Troubled waters…

I always find January a difficult month. I think it is a bit of lag from the excitement and busy-ness of the Christmas season. I think it is partially that I really struggle with the winter season – I don’t like having to put on hat, scarf, mitts, coat and sensible boots every time I want to go outside. I love that in summer all I have to do is grab a pair of flipflops and go.

Right now, in my town, there is ice EVERYWHERE. As a dedicated walker, this makes my day much more difficult. I am managing to get my walks in, but I am only going half the distance I usually would, and a good part of the time on my walk is spent concentrating on not wiping out.

I think it is also a little bit of the fact that it gets dark early and the days are often grey and dull here. I don’t think I have full-on Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I know I struggle more during the winter months.

I was thinking on this morning’s walk that I need to spend some time in gratitude. That is usually a great solution for the difficult days or the times of struggle.

And then, I found this on pinterest:

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 9.06.19 PM

Can I tell you how much I love this theology? For me, any time of struggle is an opportunity to draw closer to God, to depend upon Him, to learn from Him. And any time spent drawing closer, depending upon and learning from God results in cleansing. Sometimes the learning is as simple as: I have forgotten gratitude, and I need to return to it. Sometimes it’s more difficult to figure out what the learning is meant to be.

But either way, I believe that any time we are facing trials – whether we’d term them troubled waters, wandering in the wilderness, or something else entirely – God has a good purpose to redeem our suffering.That doesn’t make the suffering easy, it doesn’t make it fun, but it does make it worth going through.

So today I choose to be thankful. And here’s my list of things I am thankful for on this day:
-good friends who speak wise, comforting and supportive words (you know who you are!)
-my best friend, a boxer-mix named Koski who always knows when I need an extra cuddle (how DOES she do that?)
-a community of faith that reminds me that I never walk this journey alone
-improvement (slow though it may be) in the state of the sidewalks where Koski and I walk each day (improvement, slow or fast, is always a good thing…it’s moving in the right direction)
-a gym that is close by, has a great class schedule, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (take any one of those details away, and I bet my fitness routine would tank!)
-sunshine on our walk this morning – the light shines in the darkness, my friends, and the darkness has never been able to put it out.

I encourage you to take a moment to think about things you are grateful for this day. Try to be specific. For example, “faith” is always a reason for gratitude, but focusing that down to something like “the knowledge that God is with me and others are praying for me,” will help you see the details that make “faith” a reason for gratitude.

And I leave you today, with this – my life verse, which always reminds me that even in tough moments, God is with me and for me:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28



Tonite I find I just want I express gratitude. I know I touched on that last night as well, but there are several things I am deeply thankful for today.

One is some time spent with my parents (and the reminder once again that I am so very blessed to be their child and so very blessed to have the close relationship with both of them that I have). Another is some good news that a friend is cancer free after a battle that has lasted the better part of a year. These are pretty big blessings, and it is good to stop and give thanks for them.

But the big things have a way of reminding me about the small things. So I am also thankful for good conversations, nourishing food, Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and a hot shower first thing in the morning.

On days like this it is easy to be thankful. But I love what Paul writes to the church in Thessolonica:

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

I am convinced that the difference between those who make it through hard times and this who seem to thrive and grow in hard times is the ability to give thanks in all things. Seriously.

Try it next time you are having a bad day. Stop and find something to be thankful for. Turn to God with that thankfulness. And then just watch how your heart grows and your day improves. It is really hard to be cranky or upset when you are giving thanks. I promise. And that is probably why Paul encourages the church to give thanks – he know it is good for us!

So on this day in my Lenten journey I am thankful. And I can’t stop smiling.

He lifts you up!

I have a song by Audio Adrenaline going through my head right now…the lyrics go “you get down, He lifts you up! You get down, He lifts you up! You get down, He lifts you up! Every time you’re down, the Lord lifts you up!”

I find this to be so true. Every time I find myself down – and yes, that happens even to a fairly balanced, fairly bubbly person like me – God sends something to lift me up. Today it was a gentleman who is a client at our foodbank. He stopped by my office and just ‘wanted to talk.’ I sat and listened as he told me about the terrible things he has been through (abuse, addiction, depression, his wife leaving him, disease, etc.) in the past few years. But then he would get this grin on his face and say “God’s shown me so much, though. God is with me all the time.”

He told me how he had become addicted to cocaine, but God had sent a police team into the bar where he got his drugs and all the dealers were cleared out. He said one day one dealer got angry at him and wouldn’t sell to him anymore and that meant that he couldn’t get his drugs anymore. That began the long road to recovery for him.

I loved his honesty and his ability to see God at work in the places where most of us would think God does not go. I found his faith inspiring and his smile contagious.

Things are hard at at the foodbank right now. We are surviving week-to-week. Today there is a total of $56 left in the bank. It will take at least $1800 to buy food for our clients a week from now. It seems insurmountable. And yet – God provides. Endlessly and faithfully. And I am so grateful that He does. Because in sharing a little food with those in need, there is a much deeper blessing to be found for those who serve.

The start of summer…

Summer has often been a difficult season for me. I was always easily over-heated and exhausted by the humidity. I spent a lot of summers feeling really uncomfortable because of the extra weight I was carrying. But that has changed in the past year. With the weight loss, I have found that I am often cold and have been really looking forward to summer. Even though we’ve only had a few days of warmth so far, I can already tell that I am going to love this summer. It is great to feel warm again and to enjoy wearing shorts and tank tops.

This past weekend was the beginning of the summer season with the Victoria Day long weekend. Some of my friends and I have a tradition of going to David’s house for a campfire. And that is exactly what we did on Friday. It was a warm and beautiful day, and it was a joy to spend some time with good friends. I thought I’d share some of the photos I took on Friday.

To me, these photos are expressions of gratitude for all the good things God has gifted me with.


Naters hanging out in the Tree House his godfather, David, built for him and Cam.


Cam had to get the same shot, of course. 🙂


Michelle, Rob, Aly and Karen enjoying the fire.


Daddy’s girl: Aly and Rob
Pretty Aly-girl….love that smile!


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.

It is finished…

It has been a really busy week for me. After some time off at the beginning of the week, I have found myself rushing from one thing to the next. Today was the busiest and tomorrow will be no different. Of course, this is also a week when I am preaching. It never fails, right? (I shouldn’t complain. My friends who are not Associate Ministers face this every single week…where as, I only have to feel the sermon-crunch one-out-of-every-four.)

I got home late this evening and wanted to just go to bed, but instead I spent some time online, chatting with a friend. We ended the conversation about 20 minutes ago and I had decided to go to bed and deal with the sermon (which really only needed a read-through and a final thought after the work I put into it last night) early tomorrow morning.

But I am so pleased to say that I didn’t do that. Instead, I took a moment to run through the sermon and amazingly (the Grace of God at work, people!!) my final thought presented itself almost immediately. So now, the sermon is finished and I am thankful. It is a privilege to preach God’s word to those who belong to or are seeking for His Kingdom.

It is finished! AMEN!

Deep breath….

It is Holy Week. For my minister friends and I this is our second-most-busy time of the year. Christmas being the first. The funny thing is that tonite I had nothing on. Not a single meeting or practice or anything to be done for the church. I am spending tonite taking a deep breath, because the rest of the week there won’t be time to breathe.

That is the way church goes – it’s kind of feast or famine. You’re either insanely busy, or things are kind of quiet and easy. At a big church like the one where I serve, it tends to be more insanely busy than quiet most of the time.

This week we will: have our regular Wednesday night (community dinner, and classes), have a Christian Seder on Thursday night (followed by choir practice, of course), have a Good Friday service (I am very much looking forward to it!) and then have 2 services on Easter Sunday morning (one of which I am preaching). Also, on the Saturday night (not without some controversy) we will have our Mystery Dinner wrap-up party.

In all of this, Jesus will be present (yes, I believe he will be there even at the Mystery Dinner party). And my deep hope is that all who gather will notice him and draw near to him. That in the services, the songs we sing, the prayers we pray and the meals we share, we will find Jesus. We will be touched again by his life and death and resurrection.

It will be a full week. And a good one, I expect. But I am blessed to begin this week by a quietly contemplative evening at home.



I. Love. My. Church!

Last week was a tough week – some meetings and some difficult health news about a beloved congregant had me down. I struggled to stick to my Weight Watchers points (being an emotional eater), I was tired, my throat started to get sore. It was just a drag of a week. There were bright spots in the midst of the gloom, but I still struggled against the gloom. And you can see that, if you read over my blogs for the week.

But this morning, it was like God took my hand and whispered to me “Despite the difficulties you face in ministry, I’m going to remind you how much you love this place and these people.” And I sat in worship, amazed. I looked around and thought about the more-than-a-year I have spent with this congregation. I thought about conversations we’ve had and moments we’ve shared. I remembered tough moments that we made it through together. I remembered heart breaks and moments of triumph.

And it was so good. God is so good. I feel like I woke up to a sunny day after a week of rain.

I am blessed.

What a privilege…

It is hard to put today into words…there have been so many great moments and I think most of them (from the outside looking in) would appear utterly mundane. But from my perspective, they have affirmed once again that God is at work in our world and that I have the privilege of being there to see Him at work.

In prayers and insights shared today, in a quiet compliment, in the chance to serve, I found the deep blessing of God and abundant life that Jesus promised.

So this is a short post to simply express my gratitude to God for all the good gifts in my life and for the privilege of this call to full-time ministry.