Category Archives: Joy

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.”

Good News!!!!!

This past weekend while I was participating in the celebration of Women in Ministry Conference in Toronto, I learned that HyeRan Kim-Cragg, the professor of pastoral studies at St. Andrews College, University of Saskatchewan, has placed my latest book, Dipping Your Toes  in Small Group Worship Planning, on the resource list for her course on Worship. Wow!  I am so pleased.

Every time I go to a church gathering I hear wonderful positive reviews of Dipping Your Toes.  It is fabulous to have created something that people want to buy and enjoy using.  Tomorrow I place an order for a third printing.  Every day, I thank God for this fabulous blessing, and for all the Spirit’s inspiration that went into writing Dipping Your Toes. 

 

We Can Walk together in Peace and Love

 

This month, we were blessed with the opportunity to celebrate fifty years of marriage with our friends, Nancy and Richard. We wanted to bring them something special because they are treasured friends. We knew of their respect and valuing of our First Nations people, so we went to Hiawatha, to the Mississaugas of Rice Lake, to look for a gift at their Old Railway Stop Store. We had a wonderful time soaking in the beauty of the work of local First Nations artists. Among a collection of prints by Barbara Edwards, I found the perfect painting, titled “Love in Twilight.”

I wanted to add the story behind the painting as part of the gift. It took a few weeks, but eventually, we connected with Barbara at the Hiawatha PowWow.

“Please tell me the story of your painting,” I asked.

Barbara responded, “I was asked to paint a picture as a wedding gift for a young couple. To me, it was an honour and a privilege. I painted them in each other’s arms, dressed in white buckskin, their eyes filled with love. When I finished the painting, my thoughts went to the young couple’s future. What would their lives be like in fifty years? I wanted to paint them looking back at all they had achieved over those fifty years, so I painted, “Love in Twilight”.

For Tom and me, Barbara’s beautiful print, “Love in Twilight,” speaks of being together, sitting side by side, legs and arms touching, soaking in the beauty and the stillness of a moonlit night. The couple have exchanged their white buckskin garments for the beauty and durability of the brown, undyed skin. In our minds, the two people in the painting represent our dear friends. Together they too have walked through many years and reached the peace, trust and safety that comes with mature, married love.

Our First Nation’s people are talented artists, a blessing to us all.

 

Welcome Home

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This year as Mothers’ Day approaches, Robert Munsch’s poem keeps running in my mind, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll love you for always. As long as I’m living, your mother I’ll be.” Our role as Mom continues as it changes over the years.

A month ago, my oldest grandson moved to Vancouver to begin a new life as an adult. My daughter shared, “I love receiving one line texts from Chris. I understand now what it’s like to have your child grow up and move away.” I nodded and thought about son, Dave and his family in Ethiopia. Even when being Mom of adult children brings challenges, I treasure the privilege.

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I remember being filled with wonder as my children returned home as young adults at the end of their first year at university. Lively conversation entertained us at our dinner table. I was proud and happy. By Mother’s Day two or three weeks later, the edges of that joy had frayed a little. This new adult, who had experienced eight months of total freedom from mother’s concerns, questions, advice introduced a new challenge to motherhood. Divorce, job loss, sickness, grief, and more drive adult children home to live, not just for the summer, but sometimes for years.

The challenges of motherhood keep changing. The continuous process of letting go requires the love described in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient. Love is kind… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This Mothers’ Day, I offer the following prayer for families at every stage in a child’s development.

“Loving God, you created us to live in relationship because you know we need one another. Turn our minds and hearts to seek out and savour the moments of joy in every phase of our lives together. When tough times come, help us soak in your wisdom, patience and strength. Enable us to let go when necessary and to gather in and comfort when needed. Help us to let go of the guilt from past mistakes and begin each day anew. We want to love well. We want our relationships to be healthy. Help us to remember that with you there is hope. You are always with us, wanting and planning a future filled with joy and laughter. Amen”

 

 

“What Was That, Anyway?”

Can You Recognize God’s Spirit?

Tears of Joy
Tears of Joy

At choir practice a number of years ago, my good friend, Cathy had the seat beside me. We giggled and laughed and enjoyed our friendship even as we worked hard at singing. One night at practice, we stood up and sang with great gusto the African hymn, “We are Marching in the Light of God.” I felt tears of joy fill my eyes as our voices filled the sanctuary. When we sat down, Cathy leaned over and said, “Wow, that made the hair on my arms stand up. What was that, anyway?”

My immediate response, “God’s Spirit just joined in our fun.”

She looked at me and frowned, but said nothing more. After practice we went for coffee. As soon as we sat down, Cathy asked, “What did you mean by, ‘God’s spirit just joined in our fun.’?”

I shared stories with her of other special moments when I had felt the Spirit’s presence. I told her of the tears of joy that came with my child’s first step, my daughter’s marriage, when I first held in my hands a book I had written and more. Each time, God’s Spirit came it brought a physical response – tears of joy flowed down my cheeks, the hair on my arms stood up, or a shiver ran from my toes to my head. The Bible tells us we cannot control God’s Spirit; she comes when and where she chooses. Our job is to recognize her presence. “Thank you,” was all Cathy said.

On Sunday morning two weeks later, one of our choir soloists sang, “Mary Did you Know”. When she finished, Cathy leaned over and said, “Did you feel it? Did you feel God’s Spirit. Look!” She touched a tear on her cheek. “I think God enjoyed Linda’s solo as much as the rest of us. Thank you for naming God’s Spirit for me.“

God had used me, not to preach, but to share my faith stories. Together we made a crack and God seeped in. I am grateful.

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 8)

Dipping Your Toes

Tonight I finished the first draft of my new book, “Dipping Your Toes in small group devotional worship planning.” At least that’s the working title. I will probably shorten it to “Dipping Your Toes” and then add a second sentence in slightly smaller print. I’m totally excited about this book. I know it is wanted and needed by lay people of every denomination. Already, I have had amazing feedback from those who have read the first few chapters. “Dipping Your Toes” is due at the editors on January 16th so I still have time to review, rework and revise. When I have the first service in close to final form I’ll send it out for all as a sample. This is a marvelous way to begin the new the new year. Thank you God.

Book Signing at Soul Feast, Junaluska, North Carolina

Yesterday I was blessed with the opportunity to join with a number of Upper Room authors at a book signing at Soul Feast, in Junaluska, North Carolina. The Upper Room Publishing Team were extremely gracious in allowing me to participate as the only self-published author present. In fact their marketing director came over to give me tips on how to draw people to my books. It was fun and exhausting.

Book Signing is fun!
Book Signing is fun!

Goodness and Mercy? Fun and Laughter? My choice!

We were enjoying Sunday brunch with a group of friends from the church, when one asked, “Does anyone have suggestions for something Brian and I could do today?” After several suggestions from others, I blurted out , “Come to our house for dinner.”

Tom and I prepared a simple dinner of grilled veggies, salad and fresh catfish. Our friends brought an ice cream cake. We had a relaxed meal and good conversation and several euchre games, all of it laced with laughter. My spontaneous invitation resulted in a blessed evening for the four of us.

With a full calendar, I don’t often do spur of the moment things anymore. When I have an afternoon or evening with nothing already planned, I try not to fill it up with more busyness. Spontaneity has disappeared. I’ve lost track of the fact that Jesus enjoyed a good time. I believe that God has fun and fellowship waiting for us always. Consider the last few lines of the Twenty-third Psalm, “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Maybe God enjoys the freedom of last minute plans as much as we do.

One thing I know for sure. If I had stopped to consider the state of my house, or what was available in my freezer and fridge, or that this was the first day with nothing in it we’d had all week, I wouldn’t have extended the invitation, and the four of us would have missed out on enjoying God’s goodness. So, I encourage you to open your eyes to the unexpected. God’s goodness and mercy does follow us. All that is required is our choice to turn and receive it.

 

A Child Speaks

My first ebook. Amazing

I’m feeling great. I’ve managed to make my way through all the forms, click on all the right boxes, and send my book “A Child Speaks” to Smashwords. I’m still floating from the experience of seeing my book listed with millions of others. My next task is to organize a blog tour or book launch.  I’ve still got to work my way through the U.S. tax forms in order to receive the money, when the book sells. But, I belief in jumping one hurdle at a time. I’m truly grateful to Kimberly Payne for her help in navigating, to Maureen Cutajar for formatting the book and Donna Casey for designing the cover. It’s easy to purchase just go to www.smashwords.com and type in the title. It’s only $5.99. If you already own the print version, I’d be thrilled if you checked into Smashwords and left a review.

Just Plunge Right In

Living close to SturgeonLake means that I can find relief from hot weather with a daily dip in the lake’s cool water. On busy days, it can be nine at night, before I think, “Oh yes, I haven’t yet had my swim.” Still, I grab my towel and trot down to the beach. At night, the mosquitoes make sure I don’t stand on the shore cautiously dipping my toes to see if the water’s cold. With their help, I plunge right in. As I stretch out in that cool refreshing water, all the cares of the day recede. I turn my eyes to the stars glistening in the sky, and the moon’s silvery path across the water. God is good, I think.

In some ways, our attitude to God’s call is a lot like my attitude to swimming. We know that doing God’s work daily will bring joy and refreshment, but far too often, when God calls on us with a leadership role, we hang back. Whether it’s chairing a committee, organizing the strawberry supper, teaching Sunday School, or joining the church visitation team, we’re afraid. Will we be able to do it? Do we have the skills?

God doesn’t use mosquitoes or any kind of force to get us to choose God’s way. God does promise to be with us, giving us the strength, the wisdom and the help we need. When we set aside our fears and plunge in, we’re often amazed. Before long, we’re doing the job and enjoying it.

The bottom line is that we cannot enjoy the cool refreshing water as long as we stand on the sea shore. We cannot receive the joy of growing and learning with God without conquering our fear of what lies ahead. We can say yes to leadership. We can plunge right into the water because God is with us. Remember God doesn’t call the equipped. God equips the called. Thanks be to God.

 

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  (2 Timothy 6-7)