All posts filed under: Spiritual Life

Coniston, England Credit: Rich Bambford/Flickr/Creative Commons

The ‘new’ normal

The stun gun effect that I have been feeling these past few months had a lot  to do with the lack of sunshine this winter and not being able to get outside as much.  I miss my flowers and sun! Feeling uncomfortable in my body, sluggish and unmotivated forced me to stretch myself outside my comfort zone physically. I signed up for a couple of exercise classes and started walking in the malls with my husband because walking outside in the cold, snow and ice wasn’t an option. Movement became key and the more I stretched and moved my body beyond its limitations the better I felt. It has also felt like an incubation time where thoughts and feelings, unpleasant and pleasant, have rolled around inside me allowing the real root of the emotions and thoughts to surface. Even Jesus learned through times of struggle. “Although He was a Son, He learned (active, special) obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) I exercised my mind and dove deep into my thoughts and emotions. They were …

Credit: Michael Mazzamuto/Flickr/Creative Commons

Every step I take

“What then shall we say to this?  If God is for us, who (can be) against us? Who can be our foe if God is on our side? (Romans 8:31) It is so important to remind myself that God is always on my side and with me in everything I do. Whatever I face, God is for me and carries the heavier weight and authority in everything concerning my life. When the teeter totter of life bounces me around, I know God is right beside me. He has the presence and authority to tip the scales in my favour and work everything out for my good. King David understood this and his whole life was governed by a belief God was for him. “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) I am learning to arm myself with the same attitude as Joshua who was aware of the presence and authority of God that he carried in every step he took into the land God …

Worshiping the Lord

Songs of deliverance

“The Lord God is my strength – he will make my feet like those of a deer, equipping me to tread on my mountain heights.” (Habakkuk 3:19) Beautiful worship songs have brought God’s voice and presence to me these past few days. The Holy Spirit has entered into these songs and lifted my spirit and carried me to places of deep comfort and peace. I don’t understand why I had a need for assurance this past while, but my restlessness in the night has reflected inner stirrings. Through the lilting and uplifting notes of these songs God spoke, “I love you, you are mine, everything is as it should be, you are enough, you are more than enough” For the past three days, I have woken  in the middle of the night and played these songs over and over.  I have danced in our living room, worshiped and prayed. One night as I danced, I picked up my worship flags and as the flute played, I skipped, danced and floated over mountains, valleys and streams. …

Credit: Erwin/Flickr/Creative Commons

My Courageous Heart

This year, 2017, I choose to embrace my courageous heart. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1;9 NIV) I must admit, though, many times, ‘my courageous heart’ just wants to run and hide. Often, when I start doubting myself and my abilities, I reach for my little book of affirmations — my brightly, colored Peacock book — where I have written statements and declarations that I want to make my own. At times, when I find myself battling self-doubt, I have woken up in the middle of the night, sat down on the couch  and opened this little book of truth to reaffirm God’s love,  intentions and perceptions of me. Every time I do this, I come out on the other side with a clarity and deep knowing that God is with me and has not changed His mind on anything concerning my life. My favourite affirmation at the moment is: …

The Bell tower of the Sand covered church sticking out of the ground near Skagen, Denmark Credit: Myrna Petersen

The Buried Church

On a recent trip to my ancestor’s homeland, a visitation to an old church buried in the sand gave some insight as to the way we build our faith, will have a lasting impression in how future generations view the church. The Sand-Covered Church (Danish: Den Tilsandede Kirke, also translated as The Buried Church) is the name of a late 14th-century Danish church dedicated to Saint Lawrence of Rome. Built between 1355 and 1387, the red brick church was 45 meters long and the tower was 22 meters tall. Between 1600 and 1800, desertification or sanding-over of land occurred in the North Jutland coastal areas near the now artistic tourist town of Skagen, Denmark. Desertification destroyed the fields and buried a village near Skagen. By the close of the 18th century the drafting sands had reached the Saint Lawrence of Rome Church. Each time before a service was held, the parishioners had to dig out the entrance. The struggle to keep the church free of sand lasted until 1795, when it was abandoned and front …

Learning a lesson on grace at Tim Hortons Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

The day God schooled me

I was at a Tim Horton’s drive thru, a popular coffee and doughnut shop in Canada. Our coffee maker died (may it RIP) and I needed my caffeine fix. That’s when I saw a person in a white car in the drive-thru lane beside me. He had his window rolled down and was smoking a cigarette. As a Cystic Fibrosis mama, that is a trigger for me. My daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at 23 days old. The disease affects the body’s ability to produce sodium chloride, as a result a person’s mucous is very thick. This causes many problems, most seriously lung failure and the struggle to keep a healthy weight as it affects a person’s ability to absorb nutrients. This means hours spent each day ensuring my daughter takes her many medications including the ones given by mask and her nightly tube feedings. I also need to perform physiotherapy on her multiple times in a day to loosen the mucous in her lungs to delay the progression of this terminal disease. In …

Credit: Shutter Runner/Flickr/Creative Commons

Has your church offended you?

As I look back over the past 30 years of our Church life, I realize how much happier my husband and I could have been, if we had only known then what we know now. But like many, we learned the hard way. One of the keys is learning not to be offended by your church. So, how does one protect and guard themselves from getting hurt in church? Reflecting on our spiritual journey this one truth comes back to me over and over again.  Avoid developing unreasonable expectations of the church and its leaders. I am reminded of a time years ago when my husband struggled with personal identity issues in his life.  So much of it was wrapped up in how well he performed at work and he became a workaholic of sorts. I was not perfect during this period and kept heaping unrealistic expectations on him — what he should be doing around the house and even at church. He just couldn’t handle it! These unreasonable expectations were putting distance between him …

The trap is set, will you take the bait?

The trap of offense

“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Michael Hyatt from ‘Why leaders can’t afford to be offended’’ The other day I did it again and took offense at a comment on Facebook. I chose to make it personal and kept going over it in my mind until my emotions got the better of me. I quickly typed in a comment to straighten that person out. Thankfully, before I hit the send button, I called my husband and shared my offense with him. He calmly advised me to let it go because it would not accomplish any great purpose and probably create more misunderstanding. Not what I wanted to hear! But, I did take his advice because I knew it was wisdom even though I was itching to press the send button. After calming down, I decided I really wanted to get on top of my emotional response to the offense. I was reminded of this verse in the Bible; “It is necessary that temptation come, but woe …

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

Do we need to love ourselves?

“The second is: ‘You must love others as much as yourself.’ No other commandments are greater than these.” (Mark 12:3) According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, loving yourself from a biblical perspective refers to loving the image of God in you and the way He created you. This is not referring to a conceited, prideful, self-worship type of love. Loving yourself and embracing your significance as a Christian is vital. We need to love and value ourselves in the same way God does. Low self-esteem, beating ourselves up emotionally and physically (body image), defining ourselves through past mistakes and failures are all signs that we are not loving ourselves in the same way God loves us. We can be bitter and unforgiving towards others. But we can also be bitter and unforgiving towards ourselves and God because of the way we perceive ourselves  through our body image or  the way things turned out for us in life. I am learning that it  is just as important to forgive myself  as it is to forgive others. Understanding …

Don't allow storms to rule your life. Photo credit: Bill Collison/Flickr/Creative Commons

What it means to cast your bread upon the water

This past summer, I planned a walk with friends around a beautiful lake in the center of our city. At one point in our journey, we stopped at a quiet little spot along the edge, took our bread crumbs and threw them upon the water and watched them float away. We were symbolically fulfilling the words King Solomon wrote: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, yes, even to eight, for you know not what evil may come upon the earth.” (Ecclesiastes 11: 1–2 AMP) Commentators believe Solomon was referring to ships he sent out full of goods to trade with other nations. During their journey they would encounter prevailing winds, massive storms with surging waves crashing over their small wooden hulls. But they would battle through. They would be gone for days, even weeks, and when they returned home they were laden with valuable merchandise. He was describing an investment that will come back to us particularly in troubled times therefore we …

Battling the storm of worry. Photo: R/Flickr/Creative Commons

Have you lost your mind?

Sometime this past summer, I lost my mind. I sensed a cog slipping and I started losing a grip on my thoughts.  They were coming faster — racing through my mind. Fatigue set in and I eventually crashed emotionally, physically and spiritually. Slowly, I had given my thoughts over to the worries of the next day and the next week. I was living in a place and space of constant uncertainty fueled by doubt and fear. Jesus commanded us not to worry about the next day. “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matthew 6:34 TLB) We need to learn to live one day at a time. This requires that we stay in the present and not concern ourselves about the future. It does not mean that we don’t plan for the future, but we must not allow the future to flood our thinking. We must simply remind ourselves that we are a child of God and in His care. God will …

What chains your feet?

All tangled up

“Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so easily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us,  and  let us run with patient and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 AMP) Sin tangles us up and keeps us off course from our purpose. It trips us up and we need to be aware of what it really is and how it affects our life and our purpose. Recently, I got myself all tangled up and without my husband’s help I would have continued to trip over my feet every time I stood up! I was overdoing it when it came to taking care of my parents.  It wasn’t really necessary that I did as much I was. I kept telling myself to slow down and stop running over to see them every other day as they are fine and well taken care of in their present retirement home. But what was driving me to do this. …

Are you feeling trapped by your own limits? Photo: Hans Ackr/Flickr/Creative Commons

Are you a ‘limited’ edition?

Limits, we all have them and I have always looked at them in a negative way. Recently, I read an Albert Einstein quote, where he said: “Once we accept our limits, we can go beyond them” It really got me thinking about the limitations in my life. Some days my world seems so small. I feel guilty and sometimes angry about wanting more, beyond the limits of my home and everyday responsibilities. It seems from the beginning, God knew we could not be responsible for everything, nor could we do just whatever we please.  When we function within His limits there is a blessing of protection on our lives. But sometimes the limits that seem to be on us are not ones put there by God, but limits we have put on ourselves. I ask myself how can I go beyond this ordinary life? Should I be content with doing the dishes laundry, making supper and going to work? When the daily cycle of life drags me down, I begin to buy into this ‘house mentality’. …

Alone. Photo: Stefano Bertolotti/Flickr/Creative Commons

Praying for connection

I am sitting in my living room in my new home. I am grateful for my life at this moment and for moving and setting up a new residence outside a small city where we have lived for almost two years. This place and space my husband and I have created is pretty good. Although, this phase of retirement living in a new place is very quiet these days. There are days and weeks where life and people I knew are just a blurred  memory.  Other days the memories are more vivid. These past two years have been a time of rest for me.  The Lord  has led me beside still waters, refreshed my soul and breathed new life and hope into me. Creating a new circle of friends is difficult. Yet, I know that God created us with a need for relationship.  From past experience, I know that it takes time and often years to find friends that you have a connection with. Stepping out of my comfort zone and extending myself to others …

Jesus warned us about judging others.

Right back at you

I often find myself silently criticizing others throughout my day without really planning on it. You know how it is, it just happens! Different faces over the years come to mind and one in particular sticks out or should I say is still “sticking it to me” because of the subtle conviction that reminds me that I am no different. The twinge of guilt when I point my finger at someone is a signal meant to redirect my focus and help me face my own unresolved fears and insecurities. It tells me that my weaknesses are being reflected back to me through that  person. Really, I should be grateful! I know that I shouldn’t judge others because Jesus commands it along with a hefty warning that when we judge others, God will also judge us. Judge not , lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1) But, I am learning to pay attention to my criticisms and judgements of others for a different reason. Jesus continues: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your …

Nurses on a hospital ward at Christmas during the 1930s. Photo: theirhistory/Flickr/Creative Commons

Medical study: Want to live longer, go to church

A study of 75,534 middle-aged nurses published in JAMA Internal Medicine discovered that church attendance played a key role in nurses living longer. The study surveyed the lifestyles of this group of nurses between 1992 and 2012. During the ten-year period, 13,537 of the nurses died including 4,479 due to cancer and 2,721 due to cardiovascular problems. After accounting for lifestyle choices that could lead to early death such as smoking (which can lead to increased cancer risk and heart problems), the researchers discovered if a nurse attended church over once per week they were 33% less likely to die than their non church attending counterparts. They also discovered that even if nurses attended church less often, they were less likely to die than those who didn’t. Weekly church attendance resulted in a 26% reduction in death and irregular attendance (less than once a week) resulted in a 13% reduction. The study only analyzed the impact of protestant and Catholic church attendance and did not study any benefits associated with attending services at non-Christian religions. …

Photo: Trey Ratcliff/Flickr/Creative Commons

The first prayer

After I lost my first-born son, Graham, to suicide, I still had my sixteen year old, second born son to care for. I watched my adolescent boy reeling from his own grief as he sat on the couch in the basement for days on end. He had made up his brother’s bed and formed the blankets to look like he was still sleeping in it.  He could not accept that his brother was gone. My perspective on life had tilted dramatically.  I knew that I could no longer “take care of everything.”  I was no longer superwoman. All that I felt I could do was pray for my son. Behind our house there was a two-mile hike up to a huge coulee.  Once you reached the top you just had to sit down and admire the scenery below. Farmers crops and cows grazed at the base of this coulee. Hues of gold, green and geometric patterns stretched out over the wide open land before me. From the rock pile on top of the plateau, I …

Photo: Giuseppe Milo www.pixael.com /Flickr/Creative Commons

How unrealistic expectations trip up your child

One of the biggest regrets my husband and I have is the expectations we placed upon our kids especially our son in his younger years. None of the expectations had anything to do with him and everything to do with what we wanted and how we wanted to feel. Expectations are good. Unrealistic expectations are not and do not leave room for flexibility or change. Clinical Psychologist Selena Snow says,  “unrealistic expectations are potentially damaging because they set us and others up for failure.” It took awhile for us to realize that our expectations were unrealistic and taking a toll on our son. Life wasn’t fun for him anymore. He felt trapped and did not want to make a mistake for fear of losing our approval. Taking risks was no longer an option for him. When it comes to our family, our expectations must be placed in God, not our children. Putting our expectations upon our children especially at a young age can create all kinds of frustration, anger and resentment, not just for the …

Photo: docenjoyce/Flickr/Creative Commons

What is a help meet?

When God created woman, He used a strange Hebrew word to describe her role in marriage. She would be a “help meet.” 18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18 King James) Other Bible versions, like the NASV, describe her as a “helper.” It leaves the impression that God intended women to help men and some go so far as to interpret this as perhaps even a servant. In fact, a closer look at the two Hebrew words involved leaves a slightly different impression. The Hebrew word for “help” (ezer) is derived from two Hebrew words that mean “to rescue” and “to save.” The word eventually came to mean “to be strong” to “save in strength.” The same word is used in Deuteronomy, to describe God’s help: “There is none like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to your help [ezer], And through the skies in His majesty. (Deuteronomy 33:26 NASV) So how was woman …

What we think of ourselves, affects who we are.

Be nice to yourself

My mind can be my best friend or worst enemy depending on what I choose to believe about myself. In other words, my body responds to messages I send it via my thoughts. Many times, while trying on clothes in a store, I have stood in front of the mirror and criticized myself for being fat. There is, undeniably, a mind-body connection and statements like “I am fat” affect our mental, emotional and physical well-being. I have shut myself down many times because of my negative thinking and the demeaning language that followed. Waking up and feeling gloomy because the sun isn’t shining often sets the mood and tone of my day and this in turn determines how productive it will be as well. The Bible tells us that our thoughts dictate who we become. The mind of a man reflects who he really is, not just his actions or words . “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) Guarding the heart really means the inner core of …

The breath of life.

Breath

Have you ever felt the need to slow down and just breath? To let your lungs fill with air and just be totally refreshed? I know I have. The book of Genesis tells us God breathed the very first breath of life into man. ‘The Lord formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of the spirit of life and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7 Amplified Bible) Isn’t it amazing that God is the source of life and He ‘breathed’ this life into man. In the Old Testament, Job’s friend Elihu said it well: ‘The spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4 NIV) In Hebrew ‘ruach’ is the word for breath, wind or spirit according to Strong’s Dictionary. There is a force in this word, like there is in the wind. This wind can blow (breath) wherever it wills and accomplish what it wants in my life (John 3:8). One day last month it was extremely …

Understanding who we are in Christ will change us. Photo: James/Flickr/Creative Commons

Rooted in love

Recently, I heard a beautiful message on having Christ’s love rooted in our lives because it has the power to radically change us. Our pastor talked about Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge , that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.”  (Ephesians 3:17 -19 NASB) This prayer came out of the Apostle Paul’s deep desire that the Ephesians would know their identity in Christ.  Once they grasped who they really were through a revelation of God’s love their perception of themselves and the world would change: Paul was passionate about believers being rooted and grounded in the love of God.  He knew it would bring a stability and security that would produce wholeness and make them complete. Our pastor referred to a story …

Photo: Wilson Salvador Neto/Flickr/Creative Commons

The ‘Good Eye’

Some people are naturally more positive or upbeat in their personalities. I am not one of them. I am by nature more of a realist. In fact one of my choice expressions is, ‘well that is just reality!’ Even if not spoken, it is often in my thoughts as I evaluate life. I really want to have a better outlook and a more positive attitude towards myself and others. This has been my desire for awhile now and something I want to continue working on during this brand new year. I will tell you honestly so far, this has not been easy. The old habits, ways of speaking and thinking, die hard. However, I did find an interesting scripture that will help me move ahead in this area. Proverbs 11:27 says, ‘He who earnestly seeks good finds favor, but trouble will come to him who seeks evil.’ I did a word study on this phrase, ‘seeks good’ and found the Hebrew language sheds more light on this scripture for me. According to an article on …

We need to protect our mind. Photo: Joe Goddard/Flickr/Creative Commons

A woman’s perspective: The garrison around my mind

This past month I noticed a change in my pattern of worry. At times, it seemed non-existent. My husband knows firsthand my battle with worry and anxiety. I succumb to worry and it’s wandering ways often throughout my day. But lately, it’s as if my thoughts bounce off a guard rail that won’t let them pass through. My thoughts cease to stray and a cloud of peace settles over me.  At times, I have noticed an anxious thought wander in and then just disappear. My mind is protected by an unknown force and I experience peace in a way that I have not known before. It is the “peace” that Paul spoke about: “and the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Philippians 4:17) We exercise our body to stay fit physically and in the same way we need to discipline our mind  and  learn to control our thoughts. The Apostle Paul tells us that we must literally take every thought captive: “and we …

Can you share your emotional burden? Photo: Tian Yake/Flickr

A woman’s perspective: Are you willing to share your burden?

Fear gripped me.  Attending this seminar meant I would be honest with myself  and others about the circumstances that created the emotional upheaval in my life. I had chosen to forgive or so I thought, but continued to live with  anger and bitterness. I desperately needed relief from the emotional torment. The  seminar, designed for people like myself, taught principles to  help those struggling with unresolved issues in their life.   I had suppressed them and tried to deny their existence for a long time. On the first day, I met the small group with whom I would share my darkest secrets. They were apprehensive just like me. We stood in a circle and one by one shared one thing that had crushed and wounded us. My turn came.   Guilt, shame, anger and bitterness flooded in.   It took all the strength  and courage I could muster to get through it. “I cannot change or heal what I don’t acknowledge, was the principle we were applying. I took my first steps towards  healing  my damaged …

Cornfield Photo: Don Burkett/Foter/CC BY-NC-ND

Did speaking in tongues save Kathi’s life?

In August 2011, David and Kathi Byker were awakened at 4 am by sounds in their home in Grandville, Michigan. Two men wearing ski masks and dressed in black stood over their bed. Armed with knives, they demanded money. Leaving a cell phone and instructions on how to pay a ransom with David, the intruders kidnapped Kathi (60). With a knife at her neck, the kidnappers duct-taped Kathi’s hands, mouth and eyes and threw her into the back seat of the Byker’s SUV which they stole. As they drove off in the middle of the night, Kathi was terrified about what lay ahead. She believed they would kill her. The two kidnappers eventually met up with a third person — the ringleader. He and one of the kidnappers remained behind to arrange the payment while the third drove off with Kathi in the back seat. Driving with a knife in his hand, he would turn and threaten to stab Kathi if she didn’t stay lying down on the seat. Terrified and not knowing what to …

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A woman’s perspective: “No, I am not sorry”

Not long ago,  I was conversing  with a co-worker.  I was telling her about  a YouTube video I had  seen.  It portrayed how often women say  “sorry” in a day.  She looked at  me and said, “you say sorry a lot”. I started paying attention to how often I said “sorry”. I remember looking for an item at work. I asked a co-worker,  “sorry, where is the soap kept?” Simply,  I didn’t know where it was, and she did.  No apology was necessary. Saying “sorry” so often erodes its true meaning.  It boils down to how I feel about myself, insignificant. One evening, my daughter and I were arguing.  Exasperated, I ended it with the usual, “well , I’m sorry!”  Realizing  I just  said “sorry,” quickly added, ” no, I’m not sorry!” I was at a loss .  What else could I say to communicate my frustration?   “Well, excuse me! ”  worked.   I bump into someone and “oops” is fine.  “My bad,” as my daughter would say, when she drops something or is …

Breaking free from your past.

She said “You are just saying to people, please love me”

[by Barb Smith] A few years ago, I reached a point of desperation. Personal, unresolved issues were eroding my mental, physical and emotional well-being. With rejection issues stemming from 15 years ago still rumbling around inside, I needed guidance to focus and make choices to put me on the path to wholeness. I was told to to attend a Choices seminar. Built on Biblical principles, Choices helps you identify your hurts and provides you the tools to break free from the past and move forward.  I could go and receive the help and support I needed to work through my issues. 

Looking for a balance in our life.

A woman’s perspective: Where is the balance?

[by Barb Smith] For the past two years, I have been  on a journey seeking answers for my damaged emotions which, I believe, also affected my physical well-being. I realize now, my greatest struggles have come from my fear of rejection stemming from insecurities about myself, my appearance and my relationships. I couldn’t say “no” to anything or anyone because I was trying to please people. I spiritualized my actions thinking I was denying myself and making sacrifices. It felt biblical.

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A Woman’s Perspective: Change

[by Linda Wilson] When everything is changing, it feels like shifting ground beneath my feet. I have felt this many times and I’m sure I will feel it again. After all things change: people move on, children grow up, careers end. The list is unending really. Change is inevitable, whether I like it or not. I went through a season of change this past summer and fall. Firstly, I was dealing with some health issues and reduced work hours. Also, in October my daughter had surgery and my husband had some medical tests, both on the same day. But the biggest change came when my son moved away for work after graduating from university.

Are you enough?

A woman’s perspective: Am I Enough?

[by Barb Smith] I hadn’t been feeling well, still,  I was determined to have a nice supper for our family gathering. I  had rested in bed most of the day and managed to prepare a couple of dishes in the evening thinking I would finish the rest of my preparations the next day. Morning came and my strength continued to wane. Then it began, the barrage of self-degrading thoughts: