Jigsaw Tribute

#inspiration, tribute, motherThis week marks the 100th anniversary of my mother’s birth. I can think of no better tribute than to share an excerpt from something she wrote years ago. She’s been gone for many years now but lives on in the following message.

At some time in our lives, I would imagine that each one of us has worked on a jigsaw puzzle.

Usually, the first thing we do is to study the picture on the box. It’s much easier to know how the pieces fit together if we have the completed picture in our mind’s eye.

The second thing that we do is to turn over the box and empty out its contents. Often our reaction to that pile of pieces is to wonder how such a jumble will fit together to form the picture on the box.

However, we set to work, turn all the pieces right side up and begin to sort them out and fit them together. Each piece has its own particular spot. Have you ever found one piece coming into your hand every few minutes? You try it here and try it there, and it almost fits, but not quite – so you put it to one side and go on with the rest. Whenever you find it in your hand again, you give it another try. Eventually, you find the right place for it.

Every piece of the puzzle must be there to start with, or we can never hope to see a completed picture.

Joining any kind of group is something like this jigsaw puzzle. Before we join we try to get an overall view of the whole picture. Then we look around at the number and variety of people who attend and wonder if we’ll ever sort them out and fit them together to make the picture we envision.

First of all, we have to turn them all right side up – that is, we have to find the right and good side of each. We can’t expect a piece to fit into our puzzle ANYWHERE. It won’t fit if we’re looking at the back, or standing it on its side, and trying for force it into where WE think it should go. We have to accept each person for who THEY are and not try to force them to be what WE want or expect them to be.

Some people are like the piece of the puzzle that keeps coming to our hand and we have difficulty finding a spot for. We must recognize the fact that everyone does not fit with everyone else all the time, but there is a proper spot where each of us belongs, and that no one else can fill. Every piece of a puzzle is absolutely essential if we are to have a completed whole.

It is my belief that our lives will be happier if we let each person take his place as an individual. Together we form the complete picture.

Come In From the Cold

#Jesus, #inspiration, church, greetingMy husband and I stood near the church entry, welcoming people as they arrived for the morning service.

Outside was a frigid -30°C. When people entered the building we shook their hands and I said, “It’s cold outside, come in and enjoy the warmth.”

My words had a double meaning. The first was obvious as the indoor temperature brought a welcome reprieve from the cold air outside.

The second was a little more subtle. Life can be challenging and the world often seems cold. The church should always be a place of hope and a refuge from the cold.

There is no need for anyone to brave the cold world on their own.

It goes even deeper than the church building. As a follower of Christ, it is my duty to extend a warm hand and friendly greeting to all. I was once told, “You may be the only Bible people come in contact with.”

When I show genuine care and provide a safe welcoming environment I am reflecting the light and love of Jesus. Only then will they trust me when I share the difference a relationship with Jesus can make in their lives.

There is no better way to come in from the cold.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

Resistance

#Inspiration, #resistance, potential, mindsetOur aquafit instructor asked us to do a cross-country ski movement with our arms and legs. The added twist was we had to do this without letting our feet touch the bottom of the pool.

She said, “The resistance will be felt in your whole body, from the neck down.” While completing the exercise I thought, “My resistance is normally felt from the neck up!”

I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. My mindset controls what I am capable of achieving.

Years ago I clipped a cartoon out of the paper and had it displayed on my fridge. One character said, “I’ve realized that I’m the only one keeping me from reaching my full potential.” The other replied, “And a mighty fine job you’re doing of it.”

This served as a powerful reminder to get out of my own way. Too often the resistance I face doesn’t come from outside sources but from myself.

I read an excerpt from the book, Trade Your Cares for Calm by Max Lucado that addressed this very well. He said the widest river in the world is not the Amazon or the Nile. It is a body of water called ‘If Only’. He talked about the number of people who stand on its banks wanting to cross but never doing it. They are convinced the ‘If Only’ river is what separates them from the good life.

We all have a choice to make. Are we going to let the resistance in our minds stop us or are we going to cross the ‘If Only’ river?

“The good life begins, not when circumstances change, but when our attitude toward them does.” Max Lucado

Rules of the Game

#Jesus, #inspiration, BibleI have happy memories of playing card games and board games. This enjoyment of games was passed on first to my children and now to my grandchildren.

Recently I pulled out a board game that had been neglected for many years. Nine year-old Emily and ten year-old Logan were excited to play a game their mom had played as a girl.

It had been so long since I’d played Big Deal that I had to learn the rules all over again. Fortunately they were printed inside the lid of the box so we had guidelines to follow. There were more rules than I remembered and it was easy to get confused and forget some of them.

We decided to start anyway and learn as we went. Many mistakes were made and I was grateful for understanding grandchildren.  They asked lots of questions and waited for me to look up the answers. The rules were always beside me and they let us know how to play and how to win.

Life also comes with a rule book.  It’s called the Bible.  Jesus came to show the joy and peace found through following God’s laws. He demonstrated how to play by the rules in order to win the prize of everlasting life.

I still sometimes struggle with or forget some of the rules. Jesus is always beside me to instruct me as I go along. He is the one who makes it possible to play by the rules and win at the game of life.

If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (James 1:5 GWT)

No Resolutions

resolutions, New Year, dreams, #inspiration
image from PictureQuotes.com

Here we are at the beginning of a brand new year, filled with possibilities. This is a time of anticipation and hope for the future.

I recently read something that asked the thought-provoking question, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

If you are having difficulty coming up with an answer to this, it’s been too long!

What better time than now? I’m not talking about making New Year’s resolutions. Over the years I’ve made many of these; some have been successfully achieved and many others have not. All too often they are forgotten in a couple of months or even weeks.

It’s not another resolution I’m referring to here but the opportunity to follow your dreams, goals and passions.  They may seem out of reach. Is it crazy to take steps towards something that you can’t be certain of?

I guess that depends if you can be content in your safe, predictable life or if you want more. I’ve discovered by forcing myself to stretch I can reach much more than I thought possible.

I needed to step out of my comfort zone and do something that required a leap of faith. This required suspending my limiting thoughts and believing in the possibilities.

A quote by Mark Batterson (author of The Circle Maker) helped me put this into perspective. “I learned that if you’re not willing to put yourself in ‘this is crazy’ situations, you’ll never experience ‘this is awesome’ moments.

So, call me crazy but I am determined to start this year not with resolutions, but with embracing first time experiences and the possibilities they hold. I hope you will do the same. It’s going to be awesome!

New Year Prayer

#God, #inspiration

As we end one year and embark upon another I’d like to share with you a poem my mother passed along to me many years ago. Every year I read it and appreciate what it has to say. Unfortunately, I don’t know who the author is. My prayer is that each of you will be blessed this way in 2018.

 

NEW YEAR PRAYER

May God make your year a happy one,
Not by shielding you from sorrow and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, if it comes.
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy enough to travel any path.
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking all cowardice and fear from your heart.
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows.
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you where man and his cause need you most,
And by making you anxious to be there, and to help.

Author unknown

Celebrate

#inspiration, celebrate, milestonesIn a few short days, 2017 will come to a close. Before you start making plans for next year, there is something important you should do.

Give yourself the gift of reviewing what you accomplished this year.
Most of us look ahead at the next hurdle to get over, rather than looking back at how far we have come.

The baby steps that seemed insignificant at the time add up to a huge leap over the course of time.

Too often I fail to appreciate the accomplishments. It’s important to celebrate all my little victories instead of focusing on what didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.

Even navigating through a difficult situation is something to be proud of.
Did you embark on a program to improve your health? Make a move toward healing a broken relationship? Did you learn something new? Work on restoring balance to your life? Congratulations! The first step is always the hardest and you took it. If your plans didn’t turn out as you hoped they would remember you made the effort once and can do it again.

Be proud of what you have accomplished. Pat yourself on the back for the effort put forth.

Celebrate the milestones, both small and large and let them propel you forward. Know that past experiences are stepping stones to a bigger and brighter future.

We are all works in progress, so please join me in celebrating the progress made this year.

“Wherever you get to is better than where you started. To stay on the road is a massive achievement.” Anthony Joshua

Merry Christmas

Jesus, birthChristmas blessings to you and your families as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:10-12 (NIV)

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)

Christmas Carols

#Jesus, #inspiration, ChristmasOne of my favourite parts of Christmas celebrations is the carols sung. Did you ever stop to think that the song the angels sang the night Jesus was born would have been the very first Christmas carol?

I knew that the tradition of singing Christmas carols was centuries old, but never really thought about the fact that when we sing carols at Christmas, we are carrying on with a tradition of praise that started the day that Jesus Christ was born. No wonder these songs that we only hear for a short period of time every year hold such a special place in our hearts and memories.

How many of you have a favourite Christmas carol? I have several. I enjoy the traditional songs Oh Little Town of Bethlehem; Silent Night; While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night; and Joy to the World, because they tell the story of that night in a manner that all can relate to.

My heart soars as I picture the angels singing when they announced the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps that’s why “Angels From the Realms of Glory” is also a favourite. The very words take me back to that starry night.

Christmas carols were one of the ways of getting the story of Jesus birth to the common folk in days gone by. These people didn’t have the means to learn to read – or even to own a book if they could read. In order for the church leaders to get the Christmas story to these people, they had to find methods other than the written word. One of these was to write songs or Christmas carols.

So, when you hear Christmas carols this season, think of the deep meaning behind the words.

“At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” (Luke 2:13,14 MSG)