Sunday, December 29, 2013

Writer's Block Be Gone! (or Happy New Year!)

I've been trying for over a week now to think of something to write that might be worth someone's time, but to no avail...I tend to write only when inspiration strikes, which is fine when it does, but if I hope to finish this book before I'm 98, I need a new plan. I think I've mentioned before that discipline doesn't exactly rank high on my list of strengths, but with the victory I'm experiencing in the health and wellness category, I'm ready for new heights to conquer!

Which means, in practical terms, that I hope to publish at least one blog post each week, no matter what. (I'm not promising they'll all be home runs, but hopefully base hits at the very least :) )There - I've written it down, I have a plan, and you'll help to hold me accountable, right? :) I'm not a fan of accountability in general, but that's mostly because I'm lazy and have an innate aversion to authority, not because there's anything inherently wrong with the concept. I think the basis of this aversion lies in my fear of failure, which is ultimately founded in my fear of disapproval. In my people-pleasing delusion, success equals approval, failure (defined here as not meeting perceived expectations) equals condemnation. However, I am hereby changing the rules of the game! (It's my game, I can do that...) I will strive for excellence (NOT perfection) and try to be content with whatever that effort happens to produce, and I will not wallow in guilt for failing to meet my own and/or others' expectations. ('cause you know it's gonna happen...)

And that brings me to what I've been pondering this week.  In the words of a song (that I really don't care for but serves my purpose here):
And so this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
A new one's just begun
(John Lennon)
Christmas has come and gone and a new year is peeking around the corner. Just what have I done? What do I hope to do (and more importantly, BE) in 2014? While I have pretty much given up on New Year's resolutions per se, to me these questions are essential, this year more than ever. What did I get right? What can I work on? What needs changing or pruning or improvement?  What needs to go? What has earned the right to stay? I know it sounds trite, but we have such a short time in this world to make our mark - what kind of imprint, or legacy, do we want to leave?
Allow me to leave you with one last thought:
Let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus...
(from Hebrews 12)
"The race marked out for us"...that's my over-arching goal for 2014, to run the race marked out for me; on my own racetrack, not competing against any other runner, but running to achieve my own personal best...And how? Here it is again: "fixing our eyes on Jesus".
Bless you, dear Friends - a thousand thousand thanks for journeying with me along this road! I pray that grace and peace would be yours in abundance, and that you, too, may know the real joy of "running with perseverance the race marked out" for you!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Have you ever found yourself caught in the grip of an obsession? Something so distracting, so consuming, that it fills your thoughts and your days, even to the point of affecting your ability to do the things you need to do? An emotional tyrant, it takes control of your feelings and is always lurking in the corners of your mind, forcing its way to the forefront of your thoughts at every opportunity.

I freely admit that food was once my obsession, but thanks be to God, I'm being delivered from that even as I type. In the past 6 weeks, I've started eating better, eating less, exercising more and am down 10 pounds so far - an encouraging beginning to this journey! And even more amazing to me, my whole attitude has done an about-face!  It was a little Oswald Chambers quote that, with just a few words, did away with all my excuses:
"There is nothing for which Jesus Christ is not amply sufficient
and over which He cannot make us more than conquerors."
Oswald Chambers
"More than conquerors"! How I love that phrase! And walking in victory, day after day, is such a beautiful thing - there's a reason we say "amazing grace"! I want to be a living testimony of God's grace and power; make no mistake, this is ALL Him. He's the one providing the fuel for this change; anytime I've tried to make changes in the past, it was all me - striving, working, worrying, falling, and ultimately failing, over and over again...It's a cycle that really wears on a person after years and years of it. But it seems that victory gives birth to victory, step by step, moment by moment, decision by decision, all given over to the One who gives us the victory, all for His glory!
However, just as I seem to be experiencing some victory in this particular area of my life, another obsession has stealthily crept in, silently claiming territory without my knowledge or consent. (Actually, to be completely truthful, I'm sure I gave permission without really considering the consequences - no pointing fingers here; I must take responsibility for my own actions and decisions.) In any case, it's now firmly embedded in my consciousness and now I'm dealing with the fallout. As with most obsessions, it started out benignly, innocently enough, and even appeared to be something positive, healthy, beneficial - and it could be, had I not allowed it to take me over. By God's grace, I've finally heard the none-too-gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit and can acknowledge the wrong and begin to correct the patterns that have developed as a result. But what a pain in the neck! What a waste of time and energy and effort that could have been poured into something useful, valuable, Kingdom-worthy...
Maybe human nature is prone to obsession; maybe there's a void in each of us that must be filled at all costs? Of course there is - we were made for this! I know, you know - only ONE can fill this need. Only One is worthy of being the object of our obsession - everything else falls so very short.
"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock." 
Isaiah 26:3&4, ESV
Peace, such a beautiful word, yet so elusive - while our minds are parked anywhere but on our great God. May we seek to continually fix our eyes, hearts and minds on Jesus - to discover true peace, and real joy.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Do you ever get so sick of yourself that you could just scream? No? Just me? (Gotta admit, this character-blogging-in-obedience gig isn't always a picnic - I so often have to write about the stuff I'd rather just keep to myself...) So, you're going along, minding your own business, living your life. You think you're making progress, you're not the person you once were, things are beginning to change and WHOMP! From out of the blue, you get knocked down, turned around, defeated, deflated, back to where you started, or even farther back...I guess I should just chalk it up to being human and move on. But I can't seem to do that; there's something in me that wants to wallow in it, to throw a pity party, to punish and mock myself and mourn my fall from grace...

So I finish writing the paragraph above, wondering where in the world God wants me to go with this, and into my mind pops one of my lie-countering Scriptures (small victory right there!): "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) Today, this tells me that I have no right to condemn myself for anything whatsoever, not even the aforementioned fall.  But I'm curious - whenever there's a "therefore" in a verse, I need to know what comes before to really understand where it's coming from. So, I check out Romans 7, and re-discover one of Paul's most encouraging and entertaining (in my opinion) dialogues; the "I do what I don't want to do and what I want to do I can't" bit (always reminds me a little of the old "Who's On First" skit). His conclusion in it all? "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"(v.25) Because of Jesus' life and death and new life, I have been set free from having to be a slave to all that stuff that holds me back and drags me down. Now to live like I'm free - that's the goal! It's almost comical to picture it: the heavy chains that once held me captive have fallen off, and here I am, running back and insisting on carrying them around! Well, they're familiar, even though they hurt. Moving forward into new territory is always a little scary; it's very tempting, comforting even, to run back to the familiar rather than blazing new trails into the unknown.

Paul also mentions the work of the Holy Spirit in this battle for freedom. He contrasts living according to the desires of the flesh (that's the sin-bondage) with being empowered by the Spirit to live according to what the Spirit (or God, you know, the whole three-in-one thing) desires. I very much needed to be reminded again that I can't do this alone - why do I even try? Thanks be to God, I have another option! And when I choose to let the Holy Spirit lead me and guide me and instruct me, Paul says that I can be MORE than a conqueror! That's very strong language - we're not just conquerors, but even MORE than that! Victory - what a sweet sound!

Thank you, Friends, for journeying with me through all this! Writing it all out helps me to see myself and my life and my God more clearly; it enables me to step back and look at the bigger picture. Perspective, I guess you'd say :)  And to have the honour of sharing it with you - joy overflowing! More than conquerors we are - let's go forth and live in the freedom we already have!  May you know real joy today!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Bah Humbug?

As we get closer and closer to Christmas, I find myself in rather foreign territory. I hardly recognize myself these days! Normally, I LOVE Christmas, and have never lost that child-like sense of wild and joyous anticipation of the season; Christmas music, decorations, baking, shopping, celebrating - all filled me with great joy. This year, however, I find my heart humming a very different tune, indeed. At the risk of being pelted with holly and ivy, or worse, eggnog and candy canes, I simply must confess. When our local Christian radio station switched to all-Christmas-all-the-time, I couldn't bear to listen. We still have yet to decorate - and I'm totally ok with that. The thought of shopping and attending Christmas parties makes me shudder. I have no desire to engage in the very events and activities that have never before failed to make my heart sing.

And so, if you've read any of my previous posts, you'll know that I can't just leave something like this alone. No sir, I must find the root cause and puzzle it all out. So I've been wondering and thinking, praying and asking, why? Is it just that I've finally grown up? No, not likely...Is it because this Christmas will be on the lean side, gift-wise? No, we've had lean Christmases and it made no difference to me...Is it being away from family after enjoying the luxury of celebrating together for the past 3 years? No, we've had many Christmases away from our loved ones and the joy remained. What, then?

The strangest thing in all this is, I'm not sad or worried. I'm not down, depressed or distracted. On the contrary, I find myself in a very contented state (province?). Yet, at the same time, there's a longing, a yearning after...something. All I can figure is that the traditional Christmas stuff isn't enough for me this time around. I need more.  Or maybe I need less. It's like it hurts me to think of this monumental event that changed everything not getting the attention it deserves. It's a desecration to my soul to not see past the tinsel and lights , the turkey and toys, to the foundation, the reason, the meaning under it all. It gets so buried, and I'm not ok with that this year! (I know I run the risk of sounding judgemental and self-righteousness here, but please hear my heart on this...)  It almost feels as if my soul, acting independently of my body and mind, is refusing to be satisfied with anything less than Jesus. All I want to do is worship, to draw attention to this astounding miracle of miracles, to live and breathe and know God-with-us.

That's where I am right now. I'm finding challenges and satisfaction, joy and questions, in navigating these unfamiliar waters.  Can I ask a favour? Would you help me out with a little feedback? What's your take on Christmas this year? How are you celebrating this season? How do you keep the commercialism in check? What steps are you taking to remember Jesus?  Thank you, Friends! May you know real joy today!

Monday, December 2, 2013


It's happening again...I've been pondering, praying, writing about and trying to figure out how to cultivate an atmosphere of rest in my life, and BAM! I've been hit with such a heavy spirit of un-rest, anti-rest, even; it's almost overwhelming. Worries, fears, doubts, insecurities, questions...I should expect it by now, I know; I shouldn't be surprised when the evil one tries to snatch away whatever good seed has been planted in me. I'm trying to be thankful; the ideal conditions now exist in which to test my rest theories. When my beliefs and convictions are tested by fire and come out intact on the other side, that's when I know they're the real deal; that they'll stand the test of time, too.

I'm learning to more readily identify this kind of attack; I'm quicker to launch counter-manoeuvres to reduce the amount of damage done by the enemy of my soul. While I may get temporarily pulled under, I'm able to get my feet back on solid ground by identifying the lies being whispered to my spirit and calling to mind the Truths I know that will cause him to flee. This is what came to mind today:
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honour depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
(Psalm 62:5-8)
I'll not take the time  today to unpack the many treasures and truths in this passage - I wanted to share it because I know there are those facing similar assaults to your spirits. Whatever hard truth you're being called to live out today - stand firm! He is our strong fortress, our mighty rock; we will NOT be shaken! May you know real joy today!