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God, the Designer

sunset-at-britannia-beach-2The threads of the tapestry of my life start long before I was born and go on into eternity.  Through brilliant colour and dark hues, knots and zigzag lines, God is creating a picture that only He could design.  In the Weaver’s design, there are no mistakes. There are threads that remind me that God was preparing me for the tough times before they even happened; threads filled with pain that still bring tears to my eyes; threads that bring back memories that make me smile and bring joy to my day.  Parts of the tapestry seem complete and parts are still being woven into surprising patterns.  The Weaver loves me and I trust Him more and more.

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Thanksgiving Day

Soon it will be Thanksgiving Day, 2018.  For what will you give thanks?

As I thought about that question, I thought back to the years of my childhood.  I grew up on a farm.  I remember going to church on Thanksgiving Day to give thanks for the growing season, the crops and the harvest.  It was a time of great awareness of God’s Hands at work in our lives and our circumstances.

So many scenarios came to mind.  The growing season started with the big cucumber patch that Dad and Mom tended.  Each evening, a truck would come for the bags of cucumbers that would go to the pickle factory for processing.  Soon, many vegetables were ready in the family garden, ready for canning or freezing. The gooseberries were picked and made into jam.  Later still, fruit was ready for picking on the apple, pear and plum trees.  Sometime during all this, the wheat and corn was harvested and the hay and straw was put into bales and stored in the barn. Late spring, summer and early fall were busy times on the farm.  I remember eggs from the chicken or turkey, piglets going to market, milk from the cow and visits from the bull.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,  so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10,11

Many children now think that milk  comes from the store and have not had the opportunity to harvest fruits or vegetables.  Fresh produce is now available most of the year and sometimes we do not even know which country it comes from.  There isn’t anything wrong with this. However, for me, it’s harder to see the reality of God’s provision in these things except for the money I have to buy them.

I am thankful for all that I have, but I also want to make sure that it is right and fair and good. A few years ago, I became aware of an organization that works in 12 countries around the world.  They promote vibrant family farms, strong rural communities and healthy ecosystems, by focusing on activities that build food and livelihood security for small-scale farmers and preserve the agricultural biodiversity necessary to feeding a growing and changing planet.

This made me realize that not only has my focus of Thanksgiving Day changed, but so have many things on our planet.  Maybe it’s time for all of us to get back to basics.  Time to become more aware of how we get the food we have and express thanks to God Who has provided for us.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John F. Kennedy

Awesome Sky

 

Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.  His faithfulness endures forever. Psalm 136:5 NLT.
Everyone of God’s creatures on planet earth experiences the ways God reveals Himself  in the sky.  Each of us is given a new beginning every twenty-four hours.  Plus, there is beauty and fury and wonder to behold.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,  which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:3,4

“Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?   Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?  Job 37:14 -16
My first memory of watching the sky was when I was seven years old.  I had rheumatic fever and was being cared for at home and was on complete bed rest.  My parents had to carry me everywhere. When the weather was warm enough, I was placed on a lawn chair outside. Sometimes the wind blew, dark clouds rolled in and I could see the underside of the leaves on the trees.  I knew a thunderstorm was approaching quickly – and I’d just wait for a parent to come to carry me inside.

Many years later when I was married, we built our dream home.  One of the important features was a large porch at the front of the house. We loved sitting there during storms; experiencing the rolling dark clouds, the rumble of thunder and the streaks of lightning.  And sometimes, at the end of it all, a beautiful rainbow.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19: 1,2
I worked in Saskatchewan briefly on the edge of a small town and lived in the second storey of the nurses’ residence.  If I sat on the upper landing of the fire escape, I could see for miles and watch the clouds drifting with the wind.  It was a dance of clouds from horizon to horizon. Sometimes I could see rain falling in the distance even though I sat in the sunshine.

He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night ….. The LORD is His name.  Amos 5:8
I love sunrises,sunsets and the changing sky in the morning as the world wakes up.  I worked night shifts many times through the years.  I especially remember the wide expanse of wheat field in Saskatchewan slowly appearing through the pinks and oranges of the appearing sunlight. Year later, I would quietly stand in a patient’s room watching the  the Calgary sky-line light up from behind. It was good to be able to pause for a few moments of peaceful quiet-time before the busyness of the end of a shift.  And a glorious reminder that God would be in the new day!

Many of my years were spent near the Great Lakes.  The sunsets on Lake Huron are amazing. I  remember sitting among the reeds on a sand dune as the sun was setting…ever so slowly.. until…. it was gone. I was staying at a cottage alone for a few days, so this was a moment I was aware I shared with the Creator. The moving reeds, the coolness of the breeze, the “disappearing” day, the awareness of His presence — I remember it like it was yesterday.

When I was a young girl, our family lived on a farm.  I remember staying up later one evening when my parents had company. We young-ones were lying on the grass watching for falling stars.  There were too many stars to  count.  In the background, we could hear our parents’ conversations and the frogs at the pond.  An endless expanse of darkness with twinkling stars above me, but it felt secure and safe. All was peaceful and calm and right with my world.

And sometimes I saw other objects in the sky. On the clear, crisp evening of the twentieth of December, 2006 between 6:15 and 6:25 pm, I first saw the space shuttle Discovery and then saw the International Space Station (ISS) as they orbited overhead. The International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite in low earth orbit. The Space Shuttle was a crewed, partially reusable low earth orbit spacecraft.  Several years later, when Canadian Chris Hatfield was in the ISS, I was living in BC.  I was excited again when I could spot the ISS moving across the morning sky.  I realized that the wonders of space travel were “exciting” but not “awe-inspiring” like it is when looking at a starry night sky.

God did not randomly and purposelessly create the amazing sky that has blessed me so much.  Romans 1 says in verses 19 and 20 that ” what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…  God’s revelation to me in nature is an awesome gift that points me to Him again and again.

The awesome sky also makes Psalm 103: 10 and 11 a more beautiful promise.  God’s love for me is  immense, boundary-less and free.  He does not treat us as our sins deserve     or repay us according to our iniquities.For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;  Psalm 103:10,11

As I write all this and think back on the memories I have, I have become more aware that is would be good to get out into nature more. I think that many who don’t know God have met Him unawares.  God has given me — all of us – a great gift that calls us closer to Him. Thank God for His amazing love!

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From Nurse to Retiree

 

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Graduation Day — June 14, 1974.    Retired — August 7, 2018

Nursing has been a great career for many years.  During that time I worked in twelve different facilities in four provinces.  I have worked in acute care, in critical care, in Kingston Penitentiary , in residential care and home health.  Some jobs were stressful (any critical care job), some were emotionally draining (especially the Burn Unit), some where very busy (44 bed urology unit with multiple post-operative patients per day)  and and working on a seventy-seven bed dementia unit had its own set of challenges.

For twenty-one of those years, I worked in a community hospital. I worked with many of the same staff members for many of those years, and got to know the patients and their families in a deeper way.  It was a good place to be through the years when my children were growing up.

I ended my career in home health.  It hadn’t been “my” plan to retire before my sixty-fifth birthday, but life sometimes unfolds with surprises.  For the last few years, I had been working on a casual basis.  On April 26 of this year, I left work early as I was feeling unwell— and have not returned since.  It took a while to make the decision, but once I firmly decided to retire, I quickly transitioned into liking the idea.

It will be good to be able to focus on what I can do, instead of trying to return to a job that had become too challenging with my present health challenges.  Throughout this time, God has been close and I feel Him leading me into a different tomorrow.

I am involved with my church, in helping my children and with pursing some hobbies.  God’s plans for me will unfold for me as they should.  There will be a life for me after nursing.  It’s gonna be good!!

...all the days ordained for me were written in

your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139: 16b

Finding Peace for our Fearful Heart

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Photo by Tobi on Pexels.com
It’s a crazy world out there these days — unrest on so many fronts.  The news cycle changes so quickly that by Saturday it’s hard to remember what happened on Monday.  It all feels harsh and scary.  Added to that, there are concerns with our families, our health, our finances, broken relationships and so much more.  It’s overwhelming. mind-boggling,  scary and much too easy to lose our focus.
God puts people and situations into our lives that are upsetting, sad and wrong.  We live in a sinful work with sinful people and we personally add to “the mess”.  But, too often, I think our response isn’t what God wants it to be.  Philippians 4:6-7 says : Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  God doesn’t tell us to ignore the situations, but to present our requests to God.  
God is in control
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6).  Our response must be to turn away from anxiety and focus on the reasons why we can trust in God; the reasons why we can follow where He leads step-by-step.  
In the church I grew up in, we often recited Psalm 103: 1-5 after we had communion — the Lord’s Supper that we celebrated in remembrance of Jesus great sacrifice.
Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
 who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
 who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
 who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

 

“Remember what the Lord has done for you as often as your heart needs it.” (unknown)

 

 

 

 

 

I remember…

 

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

“Jesus Loves Me” was one of the first songs I learned in Sunday School.  It was also one of the first songs that I taught my own children.  Anna B. Warner wrote these words in 1860 and more verses were added soon after.  Several generations of children have been blessed by these truths.  When my son was little, his babysitter used to sing this chorus by Kurt Kaiser as an ending to the song:
Oh, how He loves you and me, Oh how He loves you and me. He gave his life, what more could he give?
Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.
(Kurt Kaiser, 1975)

I grew up in a Christian home where my parents had a deep trust in and love for God.  So, I always knew that Jesus loved me, but it wasn’t until a summer Sunday evening when I was seventeen years old that  “head knowledge became heart knowledge”.   Instead of just knowing about Jesus, I had a relationship with Him after that.  I had a Friend Who was available to me all day, every day.

Through the years, in trying times, God has sometimes had to remind me of how much He loves me.  One day He whispered the words of Jeremiah 31: 3 to my heart : I have loved you with an everlasting love”.  There are many examples of how events could only have happened they way they did with His involvement. Often He reminds me of His presence through the beauty of nature.  And sometimes, He invites me to rest, cradled on His lap.

As I see people accept Jesus into their lives, I am awe-struck by the transformation that  instantly happens in  their lives — the joy, the peace, the knowledge of being loved with an everlasting love.  And then, as happens in the lives of all God’s children, the stresses and busyness of life pull us away from our relationship with God.  It’s important to put time and effort into our relationship with God.  In those times when God doesn’t feel close, I can trust that God knows where I am and He knows what He is doing.

On the morning of May 14, I read this devotion by Charles Spurgeon, based on Romans 8:17 that states we are “co-heirs with Christ”.  Writing about Jesus: “The smiles of his Father are all the sweeter to him, because his people share them. The honours of his kingdom are more pleasing, because his people appear with him in glory. More valuable to him are his conquests, since they have taught his people to overcome. He delights in his throne, because on it there is a place for them. He rejoices in his royal robes, since over them his skirts are spread. He delights the more in his joy, because he calls them to enter into it.” — Taken from Morning & Evening, a devotional by Charles Spurgeon

Yes, Jesus loves me!!

 

 

Be Joyful

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Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18

I Thessalonians 5: 16-18 were the words that greeted my morning today.  After a few challenging weeks with my health, it was hard to read.  Words like “always, “all, “God’s will” … really??  Today, too??

Often at times like that it is good to look back and remember times that seemed impossibly hard, but then…..  After the end of my marriage, my ex. wanted the money from the matrimonial home.  It took many months for the house to sell.  During that time, I found a home the children and I liked.  However, it was too expensive and didn’t have central air. Having air conditioning was very important living in SW Ontario– plus I was a shift working nurse and needed to be able to sleep during the day.

Months went on and then… suddenly… within 48 hours… a house was sold and a house was bought!!  And yes!!!  It was the same house I had looked at months before.  But now, the price of the home was lower and I had been able to save enough for air conditioning.  Wow!!  Awesome God!!

So,  as I once again remember blessings-past, I can look at those words “always, “all, “God’s will” a little differently.  I think that God “wills” me to remember that I can trust Him, that He is faithful, that I can talk to Him about any and all of my concerns because He wants me to.  God wants to partner with me in my situation.  There is peace and joy in that.

One other thing happened this morning.  As I was thinking about not feeling well and the changes I am trying to make in my life, God whispered to my heart “It has taken much for Me to get your attention to take better care of yourself”.  There is much love from my Father God in those words.  To myself: Breath deeply — often– relax– you CAN do it!!

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that I want to do a better job of partnering with God in my health situation.  May I more and more trust Him as I seek His direction and rest in His care.

What are you struggling with — physical, emotional, spiritual??  God is waiting to partner with you.  His love for us is a REAL thing.  Rest in Him.

Afternoon nap anyone??

I can do this!

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There are many times that life feels overwhelming.  Sometimes I’ve taken on too many projects, sometimes I have very poor time management, sometimes there are many demands/requests from others and sometimes I have difficulty setting priorities.  Right now, all this is added to learning how to adjust to a chronic health condition.  There is grief and sadness connected to that, as well as the awareness that God is my healer.
Those who know your name trust in you,  for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.~ Psalm 9: 10.

As I pray about these “nuisance symptoms” that challenge my days, I try to be as honest as I can be as I talk to my loving Father God.  Often, these times help me sort out my feelings. In the physical realm, I have to do my part to maintain my health as best I can.  Finding time for “more rest” isn’t always easy.  Limiting the events I commit myself to, is hard as well.  I had thought that when I was semi-retired, I would be able to get more involved — but I am not able to do that right now.  I want to be useful for God, but am not sure what that looks like some days.
But if I were you, I would appeal to God;  I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,  miracles that cannot be counted. Job 5: 8,9

It has been important for me to learn as much as I can about symptom relief.  Dietary changes, how I sleep, increasing my walking times, spending more time at “play” — all these little things help. I pray for more direction and insights through the things I hear and read — and through that “still small voice”.  I also have to be aware of making adjustments when whatever I do doesn’t work for the best. Yes, it can feel like discipline.  I’m thankful for the people who honestly tell me that I’ve “messed up” — done something or not done something that would make a difference.
Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.  Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. ~ Proverbs 19: 20, 21

Patience is needed every step of the way.  Patience to evaluate frequently so I can enjoy life the best I am able.  There have been times when I couldn’t work at my job, but I was able to help someone else for a shorter part of a day.  I may not have been able to attend an event, but I was blessed by a surprising connection with someone I hadn’t expected to see.  And always, more time to pray is an awesome, blessed way to influence people and events in His Kingdom by connecting with Father God.
God has heard your prayers and your answer is on the way.  Your times are in God’s hands and He won’t be late. ~ Joyce Meyer

Many years ago (1996), a patient handed me a little slip of paper with two verses on it.  One of those verses was Isaiah 58:11.  She said she felt the verses were for me and my family.  I may not always understand how my loving Father fulfills His promises, but I know His Word is true.  God will meet my needs and water (life) will flow from me to others.  May I walk faithfully in trust with Him every day.  With God, I can do this!  Some days I feel like I am starting all over again– crawling before I walk –living life in a new way.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  ~Isaiah 58:18

Your life may not be affected by health changes, like mine.  It may be affected by stress, or grief, or care-giver fatigue or…   Whatever challenges you face in your life, I pray that as you walk with Him, you will feel more and more protected by His loving care.  And that you will be able to find patience to make changes that will help you have joy in your days.  Go with God!