It 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)
My husband and I enjoy visiting farmer’s markets and speaking to the vendors. We always find it interesting to learn about why they are producing and selling their products.
During our travels, we heard several stories that inspired us with their passion. These were the people we wanted to support with our purchases.
One woman had moved far from home to take a high paying job. She worked hard, saved her money and after several years was able to move back to her small hometown with the funds needed to start her own business. The dairy-free cheese and dips she made were delicious. She told us of many trials before the recipes were perfected. Now she was producing a product that was filling a need. She was passionate about what she did and it showed.
Another woman had a small vintage trailer in a market parking lot. We commented on her trailer and were treated to a little of her life story. Michele had a mother fighting cancer. She realized life is too short to be unhappy so took early retirement. Her retirement fund was spent purchasing and fixing up the trailer and doing some bucket list travelling. Now she was doing what she loved, making crafts and selling them at markets. She had a passion for life and living it to the fullest.
These were only two of the stories we heard. Both women had to make sacrifices to follow their dreams. Both told us how much happier they were now they were living with passion and purpose.
When I live with passion, I am better able to support and encourage others wanting to do the same.
Do you have a dream you’d like to follow? What would it take for you to live a life of passion? How can I encourage you?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
The ever changing conditions during our ten hours on the road seemed to me like a metaphor for life.
The morning started out misty, with low clouds hugging the hillsides. Splashes of colour visible between the clouds provided a welcome contrast to the greyness surrounding us.
Soon we encountered pouring rain and poor visibility. The view around us became obscured.
In the distance I could make out the faint outline of rolling hills. Then, muted colours appeared. As we neared, I saw the vibrant hues of fall foliage. The beauty was a reprieve amid the overcast skies.
I was aware that the colour had been there all along. It had just been hidden from view by the storm we were passing through.
In early afternoon the sun broke through. We thought our drive would now be more pleasant. Instead, we were faced with a new challenge as strong headwinds seemed determined to hold us back. We fought through them and kept going.
The highway turned and the wind attacked from another direction. It became a cross wind that tried to blow us off course. Strength and determination helped us hold onto our bearings.
We persevered and after a long day of driving, reached our destination. Our journey would continue the next day.
We had no idea what would be in store for us the following day but two things were clear. The challenges we faced today not only made us stronger but have also given us a deeper appreciation for the smoother days when they come.
I am drawn to campfires. Sometimes I roast marshmallows and other times I am content just to sit near and appreciate the beauty a fire has to offer. I like to watch the flames lick and dance and when they have burned down, I’m enthralled with the glow of the embers.
Our eleven-year-old grandson, Logan, also has a love of campfires. Unlike me, he is not content to sit idly beside one. Instead, he wants to tend the fire, turning over and rearranging the burning logs.
He joined us for a fire recently and, poker in hand enjoyed rearranging the burning pieces of wood. When the flames died down, he used his poker to break up the glowing embers and move them away from the rest of the fire.
It didn’t take long before the glow left these embers, making them look like lumps of coal. Logan commented on this and we told him to move the dark pieces of charred wood close to the larger ones still showing the red and orange of fire within. Pieces recently removed ignited quickly; ones that had grown cold took a little longer. Some needed to be completely surrounded by the pieces with fire still alive inside them. Eventually, all of them burned brightly again.
I have had experiences where the flame of passion for life has died down. Just as an ember removed from the fire grows cold, the same happened to me when I distanced myself from other believers. I discovered the colder I became, the longer it took to reignite my spark.
This is a good reminder to surround myself with positive, encouraging people. Together we can fan the flames of potential each of us carries. As followers of Jesus, we can be the spark that points others to His love and light.
(Jesus said) “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 NIV)
The exercise instructor added some new challenges to our water aerobics class. We had to keep our feet off of the bottom of the pool while moving them in a cross-country ski motion. In order to keep afloat, our arms were busy sculling at the same time.
When we were allowed to touch the bottom again the instructor told us to come up kicking. There was to be no pause. We went directly from fighting to keep our heads above water to kicking our legs up high.
After the class (I was too busy trying to breathe during it!) I thought about the come up kicking statement.
There have been times when the bottom seems to have dropped out of my life and I’ve had to fight hard to keep from going under. It takes everything I have just to stay afloat.
Eventually, I am able to put my feet on solid ground. The natural inclination is to rest. Far more beneficial is to come up kicking. It isn’t easy but the head start I gain will give me a much better chance of reaching my goal.
Past experience has taught me that what I achieve is directly proportionate to the effort I am willing to put in. In other words, how committed am I to what I say I want?
“Next, we’re going to do something called the conga.” It didn’t take long before I figured out this wasn’t a fun dance the exercise instructor was referring to.
We were to do the same exercise for three minutes. It was broken into segments with the first twenty seconds being easy, the next twenty seconds being harder and the final twenty going full out. Then we would repeat the sequence.
We were to think of it as, life is good, life is not so good and yikes! It was the intervals of varying intensity that would give us the most benefit.
I can see how this cycle is repeated in everyday life. As much as I would like to stay in the life is good phase, this is a period of rest and not of personal growth.
When life is not so good, I need to work harder to keep a positive outlook. There are lessons to be learned if I take the time to look for them.
Then come the periods when I’ve been knocked down and don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get up again. Everything seems to be fighting against me. It takes every bit of energy I have just to put one foot in front of the other. It hurts to stay in this place and I have to find a way out. This is when I need to dig deep and find strength and courage to forge ahead.
Each cycle will eventually flow into the next and contribute to a higher purpose.
“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor the man perfected without trials.” – Chinese Proverb
We had no intention of singing. The visit to a Karaoke night was purely for entertainment purposes.
The range in vocal ability and style was vast. One woman was shy and faced away from the audience when she sang. Some were modest and sang from the heart. Others had fun and interacted with the audience. They all brought enjoyment to the evening.
We overheard conversations about practice and performance skills from a few. They took this very seriously.
I was fascinated to watch and listen as the singers took on a new persona when they picked up the microphone. Once the music started it seemed as if they thought they had become the original artists. Maybe the impersonation of someone they admire helped boost their self-esteem.
This is not a judgment, as I know I’ve done the same thing. When I see how popular and successful you are, it is only natural to want to duplicate this in my own life. The trouble is, I’m not you and never will be. Instead of striving to be like you, I need to be the best possible version of me.
Ironically, the way to do that is to model myself after a well-known figure. Jesus is the only one I should be striving to emulate. In fact, he wants me to mold my life after his. The more I am able to do this, the better my life will become.
I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better. (Ephesians 1:17 GWT)
Have you ever loved someone so much you would risk injury to protect them? Would you go as far as giving up your life to save another?
Even before they were born I knew I would do this for my children. Now, the same holds true for my grandchildren.
But, would I freely give my life for anyone other than immediate family? Probably not.
Yet, this is just the kind of amazing love Jesus had for you and for me. He wasn’t forced but freely gave his life. I know this because of his words in the Bible found in chapter ten of the book of John.
Jesus knew he would be facing excruciating pain. He was beaten, mocked and tortured. Why would he put himself through this? It was to become the sacrifice for our sins.
I used to think that since I was basically a good person, I couldn’t be a sinner. How wrong I was. I hadn’t considered the little white lies, judgments of others or a myriad of other so called small things. Since it is not possible for me to live a ‘perfect’ life, I am guilty of sin and deserve to be punished.
The simple reason Jesus suffered and died is because he loves you and wants you to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. In response to this sacrifice, don’t think of Good Friday as just another day but consider how you will respond to His amazing love.
He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NIV)
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18 NLT)
Eavesdropping 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
Last 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