Just Look Up

God, prayer, guidance, inspirationI was being careful of my footing that morning. The tide was in, forcing us higher up the beach than normal. My eyes were focused on where to safely place my next step to avoid slipping. As I picked my way over rocks, shells and sandbags.

Ahead of me I realized my husband had come to a stop. When I started to look up to see why, a shadow just above caused me to duck. My head narrowly missed the base of an overhanging deck. I had been aware of the wall beside me but not the danger looming slightly higher.

This was a vivid reminder of what can happen when I focus only on my next step. I become so self absorbed that I am unaware of dangers that are right in front of me.

By starting each day in prayer, asking for God to lead me, I am looking up for direction. He knows the difficulties I will encounter and will guide me accordingly.

Sometimes he will enable me to avoid them and in other situations will walk with me through them. In either case, my life improves when I practice looking up to the one who has promised to take hold of my hand and help me.

I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand and say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid; I will help you.’ Isaiah 41:13 GWT

Imperfect Beauty

God, Jesus, inspiration, beautyI’ve always been drawn to the shells that I see washed up on shore. It used to be the ones with perfect shape or smooth, shiny surfaces that attracted me. This is no longer the case.

Instead, I now reach for the ones that are unique because of their flaws. The broken ones allow me to see the intricate design within. The gnarled surface of others shows that they have experienced hardship as they’ve been buffeted by the sand and the sea.

It is these imperfections that make them unique. The scars are where their beauty comes from.

I like to think this is how God looks at me. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. The scars and brokenness beauty, inspiration, Jesus, Godhave been formed by experiences in my life. They are what make me unique.

Everything I go through can be used by him. Nothing is wasted. In God’s loving care my imperfections are turned into something beautiful that can be used to show his love and grace to others. What he does for one, he can do for each of us.

and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3 NIV)

Like a Fish Out of Water

focus, Jesus, inspirationThere it was, propped upright on a bed of shells and seaweed, far from the water’s edge. The small, yellow-fleshed fish appeared to be staring at us, although we knew the eyes were now unseeing. It must have been tossed to the shore in the earlier high tide.

The body was lifeless but no decay had set in. Somehow it had managed to escape the keen eyes of the pelicans soaring above looking for their next meal.

My husband spotted it first and pointed it out to me. I said, “Fish out of water.” He nodded and we continued with our walk.

That simple phrase continued to roll around in my mind. I have often felt like a fish out of water but now had a disturbing visual to accompany the thought.
According to thefreedictionary.com the phrase means, “to feel awkward because you are not familiar with a situation of because you are different from the people around you.” The expression alludes to the fact that a fish cannot survive for long on dry land.

Looking back on my life I realize that the times I felt like a fish out of water occurred when I was self-focused. By turning my attention outwards I can see that it’s not all about me.

Jesus often brings me into unfamiliar situations. He does this not to make me uncomfortable, but so I can experience growth. When I embrace these times and look for the opportunity to be of service to him, I will no longer feel like a fish out of water.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5,6 NIV)


Bird Fight

Jesus, inspiration, loving, sacrificeWe have been thoroughly entertained by the antics of a few hummingbirds.

Our neighbours have a hummingbird feeder hung on their deck. Lately these tiny birds have been putting on quite a show as they approach it to feed.

There are several spots for the birds to drink nectar from. Despite this, they don’t appear to share very well.

One bird in particular will land but not feed. When others approach it will chase them away. There may be another two or three of these birds flying in circles around the feeder but the one will not let them near enough to land. There is a lot of energy being expended and at what gain?

As unusual as it is to see two feeding at the same time, the attitude of this dominant bird caused me to do some deeper thinking.

Have there been times when I have acted like this bird, not wanting to share with others? Do I hoard what should be freely available because I want to keep it for myself? Am I jealous, not able to see someone else have what I may want later?

These are disturbing thoughts but ones I need to examine. I don’t want to be using my energy fighting to hold onto things I need to be generous with.

Jesus gave his very life for me. He set the example to sacrifice for others. One of the greatest commandments is to love your neighbour as yourself. If I follow this teaching there will be no worry that my attitude won’t be selfish but instead will be loving and giving.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30,31 NIV)

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:3 NIV)

Gathering the Wind

Holy Spirit, inspiration, Jesus, teaching“The wind fascinates me,” she said. “You can’t see it or hold it. If someone asks for a bucket of rain water, I could get it for them but I can’t collect a bucket of wind.”

Gathering the wind was something I’d never thought about before.

Although the wind itself can’t be seen, its effects can. I enjoy the feel of a gentle, refreshing breeze on a hot summer day. The area I reside in has Chinook winds that blow over the mountains in the winter and raise the temperatures enough to melt the snow. There are also strong, powerful winds that hit with a destructive force.

These are only a few of the types of wind we can experience.
For me, the wind makes a perfect analogy for my belief in the Holy Spirit. I have never seen him but know he is real. His effect on my life is something I can feel and see.

The Holy Spirit guides my life as the wind guides a sailboat. Sometimes he is as gentle as the breeze that whispers my name. When I go off course his influence becomes stronger to ensure I’m not going into perilous waters.
Jesus said that in his name the Holy Spirit would be sent. His purpose is to teach me and remind me of the words of Jesus. I don’t have to see him to feel safe and protected. All I need do is trust in his power within me.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 NIV

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26 NIV

Are You Excitable?

excitable, Jesus, calming, inspirationThe city street had been closed to motorized vehicles. On this day it was being enjoyed by cyclists.

We were fascinated by bicycles that were designed for families. These shared the road with traditional bicycles and the occasional rollerblader. It was enjoyable to stroll down the wide sidewalk, observing people laughing and talking as they spent this relaxing time together.

Soon an insistent high pitched bark caught our attention. It was a Chihuahua in the front basket of a bicycle.  Another dog in its line of vision caused the excited barking.  As it strained forward I could see a leash attached from the dog’s collar to the basket, presumably to keep it safe inside. The dog’s master was stroking its head as a calming attempt as she cycled past.

Suddenly this dog jumped completely out of the basket. The leash kept it from reaching the ground and it dangled precariously from its neck for a few moments until the rider could stop the bike and rescue it.

I gasped and thought the silly dog had almost hung himself due to its excitability.

The next day this image popped back into my mind with the added thought that I have been just as foolish on occasion. In my excitement I’ve jumped before I thought of the consequences. If I’d stopped long enough to pay attention I would have recognized the hand of my master, Jesus, calming me. Instead, I was left in a precarious position as I called out for him to rescue me.

The best course of action I can take is to let Jesus be the one who steers my life. When I allow him to lead me I’ll never be left hanging.

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)

Following the Crowd

 Jesus, inspiration, solitary, teachingWhen I walk along the beach I often see groups of shore birds. Their colouring blends in with the sand and seaweed. When only a few are together they are difficult to see until startled into flight.

It’s fascinating to see a dozen or more of these birds scurrying along the waters’ edge. They move as one. With no audible sound to instruct those behind, every bird swerves to one side at the same time. Suddenly all will take flight.

I think of times I have followed the crowd as these birds do. If I blend in with them and my surroundings I won’t be noticed. I stop thinking for myself and blindly follow.

There have been brief periods this has worked for me. Other times I’ve followed where I shouldn’t.

The only one I should follow is Jesus. He will direct my path. At times he will have me walk with others. Then there are the times it feels like I’m on my own.

When I stop to think about it I am never on my own. Jesus is always with me. The solitary times are when he is walking closest to me, giving me rest and teaching me what I need to know for the journey ahead.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8 NIV)

Blurred Lines

Jesus, inspiration, clarity

The view over the water was disconcerting. I couldn’t see the horizon. The line where the sea met the sky was blurred by the mist.

I thought of how sometimes in life the line between yes and no; do and don’t; right and wrong also becomes blurred. When I’ve been unable to distinguish a clear marker, it was easy to cross that blurred line.

The result is never good. I end up faced with shame and disappointment rather than the hope and promise I desire.

Within hours the sky cleared and I had a new perspective of the scene before me. The line was clearly defined and no longer blurred.IMG_0946

This has happened both literally and figuratively.

It is the power of Jesus in my life that allows me to see things clearly. He takes away the confusion and gives me peace as he guides me. He sees clearly what I cannot. It is my faith in him and not my own limited vision that I choose to live by.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV)

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)

Are You Distracted?

inspiration, God, Jesus, focusThe province I live in has a distracted driving law. Recently the penalties for this offense have become more sever in the hopes of reducing the accidents caused by distracted driving.

From what I have observed on the roads, many drivers are still multi-tasking while behind the wheel. Cell phones are the biggest distraction for many of us.
This applies to more than driving. I’ve witnessed people bump into others while busy texting. Sometimes they have even stepped out into traffic without looking up.

While at home I’m guilty of checking my phone each time I hear the notification that tells me a new text or email has come in. This distracts me from what I should be doing.

I can’t blame all of the distractions in my life on my cell phone, though. My mind is frequently on something other than the task I’m performing.
Recently I was baking a cake to take to a gathering that evening. During the preparation my mind was busy thinking of the other tasks I needed to do. After the cake was in the pan, I set the oven timer and started to clean up the kitchen while mentally going through my to-do list. In my distracted state, I forgot to put the cake in the oven!

I know that I’m not the only one who is challenged with distracted living. Nor is this an affliction that began in our modern, busy world.

Jesus gives us an example and a solution in the biblical story of Martha and Mary. Martha was distracted by at all the preparations that had to be made. Jesus advised that these preparations were not as important as spending time with him.

When I spend time in prayer with Jesus I experience a peace that enables me to focus on what is important rather than the distractions in my life.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NIV)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7 NLT)

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