Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Waiting



Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Ambro



We live in a world of immediacy and instant gratification.

With just a click we can converse with anyone anywhere via the Internet. We can text or make a phone call. We don't have to leave our house to shop because we can just place an order online and have the items shipped to our homes. Grocery stores and some pharmacies will deliver what you need, for a price.

Some people don't have to leave their house to go to work.  Meetings can be done via Skype, phone conferencing, Go to Meeting etc. You can attend church at home by watching it online, on T.V. or listening to a radio broadcast. 

What about meals? Can meal preparation get any faster than popping a box into the microwave and within 3 to 5 minutes your food is ready?

So when we are expected to wait and to exercise patience we don't seem to know what to do with ourselves. 

But some things are better when time is invested and when we have no other alternative but to wait. 

Waiting for a builder and contractors to construct a house is worth the wait so that house owners can be assured of a structurally safe house for their family. 

First-time parents wait nine months for their baby to grow, develop and to be born. The time spent waiting can be utilized in preparing a space in their home for the baby; as well as a place in their hearts.

Waiting although difficult, is an integral part of life.

Days, months, years and decades can be spent waiting for a particular event to occur. A few examples are listed. 

Waiting for: 
  • a job offer
  • re-uniting with a family member
  • forgiveness
  • financial improvement
  • a promise fulfilled
  • a debt cleared
  • an illness overcome
  • an alternative circumstance to be presented
  • a waiting list to open 
  • acceptance
  • relocation 
  • resentment, disappointment, or anger to dissipate
  • an answer to prayer

I have spent time waiting. 

After graduating from teacher's college I accepted various teaching-related positions. They were: working at the Y with the children of young single moms, in a group home with developmentally handicapped adults, supply teaching, instructor for preschool arts and crafts, and a drama instructor for children age 7-12. 

Then an offer came to teach at a private  Christian school in the area. Finally my waiting and patience had paid off! For twelve years I had the opportunity to teach grades 1,2,3,5 and 6.


Waiting is also expressed in the Bible.


Psalms 130:5-6  (NIV) “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen wait for the morning." 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, waiting can be difficult yet you tell us in these two verses that waiting for you, LORD is worthwhile and a blessing. I pray that you help each of us reading these verses to patiently wait for you and your blessings. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

Waiting at least for me seems to get easier as I get older. Perhaps you have found waiting easier too, as time passes.

Your turn: What are you waiting for? Feel free to leave a comment.
 
 







Friday, December 11, 2015

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas


Images courtesy of JennyEBurr 

I am wondering if my last year's photos of my Christmas village is as close to snow as we'll get for Christmas in Ottawa this year. 


Bing Crosby's got it right when he sings the words, "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the one's I used to know...."  Aside form being one of my all time favourite Christmas movies to watch each year I too am dreaming of a white Christmas. 


It is a rare December when we don't have snow in this area, but I do remember a number of years ago another green December.  The reason I remember it is because my husband had made a comment about cutting the grass in December. 

People in Ottawa typically do not cut their grass in December because the grass has stopped growing and is covered in snow.



I have been enjoying the very mild-record breaking temperatures however, I do like snow for Christmas.  I also like snow when the temps are cold as it offers children something to play with when they're outside. This is particularly important during recess.

 

I know that it has been quiet here over the past couple of weeks. I've been doing a great deal of writing in my head as well as some writing for a couple of other places.

I have been writing some articles for Spur Ottawa and I have included the links below to my two most recent articles. 

Gifts for Mr. and Mrs. Claus 

The Big Give 

I have also included links  that are the topic of another article which will appear soon in Spur Ottawa

Resource Freak 

Resources 

Gospel For Asia 


If any of you happen to subscribe to live, a magazine for Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec then you may have read my article, Ungrateful Heart Syndrome, in the November-December issue.

It only costs $20.00 a year for either the print or online magazine. With your subscription you receive six issues a year.

I mention writing this article in my A Most Ungrateful Heart blog post.


Your turn.  

What has kept you busy over the past couple of weeks?  Have you had record warm temps for December too?

Please feel free to leave a comment below and to sign up to receive By His Grace posts in your email inbox. 



Friday, November 27, 2015

Partners in Grime

Images courtesy of JennyEBurr


Yes, this is a picture of our kitchen garbage can. 

I am certain that you have noticed that it has a clasp on it to act as a lock. It is also hooked to our cupboard. 

Here are the partners in grime.



It all started with a small plastic garbage can which was attached to the cupboard door, under the sink. All you had to do was open the door and the bottom portion of the garbage swung out while the lid remained under the sink. It was easy for dropping in garbage. 


These two partners in grime were constantly opening the cupboard. Access to all the tasty morsels and wrappings were free for the taking. Naturally, they pulled the garbage out of the can to seek out their treasures. 


After some discussion, my husband and I decided that a step-on garbage can would be the best solution. So that is what we did. Since it was too tall to fit under the sink it was relegated to sit on the floor at the end of the counter. 


All was fine until the partners in grime figured out how to make the step-on garbage can open. 


Their solution?

Knock it over.

The lid would then pop open and they could readily dive in and haul out the garbage. After cleaning up more garbage from our partners in grime another solution was required. 


Hence the flip lock on the garbage can and the hook into the cupboard. Their fun has been foiled and we no longer have garbage messes to tidy up. 

I am thankful that God has allowed us the opportunity to have pets in our household, even if they do present us with some challenges.

I wonder what they will get into next?  

Your turn. Do you have pets which have caused you to develop some creative solutions to problems which they present?


Feel free to leave acomment.

Other posts which may interest you are: 

When Clouds Are Never Just Clouds
The Tragedy 
In Appreciation 
A Most Ungrateful Heart 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When Clouds Are Never Just Clouds






































I have a profound cloud fetish. More often than not I tilt my tablet up and take many pictures of the sky, in particular, the clouds.

Why?

The sky and the clouds are an ever changing, moody, tapestry of colours and shapes. I find cloud watching fascinating.

I can look in one direction and view a sky promising a bright and glorious day. Then, when I turn in the opposite direction, I peer at a gray sky with dark clouds swooping down, heavy laden with rain. 

I guess I'm not the only one who likes to look up. 

David wrote in Psalm 19:1 (NIV) "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." 

The sky, in all of its tremendous glory reminds me of God and His people. 

God is ever present, omnipotent and boundless.  Like the sky, stretching out endlessly before us. In our perception we seem to only have a microscopic glimpse of Him. Small parts, the bits and pieces which we can immediately see. 

Yet, there is so much more to God, like the expanse of the sky which stretches far beyond what we can view. If you have ever had an opportunity to see a prairie sky than you know how vast the sky appears over the flat land. It goes on and on. Like God; limitless.

The ever changing, weather-inducing sky reminds me of people and of me. Our emotions can change as rapidly as the sky and the weather. Life can throw us some tough twists and turns, along with joy and delight so our moodiness is understandable. 

I remember as a teen, riding the school bus home and I commented on the clouds. A friend, sitting beside me looked out the window, searching for a plow in  the fields we passed. "No, look at the clouds, they're so remarkable." 

"They're just clouds, Jenny!" was her response. 

To me, clouds are never just clouds.

Your turn. Do you have a cloud fetish? Feel free to leave a comment.  

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Monday, November 9, 2015

The Tragedy

Image courtesy of JennyEBurr

After adding a few pictures of the Jock River into my blog post In Appreciation I remembered a time when the Jock River was not so glorious and welcoming.  

The tragedy which rocked our little village caused mothers to hold onto their children and fathers to embrace their families. It was a parent's worst nightmare come true. 

One early March day, many years ago, the front door to our house was flung open. 

"Jenny," called out a friend. "Have you seen my daughter?" 

One look at this friend's large eyes and hearing the tremor in her voice, told me that something was dreadfully wrong. 

I grabbed my boots and a coat as I spoke. "No, our girls have not seen each other since we had playgroup." Our daughters were now in grade one but not attending the same school. 

As I walked my friend through the village, toward her mother's house, I noticed a couple of police cars. 

Nodding at the police cars I asked, "Where do they think she is?"

Not saying a word my friend pointed to the Jock River as tears rolled down her face.

I began praying these words silently, "Lord please help them find her daughter and surround my friend and her family with your comfort."

Just a hint of snow was evident as much of it had melted in the sun. March is the time of year when ice melts quickly and only a thin, glassy layer forms at night.

I made certain that my friend was safely back in her mother's house and then I walked back home. With an aching heart I explained to my husband where the authorities were looking for my friend's daughter so that we could both pray for her family. 

Two pairs of footprints in the snow covered ice, going toward an opening where the Jock River flowed freely, were noticed. One pair of footprints retreating was enough indication for the police and divers to conclude that the young girl had fallen into the chilly water.

A neighbouring mom who lived in the village wasn't allowed to drive home because the police had blocked the entrances to the village. When she was told that a young girl had likely fallen into the river her heart pounded in fear. Was it her daughter?  

Using her cell phone a quick call to her spouse gave her the answer and relief she sought. After waiting a bit longer and talking with the police, explaining that she lived in the village  they eventually opened the road block so that she could go home. 

A couple of days passed and still the divers had not located the young girl's body. They promised that they would continue searching until they found her. Their hope was to provide closure to her parents and to her extended family. 

Days later, the divers found her lifeless body.

Tragedies abound. At some time our lives we will experience the pain of loss. 

These first four verses from Psalm 23 remind us of whom we can go to for comfort. 

Psalm 23: 1-4 NIV
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides my in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.


Your turn.
Dear Reader, have you suffered from a tragedy? Lost a loved one? How have you found comfort in your loss? Please feel free to leave a comment. 

 





 





Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I've Been Reading...


Image courtesy of JennyEBurr
 

 Online I've been reading....

Ann Voskamp's  A Holy Experience


 David Kitz's I Love the Psalms


Psalms Alive a book by David Kitz 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Planting Tomatoes, Harvesting Souls

Below is a link to an article which I wrote for Spur Ottawa. 

Some of our harvest from our garden and our neighbour's garden.

Planting Tomatoes Harvesting Souls

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In Appreciation

My favourite fence in the village.


Living in a village leads to a quieter, humble lifestyle. Twenty-four and a half years ago we moved to our humble abode with our half acre yard. This blog post is a photo journal including pictures in and around the village. 

If you read my post, A Most Ungrateful Heart you will know that I have struggled with thankfulness this past year so this blog post is a response to that post. I am looking for the blessings in my life and offering God thankfulness and praise. 

Our situation is the same, however, my heart, head and attitude are being transformed. I am thankful for this change. Looking for the good helps me to have a thankful heart. 
  




The eastern portion of the Jock River looking over the bridge.





Reflections in the Jock River is the view from the western portion of the Jock River looking over the bridge. 
















About 25 houses were in the village when we first moved here. Then a half dozen or so were added a few years ago. More recently, 50 estate lots were placed across the road from us. Despite the slow expansion of the village, it is still a quiet place to live. 


The next few photos depict some of the log houses and buildings in the village. 

























Now it's your turn. What do you appreciate about where you live? 

Please feel free to leave a comment. 




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Workshop: Blogging for Jesus Getting the Good News Out

Image courtesy of stockimages@freedigitalphotos.net

The Ottawa Christian Writers' Fellowship is hosting a Saturday morning workshop, "Blogging for Jesus Getting the Good News Out." 

Date: Saturday, October 31, 2015 
Register at: 9:30 a.m. 
Workshop: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location:  Ecclesaix Church on 5th Avenue in the Glebe, Ottawa.
Cost: $15.00  Members Cost: $10.00 pay at the door
Coffee and Snacks will be provided
 
For more information contact: david@davidkitz.ca

I hope to see you there. 


 



 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Most Ungrateful Heart

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net



Philippians 4: 6 (NIV) says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." 

Awhile ago the editor of live magazine asked its writers to submit a piece about gratitude for an upcoming issue. But, gratitude was the furthest emotion from my heart at that time. It was also a distant thought from my mind. 

How can that be you might be wondering? Couldn't I think of anything for which I could say, "Thank you, Lord." 

I honestly couldn't. It wasn't because I had nothing to be thankful for; it's just that my heart and head were not in possession of the right attitude. A nagging, negative spirit was threatening to consume me.

I had a list of complaints and disappointments, number of expectations that I wanted God to do. Requests which I wanted God to meet. Gratitude hadn't even made it on the "To Do" list because I was too busy filling it with my expectations of what I felt needed to be done. 


Then the request came again. More contributions were needed for the issue of live that would discuss thankfulness and gratitude. Could I write something for the issue? 

Would I be able to dig down and grapple for thankfulness in this rebellious heart of mine? 

Would the readers of live appreciate my honesty? What if I admitted to them (and the editor) that I have been struggling with gratitude? Would any of them relate? 

Would they like to know how this most ungrateful heart of mine turned and became a grateful heart? 

Perhaps some of them have also struggled with gratitude and thankfulness in our messy world and in their lives. Perhaps like me, they have spent too much time adding to their list of complaints and suggestions and too little time on thankfulness. 

Philippians 4: 6, quoted above is a reminder of the correct way to offer up thankfulness. It begins by telling us to not worry or be anxious about anything. My growing list of complaints was the outpouring of my worry. 

The biggest complaint being our financial situation. "Haven't we struggled long enough Lord?"

Naturally, there wasn't room for thanksgiving because I was spending my time worrying and despairing. I couldn't see beyond any of it. Sure, I was praying and petitioning God but I was making a lot of noise without vocalizing gratitude while requesting that God make certain alterations in my life. 


Image courtesy of JennyEBur a view off the deck of the family cottage.



I didn't want to keep griping and nagging. I truly did want to be thankful so I cried out in desperation, "Lord, help me to be thankful for just one thing today." Before I realized what I was writing in my prayer journal that day, these words appeared. "Thank you for a sunny day."  

Being thankful was the key to change. Although the circumstances had not been altered, my heart and mind had.

That was the beginning of the end of a most ungrateful heart. Just expressing my gratitude for a sunny day released me from my complaints and ingratitude. Refocusing on God and his blessings lifted my "To Do List"  and altered it to becoming a "To Be Thankful List."    

Dear reader, live magazine really is written without any capital letters. It is a Baptist resource for women on a mission and was formerly known as The Link and Visitor. 

Your turn. Have you had an ungrateful heart? If so, what helped you to become thankful? Feel free to leave a comment and become a follower of By His Grace.

Other posts which may interest you:
When Plans Go Amuck Again and Again
When Plans Go Amuck 
When Everyone Thinks You're Crazy


 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

When Plans Go Amuck Again and Again

Image courtesy of phasinphoto @ freedigitalphotos.net



We all have plans. Some might just be the day to day plans and other plans are huge. They are ones that we have dreamed about for years. 

So what happens when even our biggest plans and dreams go amuck? How do we handle messed up plans?  How does God want us to handle them?

If you are anything like me, you probably don't handle it very well but I am slowly learning to change that.

Can we do anything about plans that go wrong? 

Should we to do anything?

Or does God want us to trust that He has it all worked out despite the fact that all our plans and dreams have just disappeared?

To answer these questions I am looking into the life of Joseph from Genesis Chapter 37, 39-41 because if anyone had dreams he did. And if anyone had dreams go south, he did. Big time!   

When we are first introduced to Joseph, we are told that he is seventeen years old and he and his brothers are responsible for taking care of their father's sheep. He told his father about his older brother's bad behaviour. A very special robe had been given to Joseph by his father; indicative of his father's favour. 

Joseph told his brothers that he dreamed that his sheaf rose up and his brothers' sheaves bowed down to his sheaf. 

Genesis: 37: 9 NIV  ' "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more.'

Then he told his brothers and father about his second dream, that the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to him. 

In Genesis 37: 30 "....his father rebuked him and said, 'What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?' " 

Yes they actually did bow down to Joseph but that was many years later. 

Joseph had to experience great loss. He had to mature and become responsible. He had to grow in his faith and trust in God. He had to learn about forgiveness.


A Summary of Joseph's Messed Up Life:
  • His brothers hated him enough to want to kill him.
  • His oldest brother, Rueben, spared his life.
  • They stripped him of his robe.
  • Tossed him into an empty cistern.
  • He was sold for twenty shekels to the Ishmaelites and Midianite merchants.
  • He was taken to Egypt.
  • When Reuben returned to the cistern to rescue Joseph he was gone.
  • The brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph's robe into the blood.
  • They took the bloody robe to their father and let him assume that Joseph had died.
  • The Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar who was the captain of Pharaoh's guard.
  • Joseph was given responsibility for Potiphar's household and did his job well.
  • Potiphar's wife falsely accused Joseph of wanting to sleep with her.
  • Potiphar had Joseph put in prison.
  • In prison, Joseph again was given responsibilities.
  • Pharaoh's cup bearer and baker are put in prison.
  • Each have a dream which they tell to Joseph.
  • Joseph asked God to provide the interpretation of their dreams.
  • God does and within three days both dreams come true.
  • The cup bearer returns to his job and the baker is beheaded.
  • Joseph asked the cup bearer to remember him, as he was falsely accused and placed in prison.
  • Two years go by and Pharaoh has two dreams.
  • The cup bearer finally remembers that Joseph's God had given him the correct interpretation of his dream and the baker's dream. 
  • Joseph is called out of prison to clean up and to present himself to Pharaoh. 
  • Joseph explained to Pharaoh that God will give him the meaning of the dreams. 
  • Seven good years of growing and seven lean years (famine) was the interpretation.
  • Joseph also wisely instructs Pharaoh on how to store food from the good years for the years of famine. 
  • Pharaoh places Joseph in charge of the task to gather and keep the grain during the seven good years.
  • Joseph is in charge of Egypt
  • He is thirty years old when he began working for Pharaoh. 

Joseph had quite the life experiences before he became Pharoah's second in command. During the years of famine was the time that Joseph met up with his brothers again. Only, they didn't recognize him and of course they bowed down to him; just like he had dreamed. 

After all that he had been through, how could Joseph possibly forgive his brothers? Or the others who had wronged him? He forgave because he knew that everything that had happened had been an essential part of God's plan. Joseph had to be in Egypt so that he could save his family during the famine.

What does this tell you and me?  That even though plans may go amuck and dreams might too; God does have a plan and a reason for our life experiences. We can make the choice to grow closer to Him as a result of messy life and put our trust in Him. We can also make the choice to forgive. Like Joseph, we have to experience all the ups and downs of life in order to mature and to realize that God truly has a plan for our life and that He is in control. 

Have you experienced some messes in your life? How have you dealt with them? Have you drawn closer to God as a result? Feel free to leave a comment.

Other blog posts which might interest you are:

When plans go amuck

When everyone thinks you're crazy


Prayer about finding a church