God Can Deal With Your Shit, Literally!

Sorry for the title, but I know no other way to say this. (maybe poop, but that seems like too silly/childish a word to use in this situation).

I had a really interesting experience Tuesday to Wednesday. I found out just how much God is involved in my everyday life. On Monday, I noticed that the sewer seemed to be a little higher than normal, so I kept an eye on it. It didn’t really change, so I went to check it a few times. In our area we have large Elm trees, and usually we have to get our roots taken care of every year to 18 months. It wasn’t time yet, so I didn’t worry about it too much. We had the sewer cleaned out in spring so I thought it should be ok. I hoped that we would not have to get the plumber out again, we don’t have much money this paycheck. We have been dealing with an extremely large water bill. We had a leak from our ice maker fridge and a slow leak in our toilet. We get estimated bills most time. We pay them, and when we get bills that are really large, we take a reading, and end up having a large credit. Normally we use less water than the average household. About 2 months ago we got an estimated bill for just over $1200. So I called it in and instead of $1200 it was $1700. Crap!! It was stupid of us to not give them regular readings, so we have had to pay the consequences. This was a kick in the teeth of our already very limited, tight, no real wiggle room budget. We were expecting that we might not have to pay a water bill for a couple of months with the credit we were expecting. That has been the case for a few years. It was really stupid, we know this now. It is a hard lesson to learn, but Cam and I usually learn the hard way. So when the water looked a little higher than normal, I was hoping that it wouldn’t get worse. My budget had just enough to pay for our animal’s licenses, they have to be bought tomorrow or we will be slapped with a $250 fine per animal. We have 3 dogs and 2 cats. I know, I know, that is crazy, but we love animals, and the last two were animals that needed to be rescued. I haven’t had a haircut for quite a few months, because we have no room in the budget for it. I am telling you all this, not for sympathy, but for context for this story.

God is aware of what is going on. He lets us face our consequences, I think that He is hoping that Cam and I will learn faster, so that the consequences are not as painful to our pocketbook. Usually we make it, yes things get tight for a while, but we manage. This time though there has been no wiggle room, we have been having a really hard time over the last several months paying the things that need to be paid, insurance on the car, the house, groceries etc. A haircut is a luxury right now. 🙂 Oh well, I don’t need to have perfect hair to enjoy life :). This last month, the bills have been piling up as we pay the water bill. We made payment arrangements for it, so we had to honor them and make them on time or get our water turned off.  We don’t want that.

Anyway to get back to this sewer situation, Tuesday Cam was at our church’s men’s Burnt Offerings at church. They go to the park and barbecue over a fire and socialize, once a month. I wish our women’s ministry would do something like this, I am not really into women’s bible studies where you sit around and eat dainties. So while Cam was at this event, I went downstairs to check on the sewer, and it was overflowing and spilling out the contents of it over our basement floor. Crap!! Literally! I was freaking out, there was absolutely no money for it. I could use the license money, but that would only pay for about 1/3 of the bill, I expected it would be. I was really upset, and yelled at God, asking Him where He thought that we could get this money. I broke down, and Jaydyn and Maddy offered to help do what they could. This is very humiliating. At almost 50, you would think that we would have our shit together. 😦 So to be rescued by your kids is hard to take. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?? So all evening and all the next day we used the water as little as we could. I went out for coffee to go to the bathroom in the morning, Cam was at work all day, so he was ok, Maddy and Jaydyn were at work too, so they were ok too. I called the plumber in the morning, I got a few quotes and looked online for good reviews on plumbers, and went for the most reasonable plumber who had good reviews. Hollis’ Sewer and Drain was who I went with, he was recommended by the top plumbing company. They didn’t clean drains, but they called this guy when they needed that to be done. He wasn’t sure he could fit me in, but he came at the end of his day, at about 4:15pm. I showed him where the sewer was and went upstairs to let him get to work. A few minutes later, he comes up and asks what happened last night, so I said that the sewer had been overflowing. He said that he couldn’t see any problems, that our sewer was flowing freely. He asked me to flush our upstairs toilet and he flushed the basement one, and everything was great. What??? I asked him how much we owed him, he came to do a job, there is usually a fee for someone to show up. He said, don’t worry about it, call me again if you need me. What???

All I could think after that is that God cared about what was going on, and He took care of my shit, literally. I don’t mind that He showed off a bit in this way, actually, I think that in this situation that it was undeniable that He would be involved in this way. Some may say that it was a blockage and it just unblocked itself. I say that God unblocked it for me, and that He was showing me that He is aware of my troubles and that He can take care of anything, and that nothing is too little or disgusting to take care of, when it comes to His children. He is a good parent, He allows consequences to happen, but He also rescues us when it is needed. He showed me a little more of Himself, and He allowed me to see that our girls are generous and wouldn’t leave us in a lurch. God is good, and He gave my girls good hearts. I know just a little bit more that He takes care of me, and is aware of my struggles, He doesn’t leave me to handle what I cannot handle by myself. He is there, and He is aware.

Hopefully this story helps someone else. It is not something I would ordinarily write about, it is a little embarrassing, actually a lot, but Cam encouraged me to share it. We both feel like this was a God thing. It proved that He loves us, it showed our girls that God is involved in our everyday lives, and everyday problems. He keeps proving that He is trustworthy. That we can count on Him completely, even when life is hard.

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Paxton

Yesterday, it was my grandson Paxton’s 4th birthday. He has grown up so much, He is so much fun. I am so blessed to be his grandma. It is a relationship that I cherish. He was and still is the only one who calls me grandma so far, and that is the sweetest name when Paxton says it. I always wondered if it would make me feel old? I have discovered that it doesn’t make me feel old, it just makes me feel blessed.

Paxton says the most adorable things, and does so many cute things. His smile lights up the room, and his laugh is so contagious. He is a happy boy and he loves to laugh. His heart is tender, he is very sensitive to how someone is feeling. If someone is sad, he cuddles up with them, he gives wonderful hugs. When someone is happy, he joins in with their happiness adding more and more joy. God made him wonderful, God has blessed him with a compassionate heart. Our whole family is blessed by him.

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I love it when he comes over. I get to play cars, horses, fight giants and monsters. He loves Spiderman and Batman as well, so we will play super heroes and bad guys, guess who gets to play the bad guy, that’s right…me. 🙂 Paxton also loves to watch movies and so I get to watch movies, kids movies. Good thing I love Disney movies. I will watch them by myself sometimes. Usually, I want to go to the newest Disney animation on my birthday, luckily Cam and my kids understand this. There is usually a new Disney movie released around my birthday, and we have most of them on DVD. 🙂 Now I get to watch the Disney movies with a fresh perspective and through a little boy’s eyes. It makes watching these movies better when I watch them with Paxton. I love to watch the joy and wonder on his face as we watch them. When everything turns out good, when it looked like it might turn out to be bad, his smile is infectious.

Paxton’s favorite movies are the Disney Cars movies. He loves cars and so understandably the combination of cars and animation works for him. They are good movies, and so I don’t mind watching them over and over again :). So Cam (Papa) and I wanted to make him something special for his birthday, something we knew that he would love.

Cam and I are really into making theme lamps (fandom lamps). So Cam and I dreamed up a lamp for Paxton. It is a Cars lamp, with Mater being the focus. It was great to see his face light up when he saw it. Amanda and Paxton are moving to a new apartment, and Cam and I thought it would be great to give him something for his new room. We wanted to make it personal, just for him, not just something random. we didn’t want to make an ordinary lamp, but one that would appeal to him. I think that we were successful. 🙂

 

Paxton, in case you ever wonder, you are loved and completely loveable. You are worthy of love because God says you are and your grandma agrees with Him. You are a bright light in this dark world. You are my sunshine, around you everything looks so bright and cheerful. You make me laugh even when my heart hurts. I love you to pieces!! I am so thankful that I am your grandma, and I am blessed every time you call me grandma. I will love you for the rest of my life. I pray that God would keep your heart soft and happy. I pray that you will know your Maker early, and accept His gift of abundant life and incredible love. I pray that you will continue to be a light in this dark world, and that your joy will never be snuffed out. I pray that you will find your joy in your God. He loves you, and so do I. So does your family. 🙂

Rescue Me – Do I really want to be?

I am reading an online devotional about Hosea, what a book! The devotional is found on shereadstruth.com. Hosea is one of the prophets of the old testament. It is a story,  the life of a man that I would not expect to be found in the bible. I can’t believe that God told one of His prophets to marry a prostitute. It is through their  story that I see what God puts up with because of His love for His people. That even transfers to us, today. Through this story, God shows the unfaithfulness of His people. He also shows the love and mercy that He has towards His people. It also shows that He allows us to face our consequences. It shows His desire to forgive us, and to continue to show us His love for us. We are like Hosea’s wife Gomer, it shows the very real relationship that we have with God. We are not faithful, it seems like we are always chasing something and forgetting God, until things get tough. I know that I am unfaithful. Most times I turn to anything other than God, it’s like I forget about Him. I try to do life on my terms, but that never works out well for me. I know this, and when I have found myself walking 180 degrees away from the path that God has for me, I question my sanity. I hope I am not alone in this, that there are others who mentally reprimand themselves for forgetting about God. I mean how can I forget?? He is all around me, and I forget?? what is wrong with me?? This book shows me so clearly the pain and disappointment that God feels as I run to something that I love more than Him. I try to say that I love Him the most, but if that is the case, why do I walk away and live life for myself and by myself. Why do I go to food, chocolate, sugar or T.V. for my comfort or cravings instead of craving the only One who matters. The One we were made to crave, the One who would fill any longing that we think that we have.

God is in a terrible marriage—with us—one He should have divorced from long ago.

He loved us first.
We loved sin more.

He made us without shame.
We dirtied the white dress.

He gave us a covenant.
We didn’t show up to the altar.                                                                  http://shereadstruth.com/2016/09/09/gods-case-against-israel/ 

It is terrible what we put God through. We are an unfaithful people. We may not be intentional in our unfaithfulness. I don’t think Gomer was either, or at least not deep down. I believe that her life experiences told her that her desires were worth anything she would have to do, and that to get these things, she would have to sleep with someone to gain her desire. I believe that her self-worth was non-existent. I believe that she thought that all she had to offer was her physical self. I know that there are many who still struggle with this outlook. We judge them, not really understanding what is going on or seeing that we have the same issues. We may not feel like we only have our bodies to offer, but we have learned that we must do something to earn our longings. Whether that would be putting on the mask of everything is great, and I can be your best friend. Or the look at me and my perfection, a false, fake life. We may use money or talent to offer to gain our longings, but we all do something if we are honest. Longings may not be luxuries like Gomer was going for. Our longings could be the praise of men, they could be luxuries, they could be a comfortable life, it could be success, both monetarily, fame, achievement and power. Whatever it is for you doesn’t really matter, the heart of the matter is still the same, an unfaithful heart.

God just wants us to see that in Him all our longings will be met. He wants us to understand, that there is no need that He can not meet. He wants to bless us, to pour life abundantly over us, so much so that we would drown in His love and blessings. The life that He offers is so much, so incredibly much more that our human imaginations can imagine or understand. Why we, why I walk away boggles my mind.

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I know that my heart get locked up in the prison of addiction, addiction to gluttony, addiction to acceptance of man over God. I am addicted to the keep up with the Jones’ mentality of this world, the I want more, materialistic way of life. I am also addicted to the lie that I need to do this by myself and for myself. I desperately hold of to the lie that I need to survive, and only I can make that happen for me. Above all else my heart is horribly selfish. I am trapped within this prison of lies and the inability to see the truth in the throes of my passion. I chase down what ever it is that my heart desires with single-minded desperation, and I don’t even see that this is what I am doing, or at least I don’t choose to look at it. I don’t choose to look at it until God puts Himself as a rock in my path and He trips me or I stumble into Him.

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These are glorious boulders, beautiful rocks, for they reflect God’s desire to live life with us, His longing to forgive and envelope us into His love. Either way these blockades, change my focus, and places it where it belongs. It reminds me that within God is where I am happiest, where I find life, joy, and incredible poured over me love.

So why does it take this to remind me of who God is and who I am in God? Why do I find myself in the prison of desire, instead of the wide open spaces of God’s love? Why do I seem to run toward to prison of sin? This way of life has made ruins of my life, of my dreams and plans. I am not the woman who I was meant to be. I have lived with self-hatred for so long, it is hard to live a different life, one who has the ability to love myself because God loves me and finds me worthy of love. What is wrong with my perspective? My heart?

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I am locked up in the prison of the human condition. Locked up in selfishness. So it begs the question, if I know this, why do I stay there? My head says that I would like to be rescued, but what does my heart say? Do I really want to be rescued? This will be the eternal question I ask myself. Do I really want to be set free from this prison, or from the lies that I have believed all my life? This is something that I will have to wrestle down to the ground my whole life. I will have to discover the truth, and train my heart to see differently, to desire differently. I have to spend a lot of time soaking in God’s goodness, through His presence and His words written to remind me of who He is, and who I am because of His love for me. Only this will change my perspective, to see the truth of it all.

God wants to repair the ruins of my life. In Isaiah 61 It talks about God’s desire to set us free, and rescue us from ourselves, from sin and from a wrong perspective. When He sets us free He promises joy and He promises to rebuild our ruins. Praise God

Isaiah 61The Message (MSG)

Announce Freedom to All Captives

61 1-7 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
    because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
    pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
    a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
    and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”
    planted by God to display his glory.
They’ll rebuild the old ruins,
    raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They’ll start over on the ruined cities,
    take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks
    and foreigners to work your fields,
But you’ll have the title “Priests of God,”
    honored as ministers of our God.
You’ll feast on the bounty of nations,
    you’ll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble
    and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled
    and your joy go on forever.

8-9 “Because I, God, love fair dealing
    and hate thievery and crime,
I’ll pay your wages on time and in full,
    and establish my eternal covenant with you.
Your descendants will become well-known all over.
    Your children in foreign countries
Will be recognized at once
    as the people I have blessed.”

10-11 I will sing for joy in God,
    explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,
    he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo
    and a bride a jeweled tiara.
For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,
    and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom
    and puts praise on display before the nations.

So are you like me? Do you want to be rescued? or are you unsure? Most of us would like to say that yes we would love to be rescued, but the evidence of our actions and longings tell a different story. Being rescued means intentionally going to our Maker, The One who loves us the most. It takes changing our focus, taking it off of ourselves and placing it firmly onto The Only One who matters in this life. If we allow ourselves to be rescued that is where we find real life, abundant life. It means choosing to give up our life “desires” in exchange for God’s life and desires for us.

If you look at pictures of ruins, some of them, especially the ancient one can be beautiful and romantic, as we imagine the stories that they hold. Some ruins are painful to see, broken and chaotic, and we cringe. Your prison, your ruins can be beautiful and hard to leave, or they be chaotic and awful. Both of these can be hard to leave for very different reasons. No matter the prison, God is calling you to leave it. Follow His voice, He is calling you to something much better.

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The interesting things is that Jesus at the beginning of His ministry read the first three verses of Isaiah 61, This is what He was announcing that He was going to do. Jesus came to be a rescuer, our rescuer. There is no one else who can do the job. It was why He came and gave up His life, and traded in His divine for the human, to rescue us. After He did what He came to do, He took up His divine nature and gave up the human condition. Because He gave us that great gift, He understands us, he understands our human condition, and because of that He paid our price, gave us the ability to turn to Him for our freedom, and He is continually interceding for us, and rescuing us daily from the punishment that we deserve for our selfishness. Are you ready to leave your prison, the ruins that your life is in and take up the mantle of the child of God that you are, if you believe. That is all it takes, belief and a heart turned towards The One who is love and mercy. I hope that you will take Jesus’ hand and leave your prison, your ruins. I am going to keep reaching out, may God remind us of Himself often, may He give us the ability to see Him in a fresh way. May He light our way on the path towards Him and darken the path that leads away from Him. Join me on this journey towards God. I may stumble and turn away, but I pray that God will quickly throw a beautiful, glorious boulder into my path, so that I will again turn in the right direction, towards Him. I am so glad He has seen the human condition and because He has seen our weakness, He offers to be our strength, and He sent His warrior Prince to fight for us. This warrior is His Son Jesus, my Savior and my Deliverer. Grab onto Him and hold on Tight. Praise God!

Courage??!!

Courage is the enemy of discouragement. Encouragement is the best friend of courage.

Courage is not something that I am good at. I am usually the one running away from anything, especially those things that are hard to do. My follow through sucks. I may start something, but if I feel any resistance, I immediately cave in.

Cam often has to kick my butt, and help me get moving again, my girls do too. My girls have grown up with a woman who is scared of shadows and failure. Funny thing is that I am also scared of success. What???!!! I don’t understand it myself. They say that a daughter learns from her mother, what a woman is and will follow in her foot steps. I have not been the woman that I want my girls to grow up to be. Fear has been my best friend. It has held me back, turning me aside, so that I won’t see what needs to be done, teaching me to ignore the plight of others, especially if there might be back lash from helping. The back lash could even be as simple as gossip or rejection.

I have not had the courage to pursue my dreams, speak honestly to people whan what I have to say might be considered harsh, I have dug in my heels when I know that God is asking me to go in one direction and I want to go in the other. I am like Jonah, I turn tail and run from God’s mission for me. I have been in many whale bellies, but I don’t seem to learn the lesson that I was meant to learn for long. Or I stay in the belly of the whale for far to long, and I look a little worse for wear. I definitely don’t have the gift of perseverance. I may start something, but never have the courage to fight to keep something going when it gets tough. I have always believed that I am a starter of things, but not a finisher. I think that is just an excuse now. It was fear talking and not God. My enemy comes in the form of fear a lot. It is familiar to me, so familiar it is like a place of safety and “home”. I know without a doubt that this is not what God wants for me, but it is so easy to stay there. Instead of running to God, I am often running to fear.

Fear is a terrible master. I stifles you, keeps you from being all that you were created to be. It makes you self-centered. You can’t look beyond yourself and see that you are needed for far more than you allow yourself to be. Fear is a dream killer, it keeps you locked up in a prison that makes Alcatraz seem like a play house. It locks you up in your head. This prison goes with you everywhere, you can not escape it without the incredible power of the Almighty. It is hard to describe fear, panic and anxiety to those who don’t live under its torture day in and day out. Fear causes sickness, both physical and mental. I believe that it also causes spiritual sickness. It is hard to sit locked up in fear and see others who don’t seem to be plagued by fear living a normal life, able to face new situations with seemingly no fear. I know that I sit there and wonder what it feels like to live without the master called fear looming over you, ready to pounce if you get out of line. What is it like to put yourself out there without expecting the worst that you can imagine. Our enemy fear doesn’t want us to escape his grip, his talons are dug into our hearts and souls, damaging them and excruciatingly painful.

Fear of anything other than God is a lie. I believe it is a sinful way of life. Why? Because it is a life lived without trust in our Maker and Savior. It proves that we don’t trust our Creator. This is why this life seems so awful, so wrong. It is wrong. It even talks about what a life of fear looks like to God. He has given us the ability through Him to live fearless. He asks us to do that, live fearlessly, trusting in Him and not in our feelings.

1 John 4:7-19 (MSG)                                                                                                                                        God Is Love                                                                                                                                                       7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. 11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! 13-16 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.                                                                                   To Love, to Be Loved                                                                                                                                    17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

Fear keeps us from experiencing the full extent of God’s love. God wants us to understand His incredible love for us, because He knows that it is in His love that we will experience unbelievable freedom. God doesn’t want us to remain locked up and unable to live fully. He came to give us life, abundant life and abundant love, bathed in love, so full of His love, that we can’t contain it. So much love that if we move it splashes on those who are around us. Because of God’s love, we will love without any hindrance. We won’t fear putting ourselves out there. We won’t fear rejection, because it won’t matter, because we are loved by the only one that really matters. You can’t be selfish within God’s love, God is not stingy in His love, He pours out His love on us so much that it overflows our ability to contain it. God is that good. So can we understand and live in God’s love if we live in fear?

Isaiah 8:11-15 (MSG)                                                                                                                                      11-15 God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said:                                                                                                                   “Don’t be like this people,                                                                                                                      always afraid somebody is plotting against them.                                                                             Don’t fear what they fear.                                                                                                                               Don’t take on their worries.                                                                                                                       If you’re going to worry,                                                                                                                         worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies.                                                                     The Holy can be either a Hiding Place                                                                                                       or a Boulder blocking your way,                                                                                                            The Rock standing in the willful way                                                                                                      of both houses of Israel,                                                                                                                                   A barbed-wire Fence preventing trespass                                                                                                 to the citizens of Jerusalem.                                                                                                                 Many of them are going to run into that Rock                                                                                         and get their bones broken,                                                                                                                     Get tangled up in that barbed wire and not get free of it.

Here it says that God took a hold of Isaiah, a prophet of God and told him not to be afraid. I guess he was afraid for it says that God spoke strongly. God was adamant, don’t be afraid. He also said that if you must be afraid, that He was the only one to fear. God is the one who has control over your life and your death, He is the only one worthy of judging someone. He created life, and He beat death, through His Son. He is the only one worthy of our fear. But fear like awe, not scared fear. God talks about how he feels about fear and what He will do because of it. God is serious about how He feels about fear.

God also within these verses talks about how He is the one to go to when you are afraid, How He is the only one worthy of our trust, that He is completely trustworthy. There should be no fear when we look to Him. I agree, there should be no fear when we live life as Christ followers. However, I still live in fear most times. I don’t know how to get free, and maybe that is the point, I can’t do it. Maybe only God can free me, and I have to let Him rescue me. Maybe I can’t rescue myself at all. Maybe my struggling to rid myself of my fear, my trying to rescue myself is really struggling against God. Maybe He is proving to me my desperate need of Him. Maybe He is proving to my soul that it is impossible to free myself, but that it is not impossible for Him to do it. I wonder if He is asking me to relax, breathe, and trust that He is good, and know that He is in the process of rescuing me. Maybe He is saying to me like He did with Joshua, “do not be afraid”.

Joshua 1:9 (MSG) “Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

God took Joshua on a mission to conquer all the nations in a new land, so that God could give it to His people. This adventure was worthy of fear, and yet God says don’t fear, I am with you”. He is telling Joshua that it will be scary, but that He is in charge and that He will win this battle for him, all Joshua needs to do is trust and lead God’s people on this journey. God was about to make miracles happen, He was about to show His people who He was. These people had not experienced what their parents had in their parents and grandparents rescue from Egypt. They had not seen God at work, His overwhelming show of His power, His greatness and His love for His people. God gave Joshua the incredible privilege of leading this people on this adventure. Joshua must have been afraid of his responsibility to the people, this must have been why God repeated this phrase, do not fear many times in a short period of time.

Matthew 10:26-39 (MSG)                                                                                                                                                              “Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now. 28 “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.       Forget About Yourself                                                                                                                           29-31 “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. 32-33 “Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you? 34-37 “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me. 38-39 “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

God knows that most of us have some degree of fear. I think that He knows that it is the very nature that mankind got in the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t built-in us originally, God didn’t put it into us. Adam and Eve were confidant in their relationship with God, and because they were confident in that love, they were able to walk completely naked with God, not just clothesless, but I believe that they were open and free to express anything with God and each other, they were not guarded or shut up in any way. It was only after they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit that they thought that they needed clothes, and they felt like they needed to hide. Before that there was complete openness and trust. I think God misses that kind of intimacy with us, and that deep down that is what we crave. This is the kind of life that we were built for. How do we get free from this fear, I don’t know. I am still in the process of learning to trust God. I know I do not trust Him completely yet. Maybe I will struggle with this all of my earthly life. But I believe that it is in the struggle that we will find God. If we are willing to struggle and rest in His ability to rescue us, that He will continue to reach out to help us. I think that if we just cave into the fear and let it take over, He is a gentleman enough to wait till we are sick of our fear. He is ready to help us the moment that we ask Him for help out. The struggle is the proof that we don’t want to stay there, locked up in fear. So it seems like an oxymoron, that we have to struggle to get free, and yet we also have to trust and rest in the knowledge that God can and is freeing is from the prison of fear. I guess it is an oxymoron, but that is ok.

Proverbs 19:23 (MSG)                                                                                                                                       Fear-of-God is life itself, a full life, and serene—no nasty surprises.

So I believe that to have courage is something that you do, not because of the lack of fear, but because you do it even though you are afraid. Real courage is doing something even though you are afraid.

I have God-given dreams to live and a mission to carry out, and so I need to get down to the business of doing that. I need to live my life, fully aware of God and trusting Him completely. If I do I will see the miracles that He wants to show me. He wants me to see that He is still in the business of miracles, and that He is mighty beyond my imagination. I have fear, but I am trusting that He is rescuing me from it. He is breaking me out of my self-imposed prison. I will trust Him with me. He loves me. Praise God!

 

Ruth Part Two – The Waiting And The Love Story

Where I left off in part 1 is just before this story gets exciting. Where the story was hard, and a little bleak, there seemed to be no hope. Little did they know where their story would go. God had a completely different trajectory for these two women. Naomi felt like life had kicked her in the teeth, but at least she had Ruth, this woman who her son had loved and who had loved her son. This was a small comfort  because this young woman loved her enough to go where she went. Ruth was a dedicated woman, who was serious about her love for Naomi and her responsibility to her. Ruth was determined to care for her mother in-law.

As Naomi and Ruth settled in Bethlehem, Ruth provided for their needs by gathering the few stalks of grain that were missed by the harvest workers. Only the poorest of the poor resorted to doing this for food. There was a very real chance that there would not be enough left to feed them, even after hours of back-breaking working. She would have been working on uneven ground, most likely in the hot sun, with not much shade. It was back-breaking, as she would be working stooped over for hours picking up what she could of the grain that was left behind. She would have had to be careful not to get close to those who were legitimately working. She could have been chased off the land and have to go to different fields to find enough food. After she quit gathering for the day, the work was not done. She would have had to thresh the grain to gain the seeds that were the nourishing part of the plant, she would have had to sort through it to get rid of the chaff. After that she would have had to grind this grain. And because they didn’t have much for belongings, it would most likely have been rudimentary tools that she used, maybe even two rocks. After all that, the bread would have had to be made and baked. This is a lot of work for a loaf of unleavened bread (flat bread, probably like a cracker). I’m not sure if they had much more than the flour and water to use to make the bread. Not very nourishing for someone who worked incredibly hard for it. Ruth though set to the task of providing for them without complaint.

God in His incredible love and mercy for Ruth and Naomi, directed Ruth’s feet toward the field of a man named Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband Elimelech. This seemed like just a lucky happenstance, but I will beg to differ. I will try to explain the picture I see from looking at their story from an observer’s perspective. I have the ability to read from a distance. I am not living this story, and I can read their story from the beginning to the end in under an hour. I know how it ends. They don’t. As it was happening they couldn’t see what we see, I’m sure that at the end of this story, when they looked back on these events, they saw God’s hand very clearly on their lives. I am sure that they saw that God had directed their path and their story.

I believe that God’s very real hand was on Ruth as she decided which field to gather in first. Little did she know that she unerringly went to the one field where she would have  protection. She happened to be working on the field of an honorable man, a good man. As you find about this man, you see that he is generous, that he cares for his workers and even seems to have a relationship with them beyond the relationship of boss and employees. He works alongside them, and he eats with them. His workers respect him and do what he  asks of them, even if the instructions given to them seem weird. They don’t question it, they just follow them.

You also see a man who notices and cares deeply for everyone, even those trying to find enough left on the field so that they could eat. Boaz could have been angry and accused her of stealing from him and had her punished and because she was a foreigner, he had every right to do that as the land owner. Instead he notices her and tells his workers to purposely leave some grain on the ground for her to gather. In a way, he is helping her save face. She is not just a charity case, she is “fending for herself” and caring for Naomi through the work of her own hands. She would feel no obligation to return any favors to him for his generosity. Boaz cared enough to tell his men to keep their hands off her. In another field, there was the very real danger of being molested and mistreated by the workers or the land owner. Boaz also told Ruth that she was welcome to continue working in his fields, and warned her to stay away from other men’s fields, because she may not be safe in other fields. So Boaz was protecting her from harm and protecting her honor. He was also generous enough to ask her to join them in eating a meal. Most likely Ruth had brought no food for herself. Not only did she eat, but she had enough to bring back to Naomi to eat. At the end of the day she had collected approximately 22 liters of grain. That is a lot of grain for two people.When Ruth came home that first day of harvest, after seeing what Ruth brought home Naomi asks Ruth whose field she worked in, who had noticed her, and when she found out whose field that it was encouraged Ruth to stay there.

Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of harvest and as far as I read she worked on his fields till the end of the harvest. As far as I can find by my  research the harvest of barley and wheat takes 4-5 months from start to finish. So Ruth worked on Boaz’s fields for that length of time. Enough time for each of them to see what kind of person the other was, enough time to gain respect for each other, to trust the other.

Ruth works hard during this whole harvest time to provide for her and Naomi. She never expects anyone else to provide for them, and yet Boaz, in his generosity provides, without causing Ruth to feel like she owes him. Boaz, could have openly provided, and made her aware of what she owed and called in favors, but he was a good man. As it is, Boaz provides for them without her understanding that this is what he is doing. Like I said he was a good man, the story could have taken on a whole different meaning if he had  been boastful and proud and doing it so that others could see what he was doing (for the praise of man). He was humble though. He knew that God was the one who blessed him, and so because he knew that, he was generous.

Naomi though understands what is going on, I think she has an idea about what God is doing, and so encourages Ruth to remain working only in Boaz’s fields. At the end of harvest, Naomi tells Ruth to get ready, bathed, perfumed, and to put on her good clothes. Then Naomi seems to hatch a plan to seduce Boaz. After Ruth gets ready, Naomi tells her to go to the threshing floor and after Boaz had finished celebrating his harvest. After he drank, and eaten his fill and gone to sleep, Naomi tells Ruth to uncover his feet and lay down at his feet. What a crazy thing to do right? What is she doing, what does it mean? Basically she is proposing to Boaz, or calling him to be her kinsman redeemer. A kinsman redeemer, reclaims the land that was owned by a widow’s dead husband. The land does not belong to Naomi (it is not her father’s land and so it is not her inheritance, it was to be her sons inheritance, but they had passed away as well) Naomi and Ruth lived in poverty because they had no inheritance. The other part of the kinsman redeemer’s job is to provide an heir for the deceased husband. So Boaz’s first child by all rights legally is not his heir, but Ruth’s first husband’s child, in the eyes of ancient customs and laws.

When Naomi told Ruth to go to the threshing floor, she was asking her to ask Boaz to redeem the land that had belonged to her husband’s clan, so that it would not pass on to another tribe. If you look at what Naomi told Ruth to do, it can be seen as a little scandalous. And it would have been, if we had not already seen that Ruth and Boaz’s character’s were pure and good. When Ruth was told to uncover Boaz’s feet and lie down, the translation refers to more than just the feet, but the legs as well, not quite as far as the groin, but close. When she asks Boaz to spread his mantle or covering over her, she is referring to his protection and provision that would be a wife’s (he could have taken advantage of her, but he was honorable and honored Ruth). Earlier in Ruth, Boaz mentions this mantle in his prayer over her when they first met, for God’s protection and provision for her, but it was in reference God’s wings. Boaz was pleased with the proposal, and said he would be happy to do as she asked, but that there was another man who would have been a closer relative to Elimelech, who needed to be given the legal opportunity first. Then Boaz tells Ruth to stay till the morning before she goes back home, it seems like he is protecting her from traveling in the dark of night, but then when morning comes, he encourages her to leave early to protect her honor from gossip and judgement, and gives her a gift of grain to take home and tells her to wait for him. Boaz wasn’t trying to avoid this responsibility, he was just trying to go through the right channels. This scripture makes it really clear that Boaz wants to take Ruth as his wife, and will wed he immediately if he can. He goes to the city gate first thing in the morning to get the matter resolved quickly. He is in a hurry to find out if he can marry Ruth, which shows how much he has come to care for her.

Boaz is an older man probably in the autumn of his life. It seems as if Ruth is a much younger woman, and so he feels blessed by her offer of loving him for the rest of his life. I am assuming that Boaz had never married and because he was old had never expected to be blessed in that way or to have an heir. So Boaz goes as soon as the sun rises to wait till he sees the other relative. He asks 10 elders to be a witness to their interaction. This other man agrees to redeem the land, until he hears that he has to marry Ruth and through her provide an heir to Ruth’s deceased husband. Because he won’t do that this man tells Boaz that he can do it. It is witnessed by the elders, and the elders bless Boaz because of his generosity.

At the end of this book, the people in the town are celebrating the birth of Ruth’s first child, but instead of congratulating Ruth and Boaz, they are congratulating Naomi. By all the custom’s in their time and culture, this is legally Naomi’s child and as such will be Naomi’s provider when he grows up and until then she will be under the protection and provision of Boaz. Naomi’s son’s name is Obed, and his name appears in the genealogy of King David and ultimately in the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah. God blessed Naomi unbelievably through Ruth and Boaz.

This is a love story like no other, It is full of the hints and shadows of what Christ has come to do for us. Our love story found in our relationship with Jesus is even more incredible. Jesus came to redeem us, not just for a piece of land or an heir, but to pay for our wrong doings and to wash us of all our sin and to make us holy. Jesus also make us the heirs of God. We become like Him and because of that gain the same rights that He has. We become children of God, and co-heirs with Jesus. Jesus is our Boaz.

Like Boaz and Ruth sometimes we have to wait for God’s plan to unfold, it is worth the wait. God’s plan is always the right one.The world was blessed because of Ruth and Boaz, through them came the Savior of the world. In this story and a few more within this lineage God used outsiders to build the ultimate love story, His. We are all foreigners, being knit into God’s story. God’s story tells one of grace, mercy, forgiveness and incredible love for us. Thank you God.

If you feel like you are an outsider, or that you have waited so long for your life of pain to turn around to a life of blessing, it is ok, because God will meet you there. The story of Ruth and Boaz is here to give us hope in the hard times. It is proof that God uses the hard stories to prove that He is good. Without the tragedy, the story would not have been as exciting. Without the pain, this would have been just another ordinary love story. But  God is not like that, He doesn’t write just ordinary love stories, His stories are full of hope, anticipation, thrill, mystery and eventually celebration. His stories always work out in the end, but it is within the story that He teaches us. It is within our own story that He paints a picture of love, of grace and of mercy. His love towards you is always good, no matter the circumstances, no matter the pain, no matter what you have done or what someone else has done to you, God’s love is a hope-filled one. We may never see what the outcome of our story will be, we may have to wait like Abraham, and Moses, till our life beyond this earth, but we will see it, and I believe that our story will boggle our minds. Trust Him with your story, He is completely trustworthy.

The locks that are shown at the top of the page are called the love locks, they are found in Paris France on the Pont des Arts Bridge. Each lock represents a wish for a true love or love story. There are so many locks, that they are being taken down because they are so heavy that it is causing the wall to crumble. This wall of locks is being replace by the wall of street art to depict what the locks were there for.

There is also another wall called Juliet’s wall in Casa Di Giulietta In Verona Italy, where wishes for true love are written on pieces of paper and stuck to the wall. There are a group of women called Juliet’s secretaries that answer those letters. There has been a movie made about this place.

graffiti-to-juliet

juliets-letters

This just shows how desperate people are for their one. Their true love. Our heart long for that, they were made for this kind of love, but we will not find a love like God’s love for us. We will find human true love, but our hearts long for the love that we are created to have. God’s love. God has sent our Kinsman Redeemer in the form of His Son Jesus Christ. When we go to God, our longings are satisfied and more. We were made for incredible love, GOD’S LOVE.

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Ruth And I – Setting The Scene

I love the story of Ruth the Moabite woman in the bible. The story starts with a man from Bethlehem in Judah moving his family from Israel to Moab, because there was a famine in Israel. He figured that his family would do better in Moab than in Israel, instead of trusting in his God. The man’s name was Elimelech and his wife’s name was Naomi. Israel was dealing with a long time famine. God’s promised land was having problems because God’s people were not faithful, so God was withholding the promised blessings to show His people who He was. They were promised a land flowing with milk and honey, but it was no longer a land that was prosperous and green, it was brown and desolate. He wanted to draw His people back to Him by proving that they couldn’t do life without Him, it was not by their own hands that they were successful, but by His. Well Elimelech decided to circumvent his need for God and left his country and went to live in the country of his enemy. They settled there. It doesn’t say how long they lived there before he died, but you get the idea that he did not live to a ripe old age. Things didn’t pan out as he had planned.

So Naomi was left with only her two sons to provide for her, we don’t know how young they were when their father died. Her sons eventually married women who were Moabites. In the Israelite culture, they were not supposed to marry women from other cultures, it was a big no-no. But they did it anyway. These women were called Orpah and Ruth. After 10 years of marriage these men, Naomi’s sons died, the widows were childless, so there was no heir to carry on the line, and no reason to stay connected with their mother in law.  It was around this time that Naomi heard rumors that God was blessing His people again, and she made the decision to humble herself and go back to her people, because she had no one left to take care of, or anyone left to take care of her.

Naomi must have been a phenomenal mother-in-law, because her widowed daughter in-laws wanted to go with her. She told them basically that she couldn’t offer them anything, that she would not be able to provide for their needs, or give them a new husband. She told them to stay with their people and find new husbands. Orpah stayed with her people, but Ruth begged to stay with Naomi. Ruth said to Naomi “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” Naomi saw that Ruth was determined, and I’m sure touched by Ruth’s promise of dedication to her and her God, and she relented. Ruth and Naomi traveled back to Bethlehem in Judah, it was a very different journey for Naomi than the one she took leaving Israel. When Naomi and her husband left, she had her man, and her boys, life was good. Now she had nothing, no man, no boys, only herself and her son’s Moabite widow.

Talk about news to gossip about. The whole town was excited to see her and hear what had happened, and I am sure willing to talk about it down at the local well. I am sure the word humiliating was what Naomi would say her situation was like. It seems like she was barely recognizable, they wondered if this was the same woman who had left many years earlier. In reply Naomi said “don’t call me Naomi (a name meaning pleasant), call me Mara (a name meaning bitter) For the Lord has made life very bitter for me.” They arrived at harvest time.

I believe that the beginning is the story of how if you go against God’s will and turn away from Him, He takes His hand of blessing away. God was punishing all of His people, trying to turn them back to Him, but Elimelech, instead of turning to God, walked farther away, trying to do life on his terms, it was like he was saying to God that he didn’t need God’s help. I know that God would have been very angry at the thumb of the nose (a gesture that means openly showing contempt or a lack of respect for someone or something) that Eimelech gave Him by his actions. God took His hand of provision and blessing away from him and his family. Elimelech died too early, his son’s married outside of their culture, meaning that they had adopted the Moabite culture whole-heartedly, and most likely worshipped their false gods. God withheld the blessing of an heir to carry on his lineage.  Even Elimelech’s two sons died tragically early, leaving his widow with nothing and no resources. His widow had to return to her people humiliated. Things were bad. There was hope though. God never gives up on someone completely. God wants to bless His own, that is in His nature. He won’t put up with disobedient children, but as soon as they turn back to Him, He immediately starts in motion incredible, surprising blessings. He takes a horrible situation and makes it good. He never leaves pain void, He always turns it around if you let Him. He uses it to show His glory. After Naomi returns home, God flips her story upside down.

I am amazed that Ruth stayed with her mother in-law. There must have been something that compelled her to stay.Ruth was willing to leave everything behind to go with her mother in-law. I am sure that Ruth was well aware of the responsibility that Ruth was taking on. According to the culture as a widow with no children Naomi would have been taken care of by the community, probably not well, but she would not have been left to fend for herself. She would have had at least the basics. However, because Ruth came with her, Naomi had a child, a daughter in-law. Ruth willingly took on the role of provider, but because she was a woman, a widow and a foreigner, there was not many options left to her to provide.

Naomi must have been something special for Ruth to cling to her. If I was to hazard to guess, I believe that Naomi didn’t want to leave her people in the first place, otherwise she wouldn’t have gone back, knowing the gossip she would be facing, the judgement. I also believe that her belief in God never wavered. Even though she lost everything, she  still believed in God, she may not have liked God in that particular moment, but she still had faith, she knew that God was sovereign, that God could bless or curse as He desired. I think that Naomi held fast to her faith and her customs even though it seems as if her husband and her sons had chosen not to. I think it was through Naomi’s example, that Ruth wanted to be a part of what Naomi had, she wanted to stay, she wanted to be a part of Naomi’s family, she wanted to be a part of Naomi’s people and she wanted Naomi’s God for herself. Because of that faith and commitment God blessed them both.

There are not a lot of women that are highlighted by the Scriptures. God saw fit to include and highlight Ruth’s story and also include her in His Son’s lineage because of her faith and obedience.She is one of the giants of faith in the Scriptures. Ruth became part of the people, and blessed by the God that she wanted to follow.

Unfortunately hard stuff happens to us all, some of us seem to get hit harder than others, but you never know what the other person has gone through. The hard stuff can either drive us away from God or it can drive us towards Him. God is good all the time! I have learned that over my lifetime. I strayed as far away from God as you could, I even practiced Wicca for a time. I refused to believe that God was good, because He let some abusive stuff happen to me and let my father die, my dad was the most important person to me. He loved me no matter what. I was an awful teen, into drugs, drinking and partying. I was abusive to my mom. I loved everything that I was pretty sure that God disapproved of, even to the point of denying who He was. I was taught the truth and grew up in the church, but through some unfortunate things, I grew angry at God. My dad’s cancer and subsequent death just sent me over the edge, so I left my parent’s God and followed my own, and that was not good. I ended up in some very dark places. I was raped at 17, I didn’t want to live, and so tried to commit suicide a few times. I had already had suicidal thoughts before my dad died, my dad broke down our bathroom door to stop me from downing a bottle of pills while he was fighting cancer. I tried slashing my wrists at school, but there were way too many people using the bathroom that day, so I didn’t. I was in trouble with a drug dealer, so my parents switched my school, and the school that I had been at disciplined the person who I got my drugs from, so I was afraid for a while. Life was really hard for me then, but most of that was because of the choices that I had made. I chose to go to the party that I was raped at, against my mom’s wishes. I chose to use drugs, even though I didn’t have money to pay for it. I chose to quit school, to be abusive. I chose to go my own way. God, because He is good, had other plans for me. I guess there was a tiny seed of faith in me. I saw my dad’s faith lived out through his battle with cancer, I remembered the stories that my grandma told me about God, and the songs that she sang. I grew up in church and I knew about all the bible stories that children are taught in church. I just didn’t feel like they were for me.

Little did I know that God had other plans for me. Through my kids, I turned back to Him. I wanted better for my girls. I wanted them to know the faith that my dad had, what I had witnessed through his battle with cancer. In my dad I saw incredible strength and unwavering faith. I asked him once if he was afraid to die, he told me no he wasn’t, that  he was not afraid to die, but that he was worried about leaving us. He knew what I was like, and he knew that my mom and I had a turbulent relationship. My dad’s faith was steadfast, he knew that God was good all the time, even when life was hard. My dad’s faith spoke volumes to me, although I didn’t acknowledge it at the time. I stored it in the back of my mind, and it surfaced later as I had children. I wanted what my dad had for my kids. I had messed my life up royally I thought. I figured it was too late for me, because I had rejected him for a false goddess. I thought that was the unforgivable sin. I have now come to the conclusion that the unforgivable sin is refusing to believe in God. If you turn back to God, He wipes your slate clean and welcomes you with open arms. This is the truth. It is the truth in the story of Ruth and it is the truth in my story, and even in the story that is Cam’s.

I came to know God after my daughter Stephanie was born, she was my catalyst. I finally knew what eternal love looked like. I knew I was once again loved no matter what, it was a love that I could trust. That trust was tested after our second daughter died of SIDS after only 12 weeks of life. I was so angry at God, I think I even hated Him. He took all the words I spewed at Him and didn’t strike me down because of them, I think He understood my pain, He had lost a Son once too. I found out that God is big enough to take my anger. He is also sovereign enough to refrain from having to account for the death of my daughter and answering the questions I asked Him out of my pain. I learned a lot about God within that next year. I found out that God is incredibly close to the broken-hearted. That He never left me alone, that He was a God of blessing, even if it was just in the gift of sleep. I found out that I could just curl up in His lap and cry, when no one else seemed to care or want to listen, He did. My faith grew stronger that year, and I discovered the faith of a desperate woman. I felt God, He was undeniable. I discovered the faith that my dad had through his battle with cancer. It is an incredibly surprising faith that comes through adversity. It is weird that my faith grew so much through tragedy. I saw it in my dad and now I see that it was in me too.

I think that this is what faith looked like in Naomi, and this is what Ruth saw and wanted for herself. I think that Ruth knew the truth that God was the only one that she would find that kind of unwavering faith in. She knew that her Faith in God would grow stronger, even through her tragedy, and maybe because of that tragedy. I know for myself that without God, I couldn’t have lived. I wanted to die that year, It was so hard to live knowing I had lost my child. I can say that God was the only reason that I survived till now. God blessed me with the gift of unwavering faith. I had the tiniest seed of faith till God proved Himself within my tragedy. I am grateful that He did not let my pain have no meaning, He didn’t leave it void of blessing. It was then that I truly got to know my Savior. He truly is my Savior. My dad was like Naomi to me. I wanted what he had, I wanted his faith and I wanted his God. I also relate to Naomi, I relate to her faith even in the face of tragedy. God makes this life of mine worth living. I will be like Ruth, I will follow God where ever He goes. He is the one that I will serve willingly.

27 Years

27 years is a long time, it is more than half of my life.

“A happy marriage is about 3 things: memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes, and a promise to never give up on each other.” Surabhi Surendra

Marriage is a beautiful mess.

27 years ago today Cam and I stood before a pastor and God and a of friends and family and pledged our undying love and commitment to each other. We chose to stay together no matter what. I have never regretted that decision. If I look back on our life together, our 3 years of dating and our 27 years of marriage, there has been way more good than bad. I have had the privilege of being and having a best friend to live with. Cam has done all he can to make sure that we have been taken care of. He has sacrificed a lot for us. He has stayed at jobs that suck the life out of him, just to make sure that we are secure. He hasn’t given up just because he isn’t happy there. His committment to me and our girls has been steadfast. Cam has been an encourager of dreams, he pushes me into areas that I know I need to go, and without his push, I would not venture into. However he does not leave me there in a scary place alone. If he can’t be there physically for me, I know that he stands in the gap in prayer for me. Often in the morning, I start waking up, and I hear him praying for me, for blessing and because he is thankful for me. Often when he kisses me in the morning, he calls me his sleeping beauty. LOL!! He must have blinders on, I am most definitely not beautiful in the morning. My hair is all over the place, there is drool on my pillow, and I know that I was snoring badly the night before, probably waking him up a few times at night. Cam used to snore until he got his c-pap machine for his sleep apnea, he had an excuse, but he hasn’t snored since Jaydyn was a baby. I have snored way longer in this relationship than he has. Cam has no reason to call me his sleeping beauty except that he loves me single mindedly. I have never had to worry about his faithfulness. His heart is for me. I am grateful that he finds me worthy of loving, I don’t always deserve it.

We have been through a lot together. We have made it through things that often destroy a marriage: the death of a child, financial issues, pornography addiction and more everyday stuff that is hard to work through. All that time, we have chosen to stay together, to love no matter what. It hasn’t been easy, there are many times when I felt it would be easier to leave than stay, and I know that Cam could say the same thing. Always when I have weighed the good versus the bad, the result is always the same, there has been way more good than bad. Over time, I think the thing that I have learned about marriage is that God didn’t create it for the sole purpose of happiness, I think it has way more to do with holiness. Cam cannot promise to make me happy all the time, that is not humanly possible, and I can’t do it either. Love within marriage is about putting the other ones needs first, even if that means sacrificing for each other. When I look at what the bible says about loving someone, it is an impossible task without God’s help. Love is hard work. I have been told by people who have no idea what love really looks like, that love should be butterflies and happiness all the time or you are not really in love. I beg to differ. Love is hard work, it is blood, sweat and tears hard. It is sooo worth it though. I am glad that Cam and I chose 27 years ago to love no matter what.

1 Corinthians 13The Message (MSG)                                                                                                     The Way of Love                                                                                                                                           13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompleteness will be canceled.

When I read these verses I realize that within marriage and even parenthood, we are given the opportunity to learn patience, kindness, sacrifice, putting someone’s needs first. Marriage is about learning to look for the good stuff and work through the bad. We are not perfect and we will never be here on earth, but that doesn’t mean that we stop trying. God is love and He gives you the strength to love someone, even when you are the only one aware of the faults in your partner (they see them in you too 🙂 ) As partners I believe that we are called to learn how to be holy and God uses the “boxing ring” of marriage to teach us that. As we fight for our own way (we all do it), God helps us if we let Him, see what it looks like from the other’s perspective. He softens our hard lines that have been drawn in the proverbial sand. He turns our heart into a soft place for our spouse to fall. As we learn about our other half we can fall deeper in love with them. I know I have. Cam I love you now, way more than I did when we made those vows 27 years ago. I love you deeper than I ever knew it was possible to love. I think that this kind of love is just a taste of what God’s love is for us, but it is sweet. Life has been hard, love has been a fight, but it has been sooo worth it. I still do, till my last breath. Love you! Happy anniversary Babe.

Cam, I didn’t fall in love with you, I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I am not sure if I believe in fate or destiny, but I believe in God’s plan for us. If there is such a thing as fate, fate would take making a choice, and I’d choose you anyway, in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality I would find myself. I’d find you and choose you every time.

Today :)

Today is September 5, 2016. It is a holiday, Labor Day.

Le burger week is a week-long celebration of burgers. There are 59 restaurants that have made new premium burgers for people to enjoy and hopefully vote on. The burger with the most votes becomes the Le Burger winner for 2016. Cam, Steph, Harlen, Jaydyn, Madison and I went to  Nuburger (the Osborne Village location) to see what they offered.

Nuburger’s offering at this location was

The O.C. (Orange County)Red Angus Manitoba Beef Barbecued in a Ginger Soy Glaze, Fresh Orange and Grape Salsa, Candied Bacon, Balsamic Onions, Creamy Goat Cheese, Artisan Lettuce, Sweet and Spicy Chili mayo. $10.75


As you can see it was DELICIOUS!! We love Nuburger, they make unique burgers, like the blueberry yum yum burger, the deliciousmosttastiest bacon cheddar burger, the Summer Breeze, and the Drunken Auzzie to name a few. They are also gluten friendly a bonus for my family.

After a delicious burger Jaydyn, Maddy, Cam and I went to The Forks. Jaydyn and Cam went to go Pokemoning and Maddy and I went to just enjoy ourselves.

Eventually we split off and Maddy and I went to look for graffiti art. I love well done graffiti. We found a really nice one in the skate park and a few under the York Street bridge.

Then we went into The Forks and sampled a few of the different flavors of salt water taffy from the candy store in The Forks. There was even a flavor called Chicken and Waffles :). We tried it and it was surprisingly good. It mostly tasted like waffles and maple syrup.

Then Maddy and I bought some really seeded bread from Tall Grass Bakery and went to find some ducks to feed.

Often I really regret and at times resent the fact that as a family we haven’t been able to travel. Today I remembered that we can have a lot of fun here, as long as we are together. It was a great day. We ended our adventure with Tim Horton’s tea :). Now to pop some popcorn and watch a movie. 🙂

Be blessed.

To Play

The definition of play is – an exercise or activity for amusement or creativity, fun or jest as opposed to seriousness, the playing, action or conduct of a game, the manner or style of playing or doing something.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of play as an adult. What does it look like to play? As a child most of the free time we had been engaged in play. As a child play might consist of games such as Hide and Seek, Kick the Can, Mother May I, What Time is it Mr. Wolf, and Red Light Green Light. It might be in lightly competitive games like Horse Shoes, church picnic games like sack races, the three-legged race and the always popular and sometimes messy egg toss. I know as a child the kids in the neighborhood where we lived explored the empty lots behind our row houses, we looked for tadpoles and frogs, crickets and many other interesting creatures, we played pretend, we drew large hopscotchs on the back lane cement, we played marbles and Jacks. Life was fun, and stress only came in the form of chores at home or in tests at school, because they weren’t fun. When my kids were little, fun was a bit different, there was still a lot of play time outdoors with siblings, but neighborhood kids didn’t get to play together without supervision. We didn’t trust the neighbors as much, we as adults were way more suspicious of our neighbors and so we were scared that our kids would be hurt. There seemed to be so much in the news of child abductions, murder, sexual crimes and pedophiles it was scary. As adults we became hyperaware of what our kids were doing.

As my kids grew older, into their preteens and teenage years, play became video games and internet searches and extracurricular clubs. I know that as a mom, I was one of those helicopter parents. I hovered around them way too much. I remember on many occasions that Cam had to tell me to stop worrying and give them more freedom. He told me to let them be kids. I wanted to be able to see them at all times, this extended into their middle teen years 15-16. I remember that when Maddy was 13, I still didn’t let her ride her bike more than a block from me, I did this so that I could watch her all the time. I thought that I was being a good parent and was keeping her safe by being hyper vigilant. I stifled my kids play, and exploration, discovery and learning to be independent time. Luckily they learned those things in spite of me, however, I think that it was a harder lesson for them, learned later than when I did as a kid.

I watch kids now a days, and I don’t see a lot of kids outside playing in my neighborhood. I know there are a lot of kids around  because I see them walking to school, the school is right behind our house. I wonder what their fun, or play looks like now. I hear and have observed through my teens, now young adults that most play happens indoors, in the form of video games and competitive sports. I might be wrong, I don’t have little kids living full-time in my house anymore. I have Paxton my 3-year-old grandson, but I only see him occasionally, so I don’t observe his everyday play. When he comes over he wants to play with me, his papa, and his aunties. Most often that play is all about racing his toy cars, playing with and fighting monsters with foam swords, coloring pictures, and watching movies. I love to observe his mind working and learning during his playing, I see things differently through watching him as opposed to watching my kids, there is some distance, I am not his main caregiver. Watching him is fun :).

We learned by playing as a child. I believe that we still learn by play. Play might look different as an adult. Our choice of toys change. My kids love playing board games together, they love to go to movies. Each of them have a hobby that gives them enjoyment and pleasure.  Most of my girls love reading for recreation, some of them love the exploration of art and creative writing. One loves the creativity of cooking. Two love experimenting with makeup, both the wildly beautiful and the beauty makeup that is considered more normal and acceptable.

I know because I was their main teacher, that my girls learned best by  having fun, hands on activities instead of reading text in a book or writing notes. Maddy learned her math facts best if I could put it to music somehow. Jaydyn learned by doing something active. Steph would have been considered a wonderful student, because she learned by reading and listening. Each kid needed a different way to learn the same things. They all learned best though by doing something fun and interesting to them. They are still avid learners, I think because learning was fun and usually about something they found interesting.

As an adult I have forgotten what it means to play. Just now as I am starting to have my children leave the nest, I am starting to explore what play would look like to me. I see happening in society as  whole as well  in the adult coloring book craze. I have joined this type of play, it speaks to my creative bent. I have been slowly allowing myself the freedom of having fun, and I realize now that I crave it. I think I killed it within me so long, that now, that is what I want to spend all my day doing. Sometimes I resent the time I need to spend elsewhere. I would love to spend all my time emersed in art and creative endeavors. This is where I feel God the most. This is where He can reach my heart the best. He created me with a very strong creative bent, and all that goes with it. I have been pretty creative throughout my life, but it has always been because of something, a gift, a craft show, a lesson taught to others, never just because. I am feeling selfish because, I want to explore my creative bent just because. I want to be able to allow myself to “fail”, to struggle to learn a new way of expression in art form. I would love to join others in creative exploration, I would love to learn something new from someone else, to be able to admit that I don’t know everything and need others to show me how to do something new. I have always needed perfection in my art, and if I couldn’t do something perfect, I wouldn’t try to do it. My art was something I was good at, and so because I thought it was the only thing I was good at, I let it define me and I didn’t want to fail. As I am opening myself up lately, I have felt that there is freedom in letting myself fail once in a while. I know that we all do at times. God knows that too, that is why Jesus came to rescue us. 🙂 I am coming to realize that I don’t need to live under the standard of perfection and if someone else doesn’t like it too bad. There is freedom in that, if you are also careful in not hurting someone else in that freedom.

Now as a grown woman, a grandma, I am giving me permission to explore like a child who I really am and what that means in every aspect of my life, and especially what play is for me. For everyone it will be different for God is creative and so He gives everyone different skills and bents. What is fun for me, may be “not fun” for someone else. I am not looking for acceptance for my creative endeavors. I may share some of them with others, or I may not, It depends on what I feel compelled by God to share. He may need me to be completely transparent, because my fear is of someone rejecting what I have to offer. He may want this to be something that is only between Him and I. I am not sure what this will look like. I am excited and apprehensive about this new journey that God has put me on. Maybe there are others I am to join in this, I want to learn new things, and I want to be able to teach what I know. I will see what this looks like over time, but right now there are just questions and a trust that my questions will be answered over time. I am learning to trust my Creator. 🙂

What does play mean for you, I am interested. 🙂 Let me know.

graffiti

graffiti 2

graffiti 1

I am facinated by graffiti and street art, I would love to learn how to do this. I love seeing the graffiti on the trains, some of it is so beautiful.