Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grab My Hand...

I started the day off feeling a wonderful peace.

I'd had a great sleep. My devotional time was awesome. I had my day all scheduled.

Then one thing after another happened work wise to the point where I began to wonder for the first time about that 'stepping out of the boat' thing from last year. I can't say that I felt anxious but I was feeling quite vulnerable about my future.

As I've said in a previous blog, I'm doing a fast at the moment and I had the fleeting thought that I was being tested today. I decided to go reread my The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast devotional. I've also been reading Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presencesimultaneously so I read it right after.

Essentially, they both encouraged me, as always, to praise Him in the midst of it, to focus on things above, to meditate on the whatsoever things of Philippians 4:8 Which was great.

But the thing that really got me was the 'Daddy' talk! To trust His promises. Don't you just love the picture of a daddy holding his child's hand while the child joyfully skips along...fully trusting that daddy has things under control.

Jesus Calling devotional says for today, in part,
“Sit still in the light of my presence and receive my peace…Hold my hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.”

How comforting. It restored the peace to my spirit.

Lest you think that I have a halo...that I have always been able to immediately just trust Him upon focusing on verses such as these...let me tell you that that is not the case. Just ask those that know me. It has been a long journey to get to this kind of trust. But I sure do love the results of this journey! I love that I can grab a hold of His hand knowing that He is a Father who indeed does keep His promises!

Thank you, Abba, Thank you, Daddy,
that I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory
Psalm 73:23-24

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No cheese or baked goods have ever been baptized into a Mennonite church

Isn’t it amazing how many memories are attached to the foods that we eat or have eaten? I love how a recipe or a photo or a conversation about a certain food brings back fond memories of childhood Christmases at my grandparents. Or memories of family gatherings. Or...

Yesterday local ladies were interviewed on Global News. Mennonite Girls Can cook blogspot has now had 2 million hits and they’ve recently published a cookbook. They are now posting recipes from various cultures but they started out posting traditional Mennonite recipes for posterity. I would venture to guess that part of what has drawn so many people to this blog is the same thing that draws me back again and again: nostalgia and an attempt to keep the memories alive by cooking those things of yesteryear.

For those of you who are thinking, "But I thought that Mennonite was a religion." let me explain the background a little. In one of my first blogs at this site, I wrote about my own cultural background and the importance of the stories of our lives. The memories that these foods evoke are part of my story...and perhaps yours as well. While I have not worshiped in a Mennonite church for many a year, my cultural background remains Mennonite. This differentiation can be confusing for some but suffice it to say that it has become both a religion and a culture. The Mennonite Historical Society of Canada has a rather humorous explanation :
Today…one can go to an area with a Mennonite population and see signs advertising "Mennonite baking," "Mennonite furniture," "Mennonite quilts," and even "Mennonite maple syrup!" To my knowledge, no syrup or baked goods have ever been baptized into a Mennonite church - they have never decided that "this is the church for them." In such cases the word "Mennonite" does not refer to a religious group, but rather to people of a certain ethnic and/or cultural background.

And I would hasten to add, ‘Mennonite Cheese’ to that for those from Mexico since Mennonites there have become quite well known for ‘Queso Menonitas’.

They may not have been baptized into the church but, at the risk of sounding irreverent, many a Mennonite food has been sprinkled, dunked and even immersed...chocolate sprinkles, dunked in coffee, immersed in gravy...and so on...

I have awesome memories of:

Apricot Suppsel: Picking apricots with my dear Leentjemum in her yard at Blumenort.

Cabbage Borscht! Christmas at Grandma and Grandpas as a child.

Bubbat! A great cousin gathering on one of my first visits to Mexico as an Adult.

Knackzoot (Spitz): Ohhhhhh, the memories with that one...that's a blog for the future I think...messy floors come to mind.

And that's just a start.

It's not as much about the food as the memories that they evoke of times with loved ones...and the stories that emerge... Thanks 'Mennonite Girls Can Cook' for this trip down memory lane!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Corrective Lenses?

Remember yesterday's blog about self focused North Americans who need to learn to be God focused, other centered people? I always chuckle at how God (some may say happenstance) works. I've been doing the Daniel Fast and the Day 10 devotional ties in so well with what I was sharing yesterday that I want to share a bit of it with you.

Kristen, the author, talks about waking up with a headache and getting the woe-is-me's...tunnel vision. When she opens her Bible to I John 4:11-12 she reads:
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Her headache does not go away immediately. But she begins to think about the fact that God's love is not given purely for our own enjoyment. It is meant to be shared with those around us. Her headache has given her tunnel vision - which in medical terms means a loss of peripheral or side vision. This tunnel vision kept her focused only on her own needs and blocked out the needs of those around her. Looking to God in reading His Word made her realize that it was impossible for her to love others when she couldn't even see them because of her tunnel vision.

This takes me back to one of ">yesterday's quotes: Focus on God trusting Him to meet your needs, then peripheral vision returns enabling you to love others in the midst of whatever you are going through..

To echo Kristen's prayer in the devotional:

"Father, it is easy to get so wrapped up my my own life that I become oblivious to the needs of the people around me. Help me to humble myself so that I can share your life-changing love."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Overflowing...and that's a good thing...

In the past week the LORD has been reminding me through various means that we
as North Americans have become a very self focused culture by and large. I won't go into the details of that at this moment but I do want to share with you a couple of quotes that may inspire and encourage a change in focus.

I saw a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote earlier today which said:
"Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness."

Lysa TerKeurst talks in one of her blogs about being

God focused” and love directed.

That sounds like the perfect way to be unselfish.

Lest you think that that's advocating a cheesy hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbayah kind of love take a close look at I Corinthians 13 to see what other centered love really looks like.

LOVE is patient, Love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

As you can see, this kind of love is anything but cheesy...and impossible to do without the God Focus. St Bernard of Clairvaux says it well when he says:,

"........we should seek to become reservoirs rather than canals. For a canal just allows the water to flow through it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, then it can communicate without loss to itself. "

LORD, remind us to stay focused on you. Fill us to overflowing as we do so, and let it spill out to those around!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Round Tuit

My youngest brother and I were just conversing about procrastination. It reminded me of a book that I bought as a joke at a little book shop in Whistler while my niece lived there. Turns out it had valuable information.

The book is called The Procrastinator's Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now.
It is a well written book and the author has an entertaining style of presentation.

I really would like to tell you more of what I learned from this reading and I will ...when I get a round tuit!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Speaking of Simplicity...

"...don't be anxious about your life, about what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6: 25-33

Understanding all that that implies and to do so is to live in simplicity.

Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline states that freedom from anxiety is one of the inward evidences of seeking first the kingdom of God. This freedom from anxiety is characterized by 3 inner attitudes:

1. If what we have we receive as a gift from God (i.e. live by grace in dependence on God),
2. If what we have is to be cared for by God (i.e. we trust that He is able to protect what we have) and
3. If what we have is available to others (i.e. we share all that we have with anyone in need).

The reason that we find it so difficult to make what we have available to others is because of our fear of the future. We cling to things rather than share because we are anxious about tomorrow. Taken together, these 3 attitudes define what Jesus meant when he said, "Do not be anxious..."

Foster further states that this inner reality is not a true reality until there is an outward expression. He believes that there are 10 controlling principles for this outward expression:

1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status

2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you...refuse to be a slave to anything but God.

3. Develop a habit of giving things away. If you find that you are becoming attached to something, consider giving it away to someone who needs it. De-accumulate.

4. Refuse to propagandized by custodians of modern gadgetry since "new" features are often only a way of inducing us to buy what we do not need.

5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them. Owning things is an obsession of our culture. If we own it, we feel we can control it; if we can control it, we feel it will give us more pleasure. The idea is an illusion. Share things.

6. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation. Get close to earth. Walk. Listen to birds. Enjoy the texture of grass and leaves. Marvel at the rich colors everywhere...Psalm.24:1

7. Look with healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes. They are a trap and serve to deepen you bondage. Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible condemn 'usury' for good reason. ("Usury" =charging interest which was viewed as an unbrotherly exploitation of another's misfortune, hence a denial of Christian community.)

8. Obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech. Matthew 5:37 If you consent to a task, do it. Avoid flattery and half truths... honesty and integrity... reject jargon and abstract speculation whose purpose is to obscure and impress rather than to illuminate and inform.

9. Reject anything that will breed the oppression of others. May God give us prophets today who, like John Woolman, will call us "from the desire of wealth' so that we may be able to "break the yoke of oppression."

10. Shun whatever would distract you from you main goal of seeking His Kingdom and Righteousness.

Psalm 62:10-12 "If riches increase, do not set you heart upon them...Power belongs to God...For He recompenses a man according to his work."

Proverbs 11:28 "He who trusts in his riches will wither."

Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for He has said, 'I will never fail you nor forsake you.' "

God give us courage, wisdom and strength always to hold as the number one priority of our lives to "seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness," understanding all that that implies. To do so is to live in simplicity.