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)

The Snow Tires of Life

#inspiration, life skills, tools, knowledgeEavesdropping was not my intention. The conversation was taking place between two men standing directly behind me, so I couldn’t help overhearing at least part of it.

They were talking about the harsh winter road conditions and yet another March snowstorm. “Do you have snow tires?” one asked. The other replied he didn’t need them as he’d grown up in Winnipeg and knew how to drive in the snow.

The rest of their conversation faded as my mind processed this information. The knowledge and skill for driving in snowy conditions are good to have, but to my way of thinking, tires that give better traction would still be helpful.

I wondered how often I think I can do something on my own and fail to make use of the equipment or life tools available to help me be more effective.

Knowing what tools to use and actively using them are two different things. For example, I can grumble and complain about driving through the snow or pick up a life tool to allow me to see this from a different perspective. If I say, “I choose to drive for the benefit of spending the day with my grandchildren” the trip takes on a new meaning.

When a situation doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped I can get upset or ask what I could do differently. There is more than one way to get from point A to point B and when I combine this knowledge with the skills I possess, I will have increased traction on the road of life.

“Even the simplest tools can empower people to do great things.” Biz Stone

The Joshua Tree

#inspiration, prayer, bible, God, Joshua treeWhat is that, I wondered? Is it some type of cactus? Or, maybe it’s a tree. In silent awe, I watched as a few of these large plants, scattered through the desert landscape, became an unusual forest of vegetation.

Eventually, I turned to my husband and said, “I’ve never seen anything like those before. I wonder what they are.” He had seen a sign saying we were on the Joshua Forest Parkway and suggested maybe we were looking at Joshua trees.

I took a picture as we drove so I could research them later.

Not only did I confirm that these were indeed Joshua Trees, I also learned some interesting facts. The Joshua tree, also known as a yucca palm, is an evergreen plant belonging to the lily family.

Even more interesting to me was how they got their name. Legend has it that in the mid-nineteenth century, a group of Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave Desert came across these plants. The erect branches reminded them of the biblical story of Joshua, reaching his hands up to the sky in prayer.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were like Joshua trees and our appearance reminded people to lift their hands in prayer and praise? Unlike the trees which only inhabit a specific area, we can move about impacting others with the message of love and hope found in the Bible. So, if you see me with my arms lifted high, you’ll understand why.

“Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request for all of God’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18 GWT)

Snow Storms, Tail Lights & Life

#inspiration, life, light, shineLast week we had to drive through blowing snow. The line of cars was travelling at a reduced speed due to poor visibility.

A truck sped by, the snow swirling behind it creating a temporary white out. We were unable to see anything in front of us and no longer knew how close we were to the car directly in front.

To make matters worse, none of the vehicles ahead of us had their headlights on. They may have thought running lights were enough but because these don’t connect to the tail lights it made it difficult for those following to see where they were. For safety, we needed a visual of the car in front before they slammed on their brakes.

The main purpose of tail lights is to shine a light for others. I can’t see the effect mine are having but know their benefit is for more than me.

Maybe my life is like this. What if shining my light has a bigger effect than I’m aware of? I may never know who altered their course or saw their way more clearly due to my living on purpose.

When I shine the light of my talents and abilities, it is possible to make a difference in the lives of those around me. The gifts of teaching, encouragement and love may help someone find their way out of a dark situation. For this reason, it makes sense in snow storms and life to keep my light burning brightly.

“Make today amazing and let your light shine.” Stacia Pierce

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)

A Leap of Faith

fear, risk, leap of faith, fall, get back upI am fascinated to watch Olympic Figure Skaters. They are graceful and make difficult moves look effortless. The speed with which they are on their feet again after a fall never ceases to amaze me.

A lot can be learned from the way they put a mistake behind them and continue as if nothing happened. This gives a powerful visual to the phrase, “Shake it off and carry on.”

The commentators gave me some new insight into this. When one of the complicated jumps results in a fall, it is not the disaster I would have assumed. Only one point is deducted. I saw a skater fall, redeem herself in the rest of her performance and end up near the top of the standings.

On the other hand, when a jump is a required element of a program and not attempted, zero points are awarded for this portion. It would have been more advantageous to fall than not to attempt the jump.

This is a good life lesson for me. I have often been unsure I could accomplish something so played it safe and not even tried. After all, if would be embarrassing to have people see me fall.

Unfortunately, this offers no hope for master anything new. I may have to fall and get back up many times before I’m successful. Instead of being concerned about what others think, I need to focus on doing my best.

The mental image of the figure skaters will help inspire me to go ahead and take a leap of faith.


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)

Gotta Keep Moving

#inspiration, comfot zone, keep movingThe air was warm and the sky a clear blue when my husband and I attended an outdoor concert. A crowded venue left us no choice but to stand in order to see the musicians. We didn’t mind and soon I was swaying to the beat and singing along softly with the lyrics.

After an hour I knew I needed to go for a little walk. Standing in one spot for an extended period was starting to hurt my back. If I didn’t move soon my movements would become painful. Turning to Brian, I said, “I can’t stay in one spot any more, I have to move.”

The words were barely spoken before I saw the analogy to my life. When I enjoy where I am and what I’m doing, I want to stay there. If I stay in one spot too long I get stuck and it becomes difficult, if not painful to move.

Life is not about finding a comfortable rut and settling in. It is about exploring, adventure and reaching for my dreams. None of that is possible if I am stuck in one spot.

Moving is good for my well-being. Not just for my body but also for my mind. When I think I’ve stretched as far as I can it’s time to remember the words of Paul Brandt; “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”

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

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!