Tuesday, April 29, 2008

God's Waiting Room

How are you when it comes to waiting? I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I can remain patient through many situations. I don’t mind waiting at the Doctor’s office. Getting delayed in traffic never seems to upset me. I gladly surrender my place in line at the grocery store when I see the lady behind me has fewer items in her shopping cart. To be honest, I enjoy the extra time of solitude waiting often affords. However, how do we react when we find ourselves in “God’s Waiting Room”?

Recently I have pulled up a chair alongside several friends who are waiting to see God act on their behalf. I’m sitting with a neighbour who is waiting to see the recovery of his father. Beside him sits a lady seeking health for her husband. Across the room, a friend sits in isolation, longing to know that God sees her situation and cares. In another chair, with head hanging low, sits a young lady whose shame has surrounded her and she wants to know if God will forgive her again. A young couple hold hands, a mixture of joy and wonder on their faces as they eagerly anticipate the nine-month wait to see the fulfillment of the gift of life that God has miraculously begun. A mother cries for the return of a prodigal daughter. A dear friend counts off another month on her calendar as the adoption of her baby girl appears no closer to reality. A family fills the remaining seats looking for guidance as a husband has lost his job due to restructuring. I complete their circle as one who is empty, crying out to God for direction and clarity. Do I find the waiting here easy? No. I want God to answer now. I want the receptionist to call my name and then provide me with a prescription that comes with the assurance of complete and lasting recovery and restoration.

Suddenly my eyes shift to a chair I hadn’t noticed before. There sits a Man of Sorrows who is well acquainted with grief. His eyes are full of love. You see, there is a major contrast between God’s Waiting Room and that of our family practitioner. The Great Physician Himself sits with us in the waiting room. He is very aware of each situation. He sees each concern. He knows each anxious longing. His arms hold each weary heart and troubled thought. His tears mingle with ours. He waits with us.

Today I offer no quick recovery, but I want to lift your eyes to the One who never leaves you or forsakes you, Deut 31:6. I heard it said once that our adversities are God’s universities. We want to avoid these times in our life, yet they are often where God does some of His most life-changing work in us. Draw near to God. Trust Him. Wait on Him – not on His answers. He will tenderly hold your heart as He accomplishes all that concerns you, Psalm 138:8

“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Prison Break

I attended a funeral for the father of new friend of mine recently. In our understanding he died too soon. He was only in his early 60's. Although I never had the opportunity to meet this man, his funeral impacted my life. The tributes and memories shared by family and friends were beautiful. We viewed a slide presentation set to music, tracing the journey of his life. The one thing that really spoke to my heart was that this man had truly lived.

He was an adventurer. Fear didn't hold him captive. He lived out loud. He wasn't afraid to follow the dreams God had placed in his heart, and yet he didn't take foolish risks. He enjoyed life to the full. In many ways he has gone from living to living.

My life in comparison would be such a shadow. Many of us would be likened to "dead men walking" in contrast. Oh, maybe outwardly we're going through the motions. Jumping through all the right hoops. We know how to play the "Game of Life". For generations it's been the same. We've read the rules. We know the expectations. Years go by, but our passion is getting buried deeper and deeper. We are allowing ourselves and others to dig our own grave...only we're still breathing. We're being buried alive.

I read recently of someone who, though living, described themselves as dead. Have you been there? Have you been to that dark place that numbs the heart. Apathy is your new normal. You feel indifferent...listless. You've lost interest in all your surroundings. Dejection and weariness characterize your existence. You are no longer a participant, but a spectator. You have eyes that see, without seeing. Ears that hear without hearing. A heart still capable of loving has become your prison. You feel empty, drained, alone.

Unbelievers are not the only ones held captive. Many Christians live life behind locked doors. Self-imposed cells. Discouragement, pain, rejection, insecurity, fear, accusations, past, present, future all build up walls. Gasping for breath you feel smothered, yet weakness and familiarity keep you hostage. It's often comforting to stay in the security of this new normal. Realizing work and effort may lay ahead, awakening holds too many uncertainties. A strange part of you enjoys the attention, pity and compassion from others. Silence is your truest friend and your most consuming enemy.

The problem? Right now life seems too overwhelming. Negatives far out-weigh the positives. Somehow your focus has shifted from what can be, to what is. Often it's a slow fade. Unfulfilled desires in a marriage, demanding children, a stressful job, painful, abusive memories, illness, ...disappointment in God. Oh, you'd probably not come right out and say that, but somewhere along the line, you've felt God has let you down. You had plans. You had desire. Your life was filled with enthusiasm and drive. You've been robbed in the cruellest way possible. You don't have to worry about being one step closer to the grave, you're already there.

How can I write of this? I've been there. I am all too familiar with premature death. But, can I offer you hope? If you are still breathing, you are not dead. Like a seed that may sit dormant all winter long, you are experiencing a winter in your soul. The season will change. Like the story of the "Secret Garden", there are treasures in you to be unearthed. Darkness can have a valuable purpose.

I don't know what God will do to call you back to life again, but He will. God is a God of Resurrection. He specializes in bringing the dead back to life. He wants to see you running and leaping. He comes to you, as He did to the blind beggar named Bartimaeus and asks, "What do you want Me to do for you?" He will not force Himself on you. He holds the keys to your release in open, nail-scarred hands and offers them to you. He is not the one holding you in bondage. Self-imposed shackles are the only things holding you hostage. Today could be your Prison Break!

Acts 16:26 "Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Before you call, I will answer


Yesterday I happened to post a casual comment on a friends blog about my culinary expertise, or should I say, lack thereof. I happened to mention, that unlike her efforts of making a chocolate cake from scratch, I had purchased some strawberries to adorn a store-bought Angel Food Cake. Ok, so it wasn't home-made, but I did buy it with my family in mind.

Shortly after sending this comment I received an e-mail from this same friend. She was quick to come to my aid suggesting an easy, fast recipe to turn my meagre offering into a decadent delight. With only a few more ingredients she gave directions to change my simple dessert into a masterpiece.

Had I come right out and asked for assistance? No. Had I even hinted that I needed help? No. This friend did more than just read words. She heard the longing of my heart. She sensed my wishfulness to give more, do more, tempered with the challenge of not knowing how. Did she overwhelm me with a recipe requiring exotic spices? Did she accuse me for not listening more attentively in Home Economics class? No. She just saw a need and responded.

The Bible tells me that God knows what I need before I ask Him. He is aware of my needs. He knows when my heart is sad and needs His presence to fill me with joy. He knows when I’m fearful and need the reassurance of His voice whispering in my ear, "Don't be afraid, I am with you". He knows when doubts overwhelm me and He shows me His nail scarred hands and patiently reminds me to trust again. When exhaustion overtakes me He lifts me up on eagles wings. When my mind wanders to insecurity and self-accusations, He helps me bring every thought captive. When loneliness surrounds me He holds me in His embrace and reminds me I am His precious child. And, when joy fills my cup and overflows He dances with me.

He knows the number of hairs on my head. He is fully aware of every situation and circumstance I am facing or will face. Although these encounters approach me unexpected, they are no surprise to God. He gives strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. When my soul can't find the words to ask, He is already working on the solution. He listens with His heart, and fills mine.

Today be assured, that whatever lies before you, God is already providing. The answer, His answer is on the way!

And...now...for the unveiling....

Many of you have either commented or e-mailed me for the recipe of the cake pictured above...so here you go...thanks to my friend Kelley!
Purchase one Angel Food Cake
One box Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
One can crushed pineapple, drained
One cup Cool Whip

Cut 3 layers in cake. Mix together prepared vanilla pudding, pineapple and coolwhip. Put in layers and over cake. Decorate with strawberries. ENJOY!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Last evening marked the grand finale of a two week run of my son's high school musical production of "Footloose". It was met with standing ovation, thunderous applause and loud cheering (and that was just from his mother!). These young people once again gave 110% and provided days and nights of entertainment for school groups, family and friends.

Now, before some of you click off this blog forever in shock that my son participated in such a questionable storyline, please grant me a few more moments of your time.

My Grade 10 son played keyboard for the "Pit Band". His musical Director left each member of the band personal words of encouragement attached to their music stands on opening night. The following is the quote he left for my son: "The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul", Johann Sebastian Bach.

My son's testimony and witness have preceeded his involvement in this musical. His teachers and classmates recognize his stand for Christ. When my son has missed practices due to church activities, the Director's have been accommodating and understanding. When my son is present at rehearsals and practices he gives his all and his participation is valued. His music teacher has written that my son is a musician of renown and standing in their school theatre company.

The "Footloose" script was also altered and changed to respect the values represented in the wide range of audience age, faith and beliefs. Much thought was given to present a non-offensive play, yet still maintain the original storyline. This effort was taken in a Public High School - not the norm in this day and age.

I personally loved the overall theme. "There is a time to dance" Ecc. 3:4. That was my theme verse last year. Dance shows have really taken off recently. On television and on the big screen, it has been a year of quick step, waltz, tango and free-style. "Shall We Dance", "Step Up", "Dancing with the Stars", "So you think you can Dance" all attract many viewers. Even young, emerging Christian groups have added movement to their ministry. A few months ago I attended a concert with "Jump 5" and "pureNRG" and let me tell you - these young people have energy!! These kids can move!!!

Dancing to me represents living in freedom - complete abandonment to God. It means taking God's hand and walking out on the dance floor of life, ready to embrace all that He has prepared for me. Too often I sit on my chair, alone, watching other's 'dance', afraid to move.

Some would be quick to condemn my enjoyment and support of this activity, as well as the school production, but God is looking at my heart. Many who would outwardly boycott such a musical have no difficulty with gossip, slander, jealously, bitterness and the like. We must be true to God with our own personal convictions. I have never danced - but, my feet are tapping. My son gave me a DVD for Christmas entitled, "Beginner's Ballroom Dancing". The Lord of the dance wants to sweep me off my feet. He is asking, "May I have this dance for the rest of your life?" I don't want to respond with the lyrics, "Can't dance, don't ask me". The band is playing. I see Him walking towards me, with hand extended. Will I place my hand...my heart...in His.

Lacing up my dancing shoes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thank you for being a friend

Almost a month ago I received this Friendship Award from my new Kansas friend Kelley. She has been such a gift from God to me. I am in awe at how the Lord brought our lives together. Kelley, you continue to be such an incredible source of encouragement to me. Love ya, friend. (To those of you reading this today, please pray for Kelley - she is speaking at a Bible study event this morning. Thank you.)

I would now like to pass this award along to some special friends who have deeply enriched my life through this bloggy world!

Holly - a special surprise gift from God. You have impacted my life more than you will ever know. Thank you for listening and hearing unspoken words of my heart. I am forever greatful.

Elaine - a skilled craftsman of words, capturing thoughts and expressions in poetry, verse and picture. You have touched my life deeply, calling me to a deeper intimacy with my Lord. Looking forward to spending time with you in June!

Cathy - how many years has it been? You have been a friend for all seasons. Thank you for patiently answering all my blog questions. Your gift of serving others is such an example to me. You're going to be a great Mom!!!

Carol - thank you for encouraging me years ago to enter bloggy world. Although I wasn't quite ready for it at the time, it has now given me a safe place of expression. Thank you for being that friend who hears it all and always can make me laugh regardless of circumstances. You have heard my deepest thoughts and still love me. Thank you.

Marilyn - thank you for sending that first e-mail message to me. We share so many similarities! We are on a journey from fear to faith and it's comforting to travel with such a loving companion.

Heather - my brave friend. You have opened your heart up to me and it's an honour to pray for you. The Lord is unwrapping a gift in your life and I'm privileged to watch the unvieling. Thank you for letting me share in your life.

Renee - you are a friend of my heart. God has called me to pray for you and this new friendship has been sweet. May the Lord return to you many blessings for the treasure you are to me.

Melissa - ah, my beautiful friend. Do you have any idea the joy you have brought into my life? When I see your name appear in my 'inbox' I always smile. You are His Princess and my precious friend. Can't wait to meet you!

Yolanda - you are a Barnabas - a constant source of encouragement. Thank you for reaching out to me and finding value in me. Your words are a breath of fresh air and refresh my soul. Thank you.

Michelle - you are family and friend. So often you have listened to me and held my words in the safety of your heart - thank you. So glad for the understanding you offer and the delight you bring to my life. You are a blessing.

Well, this is just a partial list, in no particular order. There are so many flowers in my bouquet of friendship and all of them leave their aroma and add to the fragrance of my life. Thank you all for being my friend!

Love & hugs,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Balancing Act

Last year our church hosted a Family Night with performer Bob Cates. His "Comedy in Motion" won him a nominee for Entertainer of the year in the Canadian Event Industry Awards for two consecutive years. The entire evening was filled with high energy and laughter. He closed his performance with the frantic plate spinning routine, reminiscent of the Ed Sulllivan Show. This is his signature piece and, if I recall correctly, I believe he keeps 30 plates spinning on the ends of very tall poles, without one of them crashing to the floor.

Do you ever feel like your life is rushing full speed ahead and you're trying to juggle too many plates? And, just when you think you've mastered the art, coordinated every schedule, run as fast as you can, someone tosses you another plate and yells, "Juggle"!

Someone right now wants to toss me another plate. Oh, it's a pretty plate. A plate that would bring recognition, but also responsibility. I'm looking the other way. Not feeling like I can add anything more into my life just now. Overwhelmed by the tasks at hand and so afraid that one more plate will disturb the routine and many spinning plates will come crashing to the ground. Just one miss and more than one person will be affected as everything is precisely planned and each detail meticulously calculated.

So, the question arises - should I replace an existing 'plate' with this new opportunity? Tough call when my life is really complete right now. Living in my 'sweet spot'. God has been giving me the desires of my heart and I feel I'm currently responding in the center of His will for me. He's opening doors I never dreamed would open. He's fulfilling dreams. Stretching my dependency on Him. Turning fear into faith. Opening my heart to a deeper level of understanding and intimacy with Him. Would one more plate upset the delicate balance of trust? Would one more plate not only stretch me too thin, but cause other plates to come crashing down as well? Desiring to give my best to the Master. Would one more 'plate' drain me and keep me from giving my all?

How do you respond to each new ministry request? Would appreciate any direction and guidance you can share. Seeking Him and praying for discernment.

"I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord...."
Only wanting His best for me.

Friday, April 11, 2008

10 Years Ago

I found this on Leah's blog and thought it looked like fun. What were you doing 10 years ago?

What was I doing 10 years ago? 1998
1. Volunteering at my son's public school
2. Soccer mom
3. Teaching Sunday School
4. Stay-at-home Mom
5. Time for 'tea parties' with friends

5 Things on my to-do list today:
1. Work part-time at Christian Bookstore
2. Laundry
3. Answer e-mails
4. Take my son to opening night of school musical (he's playing in the "Pit Band")
5. Iron - my favouite job - NOT!

5 Snacks I enjoy:
1. Anything chocolate
2. Icecream
3. Popcorn
4. Yogurt with granola and berries
5. Fresh fruit

5 Things I would do if I were a billionnaire:
1. Pray for guidance
2. Give to favourite ministries and to my church
3. Look after all my family - pay off their bills/morgage etc...
4. Surprise friends with gifts
5. Purchase a new home with some property

5 Bad habits:
1. Too much time on computer
2. Staying up too late
3. Too quick to judge by appearances
4. Allowing fear to direct my decisions
5. Insecurity

5 Places I have lived:
1. Oshawa - parent's home
2. Oshawa - apartment when first married
3. Newcastle - first home when married
4. Newcastle - 'dream home'
5. Oshawa - necessity move for school

5 Jobs I have had:
1. Math and English Tutor for high school students
2. Library Clerk in Children's Public Library
3. Speech therapy with children in grades 1-3
4. Part time position at Christian bookstore
5. Writing articles for Women's Newsletter

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Open Hands, Open Heart

Maybe you've heard this story before, but it has been impressed on my heart and mind so much recently, thought I'd share it in my blog. The first time I heard it I was attending a Women's Retreat. It spoke powerfully to my heart. This is my retelling, as best as I remember.

It's about a little girl named Jenny who was captivated by a pearl necklace at the counter of a store while shopping with her Mommy. Oh, she wanted those pearls so much, but unfortunately her Mommy just didn't have the extra funds to purchase them for Jenny at the time. Her Mommy reminded her that she had a birthday approaching and that she would probably receive some money from her Grandmother, so in time, if she kept saving, she could probably buy the necklace herself if she really wanted it.

Well, Jenny did save enough money, and she did purchase the pearls. She loved her pearls. They made her feel so special. She wore them all the time.

Every night her loving Daddy would read her a story and tuck her into bed. One night, just before he left Jenny's room, her Daddy asked, "Do you love me Jenny?" Jenny responded, "Oh, yes, Daddy".
Her Daddy asked, "Can I have your pearls?"
"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls, " said Jenny. She then began to list other items that were still special to her, that she loved very much, that she was willing to surrender to her Daddy, but she could not part with her precious pearls.

This conversation happened again and again and each time Jenny offered her Daddy another item in place of the pearls, but just couldn't relinquish her treasure.

One night as her Daddy came into the room, he noticed Jenny was sitting crying in the middle of the bed. He inquired what was wrong, and in response Jenny opened her hand to reveal her little pearl necklace. With a little sob catching in her throat she said, "Daddy, these are for you".

It's at this point Jenny's Daddy takes the pearls with one hand, and with the other reaches into his pocket and pulls out a velvet box containing a genuine set of pearls. He replaced the dime-store necklace with a genuine treasure.

Maybe there are some things today in your life that you need to surrender so that you can receive God's love. What 'pearls' do you need to open your clenched fist and release to God? Now is the time to let go of the past. Embrace God's truth. Hebrews 4:7b says, "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."

(For the complete story, see "More Stories for the Heart", c.1997. Compiled by Alice Gray.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Miracle in the making

Tonight I'm feeling very reflective. I just spent the last little while visiting a blog that has brought back a flood of memories. A young couple is sharing the birth story of their precious little micro-preemie, Gwyneth Rose, born at just 24 weeks. This adorable little "White Rose" is now 12 weeks old, but still so very tiny. While this is miraculous in itself, this true-life story has so much more depth. You see, the babies Mommy, Tricia, has Cystic Fibrosis and is currently, as I type this, in surgery receiving a double lung transplant....AND...today is her husband's birthday!! This story truly is more amazing than any novel you could ever find on your library shelves. Oh how my thoughts and prayers are with this sweet family tonight.

Viewing the incredible pictures of this wee baby has so touched my heart. You see, I was born at 25 weeks and Doctor's gave absolutely no hope for my survival. Gwyneth Rose is getting the best of care offered today for preemie babies, but back almost 46 years ago there was basically nothing that could be done. I am an identical twin, and both my sister and I weighed only a pound each at birth. The nurses held us in their hands like a pound of butter - no larger than the palms of their hands. We were each placed in an incubator and my parents were left to just watch each breath. Eyes riveted to the rise and fall of each little chest. Would another breath come? Would this be the last? My parents made 101 visits to the hospital before they were even allowed to touch one of us. People began praying for us all over the world. We became known as the "Miracle Babies". My older sister who was 18 when we were born, was rushed home from her summer job at a Christian camp so she could see her baby sisters while they were still alive. Born with undeveloped lungs, diseases, too many complications to list, the Doctor's said it would only be a short time before our lives ended. But God!

When our parents finally brought us home we had to be fed every 3 hours night and day. My Dad was working a night shift at that time, and it would take my Mom the entire 3 hours to feed us both as we were slow eaters. My parents painted the toenails on one of our feet red so she would be able to know which baby she had already fed. Many nights she wouldn't even have time to change into her night clothes, never mind get a couple of hours of sleep.

We were almost a year old before we were able to finally go outside, but because our lungs had not been used to fresh air, every time we went for a walk in our stroller we would be nauseous. It was a long, slow development, but God was so gracious. He continued to breathe life into two little girls.

A few years ago a very dear friend of mine gave birth to twin girls at 25 weeks. Her precious little daughters lived only a short while before going to the Father's arms. The passing of these girls left me questioning. Why Lord? Why did You allow these babies to die while You gave life to my sister and I? I struggled so much with the mystery of God's sovereignty. Was I living my life to the fullest? Was I fulfilling God's plan for me?

If you're reading this, know that God has a plan for your life. You are not here by mistake or chance. God is the only One who gives and takes away. Cherish each day. Live each day. Thank the Lord for every moment. And, if you feel led, would you pray for Tricia, Nate and Gwyneth Rose? Their's is a miracle story in the making. Our God is able!