Monday, December 11, 2017

Just Remain Calm

**Photo courtesy of google.com**

After a time of hellish difficulty, what do you do to bring a calming effect? Whether it be a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual difficulty. Does the effect come in the way of a cup of your favorite tea? A good cry? A cozy fire? Maybe a walk in a quiet place?

Lately, I have been trying to remain calm in the midst of returning to part time work after being unemployed for twenty-one months. I have to admit that while there was gratitude, I was also freaking out.

While it was the beginning of a new adventure in a role I had never done before, it was something that I knew would be an extraordinary adjustment. I would have to re-think my schedule and squeeze things I did in a week into a couple days off. There would be much more planning and arranging involved than before.

It is somewhat of an overstatement to say that I was feeling overwhelmed. Even though I knew that the new job was exactly what God was calling me to, it didn't necessarily mean that I was ready for it. There was anxiety about how well I would do and learn within an office environment again.

To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to the new chapter in my life and there were many long conversations where I spilled my guts about how scared I was to lose some freedom and be seconded to a desk. I guess I imagined things manifesting themselves a bit differently when I started working again.

Yet, when it came to the night before my first day back in the blue collar world, there was one person I could truly count on to talk me down 'off the ledge' of my inner turmoil - God. I began to recall situations of the past when God came to my rescue when I was 'losing my cheese' about fearful things that I knew were coming, so this situation was no different. It was obvious what I had to do.

I sat on the couch in silence and began to read God's Word. More specifically, times in the Bible when people struggled with their present circumstances and how God intervened in their thoughts of fear and anxiety.

It wasn't long before I felt the calm and steady reassurance of God's voice in the text to the people who worried - and there were a lot of people throughout its history who fretted - from kings to prophets.

There is a book in the Bible called Isaiah. In chapter 7 of the book, it talks about a king by the name of Ahaz who was petrified about fighting against a group that was very powerful. In fact, Ahaz's anxiety was so extreme about this army that his own people were shaking with fear.

Isaiah, a great prophet, was directed by God to deliver a special and personal message to Ahaz. He said to Ahaz, "Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid." (Isaiah 7:4). Isaiah then went on to tell Ahaz that his military efforts against the enemy he dreaded, would be successful and the land would be laid waste.

Granted, this was an extreme encouragement in a very extreme set of circumstances but, ultimately, Ahaz was greatly encouraged and succeeded in overcoming his own strife. So, in turn, I was encouraged. That no matter what I was facing with going back to work, I had the calming effect within needed to get me through any scenario I'll face as I transition into this new season of life.

Encouragement for the week:

Are you facing something in your life that is causing you a lot of anxiety? I am there and completely understand.

It's hard to believe that you'll ever get over the feeling of being afraid...but you will.

If you are a Christian, you have the wonderful reassurance offered through God's Word and covering prayer. You can be calm and confident in all you do because you have these supernatural tools.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He has the beautifully calming reassurance that you are desperate for in your life right now.







Monday, December 4, 2017

How You Doin'?



No. Really. How are you? Please know that I am not asking out of obligation but of a genuine interest in how you are doing! I really want to know.

I've noticed, more and more, that our society seems to operate at an arm's length. That some people, while having the best intentions, ask the above question not really wanting an answer. A real answer.

The kind of real answer that could be messy or uncomfortable for the person who asked the question in the first place.

An answer wrought with pain, hurt, isolation, rejection, or loneliness that may even cause fear in the questioner because it's now becoming a commitment.

A commitment to sit down and listen to someone who feels like their life is falling apart. Someone who might see you as their only source of hope, empathy and compassion.

Their only lifeline to getting through the pain and another day. So why do so many people ask the question if they are afraid of the answer? Why are people so afraid to ask the question in the first place?

In the Bible, there is a verse that talks about being in the trenches with another person during difficult times. It talks about weeping with those who weep, mourning with those who mourn but also rejoicing with those who rejoice or celebrate.

To have compassion and empathy. To walk in the other person's shoes, telling them that you are there for them. Truly there.

While their hurt may not be similar to anything that you have experienced, being hurt is universal. Shouldn't care and compassion be universal too?

Unfortunately, it isn't and there are many who choose to remain at arm's length. I am not one of those persons.

I know what it's like to hurt beyond the ability to describe the intensity and excruciating nature of the hurt.

I also know what it's like to be walked past by others who never ask how I am. That hurts too but I don't judge or condemn anyone who may not want to ask the question.

Instead, I make a conscious effort to seek out the lonely, the hurting, the rejected. I choose to stand in the trenches with those who are feeling pain beyond anything they've experienced before.

I choose to be there with them and pray for them when words fail me or my words fail to comfort them and, instead, I sit with them sharing in a dark piece of their world.

I choose to be a compassionate, empathetic, and caring woman because, for me, it's the right thing to do.

At one time, I was a child who loved to play in the mud. Okay, even as an adult, I still love to play in the mud. I don't mind being in the muck or getting dirty.

I don't run or shy away from the messy or the uncomfortable because I've been in the mud of life experiences and the hurt that can erupt out of some of those experiences.

Long ago, I used to be a very off-putting, cold-hearted, and evil-minded woman. Never again. By the grace and love of a good God, I have been saved from that.

As a result of that change, I want to walk alongside those who feel hopeless and frayed. I want to be someone who is never afraid to ask the question...how are you?

Encouragement for the week:

How are you doing today? Was it hard to get out of bed? Were you hoping that today would be different...better?

It's okay if you're not doing well. We all have moments when we're down.

If you are a Christian, you know that God cares about everything in your life, especially how you're doing. Turn to Him and find the comfort of His arms waiting to give you peace and comfort in your day.

It you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He cares for you and how you're doing. He is waiting to give you the relief you need in your difficult time.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Adrian!!!

**Photo courtesty of www.google.ca**


Boxing is a formidable and unforgiving sport. You must have skill, speed, and the utmost strategy to defeat your opponent. Ideally, you want it to end in a knockout, to your favor.

In Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa's friend, Apollo Creed, challenges a massive and elite Soviet Russian boxer named Ivan Drago. In spite of Rocky's incessant warnings against the fight, Apollo takes on the Soviet brute. Ivan's superior athleticism and physical build are no match for Apollo and he dies in the ring.

Rocky is so enraged by the outcome and Drago's obvious indifference at having killed Balboa's long time friend, that Rocky challenges Ivan to a fight in the Soviet Union on Christmas Day. Rocky takes on an unorthodox training regimen that, along with sheer determination, brings him victory over the giant, ending in a knockout.

Whenever I hear about the Rocky movies, this one specifically, I am quickly reminded of a similar story that takes place in the Bible. It is found in a book by the name of 1 Samuel. Within that book, a story is told about a young sheep herder by the name of David.

He has been working in the fields for many years keeping his father's sheep. It hasn't been a lazy vocation. David has been challenged by predators that have come to attack and kill his flock. I guess you could say that David was a Rocky in training.

Not only did David have to keep his sheep together at all times, but the predators in question consisted of a lion and a bear. Both of which David killed with his bare hands. Rather impressive. Yet, little did David know that these events were part of a greater training against a giant, a literal giant.

A Philistine by the name of Goliath who stood over nine feet tall and was terrorizing the Israelites - a group which David was a part of. David was also a man who had a close relationship with God and trusted God to help him kill the lion and bear that had threatened David's flock.

So, with nothing more than a slingshot and five smooth rocks that David had picked from a nearby stream, he ran to the battle line to face Goliath, challenging him to a match.

David was so confident and courageous in God that he called out the giant as being as good as dead saying, "This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down..." - 1 Samuel 17:46. Taking aim at the Philistine, David slung one, smooth stone, deep into the forehead of Goliath and he fell facedown, dead.

All of the training and solitude had paid off for David and the Israelites were freed from the tyrant, Goliath and the rest of the Philistines. This story of David always helps me to believe in myself and know that because I have God in my life, anything is possible.

No matter what situation I face, there is the great force of God who has my back. Helping me to be strong and courageous in the face of fear and anxiety. Along with a reassuring peace that remains immovable in uncertain times and intimidating circumstances.

I figure if David could be that courageous to take on a giant and win, there's really nothing in my own life that I can't overcome because of the strength and confidence I have as a result of being in a relationship with God.

Encouragement for the week:

Is there a giant in your life that you would love nothing more than to knock out? You're definitely not alone.

Whether it's anxiety over starting a new job or a fear of ending a toxic friendship, you have what it takes to overcome and defeat the situation.

If you are a Christian, you know you have a mighty team in your corner to help you take on anything or anyone. You have the power and presence of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as your trainers and support system and they will give you the courage to win.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He along with the Father and the Holy Spirit will enable you to face any situation with boldness and strength.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Take A Pause

**Photo courtesy of www.google.com**

Pronounced a couple different ways (seelah, saylah), the word Selah, as defined by Wikipedia, means several things. From "rock" or "like a rock", to "stop and listen" and "pause, think of that". It may also indicate a break in a song.

For me, Selah has become a meaningful practice in my life as I've applied the meaning to stop, pause, and reflect, much more than the other meanings given by Wikipedia. Often, I will find a quiet place to reflect deeply about things and events in my life that have had an impact on who I am as a woman.

Some of the things I stop to think about and reflect on have been both positive and negative in nature. The negative reflective points have been a source of lessons learned, the greatest being wisdom in how to better navigate my way through negative or difficult times to come.

It's at times of reflection that have gleaned the most insight, refreshment and peace. I know that even though I am a Christian and have chosen to follow Jesus, I am not perfect and need a lot of guidance and grace. Mistakes are often made and help, frequently needed. If it wasn't for finding Jesus, I wouldn't be here.

At the end of the day, it's by reflecting that I can come into an appreciation of where I've been and where I am going. That the mistakes made in the past have no hold on me now and do not determine or define my future.

I'm definitely not the same person today as years ago and that is a good thing. I don't believe we're meant to be complacent in thought or action but to go through the tough stuff, brush ourselves off and keep moving forward.

Encouragement for the week:

Have you ever wanted to go back in time and re-do something that you still regret doing?

Of course, we all wish that. The reality is, we can't but we can take time to think things out when met with a similar situation today.

To take a pause, insert wisdom, and do things differently that will be beneficial.

If you are a Christian, you know that pausing to seek wisdom from God will only benefit us when facing difficult situations and decisions. Continue to take time, pausing and reflecting, before acting.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is ready to help you make better decisions for your life.







Monday, November 13, 2017

Deep Introspection


**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**


Introspection is defined as the, ‘Contemplation of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and sensations; self-examination; heart-searching.’

As I daily live out this life of following God and surrendering to what God wishes to do in and through me, as well as remaining physically ready for whatever comes next, there exists a common denominator within me. One that causes me great introspection throughout this faith walk. I suspect it will keep resonating within me until the denominator is quenched once and for all…but can it? The denominator I speak of is feeling alone.

I have often found myself standing in the midst of people, even chaos, and being unable to deny the unmistakable gnawing of feeling so alone. “But you are not alone, my Child,” God says. “I know I’m not totally alone God, for I have You", I reply. “But I really do feel alone, Lord", I add.

I can’t seem to explain or describe my ‘aloneness’ in relation to what that feeling stirs within me. Quite often I have to be content to feel alone and move forward while questions of, “Will I ever stop feeling like a foreigner in a strange land? Will I ever stop feeling so alone?”, make a mess of my already perplexed mind.

They say, “Don’t have any regrets.” Before becoming a Christian, I lived a smeared and dirty life filled with regrets. Regret for all the horrible things I did and how unworthy those horrible things made me feel about myself. Then when I became a Christian, all of that changed in an instant and I was released from every regret and sinful deed. I was freed.

Now I live a life knowing I will never have regrets because when my heart is impressed to help someone, I’ll help. When I’m prompted to tell someone I care or that I love them, that's what I'll do. Just because I feel alone, doesn’t mean I can’t extend a word of encouragement to someone else who might be feeling the same.

We all long to be loved and cared for and our hearts really do cry out...for something. Something beyond us and our understanding. I often cry out to God from my heart for all the desires that are housed there but the best takes time and that means waiting.

So I have to wait and I have to be patient. I can barely type that word without laughing out loud for I am not the most patient woman but my many experiences with God have, well, stretched me to grow into a state of being patient as I, often, need to be.

As long as I have known God I know He has a sense of humor. I can’t always say that it’s the kind of humor that I can appreciate but it does make Him easier to relate to. He knows my inner hurts and needs and He is always working in me and my life, even though I may not see any progress. In turn, I know the commitment I have made to Him because of wanting His very best for me.

As for my aloneness? Well, someone reminded me of how alone Paul must have felt. Paul is a fellow in the Bible who was called to do God’s work and he was opposed a lot for doing so. So much that he only had a few good friends who stood by him as he did the work he needed to do. My heart goes out to Paul, but it was as though his dedication to God always seemed to mask that aloneness and he just kept going.

In my own experience, every time I've been met with this feeling of being alone, God has always met me there, saying in His still, small voice, "You're never alone, beloved, for I am here with you." His voice soothes and satiates me until the next time I feel alone, for it won't truly be satisfied until I'm with Him in eternity.

Encouragement for the week:

Ever feel alone? It's a natural, human response that we all go through from time to time.

How do you fill the loneliness? Is the solution lasting or fleeting?

If you are a Christian, you know how a dedicated life to God can be lonely sometimes but you also know that nothing truly satisfies like a deep, intimate relationship with God. He will fill you to overflowing and meet you in the times of feeling alone.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He can fill the spaces of loneliness in ways the world never will. He is the 'something' your heart is longing for.


Monday, November 6, 2017

In The Line Of Fire

**Photo courtesty of google.com**

In this movie, Clint Eastwood's character, Frank Horrigan, plays a Secret Service agent in charge of protecting the personal safety of the President of the United States. As the story unfolds, Frank becomes the target of an ex-CIA assassin, turned would-be killer, who wants to take out the current president.

This foe taunts Frank with detailed information from his past including a failed attempt to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, whom Frank was assigned to protect early in his Secret Service career.

As this dramatic thriller comes to a close, Frank successfully thwarts the assassination attempt and the target is removed from Frank's character and reputation, along with the assassin. Frank is, again, known as an agent of honor and integrity.

Do you ever feel like you're walking through life with a bullseye on your forehead? That you're being shamed, judged, or gossiped about by others without ever understanding why? There have been many times in my life when I have been misunderstood. When a look on my face seemed to translate into a negative disposition to others, without them ever saying a word.

When non-malicious behavior, on my part, was deemed overtly malicious by someone who never asked a single question. It was extremely disheartening for me to find out that my attitude, personality, and habits were being formed by others who had not only never talked to me but who never knew me.

For whatever reason, the person never took the time to engage in a conversation with me and really get to know me. To find out how I tick, what my facial expressions truly mean, and what motivations lie behind my actions.

So, how can you find out who someone is and what lies behind their serious face? Conversation. Whether in person or over the phone, you can get to know a person pretty well and their demeanor, feelings, motives, and personality.

In a short period of time, you can find out what prompts that person to anger, disinterest, or indifference. Next thing you know, the person you used to target with your bullish words and gossipy ways, turns out to be a pretty decent human being. You have become friends with someone who is incredibly cool and it's all because you took away the veil of your own judgement and adopted an accepting attitude.

There is a book in the Bible called Matthew and in chapter 1, verse 7, it says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (NIV) Wow. That's pretty harsh, isn't it? Not really because what goes around, really does come around and Jesus knew that better than anyone. That's what His perfection and divine knowledge were all about. He could always call things out that other people never saw.

I used to be a person who judged others negatively and what I put out, eventually came back onto me by others judging me unfairly. So the next time someone tells you not to judge a book by its cover, take it to heart before making your next move.

Encouragement for the week:

Have you ever been unfairly judged, feeling like the bullseye on a target? It can be intimidating, disheartening and hurtful.

It matters that you're understood and not unjustly viewed through a skewed lens. Though others may judge you, don't let the pain of their untrue assessment stop you from reaching out to someone you may have judged in the past.

If you are a Christian, the words of Jesus should be a stark reminder of how we should be conducting ourselves as His followers. Be a person who takes the time to get to know someone who is different from you for they may not yet know about Jesus.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him. He holds no judgement toward you. He loves you and wants you to experience an abundant life without judgement toward yourself and others.




Monday, October 30, 2017

Two Weeks Notice

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

In this romantic comedy, Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant's characters are at odds for most of the film. She a passionate and dedicated environmental lawyer, he an indecisive billionaire, join forces as part of a deal to preserve a local community center.

Throughout the film, Grant's character, George, can't seem to make any decisions without Sandra's character, Lucy's help. He also doesn't have the same kinds of values that Lucy possesses and considers important as a business man. Like being a man of integrity.

This becomes evident as the film progresses and George breaks his word to Lucy about saving the community center. The same center Lucy had been pouring her heart and legal wit into. In some ways, while Lucy expresses her disappointment in George, his actions don't come as a complete surprise to her.

However, like any romantic comedy, the movie doesn't end there. George finds his way to Lucy's new job office, makes amends by reading a speech saying he is keeping the community center and he professes his affections for her. Looks like some of Lucy's values rubbed off on George.

What we value in our lives has a significant impact on who we are. Not just inwardly but also outwardly, for others to see. If we value honesty, then we will be truthful in what we say. If we value integrity, like Lucy did, we will be someone of our word. We will follow through with a pledge we have verbalized.

A while back, I had the opportunity to identify my own values. The things in my life that I determine to live by like faith, compassion, love, and silliness to name a few. While there were eighty-four possible values to choose from, I was asked to make a list of my top ten. That was tough.

Values are something that we will hold on to, no matter what. They will be the very things we will never compromise ourselves over just to suit a situation or someone's influence. The things that shape us into better individuals and give us peace when we stand firm in them.

My faith has been held as the highest ranked value in my life. It's something I don't plan on compromising. Just like my other values - peace, understanding, wisdom, integrity, health, and so on. I think that once any one of those values are threatened with compromise, it's time to re-evaluate the environment in which it's being compromised.

Nothing is worth sacrificing one's own well being in order to meet the acceptance of a situation or person that may change in a matter of seconds. Values are like a compass, as the instructor of the value exercise said. Once you get off course of your own values, things change. You change.

It could be a change in demeanor, emotion, or behavior. Then there is an ill-ease followed by a lack of confidence to go in a different direction, away from your value. Next thing you know, you're feeling awful and saying things you have no idea from where they came.

In the Bible, there is a book called Matthew. In chapter 5, verse 37, it says, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'..." In other words, be sure of your answer. Be confident when standing strong in your personal values. They are a window into the person you are. Never compromise them.

Encouragement for the week:

We can be challenged, sometimes daily, in the things we value. It's important to know where we stand and the things we will never waver on.

You have values for a reason and they matter to you. Don't be afraid to stand firm in them or go against opposition in order to protect them.

If you are a Christian, you know how much God values you. He has also placed strong and important values within you. Always stay on course by never compromising those values.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He values you and desires to have you live out your personal values with strength and confidence.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Indy, Look Out!

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

For some, Indiana Jones is one of the most iconic fictional adventure characters. The Indiana Jones movies never lack for adventure or death defying scenes. In one of the franchise films, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', Indy, played by Harrison Ford, is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant which is believed to still hold the Ten Commandments.

Indy is not alone in the pursuit of this ancient artifact so getting to it before the other party does is critical. He must act fast. Through no fault of his own, Indy ends up pairing with an ex-flame along the way and the adventure takes them from Nepal to Cairo.

In one particular scene, Indy comes face to face with a childhood fear. Upon arriving at the Well of the Souls, Indiana peers down to find that the ground is moving. Asking for a torch and throwing it into the pit, his fear is now a reality. Snakes. A lot of snakes. Ten thousand to be exact.

However, against all odds and, most definitely, against his will, Indy enters the pit and faces his fear so that his quest can continue. Certainly, the photo of him above says everything about how he is feeling in those moments.

There are so many things in the world and our lives that can cause fear. War, death, uncertainty about the future, joblessness, debt, and others. Odds seem to be stacked against us when we are facing fear. Often, we wonder if we'll ever overcome it.

For me, the past year and a half of being unemployed has been an...interesting time. From doubt to purposelessness, fear to anxiety, I have experienced a gamut of thoughts and emotions that would, sometimes, overwhelm me. It used to be the small things that scared me - darkness, spiders, snakes.

Yet, now that I'm older and have experienced so much more of life, it's the bigger things that strike fear into my heart. Like not fully knowing the meaning and purpose of my life, wondering if I am just wasting time until I die, or if I'm missing out on a huge blessing because I don't take chances.

Without getting overly profound with the fear-driven questions and thoughts, I have to stop myself from 'making a mountain out of a mole hill', as it were and go back to the basics of where I stand right now, both as a woman and child of God.

While I can, easily, think of all the things that could happen, increasing my fears, it's better to take a step back and realize, through common sense and wisdom, that the majority of the things I dream up from the stronghold of fear, will never happen. There are even statistics that support this.

For me, reading the Bible and talking to God brings peace that drowns out all the fearful things I find myself conjuring up. It's knowing God in relationship that brings me out of fear and helps me to see things as they really are. God cares so much about how we feel when we are afraid that He loves to remind us that there is no fear in Him.

In fact, His reminders are throughout the Bible. One example is found in a book called Deuteronomy, chapter 20, which says, "...Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified...". Not only are we told not to fear once, but four times in the same sentence. That's how important it is not to have or hold on to fear. That brings me great reassurance and a posture of fearlessness.

So, when it seems that my world is turning upside down and I have no idea what the future holds, I know who holds me and is in control of everything and there is no longer any room for fear. It's a principle I visit each time fear tries to creep in.

Indy, I feel your fears when it comes to snakes. I can only handle a gardener snake, at best. May we never allow the fears in our lives to take hold or take over to the point of no longer living a full and adventurous life sans Indiana Jones.

Encouragement for the week:

Still unemployed, I try not to be afraid of my future. I keep fighting through the fear to see a God that cares just as much about my situation as I fear it.

Yet, fearing too many things, too much, will stop us from living a good life. Say, "No" to fear and walk on the heads of the snakes in your life.

If you are a Christian, God tells us to have no fear. He is in control and knows everything coming up in our lives before we enter it. Continue to live in the fact that difficulty does not reach us without it having passed through God first.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him. He will bring relief from your fears, whatever they are, and give you the full life you long to live.








Monday, October 16, 2017

Sixteen Candles

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

In Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald's character, Samantha, is engaged in the most excruciating journey of her life - the teenage years. While battling internal angst, Samantha is also met with external chaos as her family plans and prepares for the wedding of her older sister.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the matrimonial event exists Sam's upcoming and much anticipated right of passage - her sixteenth birthday. Even though most of the attention is focused on her sister, Sam still holds to the expected celebration she imagines will be thrown by her odd, yet loving family.

The morning of her birthday brings great hope which is soon crushed by non-existent acknowledgement of the most important day that could ever happen to a hormonally raging teen. Nothing from her mother. No cards or wishes from her grandparents. Not a word from anyone. Nothing. She's soon aware of the belief that no one cares. She's crushed.

To top it all off, Sam pines for the most popular senior in her school - Jake. A rugged fellow who happens to be dating the most popular girl in her school. In Sam's mind, Jake doesn't even know she exists. Life sucks.

It's never easy to think that no one cares, especially when the thought becomes a whole hearted belief and discouragement sets in. There have been times when I have felt the same. When a text message doesn't come or the phone doesn't ring and an entire day goes by in technological silence. When I think about friends in my life that I, rarely, hear from except on my birthday.

I have to make a decision to get away from that thought process, and soon, because I know what comes next - despair. Despair doesn't wait long to happen once you're already discouraged or disappointed about a situation in life and it can take root for hours, even days, if you don't change your mind.

Fortunately, over the years, I've come to not only read, but also embrace and believe a great truth that God has told me in His Word, the Bible. It is found in the book of 1 Peter, and says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (5:7 NIV) No matter if I am thinking or feeling uncared for, these things are temporary and don't reflect the truth above.

Someone does care, a lot. Someone good, loving, and faithful cares for me and you and He always will even though we may think that others don't. That is a reassuring reality in amongst the pathways in life that may appear otherwise.

Samantha's story doesn't end in despair with a diss from her entire family or the beau she dreams about. In fact, it begins with a heartfelt apology from her father and mother and ends with Jake stealing her away from her sister's wedding. The scene moves to them sitting across from each other on a kitchen table. Between them is a lit birthday cake with sixteen candles and Sam knows that someone cares.

Encouragement for the week:

Being human means moving through a multitude of feelings and thoughts that can leave us in an emotional upheaval.

Feeling like someone doesn't care is often hurtful and disappointing but it isn't the truth.

If you are a Christian, you have the joy and security of knowing that God cares for you deeply and constantly. Don't let the feelings of the moment overrule the facts of God's love and care for you.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is ready to show you how much He cares for you and it is something that never ends when you share a relationship with Him.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?


**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

Skipping school was never more appealing than when Matthew Broderick, as Ferris Bueller, brilliantly planned and carried out his absence in the movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He further justifies the truant behavior with, "How could I possibly be able to handle school on a day like this?" (a perfect, sunny day).

While I would never recommend truancy to anyone, there was a time I felt brazen enough to skip out when in highschool. Well, okay, it was only one class and that one time I skipped out, was the one time I got caught and left hung out to dry by my friends. Needless to say, it was never attempted again. I am, definitely, no Ferris Bueller, but I digress.

Ferris goes to great lengths to skip with the help of his best friend, Cameron, who alters his voice to sound like Ferris' father and, reluctantly, gets Ferris excused from the day's scholastic activities. Cameron was legitimately sick the day that Ferris recruited him to help aid and abet his actions. Cameron was also a worrier. Especially when Ferris convinced him to take his father's prized possession, a 1961 Ferrari, as their mode of transportation for the day.

After picking up Ferris' girlfriend, Sloane, the three went on to experience unexpected and hilarious hijinks in the city of Chicago. Including Ferris' impromptu joining on a Von Steuben Day parade float and lip-syncing Wayne Newton's 'Danke Schoen'. Cameron barely cracked a smile the entire time while continuing to fret about the situation surrounding the 'borrowing' of his father's car. You could see the anxiety written all over Cameron's face.

I can relate to what Cameron was going through. Sometimes there are things in life that get us down and cause us to worry and be anxious. I was laid off from my full time job over a year ago and it's been tough trying to find another one. At times, it has been a challenge putting aside my worry and anxiety about it especially knowing that my savings will eventually run out.

It's times like that when I need to remember my life is more than what I am seeing in the moment. That there is someone in my corner who is looking out for me and cares about every thing that concerns me. That someone is God and He has been instrumental in pulling my attention away from my would-be hopeless situation and focusing on who He is.

There is nothing I care about in my life that He doesn't care about more. Even the fact that I have been unemployed for this long. Reading the Bible helps me to get back to having the proper perspective in times of worry and anxiety. The perspective that God will never let me down. He is faithful.

In fact, my mind slows down and my heart stops racing when I read Philippians 4:6, which says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." This is something that God tells us to do because fretting about anything won't help us, but it will hurt us. We'll lose sleep, get sick, and start to dream up a whole host of other scenarios that will, realistically, never happen.

All of those things have happened to me as a result of allowing worry to consume my thoughts, which then creeps into my heart and then I lose what peace resided there. Though, the deep rooted peace that comes from God never leaves me even though I may not sense it during an overwhelming time.

I pray a lot, everyday. For a job, for help, for healing, and for so many other things. Knowing that I can always do that, brings me back to what was once lacking in the midst of my unsettledness - peace.

Celebrating this day of thanksgiving magnifies the above verse into so much more than being grateful for turkey and stuffing. Although, tryptophan is one of the best after effects of eating that mighty bird. Praying, and thanking God while doing it, brings so much more into my heart that I had forgotten, existed. A fresh, new perspective that helps to alleviate a, once, heavy and worried heart.

I never need to be anxious about anything because in everything, I know that I can go to God with whatever is worrying me and He understands and helps me through it all until I come to that beautiful place of peace.

Encouragement for the week:

The past month seems to have been riddled with a lot of things, not only beyond our control, but beyond our comprehension. Like Las Vegas, Edmonton, Paris, London, and the hurricanes.

It's easy to fall into a state of worry and concern when there is so much bad news and a struggle to make sense of the senseless.

If you are a Christian, you know the importance and saving grace of having an intimate relationship with God. That He can give you everything you need in a time of worry or anxiety. That if you put all things into His hands, He will give you the peace beyond understanding and guard your heart and mind.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him and all the peace that He offers as part of a relationship with Him. That peace will help you cope with the things in your life that you can't understand and that bring worry and anxiety.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Still

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face..."
 - 1 Corinthians 13:12

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**


The contemplative things of life,
The joys, some pain, and wayward strife.

From ashes deep, see beauty come,
A precious gift, indeed, for some.

But how can we still understand,
Of someone else's willing hand.

To take a life by murderous scheme,
In this, our world, I could not dream.

That plots and plans would lead us here,
Into a seeming place of fear.

When violence breaks and threats abound,
We wonder where our hope is found.

Through bloodshed there is something bright,
Some shining glimpse, a piercing light.

Though evil tries to tear apart,
The worried mind and hurting heart.

There is no thing that'd ever be,
The crush or kill of unity.

Creation stands in peace and love,
To overcome and stand above.

The trials that test our strength and will,
In prayer the soul shall triumph, still.


Encouragement for the week:

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada were stark reminders that evil lurks. This poem is for those affected by these events.

We can never quite figure out why things happen, brutal things.

Lives can be taken in a heartbeat and without remorse. May we never cease to come together in unity and stand on peace and love.

If you are a Christian, you know that Satan looks to steal, kill, and destroy God's children. Always be on guard and ready with your armor of God.

If you are not a Christian and were unsettled by these recent events, you can look for Jesus and find Him. He will bring you hope during times of uncertainty in our world.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Be Prepared

"Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know 
which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."
 - Ecclesiastes 11:6

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Be prepared for - life, the worst, and the unexpected. We're told to be prepared for the things that life, undoubtedly, will throw at us. Always wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident, get vaccinations when travelling overseas, and keep an emergency kit in your car. With all the things we're told to do to be ready for, can we really be completely prepared?

Over the past couple weeks, the news channels have been reporting the occurrences of natural disasters including hurricanes Harvey and Irma, earthquakes and flooding. There seems to be no shortage of calamity. From Texas to Puerto Rico, Cuba to Mexico, people's lives were taken and changed by what was happening. There are places still without power and folks with the inability to return to their homes due to the devastation these catastrophes left behind.

While it's a scary thought to be caught up in something like a hurricane or earthquake, modern technology has enabled us to be better prepared in the face of mother nature's hiccups. Through the use of sattelite tracking and other early warning systems, oncoming peril now gives us clues to when and how severe they will hit. However, there is no way to be fully set for something that may take your life, home, or family away in a matter of minutes.

I try to be as prepared as possible in my life. I get my car serviced at regular intervals, always have extra food on hand in case of emergency, and get a yearly medical exam to maintain good health. Yet, it's the day to day stuff that catch me by surprise that can't always guarantee readiness. Like getting a flat tire or splashing spaghetti sauce on an outfit right before I'm ready to head out the door. There are just some things that happen beyond my control.

There is a book in the Bible called Jeremiah. Jeremiah is a prophet who was given the task to go into ministry and turn around a wicked group of people. He felt totally unprepared when given the task but went ahead because God promised to give him the words to say and provide protection and guidance. In the first chapter of the book, God encourages Jeremiah to, "Get yourself ready!..." (1:17) and to prepare for what lies ahead.

Jeremiah was faced a lot of rejection, abuse, and peril during the decades of his ministry which would make anyone faint of heart. Poor guy. However, because he knew God and God's Word, Jeremiah was more than ready to take on what would be cataclysmic and greatly discouraging. He had gathered information, knowledge, and wisdom to get him through all the difficulties he would face while travelling the long road God had for him.

As a Christian woman, I value and depend on the wisdom found in the Bible. I used to depend on my own thoughts and information when faced with a misfortune and things didn't usually turn out well. It seemed that every situation I tried to overcome became insurmountable. There was, often, a period of time when I tried to figure out where things went wrong.

Now that I have my own emergency preparedness kit, in the Bible, life has been easier. It doesn't mean that I have been without difficulties, loss, and heartbreak, but it has meant greater knowledge and information in order to be ready for the unexpected.

There will be mishaps in life and missteps along the way but the information and wisdom I've gained from spending time in the Bible has been invaluable. Applying what it says to my life has equipped me with courage, strength, and perseverance when the storms of life come, which, they will.

Encouragement for the week:

Do you know of someone who was a victim of the recent hurricanes, earthquakes, or flooding? Have you asked them what their emergency readiness plan was when they found out the disasters were coming and how much time they had to prepare?

There is no promise of easy sailing in our everyday lives. Sometimes disasters are predicted and others just happen without warning.

If you are a Christian, you know the importance of being ready by reading the Word of God so that we may be prepared for the things in life, both expected and unexpected. Keep digging deep into the Word for the wisdom, knowledge, and information that will enable you to be ready for anything that comes your way.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him. He is the source of great wisdom and knowledge that will help you to be better prepared for the difficult events in life that will come. He will enable you to come through them with peace and hope.








Monday, September 18, 2017

The Final Frontier

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**


Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before (Source: Wikipedia).

Many of you are familiar with the above monologue that plays at the beginning of each Star Trek movie/episode. They're the taglines that cause us to know, immediately, this famous cult classic that has been a favorite for decades.

Man has spent a lot of time and energy exploring the outer reaches of the universe. The most famous endeavor being the lunar landing by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. Since then, missions to Mars and other outlying planets have been investigated/attempted.

There are mysteries in the galaxy that we just can't explain, like a black hole. NASA has described it as follows: "A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeeed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying. Because no light can get out, people can't see black holes. They are invisible." (Source: www.nasa.gov)

Even though invisible to us, black holes do exist. They are a complex phenomenon that have been studied and sought after by scientests and star gazers alike. Even the sci-fi starship Enterprise searched for and, dangerously, encountered black holes whilst fulfilling Starfleet missions.

As a Christian, I wonder about a lot of things that exist that I haven't seen like black holes, the Milky Way, and heaven. Even though I have heard of these things and read about them, there still lies a curiosity in seeing each one with my own eyes.

I'm not sure if I will ever lay eyes on a black hole or the Milky Way, but believe I will see heaven. There's a book in the Bible called Revelation that gives a sneak peek of what to expect from heaven. In Revelation 21, it describes heaven on earth. A place that, "...shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal." (Revelation 21:11)

It will also be a spectacular dwelling where, "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,..." (Revelation 21:4). A destination that, I imagine, will fill the senses and leave me in awe. All that I have read about heaven doesn't compare to how it will be when I see it. Much like it may have been when Kirk and his crew of the starship Enterprise explored the expanse of the universe and boldly went where no man had gone before.

Encouragement for the week:

Even though there are things we can't see, we know they exist.

They are incredible and baffling and lead us wanting to know more.

If you are a Christian, you know that though you can't see God, you know He exists. He's present in everything that surrounds you and within your peaceful heart. God's Word continues to be a true and wonderful source of understanding the unknown and unseen. Be sure to spend time, each day, in the Bible.

If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him. Even though you can't see Him, He is as real as if you could and He's ready to welcome you into His family.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Understand, You Do Not

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

Star Wars is, perhaps, the most popular and iconic sci-fi movie series of our time. If you are a die hard follower of the Star Wars franchise, you are familiar with the many characters that remain beloved to you today - Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Chewbacca, to name a few.

My favorite character was Yoda. A...creature of odd proportion, Yoda always knew what to say. He was considered to be exceptionally wise and, at times, spoke in a backward fashion, completely understood by those who knew him well. Skywalker would, often, seek Yoda's wisdom about a variety of predicaments that, young Luke, would often find himself in.

When I first started watching the Star Wars films, Yoda was a bit of a conundrum to me. At times, I didn't fully comprehend him but, over time, and having watched subsequent episodes, came to fully understand Yoda's 'ways'. Dare I say that I started speaking backwards while attempting to duplicate Yoda's voice. Don't tell anyone.

While it was over time I eventually figured Yoda out, there are things in this world that perplex me. Like the uncommon use of common sense, using anonymity to bully, or advocating violence while promoting a 'worthwhile cause'. These, along with so many other things, cause confusion and defy logic.

Growing up, one of the greatest things I didn't understand was God. To me, He was wrathful, distant, and poised to punish. An up-in-the-clouds deity not at all interested in the things that were causing me pain, depression, and anger.

It wasn't until much later in life that I became a Christian and entered into a personal relationship with God. Only then, did I come to fathom all the things that had, once, been pre-conceived as a young woman. Like thinking God was angry all the time and only interested in doling out discipline when, in fact, God was love and there was no denying it once I felt it for myself.

Then, there was the misconception that God had no interest in me or my life, until I spent time with Him. Now, I have come to understand that He's interested in even the smallest detail of every area of my everyday life. It's interesting how confused we can become when we don't take the time to really get to know the source of our misunderstanding.

Now, I can say that many things in life make sense because of the time taken each day to get to know God and His perspective on those things. The world and how it changes also makes more sense because of the time spent in God's Word, the Bible.

There is a book in the Bible called Jeremiah that speaks of a wonderful promise: "...In days to come you will understand it clearly." - Jeremiah 23:20 (NIV). A reassuring promise that, even though I may not understand something in this exact moment, I can look to God, asking for knowledge and understanding, and He will help me figure things out.

I am thankful for this kind of help and wisdom when it comes to navigating life. No matter what the situation, whether I get everything sorted out or not, God will help me and...understand, I will.

Encouragement for the week:

Understanding the difficult things in life can, sometimes, be elusive but with time, knowledge, and careful thought, those things can become less difficult.

With God, it's not so much that I need to comprehend everything in my life as much as it's knowing it's okay if I don't.

If you are a Christian, you know the importance of understanding the true character of God in order to comprehend the daily challenges we will encounter. Keep leaning into Him and He will help you to understand.

If you are not a Christian, and you struggle to understand some things in your life, look for Jesus and you will find Him. He will help you along the way to understand things from a more wonderful perspective than you have ever known.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Not So Fast!

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, 
and where thieves break in and steal." - Matthew 6:19

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**


Sometimes I do things impulsively or because of external pressure, having given little thought to whether or not this 'thing' is good for me. Then, there are times I say things that haven't been properly filtered through my heart, ensuring they are spoken in a spirit of love instead of hurt.

Since becoming a Christian, over ten years ago, I like to think that I have made some progress in these areas, with God's help of course. That I do unwise things less frequently and speak more lovingly because there were years in my life that I operated without any kind of social filter and, who knows, the hearts I damaged. The verbal hurt on others was a direct result of my own pain.

Relationships, especially, can suffer the collateral damage of hurtful things done and said by each person. Words spoken while hurting or frustrated can, often, be like a battering ram to the other person now, blindsided, by something completely unexpected. It can be as easy as an off mood or a frustrating work day that can open the gate to verbal assaults.

I have been there both in friendships and relationships, especially with my words, which always seem to wound more than actions. Elevated emotions are my usual trigger to saying something never intended to hurt. But it isn't long before I feel the sting of regret and act quickly to apologize and make things right. Hurtful words can come from a hurt heart and that's why careful thought and time need to be taken before speaking.

There is a verse in the Bible, within the book of Romans, that talks about the importance of not following what everyone else in the world does but being, instead, someone different. It says: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2)

Ultimately, it's saying to think differently in order to operate differently. To take something insincere and turn it into compassionate, before the words ever leave your lips. To have your thoughts reflect wise actions, beneficial to both yourself and others.

I am thankful and find it refreshing that, with time and some careful thought, my mind can be used to think of others before myself. That my words can be carefully weaved together to bless and encourage others.

There are so many things in the world causing us to say, and maybe even do, things that we wouldn't normally. Things that bring us to extreme emotional heights, resulting in a spewing of critical and hate filled vocabulary. Things that, if we decided to turn our minds away from its negativity, would allow us to renew our minds, adjust our filter, and aim toward that which is good.

So, if you know someone who might lack a social filter, be patient and kind. Words and actions of compassion toward that person could be life changing, for both of you.

Encouragement for the week:

Are there some areas of your life where you need to take extra time to think things over before doing or saying something? We know the popular acronym 'THINK', can help us when we're stuck for what to say:

T - Is it true?
H - Is it helpful?
I - Is it inspiring?
N - Is it necessary?
K - Is it kind?

If we change our minds, our hearts will follow, helping us make better decisions.

If you are a Christian, you know the dangers of being of the world. Be on guard by being renewed and transformed of mind.

If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him and all the ways He will help you in thought, word, and action for a good life.






Monday, August 28, 2017

It's Simple

"He has made everything beautiful in its time..." - Ecclesiastes 3:11

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

The best things in life are simple and give me tremendous peace and joy. Riding on the fender of a 1210 Case tractor while watching it cut hay, eating a fresh from-the-oven banana nut muffin, and sitting by a campfire while gazing at the star studded night sky, are some of these things.

Perhaps the best of the simple things in my life is in the quiet mornings, when I meet with God. Sitting on the couch and looking at the open field, majestic trees, and a passing bird, bring me into a place where I can leave my busy mind and heavy heart behind.

In fact, the word 'simple' has come to mean a lot in the past couple years. Maybe because I have grown a couple years older and, hopefully, wiser. I'm not sure if this acronym exists but here is what simple looks like for me:

S - Sitting
I - In
M - Morning
P - Prayer
L - Listening
E - Expectantly

Sitting, waiting, and listening are three easy activities to do on their own. However, when you are trying to do all three at once, it can be a challenge. Especially when you are really wanting or needing a reply. I've come to learn that if I don't get an answer right away to the things I am asking, and as long as I have peace, I'm in a good place and the answer will eventually come because God promises to answer.

I've also learned that some things are better left unsaid or undone, especially, in a stressful or frustrating situation where I might not be thinking clearly and emotions are heightened. Simple. Then there are times when I must allow myself some time to ask and answer key questions before being involved with something unsavory in nature.

Questions such as: Is this a battle worth fighting? Will this matter in a year? A month? A week? Most of the time, I can answer 'no' right away and move on to something else more light hearted.

Life is too short to not enjoy each day or take yourself too seriously, and laughter can, often, be the remedy to almost every situation. Meeting a difficulty head on with grace, compassion, and effective communication can make all the difference. It can be that simple.

Not to put a stamp on everything in life and say that this or that is simple and easy to navigate because there are certain things that you need to tread lightly in. Things that require more thought and intentional action. Things that, while they may seem simple on the surface, can quickly become complicated. Relationships of every kind can certainly be one of those things.

I used to be a very materialistic person who held stuff and money in high esteem. I could never make enough money or collect enough stuff to bring happiness, contentment, or peace. It actually created the opposite, mainly because the possessions racked up debt which then brought stress and inner chaos. The things I owned soon owned me and I had to file bankruptcy just to get free.

Once I became a Christian, God taught me the importance of managing money while simplifying thought processes and, ultimately, my life. The possessions became fewer while my peace and contentment became greater. It was freeing to discover something that, many years earlier, was foreign to me.

Now, I strive to keep my life simple and if that means purging things I don't need or paying something forward, I'm happy to do it. I also take more time to do things that are simple and enjoyable. There is a wonderful blessing in keeping things simple. Yes, the best things in life are free, but they're also simple.

Encouragement for the week:

Have you ever wanted to simplify your life but don't know where to begin? How about starting with the small stuff. Donate unread or unwanted books to your local church or library. Purge your wardrobe of fashion relics and give them to a thrift store for others to enjoy.

Taking these smaller steps will lead to the bigger things in need of simplicity that you have been putting off. Yes, it can be that simple.

If you are a Christian, you know that Jesus doesn't place any value on the things here on earth. In fact, He says in Matthew 6:19 - "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." (NIV) There is freedom in simplicity.

If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him and the freedom you can enjoy each day, simply, by knowing Him.





Monday, August 21, 2017

Outstretched And Open

**Photo courtesy of Google**

There is something strangely satisfying about cutting grass with a zero turn riding lawn mower, especially when you live on an acreage, like I do. With the slightest push of my hands, forward and backward, and greatest of ease, the mower can be moved in any direction. It hugs trees and zooms down the straightaways, planting a smile on this carefree face.

For me, cutting grass is one of the best mindless tasks, freeing up my thoughts to ponder greater things. One of those things has been reflecting on the challenge of letting go. More specifically and lately, practicing the art of letting go of the hopes and dreams I had for my life. It's ironic that I was thinking this as my hands death gripped the mower handles while grass cutting, but I was.

Just like I had to pry my hands off the handles after completing the mowing, some things we hold onto tightly, in life, also require our hands to be pried off of. Things that can take over our thoughts and actions so much that we lose sight of what it really means to enjoy everyday life. I have been guilty of this for many years.

I used to believe that only marriage would bring fullness and happiness to my life. That without sex, I would die. That if I didn't bring enough readers to my blog, I would be a failure. That if I didn't keep trying to have a relationship with my son now, it would never happen.

Tighter and tighter my grip became on these things and before long, it's all that consumed my thoughts and, inevitably, created frustration. Frustration at things not happening because of my self-driven determination to see them come to pass, followed by misery and discontentment.

It has taken, literally, decades to wade through the muck of who I really am and what needs to be the priorities in life. Enjoying life, continuing to dream, and staying true to my faith while waiting are just a few.

What really matters is practicing all the valuable things that I have learned in my life. Not only from experiences but also from my faith and the Bible. The gratitude I have for knowing God often surpasses my own understanding. The freedom from worry, anxiety, and stress by living a life controlled by someone who knows exactly what He's doing...priceless.

The knowledge that holding nothing tightly only leaves room for greater things to come into my life, is unfathomable yet comforting. I used to want everything in my life to turn out exactly how I imagined it should. Then after seeing it all through the lens of faith, I saw a train wreck at the worst possible time.

Holding onto mediocre and 'feel good' things now, leaves no room for the incredible and best there is to come. It's not worth holding onto the steering wheel when you're headed for the ditch. Nor is it worth expecting good things to happen while holding on to what we've settled for.

If I am willing, which I am, then I can wait. With outstretched, open, and empty hands, I leave room for them to be filled with all kinds of great experiences and blessings.

Encouragement for the week:

It's hard not to want something badly. We all have something in our lives that we don't want to let go of or give up, but is that preventing us from gaining something better?

There is freedom in letting go. It takes the pressure off ourselves and our hearts so that peace and contentment can take over, making life more enjoyable.

If you are waiting for something, that's okay. The longer it takes, the greater it's going to be once it arrives. Enjoy the wait.

If you are a Christian, you know the importance of letting go of the past so that God can take you into the future He has planned for you. Use a pry bar if you have to.

If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him. He has incredible things for you and will help you let go of your past so that you can enjoy your life while you wait for your future.









Monday, August 14, 2017

The Good Seed

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

This year I decided to try my hand at planting a deck garden. After selecting deep, large pots and planters, I chose my favorite vegetable and herb seeds to plant. Basil and tomato, parsley and pea, cucumber and cilantro. Those and more were, carefully, placed in the soil and the waiting began.

A couple days went by and nothing. Then a couple weeks passed with no evidence that seeds had even been planted. You can tell that I'm a patient person.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if the seeds were meant to produce, they would. Until then, I knew that the right soil had been used and that each pot and planter was being watered, accordingly.

As you can see from the photo above, the seeds not only took root and started to grow, but they each produced a harvest of delightful and delectable eats. I was quite impressed with the outcome and, lately, have been wondering that if I were a seed to be planted, what would I grow to be?

Would I become a mighty tree, strong with deep roots, facing every difficulty in my life with determination? Or would I grow into a beautiful and fragrant rose bush, emitting my greatest fragrance when crushed by inclement circumstances? Perhaps a whimsical and delicate daisy?

Whatever the harvest, I would want to be a seed that brings a bountiful and overflowing harvest of goodness, compassion, and empathy. A strong, determined, and courageous manifestation that others could benefit from.

That when picked and used, could leave an imprint or fragrance in that person's life, if only for a short time. So, am I just one kind of plant or a cornucopia of herbs, flowers, and trees?

Depending on the situation and the things that life throws my way, I might have to take on a form of continual metamorphosis. That when life gets hard, I am the mighty and determined oak tree.

That I am the protective and loving rose when a friend needs healing and encouraging words in their time of pain. That I am that easy going daisy, fun and carefree, when someone needs a laugh after a long and discouraging week.

While the type of seed doesn't necessarily matter, the soil does. It is the soil that will determine the seed's rate of growth and its ultimate multiplication into a harvest that could feed many.

The same stands for each of us. To be a source of 'food' for others, our hearts have to be tilled and worked so that each seed planted in us can produce an incredible bounty (joy, laughter, encouragement, etc.), to be enjoyed by others.

Encouragement for the week:

If you were a seed to be planted, what would you become? A grumpy recluse or a loving extrovert?

We each hold seeds in our hearts that, if properly nurtured, can be of benefit to everyone around us.

If you are a Christian, you know how important it is to have good soil in your heart to plant strong and worthwhile life seeds that will grow to benefit others. Take care of that soil.

If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him and all the good seed you will need to grow a great harvest of goodness in your life.






Monday, August 7, 2017

Imagine

"In that day the LORD will whistle for flies from the distant streams of 
Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria." - Isaiah 7:18

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Growing up, I used to imagine all kinds of things. As a kid, it was that I would be a police officer, superhero, fire fighter, or farmer. As a teenager, I imagined being popular in school, attractive to boys, and smarter than my sister. While I knew these three teenage and hormonal driven dreams were far fetched, there was something hopeful in imagining them to be possible.

Now, imagine the impossible - walking after a spinal cord injury when the doctors said you would never walk again; conceiving after years of infertility; a second, clear ultrasound that, weeks before, showed cancer; being homeless, involved in a serious accident that takes one of your legs, then receiving a prosthetic leg for free.

Each scenario above has a living, breathing person on the other end of the impossibility. Each person experienced the miraculous come from their impossible situation that they never would have dreamed of going through. I knew these persons, some directly and some indirectly, as they faced their harsh reality. I couldn't help but long to know how their negative became a positive.

Was it a change of attitude? A fuelled determination to never give up on themselves or their situation? A believing faith? I believe all three played a part and that there is something powerful in the mind, and heart, that can imagine the impossible and dream, what appears to be, the unreachable dream, no matter how ridiculous.

Do we really know for sure that imagining something can't become real? Albert Einstein once said, "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Imagination is what put man on the moon and the first motor vehicle on the road. Imagination is what fuels possibility and fulfills big dreams. It's seeing success in the face of, apparent, failure.

To imagine is to dream. A concept I have been extremely hesitant to exercise for a long time. Okay, that's not quite accurate...I have been scared to do because the dreams I had for my life years ago have just seemed to fizzle out. Even though I had incredible convictions about the validity of those dreams and imagining them coming to fruition.

Thankfully, I had an opportunity to do something different this past weekend that encouraged me to imagine the impossible again. To muster the courage to dream in big ways and tell my heart that it is, in fact, okay to do so. That without imagining and dreaming, life will drone on without much excitement or anticipation. I want to be excited about life and all the possibilities that exist when I allow myself to imagine.

At my age and stage of life, there really is nothing preventing me from seeking out and doing those things that once seemed impossible. Of course, this is all within reason and having a good dollup of common sense and wisdom along with. At the end of the day, I am still realistic about what I can and cannot do while relying on God to help me along the way.

For me, Jesus is the reason I have the hope that I do. He is the reason I dreamed big before and how I, recently, came to be encouraged to do it again. He does that. He knows what is in my heart and how much I really want to not only imagine the impossible but, also, live out the impossible. To hold nothing back and be excited about what could be. 

I want to imagine myself married, as far fetched as that might be. I want to imagine doing incredible things for God, even though I don't quite know what that looks like or what form it might take. I want to be completely open to any thing at any time, anywhere. To poke the imagination bear out of hibernation.

Now, it's your turn. If you were to imagine your impossible...what would it be? What big dream have you stopped dreaming? Would you be willing to walk through your fear and disappointment in order to imagine again? I bet there is still something inside of you who has held on to your dreams, even if it is by the tiniest corner, with the edges of your finger nails.

Grab hold of the dreams and let your imagination soar. It's time.

Encouragement for the week:

Imagine the impossible. Go ahead. The impossible happens all the time and your impossible is of no exception.

Allow yourself to dream. Don't let your imagination slip away and fall to the ground because it can take you everywhere!

If you are a Christian, it is the power to imagine the impossible that believing faith fulfills. God tells us in His Word to imagine (Ephesians 3:20) because He promises to do even more than what we ask or imagine.

If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him and experience the great promises and power behind God's Word, God's heart for you, and His desire that you imagine the impossible.

Monday, July 31, 2017

I Don't Know

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118:24

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

I don't know. When seen separately, these three words are short, simple, and unassuming. When strung together in a statement, as above, they pack a punch bringing frustration, turmoil, and discouragement. Not the kinds of feelings you want to experience, even on a good day.

Lately, it seems that my answer to many of life's questions have comprised of these exact words. Sometimes said passively, other times aggressively, this vague yet confusing reply has leapt out when pondering my own life direction. There is nothing more irritating than not knowing something, especially when it has to do with your life course.

However, there was a break in the monotony of the unknown, one break. It came about four months after I got laid off from my job and was struggling with what came next. It came when I asked myself a question, one key life question that I, surprisingly, answered with confidence and excitement - What is your passion?

Writing. I love to write. It may have taken over 43 years to get to the place where I could, happily and solidly, answer this question but I got here and am hoping it can be something that not only creates value for others but also becomes a source of income. That is my goal and I know it's going to take a lot of hard work and perseverance to get there but I'm willing to put in the effort instead of having regrets or wondering 'what if?'

Writing enables me to become distracted from the plethora of things that remain unanswered. There is always a cringe factor that exists when I'm talking to someone about the deep things of life. Plans, purpose, direction, goals. These are the things that I can't answer completely. I want to, but the answer hasn't yet arrived.

There is no certainty when being asked, "Where do you want to be in a year? Three years? Five years? What is your purpose? Where would you move if you had to? In what direction do you feel your life heading? Where would you like a job?"

You'd think that at my age, ideas and plans would be flying out of my head and onto paper. Nope. I struggle to come up with the most basic of solutions when it comes to an introspective look at life. It seems that things keep happening around me and for other people instead of anything real happening to or for me. Am I being naive to expect that things should be happening or am I exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to do, and trusting completely for the course to change if it's meant to?

While there may not be the profound and well thought out answers to life's toughest and most tugged over questions, I can say for certain that there is peace amidst the confusion. Each morning, when I sit by the window, look out at the surroundings, and seek answers, there is a deep, immovable peace. That has to count for something, right?

The fact that I don't have all the answers to my own life questions might make me normal or it could appear indecisive. Whatever it may seem to be, while I don't know the answers today, I might know them tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. I can't always be in a hurry to know. Sometimes it's good for life to be a lengthy ballet, with the appropriate leg stretches and bathroom breaks along the way.

I want to make the right decisions, at the right time, in the right way. I want to be confident and excited about my answers, especially to the deep and profound life questions. Even though I don't know many things regarding my life direction, doesn't mean I don't care to know. Some answers just don't come easy and, sometimes, it takes a while for the answer to present itself.

As a Christian, I rely a lot on help from God to make tough decisions and have sure answers when the unexpected questions are asked. He will help steer me in the right direction at the right time as I keep trusting Him. This, I know for sure.

Encouragement for the week:

Do you feel pressured to have answers to some tough questions about your life? Do you dislike having to reply with "I don't know"?

It's okay, you're not alone. My struggle of not knowing my own plans, goals, and purpose are common to many people in the world, including yourself.

If you are a Christian, you know that the answers lie within having a close and intimate relationship with God. He knows the questions and has the answers. Keep trusting Him.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him and come into a knowledge and direction for your life that is true, sure, and exciting. God cares for you and where you're headed.






Monday, July 24, 2017

The Power of Privilege

**Photo courtesy of images.search.yahoo.com**

The Oxford dictionary defines privilege as: "A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group." Some consider driving and voting to be rights when, in reality, they are privileges granted to us when we turn a certain age.

For many, both of these privileges are taken seriously. For me, I have never taken the privilege of obtaining a driver's license or driving a car for granted, or ever thought they were rights. The responsibility of maintaining and operating a motor vehicle can, literally, mean the difference between life and death.

Voting, on the other hand, I never took seriously although the implications of not voting or giving an uninformed vote can have detrimental effects, even generations down the road. There is great power behind this incredible privilege of voting and that was never clearer for me than this past Saturday.

This once politically sheltered and naive voter stepped out and attended her first political event. Normally, this wouldn't be something to blog about but the impact it had on my perception of this process was immense. I had the opportunity to see and experience, first hand, the importance of not only voting but being informed about who your vote goes to.

Not only should you be aware of your local candidates and their platforms but you should also give great thought and consideration to how those two elements fit in with your own convictions, values, and beliefs.

There was an air of excitement as I listened to speakers, one after another, present what seemed to be their genuine and determined views on change they felt needed to be made and how they would work hard, for the people, to bring change. How making change for the better was never more important than right now.

That getting involved and having your say, through the power of voting, had the potential to right so many wrongs. That taking the privilege of voting to a higher rank of responsibility was more than just showing up at the right polling station and putting an 'x' in a box just so that you could say you took part in the voting process. I was guilty of thinking that putting an 'x' in a box was far more important than not showing up, even though I had no clue about the candidate or their platform.

I am, now, happy to say that the meeting on Saturday changed my entire perspective on the critical nature of a vote. Not that I could move mountains with my single vote but I could be informed and involved in instilling a leader that cares and fights for the common man and woman trying to make a living, struggling to keep food on the table, and making sure the lights stay on. By taking the time to allow the responsibility behind the act sink in.

I have to say that there is an extreme embarrassment in admitting that I didn't start voting until I was well into my 30's and, even then, I never took it seriously. Well, outside of ensuring that I registered to vote and found out where the polling station was located. At first, it was an inconvenience to vote at best and I, often, voted early to avoid forgetting to vote at all. Sad, but shamefully true.

I would even avoid all the political debates leading up to voting day and rarely picked up a paper to see what the media had to say about the candidates or what the latest polls were showing about who had the greatest chance of taking the majority vote.

As a Christian, I believe that things happen for a reason, as orchestrated by God. Even political things, and Saturday was no exception as I listened carefully and felt the excitement of an ordinary, everyday group of men and women clapping and shouting words of hope that real change was on the way. Change that, hopefully, would bring jobs, increase opportunity, and usher in a better future for their children and grandchildren.

I soon felt filled with hope at being part of positive change by getting more involved in the voting process and learning everything necessary to not only make an informed decision before reaching that paper begging an 'x' be marked, but also a responsible decision within the greater privilege.

No privilege should be seen as any less important than a right. An attitude of humility and responsibility are equally important as we make our way through each day in a world filled with uncertainty.

Encouragement for the week:

Do you think some privileges should be rights, like driving or voting? Would you take them more seriously if they were?

For too many years, I slacked off on taking certain privileges seriously and now I wonder if my lack of interest and information was to my own detriment? Perhaps, it's too many attitudes, like mine of the past, that have added up to a long line of detriment.

If you are a Christian, you are not only called to be responsible with rights and freedoms but also with privileges. May we see rights and privileges as equal and treat them with the same respect that God would desire us to.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him and all the ways He orchestrates opportunities to become responsible, humble, and wise people for every area of life that can often be confusing and difficult.