Autumn · Faith

Good News

Good news… An oxymoron you say?

COVID-19. First wave. Second wave. Masks. No masks. Crazy cons/republicans. Ridiculous libs/democrats. November Election… Social distancing, physical distancing. Donald Trump catches the virus he downplayed for months while the reporter sharks circle gleefully and mock. Conspiracy? Karma?

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Here’s some news: I. Am. So. Done.

…With the depressing world news that is.

But MY life is definitely full of good news. Which I will share, because we all need something good to read once in a while.

First of all, it’s AUTUMN! The most gorgeous, perfect season that ever existed!!

It’s warm.

It’s cool.

The air smells of sweet, dry leaves. The hot tub is used every evening. There have been many firesides with friends at my side and a cup of hot coffee in hand. I do not know how long this season will last, but I do not ask.

It is enough that I have today.

My son’s birthday is today. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow. And I LOVE birthdays. We are definitely making them extra special this year.

Dallas is now 9 years old!
Tomorrow she’s 13… we now have TWO teens in the house.

Also our basement was just finished last week and I am positively THRILLED with everything from finally having a pantry, to the cozy rug and beautiful natural woodwork.

Also, in Canada we celebrate thanksgiving next weekend. I LOVE thanksgiving. It happens to be my favourite holiday. Not because of the food (though I love the food) or the gatherings (though I love those too, mainly because of the food 😆)… I simply love it because it is the one holiday we still celebrate just to be grateful for nothing in particular.

Or for everything that we usually take for granted. Like our families. Or our country. Like our homes and the food we have to eat. Or the friends we have. Or our beautiful planet and the God who created it all for us to experience and enjoy.

Gratefulness. Contentment. Thanksgiving.

These are the things that have saved me from spiraling into a very deep pit when times have been hard.

And times have been hard…

But I’ve been through worse. And sometimes we just have to remember what we still have and enjoy it before we become so overcome by the bad that we lose the ability to see the good at all.

The good:

The blessings:

The downright amazing, silly, joyful stuff:

Remember to feed your mind some good news once in a while.

Because life’s too short to get stuck in the bad.

COVID-19 · Faith

Living in a COVID Fog

I used to write with such clarity. I used to spill out my feelings alongside God’s truth on the page with ease. Now it’s a struggle. My brain is in a fog and I can not do it. I start, only to lose my train of thought and my ideas jump around like a bunch of crickets set loose.

What I know:

  1. Something really big is happening in the world right now – a testing of the church, a revealing of hearts. I wouldn’t call this the “end times” maybe more like a prelude. We got a pop quiz… and we flunked it. Big time. Instead of rising up to meet the needs, we’ve hidden away watching them from afar. People are getting shaken – yet life goes on (almost normal even!)
  2. Most people seem confused or in a fog. A result is that they argue petty things on social media and comment sections. They are consumed with the news, as if reading and discussing it will change the world. Or even worse, they hide behind humour and ignore the fact that anything is going on at all. Posting memes, endless jokes… while there is tragedy everywhere.

But, we are missing the main narrative of what is happening here. So that Christians even, seem to be paralyzed. Some are paralyzed with fear, others with apathy.

Trial is supposed to be the churches finest hour! Yet I have never before been so disappointed in it!

Disappointed how?

We are spending these desperate times watching Netflix and doing home improvement projects!

We feast away in luxury while others starve.

We are becoming lazy, discontent, disconnected grumblers who seem to have little to no concern for those outside our circle of familiar faces.

Yes! I’m disappointed with the church. For I have found few who truly want to respond to the call of the gospel: to take time for the helpless, to meet and listen to the Lord together. I have found few who have any desire to worship together. Invite people for a free meal or a day in the backyard by the pool and they come rushing by the dozen.

But invite them to worship and pray, and crickets are my only companions.

How long, Lord, until you wake up your church? Or am I just supposed to watch it die out, one member at a time?

Something is very wrong. We’ve adjusted to comfort during a shaking that was meant to wake us up! Oh, God, wake us up! Help us to stop and listen, to be alert and watchful. You ask us to watch and pray, yet your followers are sleeping in the garden again.

Must you be on your own a second time?

Remove my mind from the fog, Lord Jesus!

I know there are some who are reading this who are saying “Yes!” Who are saying, “You aren’t the only one, I feel it too!” God, I ask you to bring us together. Not for chitchat and coffee, but together, seeking you on our knees.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” Matthew 18:20

Faith

On Failure and Getting Back Up

I often feel like a total dirtbag.

It usually is because I say/write/do something careless and then I realize it too late.

Once the words have been said.

Once the text has been sent.

Once the mistake has been made.

A few such things have happened this past week.

A week ago it was Father’s Day. I knew this, as we had already celebrated twice, but that particular morning it didn’t cross my mind at all. My husband was preparing food to BBQ, which he does quite well. I mean it tastes amazing... But it often lacks in the health department.

And without thinking twice I decide: This is the day that I am going to bring up my concerns about how unhealthy I feel and blame it on him.

Really, I am just stressed about my weight as I have gained 15 pounds since COVID-19 happened. And it’s easier to blame others than to look in the mirror.

Stupid.

On a good day, it is a stupid thing to say. But it wasn’t just a good day, it was Father’s Day. And not only was he making DELICIOUS food on Father’s Day, he was joyfully making food. No complaints, it is what he loves to do.

But I chose to tear him down and five minutes into my rant, it dawns on me: Just shut up already.

So I close my mouth. And then in the 10 seconds of awkward silence, I realize – with horror – that today is a day to celebrate the man I was just criticizing.

I apologize immediately. I call the kids to the table to bless him, and say what they love about the man I was just tearing down.

I tell him what I appreciate about him: He never criticizes me.

The rest of the morning I feel terrible. I want to crawl into a hole and stay there. I want to cover up my face and hide away. I consider having my tongue surgically removed. I wonder if there’s anyone out there who can be as two-faced as me.

Because friends, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

How does one move on from feeling low? How does one reconcile themselves to the fact that to the core of their being, they are not what they want to be, what they mean to be, what they claim to be?

I’ll tell you how I get back up: Jesus.

Jesus.

It’s why he needed to die on the cross. Because of me. Because of my hurtful words, my careless tongue.

This is what faith in Jesus is all about. Knowing our true state, that we are not good enough and running to a Father who loves us anyways. As we repent, as we turn to him, an incredible thing happens.

He covers us up. He covers our sin with his blood.

I can come out of my hole, because he entered that hole of shame for me! My life becomes “hidden” in Christ.

But in the same way, I must never claim anything good inside myself as “who I am”. For I know very well who I am apart from Christ: Just a shameful girl, hiding in a hole.

I am tired of messing up. Tired of sin. Tired of my words getting me into trouble.

“Who will rescue me from this body, that brings death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-26

Faith · News

Tired of the News?

I can get so worked up about everything that’s happening in the world today. At times I still shake my head in wonder at how much change can happen in such a short amount of time.

Everyone homeschooling.

Social Distancing.

Elderly lockdowns.

Masks in public becoming mandatory.

The media trying to divide people more, and more, and MORE.

I had to shake my head yesterday when I watched a reporter try to get my Prime Minister to shame the President of the USA.

Seriously… why?!? Why is there a need for us to go searching for more reasons for offence? Aren’t people angry enough?

Isn’t it enough?

Sometimes I wish the news would be shut down. Just for a week. Watch people snap out of their obsession with current events and open their eyes to the events happening all around them. Wouldn’t that be a healthier way to live? We can’t help what’s happening in the world. We CAN help what’s going on around our homes and in our own neighbourhoods.

I can get angry at current events too.

Like the foolish doctor who lied and traveled without quarantining, resulting in a small outbreak amoung his patients… and then had the audacity to play the race card when people were upset.

Let me tell you, I didn’t know he wasn’t white and I was upset at him for being careless!

Don’t play the race card. Just don’t.

Prejudice is a real issue, racism is a REAL issue. But don’t do something careless and harmful and then blame it on your color of skin when people get rightly upset. That just makes a mockery of the actual racism going on around us every single day.

I’m also upset at the media.

Is COVID-19 a serious issue and social distancing a must? Or not? I’m tired of the double standards. Like why is this condemned:

And this not?

Why do we fine people for gathering in joy and support people for gathering in anger? (I’m not at ALL saying the people shouldn’t be upset at what happened… my point is rather that “social distancing” has been so strictly enforced that people coming too close to each other have been fined… but suddenly it doesn’t matter anymore?)

It’s a backwards world.

This morning, God reminded me of a scripture, which gentle rebuked my “News obsession” these past few weeks:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …So don’t worry saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things and your heavenly father knows your needs. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 7:25-33

And I realized, all this worry can accomplish nothing in my life.

Nothing!

And yet we are so filled with worry and stress, with helplessness and fear. But if God cares for the creatures – and nature itself – won’t he care much, MUCH more for his own children?

He knows our needs! Our job is to put aside worry and seek him first. As we seek his will for our lives and commit to living a righteous life before him, he will give us our needs. Seeking God and living righteously are in our control. Changing the world is not.

We all know that things aren’t what they seem. The messages we are getting from both sides of the media don’t add up. It doesn’t make sense how the “online commenting mob” condemns churches peacefully gathering and adhering to the guidelines, while thousands who are burning, looting and destroying are shown understanding and grace.

It doesn’t add up! And although asking questions is so important, what isn’t important is getting involved in conspiracy theory’s and comment wars while neglecting to take care of those around you.

What can we do? We all fear these events which are out of our control! We fear the world that is rapidly changing into a hate filled, rage full place where hugs and worship are banned, but hate is glorified.

Scripture says: “Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?”

No.

God is saying, “Do these thoughts, these worries change your situation? Then lay these worries down. I know the truth, I AM the truth. Seek me first, my kingdom and righteousness and I will care for your needs! In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world. You are not of this kingdom. Do not let your trust lie with the world’s government or healthcare system. Your trust is misplaced if you depend on the justice system or media for true justice.”

God is the ONLY just Judge.

May our prayer be, “Come Lord Jesus. Come and make everything right again. We wait for you. Creation groans for your return. We trust in you. Give us the right perspective for this season, and may we not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

COVID-19 · Faith

11 Sundays

11 Sundays of messages at home.

Of worship without people.

Of no church building.

11 weeks of struggling through alone.

Of feeling independent,

Unhurried – but ultimately unfulfilled.

11 Sundays of doing faith on my own.

Devotions becoming dry.

Prayers don’t change at all.

This isn’t a poem. This is my prayer.

“God, open up your church. To meet: in a special building, homes or outside. Makes no difference to me. In many small groups, in one spaced out large one. For if there’s one thing I learnt from all this, it’s that I never attended church for a sermon. I didn’t go for the coffee. I didn’t go to sing a few songs. I didn’t go for the child care or for the programs.

No.

I went for the people. Your people God. I went to meet with others you have touched and through them, got a little taste of heaven… what it may look like to someday meet all together.

God, open up your church. Faith was not meant to be lived out alone.”

Authenticity · Canada · Writing

Unrealistic Expectations

Is it really nearing the end of May? I feel like it’s passed me by in a blink.

I took a pause to write today.

Not because I really wanted to or because I had a lot to say, but mainly because I’ve been working non-stop on projects this past month and I need to just stop. Stop and remember that there are more important things than work.

“All work no play makes Jack a dull boy” …and it makes me a “grumpy, task focused, tired gal.”

My mind is drained. My body is weary. I work through the aching back and sore neck. I strain through the blisters, the cuts and the bruises. For what exactly?

To distract myself from an uncertain and unfamiliar world.

It’s easier to focus on things, rather than people when it’s people we’re told to avoid. It’s easier just to stay home and ignore the outside world while I work myself to the bone. It’s easier to watch “how-to” videos than the current news.

So I shut it all out and focus on one thing: Making home better.

It took a good sit down this afternoon to realize how hard I’ve been pushing myself and how ridiculous my expectations are. You wanna know what I expected to accomplish this month?

-Lead a weekly bible study on zoom.

– Homeschooling 5 kids.

-Finish our downstairs bathroom (from dingy, concrete floor bathroom to Pinterest post).

-Handtill and plant my garden.

– Repaint my front door.

-Sand down and paint my large back deck and veranda.

– Organize my closets, shed and garage.

– Plant 12 trees on my yard.

– Re-level our ground to set up the above ground pool. Also order a new cover, heater and filter system for it.

– Make front Garden Boxes and fill with soil/shrubs.

-Keep up with all the housework, meals, etc on top of everything else.

I seriously had it down to eight hours of work a day besides my cooking, housework and homeschooling. And it took three weeks of this before I realized that it’s just too much to expect. You think just reading through my “to-do” list would have snapped me back to reality, but in reality, it’s that very “to-do” list that keeps me going at sprinting speed from morning until night.

No time for texting, writing, social media, baking, running, personal care… just my list.

And so I stop, taking the time to write today because I need to. It reminds me of what’s important. God. Family. Laughter, relationships, rest.

And I delete. Check the boxes I’ve done. Let the accomplishments sink in. Cut the other goals in half. They will happen. It does not need to be this month.

Homeschool kids. Check.
Plant a dozen trees. Check.
Feed the family. Check.
Work on basement bathroom. Check.
Next To Do: Find time for joy

To Do:

Level ground and set up pool

Sand and stain deck & veranda

– Repaint front door.

Organize closets, shed & garage

Make front garden boxes and plant shrubs

See you later “to-do” list. I’m taking the rest of the day off.

…Ok. Maybe after I finish planting the garden 😉

Authenticity · Faith · Wisdom

My Wise Friend

It occurred to me recently that I’m really not that wise.

Profound. I know. But really, this isn’t just another grab at false humility. This is me fully admitting that I often can be quite foolish, as hasty people quite often are.

I like to speak my mind. Act quickly. Think later.

In fact, as I was pondering this this morning I realized that I don’t remember a single time I have had a wise thought on my own. Not once! Isn’t that incredible? I’m full of quick solutions, snap judgements and replies.

But you know what? I spend a lot of time with a very wise person. Why anyone so wise would hang around so constantly with one so foolish, I don’t know. All I know is that He sits patiently with me every morning. He listens carefully as I pour out all my complaints and judgements.

He nods.

He has compassion.

He understands.

And then he speaks. And oh! When he speaks, how he makes me see it all so differently. How he shows me true wisdom. HIS wisdom. And amazingly enough, even though my perception is more often than not wrong, he gently loves me through it all.

Never making me feel stupid.

Never discounting my feelings.

I have so much to learn from this friend of mine, this true friend, who cares AND speaks truth.

Sometimes, I spend enough time with him that I begin to hear his words coming out of my mouth. And I think to myself. “Wow. That sounded really wise!” But that’s the thing about having a wise friend.

The more you hang around with wisdom, the more wise you seem.

And then – of course, being the fool that I am, I begin to kid myself into thinking this wisdom is all actually mine, only to realize all to soon that I’m still just that silly, little presumptuous girl without him.

That happened this last weekend. A few times. I became overconfident in my own ability to read people and situations and I make many wrong assumptions. We so often do that don’t we?

We think: Oh, I know, this is why that person acts that way.

And we assume, mostly wrong things. Then we pass on our false ideas to others, who in turn slander and assume. It’s such a vicious cycle and once started, there’s only one way to stop it.

Spending time with my wise friend.

I dig myself into such enormous pits that you’d think by now, either I would have already learned how to stop digging them, or that my wise friend would’ve LONG given up on pulling me out of them by now.

But, alas, he comes. He stares down at me with a sweet smile on his face.

“Oh Heather. Are you stuck again?”

“Yes, Jesus.”

He chuckles, “This is quite the hole you’ve dug.”

Tears streak my face, my head hangs in shame, “I know Jesus. I’m so very sorry.” The tears spill over into the dust below.

He reaches out his hand. I take it immediately. I’ve been here before, and I know it’s the only way out. No use trying to beat myself up by trying to get out of this on my own. That just prolongs the shame and agony. Still, as I grab his hand, I can’t quite get myself to meet his eyes.

“Can we talk about it Heather?”

“Jesus. I was doing so well! Where did I go wrong?”

He gently lifts my chin with his hand, turning my face towards his. His eyes hold no judgement, only gentle love. “You stopped abiding, dear girl. You thought you knew, but you forgot to ask me.”

“You’re right! I’m so sorry.” I let myself fall into his forgiving arms.

“I know.”

Of course he does.

Faith · Peace

He Can Be Trusted

The little girl walks beside her Father, hand in his. The path is unfamiliar. The thought bothers her. As she ponders this, her face grows troubled.

“Daddy?” she asks. Her little chin quivers.

“Yes sweetie?” He smiles down at her warmly, his heart bursting with how precious she looks next to him.

“How do I know if I’m going the right way?” Her panicked eyes search his as the fear is uncovered.

“Just keep your hand in mine, princess. I know where we’re going.”

The worried expression melts into a trusting smile. Her grip tightens. Peace washes over her. Her Father can be trusted.

 

Oh, that I would just understand this picture.

Faith · Running

I’m so Glad I Ran

I didn’t want to run.

It was the first day in three weeks that I had a morning free. There was nothing on my schedule: Just me and my laptop, working on a book that has taken me far too long to edit.

But there it was… my reminder that rings three times a week, encouraging me to run.

So I did. I ran even though I would’ve rather done almost anything else. Give me five baskets full of laundry and I would’ve rather washed and neatly folded them today. I will scrub toilets. I will wipe snotty noses. Just don’t make me run.

Now before you wonder what is wrong with me, you must understand that I usually look forward to running, especially in summer when I can leave the confines of my treadmill and breathe the fresh air. I love to race down our gravel roads and see the world around me. Often, I see birds, deer or squirrels. I once saw a coyote from a distance in the field. I see sunsets and sunrises. I see golden fields and tall stalks of corn in perfectly straight rows. On those days, I love my home. I love my country. I love running.

But this time, I hated it.

I hated the way my knees hurt when I started moving. The stale basement air. The loud motor of the treadmill and the boring white wall that I stare at for minute after long minute.

But I need to run. I know all to well the depression that awaits when I begin to skip days. Running is a discipline and although it’s good for my body, it’s so much more than that. It reminds me of the other things that we often neglect because it’s just “too hard”. Devotions. Marriage. Parenting. Health. Church. Housework. Friendships.

So, I ran. But instead of focusing on the drywall in front of me, I put on music and I ended up weeping as I ran to these precious words by Hillsong Young & Free:

FIRST LOVE

VERSE 1
This is all I want
That the love I have for You
Doesn’t fade along with youth
Can You help with that

The reason that I ask
I’ve seen far too many friends
Walk away and not come back
I want more than that

PRE-CHORUS 1
I won’t wash away
Like branches in rain
I’d rather be kindling in the light

CHORUS 1
Set me on fire like I’ve never known
I want to love You more as life goes on
So all of my days I’ll place
My first love first again

VERSE 2
This is all I pray
Over everything I ask
That my friends one day come back
Can You help with that

God I know You can
‘Cause the fire won’t mean a thing
If it ends right here with me
You want more than that

PRE-CHORUS 2
The river runs fast
But You wait at the banks
And pull us like driftwood from the wild

CHORUS 2
So set me on fire like I’ve never known
I want to love You more as life goes on
So all of my days I’ll place
My first love first again

Amen Jesus. “I want to love you more as life goes on.” Father, this is my hearts desire for your people.

I’m so glad I ran. But what’s more, I’m so glad it turned into worship.

Faith · Forgiveness

Believers Need to Love the Church

There is a disturbing trend I’ve been noticing in those who claim to be Christians. It goes something like this:

I don’t go to church. Oh I love God. I especially love Jesus. But the church? It’s full of greedy hypocrites. They’re judgemental, they’re selfish, they do not follow what they preach. No, I can serve God better without them.

I’m not going to refute the statements above with my own thoughts. I think we sometimes get far too caught up in our own arguments.

Rather, I’m going to let the word of God speak into these lies…

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20

You cannot hate Christians and claim to love God. You are fooling yourself. These aren’t my words, they’re God’s!

“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor your leaders.” 1 Peter 2:17

Interesting that Peter addresses four behaviours that servants of Christ should follow. And the second one is to love the family of believers. Is this not enough proof that God is calling us to love the church?

Want to hear it from Jesus himself?

“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

“This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

“This I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17

You don’t think Jesus was serious? He repeated it over three times in one speech!! It wasn’t a suggestion. He didn’t say, “Oh, it would be rather nice if you could learn to love each other.”

He commanded it!

If we hate the church but claim to love God, we are fooling ourselves. We are liars.

These are some harsh words for those who can’t stand Christians, yet have the audacity to bear the name themselves.

Now you may be upset at me, for speaking this way. You may think that I just don’t understand the pain you have faced at the hands of believers.

That may be true.

I may not know the pain you faced.

But I most definitely know the pain I faced at their hands. I am not a stranger to the pain people in the church can cause.

A few years ago I was sent away from a church after being brutally wounded by many untrue words. Spoken by people who thought they knew how God saw me, people who claimed to have God’s sight into my heart. In reality, I was misunderstood when asking for help with my children while my husband led worship. I was called bitter, merely for expressing my complete loneliness in the church. I hadn’t accused anyone, rather asked. But I was first harassed, then eventually sent away.

To make matters worse, the pastor himself called up my best friends and told them not to meet with me. Instead of standing up for me, they obeyed.

If this wouldn’t crush one’s faith in the church, I don’t know what would.

But I think that’s our problem, isn’t it? We have placed too much faith in the church, expecting the church to be perfect, that we have completely forgotten who the church is: We are merely sinners in the process of being saved.

This calls for a lot of grace. It is in Christ alone that we are supposed to have faith.

I have never stepped foot back into the church that sent me away. But I would, if they welcomed me. For I have forgiven them. Because the funny thing about forgiveness is that I need a whole lot of it. If I’m not willing to give it out, who will be willing to give it out to me?

Yet, even though I haven’t been welcomed back into the church that sent me away, many other churches have opened their arms to my family. This has brought me so much love for the body of Christ. Yes there are some hurtful people in the church… But there’s also people who have brought so much healing into my life.

There are really amazing people in the church. They are not all hypocrites! Some would give their last crust of bread to feed someone else in need. I have met people who truly open up their homes to the homeless. I’ve met people who pray for strangers as they would for their own children. I have met people who would give their entire savings to help a brother in need, without blinking an eye.

This is the church!!

I’m glad I gave her another chance. I would not have healed from my experience if I have not tried again to meet with a body of believers.

Have you been hurt by a church? Forgive and don’t write off an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. In the world we would call that prejudice. Why do we think any differently in the church?