Monday, March 18, 2013

"Be still and know..."

 "Be still, and know that I am God."   Psalm 46:10
Amazing what God will help us see and hear and think and feel when we spend quiet time with Him! How good it is to simplify things for awhile in the midst of our busy and oft messy lives. This is why so many of us like to spend the early part of the morning quietly reading God's word and praying. Such a rich experience it can be. It helps get the day off to a good start.
The sun is shining this Sunday morning - a truly wonderful thing, since we've had so much rain in Vancouver lately. Seeing the bright sky reminds me of the precious times I've spent on the patio in the early mornings during springs and summers of the past. One morning particularly stands out in my mind:
I was comfortably settled in my muskoka chair with my Bible, my journal, and my camera. I didn't always have my camera there with me, but the day before I had been delighted by a flock of small birds flitting amongst the stems of the tall daisies that bordered the patio. I hoped to get some pictures of them. Unfortunately, they didn't come back. But God did show me some other things.
As the sun started peeking over the tall row of cedars bordering our yard, I focused my camera on it. Shooting into the sun can do interesting things. So I played, including the daisies in the pictures and then bringing in the fuschias hanging nearby. Gradually I did the unusual, holding the camera at an angle as I shot. It was an exciting process. You know, when I'm creative and play like that - as a child might - not judging, not having preconceived ideas of what I want to achieve, I believe God has a hand in what happens. He shows me things I might have missed if I hadn't been so open - if I had gone my own way. This was my time with Him and He led me to see things in a way I hadn't seen them before.
I look forward to warmer weather, time to once more get out on the patio early in the morning. Thank God for all He has to show us - in our reading, in our seeing, in our thinking and feeling. We just have to stay open to Him, don't we?... holding our hands out to receive what He will give us each morning.
I pray for sunny days for all of us - not only outside, but within our hearts as well.
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Slaying our Goliaths

"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied."
David in 1 Samuel 17:45
I recall vividly how I felt one day several years ago. I felt like a very small person trying to do something that was far beyond her. I wanted to reduce the stigma towards mental illness, especially the misunderstanding and poor support that exists in the church.
I felt like David facing Goliath. The difference was, that although David was probably not a fully grown man, he was confident. I wasn't confident at all. My Goliath looked like one huge messy mass. David aimed for the giant's forehead, but I couldn't see the face nor the arms or legs. How could I possibly attack when I had no place to aim?
David inspired me.
Through David, God reminded me that He has the strength and the power to fight such wars. With Him, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26) Fighting stigma and working for the good of people living with mental illness is God's work - not mine alone. All I have to do is to be God's foot-soldier, to go where He leads, and say the words He gives me to say. Looking at it that way gave me courage and strength. When I remember that God is in charge, I can do the work. He helps me devise plans and helps me know what to aim for.
We all have Goliaths in our lives; we have many different kinds of challenges. It could be coping with illness or learning to cope with a difficult job. It could be building a stronger marriage or helping make our community a better place.
If we could only trust God to help us deal with our Goliaths, as David did... It might take time; we will probably have to be patient. And God could have plans for us that differ from our own. I know from experience though, that we can trust Him to know best. Trusting Him and being prepared to join Him in the work can leave us pleasantly surprised with the outcome -to say nothing of the process.
I haven't always trusted God, too often trying to work under my own strength, frustrated - even suffering - as a result. But in the end, I do know He has taken the Living Room support ministry to places that have surprised me. The email ministry is one of them. My job is to follow God, one little step at a time. It's a wonderful mystery tour own which only He knows where we are going.
May God bless you richly and may He take you on an amazing mystery tour of your own as you slay your Goliaths.
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Thursday, March 07, 2013

A lesson from the buttercup

Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy…

                                               Psalm 4:6-7
I’'ve spent some delightful times on spring days, lying with my camera in the middle of a field of buttercups. The shiny gold blooms, growing in a park not far from my home, were a joy to behold. The stems were tall enough so I could lie underneath them, shooting up from below, using the blue sky as a backdrop. Dancing around on their lanky stems, the cheerful blossoms reminded me of the innocent, open spirit of children.

Quoting Charles Spurgeon again: (such a great preacher he was, and a gifted writer). In Morning and Evening he writes:

"The Christian should be like those lovely spring flowers which, when the sun is shining, open their golden cups, as if saying, ‘'Fill us with thy beams!’' but when the sun is hidden behind a cloud, they close their cups and droop their heads. So should the Christian feel the sweet influence of Jesus; Jesus must be his sun, and he must be the flower which yields itself to the Sun of Righteousness."”

I’'m looking forward to more of the clear days we had on Sunday and Monday here in Vancouver, so I can lift my face up to the sun and say “"fill me with your beams."” And I will experience the joy that a thankful heart can bring.

But, even if the sun isn'’t shining on us, God’s light will shine on us when we open ourselves up to Him.

May God bless you all with His beams.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

"Will you be a child for me?"

People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in.”
Luke 18:15-17 (The Message)

I've often tried to put my finger on what it is exactly that Jesus saw in the children. What childlike qualities does he want us to emulate so that we, too, can enter His kingdom? I believe God is asking us: "Will you be a child for me?"”

I have loved photographing children for many years. Children five and under are my favourites. That's when they can still express themselves freely. Young children are open and real. How precious that is to witness!

When they're exploring new things, children can get totally caught up with - in awe of - what they see around them. Everything else - everything that might distract from the moment -– fades away.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could all live like that? To forget our troubles and find time to give our attention to God's handiwork. I want to be like the child in this picture, openly receiving what God gives me, lost in the wonder of it.

Wouldn't it be beautiful if we were able to keep the curiosity we had as children? If we were able to be so easily delighted and excited about our discoveries?

I photographed this little girl many years ago - enraptured by the things she was discovering in this wooded campground. If we could only keep this attitude towards the things God has created! I think God wants us to.

God asks, "Will you be a child for me?"

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Take care.