I’m Offended by the Rainbow Flag

I am offended.  Yes I amStraight Flag.  Ever since the Sochi Olympics started and the whole debate of supporting LGTBQ athletes there, Canadian City Halls, Universities, Colleges and other recognized Government agencies are flying Rainbow flags.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have a problem with the pretty flags, I have a problem with the fact that a minority of people in Canada get their own flag, but there’s no flag of support or formal recognition for those of us who aspire to “straightness”…and we’re in the majority!

Don’t we deserve a flag?  Don’t we deserve recognition for the way we love?  Shouldn’t we celebrate our uniqueness too? Shouldn’t we stand up for the fact that we are proud of being straight, raising our family in a one mommy, one daddy home and we live quite happily that way.  We don’t even have a parade!  Yep, I think it’s unfair AND I’m offended that we heterosexual people don’t have the same rights and freedoms as our LGTBQ brothers and sisters.

We want a flag!

I’m wondering if my idea of a “Straight” flag will garner the same negativity and intolerance from some as the Rainbow Flag once did?  Or will it one day be as championed in Parliament and eventually sanctioned by Hollywood North?  Will more and more celebrities and ordinary folk boldly come forward and espouse to being straight without fear of discrimination and tribulation?   Will we be seen as “normal” or will we be judged harshly for our heterosexual views.  Oh, and will it be even worse if we also claim to be Christian?

Are you listening Parliamentarians?  Straight people want a flag flown up on Parliament Hill too!  A parade would be nice too…

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  (Mark 10:6)

 

 

 

Olympic Fever

hidy-and-howdyI suppose it started for me when Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988.  There is something about having your home town play host to one of the greatest sporting events in history.  The atmosphere, the camaraderie, the excitement and of course, the national pride surpassed anything we had ever experienced before…and that even includes the Stampeders winning the Grey Cup or the Calgary Flames winning the Stanley Cup…although that 1989 Cup win for the Flames was pretty sweet :)

I was teaching preschool in 1988 and my daughter was only four years old.  The Olympic Flame came through our community and my husband and I got to run with the flame, our four year old holding my hand as we ran.  It is a memory I will always cherish.

My husband had been competing in two-men bobsled leading up to the Olympics.  Although his bobsled career was relatively short-lived, watching him go down the new bobsled track prior to the Olympics made me very proud of my would-be “Olympian”.

We had managed to get a couple of tickets to the Ice Dancing competition and riding the LRT (light rapid transit) into Calgary that day was an experience all in itself.  My daughter was in her stroller and a young man with a wide smile spoke to her while she waved and pointed at his pin-adorned lapel.  His accent was pronounced but I managed to discover from his broken English that he was one of the goalies for the West German hockey team.  He had spent the morning exploring the city and was now on his way back to the Olympic Village.  As we were about to step off the LRT to take the short walk to the Saddledome to cheer on the Canadian duo, Tracy Wilson and RobManley, Elizabeth McCall skate in the preliminary competition en route to their Bronze Medal win, our new German Goalie friend gallantly helped me negotiate the bulky stroller out of the train.  Then he quickly pulled off a pin from his lapel and gave it to me before he jumped back on the train and waved “good-bye”, his wide smile beaming at us as we waved back.  That gift of a lapel pin started my Olympic Pin collection I have to this day!  When Canada played the West Germans later that week in hockey, although my heart was with Team Canada, I cheered loudly whenever the German Goalie made a save.  Canada won 8 – 1, and I couldn’t help feeling a little sad for my goalie friend from Germany.

As I watched the opening ceremonies from Sochi last night, I immediately began reminiscing about our Olympic experiences in 1988.  My daughter hugging on Hidy and Howdy, the Calgary Olympic mascots, as they greeted us at the Saddledome that day.  Cheering on Eddie the Eagle, the British ski jumper who crashed more than sailed through the skies but became a “legend” Eddie the Eaglenonetheless, and the debut of the Jamaican Bobsled team who came in dead last in the four man event but came in first in the hearts of all Calgarians and the rest of the world.  Watching little Elizabeth Manley win silver in Figure Skating and cheering on the “Battle of the Brians” (Brian Boitano and Brian Orser) in the men’s competition made us all proud to witness history in the making.  It was a great time for all Calgarians.  It was a great time for all Canadians!

It was wonderful to see Calgarian, Hayley Wickenheiser be the flag bearer for Team Canada in Sochi yesterday.  She represents the legacy of fine athletes around the world who were inspired by the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988.  No doubt history will be made in Russia at these 2014 Games and youngsters will be inspired to compete in future Olympics.  It would be nice if everyone could just ignore all the controversies surrounding these games, and stop making threats to national security and just focus on the world’s athletes with their stories of strength and endurance and fair play.  Olympics should be a time of peace and world unity.  Wonder if we, as Nations, can put aside political and social differences just for a couple of weeks?

That’s worth cheering for!

25 Phrases that Make My Whole Day!

Encouragement from God

When I read Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” book way back when, I found that I could respond well to each of the “languages” all dependant on the day I was having.  I don’t really have a primary love language as he describes in his book, but when I am feeling discouraged a word of affirmation makes my day.  When I have a busy day any act of service to take the load off of me…like my kids helping me with housework speaks volumes of love to me.  When my husband surprises me with flowers or any little gift, I can’t help being thrilled!  Camping and spending quality time with my husband and my children is always the best!  Lastly, a fierce hug from any of my grandbabies just melts my heart, and a tender embrace from my husband…well, you know…

I’ve compiled some phrases I love to hear.  Some of them are not necessarily spoken by my loved ones either…you’ll see what I mean :)   If they are not enough for you, just re-read the graphic at the top of the page.  Jesus’ words of encouragement will definitely make your whole day!

“I love you!”

“Honey, I’ve made reservations for dinner.”  or “Honey, I’m bringing home dinner!”  (Either is good.)

“Mom, how can I help?”

“Grandma, will you play with me?”

“Take another 40% off sales items already marked down!”

“You’re entitled to an upgrade!”

“You’ve won!”

“You’re the best!”

“You’ve got to hear what God’s been doing in my life!”

“You were right and I was wrong.”  or a heartfelt “Sorry!” is good.

“I’ve booked our flights!”

“Do you need a back rub?”  (Or shoulder rub, or foot rub, body massage…any or all is good!)

“I need you.”

“What can I get for you?”

“You look great!”  (or fantastic, beautiful, excellent, DY..NO…MITE…you get my drift).

“I was just thinking about you and thought I’d call.”

“I saw it in the window and had to get it for you!”

“I made this just for you!”

“I love spending time with you!”

“Thanks for supper, (or lunch or breakfast, or the snack) it tasted great!”

“Thanks, Mom!”

“I can take care of that for you.”

“Keep the change!”

“I love reading your (books, blogs, stories).”

“Thanks for…”  (It can be anything that I may have done and was appreciated by the recipient and if that’s followed up with a “Thank you card” you’re tops in my books!)

(I was just thinking that if these phrases make MY whole day, I’ll bet they would make someone else’s day as well…so pass them along and speak them often to those people who would be blessed by you saying them!)

How to Eat Up Scripture – Literally!

458695591_640I will admit that I find it VERY difficult to memorize anything.  Numbers are the worst for me…I can’t remember phone numbers and even when I look them up in the phone book, I have to stop mid-dial to make sure I’ve read the right number.  I write everything down on my calendar to remember appointments and birthdays and I leave notes for myself everywhere.  One spiritual discipline that I struggle the most with is memorizing scripture but I continue to make an honest effort.

I think about memorizing scripture like savouring a sumptuous four course meal.  Using Jeremiah 15:16  as the example, think of the location of the passage as the appetizer, Jeremiah 15:16.  If you can’t remember the passage in its entirety, you can at least look it up in the Bible if you know the location of the passage.

The second “course” is likened to the soup or salad before the main entrée is served.  Break the verse up into little bite-sized pieces.  I like to write them down to help me:

“When your words came,

I ate them;

they were my joy and my heart’s delight,

for I bear your name,

Lord God Almighty.”

Memorize each “chunk” of the passage and move onto the next piece when you think you’ve memorized the one before it.

The third “course” is the main entrée.  Try to say/write down the entire passage.  “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.”

Now the dessert: add the location at the end of the passage.  (Some like to say the location passage at the beginning AND end.)  (Oh… and a grammar tip: if you have trouble figuring out if it’s “desert” or “dessert”, think about dessert as double the sugar in the middle of the word!)

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.”  Jeremiah 15:16 

Now that you have digested the passage, it’s important that you continue to eat and savour the Word again and again.  Memorization is like exercise.  The more you do it, the easier it gets; the less you do the harder it gets.  I return to the main course whenever I’m hungry, and as is always the case, it requires a good workout afterwards to burn off some of those spiritual calories!

Bon Appetit!

Get It? Got it? Good!!

When I was in high school I had one major nemesis: MATH!  It didn’t help that my mother was an accountant and I inherited my “inability to understand math genes” from my father.  He couldn’t help me and when my mother tried, she attempted to teach me HER way.  Unfortunately what she said and what I heard were two entirely different things:

images

My mother would attempt to teach in this “math speak” language that just confounded me more and pretty soon she was yelling at me for not understanding and I was crying because I just couldn’t understand!  “I don’t get it!” I’d cry and she would huff at me, “What don’t you get?  It’s simple!” and then she would launch into her math gibberish again and I’d zone out.

It was just as difficult for my math teachers.  Mr. Ruxton pulled out what little hair he had on his head trying to teach me basic algebraic concepts and finally out of frustration I suppose, he just let me spiral into the abyss of math ineptitude.  He finally took pity on me by granting me a bare pass mark.  Not because I earned it, but so he wouldn’t lose any more hair having me repeat the class.

Amazingly in university, a small math light bulb came on over my head, and some basic concepts suddenly made sense to me.  I could balance my cheque book, I figured out percentages, I could solve some basic math problems.  Algebra and trigonometry were still foreign concepts but I discovered I didn’t really need to understand them to be able to live my life.  As I got older, I found myself more interested in learning about geometry and my math knowledge grew.  I may never have the math understanding my mother had but I’m okay with that.  I’ve got what I need and that’s fine.

When I became a Christian I had a similar experience.  Initially I just didn’t “get it”.  Well-meaning people who wanted to evangelize me were talking just as foreign a language to me as “math speak”.  This Christianese was a language I didn’t know and certainly did not understand.  Just like math, I just wanted the basics, I zoned out at the rest.  When I finally became a Christ-follower, I certainly did not know everything about Christianity, the Bible or church, and if I’m totally honest I STILL don’t, but I know enough to live my life and faith let’s me accept the things I still don’t fully understand.

Faith is defined as:

1.  complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

2.  strong belief in God or in the doctrines of religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

The Bible defines faith as: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Hebrews  11:1

There are so many, many things I do not totally understand about Christianity.  There are stories in the Bible that for all intents and purposes are so outlandish that they seem to border on the unbelievable, BUT if I have faith, and the confidence to know that MY God can do anything, I don’t need to explain HOW He did it, I just need to know that HE DID!

If you are a person who is struggling with understanding everything there is to know about God and Christianity, welcome to the Club.  You are not alone.  Discovering where you fit into God’s plan is a lifelong journey and there is no mathematical algorithm that will help you analyze your way to total understanding.  Accept the fact you don’t need to know everything, but make every effort to grow your faith, and accept the Gospel and you’ll be okay.

What is the Gospel?”

I was given permission to use the Gospel Acrostic from Dare2Share in the fourteenth chapter of my book: Love the Wounded.

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
O
ur sins separate us from God. (Genesis 3)
S
ins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 – Malachi 4)
P
aying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
E
veryone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John)
L
ife with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (Acts – Revelation)

GET IT?

Here then is the A, B, C’s to Salvation:

A” stands for Admit. A person must admit to God that she is a sinner. She must be sorry for her sin and turn away from sinning. Verses that support this step are Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Acts 3:19; and 1 John 1:9.

B” stands for Believe. A person must believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that God sent Jesus to pay the penalty for sin. Verses about believing include John 3:16; John 14:6; and Romans 5:8.

C” stands for Confess. A person must confess her faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Read Romans 10:9-10, 13.

Pray this prayer for your Journey with God to start today!

Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.
I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.
You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.
Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.
Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.
Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.
Amen.

If you just said this prayer and you meant it with all your heart and you have repented (turned away) from your sins, I believe that you are saved and are born again.  (John 3:6-7)  You may ask, “Now that I am saved, what is next?”  First, tell someone!  Leave a comment, let me rejoice with you!  My Pastor says when someone becomes a Christian it’s like Christmas!  We need to celebrate!  Then you need to get into a Bible-based church, and study God’s Word.  Once you have found a church home, you will want to become baptized.  By accepting Christ first, you are baptized in the Spirit, but it is through water-baptism (immersion) that you show your obedience to the Lord.  (Matthew 3: 13-17)

The baptismal waters represent a burial ground. When you’re buried with Christ in baptism, you are proclaiming to heaven, earth and hell that the old you no longer exists. To be buried with Jesus means that your old self died to sin just as Jesus did when He was made sin for us (Romans 6:3, 10-12). That’s why we are immersed. It’s a picture of burial.

Coming up out of the water signifies our being raised to new life in Christ. To be raised with Jesus means making Him Lord of every area of your life—spirit, soul and body. You’ve been bought with the blood of Jesus and you belong to Him. Every day you now ask, “Lord, where do You want me to go? What do You want me to say? What do You want me to be? Not my will, but Your will be done.”

Got it?
GOOD!!

A New Year’s Rant

I thought I would get it out of my system…start the New Year off by ranting about a few things that have actually bugged me for years.  Now before you immediately berate me for being a Christian and feeling the need to rant at all, I like the way that John Piper stated it:

“The fact that Christians are exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11), does not mean that they don’t care what becomes of culture. But it does mean that they exert their influence as very happy, brokenhearted outsiders. We are exiles. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14)….”But Christian exiles are not passive. We do not smirk at the misery or the merrymaking of immoral culture. We weep. Or we should. This is my main point: being exiles does not mean being cynical. It does not mean being indifferent or uninvolved. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying “good riddance” to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate….”The greatness of Christian exiles is not success but service. Whether we win or lose, we witness to the way of truth and beauty and joy. We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.” By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

imagesHLE81U44A friend said to me the other day remember to speak with Truth and Grace.  You cannot do one without the other.  So here goes, just a few pet peeves of mine that I feel the need to rant about.

To all those who will sing the National Anthem at a sporting event this year: LEARN THE LYRICS first!  Nothing is more embarrassing for the home team or for the fans to have some individual belt out the wrong rendition of O’Canada or the Star Spangled Banner…and whatever you do don’t try to combine them…it doesn’t work!!

To those fans and players at sporting events who think it’s perfectly okay to scream obscenities at officials or players…think again.  There are children in the crowd or watching on T.V.  They learn sportsmanship from adults and they mimic what they see adults do.  Monkey see, monkey do applies here.  If you want your children to not turn out to be little monkeys, stop acting like boorish orangutans in the stands or on the playing fields or ice arenas.

I am sick and tired of hearing young people swear.  Actually I am sick and tired of hearing profanities spewed by anyone constantly in public, on buses, in the mall, and on the large and small screen.  There is no need for obscenities.  I’m tired of having my ears assaulted with swear words when I’m watching a movie or watching T.V.  I’m upset when I hear a great song on the radio and then when I download a song for my listening pleasure, the lyrics are filled with expletives.  Radio stations are luring people to buy albums by cleaning up the content first before taking to the airwaves.  If it has to be censored before being played on the radio, don’t play it.

I am absolutely fed up with weaving around cigarette butts thrown onto the ground.  It is disgusting.  If you smoke, please avail yourselves of the ashtrays and receptacles meant for disposing of cigarette butts.  Also, those of you who feel the need to throw cigarettes and cigars out windows of cars:  FOR SHAME!  Having witnessed first-hand a devastating grassfire caused by one carelessly tossed cigarette, smokers need to be held more accountable for damage caused and for fire-fighting costs.  A fire tax perhaps?

If you ski, or snowboard, stay within the boundaries.  To those daredevils who want to stray outside the ski hill boundaries and set off an avalanche, or get lost or injured, all costs of rescue should be incurred by the individual or the family of the individual.  Same holds true for those who decide it’s a good idea to drink and drive.  Not only should there be mandatory jail time, loss of license and probation but there should be hefty financial compensation awarded to victims and families of victims that the drunk driver must pay.  There must be stiffer penalties so people will think twice about drinking and driving.  Prevention is best but if a tragedy occurs there should also be systems in place to counsel families who are grieving on BOTH sides.

Politicians…you’re supposed to represent the people.  If you break the laws of the land…like smoking crack, or exposing yourself online, or spending money that was never yours to spend…resign.  Don’t run again for public office.  You would think that would be a given but apparently Rob Ford in Toronto doesn’t seem to get it.  I am already cringing at the jokes that will be leveled at him and at the good city he is supposed to represent and at our country for allowing such silliness.  What a sham!

Lastly, this is directed to those Christians who may say “Amen” to everything I’ve ranted about so far, but may balk at what I will say next…”remove that plank from your eye”…

Jesus called for us (His Church) to conduct ourselves in manners radically different inside and outside of the church walls.  Don’t look for what your church can do for you but what you can do for your church! (to paraphrase a famous Kennedy speech :) )  Are you complaining about the preaching, the teaching, the music, the mission, the youth program?  Are you looking for a church that will meet YOUR needs rather than serve the church in helping others meet theirs?  You’ve got the concept of church wrong people!  We’re to give ourselves away, in love, in ministry, in service.  Want to change the church?  Change yourselves first.

I’m done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Goal – Live Selflessly

goverse-Philippians-2-3-092813I was probably as shocked as anyone when I logged onto “Journey Thoughts” to discover that close to 25,000 people had read my blog on one day!  I live in a small town that boasts a population of just under 15,000 people.  That put that number of “hits” that day into perspective and I praised God for the opportunity to write and share from my heart.  It also forced me to pause and consider what God wants of me in the New Year.

I have said that I am not a great keeper of resolutions.  New Year’s resolutions tend to come and go, most of my best intentions are usually broken by mid-January.  Still, a New Year is a perfect time to start fresh, … new beginnings, new goals, new plans.  I am reminded of my life verse: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9  I may make my plans, sure enough, but I must always keep in mind that God directs my way.  I am on journey with Him and that requires selflessness on my part to follow Him.

I remember when I was a teenager, I came against all authority.  You might say I butted heads with authority figures on a regular basis because I did not like anyone to have control over me.  Growing up in the seventies, with women’s liberation a battle cry for many of my friends and me, I refused to yield to those who told me I could or could not do something.  Those who stood in my way, I pushed aside.  I was my own boss and it was all about ME.  I was as selfish a young woman as I could be.

Then God got a hold of my life and I realized that life was not all about ME, it was all about HIM.  I learned that selfishness was in direct rebellion against God but to live a life of selflessness was honouring to God.  “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”  John 12:24-26

It is easy, especially when one has a large social profile as I have to forget that it is not about ME.  Pride can enter into the equation so subtly that I can think I did this on my own and arrogance and selfishness can creep in.  John 12:25 reminds me that I cannot make decisions for personal benefit rather than for God and others.  It will lead to death and separation from God.  Instead I must live life selflessly, giving myself away for God and others.  It means to die to self.

Is this an easy thing to do?

Nope.

But it needs to be done.

So this year I am making a clear, purposeful goal to live selflessly.  It’s not a resolution, it’s a life change.  It’s a decision to say “Yes” to God rather than saying “Yes” to me!  It may mean turning down offers that may be more self-serving rather than God-honouring.  It may mean tough decisions that might cost me personally but will bring Glory to God ultimately.

At the end of 2014 I pray that I can sing out even more loudly than I did this past year: To God Be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done!