Lighting the Way

#Inspiration, #Jesus, shine, comfortThe decision was not easy. Two of our nine-year-old granddaughters wanted to spend the night in our camper van. The dilemma came when they told me they could sleep there without me. I didn’t like this idea at all. Who would protect them or comfort them if they became afraid?

We were in a gated, secure family RV park and my husband and I would be mere steps away in our trailer. Somehow this didn’t make me feel any better.

I turned to the girl’s parents for guidance. Truthfully, I was willing to let them be the bad guys who said no. They had no concerns so reluctantly I agreed.

One of the first things I did was to ensure they could open the door to get out of the van on their own. No problem there. I must have forgotten they are nine and not two!

When the girls were tucked in for the night, we let them know the lights on the outside of the van and the trailer would be left on. That way they could easily find their way to us in the dark of night.

A light in the dark brings comfort. That is why Jesus told his followers to let their lights shine before others. We can do this by walking with God and letting His Spirit shine through us.

In this way we are able to shine a comforting, joyful light to people we come in contact with. And, as I learned with my granddaughter’s camping experience, a little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NIV)

Mother’s Day Musings

Mother's Day, children, grandchildren, mothers, treasuresMother’s Day has come and gone for another year. How did you celebrate it? It is about so much more than flowers, meals out or extravagant gifts. As a mother, these were not my focus.

Instead, I spent time remembering and appreciating my mom. She went to be with Jesus nineteen years ago and I still miss her. I am aware not everyone had a mother who loved them unconditionally and was their biggest supporter. I am grateful for mine and thank the Lord on a regular basis for my upbringing.

I also celebrated the privilege of being a mother. Among other things, my children have taught me patience and how fierce and protective love can be. They are an incredible gift and have helped mould me into the woman I am today. Again, I thank the Lord daily for my family.

Being a grandmother is another reason to rejoice. The only way I can describe the relationship with my grandchildren is to say it is a whole new level of love. I willingly accept the challenge to support each of their unique personalities in the way they need. My grandchildren are the treasures who make my life rich.

Mothers play an important role but so do many other nurturing women who are not called mom. I see many women loving and supporting children who are not their own. They also deserve to be celebrated on an ongoing basis.

To all the mothers, step-mothers, foster mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and loving friends, may God bless you richly for the role you play in building up the next generation. Who you are and what you do makes a difference.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

Yaaaaaah!

#inspiration, life, joy, happinessAfter what seemed like the winter that wouldn’t end, we are finally experiencing spring weather. The snow has melted in all but a few sheltered spots and the sunshine and warmer temperatures are drawing people out of their houses.

My husband and I decided to take advantage of this and go for a walk. We didn’t get far before we heard the voice of a child shouting, “Yaaaaaah!” over and over. This young boy was on a bicycle with training wheels and was peddling up and down the sidewalk, shouting with glee. We couldn’t help but be happy along with him.

Children weren’t the only ones wanting to express their delight on such a beautiful day. Judging by the smiles and friendly greetings, I’m guessing a lot of adults also felt like shouting for joy. The question is how often do we actually give voice to these thoughts and feelings?

If you’re anything like me, it doesn’t seem appropriate to make loud noises, even joyful ones. I wouldn’t want to cause a scene.

What if this is faulty thinking? Maybe our exuberance will cause others to feel free to express their delight. Wouldn’t it be amazing to start a ripple effect of happiness?

I’ve heard it said that laughter is the best medicine. So, go ahead and laugh, cheer and skip down the street. Have fun instead of being serious. Don’t worry about what others might think. You never know who may decide to join you!

“Life is too important to be taken seriously.” Oscar Wilde

Safety Zone

#inspiration, #God, #prayer,rest, renewal As a child, I loved to play outside with my friends. One of our favourite games was tag.

I would run and dodge, doing my best not to get caught. If tagged, I would become ‘it’ and have to chase the others until I got close enough to ‘catch’ someone.

It’s been a long time but I can still remember getting tired and needing a quick break to catch my breath. The only way to do this was to run to the willow tree in the front yard and have one hand touching the trunk. This was the designated safety zone.

The rules said I could only stop here for a few seconds, but that was enough to take some deep breaths in preparation for more running.

All these years later, I no longer play tag, but can still find myself running around and in need of a safe place to pause and regain my strength. Where can I find the renewal so badly needed?

My safety zone is found in the quiet time I spend with God. Rules of time don’t apply here. He provides me with what I need whether I ask a quick prayer for wisdom or spend extended time basking in his presence. However, the more time I spend with him, the more I find the rest, guidance and encouragement needed to step back into the race of life.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NLT)

Playing Dirty

inspiration, play, fun, joyWe saw them as we were walking along the beach. Three children had dug a hole in the wet sand and were now sitting in it, slathering themselves with mud.

Brian and I remarked on their obvious joy. A woman was standing nearby watching and I said, “They sure are having fun.” Her disapproval was obvious when she replied, “They’re so dirty. I’m glad they’re not my kids.”

This seemed such a sad statement. Their play was not a disturbance to those around them. We actually gained pleasure by just watching their fun. They were busy enjoying their mud baths, oblivious to the opinions of those around them. It was the children and not the adult who had the right idea.

I looked back to see one boy run into the lake, wash off and then return to his friends to paint arms and legs with mud once again.

Oh, to be like a child, free to ignore what other may think and just have fun. Sometimes I need to relax and not concern myself with maintaining a spotless image. It’s ok if my hands get dirty or I get mud on my face. There may be people who disapprove but there just may be more who want to enter the fun with me.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Which Face Do You See?

Three young girls spent time with us recently. At some point during the day each did something silly and wanted their picture taken. Looking at the pictures later, I saw that each was a representation of the faces I show to the world.

Inspiration, facesMiss H. appeared before me in disguise. She wore a bright red wig, flashing glasses and other costume items. We laughed at how funny she looked but I was reminded of the times I’ve gone out of my way to hide who I was. In an attempt to mask my insecurity, I have disguised who I really am. This gets uncomfortable and can’t be maintained.

#inspiration, facesMiss S. said, “Look at me” as she sucked on a lemon. Although she made a face and removed it from her mouth, she soon put right back in there again. I wondered how often I look like I’ve been sucking on a lemon. Do I acknowledge what is unpleasant and then keep revisiting what it is that gives me a sour face?

#inspiration, faces, Miss K. was photographed smiling, dancing and being her joyful self. She was totally comfortable with who she was and radiated happiness. I aspire to me more like this; free to embrace life without concern of what others may be thinking.

So, which face do I show you? I can hide behind a disguise and not let you see who I really am. I can choose bitterness or I can look for the positive and choose happiness. Thanks to the visual my granddaughters expressed, the choice is obvious!

Face.— The silent echo of the heart. ~”Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words,” The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824

I Hear the Ice Cream Truck!

#inspiration, #Jesus, refreshmentOne of the signs of summer is the distinctive music of an ice cream truck as it slowly winds its way through the neighbourhoods. The sound can be heard several blocks away which gives children a chance to race to their parents and beg for money to pay for a treat.

I don’t know of another sound in the summer that brings people running. Thoughts of enjoying ice cream treats delivered right to your neighbourhood, are enough to send many searching for their wallets!

Even if I don’t want to indulge in the offerings, the music brings pleasant memories of summers past, when I had young children excited to hear the sound of the ice cream truck approaching. If they were fast enough, they could wait at the end of the driveway and the truck would stop. If not, they would need to chase it down the street and maybe wait in line for their favourite treat.

Most of the offerings from the ice cream truck are available at local stores but people are still willing to pay a premium price to the ice cream man. There must be something in the simple melody the truck plays that draws people in.

I think of this attraction and wonder how many people are drawn to Jesus in the same excited way. The bounties he brings are too numerous to be listed on the side of a truck. There is no premium price involved; no need to chase him down the street, money in hand.

When I’m open to what Jesus has to offer, he delivers directly to me, no lineups involved. And, best of all, there’s no need to wait for summer to receive the refreshment he brings.

Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon, and stars. (James 1:17 GWT)

Puddle Jumpers

fun, play, relaxationAn example of pure joy was being played out before me. Young children were running through a large puddle. Smiling parents stood nearby, watching as their children laughed and splashed through the water.

As I passed by, the children were asking their parents, “Can we go just one more time? Pleeease.” They were having so much fun they didn’t want it to end!

It made me happy just to watch their enthusiastic play. No expensive toys were needed. All that was necessary were rubber boots and a puddle. As far as the children were concerned I’m sure even the rubber boots were optional!

I wondered when I had last taken the time to play. Not a game where there is a desired outcome, but just to have fun. I am grateful for the children in my life who encourage me to relax and enjoy life. They are wonderful teachers.

Playing is good for us. It reduces stress, eases burdens and restores a sense of optimism. For a healthy life, it is more a necessity than a luxury.

When I do something just for fun, my creativity is unleashed. Maybe that’s because I break free from the box of conformity I often place myself in.

We can learn a lot about each other through play. This begs the next question. Who wants to come out and play?

“You can learn more about a man in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation.” -Plato

Children and Candy

#inspiratioin, Bible, lessonMy husband and I put together a little Easter egg hunt for our family. This year we had some items labelled for each of the younger children.

In the pre-hunt instructions, they were told not to take something if it wasn’t marked for them. They could either put it back where they found it and keep looking for other treats, or they could pick it up and make sure it got to the right person.

There were only two items personalized for each child, the rest were available to anyone who found them. We were surprised by how our five young grandchildren handled this.

I must admit, if it were me, I’d probably have put the other person’s treasure back and kept gathering treats for myself. That was not the case with these young ones. If something labelled for another was found, their own search stopped until they gave it to the one it was marked for. Without exception, each unselfishly put the needs of a sibling or cousin before their own.

Although they enjoy their candy and were excited to collect all they could, none were concerned about losing out by helping another. Without meaning to, they reminded us of what is important.

The Bible says “and little children will lead them.” That was certainly the case at our home that day. Little did I know that the combination of children and candy would remind me to do unto others as I would have them do to me.

People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves. (1 Corinthians 10:24 GWT)

Open Arms

#God, the Lord, loveAlthough the little girl had been with her grandmother only an hour earlier, she was excited to see her. At first glance, her eyes lit up and she ran with open arms for a loving embrace.

I watched this heartwarming scene and thought of how very special their relationship was. There is nothing quite like the love expressed through a child’s hug. This expression of affection can melt even the coldest heart.

My young grandchildren are moving past the spontaneous hug stage. I know they still love me; it’s just that other things now vie for their attention. They know that I won’t force them to hug me but I will be there with open arms when they’re ready.

This reminds me of my relationship with God. There are times I race to spend time with him. Other times I let life distract me. My love for the Lord has not diminished and it is not my intention to ignore him for other pursuits.

The good news is He remains close by, watching over me. He is not forceful, demanding attention, but waits patiently for me to return.

When I realize I’ve moved away and reach out to the Lord, he is always ready to welcome me with open arms.

We loved because he first loved us. (1John 4:19 NIV)
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. (Proverbs 8:17 NIV)