While in New Brunswick in late September, my husband and I made a stop at Cape Enrage. This is on the Bay of Fundy and, as the name suggests, turbulent waters are often encountered there. In fact, the area closes to tourists in early October due to safety concerns.
The oldest active lighthouse on the New Brunswick mainland stands 125 feet above the water here. We were told it has undergone several changes since being built in 1840. Among other things, upgrades to the lighting system have been done to ensure it remains bright enough to safely guide passing vessels.
What I found interesting was the fact it has been moved from its original location three times due to erosion. The effects of the elements were posing a danger to its existence and the whole thing was moved. Can you imagine the work involved in that?
I thought about the changes I have had to make in my life over the years. In order to survive what the elements have thrown at me, there has been a need to change my position. The moves were necessary but definitely not easy.
My thoughts, beliefs and habits were uprooted as the solid ground I thought I was on slowly eroded. If I didn’t make some changes, my life would soon crumble around me.
I learned the tools necessary to establish myself on a firm foundation. The storms of life no longer hit me with the same force. Because of this, my light shines brighter and perhaps it can help guide others through their turbulent waters.
Today’s story in honour of Remembrance Day appeared in my book Dragonflies, Snowdrifts and Spice Cake.
November 11 is known as Remembrance Day in Canada. In other countries, it is called Armistice Day or Poppy Day. This date marks the anniversary of the official end of World War 1, November 11, 1918. As a holiday the day commemorates the sacrifices made in armed conflicts. Countless numbers have given their lives. Many more have suffered serious injuries and great emotional scars.
The sacrifice that so many have paid to ensure a better life for those who followed is overwhelming. That’s why, on this day and for weeks before, people wear artificial poppies as a symbol of remembrance. There’s also a period of silence at the eleventh hour to remember these sacrifices. Many areas have commemoration ceremonies and military parades.
Those who made the sacrifices are remembered and appreciated. Among those I honour are my father and father-in-law, who both fought in World War 11.
While I’m remembering those sacrifices, I need to remember the greatest sacrifice of all. Jesus gave his life so that I may have the opportunity to spend eternity with him. He paid the penalty for my sins so that I may be forgiven. He knew what the outcome would be but carried it through because of his great love. This is something I didn’t deserve. This gift is something to thank him for each and every day.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16 NIV)
I remember when my children were small and I wanted to tell them something important. They’d be focused on other things and not paying attention. In order to have them hear me, I’d start by saying, “Look at me.” Once I had their visual attention they could hear me much better.
Come to think of it, this is still the case in attempting to communicate with anyone distracted by television, cell phones or other electronics. They will respond as if they know what I said but the message is forgotten as soon as I walk away.
It is up to me to ensure my words are heard and understood. I can’t assume this is the case if I haven’t confirmed it.
An example of this came in a conversation in which one man said, “I always listen; I just don’t always hear.” Isn’t that interesting? He would listen to what was said, but if he didn’t think the subject matter was of importance to him, didn’t actually take it in. He could be looking directly at the person speaking and still not be paying attention.
I confess to occasionally allowing my mind to wander when someone is speaking to me. Sometimes I’m formulating a response to them and others I’m going through a mental to-do list. When either of these happens I am not giving the conversation the undivided attention it deserves. It takes a conscious effort to be a good listener.
It’s no accident that the words listen and silent are made up of the same six letters. In order to really listen and hear what is being said, I need to be silent. Not just vocally, but also to silence and focus my mind. Only then will I truly hear you.
My husband and I were attending a church service when we heard the cry of a child. The fussing became muffled but didn’t stop.
A few minutes later we could hear the child being removed from the sanctuary. That is when things intensified. Not only did the crying get louder, but a little voice also started yelling, “No daddy. I don’t want to go out.” The wailing and pleading continued as the father moved to exit the building with his distraught child.
Later, upon reflection, I recognized that I have shown the same type of behaviour with my heavenly Father. When I choose not to behave the way God wants me to, I am being rebellious. I fuss and complain because I’m not getting my own way.
God may choose to remove me from the situation but that’s not what I want. Instead, my desire is for things to change to accommodate me. I let it be known that I want to stay where I am. In essence, I’m also saying, “No daddy, I don’t want to go. Let me stay here.”
In this state, there is no reasoning with me until God has my full attention. If I’m not focused on Him, I’m not hearing or understanding what He wants me to know.
God is not surprised when I act this way. Although this behaviour seems to be an inherent part of human nature, it doesn’t mean any of us are given permission to act as rebellious children.
It is only when I am still, quiet and completely focused on the Lord that my rebellious thoughts will be captured and I will no longer act like an unruly child.
“We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT)
I don’t fully understand why, but many of my story ideas come during exercise class. It may be triggered by something the instructor or another participant said. Sometimes it’s the completely random thoughts that seem to flow when my body is in motion.
This particular inspiration came from the instruction given in a class. “Don’t hold your breath when things get hard” we were told. She said the toughest part wouldn’t last long and we needed to know how to breathe through it. We were instructed to inhale when the going is easier and exhale through the most physically demanding time. Not only would this help us work through the exertions, it would build strength and endurance.
I think this hold true for more than just physical exercise. When times get tough I tend to hold my breath and hope the difficulty passes quickly. The end result is never what I hoped for. I end up feeling weaker and don’t have the strength to fight through the situation. Sometimes I get so tired I give up.
I’ve heard it said that without challenge there is no change. This is a good reminder for me to fight through the challenge and keep moving forward. Each deep breath I take will bring me closer to my goal. When I reach the other side I will see that the positive change experienced was worth the temporary discomfort.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” quote often credited to Albert Einstein