Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mistaken Identity

Recently I watched a riveting true story on television about a horrific accident involving drivers and passengers of two vehicles. The impact of the crash was so magnficant that bodies recovered from the scene were unrecognizable. One young woman who was fighting for her life became wrongfully identified as one of the deceased. The identity of two girls became switched in a moment, and due to the extent of injuries, bandages, and medical equipment sustaining her life, even her family didn't immediately realize the mistake that had innocently been made. When the discovery became apparent, the two families faced unexpected news. The one family who had buried the girl they thought was their daughter received her back, as if from the grave. The other family who had been keeping round-the-clock vigil at a hospital bedside discovered they had been sitting with a stranger. They had missed their own daughter's funeral. A case of mistaken identity.

It's quite familiar for me, any day, to be incorrectly perceived as another. Being an identical twin, living within several miles of my sister, it is common for me to be addressed by my sister's name while out and about, especially by folks who do not know either of us well. I am quite accustomed to this as being part of my life.

Sometimes I am out with my son and we meet a friend we haven't seen in a long while. Usually without fail, at some point early in the conversation, this person will turn to my son and say, "Oh there's no denying whose child you are - you look exactly like your mother'. Now, whether or not this is a compliment for an almost 16 year old boy (12 more days until he reaches this milestone!), it does speak of family resemblance.

It makes me wonder, as a child of the King, how well do I resemble my Heavenly Father? When others look at me what do they see? God's Word says in Isaiah that Christ had no beauty or majesty that would attract us to Him. Nothing in His appearance that we would be drawn to Him. It wasn't outward appearance that drew people to Him. So unlike our culture today always striving for outward beauty. It's wasn't outward appearance, but inner character.

I ask myself: Do I bear any obvious resemblance to Christ's character? Do my eyes seek out the lonely? Do my hands reach out and touch and bring His healing and love to hurting lives? Do my words encourage and strengthen? Do my ears listen with His compassion? Does my countenance reflect His glory? When people look at me what do they see. Whose identity to they see? How clear is my reflection of Christ to the poeple I come in contact with each day? It's been asked if you were arrested and placed on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence against you to convict you? Would I be identified as Christ's? Going even a step further, am I willing to be identified as Christ's and with Christ?

Peter ran from this identity when questioned at the time of Christ's arrest. He was frightened of how being identified with Christ would affect his life. Would he too be arrested? Would he be scorned, rejected, despised, beaten? Would following Christ demand his life? How far would identity with Christ take him? To the cross? Could he travel all that way? Would he be willing to pay the price, endure the loss, face the criticism, accept the death of his dreams, plans and desires and be crucified with Christ? Identity with Christ may take all of us down some very trying roads here in this life, but it takes us all the way to eternity in death. God's Word says that if we are ashamed to confess Him before man, He will not confess us before His Father in heaven. Matthew 10:33 "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Can you really afford to forego the shame now in exchange for an eternity without Him?

How does this apply to us practically? It means bowing my head to ask a blessing in a restaurant. It means not being afraid to share a testimony of God's goodness in my life when an opportunity arises. It means saying no to going to the theatre or renting that movie that warns of Christ's name being spoken in vain. You'll know the times. It's whenever your heart is beating faster and the palms of your hands begin to perspire. You sense God's Holy Spirit prompting you to take a stand and be identified as a Christ-follower. Will you?

On the other hand, there is never a case of mistaken identity with Christ. Even as an identical twin, God never confuses me with my sister. He knows the number of hairs on my head and as a believer, my identity in Christ is sealed. Ephesians 1:3-8 tells me that I am blessed, loved, chosen, adopted, favoured, redeemed and forgiven. Through receiving Him as my Lord and Savior, I am a dearly loved child of Almighty God and no-one can take that identity away from me. It can't be stolen, but the way I live my life can allow it to go unnoticed or mistaken.

I'm praying today that each word, each deed, each glance points to the One who gives significance to each moment. My identity, my only identity, comes from Christ. Without Him I am nothing.

Be sure to check out my new devotional blog at Pondering in His Presence.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Well, today I have a mixed bag of special thoughts and happenings to share with you that have all transpired in the last five days. Let's begin with the obvious!

For any of you who have visited my blog for any length of time now you will have noticed a beautiful "face-lift". My dear friend Kelley gifted this make-over to me. Don't you think it's absolutely gorgeous!!!! She is so amazingly talented and she has such a sweet heart for God. The Lord has truly blessed me with her friendship and He is using her in my life to bring His aroma of joy. If you have time today, stop over and visit her blog - you too will be blessed!

I had shared with Kelley how much I love daisies. I call them God's "I love you" flower. With the Lord it is NEVER "He loves me, He loves me not", but always, "He loves me, He loves me, He loves me...." The daisies on this header are a constant reminder that God loves me, always and unconditionally.

The key also has special significance. Through this avenue of writing God is unlocking the secret treasures of my heart. Words that used to stay confined are finding release. The locked garden of my heart is being opened and new life if blooming.

Thank you Kelley for once again hearing unspoken desires of my heart and selflessly giving of your time, talents and love. You are a treasured friend.

Next, I want to share some exciting news I received on the weekend. Back in March I entered a writing contest through The Word Guild, entitled "God Uses Ink". It was a contest run all across Canada for novice writers who have never been published. The entrants had to write a personal journey story of their walk with the Lord. For the experience alone that this would provide, and for the very valuable critique that would be given to every entry, I decided to submit my story. The panel of judges consisted of publishers, authors, editors and journalists.

As time passed and the date of the Awards Night approached, I assumed I would hear nothing more until my critiqued manuscript was returned in the mail. Well, you can imagine my surprise late Friday evening when I found a message in my Inbox notifying me that I was a winner. I had placed third in my age category! What an encouragement. The Lord has used this recognition to confirm in my heart that I am to continue following His direction down this writing path and keep seeking Him.

Yesterday, He opened yet another door. My church has asked me to begin a Women's Ministry blog! This will be another opportunity to share His truths and my heart with precious ladies through the written word. I am SO excited about this ministry as well. God has been speaking to me about using my mind and the abilities He has given me to minister to others. Although this new adventure brings apprehension as well, again I am following His lead.

This morning I read an amazing quote by William Faulkner. It was referring to pilgrims travelling to the promised land. "They are not monuments, but footprints. A monument only says, "At least I got this far", while a footprint says, 'This is where I was when I moved again.""

God is moving me again. It has barely been two weeks since I found out the Bookstore I work for is closing, and already God is moving me on. Life is too short to be standing still. We are not monuments, but footprints. A statue is still; but footprints suggest following. One is a memory, the other is a miraculous life in the making. A statue is unmoving, but a footprint is on a journey. The monument is an altar, the footprint is an adventure. A monument marks history; a footprint is the active, current writing of "His story" across my life.

Thinking that better than a memory stone, is fresh dirt rising beneath my sandal. I do not want to be an atrophied adventurer but a faithful follower. Today, will you come along with me and follow in the footsteps of our Father? I can't guarantee the way will be without danger or hardship, but He is safe to follow.

Shaking the dust off from around my feet,

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Lesson of "All things" continues

Questions. Unanswered questions. Pain. Anger. Confusion.

Where was God Wednesday evening around 5pm when precious little Maria Chapman was struck and killed accidentally by a car driven by her brother? God could have intervened in countless ways. The car could have unexplainably stopped. He could have allowed her brother to see her before it was too late. He could have kept her from being in the pathway of death. He could have acted in a number of miraculous ways - and yet - He didn't. Why?

God's plans are not our plans. Can we possibly see the truth of "all things working together for good" in the face of such tragedy? I try to reason God's plan in this. Maybe little Maria's life would have held a devastating diagnosis. Maybe she would have rejected salvation or wandered from the Lord. Maybe her life would have held addiction, alcoholism, abuse and God was sparing her tremendous hardships. For these reasons, her death is a little easier to understand - but, I don't know that any of this would have been true. I'm writing my own story around her life, trying to guard myself from the coldness that wants to envelop my heart towards a God who would be that cruel to a family who devoted their lives to serving and honouring Him.

I cannot begin to imagine their grief. My own tears have flowed, unchecked, spilling from a heart overcome with pain. The thought of life ever being "normal" again for the Chapmans must seem impossible...unfathomable. Daily they will face reminders of their sweet daughter, whose life was stolen before it's time. time...not God's time.

Several years ago I had a motto: "I'm going to thrive in 2005". I wanted my life to exemplify and give witness to the verse, that Christ came to give us life - and give it to the full. I wanted to travel from insecurity to confidence. From fear to faith. From inadequacy to accomplishment. From worthless to value. I had dreams of moving from the mundane to the miraculous. I was going to live life abundantly. I was going to thrive!

But, what about when surviving alone is the great success? Beth Moore writes, "Sometimes life is so atrocious that surviving is its own great achievement and a strange proof of sorts that God must exist." Have you ever considered surviving in itself a crowning achievement? Maybe some of you reading this right now are all to familiar with this concept. Maybe you are hanging on by a thread, but at least you're hanging on. You have been dealt a bitter blow - one not expected, that hit you on the blind side. Maybe your loss has been great. Possibly you are walking a living death. A phone call. A letter. A financial setback. A betrayal. Life can change in an instant.

In mere seconds the Chapman family has been changed forever. Laughter that filled their home has suddenly become a stranger. How can they celebrate their oldest daughter's engagement and their sons high school graduation this weekend? How can they be expected to give thanks in all things? How can they keep serving Him?

BECAUSE GOD IS GOOD. The things allowed to touch our lives are not always good, but that doesn't change God's character. God is good! Am I trusting God because of His blessings? Have I got a qualifer on my relationship with Him? Lord, if You bless me, then I will love, serve and follow You. I can't place conditions on God. He grieves with us in our pain. He cherishes our tears and treasures them. He knows our struggle, as One well-acquainted with sorrow.

The answers I seek may never come this side of heaven. Will my faith still stand? Yes, because the same God who is now holding Maria in His arms, is holding my life in His hands, and although I will never fully understand His plans I can trust His heart.

Friday, May 16, 2008

One of the "All things"

Hi Sweet Friends!

Well...I could begin by listing all the reasons I haven't been writing over the past couple of weeks...and they would be valid reasons...but I have so much I want to share that I won't take the time....just know, it's good to be back!

Also...I usually carefully try and plan out what I'll share on my blog posts, but today, you're just going to get what comes off the top of my head...scary I know, but much quicker!

I hardly know where to begin! I've been working more full-time over the past couple of weeks as employees have been on holidays. I LOVE MY JOB!!! It really is the greatest. The Lord gifted it to me back in September. I received a phone call one day...completely out of the blue :o), asking if I would like to work a the Christian Bookstore in my city. This was my dream job!!! I had always wanted to work at a Christian bookstore. I had been a stay-at-home Mom for 15 years and I had told the Lord that when He felt I was ready to re-enter the workforce, then He would have to open the door, as I was quite content to be at home and continue with the volunteer work I was doing weekly. When this phone call came asking me if I would like this position, without having submitted any resume or application, it was confirmation to me that God truly does give us the desires of our hearts. It has been the BEST!!! But, just yesterday I was reminded that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the Name of the Lord.

About 24 hours ago now, I received some disappointing news. The store where I work will be closing by mid-August and my job will be over. I came home and cried last night. Cried for 2 reasons - one, overcome by the gift and treasure this job has been...that God would have given me the joy of a dream fulfilled, albeit for a short time. I also cried for the loss of something wonderful.

The Lord had prepared me for this news in the morning, reminding me in my devotional time that NOTHING can touch our lives without coming through God's Hand. Psalm 125 reminds me that God is like the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. He cannot be shaken by the changes in our circumstances. He is not surprised at this announcement. He endures, unmoveable forever. I can rest in a God who not only provides security, but completely surrounds me with His presence. I love what Beth Moore writes, "Nothing can close in on you without closing in on Him first. God alone can be both the watchman and the wall." "Like the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, God is ever surrounding us. He sees and sifts every life experience that could touch His child. Nothing can break His grip."

As I went to bed last night I prayed that the Lord would continue to speak to my heart, and continue He did.

This morning the Lord has reminded me that He is Alpha and Omega. A closed door isn't the end, it's a hand-engraved invitaion to a new beginning.

So right now, again I find myself between the now and the not yet. Again I am living between the times. As James Limburg writes, "between a good time remembered and another good time hoped for".

"You and I will never move to the next level with God if we're scared half to death of what awaits us. On this mysterious pilgrimage we will find that when we do meet difficulties and sorrows, they were not meant to stop us but to form the character required for our great harvest in the coming season. Step into your future, Precious One. Something wonderful awaits you." Beth Moore

I am in awe of my God. He knows every detail of every life. He knows what I'm facing today. He knows what I will face tomorrow. He will not forget me, He has engraved me on the palm of His hand. I can trust him with ALL that lies ahead. His Word is true. He promises that "all things" work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28)

This is one of my "all things". What "all thing" is God working together for good in your life right now? You can claim His promise with me if you love Him and are called by Him. Remember, God IS good!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Yesterday my church hosted a Mother/Daughter High Tea. It was a lovely afternoon from start to finish. The room was decorated beautifully and each table was set by the Hostess of that table. My older sister was the "Martha Stewart" behind our exquisite table decor.

Pictured above is my family: Standing, left to right: my sister Sharon, my sister Japhia. Seated, left to right: my neice Michelle, me, my Mom.

I'm so thankful to the Lord that almost 16 years ago now I celebrated my first Mother's Day. There is no greater joy today, than to know that my son is walking with the Lord.

Where did he get that height?

Blessings to all my blog friends today - and Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Mixed Emotions

"Don't it always seem to go,
You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone".

Do you remember my "Bittersweet" post and the thoughts from my "Now and Not Yet" ponderings? Well, just a couple of days ago my heart has felt that similar severing again. Hearing some news on Wednesday evening has divided my emotions, calling me to travel two diverging paths at the same time.

When I arrived home from work just three nights ago, my son greeted me at the door with, "Mom, I've got some very sad news." Well, I perceived immediately it wasn't 'sad' as in the loss of a life, but it was disappointing.

I asked, "Is it school news?"
"Is it teacher news?"
I knew instantly.
"Mr. K. is leaving".
I received a confirming nod.

Mr. K. is the amazing music teacher my son has had the privilege of training under since entering High School. Having a mutual friend, Mr. K. knew of my son long before the two of them ever met face to face. From day one it has been the pairing of two completely music minded souls. My son desiring to one day become "Mr. K." and follow in his footsteps in Music Education, and Mr. K. wishing that some day his two young boys would grow up to be like my son. There has been a wonderful friendship formed, while still maintaining a teacher student respect.

It is this same man I wrote about in my "Footloose" post below. The one who encouraged my son on the opening night of their performance, that all music is for the glory of God. Just earlier this week, my son needed a recommendation from two teachers to apply for a leadership course his guidance counselor strongly felt he should take next year and Mr. K. wrote the following about my son: "Amazing Guy! Fantastic and brilliant student! Could be the best we've had!" Do you see why it's so hard to see this teacher leave?

Feelings arising are similar to my reaction while viewing "Goodbye Mr. Chips" (a VERY old movie) and "Mr. Holland's Opus" (about a music teacher retiring). This gentleman gives his all, freely sacrificing his time, hours upon hours upon hours, to impart in students a passion for music. Just last week one of the bands my son plays in received a Gold Medal and a Scholarship for their outstanding performance. The adjudicator said that at one point during their performance he had to put his pen down and just listen as he was so overcome with emotion while their band played. In the two weeks that this man had been judging bands he said he had not heard anything close to the calibre of these students. A testimony and tribute to a dedicated music teacher.

Although our hearts are already feeling the loss, we are so happy for Mr. K. He has received a huge promotion. He is going from being a High School music teacher, in charge of the Arts Program at one High School, to becoming Head of all Arts Departments in our District School Board. No one is more deserving. No one could be better equipped. No one will be missed more.

So, through our disappointment, we know we must release this amazing educator to bigger and better things. Our joy for his achievement is mixed with the empty ache of the loss of a talented teacher, a model musician, a commanding conductor, a marvelous mentor, a respected role-model, who will remain a forever friend.

We will continue to pray for Mr. K. and we thank the Lord for the impact he has made on our son's life over the past two years. It has been a pleasure and privilege to know him. The Lord has used him greatly in shaping our son and giving Chris future direction and we, as parents, are forever greatful.