You Are a Precious Gem

#inspiration, #God, blessings, loveSome precious gens are well known and others are more like hidden treasures. One of my favourites, the opal, is often overlooked.

An opal is made out of desert dust, sand and silica and its beauty comes not from its perfection, but because of defects. It is a stone with a broken heart. An opal is full of minute fissures, or cracks, that allow air inside. This air then refracts the light, creating swirls of colour.

An opal will lose its luster if it is kept in a cold, dark place, but that luster is restored when it is held in a warm hand or when the light shines on it.

By comparing the opal to myself I see that when I am warmed by God’s love I reflect His colour and brilliance. When I am broken inside myself, through my defects, I can give back the lovely hues of His light to others. Only then can the lamp can burn brightly within me and not flicker or go out.

Still, there are times when I lose the luster in my life and wonder how to restore it. What can I do when I need to bring back the shine?

I can pause early in the day to seek God’s guidance. Counting my blessings also helps me see that I am held in His loving hands.

This attitude of gratitude rids my life of the film of frustration, the rust of resentment and the varnish of vanity.

Without God’s touch our lives, there is no sparkle. When we allow Him to work within us, His warmth and light restores our luster. In His hands, we become precious gems that beautify His kingdom.

A Day at the Beach

#inspiration, ##God, beach, lake, children, loveToday’s guest post is by Marcia Lee Laycock

The day couldn’t have been more lovely, the sun sparkling on the lake, the beach slowly filling with families. A little red-haired girl caught my attention. She stood still on the shore, her small head bent over something in her hand. She started forward, stopped and peered at her hand, took a few more steps and stopped again. As she approached, I could see a moth cupped in her palm. She tilted her hand each time it moved, stopped when it crawled dangerously close to the edge and moved slowly forward when it was secure. Eventually the little girl reached her parent, holding her hand out for her mother to admire the precious treasure.

My delight in watching that little girl deepened as I realized God had just given me a picture of Himself. His care for each one of us is no less complete than the careful protection she provided for that small moth. Isaiah 46:4(b) says “I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” God holds us in His hand and takes great care to keep us there. In John 17:12, as Jesus prays to His Father on our behalf, He says “I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost …”

Like that child who was so pleased with her treasure, Jesus delights in presenting us to His Father. In John 17, He asked his Father to protect us, to set us apart from the evil in the world and draw us into a complete relationship with Himself. He says “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

How incredible to think God loves us as much as he does His own Son!

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from Alberta Canada where she lives with her pastor/husband. She is the author of two contemporary novels, four fantasy novels, and four devotional books. Visit her online at www.marcialeelaycock.com

More Than I Imagined

#inspiration, #God, love, blessingsThere was a lot of flexibility in the schedule for our upcoming trip. We only had a few places that were high on the priority list. One of these was HopeStreamRadio. I produce a short weekly program for this online radio station and wanted to visit their studio.

When I let it be known I’d be in the area, this desire turned into something that far exceeded any of my expectations. Not only was a tour of the station offered, I was also given an opportunity to record any programs I’d written during my travels plus record an interview with the president of HopeStreamRadio which would become part of the programming.

Ron, the head honcho, and I have met twice. Both times were at writers’ conferences. Now, this generous man, who hardly knew me, offered to let us park our camper van on his property for a few days. This meant my husband and I had a home base in one of the areas we wanted to explore.

I was being offered so much more than I had even imagined. But wait, there’s still more. A barbeque dinner was arranged so we could meet the HSR office staff. I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and love freely given.

These unexpected blessings brought to mind the extravagant love God demonstrates. Usually, my expectations are far too small. My limited thinking is a mere fraction of what He has in store for me.

I haven’t earned his favour, nor do I deserve what is freely given to me. My hands and heart need to remain fully open because I don’t want to miss any of the gifts God has prepared for me. From past experience, I know they will be beyond my wildest imaginings.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. (Ephesians 1:3 GWT)

I Can’t Reach

#inspiration, Father, heavenly,A friend told me a story about an outing with her family. At the end of a busy day, she was walking back to the vehicles with her son and young granddaughter. It was a clear night and the sky was filled with twinkling stars.

The little girl looked up in awe and then stretched her arms up high to touch them. They weren’t as close as she thought so she reached even higher. When she couldn’t come close to grasping one, she looked at her daddy and said, “Can’t reach.” The loving father picked up his little girl and placed her on his shoulders so she could be closer.

The image of a child being lifted by her daddy to reach for the stars was a powerful one for me. I can think of many times in my life when I have reached for the stars and fallen short. It was unrealistic to think I could achieve something so unattainable.

There came a time when I knew I couldn’t reach high enough and gave up trying. My dreams became more down to earth. They were no longer big dreams but now I had a chance of reaching them.

Then came the day I was asked to reach for something far beyond my limited abilities. Tearfully I replied, “I can’t – it’s too big and too far.” My heavenly father smiled and lifted me on his shoulders. He lovingly held my arms up and told me that together we could reach anything.

Entrust your efforts to the Lord and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3 GWT)

Fragrant Memories

#inspiration, memories, childhoodHave you ever had the sight or aroma of something familiar cause memories to flood over you?

I had passed by these lilac trees many times in the preceding weeks but this day I stopped to fully appreciate their beauty.

You see, the home I was raised in had several lilac trees in the backyard. I can picture them along one side fence, planted in alternating colours of purple and white. When in full bloom we would cut some to bring indoors and I remember their sweet fragrance filling the room.

Happy memories from my childhood washed over me as I gazed at the showy blossoms. Parents who loved me and older siblings who doted on me flashed through my mind. I was blessed to grow up in a place and time where it was safe to spend hours outdoors, running and playing with my friends.

Respect, good manners and helping others were not options; they were part of the fabric of life. Right and wrong were clearly defined and a strong conscience ensured I knew which one to follow.

The love I experienced and the lessons learned by example prepared me for life. I sometimes forget that not everyone had the advantages of a secure childhood. This was a gift I sought to pass on to my children and they, in turn, are passing on to the next generation.

The sight of lilacs brought back the sweet fragrance of youth and the legacy of family. Before I moved on, I said a prayer of gratitude for a life filled with joyful memories.

Train a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not turn away from it. (Proverbs 22:6 GWT)

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)

Blanket of Love

#inspiration, love, blanket,The heating system in the seminar room began to have problems. As a result the room was too cool to be comfortable. Trainees put jackets on to stay warm. The helpers needed to keep their professional demeanor so this was not an option.

The majority of the helpers stayed in the hotel so only had access to the clothing they brought with them. I was one of the few fortunate to live close enough to travel home each night and planned to wear a warmer sweater for the following day.

The next morning I also brought a blanket shawl with me and offered it to a friend. After she had a chance to warm up, I asked that it be passed on to someone else. The shawl gave much needed warmth to many as it was passed around that day. In fact, it warmed me just to see how others were enjoying it.

Later, my friend referred to this as a blanket of love that I freely shared with all who needed it. Her lovely words reminded me how easy it is to wrap those around us in love.

When I not only see your discomfort, but do what little I can to show you I care, I am wrapping you in love. It may be a physical blanket, such as this was. It may also be a smile, an encouraging word, a hug, or a home-made brownie. Love comes in many forms. We all need the opportunity to give and receive it.

Let’s encourage each other with our stories as together we share a blanket of love with the world. Let me know what you do and you just may receive a surprise gift of love from me!

One at a Time

#inspiration, love, Please welcome Kim Louise Clarke as my guest blogger today. Kim and I met through Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship. Her first book came out in 2016, a devotional travel memoir, entitled The French Collection – Moments with God in Paris.

Outside my friends’ house, I waited for her in my car. Across the street, the movement of a swinging birdfeeder suspended from a tree caught my eye. It was a simple design: an open tray suspended by ropes from a branch about a metre above the snowy lawn.

The cause of the movement came, not from a bird, but from a squirrel rummaging around in the feeder. Nearby on the ground, a bird—a magpie as big as the squirrel—seemed to be pacing as if waiting its turn. No sooner had the squirrel hopped off the feeder to scamper down the road, than the magpie jumped up to see what it could find. And no sooner had the magpie flown away, than a tiny bird that had been waiting on its perch high in the tree, darted in to have its turn.

Because I’ve seen how magpies can torment squirrels, with three of them squawking and hounding one poor squirrel fleeing along a fence, this was like a peaceful scene out of Narnia. It was a short animal dramatization of I Corinthians 13, focusing on love. “Love is patient, love is kind. … It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered” (verses 4, 5).

How appropriate for February, the month of love, to see this reminder of how we should treat others. Even doing the little things, like patiently standing in a cafeteria line, waiting your turn, and letting others go first does not go unnoticed by God. It is by our loving behaviour that He is glorified.

My friend arrived and got into my car. We drove away with me chatting about squirrels and magpies. Having been exposed to one sermon, we drove off to church for another.

You can find out more about Kim through her website: www.kimlouiseclarke.com
To contact her email: writer@kimlouiseclarke.com

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)

I May Never See You Again

family, memories, tribute, auntMy beloved Aunt Evelyn passed away a few days ago. She would have been 98 in December and lived a long, full life.

To celebrate her life and the legacy of love and wisdom she passed on to me I’d like to share a couple of stories with you.

I clearly remember a conversation I had with Evelyn when I was a young mother. My ten-year high school reunion was approaching and I told her I was embarrassed to go. You see, many of my friends had gone on to higher education and were now nurses, teachers and lawyers. I’d married young and was a stay at home mom with two children. Would I be looked upon as unsuccessful?

My aunt pointed out the importance of my role as a mother who was involved in her children’s lives. She reminded me that as a Brownie leader, I was also building into other lives. By the end of our talk, I saw the value in who I was instead of thinking about who I wasn’t. One of my goals in life now is to help people believe in themselves. I wonder if it stems back to the encouragement I received that day.

Twelve years ago I moved to a different province and was no longer able to see Evelyn on a regular basis. Once a year I would make the trip back to visit. Although her health had declined in the past few years, her mind remained sharp. We enjoyed good talks and lots of laughter. At the end of one visit, she looked me in the eyes and said, “I may never see you again, but today has been nice, hasn’t it?”

It was a bittersweet moment with a wonderful lesson on enjoying the time we have today. Right now is all we can be certain of and we need to make the most of it. Give the hugs; pay the compliments, say, “I love you.”

This is how I choose to remember my Aunt Evelyn. I know that every time I practice living in the moment I will be honouring the memory a wonderful woman who freely shared her love and wisdom with me.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)