November 11th 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 on 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 is why on this day and for weeks before, people can been seen wearing artificial poppies as a symbol of remembrance. There is 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 will be honoring will be my father and father-in-law, who both fought in World War 2.
While I am remembering those sacrifices, I also 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 did not 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
The once beautiful bouquet of flowers had now wilted. Their heads drooped, petals fell and the leaves were crisp and dry. They had been like this for days before I finally disposed of them. My reasoning for keeping them was that even in this state, they reminded me of the beauty and fragrance that had been present in previous days.
As I removed the flowers from the vase, I was reminded that nothing lasts forever. The joys in my life need to be savored in the moment and stored as beautiful memories. Sometimes, like cut flowers, they will be gone far too quickly. Just as these flowers were an unexpected gift, so are many things that happen in my life.
I choose to view my life as the perennial flowers in my garden. They bloom for a season, one lovely blossom being replaced by the next. Then they have a season where they appear dormant. This time of rest prepares them for the next phase, when they will burst forth into renewed life as the seasons change once again.
As I think of my wilted flowers I choose not be sad that they are gone, but to be thankful that I had the opportunity to enjoy them in the first place. They brightened my life in the short time they were here. At some point I will again enjoy a bouquet of flowers. They will not be identical to the ones I had, but will each bring their own beauty into my life. I trust God to provide the fragrance of new beginnings and the season of rest, all in his perfect timing.
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1Peter 1 23-25 NIV
The snow was still falling when I went out to shovel. There had been quite an accumulation in the previous hours and the sidewalk and driveway needed to be cleared. This was normally my husband’s job, but he was unable to do it this time so it was up to me.
As I removed the first few shovelfuls, I was happy at how much easier it was than I had first thought. Self congratulations were short lived though, as it seemed the longer I worked, the heavier the snow seemed to become. There was the same amount on the shovel each time, so I found it interesting that the load became heavier the more times I carried it off to the side. As I struggled, I saw a man across the street clearing the sidewalk with a snow blower. Part of me wanted to ask for his assistance. The other part wouldn’t let me ask for help. It would be different if he noticed that I was struggling and offered to help. That didn’t happen, so I carried on, feeling sorry for myself as my back screamed out in protest of the heavy loads.
Later, as I reflected on this, I realized there was a relationship between shoveling snow and my life. When I just have a few burdens, they may be a nuisance, but they are not too heavy to carry. Unfortunately, like the snowfall, if not dealt with they multiply making it ever more difficult to bear the load. When I struggle under this weight alone, not only do I suffer physically, but my emotional state is not pleasant. What I sometimes forget is that I do not have to do it on my own. Help is available if I just ask for it. Jesus is just a prayer away and when called upon will always send someone or something to lighten my load.
A person standing along can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 New Living Translation
I have a bouquet of beautiful red roses on my table. They are lovely to look at, have a sweet but subtle fragrance and velvety soft petals. Roses seem like the perfect flower until you stab your finger on one of the thorns. We know that thorns come along with roses but they still sometimes surprise us.
In my life, it is when I focus on the thorns and not the roses that things take a downward spiral. I have discovered that if I’m not careful, the thorns in my life seem to multiply and soon take over my thoughts. What I need to focus on is the beauty that surrounds me, the fragrance of new adventures and the gentle softness of loving family and friends.
God has provided many things to bless my life and the occasional thorn to keep me humble. I thank him for the roses and the thorns.
Other seed fell among the thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Luke 8:7 NLT
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me. 2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV
While I was helping out at a seminar I gave a marker to someone who needed to write on a flip chart. It worked for a few minutes and then faded out, so was quickly exchanged for another one. Since I don’t like to waste things, the first marker was tested again to see if it needed to be discarded. This testing was done on a piece of paper sitting on a table. Since it worked this time, we determined that the problem had been the angle at which it was held earlier.
Thinking about this, I wondered how often in life I have been ready to discard something when all I really needed to do was hold it at a different angle. Viewing things from another perspective can drastically change my perception. Sometimes I need to look at things from a different angle to realize that what I was looking for has been right there within my grasp all along. All I needed to do was to take the time to stop and see.
This also works in reverse. Things are not always as they seem at first glance. This is something I need to remember with people. The person who seemed abrupt may be someone who is experiencing a deep level of pain and is in need of some understanding.
What this tells me is that the way I see things is not always an accurate picture of the situation. What I need to do is to pray to the one who sees everything and ask Him for guidance. God will always show you the right angle to look at things from.
If you need wisdom ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. James 1:5 (NLT)
Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. Psalm 86:11 (NLT)
The calendar tells us that it is Thanksgiving, and once again I reflect on the meaning behind this holiday. For some it is merely a paid day off or a day to enjoy a turkey dinner with loved ones. For others, it is as the name suggests, a day to give thanks.
If it truly is a day to give thanks, what is it that I’m thankful for? Although I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy a turkey dinner with loved ones, there is more to it than that. I need to dig much deeper. While I’m at it, I need to realize that being thankful is something to practice consistently through each and every day. A wise friend told me once that there is no such thing as an entirely bad day. There is always something to be thankful for. Many in the world would be overjoyed to have some of the things that I tend to take for granted. A comfortable home with electricity and running water come to mind. My nightly habit is to pick up my gratitude journal and write down 5 things that I was grateful for that day. Looking for and focusing on the positive has changed my life.
Part of this is not just giving thanks, but who I am giving thanks to. God has blessed me, not just with material things, but with his loving presence. Even during the trying times, he is there leading and guiding me. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for the wrongs I have done. Now I can look forward to everlasting life with him. Now that is something to give thanks for.
.. always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
The owner of the store I work in is known for the amazing gift baskets she creates. When she wanted to teach me how to do them, I panicked. Feeling that I don’t have a flair for that sort of thing had me terrified to even attempt it. As she guided me through the creative process, I secretly hoped the day would never come when I would have to make one on my own.
Through her encouragement and belief in me, I slowly gained confidence. Then the fateful day came when it was necessary for me to create a basket completely on my own. The fact that I enjoyed picking out and arranging the items in the basket surprised me. After wrapping it and making a bow, I stood back and admired what I had created. I even took a picture of the finished product! The saying “I didn’t know what I could do until I did it” came to mind.
Thinking about this, I realize how many times I have been stopped in my tracks by something I thought I couldn’t do. Now I realize that just because it’s something I’ve never done before, doesn’t mean I can’t do it! When I stop and pray about the situation, Jesus guides me every step of the way. Through Him, I am able to accomplish far more than I ever thought possible. When those negative, “I can’t do it” thoughts enter my mind, I just need to think of the gift baskets and remember that all things are possible through Christ Jesus.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NLT)
While driving on a highway that is a major trucking route, something unusual caught my attention. It was an empty flat deck trailer that had a few of its wheels raised off of the road. After pointing this out to my husband, he told me that if I watched, I would see more of these. I soon noticed this on other big rigs as well, not just on flat decks.
He explained to me that without a heavy load, not all of the wheels were needed, so some were raised up to save wear and tear on them. In this way they would be in better condition when they were needed to support the load.
Not only was I impressed with this clever idea; it was also something I could relate to everyday life. There are times in life when we carry heavy loads and need all of our strength to keep moving. At other times our load is light and we should conserve our energy for the next time it will be needed. Just as not all trucks have the ability to lift their wheels, neither do all people have the ability to preserve their strength. It is by trusting in God and giving him the control of our lives that we receive this gift. He knows what is in store for us and gives us exactly what we need to get through whatever situation we are in.
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you to bear is light. Matthew 11:30 (NLT)
I willing allowed 2 young women to bleach sections of my hair and then dye it purple! Why would a conservative person such as me do such a thing? The answer is simple, because I care about building a relationship with these young women. You see, they are my granddaughters and trusting them to do this spoke volumes about my feelings for them.
When first asked, my thoughts were conflicting. Part of me thought it would be fun. The other part argued that it might look ridiculous and someone like me just didn’t do this sort of thing. Deciding to be spontaneous, I went for it. Although it didn’t turn out exactly as I had imagined, I am enjoying the comments I receive!
When one person asked me about the colour in my hair, I jokingly said that our children may have made us grey but our grandchildren make us much more colourful. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized how true that was. In the business of life we tend to let the colourful, spontaneous part of ourselves fade away. By the time our grandchildren come along, we don’t have the same pressures so can relax and allow ourselves more time to have fun with them. This is when we rediscover the joy to be found by stopping to explore everything around us.
For someone who normally likes to ‘play it safe’ my impulse to try something different has been a big eye opener for me. Wanting to be sure that I make the right choice has often been paralyzing for me. Not long ago, when I was putting off a decision, I confessed to a friend that if I didn’t decide, then I couldn’t fail. As soon as I said it, I knew that was wrong. By not making a decision, I am failing. If things turn out in my favor, it was a good choice. If not, it’s a learning experience. In either case I am moving forward.
God did not give us a spirit of fear but of trust. I trust him to guide me. He can take any mistakes that I make and turn them into something he can use.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)
Be inspired this week!
After hearing several people enthusiastically share about juicing during the past few months, I decided to try it for myself. Being very practical, I didn’t want to buy an appliance that I may never use again, so put out a call to see if anyone had a juicer to loan me. Many replies telling me how much I would love juicing came in. This should have encouraged me, but instead made me nervous. What if it wasn’t a good experience for me?
A friend offered to loan me her juicer and although I took her up on the offer, second thoughts were creeping in and it took me weeks before I actually made arrangements to get it from her. Then, I had almost a month of wondering when a good time to start would be. Excuses to put it off were very plentiful. It seems the hardest step to take is the first one. Finally I started my 3 day juice detox. Following a plan with the menus and recipes set out made it easy for me to complete. Surprisingly, the juice tasted good and I did not feel hunger or a craving for food. When I completed my 3 days, not only did I have a sense of accomplishment, but I had lost a couple of pounds and felt healthier.
For me, the big lesson here is about much more than juicing. I need to stop second guessing myself and looking for excuses. God wants to work through me and this can only be accomplished if I trust him and take the first step in the direction he is leading me. Once I am willing to take that step he will lead me to do more than I ever thought possible.
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. (Psalm 25:4 NLT)