Take a Look… A Real Good Look

The date on the calendar said fall had arrived.

Sitting in my favourite chair, wrapped in my favourite Hockey blanket, watching the yellow crisp leaves intermittently floating around me from the malibu sky confirmed it.

My view from my perch.

Many sun kissed chairs… 17 to be exact, the number that represented our wonderful growing family, along with a few tables ready for gathering, and a cozy couch or two nestled under the canopy surrounding a rustic well-used fire pit, beckoned all those who came to gather.

It was a picture my heart looked foreword to regularly.

The soft Square multi coloured pillows accompany each Muskoka chair, beckoning all to stay a while.

The crudely cut Cedar wood piled high in the homemade wood shed next to it said so.

As the perfectly charred smokies piled high in the extra large platter with all the fixings grew bigger and bigger, the laughter got louder and louder and all those who gathered imagined it to be a feast fit for a King… because it was the company that made it so.

This familiar eclectic playlist crooning in the background created the likes of a big warm hug that said, “Glad you came”.

Not far beyond the cherry colored glass hummingbird feeder lived the world my littles created.

Eight to be exact. Giving me the coveted title of Grandma… Mama for short❤️

Their shrill laughter would pierce the fall air with each pump of their little legs on the yellow seated swing Papa had built for them…. The littlest of the littles clicked in tight in the middle wanting to enjoy along with the bigger cousins.

The playhouse, a little brown wooden garage sale find, just steps away, created a world for much imagination as the little squeaky door surrounded by fake purple flowers on each side continually swung back and forth with the flow of the littles.

Their imagination was the limit as the dried dirt and tiny pebbles, along with a splash of water from the sand pails became today’s “soup of the day”… for Mama to taste of course.

By now, some of the older littles had outgrown this world, but their passion lay elsewhere as The melody of an acoustic guitar lingered in the air as their fingers ran lazily through each chord.

It was not only music to my ears… but music to my mama heart.

It was a piece of Heaven…. my piece of Heaven.

The crudely planted geraniums along with their colourful partners sat happily in the earth filled pots, seemingly smiling at the company of all who gathered.

The towering fifty-year-old Maples leaned over this little piece of Heaven as if to protect these precious moments.

And oh how precious they were.

******************

What is the view from your perch?

Your little piece of Heaven…?

Everyone has it.

It may look very different than this one, but we all have it.

It is a gift. A gift given to each one of us from above with much, much love. And no matter what is happening in our lives, it beckons us to focus on our little piece of Heaven, a place where we can find rest for our hearts amidst the cares of this world.

What we focus on we experience deeply.

Just for today… and then… just for tomorrow, focus on the little piece of Heaven that is yours and yours alone, and thank the ultimate Giver for this precious gift…. a blessing among many others if we just take the time to look.

It’s a hope that keeps us going in the midst of all that wants to keep our hearts heavy.

All the rest that we need to take our eyes off of will grow out of focus if you find your little piece of Heaven….

if you just take a look…. a real good look.

Get “Sober”

“Her hand trembled as she white-knuckled the wine glass with her slender neatly manicured fingers.

The familiar ruby red liquid she had relied on for so long was now replaced by a nice cold glass of her new choice of bubbling pop.

She raised the glass carefully to her lips knowing the choice of drink she’d made recently, yet still anticipated the comfort of the ruby red liquid she had relied on for too much of her young life.

Her mind hadn’t made the switch completely. Her mind was powerful.

She didn’t know it yet, but the ache for the deep red liquid was the symptom….not the problem….

She needed to get “Sober”

***************.

The bright light of the refrigerator startled her as her bare feet stood on the cold tile floor in front of the open door displaying all that she thought would “solve” everything… even if it’s just for tonight.

Life was hard.

The half box of a large extra cheese pizza from last night’s supper, a pan of chocolate cake with lots of thick rich icing she had made two days ago, and a gallon of freshly bought milk all beckoned to accompany the binge she was aching for as the clock struck 3 a.m.

Relationships were tricky and her self judgments spoke louder and louder daily. The ache for the large pizza and chocolate cake in the middle of the was the symptom not the problem….

She needed to get sober.

*****************

She shut the screen door as quietly as she could as she held her breath. The creak of the front porch made her chest tighten unbearably.

She knew this was no way to live.

She knew he’d be fast asleep as his “night” was just beginning after his usual night shift at the local Factory. She had been here before walking through that squeaky Farmhouse door trying anxiously to quiet the front porch creak.

Her now purple and black eye could hardly open as the ache of last night’s punch not only screamed physically but mentally.

The urge to run and stay at the same time was a symptom… not the problem…

If she had just had supper on the table…if she had just been quiet… this would not be happening again…. She would do better…. Next time.

She needed to get sober.

**************” ‘

Wasn’t the drinking the problem?? Wasn’t the food the problem?? Wasn’t the abuse the problem??

All very much a problem but also very much a symptom….

They all needed to get sober.

They needed to get to the root… The “why” they were choosing the symptoms.

There are endless situations that we may need to get “Sober” from.

Why is the drink so powerful??

Why does the binge call your name so loudly??

And why does the most toxic relationship attract you unknowingly??

The “why” is the start of the answer to your sobriety.

Find the root.

Our God is our hope.

He knows us by name… It’s tattooed in His palm..

He knows us intimately… Knowing the number of hairs on our head… And He knows the “whys” in our lives. Why we do what we do, think what we do, choose what we do.

We cannot do it alone.

What we have experienced, what we have believed, all keep us in the dark at times when we can’t see and hear clearly.

It keeps us craving the drink…

The Double cheese extra large pizza….

And the toxic relationship that seems to need your fixing…

Take the step… Make the move…. See with eyes you’ve never seen before…. Hear with ears you’ve never heard before…

His.

Reach down… Way down for the root. The root of “why”.

Say goodbye. Goodbye to the life that doesn’t say “Abundant Life” The life offered to you by our God….

And get “Sober”.

The Butter In The Jar

My little arms were growing weary as my after-school routine of a 1960s episode of The Flintstones was coming to an end.

Almost 30 minutes of constant shaking of the thick farmer’s cream in one of mom’s Mason vintage jars, had gradually transformed into a soft block of mouth watering homemade butter.

I could hardly wait to slather the butter onto my mom’s delicious brown bread she baked regularly.

I never could understand how a jar of cream could be transformed into something so different, but it took consistency and persistence.

There will be things in our lives we may just never change with our shaking, but the real shaking may come when we allow our God to “shake” that what needs to be shaken out of or into our lives.

The consistency and persistence may just be where He is taking you on your journey on life’s road.

We can only shake us.

Setting the jar and just hoping the cream would magically turn into butter would be rather silly.

More often than not my determination would wane as my little arms would grow weary as results seemed to be so far away.

But once the tasty butter was formed, there was no turning back to a jar full of cream, and me and my family could enjoy the butter confidently knowing day after day the butter would still be butter.

The transformation was done. There was no turning back.

I didn’t need to shake the jar of cream everytime I yearned to slather that tasty butter on the fresh brown bread.

Life can get like that.

That which we are hoping will change will not unless we do something about it. Our lives will look exactly the same if we just look at the jar of cream on the shelf from afar and hope something will change.

And then, just when we think our arms want to call it quits from all the persistence…. The results (butter) appears, and we can enjoy the results of our efforts in our lives.

The “shaking” will look different for every situation, but non the less the shaking and persistence must happen for results.

Today, grab hold of the jar.

“shake….shake…. And shake” some more if you want to see results in your life.

Relationships at a crossroads?… Job not what you want?…or simply not happy with you?

Start “shaking”.

Shake that which you can shake.

Know that a transformation is just around the corner.

Allow the Master of all the shaking needed in our lives to direct you when, where, and how it should look in every situation.

And then… Rest.

And enjoy… the butter in the jar.

Just Around The Bend

Crack. Crunch.

The path beneath our feet, dotted with twigs and pebbles, created the only sounds as my sister and I wound our way through the towering evergreens and lush carpet that made up the towering Island forest.

The day had started with a decision to check off number 4 on our bucket list.

So here we were.

The trail wove majestically through the forest, now bringing us alongside a mighty deafening continuous waterfall.

Refreshing cool droplets of mist enveloped us both as the trail beckoned us closer and closer to the enchantingly lush green moss on the banks of the rushing body of water.

It was exhilarating and exciting all at once.

A long while into our bucket list, we realized the birds had quieted. Not a creature was to be seen as far as our eyes could see through the towering, moss-covered trunks. A sense of eerie came upon both of us as we stopped in the middle of the trail now looking back to a very empty path mirrored by the same as we turned to face the neverending, ongoing path it seemed in front of us.

We kept walking. Endlessly it seemed. To “where” we did not know. Signs seem to be non-existent.

Turning back seemed an option for a lonely moment, but the setting sun peeking through the towering island evergreens changed our minds.

The dark, strange and unfamiliar towering forest with so many unknowns, turned the anticipation of number 4 on the bucket list to a sudden grip on my heart at least.

The view around us all seemed the same by now and the same beautiful view we welcomed just hours into our adventure became something we wanted to leave behind in this moment.

But which way to turn?

Back? Familiar but into a setting sun, leaving us in a towering dark forest?

The thundering roar of the rushing river dotting our trek on one side and darkening thick forest of the unknown on the other… Continuing on the trail?… To where?

And then just as all these thoughts had wormed through our minds, out of nowhere appeared at tall seasoned jogger it seemed.

Hadn’t we just longingly looked down the long dark ending path we had just come?… How was this possible?

But here he was.

A midst slowing his jog, I sensed he saw our questions written all over our faces.

“just keep going… this trail ends, just around the corner.”

And then just as suddenly as he had appeared… he was gone, leaving us both with a newfound sense of direction and relief.

Our chatter between us heightened as our faces lightened with the prospect of seeing an end to this darkening trail we were not so sure of any more.

And then just as the mysterious jogger had said… Just a few minutes down the path the looming Evergreens that had started to threaten our peaceful hike, seem to part ways as the vast evening sky became dominant in our sights.

Our trek in the darkening island forest had been met with an open sky, painted with the majestic brushes of the evening hues of the setting sun.

Bucket list number 4 had a check mark behind it, but not before some heart pounding moments.

How often doesn’t life take us down a trail that beckons us to enjoy the beauty of the cool mist of a rushing river, majestic towering forests, beautiful views, only to have us in the middle of a trail it seems, with the singing birds quiet and the darkness looming, our hearts gripped with… “which way now” and “what do I do??”.

Our feet seemingly frozen on the trail.

We may feel like the looming darkness and uncertainty will never end in that moment.

But be very assured… Our God sees it all.

“I will never leave you or forsake you” is a promise you can count on no matter how lost you may feel in the middle of your darkest trail, not knowing which way to turn.

So in the midst of a darkening season of your life with the darkening trail ahead and behind you seeming to never end… And the birds seem to stop their singing in this season…

know that every darkened trail in our lives has an end.

Keep moving.

And just when you think the sun will go down, and leave your trail forever in the dark…

There is hope in knowing that the sky will look brighter, and the looming forest will part as you turn your ear to Him, and listen for His still small voice encouraging you to keep moving…

“Just keep going… This trail ends…

Just around the corner.

Cross The Ocean

It was the black of night.

Their tired and weary eyes could hardly make out the large looming shape of The grey metal Boxcar that would be leaving their motherland forever.

It was 1935.

Great grandma and grandpa and their four young sons were heading for a land… land of the free.

Four older son’s said goodbye in thier hearts as face to face was too risky as they were left behind to face cruel Russia.

My heart aches as I imagine this having four daughters.

I can’t imagine.

The crude unforgiving jolts of the train stopping and starting, must have added to the angst gripping their hearts as it approached the Port where their next part of their escape would continue on the open seas for the next long month’s.

“Reische” as they were called in German, were buns that had been toasted to golden perfection, and packed by the dozens into flour sacks to sustain them for the long journey… perhaps the only thing standing between life and death.

Settling in with the crude amenities of the day, I can’t imagine Grandma and Grandpa’s mind’s did not float back to the day they had to say goodbye… forever… to their oldest four sons , left to face the cruelties of Mother Russia.

Although the focus now was to keep, protect their younger four sons and build a new life, I can’t but imagine their minds didn’t go back… maybe often in their humanness. But life in the 1930s on the ship to America, the land of the free, did not afford anything but looking forward, survival, the future, today… their life depended on it.

The move had different lasting effects on great-grandma and great-grandpa. While Grandpa could never really forgive himself and was never the same, as the story is told, little great grandma or the “Kleine” grandma as I knew her, mourned her sons and her losses differently. She said ” We had to do what we had to do for us to live free in another land”.

Although my heart begs to know she thought of them constantly for the rest of her years till the age of 96.. She not only survived… she lived.

She had not only raised four sons…and lost four sons, she also lost her 9 month old baby daughter… her only daughter, in the freezing semlin( underground dirt house) of the merciless winters.

My mind can hardly comprehend.

My great grandpa died in 1958. I never did meet him personally, but I learned to know my great grandma for the first seven years of my life. A determined little lady who worked the fields till her first pains of labor in the early years, then served “faspa” ( German afternoon lunch) to the men folk at the end of the same day, tending to her new born at the same time.

Life needed to keep moving forward.

We just have no idea….

Well at least I don’t.

Reflecting on this story… this piece of family history , it reminds me of how our hearts and minds want to look back to situations, relationships, etc, that can never be changed, yet we keep looking back.

Most of us will never have to experience what my great-grandparents did or only parts of… but nonetheless.. We keep looking back… somehow wanting… needing things to change. Yet our new moments that lead to our future need to be anchored in the new season of change.

We cannot move forward holding on to the past. Remembering yes… holding on … no.

Focus on the todays and tomorrows, and yes, surely reflect and remember well, but make a choice to get on that “boxcar”… perhaps in the darkest Midnight Hour of your life, and choose to keep looking forward and get on that “ship” of continual journey, and cross that ocean to that Promised Land of the FREE.

Both believed in their God that had been with them through many dark times before, both dearly equally loved by their God despite their own personal Journeys and choices how to live them.

Yet great grandpa only survived…. And great grandma lived.

They both had crossed the ocean physically but great grandma had truly cross the ocean in her heart and mind. Oh I’m sure it had to have been a commitment at times to continue, but looking back would have left her on the other side of the vast ocean even though her feet had been physically planted in the land of the free.

I believe in the same God my great grandma and grandpa had faith in so many years ago.

That same God has a hope and a strength for me to choose any “ocean” I want to cross to the “land of the free” in any life situation.

He has proven Himself to me over and over again as I look back on my journeys of having to choose to “cross my oceans” in my life… and continue to.

I cannot begin to imagine having to leave my children behind or even lose one to a harsh winter, but I know that I know that the ocean needed to be crossed to focus on a new life.

Today, what is in the rearview mirror of your life no matter how difficult?

Look to the God of the ages.

He is with us in the “boxcars” of life in the dead of the midnight and with us on the “ships” and anywhere else we may be. He hems us in with His mighty, everlasting, loving arms and gently turns our face.. If we let Him, to the winds of tomorrow… the land of the FREE…

And cross the ocean.

Chapter 55…

The day started out just like any other…

Now 55 years of days later, I got to choose… not my circumstances, not the weather, not who wished me a happy birthday, not who may have come to visit, not who called.

I got to choose.

Choose how I reacted… choose how I saw the weather… the people crossing my path that day… my circumstances…whatever they may be.

I had a gift. Not only a birthday gift that day, but a gift I’d had every single day for 55 years now.

In the early years, the gift was very young but nonetheless a gift. I didn’t always know what to do with the gift, but none the less there it was…

the gift to choose.

Choose to “see” with my own eyes or His. His being the One who had walked with me all of my life… my God.

The gift would be to not only choose, but choose to “see” through His eyes. The first 53 years…. 53 chapters… Mostly through mine.

Year 53 began a journey of writing from a place of hope. Hope of “seeing” the world… my world… through His eyes when I would invite him to join me on life’s bench along life’s path… and “see”.

Every morning… A gift to choose.

I did not always see it as a gift. In fact it was unwanted at times, as it left me in control… In control of how I would see”… my own eyes would deceive me more then plenty of times in all the past 55 chapters of my life.

So when the time came, I started choosing to” see” through His eyes… my writing changed. 45 years of writing stories… journal entries…. Poems…

I started a new chapter.

A Chapter of Hope.

Webster’s… HOPE: a feeling of expectation and desire for certain things to happen…. A feeling of trust.

The Living Word…. HOPE: confident expectation of what God has promised… And strength in his faithfulness.

So there it was…. HOPE.

Confidence in His promises to me in every life circumstance… in every moment.

The foundation on which every moment of my life could be “seen” through His eyes.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you”…” I will be with you”… ” I will protect you”… ” I will answer you”… ” I will provide for you”… ” I will give you peace”… ” I Will Always Love You”.

It all came back to the gift.

The Gift to choose… to believe His heart towards me.

A gift to choose to “see”through His eyes, anchored on this Foundation…..

And the day started out just like the previous days in the past 54 chapters of my life… The gift to choose… to “see” the world… my world… Through His eyes … A gift… Sitting at my feet beautifully wrapped by my God, ready to be opened…in a new day…

Chapter 55…

Where Heaven Begins…

The smile and smell of a newborn baby…snuggling securely in your arms… straight from Heaven…

The glistening dew resting on a blade of grass as sparkling diamonds on a brand new morning…

The majestic song of a Whipper will, echoing through the still of the evening sky…

The cool gentle breeze of a Prairie wind caressing ones sun-kissed cheeks on a hot summer day….

The crackle of a late night fire on the shores of the lake at dusk, the sounds of a lonely Loon’s caressing serenity echoing under a spectacular display of dancing Northern Lights….

A mama robin tugging at its latest juicy worm amidst the earthy smell of the dirt it came from…

The sounds of a lawn mower in a childhood neighbourhood accompanied by the aroma of freshly mowed sweet-smelling mounds of grass….

The sounds of Sunday morning country gospel time locked far away in the corners of my mind… the start of a day stamped of family….

The taste of a cold, freshly poured bubbling glass of Mountain Dew from vintage green bottles on a hot summer day, taking a break from hauling bails from the alfalfa fields on a farmstead… tucked deep within my heart….

Watching a long-lost soul coming home and come up out of that pond, the cool water streaming down their beaming face as the preacher finishes with “and raised to have new life”….

The wide-open tiny mouths , bodies cuddling closely in their nest, watching their mama Robin drop a morsel in each one intentionally with much necessity and satisfaction…

The sounds of a century old hymn.. “It Is Well with My Soul”… croon across the old country church with the voices of many, gathered to sing their praises on a Sunday morning in unison….

The taste of an icy cold cup of water touching your lips on the hottest summer day…

The sounds of the steady rain on a metal roof above a favourite chair… eyes closed as the sounds of the distant Thunder threatens its magic to complete the picture…

The view half-closed eyes see, as one peeks across the table as family gathers around a long harvest table, almost too many bowed heads to count, as the old fashioned ham and potato salad along with all the trimmings… fill the table end to end…

And then, there are the large tufts of white fluffy clouds, sailing across the blue sky, wondering what it will be like when Heaven will meet Earth, as we His children will meet Him in the air… someday…

That may be where Heaven begins….

And yet all of this doesn’t even come close to, where the real Heaven begins… Don’t ever want to minimize Heaven…

But what it does do is touch our hearts… our souls… Our minds, and gives us Hope…Joy… and happiness in the moment. And when we can experience these and more in the moment…, that which threatens to hurt our hearts… pierce our souls… cannot…..

And we taste a piece of the Abundant Life promised to us by our God, who is the centre of our hopes in all our moments.

We can then begin to taste Joy…peace…love… in the midst of a fallen world….

And that is where Heaven begins♥️

The Light Is Still On

I was hoping.

Hurrying down the street of my Hanover Street neighbourhood past the summer time sunset, I could faintly see the golden hue of the porch light through the leaves of the mighty oak, planted many years before, that had stood the test of time, standing stoically on the corner of the white picket fence that signified home to my young heart.

It was a time children could stay out past dark and the biggest worry would be to get home before the now cold tub water was thrown out from the large metal tub the whole family bathed in… Same water for all.

The vintage light bulb surrounded by the tiniest night time bugs was a stability… security that all was well. Mom and Dad were home, waiting for the last of the children to come in from the darkened summertime streets.

My red and white 70s banana seat bike bumped happily onto the gravel driveway.

I was 8… And my heart was happy… the light was still on.

*************

Driving down the dusty country gravel road in my dad’s 78 green LTD, the darkness surrounded the car with only the high beams lighting the way as the rain poured down around me.

I knew… just knew, no matter where my evening had taken me… just passed the evergreens bordering the front yard, the front porch light, still surrounded by the tiniest night time bugs would still be on since I was not home yet. Mom and dad would still be up… waiting for the last of the teenagers to make their way home.

I was 18…and my heart was happy…. The light was still on.

****************

My heart, my mind, my eyes… strained longingly through the snow packed windshield waiting to get a glimpse of the snow covered front porch light beaming through the snow storm.

It was home.

Making my way down the snow packed highway, now still 20 miles from my home, my knuckles gripping the steering wheel tighter and tighter as the snow storm swirled mercilessly around my 1981 Silver Chevy Topaz, covering any hope of previous tracks on the lonely stretch of highway deep in the dark of the night.

My husband would be waiting up. I was 28 and my heart was happy because the light would still be on.

**************

Making my way from a church service wanting to make sense of some things happening in my life now and throughout the past years, there was no 8 year old summertime Darkness… no 18 year old pouring rain… and there was no 28 year old swirling snowstorm.

Yet the darkness of the things I couldn’t see in my life… the pouring rain of tears…or the swirling snow storm of confusion in my mind.. my heart, had left me searching for the comfort of that light… the light at 8… the light at 18… and the light at 28.

My soul yearned for the light that brought a comfort that said I was home.

I picked up my little brown Bible my mom and dad had given me at the age of 13 and started reading.

Reading passages and chapters I had read many times over the years, yet this time I saw through the darkness… through the pouring rain.. and through the swirling snow storm… A light.

A light I had always heard about but had not seen for myself. I found a peace that had escaped me for too many years. A joy that filled my heart from corner to corner and a Truth… not just any Truth, but the Truth about who my God was to me and who I was to Him.

It was the comfort of home my heart had yearned for over the decades.

Someone was waiting…. He was waiting…. No matter where I’d been.

The God of the universe… Waiting for me to see the Truth… And come home.

I was 48…. And my heart was happy…

Because the LIGHT was STILL on❤️

The Power of “One”

Do you ever think:

Does what I do matter?… Do I make a difference?

Do I impact my world?.. THE world?

Well than you are in good company. I would dare say everyone on the planet has had these thoughts at one time or another.

I recently listened to the testimony of a well-known evangelist, Ravi Zacharias on YouTube.

At 17, he attempted to take his life and was hospitalized in grave condition…. Done with life.

The doctors saved his life but Ravi would need to want to live to continue when he would walk out those doors.

A man Ravi did not know, found his way into his hospital room with nothing more than a small but powerful answer to Ravi’s despair in the palm of his hand.

A red Gideon Bible.

This stranger proceeded to read a very short passage of scripture from the Gospel of John chapter 14:

I am the Way, The Truth and the Life… Because I live, you also shall live.

He stayed but a very short while as Ravi was quite weak, but this stranger knew in his heart that this small, but powerful piece of life in the palm of his hand would be the answer/hope to Ravi”s life of despair.

Ravi let it sink into his heart… and it changed his life completely from there on.

Ravi Zacharias died this past week after 48 years of loving life in the ministry of the Gospel to the world.

The Gospel message that changed His life….The Way, The Truth, and the Life.

India, his home country, called him India’s Billy Graham.

As this man goes on to share after Ravi ‘s death, if he had done nothing else with his life… influenced no one else, he felt he would have fulfilled his purpose here on Earth as he watched Ravi for the next 48 years of his worldwide Ministry, spreading hope in the Gospel to anyone and everyone, and especially to those who had been at the end of themselves as he had been.

This man’s one act that fateful day in Ravi’s hospital room, stretched way beyond Ravi… indirectly influencing the whole world over the next 48 years through Ravi.

What if he had not listened to the nudge on his heart that day?

Ravi may have gone on to be influenced by someone else who said yes to a nudge, but the point is, Ravi’s life was completely changed by the influence of ONE…

One Godly Man… Saying yes to a nudge.

Ravi went from wanting to die to wanting to live in the matter of moments, and went on to influence others with the same Gospel that had changed him that day.

How powerful.

This man unknown to Ravi, could never know have known that day what his moment of influence would carry in the next 48 years through Ravi Zacharias’ life.

Does what you do matter?

Do you make a difference?

Do you impact your world?… THE world?

Today… the words you speak, the things you do, the listening ears you have for a moment…. may just be the beginning of 48 years of influence.

Follow the nudge.

It starts with you.

The Power of One.