We spent the long weekend in our RV. Despite summer-like temperatures and a peaceful, beautiful setting, our enjoyment was hampered by mosquitoes.
Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me but I don’t remember these annoying insects being as troublesome in previous years.
Let me paint you a picture. I sat at a picnic table under a bright blue sky; pen in hand ready to do some writing. Slightly behind me, a bug zapper was plugged in. A citronella candle burned within an arm’s length. And yet, mosquitoes continued to land on me.
I would swat them away and return to my writing, determined not to let these pests cause me to retreat indoors. Moments later, they would be back again. Sometimes I wasn’t aware of one landing until it had already done its damage. These tiny insects were destroying my peace of mind. The only solution was to go back inside and apply the insect repellent I should have used before coming outside.
I wonder if these pesky, blood-sucking insects are like the negative thoughts that swarm in my mind. I swat just as ineffectively at them. These thoughts keep coming back, sucking away my confidence. Soon they have me convinced I shouldn’t be out among all you ‘perfect’ people and I retreat into myself. My time becomes spent looking out longingly, wishing I could join in with everyone else.
Instead of living like this, there is a powerful repellent I can use. Repeating affirmations such as, I am strong, I am confident, I am valuable, I am worthy, I am loved have proven to be effective in fighting off negative thoughts. The more often I say these words with conviction, the more powerful they become.
When I believe the positive words, I am free to step out into a world of possibilities.
My husband and I were out for our morning walk along the beach. The fresh sea air was invigorating. Several times we stopped to watch fish swimming in the crystal clear water beside us.
Up ahead we could see some piles of seaweed. It was an eyesore but that wouldn’t keep us from continuing on.
As we approached, we here hit by the noxious smell of damp, rotting seaweed. My first instinct was to hold my breath. Fearing it would be worse when I had to gasp for air moments later, I decided against this course of action.
The decision we faced was obvious. We could either turn back or brave the smell until we had passed through this area. If we turned back, we’d miss the opportunity to experience what was on the other side.
We chose to keep going and soon were rewarded with a lovely stretch of beach to walk along.
I thought about the times I’ve been faced with a situation that was unpleasant. Sometimes I have turned back thinking, “This stinks.” Whenever that situation comes to mind, this is the only impression that remains.
If, however, I have carried on and worked through things, the noxious feeling has been replaced by one of satisfaction at the outcome that was achieved.
The choice is mine. Do I want to turn back when things are not as I imagined, or do I keep going to see what waits for me a little farther on the journey?
A saying that I hold onto is “If God brings you to it; he’ll bring you through it.” I know that my trust in him will be rewarded as I follow the path he has set for me.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4 NIV)
We see many types of shore birds on our morning beach walk. One day I saw a large white crane up ahead. I kept watching as we drew near and was surprise by how still it remained.
When I was close enough to see the outline more clearly, I started to laugh. The crane that I had been watching was actually a pole standing upright in the sand with the remnant of a white sandbag tied around it! The graceful white crane was only an illusion.
I paused to think of the many times I have looked on a situation from a distance and saw an illusion rather than the reality.
Most people only allow us to see what they want us to. I am no exception to this. Pain, disappointment, loneliness and rejection are hidden from the world. They are concealed behind a smile and the words, “I’m fine.”
Personally this has happened when I felt I needed to put on a brave front. The illusion seemed safer than exposing the truth of my weakness. You may not like the real me.
A few loved ones may see what’s behind the illusion but only Jesus truly knows what is in my heart and mind. He knows the real me and loves me for who I am and not who I pretend to be. When I truly accept this love I am free to be all that he created me to be.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? Romans 8:35 NLT
The fresh snowfall had covered our yard with a pristine coat of white. I gazed at its beauty, untouched save for the prints of the hare that frequents our neighbourhood. The few marks left behind by wild creatures did nothing to detract from the fine, icy snowflakes that sparkled in the morning sun. This was nature in its finest fresh and unspoiled state.
The yard stayed this way for days. Then children came to visit. They romped and played in the snow. I watched them lay on their backs to make snow angels. Armfuls of snow were gathered for building structures in other parts of the yard. Their winter playground was thoroughly enjoyed and the scene left behind was anything but pristine.
At first I thought it was a shame the beauty had been disturbed. Then I was struck by how this related to my life.
Each day I start with a clean, fresh canvas, much like that of untouched snow. It is a gift from God and up to me what I do with it. If I want it to remain pristine I cannot step into it. Somehow that seems like a waste. Would I then just be watching life and not participating?
I need to step boldly into the day and use the resources before me. Life won’t always stay neat and tidy but that’s alright. Instead of worrying about the mess I could make I need to use the gifts God has placed before me. It is exciting to see what can be created.
This is how I can make the most out of each precious day I’ve been given. No matter how my day turns out I take great comfort in knowing that God’s mercies are brand new every morning and his love never ends.
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT
As we drive I see vast fields of yellow stretching to the horizon. It feels as though the bright sun of the summer sky has come to life in the fields.
What I am viewing is canola crops that are ripening. After those lovely yellow flowers fade away, pods are formed. It’s the seeds in these pods that are crushed to produce the canola oil used in kitchens such as mine. Right now, these crops decorate the landscape.
When I get close enough to the plants to see individual stalks the visual effect is not as striking. It is when they are seen as a large group that their brilliance is breathtaking. I can’t help but be draw to the sight.
This reminds me of my life. It is my responsibility to let the light of God’s Son, Jesus, shine in and through me. He is the one that will enable me to reach my full potential. On my own, I can only share my little light with those I come in contact with. When I join together with other that are blooming with the light of Jesus, our collective Son shine will draw people to the beautiful life he desires for each and every one of us.
Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:6 NLT)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)
There are many variations of roots. Some are exposed while others are well hidden.
Near the end of a walk I encountered an area where several trees had roots exposed. They seemed to reach from one to the next as if providing stepping stones. My husband was not surprise when I asked him to stop so I could take a picture.
These roots seemed to have a greater meaning to impart. I carried on, knowing the meaning would be revealed a I prayed for clarity.
Thoughts that came to mind were of my life being rooted in Jesus. When my roots run deep, I can stand strong and tall. If none of these roots are visible, how will others know that it is Jesus that provides the foundation of my life?
As well as reaching deep, some of my roots need to be exposed for all to see. They can form the stepping stones that will point others to Jesus. This will happen more readily when I allow myself to be open and vulnerable rather than pretending everything is perfect.
Reflecting on this, I believe it is a good thing to let my roots show.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV)
My husband and I set out for a scenic drive through the mountains. When we left home the sky was a deep blue with a few fluffy white clouds scattered here and there. We opened the windows and delighted in the warmth of the sun.
The weather conditions changed somewhat as our elevation increased. The temperature dropped and our once clear view turned hazy.
According to the dictionary, a haze is a collection of very fine particles in the atmosphere that give the air an opalescent appearance that subdues colours. In other words, our view of our surroundings was no longer well defined.
Far above us the sun still shone and the sky was blue. It was an unsettling feeling to be caught in the haze when we knew clear skies were so near to us.
It reminded me of times in my life when I seemed to be caught in a fog or haze. In my case this was a confusion or vagueness of thoughts and feelings. My direction was not clear and it felt like my life was out of focus. This was not comfortable and I longed for clarity once again.
When I put my trust in Jesus and let him direct my life he restored my vision. The new focus I was given allowed me to move forward into the bright future he had planned for me.
Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. (Mark 8:25 NLT)
My husband and I were driving through the Selkirk Mountains and stopped at the Roger’s Pass Discovery Centre. This museum has exhibits that tell about the triumphs and tragedies behind the building of Canada’s first trans-continental railway.
In front of the centre there is an interesting sculpture that depicts the lower half of a workman, with a pick axe standing beside him. The pants are copper and shaped so visitors can stand close behind, giving the appearance they are one of the hardworking people who built this pass through the mountains.
As we watched, several people stepped up behind this and gripped the top of the axe to pose for pictures. It was a brief chance to step back into history.
When I looked at the magnificent mountains in the background I was reminded of the danger and toil these men endured to create the safe passageway we now enjoy.
This highway suddenly represented the many things in life that I too easily take for granted. To stop and think of the lives risked for my future comfort was humbling.
This only served to remind me of the greatest sacrifice ever made. Jesus willingly gave his life so that I may be saved. It was nothing I earned or deserved but a gift freely given. This is something I need to thank and praise him for every day.
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10 NIV )
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15 NIV)
As we walked along the shore we heard the thump, thump of the hull of a small boat coming in contact with the water. Both my husband and I scanned the area in search of the boat. We were amazed when we finally saw it, far from the shore and blending in with the horizon line.
The sound waves obviously carried a much farther distance than we’d realized. We joked that we’d better keep our voices down or people in nearby houses would hear every word we said!
The thought of being overheard is only uncomfortable if I’m saying something I shouldn’t.
Also brought to mind was the fact that my words are always heard by God. He hears much more than the prayers that are directed to him. It gives a different perspective when I realize that God hears me even when I’m not being on my best behavior. Every word that comes from my mouth and the thoughts that precede them are known by my Heavenly Father. When my thoughts are positive and loving, my words will be as well.
The closer I stay to God, the easier this becomes. When my words are directed by God there is no worry about who hears them.
May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NIV)
Our city hosts one of the largest free outdoor light displays in Canada. It takes place every evening for the month of December. The truly amazing thing about this display is that it is funded by donations and set up and run entirely by volunteers.
Recently my husband and I bundled up and headed to the park to work a three hour shift. Our jobs for the evening were as train assistants. One of the most popular attractions during the Festival of Lights is the miniature train ride that runs through the display. We took tickets, kept the lines moving in an orderly fashion and generally got to share in the joy of those boarding the train.
It was fun to see the excitement in the young children as they waited their turn to ride. When they spotted the train coming around the corner towards them, their enthusiasm was contagious. One little guy was so happy, he turned to my husband and said, “Have fun!” even though it was him going for the ride. The outside air may have been chilly but the hearts were definitely warm.
Volunteering three hours of our time was a small thing to do. The rewards of being part of this memorable experience for people were priceless. One of the things the Bible tells us to do is to use our energy to serve the Lord. By serving his people, I serve him. When I give of my time to volunteer, I am serving God in one of the best ways possible.
Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord. Be happy in your confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually. Romans 12:10-12 GWT