His.
 
So I find myself after work hours alone, taking walks in our river valley, long drives in the country side, and lying on lakeside benches watching Purple Martins. And sometimes even blessed by Pelicans drifting in the waves. I also find myself saying yes, responding to last minute invitations that take me to evenings of laughter and deep conversation. And soon a trip to Iceland.
 
I seek Him, stop so it is His moment.
 
Let Him be this moment now.
 
And another enters.
 
What are you doing right now?
 
Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland
 
Psalm 118:24, ESV This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

You're going to make it

"Whatever you are facing, if your heart is breaking, there is a promise from the One to just hold on. And lift up your eyes and see, the sun is rising."

The voice of Britt Nicole feeds my thoughts through my headphones as I gaze down at the river below. I am sitting, resting. A chickadee sweeps in, lands on a low branch hovering over the gentle current of water washing rocks. She sits still for many breaths, then flutters her wings, moving on.

*************************************

"But I don't know what to DO!" I lamented.

The pastor put his hands together and his blue eyes locked with mine. "What do you do when you don't know what to do?" he asked.

"Nothing." I replied.

He nodded, eyes still locked with mine. "He wants you to look up. He is refining you in this desert experience. But know He has not abandoned you. There is a reason He has led you here."

Led me into this desert.

And as I walked back to my seat in this small church, I felt His comfort wrap around my heart. A comfort of knowing that, even though it has been confusing and frustrating, He has led me here to refine me. A comfort of knowing that I am in His will, in this desert.

I became a Christian about 4 years ago and didn't realize at the time it would be so hard! Over the last year I have wrestled with God, wrestled with judgement and hypocrisy. Wrestled with blessing verses circumstances. Wrestled with works verses unconditional love. And with heartbreak, pain. 'Why God, is this happening?' I would often ask. And where are You?

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life" Matthew 7:14

The other day a friend commented that he envied how I was a newer Christian, on fire for God. He grew up in a Christian home and many messages now seem redundant, an "I have already heard all this before' boredom.

Oh, but only if he knew how many times I wanted to give up, to go back to my old life-style of the wide road and sinful comforts.....

"It did not fall because it had been founded on the rock" Matthew 7:25

Yet, God did not let me go. And in this desert place, He is washing me, exposing attitudes of my heart, the places I sway in the wind instead of resting on solid ground with Him.

And I hear His whisper, 'You're going to make it.'

And you. my friend, are going to make it! Just hold on to the One who has made you, your rock and fortress.

Love Lynn

****************************************************************************
I take my eyes off the clear sky and look to where she might now be, the chickadee. She is on the other side of the bank, perched on a branch that lays on the river, so close her feet are almost touching the rocks being washed by the river water. She sits so still. And I wait, wait for the next flutter of her wings.







Tuesday, May 26, 2015

And it is good.


“Oh my gosh, it looked like you were praying!” I stood up from the recording station and turned to the step-mom of my three children, a half grin lifting a corner of my mouth.
“Kind of felt like it too!” I replied, flipping between my fingers the small stone sized device that now held my voice, a message to me. “I had to repeat the ‘prayer’ a few times to get it right though!”

And we both laughed, my laugh light and soft, and hers’ deep and bold matching our other contrasting features—she inches taller than me with deep brown eyes and hair against my blue eyes and blonde hair.

And together we each took a hand of our grand-daughter, Mya, who has slipped between us to grab our attention.
We were at Build-a-Bear, a store where you can pick an un-stuffed toy and then stuff it with whatever items that bring you love, and even create a birth certificate and purchase clothes for it.  With us were my daughter and her fiancĂ©, (my grandchildren’s parents), Mya’s two year-old brother, my youngest daughter, my ex-husband’s step-daughter (my children’s step-sister).

Together we were celebrating Mya’s 6th birthday.
The other day a friend commented to me on how amazing I was to have been so accepting of my ex-husband’s new wife, and how well my ex and I have co-parented together since our divorce. My ex-husband has been re-married for about 8 years now, and we have been divorced 18 years. Over the years, I have spent many family gatherings aside my ex-husband, his wife, and two step-children, my ex in-laws, brother ‘n laws, and sister ‘n laws. I have sat at many my children’s graduation banquet tables with my sister as my ‘date’ alongside my ex-husband’s new family.

And it is good.
And with all humbleness, I am very grateful I have this. And I know this will not be possible for everyone who has endured divorce.

But I do know it took an act of humbleness, of accountability by my ex-husband.
This act of accountability came when we were divorced for approximately two years and he gave me a letter of apology, recognizing his role in what he had done, and acknowledging how much what had been happening within our marriage had been hurting me.

And I recognized how much my behavior, my reaction of shutting down and then finally quitting (and as one who my ex-husband always saw as giving more than 100% in all I take on, this was really hard for him to accept), hurt him.
It was us acknowledging our failures, our roles in the melt-down of our marriage where we really were each other’s best-friend, that helped create our co-parenting situation; a situation that, although still had struggles of course, allowed love and respect to grow in our hearts for each other. And then spill on to the children, who I strongly believe need to come FIRST in any divorce situation.  

It was a friend who shared his story of accountability (never blaming)  that inspired me to write this post. A different post than I usually write. Yet, I feel God wanted me to share this part of my story, a small part of even a bigger redemption story that continues to unfold in my life as He takes me deeper in this healing journey for a purpose that I am not yet clear on.

What I do know is I have seen His miracles first hand in my life, and in other’s lives as He transforms my mind through the understanding of His love, His forgiveness, and His grace.

And it is good.
I pray, my friend, you will see God redeeming the situation you may be in, and hear His promptings, His voice to lead you on His path of grace.

Love you,

Lynn

PS. My Bear turned out great, by the way! When I squeeze his paw he tells me ‘I am a woman who loves and accepts herself inspiring hope by showing the redeeming power of God’s grace!’

 

 

 

 

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