Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wishing you a Brown Christmas so your White Christmas doesn't get Blue ...

During the holidays when even the best of us are prone to deviating a little from our healthy eating regime, information about ‘Sugar Feelings’ might be timely. Being mad, sad, and happy are regular feelings that come up in response to our everyday life. Those of us who are sugar sensitive have had very little experience with regular feelings in the past because we have been wrapped in what Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. of http://www.radiantrecovery.com/ calls "sugar feelings."

Sugar feelings include such feelings as:

1. Feeling overwhelmed
2. Feeling that life is out of control
3. Feeling inadequate
4. Having low self-esteem
5. Not being able to follow directions
6. Being headstrong
7. Feeling victimized
8. Living in la-la land
9. Having a hard time doing your life
10. Overreacting to criticism
11. Being highly impulsive

It may be hard to believe but no amount of spiritual growth, counselling or self talk will change these feelings because they are a function of brain chemistry rather than character. These feelings are a function of a sugar-sensitive brain and body.

DesMaisons affectionately refers to this state of an unbalanced, sugar sensitive brain as "mush brain". “Mush brain” happens when we use sweet foods, eat white things and choose not to eat a healthy breakfast.

I thought for years that that was how my brain...and my body...really was. What a change in my life when I realized that these feelings were not REAL. Now when I go from a high to a low I check on what I’ve been eating because I now know that the types of feelings listed above change when my food changes. If I’m going to give myself permission to indulge a little, I remind myself that the ‘woe is me’ will pass as I clear the sugars and whites out of my system.

And that, my dear readers, is how a White Christmas becomes a Blue Christmas. So, I wish you a Brown Christmas. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it, and you probably won't hear rewrites of the old Christmas carols anytime soon...but there it is!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm a very visual person so when my Every Day with Jesus (EDWJ) devotional mentions a Paul Tournier nutcracker analogy I see it quite vividly in my imagination. It is interesting to have the author use this analogy in a devotional this close to Christmas when the first thing that comes to mind is Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite which has become an annual favorite.

But Tournier's analogy brings to mind an Anne Geddes type photo with a person laying inside a nutcracker (although in my minds eye it looked more like a person curled up in a Mexican style metal lime press). With that lovely image securely in your mind, let's get back to the analogy in EDWJ.

This devotional is laid out in a way that covers one topic over a 2 month period. In the 2010 November/December issue Selwyn Hughes is covering the topic of "Soaring above the Storm." On this day, the devotional is entitled 'Coming Alongside.' Tournier, it is said, uses the analogy of the nutcracker to point out the fact that adversities and disasters apply a pressure to our lives that breaks through the hard shell of our personal security. The trick to successfully cracking a nut is to apply just enough pressure to break the shell while ensuring that the tender fleshy nut inside remains whole and undamaged. So it is with coming alongside someone, be it a friend, a family member, a patient, a client or a parishioner. As Hughes says, the real task is to be there in a way that keeps life's pressures or circumstances from destroying someone. We are called to encourage each other daily.

For many, the Holiday Season is one of those times. Let's consider ways that we can come alongside others, making it a 'safe zone' for them to come out of their shells knowing that in the midst of the pressures of life we can grow and gain insight into our lives.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed...Therefore we do not lose heart...For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."
2 Corinthians 4:8-19

Friday, December 10, 2010

Need Sharpening?

“As iron sharpens iron,
so a man sharpens
the countenance
of his friend.”
(Proverbs 27:17)

I'm just stopping by today to direct you to a great blog about friendship:


I hope that it blesses you. The blog is sponsored by The Nature In Us. I have been receiving informative newsletters in my inbox from them for awhile now. I appreciate their spiritual focus on all things pertaining to nature.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Along with all the hustle and bustle of the season, we hear about Santa’s ‘Naughty and Nice’ list in traditional Christmas songs that are played. So, it's got me thinking...

I’m a Canadian: Canadians are known to be nice!

I am a Christian: Christians are often taught to be nice!

I have a Mennonite pacifist cultural background: This often translates to being nice.

With that triple-decker niceness I’m sure to be on the nice list, right?

Oh, to top it off, I’m a girl (well, technically a woman) and females are reputedly made of sugar and spice and all things nice!

Yikes! A quadruple-decker becomes a wee bit hard to balance!

All of this syrupy, saccharine niceness is too much for me. Besides, (shhhhhhhh, don't tell the children) I don’t believe in Santa. I don’t want to be on any nice list. For the past few years, I've been learning to get off of that list. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be on the naughty side either. I’ve out grown that stage of my life. But the opposite of nice is not naughty. It’s kind, it’s good, it’s honest, it’s real.

I'm not crazy about the writing style of the authors, but I recently picked up a book called, No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends. Just so you don't feel left out, they've also written one for guys called, of course, No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts Men, Women and Children In an interview with CBN co-author Dr Degler is quoted as saying:
Women often times just need to look at, “OK, do my insides match up with my outsides or am I really just pretending a lot of the time? Am I lying?” Really, that’s what it is. When you aren’t speaking the truth in love, you’re lying. And that means they’ve got this Christian nice girl problem and many times what they’re going to find is that they’re not getting the abundant life that Jesus promised; their relationships are not satisfying.

That's the goal. To speak the truth in love. To have the insides match the outsides. Since 'nice' people are essentially liars! OUCH!

Your niceness 'training' may not be quadruple decker like mine. But if you want to begin to let go of your niceness you'll have lots of help because I'm not the only one who has been thinking about this. Besides the ones mentioned,there are other books such as Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill or one's written by psychotherapist Dr Evelyn Sommers

True Godliness is not PC. True Godliness is not always "nice". There are many things that Christians should not be nice about. Jesus, our perfect example and teacher, was not always nice. But He is kind. And it is His kindness that brings us to repentance.

How do you get to be more like Him? Dr. Degler sums it up well in her previously mentioned interview when she says:
You begin to speak the truth in love. Over time, if you will do that, it’s amazing how your relationships will transform. They will be more intimate. You will have the abundant life that Jesus promised. But you’ll never have that if you don’t really follow the real Jesus. He spoke the truth in love even when it cost Him.

Speaking the truth...in love. That's kindness.

Perhaps you are already on this journey with me, but if you are not, I hope that you will join me in getting rid of the many 'decks' of niceness.

No more lying then.
Everyone must tell the truth to his fellow believers
because we are all members together in the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:25

I wish you an un-nice real honest to goodness Christmas Season.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yoke's on You!

“My YOKE is EASY and my BURDEN is LIGHT!”

DON'T STOP READING! I know that in our overly busy lives those words of Christ's have become cliche.

Seriously, what comes to your mind when you read them? You may be thinking, "Easy? Nothing in life is easy." Maybe you believe the words of the Bible but you feel that God has given you way too much to handle so you don't have a clue what He expects you to hear when He says that the burden is light.

Many of us are not familiar with what a yoke is so it’s difficult for us to envision what He is saying. A yoke literally is a bar of wood constructed in a way that unites two animals together so that they work side by side in the fields or in drawing loads. A farmer generally binds a more experienced oxen with a younger one. The experienced one pulls the majority of the load while the younger one walks alongside and learns.

With that in mind let’s read the above verse again in the full context of Matthew 11:28-30 because when we are followers of Jesus, we are yoked to Him. :

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

"COME...LEARN..." He says.

The words of one of my Seminary professors have often redirected my thoughts and actions over the past 16 years. He stated that if we come out of a situation or conversation feeling exhausted and frustrated, we need to ask ourselves if it was our agenda that we were pushing rather than going with the Holy Spirit’s agenda. Wow!!

We can choose to run ahead of Him and get exhausted because the yoke is then chafing like crazy. We can choose to lag behind in fear when we’re being nudged by Him to take things in a particular direction that we are maybe a little hesitant to take. OR we can choose to relax and rest because we know that He is pulling the majority of the load and we are learning from Him as we walk beside Him.

As a follower of Jesus this yoke is on you as well. If you've learned to take on more than your share, it will take a little time to retrain your thinking but consistently choosing to slow down when you realize that you've run ahead will eventually show you that this yoke is one that makes the burden light!! May you find increasing rest as you continue to learn to walk beside Him on a daily basis.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, I encourage you to accept His invitation to come to Him…and find rest.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dating 'Game' Confusion

Are you single? Or in a dating relationship? Do you sometimes get confused by all the contradictory dating advice that‘s out there? In our society it’s almost become a competitive sport or game but with shifting rules and regulations.

Sometimes it resembles the game of ‘Dutch Blitz’ with everyone laying their cards on the table as fast as they can like in ‘Speed Dating.’ In other situations, dating seems so slow and strategic like a game of chess and we’re left wondering who made the last move. Then again, it could be ‘Scrabble’ with each person choosing their words very carefully trying to get the highest points, hoping to win in the end.

So what are the rules? Are daters to follow the advice of the author who says that men and women are from different planets? Or are the instructions in the book that speaks of capturing your man by using time tested rules more accurate? If you are a Christian, do you do your research thinking that perhaps there is a distinct game played in Christian circles? But even here, we find confusion. Do we kiss dating good-bye as Joshua Harris suggests? Or should we listen to Jeremy Clark and give dating a chance? Which rules should we follow to win at this dating game?

IS dating a game with rules to follow? The word game is defined as a diversion, entertainment, recreation; a competition or contest; game (as in hunting) is about getting your prey, hitting the target. We take a gamble in any game, which means taking a chance…risking…venturing out...facing uncertainty. In that sense, it definitely is a game don’t you think? Except that not too many want to be someone’s prey.

Maybe sincere dating has more to do with relationship than the competition it has often become in our environment. Relationship is defined as ‘alliance, association, attachment, bond, connection.” If it is about relationship, then it involves our hearts, our choices. The tables are then turned as it were, in that relationship is about making the other person a winner, building them up. In some ways following the ‘game’ paradigm with it’s concrete rules to follow seems easier. If I lose I can blame it to some degree on the structure of the game so my heart is left intact.

But if it is about relationship, then our hearts have to be involved. This definitely feels like a gamble. As a Christian, these thoughts about the heart put me in mind of another relationship for a moment. God wants us not for what we can do for Him but He wants us for who we are. He wants our hearts. But what exactly does that mean? And why would a holy God desire my very human heart? The awesome thing is that we discover His overwhelming grace as we allow ourselves to be real with Him. He embraces us warts and all just when we think that He will be repelled by us. Slowly we start to realize that it is in exposing all aspects of our hearts to Him that a closer bond is created with Him. And it is in receiving this amazing acceptance from Him that we begin to do all that we can for Him to show Him our love in return. Sounds like a good plan for that dating relationship too doesn’t it? Albeit a more risky on than the earlier game plan.

When I first wrote this article several years ago, I serendipitously discovered a book by Nancy Groom after writing that last paragraph. In Risking Intimacy: Overcoming Fear, Finding Rest, Groom says that while we can find understanding about the differences of men and women from books like Venus and Mars these tools are merely cosmetic. She believes that they do not help us deal with our terror nor our stubborn self centeredness.

What is that terror that she speaks of and how do we protect ourselves from experiencing it rather than risking genuine intimacy? Groom and Larry Crabb both take this issue back to the Garden of Eden. Since the beginning of time, “men would rather wait than move so they don’t have to risk failure, and women would rather move than wait so they don’t have to risk aloneness.” The whole course of the world was changed because Adam, in his silence, failed to bless Eve. She on the other hand used her words wrongly choosing to move ahead rather than waiting for an answer from either God or Adam. Not hard to relate that to the dating scene is it?

So, who wants to play ‘Risk’? Authentic intimacy is risky. Men, you will need to risk inspite of your fear of appearing inadequate. To build that connection, you will need to speak to a woman’s heart even when you don’t have a clue what to say. In his book The Silence of Adam, Larry Crabb says that the only way to be manly is to first be godly. Okay, so men are called to walk into their terror of chaos and trust God by speaking. And we, as women, are called to walk into our own terror of disconnection and trust God more by keeping silent. We need to learn to wait…to not forge ahead…to trust…at the risk of being lonely in the process. It is in these kinds of risks where our hearts feel the most exposed.

Nancy Groom states that human beings often demand a formula which explains why we have ALL those various and sundry dating books on the market. She goes on to say that God does not usually speak to any of us in specifics but He does promise not to leave us or forsake us as we enter the terrifying unpredictable chaos of relationship.

Ultimately then, there are no rules or formulas in Christian dating except to love the LORD our God with all of our heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:6) and to love as Christ, the servant leader, loved the Church (Ephesians 5:28, 29 and I Peter 3:7) . Entering relationships in this way will require utter dependence on the God who alone knows the beginning from the end, and who has told us only that in the end He wins. (Groom p. 149)

Reading the ‘How to” books on dating have left us less ‘real’ than ever, afraid that we might break the cardinal rule. Loving God and trusting Him in the process is our desire. But in our humanness, we may still often be more inclined to play ‘Scrabble’ than ‘Risk’. Whether you are married or single, I hope that you can say with me, as II Corinthians 4: 1,2, says, “Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times..no masks…no games…no manipulation….” (The Message)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Heart Fully Alive

Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive is a book that has greatly impacted me. The following are some quotes as found at: http://wowgod.org/quotes_John_Eldredge.htm

"To find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice, you must listen with all your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live, unless you live from the heart."

"[The Enemy's] plan from the beginning was to assault the heart... Make them so busy, they ignore the heart. Wound them so deeply, they don't want a heart. Twist their theology, so they despise the heart. Take away their courage. Destroy their creativity. Make intimacy with God impossible for them."

-- John Eldredge in "Waking the Dead", p 49, 51


"The tabernacle itself was a picture of something... amazing. It is a kind of mythic symbol, given to us to help us understand a deeper eternal reality. Each person knows that now his body is the temple of God: 'Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?' (1 Cor. 6:19). Indeed it is. 'Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?' (1 Cor. 3:16). Okay -- each of us is now the temple of God. So where, then, is the Holy of Holies?"

"Your heart."

"That's right -- your heart. Paul teaches in Ephesians that 'Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith' (3:17). God comes down to dwell in us, in our hearts. Now, we know this: God cannot dwell where there is eveil. 'You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell' (Ps. 5:4). Something pretty dramatic must have happened in our hearts, then, to make them fit to be the dwelling place of God."

"Of course, none of this can happen for us until we give our lives back to God. We cannot know the joy or the life or the freedom of heart I've described until we surrender our lives to Jesus and surrender them totally... We turn, and give ourselves body, soul, and spirit back to God, asking him to cleanse our hearts and make them new. And he does. He gives us a new heart. And he comes to dwell there, in our hearts."

-- John Eldredge in "Waking the Dead", p 68


"I was trying to make the case that the new covenant means nothing less than this: the heart is good... Your heart is good.

"What would happen if you believed it, if you came to the place where you knew it was true? Your life would never be the same... 'If we believed that... we could do anything. We would follow him anywhere!"

"You probably can't imagine there being a glory in your life, let alone one that the Enemy fears. But remember -- things are not what they seem. We are not what we seem. You probably believed that your heart was bad too. I pray that fog of poison gas from the pit of hell is fading away in the wind of God's truth. And there is more. Not only does Christ say to you that your heart is good, he invites you now out of the shadows to unveil your glory. You have a role you never dreamed of having..."

"We are in the process of being unveiled. We were created to reflect God's glory, born to bear his image, and he ransomed us to reflect that glory again. Every heart was given a mythic glory, and that glory is being restored..."

"Does the Bible teach that Christians are nothing but sinners -- that there is nothing good in us? The answer is no! You have a new heart. Your heart is good. That sinful nature you battle is not who you are..."

"We have no idea who we really are. Whatever glory bestowed, whatever glory is being restored, we thought the whole Christian thing was about... something else. Trying not to sin. Going to church. Being nice. Jesus says it is about healing your heart, setting it free, restoring your glory. A religious fog has tried to veil all that, put us under some sort of spell or amnesia, to keeup us from coming alive."

-- John Eldredge in "Waking the Dead", pp 69-70, 72-73, 75, 76, 80


"The deeper reason we fear our own glory is that once we let others see it, they will have seen the truest us, and that is nakedness indeed. We can repent of our sin. We can work on our "issues." But there is nothing to be "done" about our glory. It's so naked. It's just there -- the truest us. It is an awkward thing to shimmer when everyone else around you is not, to walk in your glory with an unveiled face when everyone else is veiling his. For a woman to be truly feminine and beautiful is to invite suspicion, jealousy, misunderstanding. A friend confided in me, "When you walk into a room, every woman looks at you to see -- are you prettier than they are? Are you a threat?"

And that is why living from your glory is the only loving thing to do. You cannot love another person from a false self. You cannot love another while you are still hiding. You cannot love another unless you offer her your heart. It takes courage to live from your heart. My friend Jenny said just the other day, "I desperately want to be who I am. I don't want the glory that I marvel at in others anymore. I want to be that glory which God set in me."

"Finally, our deepest fear of all . . . we will need to live from it. To admit we do have a new heart and a glory from God, to begin to let it be unveiled and embrace it as true -- that means the next thing God will do is ask us to live from it. Come out of the boat. Take the throne. Be what he meant us to be. And that feels risky . . . really risky. But it is also exciting. It is coming fully alive. My friend Morgan declared, "It's a risk worth taking."

-- John Eldredge in "Waking the Dead", pp 87-88


"My heart matters to God. My heart has always mattered to him..."

"'Above all else, guard your heart' (Prov. 4:23)... It doesn't say guard your heart because it's criminal; it says guard yur heart because it is the wellspring of your life, because it is a treasure, because everything else depends on it. How kind of God to give us this warning, like someone's entrusting to a friend something precious to him, with the words: 'Be careful with this -- it means a lot to me.'"

"Above all else? Good grief -- we don't even do it once in a while. We might as well leave our life savings on the seat of the car with the windows rolled down -- we're that careless with our hearts..."

"God intends that we treat our hearts as treasures of the kingdom, ransomed at tremendous cost, as if they really do matter, and matter deeply... We are called to live in a way that we store up reserves in our hearts and then offer from a place of abundance..."

"Has it ever occurred to you that God is such a loving and gentle person because his heart is filled, like a reservoir, with joy? Caring for our own hearts isn't selfishness; it's how we begin to love... What will you bring to others if your heart is empty, dried up, pinned down? Love is the point. And you can't love without your heart, and you can't love well unless your heart is well... How you handle your own heart is how you will handle theirs."

"Caring for your heart is also how you protect your relationship with God... [The heart] is where we commune with him. It is where we hear his voice. Most of the folks I know who have never heard God speak to them are the same folks who live far from their hearts."

-- John Eldredge in "Waking the Dead", pp 207-209, 211, 213

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Daughters

Last night after a lengthy Skype chat, I thought once again about the part in the movie ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ where Martini reminds Frances that she got exactly what she wished for even though it took her awhile to realize that because it looked different than what she had initially envisioned.

I don’t have the dual income white picket fence kind of family. I'm game for the first part of that, but since I've never been great at being fenced in I'm quite fine with being picket fence-less. I don’t have the 2.5 kids of the average family…I'm not sure how I'd handle a .5 child anyway. I do, however, have two wonderful daughters who have chosen me to be their mom. One has called me her ‘Surrogate Mom’ for going on 20 years now. To the other I’ve become ‘Mother’ within the last few years but she’s been in my heart for going on 7 years.

I don’t know what it is to fall in love with that child when you first lay eyes on him or her from your hospital bed. But I do know the kind of love that would fly anywhere in the world to be there for that daughter when she needs you…and I have. I know the mother heart that aches when they make life choices that go contrary to your beliefs but continues to support them through thick and thin regardless of where their life journey takes them. I get what it is like to feel torn when their life calling takes them too far away for them to come home for a weekly…or even a monthly… visit. I know the joy of hearing them say that they have finally found what makes them happy. I understand how the heart fills with pride when you see them grow emotionally and spiritually to the point where they are teaching you a thing or two as you listen to them make healthy choices. And last but not least, I know how comforting it is to have a daughter check in regularly to see how you are doing when you are not well. I could go on…but you get the picture…

So while I cannot regale you with stories of lengthy labor nor of how I lost my girlish figure as a result, I can tell you that my daughters tug at my heart strings in a way that I’ve never known anything else to do. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just Ask!!

A number of cultures and religious groups joke about how they were raised on guilt! Parents 'guilted' them. The Church 'guilted' them. Perhaps it is more about the human condition in general than about who raised us. We guilt to get what we want rather than ask for it directly.

God's word says, "You don't have because you don't ask" "Ask and you'll receive." Now I know that there is the whole issue of asking with wrong motives as well as the 'prosperity theology' that surrounds these verses. Let's leave that for the time being since that is not what I am addressing here.

Many of us are fatalists and don't feel that we have any right to ask God for anything. He is God after all. He will do what He wills! Or we ask for others but NEVER for ourselves...humble as we are (said tongue in cheek). We may have pushed our needs so far into the background that we don't even have a conscious awareness of them even though they seep out in our attitudes and actions.

JUST ASK!! I have this picture of God shaking His head as we work so hard to get what we want...or think we want..and never actually talk to Him about it. He is not one to be manipulated and so He waits as we figure it out...

I didn't start this writing today to talk about any of that. I just wanted to share with you about how cool the past few weeks have been as I have asked God for certain things concerning my practice. Literally hours later in each case, He's given me what I asked for. These requests were very specific ones that involved others. The phone rings and it is a direct answer to what I've asked Him. How awesome is He!?

Asking for what I need...and My Father provides!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crashing Waves...Waves of Grace...

This economy is affecting so many, and as it begins to affect me in my work, it is difficult not to look momentarily at the waves instead of to God. I sat here today, grieved that I chose to look away from Him when I noticed that the waves were coming in. As I was speaking to Him about this I sensed that He was asking me to read the 'Jesus Calling' devotional that my friend Andrea gave to me while I was in Seattle.

The first thing that my eyes saw as I opened it to the November page were the words: And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus

And then, the waves of Grace rolled in as the devotional continued: "Don't be discouraged by the difficulty of keeping your focus on Me. I know that your heart's desire is to be aware of Me continually. This is a lofty goal; you aim toward it but never fully achieve it in this life...I am pleased each time you initiate communication with Me...I notice the progress you have made since you first resolved to live in My presence."

That's my Heavenly Daddy!! He holds out His hand and says, "Honey, don't get down on yourself for not doing it perfectly...this side of Heaven you won't get there. I know your heart! I know that you want to please Me! I love that about you! You know that I love you and that I am committed to looking out for you!"

Thank you, Father God. I am overwhelmed with how You love me, how You accept my imperfect steps towards You and how You encourage me in the midst of my fear!! I love You! And I do trust You when You tell me that You will meet all my needs!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daring Adventure or Nothing...

I got up out of bed the other night when I was feeling the loneliness of living as a single in a "Noah’s Ark two-by-two" world. I tried to think of people that I know who are single and living out their lives in a purposeful way. I don’t know much about Luci Swindoll but I do know that she is single so I did a search for quotes by her. I’d seen at some point that she wrote a book called “I Married Adventure”. In the early morning hours I found some motivating quotes by her and was encouraged.

People have called me adventurous over the years. Then at the age of 50 my life was suddenly rerouted for a few years due to a health crisis...seriously, don't drink the water in Mexico ;)...and my dreams were seemingly shattered as a result. Even though I'm now back to good health, I’ve been uncertain about whether I will still have the energy to be adventurous. I’d become a little reluctant and hesitant to dream again, resigned to living an ‘ordinary’ life.

I’m not sure yet what the new dream...the new adventure...is, but that night after reading Luci’s quotes I got up and went to a local church that I don’t normally attend. Guess what the pastor was speaking about? Yup!! “Choosing to live an adventurous Christian life.” I think there's a message there for me loud and clear! As I learn to dream again, I am finding little day to day ways to be adventurous.
And I'm filled with a sense of quiet expectation and anticipation.
Helen Keller stated that "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rooted in the Rich Soil...

Rivendell, a Christian Retreat Centre on Bowen Island in British Columbia, Canada, was newly opened when I went there for my personal retreat in November 2002 so I had a whole floor to myself. I found Henri Nouwen’s book on the Prodigal Son in a cozy library/sitting room on 'my' floor. Each evening I got logs for the fireplace and settled in front of the fire to meditate on this book along with God's Word.

A reading during Chapel Prayers the first evening was the catalyst for things the LORD wanted to show me this weekend, and so began the writings in my journal:

Tonight during Chapel prayers, the Spiritual Director read Psalms 33:5 and John 12:24”
“The earth is full of the loving kindness of the LORD.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.”

Notice the connection between those two verses. Generally the thought of falling into the earth and dying brings to mind a cold, dark place but with this connection of God’s ‘loving kindness’ in the earth we get this sense of the richness of the soil embracing, enveloping, nurturing the grain in the darkness…FULL of the loving kindness of the LORD. What an awesome thought!

Suddenly, we get a deep sense of God’s goodness in the darkness, in the pain of dying to self…even being held and guided as we reach our way up... reaching up and out…out of the earth. Fresh growth finally breaks through to be kissed by the light of day…now growing and spreading…bearing fruit. All the while still rooted in that rich soil, needing to be firmly rooted in the earth…surrounded by His loving kindness.

“His loving kindness surrounds the person who trusts in Him.” (Psalm 32:10b) “Let Thy loving kindness, O LORD, be upon us according as we have hoped in Thee.” (Psalm 33:22)

Larry Crabb of New Way Ministries, says,
“Brokenness is realizing that He is all I have,
Hope is realizing that He is all I need,
Joy is realizing that He is all I want.”

As I further meditate on the Scripture verses above in connection with Crabb's quote, I sense that BROKENESS is the process of God’s hand sticking that grain deep…deeper…into the earth. It feels harsh! Uncaring! Cruel! It’s a feeling of being powerless, of being at His mercy. It seems as though He just pushes it into the ground and then leaves this one lone grain of wheat in the darkness and forgets about it. Death comes so slowly, so painfully, there in that black, cold, seemingly God forsaken place.

But HOPE is finally realizing the He has provided all that we need even in that dark place…all the best nutrients in the soil…the appropriate elements for growth…still in the darkness of the earth…but beginning to struggle less…beginning to relax…to trust that God has indeed provided all that is needed for growth…trusting that growth is happening. Rest. Relax. Rely. Even though we are still in the darkness, we are safe, secure and right on schedule…soon we will break through the ground and see the light of day…soon we will bear much fruit…soon…in God’s time.

JOY! Knowing that He is all we want! We come to realize that bearing fruit is a byproduct as we continue to reach for and respond to the Light that is stimulating growth in us!

Nouwen says:
“Celebration belongs to God’s Kingdom. God not only offers forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing, but wants to lift up these gifts as a source of joy for all to witness them.” “There is so much rejection, pain and woundedness among us, but once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebration. Joy never denies the sadness but transforms it to a fertile soil for more joy.” “People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it.”

“Make me know Thy ways, O LORD, teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me. For Thee I wait all day.” (Psalm 25: 4, 5)

Copyright 2002

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Walking on Water...

I wrote previously about stepping out of the boat against the advice of those who felt it was not practical to do so right now for various reasons. Practically speaking, they were right but I had been feeling the LORD nudge me to step out in obedience to His still small voice.

Last night as I thought about it, I realized how I've been blessed. I am full to overflowing. I am overwhelmed with His provision against all odds. My life feels more at peace than it has in a very long time.

I'm liking this walking ON water..and I'm loving the picture of fixing my eyes on Him as I walk steadily forward, hands outstretched, knowing that He will catch me if I stumble.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Your Heart is Greater than your Wounds...

In doing a little research this a.m. I came upon another's blog. where a quote by Henri Nouwen says what I often say to my clients:
"You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are...The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your wounds to your head or your heart. In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down to your heart. Then you can live through them and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds."
Your heart, according to Easton's Bible Dictionary, is the 'home of the personal life'. So essentially what Nouwen is stating here is that no amount of study, no amount of intellectual knowledge will bring about change unless and until we choose to let it touch the core of who we are by taking tangible practical risks.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stepping Out...

I'm stepping out of the boat. In a way that makes no sense timing wise nor economically. But walking on water doesn't really make sense to the logical mind at any time does it? He's asking me to do it, so I'm doing it!

A few months ago, I felt that He was calling me to this and I asked Him to verify that it was indeed of Him which He did. When a month later I asked Him once again to show me that it was really what He was asking me to do, He said, "Hellen, I've already told you twice." Hmmmm...

I've never ever doubted His love...ever. I have however struggled in the area of trust because of childhood experiences. What a gracious, loving, patient God I am in relationship with! Slowly but surely He has led me...no He has coaxed me... to this point. In his book Daring to Live on the Edge, Loren Cunningham says, "What He wants is obedience to His prompting THEN He will miraculously provide your needs."

So, I'm stepping out of the boat. Admittedly now that I have made the decision I've spent a couple of days looking at the waves and wondering what the heck I've done. But I know that He is in this and, intellectually, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if I keep my eyes on Him I will not sink...

Here we go...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Ambivalence of Becoming Real

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day...

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse
. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

I use this quote from the Velveteen Rabbit time and again with the people whom I minister to. I also refer them to John Eldredge's Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive.

And I believe in this process, this pursuit, with all my heart. Heart. The Heart fully alive. Becoming and being real. It hurts. It hurts so bad sometimes because it's hard to acknowledge the harsh reality of life, to admit unmet needs, or to embrace unfulfilled longings in this fallen imperfect world. The alternative is to deny and ignore the heart through fervent activity and busy-ness, to kill it with various addictions, to pretend all is right with the world. There is a pain in both of those paths.


As author and speaker Bunny Wilson says, "In this world we will have suffering. We choose whether we suffer for Satan and reap his reward, or suffer for Christ and reap His reward." I know that most of us want the latter but the former often seems so much easier because it's a 'quick' fix and it doesn't seem to require quite as much pain...in the moment.

"A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again." Proverbs 24:17

"When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand." Psalms 37:24

I'm so glad that the LORD holds our hands. I'm so thankful that because of Him we get up again. We can hardly believe that He doesn't see us as ugly when we fall. Instead He's loved us 'shabby' and is not about to let us go!!! Because of Him and IN Him we are Real.

Sunday, April 11, 2010



Streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, waterfalls…

Skiing, boating, canoeing, cruising, skating…

Swimming, snorkeling, deep sea diving…


Pure, clear, refreshing, cleansing, invigorating, satisfying…

Thirst quenching, life giving…


Revelation 22:1.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.

John 4:14.
Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lilac bushes and Life...

Do you ever have writing 'dry spells'? Seems that has been the case with me as of late. I've had a number of unplanned, unexpected changes in my life over the past few years and have been finding that the words for the written page are not flowing the way they usually do.

I realized this week that my potted lilac bush is much like me. Once again I marvel at the symbolism and analogy that God's creation presents us with. Let me explain.

I moved out of this province for a few years. During that time a friend of mine 'housed' my lilac in a sheltered area at the front entrance of her house. It bloomed wonderfully for her during that time. When I returned to this area, I moved it immediately to my place. A plant needs time to adjust and ideally should be moved gradually closer to its new location one step at a time over a period of time to minimize stress. Because of the shock of being moved so suddenly it has not bloomed for me the past two years. This year I am seeing lilac buds!! Seems it has recovered from the shock.

Like my lilac bush, and for reasons that I won't go into at this writing, I was moved very suddenly from one country to another, and before I had recovered, moved from one province to another. No planning ahead, no gradual process. So my body, mind and spirit needed time to adjust, to recover, to be restored, before being ready to 'bloom' again.

Like my resilient lilac bush, I am able to spring back from the trauma and stress that the unexpected changes placed on my being. Like my lilac bush I needed that reparation time. But The Master Gardener with His incomparable expertise was in control through it all! He gently tended to my needs in various ways during my rebuilding time!

And it seems that my plant and I are both ready to bloom again this season!

“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you,
and that you will work them,
water them with your blood and tears
and your laughter till they bloom,
till you yourself burst into bloom.” Unknown