Too Many Voices

Jesus, inspiration,  filter, clearIt was unlike any other team building exercise I’ve been part of.

The objective was to remove an object from the centre of a large circle without stepping into the circle. The resources available for us to use were placed on the ground. The only instructions were that the person handling any of the resources had to be blindfolded and each blindfolded person needed someone with them to be their eyes. Other than that it was up to us.

One of the biggest challenges came when too many people started calling out instructions. The blindfolded person had no idea if it was them being spoken to. Instructions needed to be given very clearly. “Move this way” meant nothing to someone who could not see.

The goal was only achieved after the clear, authoritative voice of one person had everyone working together.

This exercise had many lessons to teach me. The first one was that racing off without a plan is not effective. That one was fairly obvious.

More important was realizing how many voices I can be subject to when setting out to reach my goals. Some are well meaning, but don’t have my answers. Others are negative, saying my goal is unachievable. Not all of these voices are audible. My own negative thoughts and self-doubts are a very large part of this process.

Just as the blindfolded person needed to trust the one with vision that was guiding and keeping them safe, I will benefit from one or two who ‘have my back.’

Too many voices cause confusion. I need to be able to filter out the ones that are not useful. The most important voice of all is the one strong, clear voice that speaks with authority and confidence. For me this is the voice of Jesus. He seems the total picture without hampered vision. He also knows exactly where I need to go and the best way to get there.

When I am in confusion with too many voices giving me advice, I need to stop and call out to Jesus. He will never lead me astray.

My sheep respond to my voice, and I know who they are. They follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will never be lost, and no one will tear them away from me. (John 10:27-28 GWT)


words, actions, affirmation, life-affirming, Jesus, inspirationThe previous day had brought clear blue skies. Although the weather forecast called for more of the same, we were now engulfed in a smoky haze.

Wildfires were burning hundreds of miles from where we live. The smoke had travelled and now covered a vast area.

All indications are that these fires did not result from natural causes. A careless action by an unknown person caused the devastation we’d been hearing about on the new reports. Tongues of fire had consumed the homes of countless families.

Even at this distance, lives were being negatively affected. The smoke haze caused breathing difficulties for those with respiratory problems. Warnings were issued to stay indoors.

All of this serves to remind me that my actions can have far-reaching effects. Thoughtless words can spread like wildfire, causing devastation that reaches farther than I realize. My tongue of fire can result in a haze of hurt for others and regret for myself.

This is something I work hard to control but realize that on my own I will never be able to completely tame my tongue. In order to speak affirmation to others and not wound with my words, I need to constantly bring my thoughts to Jesus. He will provide me with the right heart and attitude so that the words I speak will be life-affirming.

O Lord, set a guard at my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3 GWT)

Do It Anyway!

timing, God, opportunity, strength, refresh, inspirationWhen asked if I had plans for the weekend I replied, “Yes, we’re heading for the lake.” My friend reminded me that the weather forecast called for rain. I told her that it didn’t matter, we were still going. She said that it would sure matter to her.

There was a time I would have felt the same way. Circumstances would have dictated the plans I made or the things I accomplished. I have since learned better.

Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich (one of the best- selling books of all time) said, “Don’t wait; the time will never be just right.” This is a good reminder for me that if I wait for what I believe to be perfect timing, I’ll be missing out on life.

I have stepped out and done things I never thought possible. Even though I felt unsure at best and downright fear at the worst, I did it anyway. The key for me was being open to the leading of the Lord.

As for that trip to the lake – yes it did rain. I was able to spend quiet time reading. Something I read gave me inspiration for an article I needed to write. When the skies cleared there was time for a long walk. I don’t regret a minute of it.

The rain in my life gives me the opportunity to sit quietly with God. He always has lessons to teach. They refresh me and give me the strength to move forward; knowing he is holding my hand all the way.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13 NIV

A Clean Sweep

Jesus, cleanse, heart, hidden, lifeIt was a floor I swept regularly. On this particular day I decided to move a small piece of furniture to get to an often neglected area. What I found there surprised me.

A grasshopper must have come in when the door was open. It became trapped and now I was sweeping up its remains.

A shudder ran through me as I related this incident to my life.

When I leave the door open for undesirable things to enter my life, they often come in unnoticed. These little things can hide in the corners of my heart and slowly accumulate. I may think they are not impacting me but sooner or later they become evident. My thoughts and attitude start to reflect the garbage that has been piling up inside of me.

Things may not look that bad on the surface but until I remove any barriers and do a clean sweep, there will still be garbage lurking there. These barriers are of my own making.

What I need to do is confess and bring into the open what I think I’ve been hiding. Jesus sees it all along and is just waiting for me to bring it to him. Once I do, he will do a complete cleanse of my heart. Then I no longer need worry about what may be discovered in those hidden corners.

Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? (Proverbs 20:9 NIV)

God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong. (1 John 1:9 GWT)

How Tall are You?

quote, inspiration, Jesus, messageI hadn’t seen my thirteen year-old granddaughter in a few weeks and went to give her a big hug. Something felt different and I realized she now surpassed me in height.

When I commented on this she crouched down to make me appear taller. I asked her to stand back up again and told her that I never wanted her to be “less than” she really was.

Later, I explained that we are all equal in God’s sight. She has special talents and abilities to share with the world and playing small robs others of the gifts she has to share.

In the book, Return to Love, Marianne Williams said “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

This may have been a deep message to give someone my granddaughter’s age. I understand what a crucial time this is in her life and I remember the self-doubts that started in my teens and continued for many years.

They are still able to interfere with my life today. Perhaps the message was as much for me as it was for her. My talents and abilities are not the same as hers but each of us is an important part of the body of Christ. As such we need to rise to our full potential and use the gifts we’ve been given.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. (Romans 12:4-6 NLT)

Moo’s Watching

Jesus, inspiration, love, sees meDo you ever feel like you’re being watched? I had that sensation as I walked along a quiet country road. There was no one nearby so the feeling didn’t make sense. Then I glanced at the pasture close to the road and noticed that many of the cows had turned to face me.

It felt almost threatening to have so many pairs of eyes focused on me, even if they were on the other side of a fence.

When I stopped, even more of them turned to watch me. I moved on a little but decided that I wanted a picture so went back. Most of them had turned away. The novelty of seeing a stranger had worn off.

This made me think of the many times I’ve been concerned about walking into a room full of people. What if everyone turns to look at me? I don’t fully understand why the thought of this is an issue. Although others may turn to see who has entered, they will quickly return to what they were doing. The exception to this would be if I did something outrageous or attention seeking. This is not a problem as I generally seek to be inconspicuous.

Instead, what I should focus on is the one who always sees me. Jesus sees me not only on my best behavior but also when I’m in my ugly, defiant and rebellious states. His love for me never wavers. Knowing this, I desire to life my life in praise and adoration for the one who knows me best and still loves me.

I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. (Psalm 94:18-19 NLT)

Pelican Landing

make a difference, life, inspiration, Mother Teresa,My friend Teresa shared with me about a walk she took on an overcast day recently. She stopped to rest at a nearby lake and reflected on the quietness and beauty that surrounded her. That is when she took the picture that accompanies this post.

Moments later a pelican flew in and landed on the lake. Teresa watched in awe as this large bird landed so smoothly there wasn’t even a splash.

The pelican swam towards her and she noticed that it was leaving quite a wake behind. A thought occurred. If this pelican could leave such a wake, she wondered what kind of a wake her life was leaving.

Each of us drops many pebbles into the water of life. We may never know what we have done to make a difference in someone else’s life. Who we are and what we do has a greater impact than we are aware of.

Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This is the kind of life that pleases God and will leave a wake that is far reaching.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)

A Kayaker’s Guide to Writing

craft, writing, inspirationMy husband and I are novice kayakers. We’ve been out a few times on a local lake. While learning to maneuver my water craft I realized that much of what I needed to know could also be applied to the craft of writing.

For me one of the most difficult things about kayaking is actually getting into the boat. My fear is that I will tip and end up in the water. Because of this I approach it in a hesitant, awkward manner instead of with confidence.

When I sit to write, the first few words can be the most difficult. Instead of agonizing over them I need to just start. The more I worry about them the better the chance I will become immobilized.

We saw other kayakers on the water. They it made it look so easy with their fluid movements. Mine are nothing like that and I get frustrated. The key is to realize that it takes practice to have control over my boat. It’s unrealistic to expect to master it on the first try.

The craft of writing is the same. Although my writing style may not be as smooth as I’d like, I need to remember that I may not have the same level of experience as writers I admire. The more I practice my craft, the more natural the flow will become.

My husband gave me advice to some of the problems I was having in steering the kayak. Although his intention was to help me, there were times I looked at it as criticism.

Critique in writing is similar. Helpful feedback can make me a better writer. I need to be able to put my ego aside and learn from what others have to tell me.

Another difficult thing for me was the waves created by a passing power boat or jet ski. In order to navigate these safely I needed to turn my kayak to face them head on. If they hit me broadside there was a chance of capsizing. When I turned my back to them I was swept too close to shore.

In writing, rejection is like those waves. I have the option to face it head on and continue. The wave might rock me, but won’t cause permanent damage. If I choose to let it hit me from another direction the effect could either push me backwards or throw me into the waters of despair and defeat.

I was ready to end my paddling adventure for the day but that brought another challenge. Now I had to figure out how to safely get out of the kayak.

Again, this reminded me of writing. My thoughts are all down on paper and I need to find a satisfying conclusion. It must be something that ties everything together without undue repetition.

Maybe what I need to do is go back out on the water and see what inspiration washes over me.

I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 GWT)

Walking in Syrup

sticky-deckWe arrived at our campsite to see sheen on the deck that proved to be extremely sticky. There were also some dark spots where the stickiness had accumulated. It felt like we were walking through syrup as we headed to the door of our trailer.

The deck was scrubbed as well as the table and chairs. We

positioned our chairs so we could sit and enjoy the sun. Soon I felt a drop hit my arm. I looked into a cloudless sky and realized that it wasn’t rain I was feeling. Thinking it must be my imagination I turned the page and continued reading. Soon I felt more drops but couldn’t see anything on my skin.

Then I noticed the table had sticky spots again. The only answer was that the drops I felt were coming from the trees at the end of the deck. Although I couldn’t see them falling, the cumulative effect sticky-treeswas an unpleasant stickiness that clung to everything they touched. Before long our sandals stuck to the deck again.

This situation reminded me of my life. It is easy to let bad habits or negative thoughts slowly creep up on me. They start out as minor annoyances that I can ignore. Before long these behaviours add up to create a sticky mess in my life. I long for the freedom and peace of mind I once felt.

The way to restore my freedom is to bring everything before Jesus. When I pray, confess my sins and ask for forgiveness He is willing to scrub my heart and make it clean again. When I follow his plan for my life my steps will be much easier to take.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13 NLT)