Small blessings…

Apple

I was reminded by one of the elders at St. Andrew’s this week, that it is a very good thing to take pleasure in small blessings. This elder was sharing that he had waited for the bitter macintosh apples to be in season, and as our meeting began he was eating his first bitter macintosh…and it was wonderful.

Sometimes life is so overwhelmingly busy. Right now I am in one of those seasons. Days seem to pass without much time for taking a deep breath, never mind taking stock of the small blessings I have enjoyed. So right this minute, I am taking stock. Here are a few of the small blessings I have experienced – despite a busy and (weather-wise) gloomy day:

– Koski and I got out for an hour’s walk this afternoon…in the only hour of (intermittent) sunshine that I saw today. The light was cold, a winter kind of sunshine, but it was so welcome and it made me smile.

– I laughed with friends this afternoon. And I knew God was present in our midst.

– I made the tastiest butternut squash soup today. I have NEVER made a successful butternut squash soup before – I have always preferred those made by others. But today, I made one that I know I will enjoy eating all week. And it’s a very healthy recipe (here is the recipe, before you ask!).

– I got to sleep in this morning. I only allow myself one day per week without an alarm, and boy – do I enjoy it when it comes!

– I had some mini-eggs this evening. They are pretty much my favorite milk chocolate, ever. One little package, 4 PointsPlus – an indulgence that makes all the days of not having sugar worth it!

– I had a little misunderstanding with my Mom over email that made me burst out laughing when I realized my mistake. It was silly and frivolous, but it was good to laugh out loud.

You see – I wouldn’t count today as one of the better days of the week. Lots of things made today difficult (not the least of which was the fact that we were having SLEET in OCTOBER, weather that I take as a personal insult). But even on the not-the-best days, there are so many small things to be thankful for, to see the blessing of God in.

I hope that you – when you are eating a bitter macintosh apple, walking your dog, eating a good homemade meal, or laughing with friends – will see that these things are good gifts from a Heavenly Father who loves you.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 NIV

Mystery…

 

SmokeI was reminded today that the age of reasoned faith has passed and we are now living in the age of the Spirit…the age of mystery. And this means that the church needs to be not only ok with talking about the mystery of God, but encouraging to those who are longing to experience the mystery of God.

When I was younger (I know, some of you are thinking “Rebekah, you’re still young!”…but I mean 20 years ago – when I was in my late teens), I used to be scared of thinking of God as a mystery. I was at a time in my life when I needed to KNOW about God. I needed a strong, resolute, knowledge-based faith. And the last thing I wanted was anyone giving me room for doubt or for not-knowing or for not-having-all-the-answers. I was afraid of the mystery. (I love the line from the Caedmon’s Call song “Shifting Sands” that says: The only problem I have with these mysteries, is they’re so mysterious!)

But something has happened over the past 20 years. As I have journeyed forward in faith, and as God has been at work in my life, as I’ve grown up and as I’ve changed… I am no longer afraid of the mystery. The words “I don’t know” have become some of my favourite words. Maybe I’ve figured out that I don’t have it all figured out. Maybe I’ve figured out that it is ok that I don’t have it all figured out. Maybe I’ve realized that God doesn’t need me to have it all figured out. That I don’t have to have it all figured out, to still have faith.

Because God IS mysterious. He does things we don’t expect. His timing isn’t what we think it will be. If we think we’ve got it all figured out, we’re probably about to go into a serious faith crisis. Because sooner or later we will bump up against things that are bigger, tougher, and more confusing than anything we think we have figured out.

God is bigger than you and me, bigger than our plans, bigger than our solutions, bigger than our fears and bigger than our doubts. Bigger than the things we think we know.

Except for this one thing that I am absolutely, unshakably sure of: God loves me, and God loves you. And that one things is so powerful, that all the mystery in the universe cannot overcome it.

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Press on…

Press on

This week has been extraordinary. The perfect kind of fall weather that steals your breath away. Koski and I have walked through crunchy leaves, misty mornings and golden afternoons.

I started walking a few years ago because I knew I needed to do something to improve my health. When I started, I would walk once a week with a friend for about 40 minutes. Then I would have to sit down for a good half hour to regain my breath. I was obese and seriously sedentary. But I had made a promise to my doctor that I would give Weight Watchers a try…and a promise to myself that I would strive towards better health.

When I started Weight Watchers I didn’t want to exercise. But the weight started to come off, and I found motivation to move more. Slowly, I began to increase my physical activity. Now, about 2.5 years later, I walk at least 60 minutes 6 days a week and I regularly manage 90 minutes in a day. I go to the gym 3-5 times a week, and I (can’t believe I’m going to say this) enjoy exercising. It took time, a whole lotta patience and a whole lotta discipline. I am still working towards my goal weight, there have been ups and downs along the way, but my whole life has changed.

And I press on towards my goal, each new day.

The journey of faith is just like my journey to a healthier life. It starts quietly in most of us. There are many factors that contribute to our growth. Sometimes it seems we are not going anywhere at all, and then we look back and realize just how far we have come.

Paul encourages the church in Phillipi with his own testimony about pressing on toward the end of the race, and the prize that waits there. May you, too, find these words encouraging. Whatever trials you face at this point in your journey, take a moment to realize how far you have come. And then press on toward the goal, for a heavenly prize awaits you.

May you find time to take joy in the journey this weekend. To my Canadian friends, I wish a very Happy Thanksgiving. To my American friends, Happy Columbus Day. And to those abroad – many blessings and joys.

Thanksgiving Koski
Happy Thanksgiving from Koski!

Returning…

It has been a long time since I blogged. I thought I’d take the summer off, and then that dragged on through September and all of a sudden we are coming up on Thanksgiving (at least, in Canada, we are) and I haven’t blogged yet. It’s been on my mind. I’ve wanted to blog. I just haven’t found the right inspiration to get me there.

Or I hadn’t until a friend of mine posted this on Facebook:

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It kind of stopped me in my tracks. This friend has been going through a tough time, and another friend of hers created this card to encourage her.

In my own way, I have been going through a tough time, too. Nothing particularly bad has been happening…in fact, some very good things have been happening, but even good change is stressful. Even good change can leave you feeling unsettled and uncertain.

Now, if a friend of mine comes to me and says that they are feeling that way, I know just what to do: I pray, I listen, I point out a scripture passage or two, I encourage them to pray regularly and to trust God. But when it is me…well, I’m not so good at following my own advice.

Sometimes, instead of doing what I know I should, what I know will be healing and good for me, I withdraw. I hide. I internalize. And it all gets worse.

So today, because of the above encouragement, I am breaking that cycle. This blog has always been a spiritual discipline for me – a way of expressing my hopes and prayers, of processing what God is doing in me and around me, of living thankfully for the blessings that abound. Today I am returning to this practice.

I hope you will join me for the journey!

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT