Category Archives: Emotional Health

I Love My Body!

I woke Sunday morning at 5:55. My alarm was set for six. My first thought, I love my body. God has gifted me with an inner alarm. I usually don’t trust it so I set my clock alarm, but I don’t have to. I automatically wake up just before the alarm rings. Tom appreciates my gift, too, especially on days when he doesn’t have to be up early.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember ever before thinking, I love my body. Usually, I look at my body and groan. Twenty pounds lighter would make my knees much happier and my clothes look better. I’ve got love handles, and a tummy that is rounder than it should be. My ankles are slightly swollen. My skin is dry. I’ve got lots of wrinkles. Those miserable brown age spots keep popping up here and there. Yes, normally I’m not at all happy with my body. And I don’t think I’m alone in this world.

Our society has taught us to be dissatisfied with our bodies. Watch your weight. Don’t eat too much. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise. Try this diet. No, try that one. If you want to be beautiful, you have to be thin. And so, the messages come at us, fast and furious.

My daughter is a child psychologist. She speaks a different message. “Learn to love your body as it is,” she says. So today, I suggest, appreciate the wonder of your body. Across from me is a vase filled with majestic, brightly coloured gladioli. On the windowsill, are delicate sweet peas. I can see their beauty and smell their sweet fragrance. At night as I go to sleep, I hear Tom whisper, “I love you.” I wake up, and I can still walk. My arms can reach out to hug my fabulous granddaughter.  And those are only a few of the wonders of my body. There is a children’s song titled “Oh, What a Miracle Am I.” It’s time we all tried chanting that line.

Yes, I can love my body even though it’s aging. I have decided to repeat those beautiful words, I love my body, every day as I get up. And give God thanks. What better way to start my day.

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

How Does God Deal with Our Choices for Evil

When a child dies. A well-intentioned friend sometimes offers comfort to the grieving parents with, “God needed your child in heaven.” A natural disaster, or strange misfortune is greeted with, “God must have had a reason.”

The Bible story of Joseph, the favored child, is often cited as the basis of this kind of thinking. Joseph’s older brothers, in their anger and jealousy, sold him to merchants travelling to Egypt. They told their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. Years later, his brothers, come to Egypt as refugees from famine. They meet Joseph as the prime minister, who now has the power to save his family from starvation. Joseph explains, “It was not you who sent me here (to Egypt), but God.” (Genesis 45:8).

THIS MAY COMFORT SOME PEOPLE, BUT NOT ME. The loving God I have encountered in my life and in the Bible stories of Jesus, tells me a different story. Our God given gift of free will means we can make good choices to love and care for each other and we can use our free will in anger and jealousy, as Joseph’s brothers did. Our loving God is never defeated by our choices. God has the power to bring goodness out of the worst we can do, BUT God does NOT need us to do bad things or to experience misery to accomplish goodness.

I believe Joseph had the position and therefore the power to rescue his brothers, because our loving God worked with Joseph to use his intelligence, his location and his faith to prepare him to forgive and help his family. God brought new life, amazing new life out of Joseph’s brother’s evil choices, just as God brought the resurrection out of our choice to crucify Jesus.

Some people would say this is just a matter of semantics, playing with words. I don’t agree. I believe that God’s love can take the worst that we can do, and the worst that can happen, and create goodness. But God doesn’t need us to make evil choices or experience painful things in order to create that goodness.

With this mind-set, we are not puppets in the hands of a capricious, often vengeful God, who requires war and death, evil and violence to accomplish goodness. No! No! No! With this mindset, we have freedom to make choices, good choices of love and care, poor choices, and sometimes even choices for evil. God can draw from within the results of our choices, even at our worst, the means to create goodness.

For me this applies to our resurrection story. My theology of Jesus tells me that he loved us so much that he wouldn’t stop loving us even when we were at our worst. God used that endless, generous love to bring the lesson of forgiveness and resurrection, NEW LIFE, not just for Jesus but for all of us.

When we trust in a loving God, when we open our hearts to that love, we will eventually see and experience that goodness. In fact, God invites us to participate in the creation of that goodness.

For this understanding of God, I give God thanks.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Faith and Fear Walk Hand in Hand

Courage
Courage

I’m not sure what is happening. I know only that I have been reading Psalms, traditional and modern, something new. And now poetry is flowing from my pen onto paper, my fingertips onto the keyboard. I’ve been listening to the confusion, the fear, that is filling our hearts as we hear words of intolerance and isolationism shouted at us through the media. Today, as we approach the first Sunday of Advent, I have two poems for you.

Prayer
Prayer

Lament

Hate is spreading.
Intolerance growing.
The icy fingers of fear
are creeping in
through the cracks of our being.
What can I do?

I teach your love.
I write. I speak.
Some listen.
Your love touches a few.
Hatred has gone viral.
Money and knowledge lead the way
Manipulate the media.

One at a time
That was Jesus’ “way”.
A finger in the dyke.
Can that hold back the flood?
Of evil unleashed.
Destruction, murder, genocide
It’s happened before.
It continues to happen.

God says,
“Only love can defeat evil.”
I know from experience,
God’s love can overcome.
God’s love is stronger than death.
God’s love does bring new life.

Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer,
Help us! Please!

Trust
Trust

Advent/Christmas?

A baby is born?
Bringing Wisdom, Compassion
Is there time?

Intolerance grows.
Fear festers.
Evil’s response to love.
A last gasp.
A last grasp for total power.
How big? How long?

I will trust in God,
who walked on water,
healed the sick,
brought sight to the blind.
I will trust in God,
who died in love,
defeated death
brought new life.
I will trust in God.

I will continue to love,
to love this world into new life.
I will trust in God.

This is my faith.

Help!

Can I Forgive?
Help!!

Harassment,
Pain
The guilt is endless
Relentless
I want desperately to help
I am dying.

I’ve tried escape.
His voice comes everywhere.

God says, “It’s time.
Give him to me.
It’s my turn.”

How Lord? How?
He has no one.
Only me.

You entrusted him to me.
I can’t close the door.
I can’t walk away.
He won’t let me
I can’t let me.

God says, “It’s time
Give him to me.
It’s my turn
Your work is done
I gave you love
Acceptance, loyalty,
Honesty, determination.
Holiness
You’ve used them all.”

God says, “It’s time.
Give him to me.
It’s my turn.”
Your work is done.
The foundation is laid.
Trust in me.”

God says, “Whatever happens.
He is my precious child
And I love him.”

Food For Your Soul

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Sometimes I get down on myself. All I can see are my faults, mistakes I have made. What is the point in doing the things I need to do to care for myself? I know that “eating healthy” will improve my health. I will feel better if I have some exercise every day. One essential action for me every day is to spend the first hour of my day in prayer, inspirational reading and journal writing. Without that hour, I quickly begin to feel like a zombie. It’s so easy to let that go. Other people’s needs ride high in my mind. The phone rings. There are jobs to do. Since the first week of August, we have been travelling. For me, travel means excursions, people and exhaustion. I don’t want to wake up early. I don’t want to take the time, so my morning prayer time disappears.

On Monday, even though we were still away, and I wanedt to spend every possible precious moment with family, I returned to my morning meditation time. This morning as I sat down to journal, I felt my heart begin to lift. “Thank you,” my soul said. “I can be at home in you, wherever we are.” Once again, I have accepted who I am.

I picked up a book titled Psalms Down-Under by Joy Cowley. In it, she talks of showing hospitality to ourselves. She reminds us that we welcome others easily, but forget to welcome the person we call “ourselves.” I’d love to include this meditation in my blog. It is truly beautiful and carries my message, loud and clear. But the soul that lives within me said, “Check the copyright information.” When I did, I found that “no part of this book can be quoted without permission.” Honoring my soul within, I suggest you check Amazon and buy the book. It’s wonderful food for your soul.

May God bless your day today and always.

A Sunday Dinner

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Last night, Tom and I sat on my daughter’s deck with family and friends. Some of the circle were missing. Sickness, work, life had led them to different places at that moment. We ate well from a simple and delicious meal prepared with love. We shared stories of the past and present, and we shared dreams for the future. I felt love’s mantle enfold us and with it came inner peace.

It was just a Sunday dinner; a rare occasion in today’s world; a quiet gathering. For me, it was a glimpse of heaven. I could have missed it. We could have gone home early or been too busy to come. I could have been focused on my own concerns, but last night, my heart was open – open to God’s special gift of love. In Biblical terms, “Last night, I joined Moses as he saw the burning bush, took off his shoes and walked on “holy ground.” I’m truly grateful.

I’ve been practicing. Just as a child needs to learn to stop, look and listen before he/she crosses the street, I have been learning to stop, open my heart, look and listen for the moments of joy that God offers us daily.

I recommend you start this journey for yourself. It means letting go of whatever is going on in your mind – plans, frustrations, fears, worries –  letting go for just a few moments so that you can become aware of the love and joy around you.

All God needs is a crack in our armor, just a crack. Open your heart to the love that surrounds you. Whether it’s the joy that comes with a stranger’s smile, a child’s laughter, or a dog’s cold nose on your arm, let it in. These moments will stay with you. Their memory will give you strength in your darkest hours.

Remember, God’s “holy ground” is where you are at the moment. And…Don’t forget to give thanks.

My thought this morning is, “With moments like last night as part of God’s heaven, I have no fear of death.”

Will you leave a trail of joy behind you

Experience the Joy!
Experience the Joy!

Tonight, I am very aware of the preciousness of life. I’m not sure why. This has been a good day and a rather quiet day. This morning we said good bye to our Montreal friends. I did some work on my novel. This afternoon I baked pies for the talent auction and bake sale at Keene church this Saturday.  All good things, but nothing particularly momentous. Still, tonight I feet called to remind you, my readers, regardless of your responsibilities, or the state of your health, to practice the following routine:

  1. Every evening, take a few moments to think about your day. What goodness have you received from others – young or old? What was the best part of your day? Did you notice your surroundings – see and feel the beauty of Creation.  Give God thanks for all the goodness in your life.
  1. At the beginning of each day, identify one way in which you can “pay forward” your blessings. That could be as simple as a smile for a grocery store cashier or as difficult as forgiving a friend who has caused you pain even before they’ve said they’re sorry. Ask for God’s help. Check your daytimer and look for the possibilities of being God’s blessing for at least one person.  Give God thanks for the privilege of spreading joy.

It’s important to be intentional about our living. God has given you these twenty-four hours. Live them wisely. Leave a trail of joy behind you.

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“This commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 14: 12)

What Can a Small Group Do For You?

This group a little younger than some of us, but we're just as lovely.
This group a little younger than some of us, but we’re just as lovely.

Every month, I gather with friends for our book club meeting. Although we saw each other often at church, we formed this group because we wanted a stronger, deeper relationship than a few minutes over coffee on Sunday mornings could give us. Besides, I was retiring and would be leaving the church family.

Our monthly meetings are cherished by each one of us. Yes, we dutifully choose a book each time. Most of us read it. Sometimes we discuss it for five minutes, sometimes half an hour. The book discussion isn’t really our reason for gathering.

We come together in friendship seeking love, laughter and support for our tears. Family problems, aging parents, celebrations are all on the menu each month. We have built a precious community, as we share food and life.

In today’s world we have to be intentional about developing community. The extended family that once gathered round is usually separated by distance. City living can bring anonymity. Even country dwellers tend to be isolated from their neighbours.

We have Facebook friends, but for me a few words printed on my computer or phone screen is not enough. I need to voice my concerns and joys. I need to see my feelings mirrored in another’s eyes as I speak. I need to feel the human touch of comfort and joy as we give each other hugs. Our precious book club brings God’s new life for me.

I suggest you try setting up your own group. We started small – just three. Now, six years later, we’re seven, a perfect size. You don’t have to be all the same. In our group, some are mothers, some grandmothers, some single, some married, some working, some retired. Faith, and love of reading, good food and laughter are our common ground. Build an intentional community for yourself. As you trust and share, your life will be touched by God’s love.

Jesus said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

 

 

Thought for the Day

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May the Joy of 2015

be the spark you need for

Joy in Your 2016

It seems to be human nature to focus on the tough times and let the good times slip away unnoticed. I refuse to let that happen to me. I know it’s my choice. So, today, today as I think about the end of 2015, I’m focusing on the good times. Tom and I have celebrated a grade 12 grad in which grandson Zachary was valedictorian. We’ve had a wonderful journey to the west coast in which we enjoyed family and friends. I launched a new book, “Dipping Your Toes in Planning Small Group Devotionals” that has sold wonderfully well. And there is so much more. My list of joys in 2015 is long.  Yes, there’s also been bumps in the journey, dark times, some of which are not yet resolved, but for today, I’m giving joy my priority.

On this eve of a New Year, I recommend you take some time to let your mind drift back over 2015. Pick out the good moments no matter how small. Relive them in your mind. If you wish, write them down.

Here is an example: Last week Connie, Chris and Ellie were at our house for dinner. We had a lovely evening. At one point Connie played a Utube video for us, that gave us all laughter. At the time, Ellie said, “Grandma, I’ve never seen you laugh so hard”.

Savor each memory on your list and give God thanks.

Now, before you dive back into getting ready for tonight or whatever, let your mind slip ahead to 2016. Give thanks for the possibilities of joy that lay ahead. Ask God for strength, courage, wisdom and laughter in this wonderful New Year. After all we know that life is fragile. We need God’s help in handling it with care.

 Happy New Year!