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)

Fruit Tree Teachings

#inspiraton, life, experience, #GodI was excited. We were staying in an RV park in Arizona and every lot had a fruit tree in front. There was an assortment of orange, lemon and grapefruit trees.

I had never picked and eaten fresh citrus fruit before and could hardly wait.

Under one tree we saw a box labelled Help Yourself and chose a large lemon. That evening I placed a slice of lemon in a mug filled with hot water. One sip was all I needed before gagging. It was terrible.

Maybe I’d have better luck with an orange. The one I could easily reach #inspiration, #God, #prayerlooked good but didn’t feel quite ripe so I stretched my arm deeper into the tree. The jagged interior branches scratched me and drew blood. I thought my prize would be worth the sacrifice but was mistaken. This fruit was dry and tasteless.

#inspiration, #God, wisdomSometimes life is like this experience. I reach for something that looks appealing only to end up injured and disappointed. Things are not always what they appear on the surface.

For the fruit, I asked a neighbour what trees I should pick from. Seeking and following that advice made all the difference in being able to enjoy juicy oranges and grapefruit.

A myriad of choices are before me daily. Picking the right one can be a challenge. Outside appearance does not give me enough information. I can’t see into the heart of the situation but know someone who can. My best option is always to pray and ask God for wisdom. When I do, my life transforms from dry and bitter to one that is fresh and sweet.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5 NLT)

Expect the Unexpected

#God, #inspiration, prayer, trustWhen I registered for a writer’s conference I also requested someone to share the hotel room with me.

I was relieved to receive a message saying a roommate had been found so my budget didn’t have to stretch to cover the entire hotel cost.

The first day of the conference my roommate didn’t arrive. Later I was informed she wasn’t able to make it at all. My worst fears had been realized. I was solely responsible for the hotel charges.

Instead of worrying, I prayed. God must have a reason for this and I needed to trust in his plan.

When the conference ended someone came up and gave me twenty dollars, saying it wasn’t much but she wanted to help me out with my unexpected expense. My pride wanted to refuse the money. I felt God’s nudge and with tears in my eyes thanked her for her generosity.

That night I went to the home of a friend to do a book reading and discussion. The readings were well received and the discussion deep and satisfying. Several guests asked to buy copies of my books.

Later I counted the money I’d received and saw that it was almost half of my total hotel bill. God reminded of the twenty dollar gift and I realized the unexpected portion of the room had just been covered for me.

This was a reminder of God’s provision. God knows my needs and will take care of me. All I have to do is to pray and trust him. He doesn’t always answer in the way I would imagine but I have learned that when I walk by faith I am always rewarded.

So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. (Isaiah 30:18 NLT)

Good Medicine

cheerful heart, good medicineA dull grey sky and a cool breeze greeted me when I looked outside. The weather forecast for the next few days didn’t appear any more promising.

However, the view from my window did nothing to dispel the joy in my heart.

My husband and I were nearing the end of our vacation. We had experienced the diversity of God’s creation. From the colourful rocks of windswept canyons to more variety of cacti than I knew existed, we saw beauty displayed.vacation, beauty, creation

Friends just met, offered conversation and companionship.

Time spent with distant family staying only an hour away rekindled shared memories.

The bonus of friends from home visiting the same area gave us adventure and laughter that caused tears to run down our cheeks.

An added blessing was the hospitality of a fellow writer who welcomed us into her home for a meal.

Deep contentment as Brian and I walked down the street, hand in hand.

fresh fruit, picked it myselfI was able to pick oranges and grapefruit from neighbouring trees and enjoy the fresh, juicy taste.

Challenges presented by new pastors in a much larger church than we were used to gave me a new perspective.

Quiet moments with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ restored my soul.
Scripture says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” and I have received life-restoring, energizing medicine.

#inspiration, #Jesus, scripture, good medicine,cheerful heart

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 NIV)

“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15 NLT)

Barking Dog

#God, #inspiration, SatanWe planned to stop for gas in a more populated area. However, when the gas light came on, we knew this wasn’t going to be an option and took the exit for the next small town.

The first thing we saw as we entered the quiet street were two dogs were running down the middle of the road.

When we drew nearer, one of the dogs moved to the left shoulder. The other stayed on the centre line. We slowed down to pass this animal but it had other ideas. The dog stayed close to the front wheel, barking as if it were chasing us out of town.

This dog was fearless and kept up with us for several blocks. We didn’t want to risk hitting it and it quickly became clear the animal and not the vehicle was setting the pace.

The dog did not give up until it was satisfied we had been chased far enough away. Only then did it stop.

I wondered about the times I have been on my way to a calling the Lord has given me, only to encounter a version of this barking dog. The obstacle could be disguised in many forms. The only certainty was the desire to change my direction. How did I react?

Did I slow down, unsure if I should keep going? Perhaps I turned around, thinking I might be on the wrong road. Or, maybe I prayed for guidance and kept moving forward.

My friends, we face an enemy who doesn’t want to see us succeed in the name of the Lord. He has already been defeated but does his best to convince us he is in control. This is only the case if we believe the lie.

He would not be nipping at my heels if I weren’t a threat to his plans. When I remember this I am not easily chased away. Instead I increase my focus on the Lord, knowing I am definitely on the right road.

“Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NLT)

Clearing the Clutter

#God, #inspiration, focus, clarityI had done a good job of ignoring it – or so I thought. The need to do some decluttering could be pushed to the back recesses of my mind. The problem was it kept resurfacing.

The longer I waited, the more monumental the task became. As much as I hated to admit it, something had to be done.

With my husband’s help, I started with a few boxes in the basement. Much to my amazement most of the contents were no longer needed. We started piles for recycling, donating and keeping.

It felt good to start eliminating and I moved on to more challenging areas. At the end of the day we loaded the donations in the car and took them away. This process was repeated over the next several days.

For the first time in months, the area around my desk was clutter free. Unnecessary papers went to the recycle bin and others were filed away where I could easily access them.

I expected the area to look better, and it did. What surprised me was my mental state. Peace and happiness flooded over me as I entered my work space.

I hadn’t realized the clutter was holding me back. Once it was cleared I became more focused and productive.

The same thing happens in my spiritual life. When my mind is cluttered with unimportant things, there is less room to focus on God. I don’t intend to crowd him out, but that is exactly what I am doing. The only treasures worth pursuing are found in the word of God and my relationship with Jesus. These are the ones guaranteed to last for eternity.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21

Penny Collection

#God, #inspiration, value, worthDo you have a penny collection? My husband and I discovered we are part of the multitude that seemed to collect these coins. For us this wasn’t intentional, it just happened.

Recently we brought our collection out of storage with the plan to roll and exchange them for paper currency. We were surprised to see how many pennies we had tucked away over the years.

The last Canadian penny was minted in 2012. They were discontinued because the cost of producing these coins was more than they were worth. Although not in circulation for several years, we still had an abundance of pennies.

We had begun to count and stack the coins when a grandchild came to visit. She was fascinated by the pennies and we stopped our counting to search for dates representing the birth years of her parents and siblings. Our granddaughter rejoiced each time one was found.

When we searched through the coins we discovered not all shiny pennies were newer ones. Each year came in a variety of conditions. None of this made a difference to their value. Each coin was worth the same amount.

I had plenty of time to consider this as we continued to sort, count and roll thousands of coins over the next few days. Some similarities between life and these pennies came to mind.

My worth is determined by God. He doesn’t just keep those of us who are shiny and attractive but has a purpose for everyone, even those well worn. This was a good reminder that no matter my age or condition I can still bring value to the world.

God is not going to remove us from circulation because it costs more to keep us than we are worth. In His currency, we are each collector editions.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28 NIV)

Running From Fear

#inspiration, God, Fear not, BibleNature has many lessons to teach us. I heard an interesting story about fear and survival in the wild.

When a zebra is grazing and hears the roar of a lion, it runs away from the dangerous sound. This decision often proves to be fatal.

You see, the male lion roars from behind the prey while the lioness, who is the hunter, waits ahead. In its fear reaction, the zebra runs directly into the path of the lioness and is caught.

Fear can also cause us to run into danger instead of away from it. No matter how hard we try, it isn’t possible to outrun our fear. The best option may be to face the fear head-on. We may find that it is nothing more dangerous than the roar in our mind.

God knew we would face many fears in our lives. That could be why the most repeated command in the Bible is Fear Not. Over one hundred times the words Fear Not or Do not be afraid are repeated.

We are also told the enemy prowls like a roaring lion. He wants to frighten us so we run into his trap. If we remember to trust in God rather than giving in to our fear we will remain safe.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

New Year Prayer

#God, #inspiration

As we end one year and embark upon another I’d like to share with you a poem my mother passed along to me many years ago. Every year I read it and appreciate what it has to say. Unfortunately, I don’t know who the author is. My prayer is that each of you will be blessed this way in 2018.

 

NEW YEAR PRAYER

May God make your year a happy one,
Not by shielding you from sorrow and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, if it comes.
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy enough to travel any path.
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking all cowardice and fear from your heart.
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows.
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you where man and his cause need you most,
And by making you anxious to be there, and to help.

Author unknown

A Child is Born

#Jesus, #God, #inspiration,
Picture compliments of Kristina May

A couple of months ago a friend celebrated the birth of a new baby. This child was eagerly awaited and loved long before she drew her first breath. The baby is not the first child in the family but this doesn’t diminish the devotion lavished on her.

She is loved unconditionally even though she can give nothing in return. She is loved for her very existence in this moment and not for what she may become in the future. Her family is committed to nurture and guide her as she grows.

This is the way God loves each one of us. I know he loves me just as I am. Even when I have nothing to give back, he still cares.

He is watching over me and is always there to nurture, support and guide me to reach my full potential. When I cry out to him in prayer, he takes care of my needs.

I can have this relationship with God because he sent Jesus to demonstrate his great love for me. Jesus left his heavenly home and came to earth as a helpless baby. He knew the sacrifice he was making. It was for you and for me. This is the greatest gift known to mankind.

Let us think of that sacrificial love as we celebrate the gift of the baby Jesus this Christmas.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)