God provides…

I had reason to post on Facebook asking for a favour today, and I was overwhelmed by the response I received. I was in the midst of planning and visioning for our VBS this summer and I was thinking it would be great to have a parachute to use with the kids. So I started pricing them out – those suckers are expensive (not terribly so, but enough to make me pause and consider other possibilities before purchasing one). I decided to send out a general appeal on Facebook for one that could be borrowed for the week of VBS. Within 10hrs of posting I have received 4 offers and a link to a place where I could purchase one.

I barely even put any effort into solving this problem, and found that God was ready and willing to provide.

Sometimes I think we are too good at solving our own problems. Sometimes we don’t allow God to be God. My parachute example is a small one, but I would love to see what God could do if we, in faith, handed him some of our really big problems.

I think God loves to provide and God loves to overwhelm us. I mean, really, that is what the story of Jesus is about. That at the moment that looked like utter defeat, God was actually bringing victory. At the moment when it looked like the Jesus movement was over, it was actually just beginning. At the moment of death, new life was given the chance to burst forth. And the disciples could hardly believe it when it happened.

It can be scary to hand over our big problems to God – it may lead us where we do not want to go, it may lead us to the cross. But I believe it will also lead us beyond the cross to Easter morning and the absolutely shocking goodness and mercy of our Loving Father God.

Hope

If you’ve been following my blog this week, you know it’s been a tough week for me. So this is my second post in 6 days about hope. Because really, it’s what I’ve got to cling to right now. Hope.

I used Google Images to look up hope a few minutes ago, and here is the best image I found:

 

 

This image reminds me of a favorite Bible Verse: And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. (John 1:5 ISV)

John is writing about Jesus, the light of the world.

That’s what I need remember and that is the truth I need to share with those who are traveling through difficult times right now. For those of you who have sent me worried emails and texts – thank you. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and your prayers. I promise I am ok, just bearing up under a heavy load. And even here, struggling under this weight, there is so much for which to give thanks. Most especially that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. Amen.

When life is tough….

…it’s good to stop and recognize the things for which I need to give thanks. This week hasn’t gotten any easier, so here we go with the gratitudes.

I am thankful for:
-knowing who I am. For some that is a life long battle. For me, I know I am a child of God called into His service. that is a good thing.

-puppy cuddles: there ain’t much better for a difficult week.

-my health – despite this dumb cold, I am young and my health is vastly improved over this time last year.

-good books and good tv to keep me company while I try to get better

-being down a size, it took about 5 months, so GLAD it has finally happened

There are so many other things I could list: friends, family, food, shelter, finances, Jesus, music…

Most of all, I think I am thankful that I have so much for which to
Give thanks!

The road is long…

Sometimes, life is weary-ing. My tough week began with a fender-bender on Thursday night, and has continued with some serious health concerns for a family member and some difficult issues at the church.

I am tired and suffering from a head-cold. It’s not the worst cold I’ve had in recent memory, and I’m quite sure it will be gone fairly quickly, but it’s one more brick added to a heavy load.

The lyrics of one of my favourite Neil Diamond songs is going through my head tonite:

The road is long, with many a-winding turn,
That leads to who knows where, who knows when
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
(Neil Diamond, “He Ain’t Heavy”)

I was thinking about faith and fitness. Due to busy-ness and then illness, I haven’t worked out for the last 3 days. No walking, no WOD, no nothin’. This makes me antsy. I feel nervous. I somehow still have a fear that all of the weight that I’ve lost in the past year is going to suddenly reappear on my body just because I haven’t gone for a walk or done some situps for a few days. It’s irrational, but it’s what I fear. I think that I fear that because I am so aware that fitness is a never-ending-road. This isn’t a project that ends when I hit my goal weight. It isn’t something that has a finish line at all (or at least, the finish line is death, which I hope is so far off as to be almost unworthy of time spent thinking about it). So every new day, every new week, is a new challenge. To do the work that my body requires to reach and maintain physical fitness.

The same thing is true about my faith. I don’t have a list of the tenets of Jesus or the the commandments, or anything else that I am checking off daily, hoping to reach the finish line. Instead, each moment, each situation, each conversation is a new challenge, a new opportunity to try to live like Jesus would.

For some, this might be discouraging. You might think “I’m never really going to GET there, so why try?” You might think you’re not strong enough to continue to travel this long road with it’s winding turns. But I see it in a more positive way. I am always going to have another chance to try, another workout to do, or another opportunity to show Christ’s love. This is a gift, this is a beautiful thing. And the strength I have doesn’t come from me, but from Jesus. I have an endless, boundless store of His strength to rely upon as I face the next leg of the journey.

It is true that sometimes it is wearying, but I think that only means it’s time to take rest, and then get up and face a new day with new challenges and opportunities.

Obsessed…

I have this tendency to become obsessed with the things I like. I become obsessed with a certain preacher – listening to their podcasts every week, reading the books they’ve written, following them on Twitter. But I do this with other things, too. Sometimes it’s a certain movie or tv show or novel. Sometimes it’s a song.

Right now it’s a song. Right now it’s Gotye’s “Somebody that I used to know.” I first heard it on American Idol (one of my tv obsessions), and then it was covered on Glee (another obsession). I bought the single the other day and occasionally I just throw it on repeat on my laptop or in the car, and listen over and over and over and over…

Told you I was obsessed. My friend Amanda posted a cover of the song by an acapella group called Pentatonix on facebook the other day, and I absolutely love it. So I just had to share it in this post.

I think this song has caught me up for a number of reasons. First of all, most of us know what it is to have a broken relationship – romantic or friendship or even a member of our family. Most of us know what that “now you’re just somebody that I used to know” feeling is all about.

Second of all, I love that both sides of the story are presented in the song. First you get the guy, who is clearly bitter and still hurting. But then a female voice comes in and reminds you that there are two sides to every story. I like that. It is true, and it pushes the song beyond your average “bitter break-up” song into something more conversational and more real.

Third, I like the instrumentation on Gotye’s version of the song. It’s slightly off-centre. The xylophone and the other percussion gives the song a sense of whimsy that contrasts beautifully with raw anger and bitterness of the lyrics and vocals.

Sometimes in the world of church, we categorize music: that which is worship and that which is secular. But I have always believed that there isn’t a really clear line between the two. God has given us the gift of being capable of making and enjoying music. I believe that any time that gift is used (in a way that doesn’t cause harm), God is honored and worship occurs.

So today I am thankful for the God-given gift of music.

A better day..

Some days are just tough. Yesterday was one of those for me. But I am happy to say that today has been much better. I have had time with cherished friends, I got some work done, I have talked to the insurance company and got the details figured out for getting my car fixed, got a long walk and a workout done,and I finished a couple of little errands that had been hanging over me.

One of the things that is central to my faith is the concept of hope. God promises us a better day. God promises us a best-day-ever that will never end. It is called Heaven, and Jesus told us he has prepared a place there for us.

Some days are tough, but God promises a better day. And that is something worth remembering.

So exhausted…

Not sure I have anything brilliant (or even mildly witty) to write tonite. I’m tired. Today has been a long day, and it ended with a fender bender. As I neared home, I was hit from behind by a van that had been hit from behind by a guy who just didn’t see the brake lights. Everyone was ok, and the cars can be repaired. I am thankful for that.

What followed was an hour and a half of waiting and wondering if I was going to be late for a meeting I had at the church. As it turns out, I had just enough time to park and rush over to the church before my meeting began. As it turns out, the meeting was short, and I am thankful for that, too.

There is much for which to be thankful. I need to remember that.

Still as I write this, what I feel is bone-deep exhaustion. So I am going to stop writing in a minute or two, and curl up on the couch. If you have a moment and a prayer to spare, I would love it if you lifted me up. You could pray that I get a good night’s sleep, and that I don’t have a bad case of whiplash out of this. Thanks in advance.

The Bean Ladies

So I discovered something exciting. I have posted before about my new found love of beans (black beans are my favorite).

They are just so versatile – you can use them in stew, soup, dips, salsa, chili, salads. They are high in protein and fibre. They are low in WW points. They fill you up and keep you feeling full. I was singing the praises of the bean even before I discovered that you can use them to make dessert.

I had heard about black bean brownies and was even considering making some from a recipe I had found online. Then one night my Mom called me to tell me she had the most amazing gluten-free dessert at a friend’s house. You guessed it – black bean brownies. Since my Mom is gluten intolerant, any new discovery of gluten free desserts is exciting to us.

Turns out her friend had been at the One of a Kind craft show and had come across this little business called The Bean Ladies. Even better – they have a store right here in Brampton. So while my folks were in town last week, we went to The Bean Ladies store. We sampled their gluten free muffins (yummy!), we tried a number of their roasted bean snacks (I especially enjoy Canadian Maple, eh? and Hot Chicks) and we bought a lot of their stuff.

Check them out – they have wonderful products. Right now I am completely obsessed with their roasted soy bean and roasted chick pea snacks. I have made the brownies and they are great, too (though I am going to experiment in my next batch to see if I can use less oil and substitute maple syrup for refined sugar). I have a mix for black bean salsa that I haven’t tried yet, but I am sure it will be great, just as all their other stuff has been.

I love new discoveries!

TGFKY

I didn’t misspell the title of this blog entry. That is, in fact, the name of our 20’s and 30’s group at the church. It stands for “The Group Formerly Known as Youth.” Though I think many do not remember what the acronym stands for. And I often have people saying things to me like “you know – that abdefghik group…the 20’s and 30’s thing”.

Nonetheless, I need to take a moment to blog about our group – I know I have done this before, but in case you don’t remember it, let me remind you. We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of the month. We have dinner and fellowship together, and then we have some sort of program or discussion. This year we have been working our way through Francis Chan’s BASIC series.

I am so impressed with the way that our conversations veer wildly off topic (seriously – we discussed relationships, why some marriages work, what our faith has to say about dreams, and what the apple in the story of Adam and Eve actually represents, all while discussing how to read the Bible), we also have a way of circling back around to the original topic. I am thankful for a place where we can discuss our faith honestly and openly and with a healthy dose of laughter. I am thankful that my ‘job’ on TGFKY nights is to sit and listen and occasionally throw my 2 cents in, but not to control the discussion or the program.

I love getting to do something in ministry that is so organic and so meaningful. I am thankful for “that abcdedfghijk group!”

Jesus is present with us as we meet and I am reminded why I love my church.

Workin’ it…

I took a Sabbath from blogging last night. The weekend was a little crazy, and last night I sat in front of my computer screen trying to come up with a blog topic. I was so tired, I couldn’t come up with anything. After 2o min of trying, I closed my laptop and went to bed. Woke up this morning and realized I had a topic, I had just forgotten it. Whoops. That topic has been stored away for future use.

Tonite I need to do a little physical-fitness bragging.  I was invited to an Outdoor Bootcamp by a friend. I could try it out for free (well, a food bank donation), and then drop in to any class at $10 a go. So tonite was my first experience with it and it was great. We did burpees (I’ve never done them before. UGH!!!), Superman burpees (super-duper UGH!!!), froggers, long jumps, pushups, ball pushups, ball passes (3kg ball), Ball slams (??? 3Kg ball on the ground, squat down, pick it up to over head, then slam it down to the ground), leg raises and heal touches (abs). I didn’t think it was so bad during class, but I’m still feeling the workout and it ended nearly an hour and a half ago. Killer and awesome!

I’m excited to have another weapon in my fitness arsenal. Also, I was excited to learn some new exercises and variations on exercises that I can incorporate into my Deck of Cards WOD. It was great to work out with others and to do it outside (didn’t hurt that today, though windy, was absolutely gorgeous).

And I am amazed that somehow, in the past year of journeying towards greater physical health, working my body hard like this has become a form of worship. I am, during a workout, aware of my body and the things it can do. I am aware that it is a gift from God, and one that, sadly, I have abused for much of my life. I am aware that as I work out, I am treating this gift well, pushing it to its limits, making it better and stronger. I am aware that during a workout I am valuing the gift given to me by my Loving Father. It is amazing to me that something as seemingly mundane as a workout can also become a deeply spiritual exercise (pardon the pun).