Author: Barb Smith

Trees spring to life. Credit: hoho_simon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Unwrapping guilt and shame

I remember feeling numb and barely able to move at times as I began to take responsibility for some of my harsh experiences in past years. Whoever else I had been blaming for my problems was no longer the issue. I had to be real and heal. Denial that I could have possibly played a part or even been responsible for some of my  experiences kept me in the dark. Denial does that. It could include denial about our part in a relationship gone wrong, a breakdown in family relationships or a situation turned bad at work. Facing the facts and focusing on the role we may have played is the first step to turning things around in our lives. When we remove denial and start owning up (being real, and honest) about some things that have not gone particularly well, we begin to move from death to life. The scales  fall from our eyes as we take responsibility (even if it was just a small part). But once we have accepted our role, we …

Humbolt's main street Credit: Monique Vezina/Wikipedia

Where was God? The Humboldt Bronco tragedy

They did not know they were going to be the latest news and that it would send waves of shock and sorrow across the nation. The Humboldt Broncos, a hockey team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League consisting of 16 to 20-year-old players, were headed to a play off game in the northern town of  Nipawin, in Saskatchewan, Canada. Their team bus t-boned a semi-trailer crossing highway 35 killing 16 of the 29 people on board — 10 players and 5 team personnel including the head coach and the bus driver. The Humboldt players had all dyed their hair blonde which made it difficult to identify them. Tragically because the players were so badly hurt, two were misidentified. It would take a couple of days for one family to find out that a son they had thought died was actually alive, and for another family to sadly learn their son was dead. How heart breaking this must have been. What were the players thinking as they traveled on the bus?  The bus was quiet recalls …

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Cultivating thanksgiving

Yesterday started out well but then in the afternoon I had a couple of hours of frustration when something didn’t go the way I wanted. I ended up taking two hours to complete a task that should have taken 10 minutes. But me, computers and technology don’t always see eye to eye. I quickly fell into a slump and was starting to get depressed. I was surprised how quickly things had taken a turn for the worse. I knew I needed to pull myself out of this slump and real quick. The Apostle Paul tells us to: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) All circumstances, describe good and bad and in the midst of bad we are to give thanks. Paul was right, because according to writer J.D. Roth, studies show that roughly 10% of our happiness is determined by our circumstances and 40% of our happiness comes from “intentional activity” which involves what we think and do. Knowing what will …

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Reach for your thread of hope

God’s faithfulness has been my lifeline through  the desperate times when it seemed that there was no hope in sight and nothing to reach for. But at the last moment when my faith was at its lowest and my desperation at its peak, a  very thin thread of hope would appear dangling in thin air, barely visible . This was the case of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’s garment – it was her last thread of hope. Mark said she had suffered at the hands of physicians for years (Mark 5:26) and the fringe of Jesus’s cloak was her lifeline. “20 And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; 21 for she was saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well.’” (Matthew 9: 20-21) There is a thread of hope hanging from the hem of Christ’s robe just for you. Desperation and fear often brought me low, but it also positioned me to …

Do you love yourself? Credit: chandrika221/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgiving yourself is not just about you

For many of us, our biggest forgiveness issue may be forgiving ourselves. From blowing your budget, stealing, lying or cheating on a spouse or perhaps you were in a war where people died because of you. Whatever it was the awfulness of it sinks you with guilt and shame. God may forgive you, but can you forgive yourself? According to Dr. Luskin, Director of Stanford University’s Forgiveness Project, the biggest obstacle to self-forgiveness is the tendency we have to wallow in our guilt. He says: “It’s not just that we feel bad because we know we’ve done wrong, Everybody does that. But some of us actually draw those bad feelings around ourselves like a blanket, cover our heads, and refuse to stop the wailing. He states, that it is a crazy form of penance. We curl up in a ball and say, Hey, Look how bad I feel! See how I’m suffering! I’m pitiful! I’m pathetic! I can’t be punished any more than this; it wouldn’t be fair!” Instead of taking responsibility for what we’ve …

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From Victim to Victor

Refusing to forgive others keeps me in a victim mentality (poor me) state of mind. The victim mentality places the responsibility for my choices and actions on someone else and has become a stumbling block that many in this day are falling over. We see it every day in the news particularly the anger and blame directed towards others that deflects personal responsibility for one’s happiness.  This victim mentality is ripping our society apart. Feminists are blaming the “patriarchy” (code word for men) for their imagined oppression. It is always someone else’s fault. Yet, there are women from horrific backgrounds who have gone on to lead very successful lives, somehow men did not hold them back. The victim mentality prevents us from reaching our full potential. It is a stumbling block made up of blame, anger and reliving your victim story over and over again until it takes on a life of its own. It can take over your life and locks us into a limitation that we have unknowingly placed on ourselves. By holding …

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Forgiving, the springboard to a better future

Has anyone ever told you to “move on” or “get over it.” I am learning, after a few years of dealing with unforgiveness in my life, that you never really get over the past.  And much to my relief, it’s OK! The act of forgiveness is a process and not just a one-time act. It has been helpful for me to understand that we need to develop the capacity to forgive. It is a skill we must learn and practice every day. We each have our own unique story of anger and hurt, but there are two components to forgiveness: Step 1: Grieving what was and what could have been. Step 2: Letting go – of the suffering Most think that a big part of forgiveness is about forgetting the incident or person that brought so much hurt and anger. But denying our past, without first acknowledging it, does not make it easier to forgive. Several experts on forgiveness talk about the importance of grieving over what happened and what could have been. We need …

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The Breath of God, the Breath of Life

Whenever I get that ‘lost’ feeling where life seems out of control and I am overwhelmed, I remember these words spoken by God at creation. “The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” I recognize the signals that are warning me to slow down and when all else fails and I am really desperate I go back to the beginning, to the “breath of life.” I often take a deep breath and allow the breath of God (life) to flow through me. The Hebrew word for spirit in the Old Testament is “ruach” and it means “air in motion.” The same word is translated “breath” and “life.” When talking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus said He is like wind or “pneuma,” which means “a current of air, breeze or breath.” “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where …

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Deep Calls to Deep

There are times when ‘life happens’ for all of us. We find ourselves stranded in deep waters where waves of trouble and trials crash over us again and again. Our emotions are in turmoil. Many times, I have found myself in a place where words could not be spoken. The heart cry of my sadness and grief echoed out over the waters of my despair. But during these times God reaches out to us: “Deep calleth unto deep at the voice of thy waterspouts; all thy waves and billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindess in the day time and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock why has thou forgotten me? (Psalm 42:7 KJV) This is also the only place in the Bible that refers to waterspouts. Waterspouts are created during ocean storms when funnels touch the water connecting the ocean with the heavens. It speaks of the connection that God …

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It’s time to re-calibrate! You don’t have to save the world

It’s easy to lose ourselves in the spinning and twirling events of our daily lives. Often, we burn out when we give all our time and energy for a worthy cause or in meeting the needs of those around us. I am learning that I am not indispensable and that the world can do very well without me for a while. The harsh reality is that we often become “indispensable” in our own eyes. We get lost in the illusion that the world can’t make it without us. We must step away and take a good look at who we have become. My ego loves the attention and the “need to be needed.” I call it my “save the world mentality.” My husband can attest to the many times I have asked him to remind me that “I don’t have to save the world.” Because that mentality has ruined my health, run me into the ground, hurt my most valued relationships (husband and kids) as I ran off to save the world, leaving them and …

Flamenco dance, Seville, Spain Credit: Laurence Vagner/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Dance of Life

These past few weeks my eyes have been opened to my need for love, respect and acceptance from others. I tend to accuse others of being uncaring when they dismiss my plans and ideas. I demand from others what I am lacking in myself and make others responsible for the way I feel. When I quit blaming others for the way I am feeling (angry, hurt, rejected), only then can I see what the real problem is — my lack of self-esteem mostly. I needed to ask ‘why’ am I blaming someone else for my lack of self-worth and insecurities. Why do I so badly need to be right? Resentment and anger are dis-empowering. They debilitate and cripple us, yet we unknowingly lean on them like crutches to get the emotional support and love that we so badly need. When we seek love without giving it to ourselves first, (embracing our value and worth in God and believing that) we will never be satisfied with what we get from people.  We will find ourselves continually …

Blame: The Ultimate Cop-out

Lately, I found myself repeating an old pattern in my life. It’s the one where I suddenly don’t feel good enough or I feel shame about something or an unpleasant memory pops up and I blame someone else for the problem. I recognize in those moments, I have chosen to become a victim and end up dumping my emotional garbage on my unsuspecting husband. He gets to take the garbage out! In a moment, my own personal trash is transferred to him and for a few seconds “I feel better.” But, the “rush” does not last long and soon those sick emotions return. I realize now why many of us like to blame others. It provides a temporary rush that numbs our senses and makes us feel better. But like all addictions, drugs, alcohol or gambling, the problem is not solved. It returns with a vengeance and we need to dump our frustration, anger and unchecked feelings again and again. Blaming someone else becomes our temporary fix. We become addicted to it because of the …

Old watermill in Mabry Mill, North Carolina Credit: Scott Sanford/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Wheel of Gratitude

Somewhere along the way the wheel of my life got stuck. What was I not getting?  I was feeling pretty rough and everyone in our house knew it. I was being pulled under and drowning in self-doubt. False perceptions of myself hung like strings of seaweed on the waterwheel of my life as it lurched and jolted  to a stop. I wondered, what if I am not good enough to accomplish what is at hand for me to do? And even if I do start something, what if I’m not sure what to do next? Lana Vawser prophesied recently that one of the main strategies of the enemy is to whisper in your ear that ‘there’s something wrong with you.’ “One of the strategies of the enemy, is he is coming in as a slithering snake, whispering”there’s something wrong with you.  “God has withdrawn,” God is far away” and the opposite  is true. The Lord is close, and the Lord is inviting you to a deeper place than you have been before.”   (Prophetic word January …

Forest near Oslo, Norway Credit: Thorbjorn Sigberg/Flickr/Creative Commons

Surviving a winter season

As I enter the last half of January, I find myself bracing for the emotional challenges these months have brought in past years. It involves a slow descent into darkness. I often feel trapped, restless and revisit old issues that I thought were healed. Depression and feelings of worthlessness can overtake me as the days get shorter and the cold settles in. But not this year! I am putting  my best foot forward as we descend into the shadows of winter. I am like the groundhog who hibernates and waits for the right conditions to resurface. Actually, in a spiritual sense, it’s the perfect season to ‘exercise grace’. What does ‘exercising grace’ mean?  For me, it’s the  full release of my ‘doing mentality’ that has been known to drive me and others in my family to utter insanity. In other words cease trying to make things happen. It means that over these next couple months I choose to embrace knowing that it is ok to ‘just be’ and that ‘I am enough.’ It’s about accepting …

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Clouds of Emotion

Is there a message in the madness when our emotions are out of control and things are not going the way you hoped? Of course it’s about them, the other people, who don’t understand or ‘get it’. It becomes so frustrating as we repeatedly circle the situation with increasing intensity. The light dims as we are encompassed by thickening clouds that become darker and more controlling. We start to lose our reason and perspective. I must admit that I was being swallowed up by clouds of emotion that were surfacing in my life. My elderly parents are resisting the inevitable changes that are coming for them. I have been trying to help them navigate this transition and they have been fighting it. This has been emotionally draining as I watch them struggle in this season of life.  Anger, tears and overwhelming concern for them caught me up in whirling and intensifying emotions.  It was a brewing storm cloud in my life. Often in these difficult times, we want to blame others and I was blaming …

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Bent, but not broken

There are people whom I can’t help because they are not able to receive or believe words of encouragement or hope spoken to them. But I was no different. Deep down I didn’t feel that I was worthy of the attention or the possible good that could happen. An underlying root of unbelief grew deep into my heart. Because of fear of what the unearthing might expose, I stubbornly stood in the way and for a long time prevented this root from being pulled up. I felt safe in the damp, dark dirt of the past. I allowed some digging and uprooting but when the tangled roots got close to the surface I shrunk back.  The light revealed too much. The fear of unearthing and acknowledging the past in order to heal can be difficult to handle. There has been too much trauma and any further emotional upheaval in the present is almost unbearable. But God wants to heal our emotional wounds. I so appreciate this verse in Isaiah that helps me take a gracious …

A touch of heaven

I felt a light touch and then it was gone. It was a bright and beautiful fall day. My jacket was open because it was getting warm.  My daughter and I were running errands and crossing the mall parking lot to the bank. There was a spring in my step.   Life was good and there was so much to be grateful for lately. The warmth and brightness of the sun made it even better. I saw the truck out of the corner of my eye as it rounded the corner where we were crossing the parking lot.  I hesitated and then stepped forward confident that he had seen me. It was a big, white, wide, 4×4 truck.  As my daughter and I continued across the road I was blinded by a white light in the shape of a large cross.  It was the cross that struck me in that moment. I heard my daughter’s concerned voice urgently say,  “Mom, did you feel that?  That truck touched your leg!” Then, I remembered the gentle touch, …

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What does surrender to God mean?

Does surrender conjure up images of a criminal giving up his gun and surrendering himself to the police?  For many Christians this is what we envision and it terrifies us. In her article, Winning Through Surrender, Kathy Cordova writes: “For most of us the word surrender has a negative meaning because we think surrender is waving the white flag and giving up.” We consider the spiritual process of surrender with giving up, but spiritual surrender is not about defeat. It is about acceptance, joy and faith.   Spiritual surrender is about a mutual relationship with loving reciprocity between the creator and the creation. It’s about  accepting the gift of salvation and experiencing the joy of a relationship with the God of the universe who  not only loves us but knows us well. I realized that after all these years as a Christian I did not have a healthy perspective of what surrendering to God really meant. I felt that I could never live up to the traditional Christian perception of surrender. I was fully aware of …

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Struggling to love unconditionally

Loving others unconditionally (without any conditions, or expectations attached) does not come naturally for me or anyone I know. The question is how does one DO unconditional love (live it out, act and think). In order for me to extend unconditional love to others  I must have  a reason. What would motivate me to love others unconditionally and withhold judgement. Glynnis Whitwer from First5.org ministry says that we must ‘find the why’ and reason for our motivation to love unconditionally. The Apostle Paul writes: “For we were once thoughtless and senseless, obstinate, deluded and misled  . .  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of anything we had done, but because of His mercy.” (Titus 3:3-4) Everyday, I must be mindful of the reason I choose to love unconditionally which is  to  honor God’s gift of grace to me by reflecting it back into my world. In the Old Testament, the Jews had rules and regulations to please God and the Greeks lived to appease their …

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Human ‘being’ or human ‘doer’

A few weeks ago my husband and daughter noticed that I was tired and sleeping more than usual. Immediately, I became angry and defensively opened my calendar to recount every thing I had done over the past two weeks that justified my tiredness. My husband said to me, “it’s not about how much you have done or are doing.  Maybe, you need to go to the doctor and make sure it’s not your heart.  Your mother has heart disease.” His concern for my health interrupted my rant and how much I had done (with proof written in my calendar). I thanked him for caring enough to say something.  He was not questioning my ‘doer’ abilities but was genuinely concerned about my health. I was later moved to tears when I realized my Heavenly Father tries in the same way to push aside my “doing mindset” and convince me that “I am enough.” God loves and accepts us just the way we are. There is nothing we can do to prove ourselves to our Heavenly Father. …

Mirror glasses at a restaurant in Budapest, Hungary Credit: Elekes Andor/Wikipedia

Judgements: A mirror into your heart

What your think about others reveals a lot about yourself.  Catching yourself in judgement is a first step to bringing wholeness into your life. There is a message behind our complaints, judgements and frustrations with others. Judgement is almost always a projection. Often it’s not about them, it’s all about you. We end up projecting our brokenness or an unhealed part of our lives upon someone else. Catching yourself judging others is the first step to healing your emotional wounds. Notice every time you react to what someone has said or done because this is really a message to you, about you. On the surface scenarios that bother you seem to have nothing to do with you.  But if you are having a reaction to what someone has said or done, know this, it’s about you! This is tough stuff! Our personal criticisms and frustrations about others many times mirror exactly how we secretly feel about ourselves. But it is so much easier to point the finger at someone else and not own up to the fact …

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Letting go of your unrealistic expectations of others

For three days I battled with the expectations I had put on a particular person in our church. I would relinquish the expectation and then take it back. I fought with this expectation for three days and equally long nights. I was practically foaming at the mouth. By the end I was frazzled and worn out. My expectations were a weight on my mind and I was unable to release them.  A heaviness fell on me making it almost impossible to relinquish them. It was a tug-a-war of letting go and then pulling back, over and over in my mind. I had to put an end to this struggle and the hopes, fears and expectations that had become tangled up in my mind. I had become a prisoner of the expectations I had put on someone else. Selena C. Snow, a Clinical psychologist in Rockvileed, MD, says expectations are potentially damaging because they set us and others up for failure. She adds that “unrealistic expectations assume a level of control, that we don’t actually have …

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Are you a people-pleaser?

Giving and pleasing look exactly the same on the outside but they both come from a different place or motivation of the heart. They even feel different because giving comes from a positive space and people-pleasing comes from a negative one. Stacey Martino, a relationship expert, refers to people-pleasing as ‘the kiss of death’ because we are giving from a place of insecurity (our need for approval and to be valued).  We are doing it for the wrong reasons and this creates resentment. People-pleasing drains you emotionally because you really didn’t want to do it in the first place. You just did it to please someone. And if we experience rejection it magnifies our resentment. An internal explosion is not to far away. Giving comes from a positive place of optimism hopefulness, passion, gratitude, joy and desire to bless. People-pleasing comes from a place of insecurity, doubt, worry, jealousy, disappointment, blame or boredom. Ultimately, people-pleasing stems from our need to be loved and valued. It is rooted in insecurity.  We don’t know our true worth …

Eye of the hurricane Isabel as seen from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia

Living in the eye of the storm

In the midst of a raging hurricane that can have winds upwards of 250 kms an hour (Category 5) it has an eye that is typically between 30 km to 50 km wide. It is a place of calm. There are often no clouds allowing you to see the sun and blues skies. The wind is light. A person would never know there is a brutal storm raging beyond the horizon. This is the ‘eye of the storm.’ The world is in utter chaos today and as Christians we must live in the eye of the hurricane. So how do we do this? In Matthew, Jesus talks about having a single eye and this is the key to living in the ‘eye of the storm:’ “The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22) In this verse Jesus says if we have a single eye, our whole body will be full of light. It can have blue skies in the …

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Cada paso que doy

English version: Crédito: Michael Mazzamuto / Flickr / Creative Commons 31 Entonces, ¿qué diremos a esto? Si Dios está por nosotros, ¿quién estará contra nosotros? (Romanos 8:31 NBLH) Es tan importante recordarme a mí mismo que Dios está siempre de mi lado y conmigo en todo lo que hago en todo lo que enfrento. Dios lleva el peso más grande y la autoridad en todo lo referente a mi vida. Cuando la balanza de mi vida se desiguala, sé que Dios esta justo a mi lado. Cuento con su presencia y su autoridad para inclinar la balanza a mi favor y resolver todo por mi bien. El rey David entendió esto y toda su vida lavivió por la creencia de lo que Dios era para él. El Señor está a mi favor; no temeré. ¿Qué puede hacerme el hombre? (Salmo 118: 6 NBLH) Estoy aprendiendo a armarme de la misma manera que Josué lo hizo. Consciente de la presencia y la autoridad de Dios que llevaba en cada paso que daba en la tierra que Dios …

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Are You living in the present?

“Don’t worry about tomorrow sufficient for the day is the evil [trouble thereof]. (Matthew 6:34) It has become clear the root of my worry stems from trying to plan for what may or may not happen the next day or even the weekend. Every angle is covered. With my worry I try to control the next day and the day after that. Elliot’s Commentary has an interesting spin on this verse, when he interprets “don’t worry about tomorrow” as “make most of the present.” Staying rooted and grounded firmly in the present day and moment will change your life. It allows us to get the most out of today. I remember one author stating that it is important to stay in the present for ourselves. I immediately discarded the thought. It would be so selfish. But after prayerful consideration, I changed my mind. When I am in the present for myself, I am able to discern the voice of God in my life. I am a much better person to live with and able to …

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El río de la vida

English version: River of Life Recuerdo que hace cinco años, elegi de una vez por todas perdonar a los que me había herido a lo largo de los años. Se trataba de personas con las que regularmente comparti en la iglesia y de perronas en el trabajo. Me deshice quemando mis heridas como un montón de basura. Cuando miré hacia atrás ya no quedaba nada más que humo. Cada vez, que recordaba estos incidentes tenia la tentación de mirar hacia atrás, sólo veia la tierra ennegrecida. No había nada que recordar. En mis últimos años, he aprendido que la ofensa me lanza por completo fuera de curso y lejos del propósito y los planes que Dios tiene para mi vida. La falta de perdón, la ira y el resentimiento, crean una corriente en mi vida que me tira hacia atrás y esta corriente va en contra del movimiento del Espíritu Santo. Este era un peso extra en mi barco mientras navegaba por el río de la vida. No estaba ganando terreno espiritual y mi barco …

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La Roca Eterna

English version: Rock of Ages Estas últimas dos semanas, mi esposo y yo pasamos tiempo con mi suegro que estaba a punto de morir de cáncer en cuidados intensivor. Junto con otros miembros de la familia, nos turnamos para pasar la noche con él. No queríamos que estuviera solo. Durante años había sido la roca de nuesta familia y ahora el nos necesitaba. Cuando fue mi turno de cuidaple, oraba por él durante la noche, y cuando me despertaba, no dejaba de hacerlo. Durante el día, a menudo me inclinaba sobre él mientras yacía en la cama del hospital y le decia que estaba a salvo bajo la protección de Cristo. Sur Roca y el agua viva para su vida eterna. Muchas veces, ponia mi mano firmemente sobre sus hombros, y le apretaba y el parpadeaba, y yo le decia: “Jesús tiene un poder sobre ti y no lo dejes ir. El es tu Roca y el ancla de tu alma. Él te está llevando a la eternidad con Él. Él te tiene!” Sentí que …

Credit: Shawn Harquail/Flickr/Creative Commons

Rock of Ages

These past two weeks, my husband and I spent time with his dad who was in a hospice dying of cancer. Along with other family members, we took turns spending the night with him. We didn’t want him to be alone. For years he had been the rock of his  family and now he needed us. When it was my turn, I prayed for him during the night when I got up to check on him. During the day, I often bent over him as he lay in his hospital bed and told him that he was safe under the shelter of Christ the rock and that living water was springing up in him to eternal life. Many times, I would put my hand firmly on his shoulders, squeeze them and say to him, do you you feel the grip I have on your shoulders?  Then he would nod or blink and I would tell him: “Jesus has a hold on you and He’s not letting go. He is  your rock and the  anchor of …

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How strong is God’s love for you?

What picture would help us grasp the magnitude of this love? There is a verse in the Song of Solomon that describes the love between the bride and bridegroom — a picture of the love relationship between Jesus and His Church, the people of God. “Set me like a seal upon your heart, like a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy is as hard and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead). Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame (the very flame of the Lord)! (Song of Solomon 8:6) It provides several metaphors revealing God’s unquenchable love for us: the seal, death, fire and jealousy. The Seal In Biblical times, the seal was a stamp of ownership and authenticity put on an object. In the Song of Solomon, the Shulamite woman is asking her lover to put this stamp of ownership on her heart so she can be completely and only his. Brown’s Bible Commentary describes it this way: “She was ‘leaning’ on Him, that is, her …

Guatemala City Credit: Carlos Reis/Flickr/Creative Commons

The elevator ride

We were on an elevator at the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala City heading up to the fifth floor to pick up the visa that would allow us to bring our adopted son home to Canada. We were passing the fourth floor when the elevator lurched and began to jerk downward. Our one year old son, who was in my arms, began to cry. Then it stopped. We were stranded halfway between the 3rd and 4th floor. The frantic pressing of buttons did not produce any movement. Our lawyer, a Christian woman, began to confidently and loudly pray in tongues.  We waited holding our breath. After what seemed like hours, but was only a few minutes, the elevator began to inch upwards to the fourth floor. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then there was another lurch. The elevator stopped and we began rapidly descending down. We watched the numbers flickering by as we passed the main floor to the basement. It seemed we were descending much faster than we should be. Just before we hit …

A prayer walk

A month ago a few ladies from our Church gathered at Government House Gardens here in Regina, Saskatchewan for a prayer walk. We usually gather once a month at a park, historical site or Government building to pray for our city, country and nation. This year we decided to produce a video about our walk to show you what we do. It is our first video and it is not perfect. It is dark in spots and at other points our videoing could be better, but we hope to improve as we create more videos for our YouTube channel — Bashful & Bold. It was a bright, sunny day. The flowers and bushes were just beginning to bloom. We started to walk when we noticed a fragrance in the air and were drawn to the Cherry Blossom trees with their full pink blooms at the end of the lane. We were reminded of the verse in  2 Corinthians about the aroma of Christ and prayed into this verse that the fragrance of Christ in us …

The Peruvian desert, one of the driest places in the world. Credit: Mariano Mantel/Flickr/Creative Commons

A rose in the desert

We were in shock. We had just been pulled off a bus by two armed soldiers.  I thought it was the last time I would see my husband. Terrified, we stood as they searched our passports and found what they were looking for.  A small piece of paper stuck in our passports stamped with our entry date to Peru. We had no idea how important that inch-sized paper was. It was all that stood between us returning to the bus or jail. The soldiers motioned for us to return to the bus and we sat in unbelief about what had just happened. The terrain around us was all desert. Tall, barren mountains hung over us as we traveled on to our destination. Two hours later we entered a valley. Suddenly there was vegetation as the landscape turned green. This valley had been irrigated and the small town in its midst survived because of it. The desert in Southern Peru is one of the driest places in the world. We learned later it hadn’t rained there …

Credit: Melanie/Flickr/Creative Commons

My open heart

Some days, I have to work hard to keep my heart open to people around me. I am reminded of a butterfly opening itself up as it pushes its beautiful wings back and exposing its fragile center and the warmth of its colorful wings. Somedays, I am the butterfly, pushing  back my comparisons, criticisms and expectations of those around me to keep my heart open despite how vulnerable I feel.  These decisions propel me forward and enable me to embrace those around me with more kindness and tolerance. I am learning not to take things so personally. It seems the more sure and secure I become of my identity and value in Christ, the less I need to judge or define others as arrogant, insensitive or rude. I am at peace with myself. I am good with me. “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18) It is my own insecurities, fears and sometimes victim mentality that creates …