Monday, November 28, 2011

Fresh Air and Family

Just thought I'd share some shots of this beautiful day. :) As I've mentioned before, I love those days when I don't have to run anywhere. My brother Nelson, a budding photographer with a new camera, wanted to go to a nearby park this morning to get some shots of this gorgeous, clear day. Getting some fresh air and exercise - and photography time to boot - sounded like a good plan, so my mom and I tagged along too. It certainly brought back memories, as we would often walk to this same park growing up.

I have so much to be thankful for - a wonderful, supportive family, a loving Saviour, godly friends, a beautiful place to live, a Christ-centered church, freedom to worship... and the list goes on! Canadian Thanksgiving was way back in October, and American Thanksgiving was last week, but I want to have a thankful heart every day, and in every season. I think on the many blessings that have been given to us in this land, and I realize how rich I am compared to so many. I shake my head when I see the crowds lining streets and filling parks in their Occupy campaigns... we are in no place to complain.  I pray that this generation would awaken - that we would learn to work hard and to give generously instead of succumbing to greed and envy.

My apologies - I digress.  Back to today... a trip to the park, and down memory lane. Ah, yes, my little brother Nelson. Not so little anymore.

The playground set has changed, but I remember swinging here overlooking the pond,
feeding the ducks, getting hissed at by the scary geese, and having the occasional picnic.

picture by nelson

The air was so fresh today after the rain - crisp, but not terribly cold. 
Those little moments of beauty - so perfect.

These little berries were so pretty...
What an incredible Artist!
I love seeing His fingerprints.

picture by nelson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

As the Seasons Change

These weeks of mid-November hover between autumn and winter.  The leaves that so vibrantly lit the trees and carpeted the ground have now all fallen and been beaten by torrents of rain into the unidentifiable sludge that fills the gutters.  Over all this falls the pure, white loveliness of the first snow.  It blankets the ground, muffles the sounds of a busy world.  You watch as your breath forms clouds of steam in the chilly air, see the mountains' splendor, and reminisce on cozy, candle-lit evenings.

Seasons change. I'd far rather view that change as beautiful and dynamic instead of sitting back and watching it inevitably happening around me.  I want to be a participant, not just an observer.  I don't want to languish as I watch life go by, but embrace every moment of beauty, to stand strong in the face of the most devastating storm.

Sometimes I find myself asking, "How?"  How do I abide in such a way that I am assured of my purpose and find joy in every situation? These past weeks, as I've marveled at the red-gold leaves and the snow-dusted mountain peaks, as I've trudged through the rain, and watched it melt away the snow, I've been thinking of these things.

Even today, there has been a spirit of discouragement as I feel overwhelmed by future plans. The future is so wide, so unknown, and I have little sense of what my place in it may be. I've been reminded again of Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-12, which identifies that the will of God is to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light." These things are His will for me now and forever. They hold secure promises of the Father's faithfulness, and reminders of His incredible salvation.  As I continue to make decisions, I must remember to keep walking forward while keeping these things as most important - to do all things as unto the Lord, in His power, giving thanks to Him in everything.

There is a peace in this. When I look at the many grand dreams that may soon break through to reality, I feel so unqualified, so inadequate.  But oh - if I only remember that God himself has qualified me to "share in the inheritance of the saints in Light." As I embrace this unfathomable truth, I know that I need never fear failure, because my identity is tied up in Christ. There will be days of rain and times of darkness, and my world may fall around me, but I will not be shaken.

Oh how I struggle! But may I continually cling to my Rock. To do this I must release all else - all fear, all pride, which paralyzes me from moving to Him. May I never be so caught up in the "what if's" and worrying that I fail to see the indescribably beautiful moments that each season brings - as I move forward in the strength of His power.

Monday, November 14, 2011


The persecuted church and the issue of abortion have been on my heart lately.  Maybe they seem unrelated to you, but they are linked as issues on which the church must stand, even in this dark and fallen world, to lift up the downtrodden and relieve the oppressed. If you haven't seen the documentary 180, a film by Living Waters that compares abortion with the holocaust, I'd highly recommend watching it. As I've been studying the holocaust lately, I'm horrified by the atrocities that were sanctioned by society. True, the holocaust happened 60 years ago, but it is sobering to realize that my grandparents were alive at the time, and likely knew little about it. The parallels between the age we now live in, and the world around the time of Hitler are seen in almost every way - socially, religiously, morally. The church in Germany had become merely a social institution, rather than the body of Christ. And I can't help but wonder, what has become of the church today? Still, there were some then, and there are some now, who shine even brighter in the midst of this darkness. The international day of prayer for the persecuted church was this past Sunday - let's remember to keep these brothers and sisters continually lifted in prayer.

I want to share a few quotes with you today - may the Holy Spirit use His Word and the words of these wise men to awaken our hearts and minds to action - to care for the widow, the orphan, the unborn child, and our persecuted brothers and sisters, in the name and power of Christ. God is alive! May we prove this by our lives.

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"Where the world despises other members of the Christian family, Christians will love and serve them. If the world does violence to them, Christians will help them and provide them relief. Where the world subjects them to dishonor and insult, Christians will sacrifice their own honor in exchange for their disgrace. Where the world seeks gain, Christianity will renounce it; where it exploits, they will let go; where it oppresses, they will stoop down and lift up the oppressed. Where the world denies justice, Christians will practice compassion; where it hides behind lies, they will speak out for those who cannot speak, and testify for the truth." - Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"I am concerned that there is no outcry. I can well understand that there are people who are led to starve children to death because they think that they are doing something right for society or are following a principle of Hegel that is utilitarian for society. But I cannot understand why the other people, and I know that there are many, don't cry out. I am concerned about this because when the first 273,000 German aged, infirm, and retarded were killed in gas chambers there was no outcry from that medical profession either, and it was not far from there to Auschwitz." - C. Everett Koop, M.D.

“Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life, to raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue.  The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life and that is nothing but murder.” - Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one and in some the other." - Malcolm Muggeridge

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute." (Prov. 31:8)

"We forget that man stands alone before the ultimate authority and that anyone who lays violent hands on man here is infringing eternal laws and taking upon himself superhuman authority which will eventually crush him; the eternal law that the individual stands alone before God takes fearful vengeance where it is attacked and distorted.... Leaders or offices which set themselves up as gods mock God." - The Fuhrer Principle by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body." (Hebrews 13:3)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Random Thoughts of the Day...

Yes indeedy.

Well, let's see...

To be honest, everything's feeling just a little bit monotonous. And also rather unpredictable. Which would at first seem like they aren't compatible, but that's just how life is right now. I'm in a season of life where change is pretty inevitable, but my brain is kind of stuck with the opinion that nothing is going to change. My other brain knows better, however.  Really, it's all a bit muddled, but God's plans are beautiful, and He can even sort out my muddled thoughts, and make the mundane meaningful.

It's been a dark day, what with the rain and the time change making the sun set earlier... maybe that has something to do with not feeling 100% today.

An unexplained lack of motivation has me staring at my *almost finished* essay for hours, hoping for a lightning-bolt of inspiration. I desperately want to spend some time doing something with my hands - I have many potential sewing projects lurking in the dark recesses of my imagination. It's been one of those days when energy is zapped and you look back and wonder if anything got done. Still, I can't say it's been a bad day, just a rather sleepy one.

Hmmm... *smiles* I've been humming, whistling, and giving incredible operatic renditions of Christmas carols all day. Be glad you didn't hear me. (sorry mom! ;) I've been playing Christmas songs for a couple weeks now, preparing to play at a craft fair... it's getting me in a roasting-chestnuts-o'er-an-open-fire kind of mood. Although I've never roasted chestnuts in my life, nor do we have an open fire. Ah well. Jack frost is beginning to nip at my nose at least.

Wonder... that's how I would describe what I've been feeling lately - seeing more of who God is, what He has done.  And oh how I want to share that joy, that wonder, that deep, deep assurance that God has placed in my heart, with so many who are without the joy and salvation of the Lord. I am humbled that even despite my many failings and stumblings into sin, He is my strength and my hope forever.

I loved the sermon on Sunday - one of my favorite passages in the Bible, where Jesus walks on water.  I so identify with Peter in that account. What a beautiful parallel of the greatness of God in the midst of the storms of life - may we truly learn to trust Him and look to Him! I came across this beautiful song by Downhere last night that illustrates the same story. I think I've listened to it at least 20 times since then.

...The end of a random day....

God bless you, my friends!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Consider the lilies...

Would you believe I took these pictures only last week?
They're still out there blooming in the garden, despite the frosty nights. :)
It was a perfect evening to take the camera out,
capturing the resilient, transient beauty.
The nasturtiums bejeweled by afternoon showers...

A perfect little fairy mirror...

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Ecc 3:11a)

"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isa 40:8)


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm making friends with dead people....

This has nothing to do with Halloween or necromancing, in case you're worried. ;)

It all started in the frozen food section at Costco this summer. Amongst the herds of people gathered around the sample stations, my eye randomly fell upon a girl who was holding a book in her arms. In a glance I took in the front cover. It was nothing extraordinary - just a black and white photo of a bespectacled man. Something about the title seemed familiar though. Bonhoeffer... hmm, where have I seen that name before?

Suffice it to say that my steps soon led me to the book section, where I picked up a biography on a man of whom I had barely heard. Not one to make hasty purchases on anything over $5, I nonetheless was enticed to purchase the book, lured on by my current obsession with WWII. Anyhow, $9.99 could be easily justified if it turned out to be half-decent.

It did.

I just started reading Eric Metaxas' biography of Bonhoeffer last week, and it has been incredibly fascinating.  I've really been getting into biographies/journals lately, which isn't really typical for me, but I've been so encouraged by them.  As Brett and Alex Harris say, I've been "making friends with dead people".  These accounts remind me of the "great cloud of witnesses" that Hebrews 12:1 speaks of, and the hall of faith in Hebrews 11, which lists many examples of faithful men and women who lived their lives in obedience to God.

This is the same type of life I discovered as I began to research the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man who searched for truth and was found by God, and ultimately paid the ultimate price for his obedience when he was hanged by the gestapo.  I won't go into the details of his life here, but you can watch a 1/2 hour summary by Eric Metaxas here. (It starts slowly - if you want to skip the intro, go to 8:00) One of the things I have been most struck by so far is just how similar the world of Bonhoeffer's time was to the world of today, especially in terms of culture, philosophy, religion, and the church. I want to share a few quotes that really hit me. I pray that this generation of believers would be inspired by these words from the past, and empowered by the Spirit to seek and live the truth of God's Word.

"The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one's bread, on the contrary, it is the bread or it is nothing. People should at least understand and concede this if they call themselves Christian."

"Humanism and mysticism, the seemingly most beautiful blossoms put forth by the Christian religion, extolled today as the highest ideals of the human spirit; indeed often as the crown itself of the Christian idea - [but] it is precisely the Christian idea itself that must reject them as an apotheosis of the creature and as such a challenge to the honor belonging to God alone."

"In New York they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life."

"Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic... Do not defend God's Word, but testify to it... Trust to the Word."