Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Proof of Identity

Do you ever have a day that you feel you are running around in circles? Like a little hamster in a cage, you ventured onto that wheel and it's spinning endlessly. Randy Stonehill used to sing a song entitled, "Stop the World, I want to get off". That was my day yesterday.

My morning started great. With nothing pressing on my agenda, and my sister helping over at my parents, my son and I enjoyed a relaxing morning. Just prior to lunch I decided that we should head over to the Health Care offices. My son had recently turned 16 years of age, and therefore required a new photo Health Card.

While completing the paperwork at home, we discovered that some documents were required that he didn't yet possess. He needed "Proof of Identity". Examples were cited of documents that would fulfill this requirement, but unfortunately my son didn't have any of these papers. A "Passport" was listed as one of the acceptable pieces of identification, so we decided to start the ball rolling to acquire a passport. After all, if I'm working on my family to consider a week of holidays in North Carolina the end of next July, that would just 'happen' to coincide with the "She Speaks" conference, it wouldn't hurt to be prepared. :o)

We went to the nearest photo lab and within minutes he had his picture in hand. My son completed all the written forms....until we suddenly came to the very same requirement..."Proof of Identity". We seemed to be up against a brick wall. Again my son owned nothing in this identical list of options. I decided to phone the Passport Office and ask for assistance.

I was talking to a kind young man who quickly told me that if my son had a signed Library Card, the Passport office would accept this as "Proof of Identity". Yay! Now we were making progress. My son and I quickly rounded up all the necessary forms and headed to the neighbouring city to submit the information for his Passport so that in another couple of weeks we'd have the required "Proof of Identity" to complete the Health Card forms.

All was going great at the Passport office until the young lady behind the counter saw my son's library card. She politely informed us that a signature on a library card was't acceptable proof of identity. I explained to her that I had just called the office and been told that a library card would be valid. She checked with a supervisor on duty and came back to report that they couldn't accept it as it wasn't issued by the government. She asked for a Health Card. I felt like I was caught in the pages of the children's book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". Here we were so diligently trying to comply with the rules and wishes of others, but caught in a vicious circle, each one requiring the completed paperwork of the other.

So, now here we were again. Back to square one. If it wasn't so frustrating, it would have been comical. I had to have "Proof of Identity" and yet my son was standing right there beside me...was that not identity enough? I was envisioning our entire adventure as a television sitcom. I'm sure "Seinfeld" could do an hilarious episode based on these escapades. I however, wasn't laughing. Didn't the Lord know I had been rather busy lately? Didn't He know I had this day to get some things accomplished and all these set-backs annoying to say the least? My patience was beginning to wane.

As we drove back home, wondering what to do next, I began to see a spiritual application in all of this. (You knew there would be one...right?) The government needed a document with my son's signature on it. Something that proved he was who he said he was. One day our names will be required on another important document - the Lambs Book of Life. It won't matter how many people say you lived a good life, or how you served faithfully in ministry, or how you gave selflessly to others, if your name isn't written in God's book, you too will be turned away.

Although our solution was proving trying, God has made an easy way for you to have your eternity sealed. It's as simple as asking and receiving. We had a list of documents to choose from to complete our forms - all would have been acceptable. There were many roads that all led to the same end. This is not true with eternity. There is only one way into heaven, and that's through the blood of Christ. Is your paperwork completed? Have you come to Him in recognition of who He is and received the salvation and life He freely offers through the death of His one and only Son? There's no standing in line. There's no 'red tape'. Crimson love covers your sins. He is all the proof of identity you need. With confession and belief you can receive your passport to heaven. Unlike these documents required by man that are temporary and will expire in a few years, our salvation is guaranteed for a lifetime. "For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I've committed until Him against that day".

After over four hours of running from place to place, using up lots of gas in the car, and making phone calls, finally our efforts were rewarded. The Lord intervened and in approximately four weeks my son should receive his new Health Card in the mail and then we will be able to take steps necessary to obtain his Passport. The treadmill we were on stopped, and we sat down exhausted from the days run around.

Before closing, I just want to say 'thank you' to so many of you who commented or e-mailed me after reading my last post, "Embrace or Endure". My Mom is coming along. The therapist visited again yesterday adding further restrictions, which is difficult, and will mean she will need longer care, but the therapist was pleased with the healing process and her recovery thus far. Dad continues to struggle with his own challenges, but he is in good spirits. Your prayers, support, encouragement and love at this time have helped me embrace this journey with patience and understanding. Praying that the fruit of His Spirit will continue to grow in my life as I submit to this season.

Hugs to you all,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Endure or Embrace

My Mom and Dad. They will be married 65 years this year. Their theme song? "No two people have ever been so in love as my lovey-dove and I."

Many of you know the last couple of weeks ushered in unforeseen circumstances. It would have never been my plan to surrender my holidays in place of hospital visitation and daily care of my parents, but for some reason, it was part of God's plan. As I crawled into bed last night, exhausted, not so much physically, but emotionally, I questioned the Lord regarding His reason and timing for this unexpected end to my summer. The words I'm hearing Him speak to my heart this morning are: "the time came..." (Gal.4:4)

The time came for what Lord? Surely not purposeful pain.

God's timing in my eyes seems so offbeat. The music of my life was playing beautifully. All the chords were in harmony. I was just beginning some bars of rest with my family on vacation. Then, like a surprise symphony the sound of dissonant chords crescendoed across the pages of my musical score abruptly halting the melody. Why now? Why me?

Have you ever asked those questions? I think back to when my son was really small. We'd be out at the park, laughing, giggling, enjoying some perfect mommy and son playtime when suddenly he would fall and scrape his knee. Oh the tears. As I'd cuddle him close and wipe his eyes as we'd head home for some bandaging and more loving, I would question, 'why'? Why now. Why in the middle of such fun and joy?

Accidents happen. Pain is part of life. Not of our choosing, yet allowed and still controlled.

"The time came..." There is a purpose. God has a plan. Everything is not random or chaos.

The time came...for giving care and love to aging parents. The time surrender my plans for God's will. The time came...for trusting in the unseen. The time came...for releasing self-absorbed tendencies in favour of serving. The time came...for acknowledging that life is not all about me and my wants and desires. The time came...for waiting to see His purpose revealed. The time came...for relying on God.

How am I handling this 'time'? Yesterday the Lord showed me that I have been enduring instead of embracing these days. Instead of asking the Lord to use this season to shape me into His likeness, I've been frustrated, disappointed, confused, and angry. A friend of mine sent me an e-mail yesterday that said...and I quote..."You have such a sweet pure heart and a great attitude." Those words, as kind as they were, stung. My reaction to this hasn't been 'sweet' and definitely not 'pure'. Words have rolled off my tongue at home that have been unkind and accusing. My nerves have pushed me to the edge and over as my mind races to the possibilities and extended ramifications of my Mom's injury and my Dad's challenges. Friends, there are so many days when my reactions are far from 'sweet' and my thoughts definitely not 'pure'. morning...'the time came' to confess my failings. The time came to begin again. The time came to lay my dreams at His feet and take up my cross, not as a burden, but as a delight. The time came to acknowledge my shortcomings. The time came to submit to God's character building. The time came to exchange my hurry for His patience. The time came for revelation of my sinful nature and God's forgiveness. The time came to give up and let go and accept and embrace.

Today I am trading my desire for perfection for His longings for God's moment for His unknown for God's sunset for His Son rise.

To everything there is a time. Today time has come for you to.......

Enjoy the following. Ecc.3

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Each Day is a Gift

When I was a little girl I would often climb up on my Daddy’s lap and ask him to tell me the story of the “Dale Twins”. Dad would cuddle my sister and I in close and begin a familiar tale of two babies who were spared life by the divine hand of God.

It all started one day when the families only daughter noticed two pink hyacinths in bloom in their front garden. She confidently announced that her Mom, who was expecting a child at the time, was going to give birth to twin girls. This daughter was 18 years old and there had been no siblings in all these years. One baby was going to be a change…but twins? Impossible! Besides, twins didn’t run in the family. Her Father however was hopeful. He declared he would love twins. In fun, he put in his order for identical twin girls with curly, red hair.

It wasn’t long after this that the Mom did go into labour, at 25 weeks, and two precious, little one-pound baby girls with curly red hair were born. No-one had been anticipating twins, and definitely not this early. The Doctor didn’t even know that twins were arriving until he saw the second head coming. Can you imagine the surprise? Upon hearing the news, the teenage daughter was quick to exclaim, “The hyacinths were right!“ The Doctor’s gave absolutely no hope for either babies survival. Born with undeveloped lungs, diseases and other concerns characteristic of preemies, these little ones were just too small to beat the odds.

Feeling the babies were too fragile to be transported to a specialized facility, they were put in incubators and basically left on their own. Their parents made 101 trips to the hospital before they could even touch one of them. My Dad related how the Father would stand by the nursery window, watching their little chests rise and fall, and wonder, would that be their last breath? The agony of each moment. The pain of watching, yet too afraid to tear his eyes away, as if his very presence brought an unseen strength, willing these babies to fight for life.

And fight they did. Surpassing all probability, day after day these little girls clung to life. There were people praying for them all around the world. They became known as the “Miracle Babies”. Each day brought increased hope. Daily miracles were evident. After weeks and months of agonizing uncertainty, these precious little ones finally came home. The journey still wasn’t without challenges, but the prayers of many had been answered.

(I’m on the right!)

That story began 46 years ago today. Those two little babies were my twin sister and I. She and I have been constant companions all these years. She has been my insurance policy against loneliness. Although we have developed very strong characteristics of our own, those who don’t know us well still get us confused and can’t tell us apart. The joke in our family is that I’m the cute one - something I began saying years and years ago, and it just stuck. As babies we were so identical that our parents had to paint the toenails on one of us red just so they could tell us apart and know which baby they had fed.

To my Dad I’m “Peanut” and my sister is “Pumpkin”. Our personalities are very individual. I enjoy…no…NEED…alone time. I’m more quiet and reflective. My sister is very social and needs constant interaction with others on a daily basis. She is a “butterfly”, gracefully involved in the lives of many. Where she struggles with saying ‘no’ to any request presented to her, I need major confirmation from God to say ‘yes’. She has about an inch on me in height, yet still, annoyingly, weighs less. She is very excitable and her voice carries great distances, while I tend to hold more inside and speak quietly. Her son describes “Auntie Joy” as the ‘peaceful one’.

My sister loves to cook and doesn’t seem to mind a mess. I avoid the kitchen like the plague and believe there’s a place for everything and it should be in it’s place. Without a doubt my sister has a very giving, very soft heart. She is the first to respond to a friends need…usually with some baking. Whenever I hear that she has reached out and shown God’s love in a situation, my response is always, “Of course she did!” Sharing Jesus in this way comes naturally to her and she does it willingly, joyfully and without any hesitation. Her Christmas list with names of people she remembers each year is literally pages long. I thought my list was pretty inclusive, but her list puts mine to shame.

We were named after my older sister’s two best friends - Japhia and Joy. “Joy” seemed appropriate, as my parents were delighted to have twin girls. “Japhia” is an Old Testament Bible name that means “shining light”. Can you believe that Japhia was in a wedding as a flower girl when we were about 6 years old, and the Bride and every attendant was named, “Japhia”. It’s the truth!

We have experienced many ‘twin moments‘, feeling each other’s pain and an uncanny knowing when the other needs prayer. Have we always been this close? Yes and no. We’ve had our moments like any siblings. Being the same age, in the same class, dressing the same until High School, there have definitely been periods of rivalry and competition, yet we also always had an instant, available study companion, champion and best friend.

Not only do we share the same birthday, but we were married on the same day, six years apart. We both have only had one child. Both have a son. Our husbands share similar features - dark hair, moustache, glasses. Our tastes in clothes are similar and when we go shopping for clothes, I’ll sometimes try on items that Japhia is considering purchasing so she can see what she will look like in them! We act as a mirror for one another. We both are heavily involved in Women’s Ministry and leading Bible study. We both love dark, orange chocolates, reading, writing letters and Christmas.

Today we are celebrating 46 years. It's a different celebration this year. Traditionally Mom and Dad take us out for breakfast, but as I write this my Mom has been hospitalized since Saturday and our family is facing concerns and challenges with both my parents. I know some of you know that I have been living at my parents home the last few days while my husband and son went away for our holiday. An unfortnate fall has my Mom still awaiting results as to whether it's "just" a crack in her pelvis or if the plate from her hip replacement last year has been damaged which would result in further surgery. My dear old Dad is struggling through other issues and concerns and this year's family celebration has a cloud threatening overhead. Each night as I have been battling sleep I am praying that as my days, so shall my strength be. The Lord gave life and strength 46 years ago, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Thanking God for the gift of years that Dr’s said would never happen. Nothing is impossible with God. Today I am thankful for each breath and pray that my life has been worth the gift bestowed on me by my Lord and Saviour. Celebrating and rejoicing in the blessings that surround and fill my life.

Happy Birthday Japhia. And Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Blog Nosh Publication

Hi Friends,

Just wanted to let you know that tomorrow (Tuesday) a post I submitted to Blog Nosh is being published. You can click on the button below if you'd like to read it.

Thanks. Love & hugs to you all.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Holiday Pictures - Part 2

Home today while my son writes a 3 hour music theory exam. Getting caught up on some blog connections. Thought you might like to see some more visuals. Here are some pictures of the accommodations, bookstore, lodge, and chapel.

Here is the “Hub” - a fun place to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee and a famous MBC cinnamon roll.

Here is my son driving our boat.

Tea parties, golfing and family dinners.

(For the record, that's my twin sister, Japhia, in the pink to the left, and my older sister Sharon behind her.)

I’ll post pictures of the dining room and beach another day. I'll close today with a sunset.

Each day we sit under the most amazing preaching. Chapel services both morning and evening inspire, convict and challenge. They are led by wonderful men of God - James MacDonald, Ron Pierce, Joe Boot, Ron Cline, Dr. David Walls, Rick Baker, David Epstein etc… Concerts every Saturday evening are uplifting and worshipful. Some of my favourites include, Deborah Klassen, The Master’s Four, His Season and Diane Susek.

I wish all of you could be up here with me. We’d go down and sit on the beach and enjoy some precious time together…or, a round of mini-golf or game of tennis….what about rock-climbing or a canoe trip down the river? My husband would be only too glad to take you water-skiing, wake-boarding or tubing.

Hope you’ve enjoyed a taste of our holiday. What are you doing today?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Holiday Pictures

Greetings from “Up North”.

I am enjoying a wonderful holiday thus far. Thought you might like to have a “taste” of our vacation spot. Our trailer is located on the grounds of Muskoka Bible Conference Center, Canada’s largest Christian conference facilities.

Here are some pics of our trailer: the outside, bedroom, living room, kitchen and sunroom.

I will be back tomorrow to post some pictures of the grounds and facilities here. Wish you were here!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saturday Hope

Good Morning bloggy friends!

Experiencing some technical difficulties today, but wanted to let you know I did get a post up on my other blog this morning. You can access it through my side bar - "Pondering in His Presence". It's about the hope the Lord gave me today!

I am leaving for two weeks of vacation today, but I hope to be visiting your blogs and writing when I am able. I also hope to post some pictures of our activites.

If you haven't had opportunity to read my last two posts, "I cried today" and "Hugging the Curb", scroll down and enjoy.

Thanks for your loyal, faithful friendship. You all are a blessing to me! And, those of you who never comment (and yes, I know you're out there...I even know who some of you are...), why don't you leave me a quick 'hello' - I'd LOVE to hear from you!

Keep looking to Him,

Friday, August 01, 2008

I cried today

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. I would NOT cry, but some promises are silly anyway. Today was my last day at work. The Christian bookstore where I have been employed is closing next week, but because I had previously scheduled holidays, the door closed behind me today for the last time.

If any of you have seen the movie, “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, today I feel very much like Kathleen Kelly. Economy forced the closure of her quaint little bookstore. In this film, “The Shop Around the Corner” held not only precious memories of special days gone by, but unforgettable moments held in the depths of her heart for her mother who had loved and cherished each second of owning this delightful store. As Kathleen’s friend described it, the store was a “lone read”, the only one of its kind in this location.

The Christian Family Bookstore where I’ve been employed was a “lone read” for our city and for areas to the North, South and East of us. People would come from various locations to stop in, browse, and enjoy a friendly conversation. Some were on a mission for the perfect gift. Others in pursuit of a specific book title. I think often our doors welcomed weary travelers, not so much physically, but emotionally, spiritually and mentally. They needed a place to rest tired hearts. They were looking for a word to encourage fatigued souls. They would enter and be greeted with a warm hello or a welcoming smile. Some found that invitation enough to share the burdens on their hearts that day. A listening ear was always available.

Although this store had changed names, this location had been a Christian bookstore for many years. Just last week, a dear elderly lady, with tears in her eyes, shared with me that she had purchased Bibles for all three of her grandchildren at our store when they were younger, and all three of them had asked the Lord into their hearts and are now serving Him faithfully. Many loyal customers were coming in to say Goodbye. Some shared memories. Some brought baking. Treats and chocolates were thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice to know that we were loved and appreciated, and that we would be missed.

It’s sad that statistics are based on financial statements alone. Our store did a steady business, some days busier than others, but who can measure the value of a life changed. A book suggested that walked a young girl out of depression. A Bible awarded that gave the invitation of salvation. A CD played that stirred the heart to offer the Lord a sacrifice of praise. A gift item purchased that said, “I love you”. Words of comfort, hope, appreciation, sympathy and encouragement found in note cards sent to brighten the day of others. We were more than a bookstore. We were a ministry.

So, I did cry today. The Lord had planted a dream in my heart years ago to work in a Christian bookstore. For the past year, He fulfilled that dream for me. I had not even applied for this position. One day, “out of the blue” I received a phone call asking me if I was interested in a part-time job at this store. I couldn’t believe it. God truly does give us the desires of our hearts if we’ll just wait and trust Him.

I cried today because of God’s overwhelming goodness to me to grant me a dream fulfilled. I cried because a chapter is ending in the story He is writing across my life. I cried for the blessing and joy of friendships that God had birthed, that now will go through a period of transition. Oh, we’ll still be friends, they won’t get rid of me that easily, but the almost daily contact will be gone. I cried for conversations past and conversations still waiting, wanting to be shared.

It’s been a wonderful year. The Lord has used this opportunity to stretch me, change me, strengthen me and draw me closer to Himself as I had to depend on Him for so much. After being a stay-at-home Mom for 15 years, it’s been rewarding to know that I can return to the work force and know that I do still have something to offer.

To any of you reading this who used to visit the store, thank you. It was a privilege and honour to serve you. You made my days! And, to my fellow employees, know how much you are loved and will be missed. The Lord brought each of you into my life for different reasons. You have taught me about grace, forgiveness, love, laughter, acceptance, authenticity and friendship. Your names are written across my heart. You are so special to me and I will miss you greatly.

Praying that this closed door will just be a change in direction. He has plans for each of us. Wonderful plans. This too is part of His plan, to take me down different roads that will stretch me and shape me more into His likeness. How I respond is vital. I will choose to praise Him and watch with anticipation for what lies ahead.

Tomorrow, the door to a much anticipated two weeks with my family is opening. I will be checking in and writing when I can and hope to post pictures of some of our activities.

Tonight I’m heading to the Beth Moore simulcast and I’m excited and eager to hear what God will speak to my heart through His Word.

Love to you all,