Beneath the Surface

#inspiration, #Jesus, roots,There was something different about the property we approached. Then I saw it. A once tall palm tree near the edge of the lot was now lying on its side. It had been upright when we had passed by this way the previous week. There had been a little wind but nothing I thought was powerful enough to topple a tree.

Drawing nearer I could see the entire root ball still attached to the tree. Then I understood the reason for its fall.

The tangle of roots was multiple but they were also thin and short. To have strength to endure they would need to be thick and strong. Without a deep anchor the necessary stability was not present.

Strong, deep roots are also important in my life. They give me the stability to endure the storms of life.

My roots have become much stronger since my life took on the nourishment that Jesus provides. The more I spend time with him, the deeper my roots become.

Over the years I have encountered some strong storms in my life that threatened to topple me. Before I committed my life to Jesus I would have fallen. Now I am rooted in Him. The winds of adversity may cause me to bend but my deep faith tells me Jesus will help me remain upright and strong.

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:8 NIV)

Great Love

#Inspiration, #Jesus, #Love, familyMore than ten years ago both of our children moved almost one thousand kilometers away.

We loved our family and missed the closeness we’d once enjoyed. My husband and I wanted to be able to spend more time with them and be active in their lives.

After much prayer, we decided to uproot the life we knew and start again, closer to our loved ones. The Lord provided a job for my husband in our chosen city. We resigned from our jobs and sold our home.

I was excited to know we ‘d soon live only twenty minutes from our family.

I hadn’t considered the difficulty of leaving friends and our church family. The goodbyes were tearful. Knowing we were doing the right thing didn’t make it any easier. I grieved what I would be leaving behind.

The transition had some challenges. The result, however, was more than worth it. We have been restored to a close, loving relationship with our family and are blessed to play an active role in their lives. The sacrifice we made out of love has rewarded us more than we could have imagined.

Our small move was insignificant when I think of the move Jesus made for you and for me. The love I have for my family is nothing compared to the love He has for us.

He knew we were becoming distant and longed for a closer relationship. The Lord knew there was only one course of action to be taken to remedy this situation.

He left his home in heaven and came to live on earth. He sacrificed not only comfort, but his very life in order to restore us to a relationship with God.

What does Jesus require for this love I don’t deserve? He wants us to spend time together. The more I do this, the deeper our relationship becomes. It is amazing to think the Son of God not only offers me forgiveness, comfort and guidance but wants to us have a close personal relationship.  Now that is love worth celebrating.

If We’d Have Known

tropical storm, clean-up, #timewithtandyHad we known earlier what was going to happen, our plans would have changed. We would have been prepared for the situation and not required as extensive a clean-up.

It was overcast and windy when we headed out in the morning to do some shopping in the city. Rain was in the forecast for early afternoon. This had been predicted for days and not materialized, so I gave it little thought.

We barely entered a store when a deafening noise overhead caused us to look outside. An intense tropical storm held us and many others captive.

Driving home an hour later was an adventure. We navigated through puddles the size of small ponds. The storm was obviously more intense than we’d realized.

Little did we know what still awaited us. We returned to find the strong wind had forced rain through the tracks on the window and the sliding patio door. Our tile floor had streams of water flowing under and around furniture through the living room, kitchen and eating area.

If we had known the storm was coming, we would have stayed home and been prepared to deal with the water as it started to enter. Since that wasn’t the case, we had to deal with the aftermath.

The situation brought to mind a parable Jesus told when asked about the timing of the Lord’s return. Since I don’t know the day or hour when Jesus will return, I need to ensure I’m ready. To do so I have confessed my sins, asked forgiveness, and entered into a close and personal relationship with Jesus, my Lord and Saviour. The preparations are made. I am ready.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know what day your Lord will come. If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. So you must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42-44 NIV)

The Walls Came Down

#inspiration, #Jesus, foundation, prayer, forgivenessWe first saw the wall about ten years ago. It stood strong and tall, protecting the property behind it from the ravages of wind and sea.

In the last few years the wall started to lean but still kept the property safe.

Today, as we walked past, the wall was crumbled and broken. Part of it lay down on the sand and the elements were now free to ravage the property. Since we hadn’t been in the area for a year, we had no idea when the wall fell. The destruction behind it was clearly evident.

All it took was the foundation to be undermined. The sand slowly eroded and water made its way through small crevices. This would have started where no eyes could see. Eventually the damage was severe enough to cause the wall to crumble and fall.#Jesus, prayer,

I wondered if something could have been done prevent this. Perhaps it could have been reinforced when it first started leaning.

This situation was a good analogy of the effects of sin in our lives. I don’t see how a little white lie can cause harm. Soon more lies and deception follow.

I have opened the way for sin to undermine the foundation in my life. What seemed so innocent has taken on a life of its own. Left unchecked, it has the power to destroy me as it slowly erodes my moral character. One day the façade can no longer be maintained and crumbles, leaving the damage exposed for all to see.

There is a better way. Despite my best intentions, I will never lead a sin-free life. Thankfully, I have a personal relationship with the one who can wash away my sin and repair the damage caused.

Jesus offers forgiveness to all who come to Him in sincere repentance. I know by coming to Him on a regular basis, my foundation will remain strong and my life will not fall in shambles.

Nativity and Children

#inspiration, #nativity set, #Jesus, #ChristmasOne of my most treasured possessions is a nativity set that my brother lovingly hand carved for my mom about twenty-five years ago. It always held a place of honour in her home and now that she is no longer with us, the gift was passed on to me.

Since it is made of wood, there has never been a problem with children moving the pieces around. Everyone can enjoy this nativity. Thinking of this brought to mind a story I heard several years ago that I want to share with you today.

In order to save the beautiful ceramic nativity set from the grasping, sticky fingers of her young daughter, Linda crafted a play grouping of burlap, canvas and yarn. Five-year-old Elizabeth would spend hours rearranging the pieces and acting out the Christmas story. Mother would quietly laugh to herself when she heard Elizabeth inevitably say, “Hey, Jesus mother, can I hold your baby?”

Mother couldn’t picture the work-roughened hands of a shepherd cuddling an infant. But it made perfect sense to little Elizabeth; if these people were going to make a trip to see a baby, they wouldn’t want to leave without holding it.

Think about it. She really isn’t that far off. When you see a baby it’s only natural to admire it or comment on how cute it is. But, if you actually pick up that baby, a phenomenon takes place. Somehow, holding that child, gazing into those wide eyes and connecting with that uniquely God-given personality – that baby gets into your heart!

Don’t you think the shepherds were drawn in the same way to embrace the Infant of Bethlehem and experience the miracle of His love in their hearts that first Christmas?

This year, as you make your journey to the stable in Bethlehem, don’t just gaze on the Child in the manger and turn away unchanged. Embrace the Baby Jesus, the pure light of God’s love, and let Him shine in your hearts and make your lives new.

Don’t leave without holding the baby.

My Favourite Gift

#inspiration, #Jesus, #ChristmasOver the years I’ve heard the saying, “Giving is receiving.” This is something I’ve experienced as I’m sure many of you have.

The fact our giving doesn’t have to be extravagant to have an impact is an added bonus. Sometimes all we need to do is show up. Our time is valuable and giving it freely to someone shows a commitment to that person they may not have experienced elsewhere.

Acts of service show we understand the needs of another and are willing to help fill those needs. In order to recognize them, we need to pay attention.

My husband is a master at this. He quietly takes care of things around the house to give me time to spend writing. By giving me the gift of his time he is also valuing mine. There is no way to put a price on this kind of gift.

His example makes me strive to cheerfully give my time and attention to others. By doing so, I am giving one of the most thoughtful gifts possible. No lineups to purchase are required. No fancy wrapping is needed. The ripple effect is far-reaching and can enable me to experience a little of Christmas in any month of the year. This may be the most perfect gift idea ever!

“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you. Yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.” Mother Theresa

Children’s Christmas Concerts

#Christmas, #inspiration, #Jesus,#GodMy favourite Christmas concerts are the ones put on by children. They have several things in common with the first Christmas – music, drama, God, and the element of surprise! You never know quite what to expect at a children’s performance. I think the mistakes in the program provide some of the most memorable moments.

The Christmas I was six years old, I was given a major role in the school concert. I was to recite T’was the Night Before Christmas. My mother helped me memorize the poem. By the day of the concert I had it word perfect. That is, until I stepped up on the stage in front of an audience!

Part way through, I forgot my next line. I paused and then started again, unaware that I was repeating a previous line. Suddenly my three-year-old brother yelled out from the audience, “You already said that part!” My mother was embarrassed at his outburst, I was embarrassed by my mistake and my little brother stole the show!

Now I can look back and realize that mistakes actually help teach us the real meaning of Christmas. They allow us to see that true joy comes from being loved by God, no matter how many mistakes we make. That’s what God’s love was telling us more than 2,000 years ago with the arrival of Jesus. He’s still telling us that today.

His love is there when we follow the script and when we get mixed up. He’s there cheering us on, just like the loving parents watching their children in the concerts. When we make a mistake, he picks us up and encourages us to try again. He delights in our enthusiasm and rejoices with us in our accomplishments. His unconditional love always meets us exactly where we are.

Not only at Christmas but throughout the year, I want to be like a little child, basking in the love of my Heavenly Father.

Lighthouses

#God, #Jesus, #inspiration
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

I was drawn to the lighthouses we saw on our travels. From the shores of the Great Lakes in Ontario to the coastline of the Maritime Provinces, every lighthouse was photo worthy.

There was something about these structures that captured my imagination. Most were operational but I also wanted to stop and admire ones that were purely for decoration.

The distinct tower shape, topped by a lantern area at the top is easily recognized as something to help ships navigate safely through treacherous waters.

#Jesus, #inspiration
Port Dalhousie, Ontario

The symbolism in this runs deep. To many, lighthouses are seen as showing us how to navigate through the rough waters of life. They speak of safety and security in the face of adversity and challenge.

Maybe that is why I was drawn to them. Even the well-weathered structures with peeling paint held an attraction.

#Jesus, #God, #inspiration
Cape Enrage, New Brunswick

They reminded me that, no matter my age, I have the ability to make a positive impact. A lighthouse doesn’t rush around, attempting to save people. It stands still and shines a beacon of light to illuminate the darkness. That is its great power.

Jesus is my personal lighthouse. He keeps me safe and secure no matter what storms challenge my life. I never have to walk in darkness when I can look to Him to guide me. His light fills me and equips me to reflect that to those around me. In that way, I can be a beacon that points people to Him.

#Jesus, #inspiration, light, hope
Port Dover, Ontario

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

Remembrance Day

gratitude, honour, heroesToday’s story in honour of Remembrance Day appeared in my book Dragonflies, Snowdrifts and Spice Cake.

November 11 is known as Remembrance Day in Canada. In other countries, it is called Armistice Day or Poppy Day. This date marks the anniversary of the official end of World War 1, November 11, 1918. As a holiday the day commemorates the sacrifices made in armed conflicts. Countless numbers have given their lives. Many more have suffered serious injuries and great emotional scars.

The sacrifice that so many have paid to ensure a better life for those who followed is overwhelming. That’s why, on this day and for weeks before, people wear artificial poppies as a symbol of remembrance. There’s also a period of silence at the eleventh hour to remember these sacrifices. Many areas have commemoration ceremonies and military parades.

Those who made the sacrifices are remembered and appreciated. Among those I honour are my father and father-in-law, who both fought in World War 11.

While I’m remembering those sacrifices, I need to remember the greatest sacrifice of all. Jesus gave his life so that I may have the opportunity to spend eternity with him. He paid the penalty for my sins so that I may be forgiven. He knew what the outcome would be but carried it through because of his great love. This is something I didn’t deserve. This gift is something to thank him for each and every day.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16 NIV)

Not Ready

#inspiration, heaven, #JesusIt had been an incredible travel adventure. Our trip was much more than we had imagined or hoped for.

Now, after almost eight weeks on the road, it was time to start the long drive home. As soon as our van was headed west again, I just wanted to get home. And get there as soon as possible. I was anxious to return to the comfort and familiarity of my family and my permanent address.

One day before we were to arrive home, the conflict set in. Although I wanted to be home, maybe I wasn’t quite ready. There was still so much to see and do. I was weary of the travel yet not quite willing to give it up.

This change in attitude was confusing me. How could I reconcile my mind being pulled in two opposite directions?

On the radio came a song that spoke about resting in heaven when our work on earth is done. My conflict made sense when I could relate travel to my life on earth and going home to eternal rest and peace in heaven.

I wonder if I will experience any of this same conflict when that day comes to say goodbye to loved ones and enter my heavenly home. Will I feel ready to leave everything and everyone I know?

With only a few hours to go, I received a message from my son, asking if we would make it home that day. As soon as I read it, the earlier conflict disappeared. All I wanted was to see and hug my family.

I’m sure it will be the same when God’s son, Jesus, calls me home. There will be no hesitation as I hurry into His open arms.

“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:3 NLT)