We’re On Baby Watch

gods-wordIt seems so appropriate that we are on “Baby Watch” this close to Christmas.  My son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby and he’s due to arrive December 14th…or thereabouts.  This will be our third grandbaby and as I have said to anyone who asks, “Grandchildren are probably the main reason we have children in the first place!”  Yep, I’m one of THOSE grandmas!!

When Jaxon was born in 2011, I had no idea that my mother’s heart could grow two sizes bigger.  But it did.  When Kharis was born in 2013, my heart kept expanding too!  I knew I was crazy in love with each one of my three children, but I did not know the capacity of love until I held my first grandbaby in my arms for the first time.  In a few weeks, I will hold another blessed grandson and my heart will stretch even wider.  It’s just the way God made grandmothers I guess.

My son and daughter-in-law are busy “nesting”, and they have been outfitted with everything they might need to welcome their new son home.  Between generous friends and family who have passed along items, or contributed to baby showers and – spoiler alert – more gifts under the Christmas tree for them this year, they will want for little.  My son, bless his heart, asked for a video game for his birthday last week and we indulged him.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him his video-game-playing days are numbered now.  He’ll learn soon enough, and knowing my boy, he’ll be totally okay with the new shift in priorities.  He’ll make a good father.

But it won’t be easy.

Even with all the books on Parenting written, the countless Pinterest Pins on the subject, and the unsolicited and solicited advice from family members, there is not a precise manual that will educate parents well-enough to raise a child properly from birth to adulthood…save ONE of course.

The Holy Bible.

If you wonder what to get a young, expectant couple for a shower gift…give them a new Bible!  It was and has been my first and favoured parenting manual and the pages are dog-eared from over-use.  No, it may not be specific on what to do when it comes to managing a colicky baby or how to best potty-train a child, but it soooo ministered to me as I went through those ordeals with my babies.  Countless passages on patience, love, gratitude, and humility I claimed whenever I needed help to better parent my child.

When I felt defeated and discouraged at the end of the day because of strong-willed children, I found peace and encouragement in scripture.  When my children came home crying from being bullied or hurt, my mother’s heart ached for them and I found the words to comfort them through the Word.

When I was weary, I found strength.

When I felt upset and rattled by the task of parenting, I found the pep-talks I needed in the Bible.

As we welcome our next precious grandbaby into the Dove family, I know if my son and daughter-in-law stay immersed in the greatest parenting manual ever written, the Holy Bible, they’ll be okay.

Yes, there will be some long days and nights ahead…

But, they’ll be okay.

 

 

 

 

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Unanswered Prayers

noAm I the only one who thinks it is self-serving when sports teams or athletes pray for victory before their game or event?  I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just wondering what happens to their faith if they have prayed and then God doesn’t answer their prayer for victory?  Does God have a favourite sports team that He blesses with victories over another?  Does God decide the outcome of a game based on the fervent prayers of players?  Does one team praise God when they win, or curse God when they lose?  Just asking…?

It’s been one week since the election of a new president-elect in the U.S.  As a Canadian watching the events this past week, I can’t help but compare the goings-on south of the border to a sporting event with winners and losers.  There is no doubt there was MUCH prayer leading up to the outcome of that election.  Franklin Graham made an interesting comment on Facebook:

“Did God show up? In watching the news after the election, the secular media keep asking “How did this happen?” “What went wrong?” “How did we miss this?” Some are in shock. Political pundits are stunned. Many thought the Trump/Pence ticket didn’t have a chance. None of them understand the God-factor.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians from across the United States have been praying. This year they came out to every state capitol to pray for this election and for the future of America. Prayer groups were started. Families prayed. Churches prayed. Then Christians went to the polls, and God showed up.

While the media scratches their heads and tries to understand how this happened, I believe that God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control of our country.

President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence are going to need a lot of help and they will continue to need a lot of prayer. I pray that President-elect Trump will surround himself with godly men and women to help advise and counsel him as he leads the nation. My prayer is that God will bless America again!”

I firmly believe that God listened to the prayers of the faithful but – just playing devil’s advocate here – didn’t the other “side” pray just as fervently for victory?  Why didn’t God answer their prayers?  There were Christians in both camps.  Many wonderful, Godly people could not support Trump because of his character flaws and divisive statements.    Don’t for a second think that these people did not agonize and prayerfully beseech God for direction.  Voting for the other candidate did not rank these people amongst what Graham calls the “godless” having “atheistic progressive agendas”.  It was a no-win situation for them.  Did they just hear God wrong?  I wonder if their faith is shaken?  I hope not!

I remember a year ago when we had our Provincial Election here in Alberta and the NDP (New Democratic Party) won an overwhelming majority in our province.  The NDP could be likened to the Democratic Party in the States, perhaps even MORE liberal-minded!  That same year, Canada elected a Liberal Prime Minister to govern our country.  My husband and I had prayed fervently for a different outcome in both elections.  Yet, God did not answer our prayers the way we wanted Him to.  Was our faith shaken?  Not at all!

I REALLY like what my friend, Dr. Richard Blackaby wrote the day after the U.S. election last week.  It applies to all Christians on BOTH “sides” and BOTH sides of the border too:

“The question now is: what do we as Christians do the day after? Can I offer a few suggestions?

First, accept the result as the hand of God. Scripture indicates: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33). God is sovereign over nations and we can trust His wisdom and love in what He ultimately allows. Americans have become notorious for refusing to accept results that seem unacceptable. If people’s favored candidate doesn’t win, they resist the decision, or set themselves up as fierce opponents, or threaten to leave the country! As a Christian, you may not have liked the result, but you need to accept it.

Second, don’t be afraid! Christians ought not to be gullible to conspiracy theories and doomsday predictors. The foremost reason is that our God is “High above all nations” (Ps. 113:4). The key is not who occupies the Oval Office but who sits on the throne of the heavens. That has not changed. Likewise, if you study the history of American elections since George Washington was first elected in 1789, there have been many times when dire warnings of apocalyptic catastrophe hovered over the newly elected president. Rarely, if ever, have the dire predictions been fulfilled. Eventually the new leaders embraced the challenge and the worst fears proved groundless. Don’t become someone driven more by fear-mongers than by the Holy Spirit!

Third, be gracious. Scripture exhorts: “Let your speech always be with grace” (Col. 4:6). In defeat, be gracious to the victors. In victory, be kind and gentle to those who lost. America is deeply divided. The last thing it needs is for Christians to add to that polarization by firing Social Media missiles to taunt and antagonize those who disagreed with you. There is no need to belittle those who voted differently than you did. Many sincere Christians agonized over which candidate to vote for. We can respect their effort without agreeing with their choice.

Fourth, pray for the new president. Scripture does not command us to pray for those we vote for. It commands us to pray for whoever is in government (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Regardless of who was elected president, they were going face enormous challenges. Every American has a vested interest in the next president doing an outstanding job. So we must pray fervently.”  (http://www.blackaby.net/blog/2016/11/09/the-day-after/)

Can I get an “Amen”?

 

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In the Shadow of the Crosses

When I was a little girl I was given an autograph book.  I think they may have gone by the way of the dinosaur, but in those days collecting autographs was a big thing to do.  I remember I first had to ask my mother and father, brother and other family members to “autograph” my book.  For years I collected autographs from friends, sports stars, political figures, special guests at school etc.  I have the autograph of Guy Lafleur, and Yvan Cournoyer when the Canadiens hockey team played an exhibition game in Victoria in the early 70’s.  I have the autograph of Tommy Douglas when he was a guest at our school, and I even have one from King Frederik IX of Denmark …well,  at least a formal letter with the royal seal, written by his Majesty’s private secretary after I sent the King birthday greetings when he turned seventy.    Close enough.

But one of my most  favorite autographs was written by a woman who I considered my Canadian “grandma”.

Dear Lynn,

This I learned from the shadow of the tree, which to and fro swayed upon the lawn.

Your shadowself, your influence, may fall where you can never be.

With Love,

“Nana” Antalfy   (Mar. 15, 1970 – Saseenos, B.C.)

For years I did not honestly know what she meant by those words.  When she moved away I remember sitting out on the steps of our house in Sooke, B.C. and watching how the sumac tree on our front lawn would sway in the breeze.  It was a willowy type of tree and didn’t cast much of shadow at all.  In fact of all the trees in our yard, it was the puniest, and the most unassuming tree amongst them all.

Puzzled, I questioned my mother about what Mrs. Antalfy had meant by “shadowself” and “influence”, and pointed at the sumac tree.  My Mom beckoned for me to stand in the yard and then look at my own shadow.  She then challenged me to try to step on the “head” of my own shadow.  She laughed and cheered me on as I chased my shadow around the yard trying to step on it.  No matter how far I stretched my legs, or how fast I ran, or how high I jumped, it was impossible to catch my shadow.  Then Mom told me to stop moving and calmly came over and stood on top of my shadow, right on my shadow’s head.  “See?” she said.  “Sort of.” I said breathlessly, but really I hadn’t grasped the concept at all.

On November 11 we celebrate Remembrance Day, a day set aside to honour the brave men and women who served Canada in times of war and peace; those who valiantly gave their lives in service to their country.  Whenever I think of their sacrifice, I proudly stand in their shadow and when I wear that little poppy emblem on my lapel, I symbolically stand in the shadow of their crosses.  Their courage, their strength, their fortitude, beats in the hearts of all the family members they have left behind.  Because of their sacrifice on our behalf, we know freedom in this country. 

“On August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Canada, as a member of the British Empire, was automatically at war, and its citizens from all across the land responded quickly.  Within three weeks, 45,000 Canadians had rushed to join up. John McCrae was among them.  He was appointed brigade-surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery with the rank of Major and second-in-command…In April 1915, John McCrae was in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, in the area traditionally called Flanders. Some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place there during what was known as the Second Battle of Ypres.  The day before he wrote his famous poem, one of McCrae’s closest friends was killed in the fighting and buried in a makeshift grave with a simple wooden cross.  Wild poppies were already beginning to bloom between the crosses marking the many graves.  Unable to help his friend or any of the others who had died, John McCrae gave them a voice through his poem.”  (http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/)

In Flanders Fields by: John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Lest we forget…

Their “shadowself”, their “influence” continues to fall where they can never be.

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Please Don’t Shake My Hand in Church!

flu-seasonWe interrupt for a special public service announcement for all ushers, greeters and generally friendly congregants in church:

Please do not shake my hand in church!

I know you all mean well, but I must tell you why I would prefer a hearty, “Welcome to Church” verbal greeting and a sincere, warm smile as I come through the door sans the firm hand shake.

I am that one in a million people who is allergic to the flu shot.  I’m not a germophobe per se, but it’s that time of year again folks and it does not benefit me or you if we pass along a grievous epidemic of nastiness between the two of us just because you wanted to shake my hand at church.  Even if you get your flu shot, I might be the “spreader of germs” without knowing it and I just don’t want you or anyone else to get it.  If I feel sick I will stay home from church, I know that may sound sacrilegious, but I follow a basic school rule:

If you’re sick, stay home.  If that rule applies at daycares, and schools it should apply at church.  (I would appreciate that same courtesy from those who sometimes spread the flu bug joy around at church rather than miss the Pastor’s message.)  Get a good Sabbath rest and get well!  God will understand if you miss a Sunday.  The Pastor will understand if you miss a Sunday.  You might even get a phone call from him to see why, and that’s a good thing!

I also suffer with a bit of arthritis and whenever you shake my hand, especially you hearty hand-shakers, I want to whimper rather than smile at your heartfelt greeting.  Greeters take special note when you shake a senior’s hand.  I’m in denial about being “senior” but my body sometimes likes to act like one.  So, a nice gentle pat on the shoulder, or a side hug may go over better.  No hip checks!

I’m not telling all you wonderful people to stop being friendly and stop shaking hands with one another.  If my arthritis isn’t acting up and it’s not flu season, I’ll join in!  I just ask for some sensitivity if a person (like myself) avoids shaking hands at times and prefers your warm smile in greeting instead.

Lastly, unless I’m your wife, mother, grandmother, aunt or sister, it’s never okay to greet me with a “holy kiss”.  (Romans 16:16)  It may be biblical, but I’m vetoing it, especially during flu season🙂

This has been a public service announcement.  Now we can resume our regular worshipping activities.

 

 

 

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Is It Worth It?

I had a conversation with a family member recently who was struggling with his career hedaabf250da6c46e60e3205f3358922c5 had immersed himself in for well over thirty-five years.  “Is it worth it?”  He asked me.  He is finding that the more he invests himself in that particular business and industry the less he feels appreciated and fulfilled.  For the first time in his career he was laid off and then forced to take a job, that he admits is less than ideal, to pay the bills.  It is a cut-throat time now and employees are treated with little respect because if they complain about their circumstances, there are hundreds out there to take their place.  Alberta, especially Calgary, is seeing an economic downturn that is even worse than the one we experienced in the early 80’s.  Downtown Calgary is a ghost town compared to ten years ago when it was the oil centre of Canada.  The thriving Boomtown has been brought to its knees by a global economic slump, destructive governmental policies and a plunge in oil prices.  Never before have Calgarians experienced this kind of “bust” in the oil patch.  Thousands are laid off, small oil companies go into receivership and few jobs are to be had in the industry.  It effects all Albertans and Canadians adversely when a once prosperous province struggles.  There is a trickle down effect when people stop spending money like they used to. Malls are empty with no shoppers, people cut down on travel so tourism suffers, restaurants, car sales, and the real estate market all feel the pinch.

My husband and I experienced the effects of job loss and financial strain in the 80’s but never like this.  Thrust into retirement unwillingly, we wonder what the future will bring.  To say that there are hard times still ahead for all Albertans is an understatement, so we’re riding the economic roller-coaster like everyone else and hanging on for dear life.

Is it worth it?

I knew immediately this question wasn’t just about economic hardship.  He was wondering if the struggle through life is worth it?  It’s a question that has been asked numerous times, especially when “good” people see ruthless, not-so-good people thrive and prosper because they use less than honest means to get ahead.  The unfairness of having the “righteous” struggle while the unrighteous do not is a frustration for us all.  He was asking if there is any point to the daily struggle.

My answer was probably not what he expected.

I said, “No, not if we are only focused on ourselves and what we can get out of life…BUT, it is definitely worth it if we are focused on giving ourselves away and our focus is on eternity.”

I have learned that work, people, government, even family WILL let us down.  We live in an imperfect world and if we gain our self-worth by how we (or they) measure up to impossible worldly standards, then we will always fall short.  We will never be good enough, have enough money, be bright enough, work hard enough, AND we will grumble and complain that unrighteous people are getting ahead while we are not.

However, if we “seek God first” meaning we are to seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world, then all these “things” will be added to you.  We are to seek the salvation that is inherent in the kingdom of God because it is of greater value than all the world’s riches, fame, pleasures…well…EVERYTHING!  (Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”)

Does this mean that we should neglect the reasonable and daily duties that help sustain our lives? Certainly not. But for the Christian, there should be a difference in attitude toward them. If we are taking care of God’s business as a priority—seeking His salvation, living in obedience to Him, and sharing the good news of the Kingdom with others—then He will take care of our business as He promised—and if that’s the arrangement, we will not be worried about the things that have no eternal value.

My heart was heavy after I talked with him because he was like the rich, young ruler.  He was not willing to let go of the everyday “stuff” that was actually holding him back from being happy.  He wanted to know if it was “worth it”, but wasn’t willing to let God be the centre of his life.  I pray that one day he will see that living for Jesus makes everything one goes through in life soooooo WORTH IT!

 

 

 

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Technologically Challenged

any-keyI know that my kids get a kick out of my husband and my feeble attempts at understanding and mastering technology that to them is already “old and obsolete”.  My husband would probably much rather go back in time before Smartphones, computers and ATM machines were invented to rotary phones and handwritten letters.  As he said yesterday to the little gal at Best Buy when we bought new phones for ourselves, “My last phone was NOT SO SMART!”

I convinced him that he should trade his “stupid phone” for an iPhone that I have used for many years and it was, for the most part, user friendly.  Again, the little gal at Best Buy laughed when he said, “I just want a phone to make calls with…I don’t want to play any games on the thing!”  When she politely asked what Apps he may want, he gave her a stony stare and I said quickly that I’d handle putting on any Apps for him.  “I don’t even want music on it!” he grumbled.

When I texted my youngest daughter and told her that we had just bought new phones and Dad even had an iTunes account now, she texted back:  “Really????  Look at you go, Dad!!”  He has no idea what having an iTunes account will do for him and I’m already worried he’ll get ticked off at the waste of time it will be to figure out what all those “unnecessary icons” on his phone screen are.

When I got home, I was eager to set up my new phone and the Best Buy gal said it would be “easy” since I only had to plug it in to my computer and all my data in my iTunes account would be transferred automatically.

Wrong.

I had neglected to update my iTunes (for a while)…okay…maybe over a year…okay…maybe more, so my new phone was incompatible with the old program.  I am now in the process of updating to the latest upgrade, however my old computer has told me it may take days to install.  So…

I had to reinvent the wheel with my new phone and load all my contacts, Apps etc. etc. etc. manually.  I can’t load any music onto my new iPhone until the upgrade is done.  Oh well.

It took me until one in the morning but my new phone now is to a point where it looks pretty similar to my old phone (sans music) except it’s a different colour.  (My husband will soon comment why I couldn’t have just kept my old phone…he might have a point.)

This morning, as I heard my computer working away, trying to install that last iTunes update, working at a snail’s pace because of our sketchy internet connection – (living in the country has its drawbacks especially when it comes to high-speed internet being non-existent here); I noticed something I swear I had never seen before on my WordPress blog administrative site.  Under the Appearance tab is something called “Mobile”.  I clicked on that, and lo and behold I could make my blog “Journey Thoughts” mobile-friendly!  Who knew??

So, to my loyal readers, you can now read my blog easily on your Smartphones!  Oh, and if you click on those ads, I get a little piece of that advertising pie…yep…a whole .001 of a cent to .01 or thereabouts, not even the kind people at WordPress can give me an exact figure here because they say advertising rates “fluctuate” all the time.  I’m not great at math, but safe to say, I won’t be a millionaire based on those figures…hahahaha…but I appreciate your support!🙂

Oh, oh!  I just heard my husband call me…”How can I make a simple phone call on this stupid thing??”

Yep, it’s going to be a long day.

 

 

 

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25 Encouraging Bible Verses for Women Who Struggle with Self-Worth

gods-masterpieceI was reading a book the other day that talked at length about “Impostor Syndrome” and it definitely rang a bell with me.  Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.  “Impostor syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.”  (Caltech Counseling Center)  Basically it means that you have feelings that you’re not good enough, smart enough, successful enough and that you are only posing as such when the total opposite is true.  Although this is also true of men, women tend to experience these feelings more profoundly especially if they struggle with low self-esteem and self-worth.   The enemy likes to lay huge guilt trips on us: we’re not good enough mothers and wives and that inner voice whispers loudly at us as we look in the mirror that we’re not pretty enough, or worthy enough for love.  For you gals who really struggle with feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth here are some encouraging verses that tell us that God loves us for WHO WE ARE in Him.  We are created Masterpieces in His eyes!

Ephesians 2:10  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Isaiah 64:8  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Psalm 139:14  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 46:5  “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

Romans 5:8  “Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies—make your way straight before me.”

Joshua 1:9  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

1 Peter 5:6  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

Psalm 9:1  “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

Luke 1:45  “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

1 Peter 3:3-4  “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Psalm 143:8  “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Colossians 2:10  “and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”

Proverbs 31:10-31  “A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.  She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.  She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.  She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.  In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.  She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.  When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.  She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.  Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.  She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.  She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 3:15-18  “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.”

Song of Songs 4:7  “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”

2 Timothy 1:7  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Ephesians 2:19-22  “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Joshua 1:5  “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Romans 5:1-5  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Psalm 27:14  “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 73:26  “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:11  “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

Isaiah 43:1  “But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

Matthew 11:28-30  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Unless stated otherwise all scripture used on Journey Thoughts is from: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Simply Happy

It has been a privilege for me to have seven of my stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul (CSS) books.  I was a fan of the books long before I even submitted my first article.  Many of the stories have brought tears to my eyes, poignant accounts of personal stories that clutch at the heart strings of my mother’s heart, or made me laugh out loud at the comedic zaniness of everyday life.  For those who love the books, as I do, there are well over 150 book titles that address hundreds of topics.  In each book there are 101 stories written by 101 different writers who share little snippets of their life stories to give readers some sage advice, humour and inspiration.  My stories, for those who are interested, are included in the following titles: Parenthood, Devotional Stories for Wives, O’ Canada: the Wonders of Winter, Miracles Happen, The Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide, Reboot Your Life, and Christmas in Canada.

When my first story about my daughter being teased when she got glasses, “Do Angels Wear Glasses?” was published in CSS: Parenthood, I got an email from a father who lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  For a small-town, Canadian gal, I could not believe someone from so far away was reading one of my stories!  His words humbled me, and brought me to tears:

What a beautiful story you have written, Lynn. I received it from the Chicken Soup’s daily newsletter to which I subscribed more than 7 years ago. My heart ached and filled with deep sadness for what had happened to Carmen and how she was crushed by the rude comment of ‘Angels don’t wear glasses,’ said by the little girl. But it eventually swelled with pride for the tenderness and kindness you treated her with. In fact, mothers are the one who should be called Angels. It is not flesh or blood, but the heart that makes them mothers. The heart of a mother is the loveliest masterpiece of God’s heart. The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which we will always find love. To the world, you are just a person. But to Carmen, you are the whole world.
My daughters were sitting on my lap as I was reading the story. With each word I read, I gave them soft kisses on their cheeks, hugged them tightly to my heart, and cherished each and every precious moment I shared with them. My eyes filled with tears of gratitude for still having them on earth.

 

Have a peaceful weekend,

Hamsa

 

I can honestly say, I have never in my life felt such joy as a writer, as when I read his letter, and Chicken Soup for the Soul made that experience possible!  It is no wonder then that I continue to write for the franchise and I most recently jumped at the chance to review the editor-in-chief’s book, Simply Happy – A Crash Course in Chicken Soup for the Soul Advice and Wisdom by Amy Newmark.

Nine years ago, Amy and her husband, Bill took over the extremely successful Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise from founders Jackchicken-soup-for-the-soul-simply-happy-9781611599497_hr Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.  Amy, a successful Wall Street analyst, decided before taking on the huge responsibility of CSS that she would read the 10,000 plus stories from the books published from 1993 on.  “That was my crash course in Chicken Soup for the Soul advice and wisdom, and it was life changing,” she writes in the introduction.  “I had never seen anything like this before, so much selfless sharing by people who were willing to pass on their best tips and their life experiences so that others could tweak or even completely reboot their own lives.”  It encouraged her to take CSS to the next level staying true to the legacy that Canfield and Hansen had left for her.

Her book Simply Happy is different from all other CSS books because there are not 101 contributors to this book.  She is the sole author, but she shares the main pieces of advice and wisdom she has gleaned from all of the stories in the CSS books that have been published.  It is a “Crash Course” of meaningful, easy-to-implement advice and strategies to allow the reader to become more positive and purposeful about life in general.  Using excerpts from some of her favorite stories, as well as using her own life experiences, Amy has penned a feel-good book that is uplifting and practical.  It is not necessarily a “self-help” book, although it does give some sound advice to follow, but it more so embraces the life stories of those writers who have contributed to the books over these many years.

I read the book in one sitting, something I rarely do unless completely enthralled by the content of a book.  I found that much of what Amy said I could relate to in a timely way.  She talks about the “Impostor Syndrome” in chapter three that hit me right between the eyes!  I have always been my biggest critic and as she shares about her A-type personality, dealing personally with negative self-talk and the like, I felt the tears tumble acknowledging she could easily have been talking about me.  She repeats throughout the book about “counting your blessings” and indeed I try to do that, but there are times I struggle with perfectionism and she addressed that neatly as she relates the story of a woman who decided to give thanks every time she used a possession, or saw a stain on her carpet, or ding on her furniture, remembering that it was the imperfections in life that made the most memories.

Much of her principles for happy living, although not stated implicitly, have a solid basis in Biblical teaching.  Whether that was intended by her or not “Treat others as you would have others treat you” is a common theme in the book.  Chapter 21 – It’s Not About You speaks to the fact that as my Pastor used to say: “Hurt people, hurt people.”  Sometimes when people are nasty to you, it really has nothing to do with you, it’s just you happen to be available for them to vent to.  Amy says to “not take it personally”, and “don’t get angry about it”.  Jesus would say, “Turn the other cheek.”  I am reminded of the scripture verse: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  (Proverbs 15:1).  Amy also talks about forgiveness and the power of gratitude, important themes in the Bible.

I highly recommend reading this life-affirming book.  It is filled with inspiring stories, quotes and anecdotes, and if you love the CSS books, you will certainly love reading Amy Newmark’s insights about what she has personally learned from reading and now contributing to the many books in this franchise.

 

 

 

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I Suck at Praying

Have you noticed how many books have been written over the years that teach us about prayer?  There’s a good reason for that.  For many of us (including myself), prayer is not something we’re particularly good at.  Oh, sure, I know all about the importance of prayer, the power of prayer, even the purpose of prayer but I still really suck at praying.

I hear about how you should be persistent in prayer.  Pray without ceasing, bring all your requests before God and He WILL answer them.  I know all about that and I believe that to be true with all my heart but yet I can’t say I pray unceasingly.

I know that it is a vital discipline to draw close to God and seek His Will but I still find myself at wits end to pray the right words at the right time.  I listen to others pray and I marvel at how easily the words seem to slip easily from their lips.  The eloquent words of others praying leaves me breathless and I can’t help but feel even more inadequate at expressing myself to God in prayer especially in front of others.  I’m a writer but a pray-er?  Uh, uh.

I often ask others to pray for me and my needs because I’m so bad at it myself.    I’m terrible at ad-libbing.  I stumble, stutter and lose focus and can’t seem to remember all the people (by name) to pray for, or to express how magnificent and worthy of worship God is (like David does in Psalms).  I get so tongue-tied, I feel like I’ve gone in a big circle of repeating myself and feel flustered and frustrated by my inability to express myself.  I WANT to pray, but I just suck at it.

I had been lamenting my inability to pray cohesively when our Pastor gave a couple of messages about praying the Lord’s Prayer.  “Everything”, he said, “that we need to pray about is encapsulated in that one prayer.”

14b1fc420aba44b85049debed881f830(Matthew 6: 9-13  NKJV) 

As I have been praying these words regularly during my quiet time, I have drawn closer to the Father as never before:

“Our Father” (You are amazing.  Your works are masterful.  Your creation is beautiful.)

in heaven,”  (You are Lord of Heaven and Earth.  I cannot fathom Your greatness.  You love me with all my faults and died for me so that I may one day be with You in Heaven.  I am so unworthy of Your grace but You abound in grace!)

Hallowed be Your name.”  (Your Name is above ALL names.  I am so honoured and privileged to come to You in all humbleness, knowing that whatever I request in Your Name will be done according to Your perfect will.)

Your kingdom come.”  (I long to dwell with You throughout eternity!  The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!  Hasten that day, but show me how to redeem the time here in the meantime, so I can be used of You while I am walking this journey road on earth.)

Your will be done”  (I sometimes have a long “wish list”, Lord.  You know my needs before I even speak them.  Give me patience and faith to know that You have heard me, You WILL answer, but only according to Your will and timing because You know what is best for me.)

On earth as it is in heaven.”  (Father, grow me up so that my life will show Christ living in me.  Allow me to experience You in Your fullness here on earth as well as in heaven.  Give me a passion for Your Word!)

Give us this day our daily bread.”  (You are the Bread of Life.  You are all I need.)

And forgive us our debts,”  (Forgive the many things I do each day that may disappoint and not be honouring to You.)

As we forgive our debtors.”  (Allow me to show the same kind of love and forgiveness to others as You have shown to me.)

And do not lead us into temptation,”  (I fall into the trap of sin when I am not close to You as I should be.  Draw me close, keep me focused on You!)

But deliver us from the evil one.”  (The enemy prowls around like a hungry lion waiting to devour me.  I must be always on my guard against him.  If I submit to You, Lord and resist the devil, he will flee!)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”  (You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  I need not fear because You are in control now and forever.  Your rod and Your staff comforts me!)

Amen.”  (May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, O’Lord, my strength and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14)

 

 

 

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Come, Lord Jesus, Come! No, wait!!

celebration of life This weekend my husband and I attended a “Celebration of Life” for a wonderful, Godly man whom we have known close to twenty-five years.  In fact, over a turkey dinner meal twenty-two years ago, we sat down with Allen and his wife, Catherine, and we bought their house!  That transaction was completely orchestrated by God.  They needed to sell, and we fell in love with their acreage.  We have lived here these many years making family memories ever since.

The “Celebration of Life” for Allen was filled with laughter and warm memories of a man who had “fought the good fight” and had a “life well-lived”.  There were few tears because for most of us, we know that while we will miss him, we will be united again some day.  A friend of mine remarked after the service, after the tributes and the hymns, that “this is a glimpse of heaven”.  All the saints gathered singing praises to God and being together in spirit.  I totally agreed.

One does not like to think about dying.  It will come to us all, some sooner than later, and all of us will fight it until our last breath.  It’s ironic that we fight so hard to live in a world that is fallen and hard and difficult, when for those of us who believe, death is our reward!  Our hope is not here on earth, but in Jesus and being with Him throughout eternity.  We should not fear death, but rejoice in the knowledge that when we escape the constraints of this world, we will be “made new” in Christ.  So I can’t help but think, why wait?  Come, Lord Jesus, come!  Rapture your Church!  The sooner the better!

Then I immediately cry out, “No, wait!!”

The reality is, for me at least, that I’m just not ready to go!  I still have memories to make with my loved ones, and I still believe God is still writing my story here.  I’m not done yet, and neither is He!  I have family members who do not know Jesus as their personal Saviour and I don’t want them to be left behind.  I have friends and neighbours who do not live for eternity but live for themselves.  If Jesus should come for His Church too soon, they would be left behind.  I want my Hope to be their hope!

So, as much as I long for the day when we will all meet in heaven, where tears will be no more, I am not ready to go quite yet.

But some day….

 

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