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
It had been an incredible travel adventure. Our trip was much more than we had imagined or hoped for.
Now, after almost eight weeks on the road, it was time to start the long drive home. As soon as our van was headed west again, I just wanted to get home. And get there as soon as possible. I was anxious to return to the comfort and familiarity of my family and my permanent address.
One day before we were to arrive home, the conflict set in. Although I wanted to be home, maybe I wasn’t quite ready. There was still so much to see and do. I was weary of the travel yet not quite willing to give it up.
This change in attitude was confusing me. How could I reconcile my mind being pulled in two opposite directions?
On the radio came a song that spoke about resting in heaven when our work on earth is done. My conflict made sense when I could relate travel to my life on earth and going home to eternal rest and peace in heaven.
I wonder if I will experience any of this same conflict when that day comes to say goodbye to loved ones and enter my heavenly home. Will I feel ready to leave everything and everyone I know?
With only a few hours to go, I received a message from my son, asking if we would make it home that day. As soon as I read it, the earlier conflict disappeared. All I wanted was to see and hug my family.
I’m sure it will be the same when God’s son, Jesus, calls me home. There will be no hesitation as I hurry into His open arms.
“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:3 NLT)
Do certain names bring images to mind? Can a few words or a name produce a story in your imagination?
I found this happening on our travels as we encountered many interesting road signs. Some names not only brought pictures to mind but also had me wondering about the stories behind them. In most cases, I didn’t know the history and my mind created possible scenarios.
We passed through Kinloss and I envisioned an epidemic in the area resulting in the death of many family members. The next town was Lucknow and I thought of better days ahead.
The town of Chatsworth had me creating a more elaborate story. Maybe it was because so many places in this area had British names. In my mind’s eye I pictured Lord and Lady Chatsworth at their summer estate in this area. It was the early 1900’s and their grand balls brought aristocracy from afar to this little village.
With the absence of facts, my imagination took over with these and many other places with names that piqued my interest. Don’t even get me started on business names like Black Market Produce!
The point is how often do I hear a few words and jump to conclusions without getting all the information? Do I believe everything I hear from others or do I seek the truth?
That took me to my next thought. When others hear my name, what picture comes to mind? Have they heard a negative word or two that has them imagining the worst or do positive images take over?
The way I live my life will impact how people perceive me. If I’m not open and honest you can’t really know me and that is where the misconceptions and inaccurate stories come into play. The question is, am I willing to drop the mask and be honest?
I saw a small boat grounded on a rocky area at a bay we visited. It appeared to have been there for quite some time. The name written on its hull was Freedom 55.
This seemed ironic as Freedom 55 was the familiar slogan for being able to retire early and enjoy the so-called good life.
Many people put their trust and hope for the future in monetary investments. They think if they have enough money they will be happy and secure.
These same people find their lives on the rocks when the stock market takes a downturn and their hard-earned investment portfolios fail them. The assurance they counted on for a comfortable future is now gone.
I don’t want to imply that money isn’t necessary but I do know from firsthand experience that it can also promote a false sense of security. Been there, done that, have the battle scars to prove it. My goal is to never be a slave to money again.
My security is not determined by the amount of assets I hold. My freedom comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My hope for the future is rock solid because I know Jesus will never turn his back on me. He sees my true value and I am guaranteed to spend eternity with Him.
Do you have that security? It’s the only one that won’t leave you stranded.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV
My husband and I enjoy visiting farmer’s markets and speaking to the vendors. We always find it interesting to learn about why they are producing and selling their products.
During our travels, we heard several stories that inspired us with their passion. These were the people we wanted to support with our purchases.
One woman had moved far from home to take a high paying job. She worked hard, saved her money and after several years was able to move back to her small hometown with the funds needed to start her own business. The dairy-free cheese and dips she made were delicious. She told us of many trials before the recipes were perfected. Now she was producing a product that was filling a need. She was passionate about what she did and it showed.
Another woman had a small vintage trailer in a market parking lot. We commented on her trailer and were treated to a little of her life story. Michele had a mother fighting cancer. She realized life is too short to be unhappy so took early retirement. Her retirement fund was spent purchasing and fixing up the trailer and doing some bucket list travelling. Now she was doing what she loved, making crafts and selling them at markets. She had a passion for life and living it to the fullest.
These were only two of the stories we heard. Both women had to make sacrifices to follow their dreams. Both told us how much happier they were now they were living with passion and purpose.
When I live with passion, I am better able to support and encourage others wanting to do the same.
Do you have a dream you’d like to follow? What would it take for you to live a life of passion? How can I encourage you?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
The area we stopped in for the night was under a heavy rainfall advisory.
The forecast for the areas we’d be traveling in over the next couple of days didn’t look good so we decided an early start in the morning would be our best option for getting ahead of the weather.
Long before daylight we were on the road again. An hour later, we came to a complete standstill. All we could see in the darkness was a long line of tail lights ahead of us.
We turned the motor off and waited for things to start moving again. The night faded into morning light. A cold wind permiated the van and we got blankets from the back to wrap around us.
When we heard a washout had occurred ahead, we knew we could be there for hours. Since there was nothing we could do but wait, we decided to make ourselves comfortable. We moved to the back of the van, turned the furnace on and relaxed. After playing a couple of games of cribbage we made lunch.
Instead of stressing about the delay, I wondered what God was protecting us from by holding us back. We were safe, warm and had food, water and a bathroom so knew He was taking care of us. Later we learned of jackknifed semis and multiple accidents due to icy roads.
Almost five hours later a police car came by to announce the road was open to one lane traffic and we could proceed. I was surprised to find that the actual washout was 140 km from where we had been stopped.
This situation reminded me how God uses what I think of as delays in my life. He provides what I need to stay safe while He works to clear the road in front of me. Sometimes the work is done much farther ahead than I realize.
My role is to be patient and trust that God has everything under control.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and lean not on your own understanding ” Proverbs 3:5 NLT
The ever changing conditions during our ten hours on the road seemed to me like a metaphor for life.
The morning started out misty, with low clouds hugging the hillsides. Splashes of colour visible between the clouds provided a welcome contrast to the greyness surrounding us.
Soon we encountered pouring rain and poor visibility. The view around us became obscured.
In the distance I could make out the faint outline of rolling hills. Then, muted colours appeared. As we neared, I saw the vibrant hues of fall foliage. The beauty was a reprieve amid the overcast skies.
I was aware that the colour had been there all along. It had just been hidden from view by the storm we were passing through.
In early afternoon the sun broke through. We thought our drive would now be more pleasant. Instead, we were faced with a new challenge as strong headwinds seemed determined to hold us back. We fought through them and kept going.
The highway turned and the wind attacked from another direction. It became a cross wind that tried to blow us off course. Strength and determination helped us hold onto our bearings.
We persevered and after a long day of driving, reached our destination. Our journey would continue the next day.
We had no idea what would be in store for us the following day but two things were clear. The challenges we faced today not only made us stronger but have also given us a deeper appreciation for the smoother days when they come.