God Help Us to Truly See



I don’t know why I was cut to the core so deeply when I found out about Robin Williams death.

Maybe it was because I have been looking into anxiety and depression lately.  Maybe it’s because I have myself dipped my toe in waters of anxiety and depression.  Or maybe it’s because here was a man so loved, so entertaining, so successful in the worlds eyes,  but even so,  at the end of the day he felt the pain of death was sweeter than the pain of life.  He was completely without hope.  I was so sharply reminded that there are people all around us that are dying and bleeding and trying to live in a their shattered worlds.

What can we do?  Can we change the world?  Can we turn the tide of the whole world to see hope and peace in the midst of struggles - in the midst of pain?  Maybe not.  But we can change our neighbors.  We can change the people we work with, the people we pass by everyday.  The people we go to Church with.  We can change OUR world.  In fact, we need to be changing our world.

It’s time we give wings to our love.  It’s time we give feet to our message of grace and hands to our song of salvation.

The world and the Church need real.  We need authenticity.  The world needs us as broken and hurting people ourselves to reach out to the more broken and hurting.

We don’t really need any more programs.  We don’t really need anymore fancy lights on our beautiful stages.  What we need is to realize that there are people all around us dying - both on the outside and the inside.   And they aren’t just “out there.”  They are people literally around us - sitting in the pews next to us, staring into our eyes Sunday after Sunday.

Let’s knock the walls of the church down and spill out into the world, out in the community, out into their hearts.  Because we live in a broken and pained world today that needs hope, that needs peace, that needs a glass of water.   We need to reach out and feed a starving child.; clothe a homeless man.

It’s all about them.  That’s all Jesus asks of us - that we see them.  We don’t make it about ourselves, and our programs and our hurt feelings and our insecurities and our betrayals,  and our questions with no answers.  But that we make it out about them - the world and those around us.  Jesus was always reaching out - his whole life about them - always them.

We need to look at the people we see everyday.  Really look at them.. Look beyond their blue and brown eyes and into their souls.  We need to look beyond the beautiful body and see the broken pieces within.  We need to hear behind the smooth words and listen to their screams and cries for help.

Somehow in this world of beauty, in this world of technology and fake-ness,  our senses have been dulled.  Jesus looked beyond the paralytic, he looked beyond the man that couldn't move and said that his sins were forgiven him.  Why?  Because he saw a man crying out for salvation and for freedom of the soul even more than he was crying out for movement.  He looked beyond the physical needs of the woman at the well and saw that she was woman through and through who just wanted to be loved, who just wanted to be valued like everyone else.  He saw.  He truly saw.

God, help us.  God help us to truly see.

Add a comment

Five Lessons my Parents Taught Me


I have talked a lot about my father in law since I started this blog a year ago.  He made a huge impact on my life and I needed to write in order to navigate the waters of grief as he was dying.

Today,  I want to talk about two others that who have made the most impact on my life - my mom and dad.  I have been one of those fortunate and very blessed people who had amazing parents and then married into great in laws.

As I contemplated what I wanted to write today I decided to talk about five marks they indelibly left on my life as they raised me.  There are so many more that I am sure I will talk about later but for today,  I will talk about these.

1.  Never leave your passion.   My parents sacrificed a lot for their passions.  They could have had more money.  They could have led a more comfortable, a safer life.  But they never settled for less than the real genuine call that they had on their life.  They never compromised.  They have always been as solid as rocks sitting on the mountainside.

2.  Never stop giving.   My mom and dad are the biggest givers that you will ever meet.  No matter how much money that we had or didn't have as I was growing up,  my dad NEVER missed giving to the church his tithe.  At one time in my life,  that bugged me.  But now, as I look back on it,  he taught me a principle that is carved in my soul - you can't outgive God.  Always give to God because he will take care of you, he will see that you are provided for and he will see you through.  It isn't only God that Mom and Dad gave to.   They were always quick to give of their time, their food and their money to family and those they loved.

3.  Never stop praying, believing, hoping.   I owe my passion to my parents.  No matter what our lives were going through, no matter where our journey led, they have never given up on the values and beliefs that they hold so dear.  If they believed it, they were propelled by an incredible passion to go forward against all odds.

4.  Never give up on each other.   My mom and dad have had their share of disagreements and arguments.  Sixty years together shows a tenacity, a fierce loyalty even in the face of shaky ground all around.  Even as all their peers were separating, they found ways to work it out.  Sixty years together is something to truly celebrate!

5.  Never, never give up.    I think my dad’s favourite phrase in Japan was “gambate” (I am sure that I am spelling that wrong).  What it means is “keep on keeping on.”  There were literally seasons in their lives when they planted one foot in front of the other day after day, week after week, because that was the only option.  Keep going, keep believing, keep making the right choices, keep walking - one foot and then the next.  I applaud solidity like that.  It has taught me to do the same in my life when everything in me wanted to give up and walk away.

I am forever grateful to my parents for their love, for believing in me, for investing in me and for walking with me.  I know that this is a day late but  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!!

Add a comment

My New Word

My_New_Word.jpgI always choose a new word for my life in the coming year.  I have thought about this as the year has approached and I am going to do something that I have never done since that first year that I started doing this.  I am not choosing a new word.  I am staying with the word that I had last year.

In times past,  at Christmastime,  my month has looked like this:

We hosted a Church banquet with our church and then hosted a Christmas party at our house for our home group.

I hosted Muppet Christmas Carol for family and friends and had tons of goodies and appetizers and had a GREAT time.

I hosted a pyjama party for the ladies (watching a chick flick and exchanging gift pyjamas.).

I hosted an elegant ladies tea serving specialty tea in real china cups and offering yummy goodies on my beautifully landscaped Christmas table.

I hosted our family Christmas - every other year it’s on Christmas.  On the other year, we choose a different day to celebrate Christmas.

I co-host an Empty Arms group and in this group,  every year we went to the grave and lit candles and sang carols for our angel babies.  Often we went back to our place for hot chocolate.    Then during that season,  many of us would all go out and have a nice dinner together because we have formed a tight group of friendships bonded by hard times.

On the 28th of December is my son’s birthday and because December is the hardest month to be born in,  I always wanted to make sure that his birthday got recognized and wasn’t just glossed over because of the busy month.  I have always had elaborate birthday parties with elaborate goody bags at my house for all of his friends.  Then as his friends trickle out and go home, I clean up so that I can have the family birthday party.

On New Years Eve,  I would (with the help of Tiffany - she was a big help in this) clear out everything Christmas and decorate the entire house with the theme of the murder mystery we were doing that night.    This was a HUGE event and we invited tons of people and at that time,  our church was primarily a young adult church.  This would be a party not just for the midnight partiers but it would go way past midnight, into the wee hours of the morning.

This was all in between Christmas shopping, an evening set aside to look at the lights  and Christmas bake exchanges and all of the other normal things one does for Christmas.

Are you tired yet?

This year,  my December looked quite different.

You see, this is hard for me because I am a party girl at heart and I love to do everything.   But one year,  I had meningitis on the New Year’s Eve.  We didn’t know what I had but we knew that I was sick so I just kind of propped up on the couch and as people came for the party (because goodness,  we CAN’T cancel)  I stayed there on the couch the entire evening in quite a bit of pain.  I did manage to have fun though because I AM a social person.

The next year,  found us in the ER with Jeremy’s blood pressure through the roof.  At this time,  Jeremy and I looked at each other and said “We are putting too much on our plate at Christmastime.  Something has got to give.”

Over the last years,  I have intentionally learned the rhythm of a slower life.  I have listened to my body more - I have stopped pushing and pulling it into submission to my big plans and goals and listened to when it said I had had enough.

I have decided that if I felt stressed and my stomach was tied up in knots,  I am to sit and reassess as to whether I am doing too much or not.  I don’t want to live in stress anymore.  I don’t want to be driven by programs and obligations or even parties.  I don’t want to drill my body into the ground  thinking that I have to do it all to enjoy the season.

This year was perfect.  I chose only the things that were my priority this year.  I chose family.  I had Christmas.  I had muppet Christmas Carol.

I had a beautiful tea with fabulous work friends and went to the sweet candle light service at Victory.

I am learning about myself.  I am learning about what I really want - what really makes me tick; what really fulfills me and makes my heart full.   I loved doing all the things that I did in the past but there was a season for it and the season has definitely passed.  Sometimes we aren’t aware when our seasons have passed.  Sometimes it ceases to be a party and begins to be an obligation that you are stressed over.  Often we forget to listen to us.

Last year,  was a crazy year.   So much learning about myself; about what was really important; about what I really want to do and where I want to make a difference.

Last year,  we had to let our Church of 10 years go.  It was a painful time in our lives - one that still invokes questions and will for some time be a soft splintery spot in our heart.

Last year,  I had a cardio version to help stop the palpitations that were plaguing me almost every day.  I am much healthier for it.   I am very grateful for that.

In August,  I got to watch my brand new baby grand daughter enter this world.  She is adorable!

Finally this last year,  I published,  not ONE but TWO beautiful colouring books with inspirational prose.  Wow,  something that I have wanted to do for years and something that has opened up a new way of thinking and living.

There were a myriad of other things that happened this last year - my almost 16 year old dog was laid to rest.   My son moved out on his own this year also.   Both of those things make for very very quiet evenings when my husband is out of the country.

When 2015 came to a close,  I wrote a blogpost about my word.  It was ME.  (Check it out here)  This year,  it’s the same.  There are still things that I need to concentrate on here.  There are still things that I need to discover about myself.  There are still things that I know the Lord is tugging on my heart to work on.

So I camp here a little longer at this word.


Not because I am not creative or I am mildly selfish, but because I am still discovering who I am - even more now than ever.  I am discovering what I want, who I am.  I have come so far, but not fully ready to move on, in a good way.  NO need to move from this spot so quickly.  NO need to run away.  I am here. It’s important here.  It’s sacred here and I will stay here until it’s time to look to other goals, other words, other focus.

I am here.  Just here.  And it’s beautiful.

Add a comment

It's in the Middles



Do you have a goal that's just burning so hot in your chest that you can hardly breathe?  Do you need

a breakthrough that will change your whole entire life?  Do you see something that needs to be done, fulfilled, taken care of in your life and you are headed there but so far away still - in fact you don't really even know if you are headed in the right direction?!

Joseph, in the Bible was like that too.   He had a dream.  He had a vision for his life; he needed breakthrough badly.  Most of us know the story.  He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers after he told them of his dream that they would bow down to him.   His father hadn't read any of the self help books about raising kids (although he should have known without reading anything in my opinion.)  and Joseph was undeniably his favourite.   This one choice by his father to make him more dear to his heart,  gave his brothers burning coals of hate that they carried around in their heart until one day, they lost it.  They sold him into slavery and went home and delivered  a filthy, dirty lie to his father about his death - one they lived with for many years.

Meanwhile,  Joseph was as good as dead.   His cushy life as he knew it, was gone - absolutely gone. Unlike the beautiful robe of many colours, his life felt like ashes in an open fire.   To say that he was in an awful place would be an understatement.

Some of us know the story well.  He worked hard until he became in charge of all the servants - an honor that was not so easily attained.  His life started looking up.  Until one day...

His bosses wife tried to seduce him and he ran away - which was the smartest thing to do.  Potiphar's wife was so upset and humiliated that he didn't take to her advances that again,  a filthy lie  was created about him that ended him in prison.

I wonder what Joseph was thinking when he was thrown into the dungeon - a lonely,  disillusioned, broken man?  A man who had tried to do everything right; a man who had followed his conscience and made all the right decisions.  He had been dealt a very cruel card.

So what did he do with the remaining dregs of his life?  I will tell you what he did.  He lived it well.  He knew that he needed a breakthrough.  He knew that he needed to get out of prison - to be a free man entirely.   In all honesty,  he didn't really know if that would ever happen or at the very least,  WHEN it would happen.  Instead of sulking about it, instead of letting bitterness and anger seep into his pores,  he lived every part of his life well.   And this is exactly what made Joseph the man that he became.

He served the people in prison.  He became the model prisoner.  He was one they could count on - so much so that they gave him responsibility in a huge prison.

They were a few times that he saw breakthrough right there in his hands until something cruel or unexpected would knock it out of his eager hands and he was stuck in prison again with no hope of reprieve.

How long was he in slavery??????  It is believed that he was in his situation for about 17 years - from the time he was sold into slavery until the time he was freed from prison.  Joseph is a man who knew himself but MORE importantly, his God.  He was a man who dug his heels in and would not let go. He was a man who took every opportunity to be the BEST man that he could be.  Everyday. Every step. Every crazy turn.  He gave his days 120%.

You see,  it's in the middles, it's in the process, that makes us who we are.   It's never the mountaintop and very rarely the lowest of the low valley.  It's in the middle, when we are putting one foot in front of the other, that we decide whether to serve life well or to just pine away for our moment - our breakthrough.  Its in the middle that shapes our character; it molds our spirit in a way that deeply changes our core.  It's in the middles where we decide to be happy even in the ordinary.  It's in the middles where life is hard and messy and questionable where we gain perseverance and victory.  We don't gain the victory when everything is going great - we gain it before our breakthrough - we just walk into it when we see the breakthrough.  And it's in the middles that most of our life happens.

If we learn what Joseph did, it's in the ordinary moments that can be deemed extraordinary. Because oftentimes it's not our circumstances at all that determine our victory and if we are going to live life well.  It is our heart.

Always our heart.

Joseph loved life - the very act of living and here is how you can tell.  Everywhere he was put - even in the deepest of the pit, he found a way to live it well.

Maybe your life isn't where you want it at this very second.  Maybe there are huge  obstacles looming before you; standing in your way.  How are you going to live life well TODAY?  How are you going to live victoriously today?   Today is as special as the day you get the breakthrough.

Most of our lives are spent in the middles.  What are we doing with the middle?  What are we doing with the process?  Are we letting "the stuff" get us down?  Or are we just not in the moment because our lives are not there yet - our lives are "over there."

Wrap a big beautiful bow around TODAY because today is our precious PRESENT.

Add a comment

Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again?



Have you ever heard of the computer tech guy saying,  "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" to a frantic customer who calls in about a computer not acting right??  There is even a show on the television whose signature is this very question because it's about some guys who are set in an office that fixes computers.

Apparently, the body works very similar to that.  Last week I had  to have a procedure called a cardioversion.  It is a procedure where an electrical current is sent to the heart to make it stop for only a second.  Then they start it up again in hopes that it regains a correct rhythm - much like a computer.  Because I am not actually a computer, but a HUMAN,  I was terrified about it - imagining all kinds of scenarios.  It does come with risks, but so does crossing the street every morning.  I felt much better about it after talking to the doctor.  He was able to calm my fears and put some perspective into the situation.

As one does when they are coming close to a day that they  think might be  significant I have done a lot of soul searching these last days.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I have asked God to show me if there are things in my spiritual heart that does not resonate with the One who created me.  I have searched my heart to make sure that it is soft and pure before God and people around me.  It's interesting that many times a physical issue mirrors a spiritual issue.  Jeremy and I have seen this many times.

David in the Bible said this:  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;  And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

I asked God to show me if there was anyone that my heart wasn't right with; anyone with whom I needed to make peace in my own spirit.  You know.  that's really one prayer that the Lord likes to answer.   Gently he began to put his thumb on certain areas of my heart.  Hurts I have gained while pastoring, pain I have adopted while growing up and even issues I have had with God Himself about decisions that he has made in my life.

The thing about issues of the heart is that hurt is sometimes justified but it's never very helpful.  In fact, hurt if left there to fester will only rob from you.  It robs you of your joy and your peace while the person who wronged you has gone on with their life sometimes completely oblivious of your internal struggle.

I love what Jeremy has been saying as he has been preaching (ironically about the issues of the heart.)  Sometimes the answer is so simple but it isn't always easy.

The answer to hurt and to pain towards someone in your life is to let it go.  Simply to let it go.    These last days as I had been preparing to get my physical heart reset,  I have been resetting my spiritual heart.  I was ready to let it all go.   I was ready to take any hurt that I feel,  wrap it up in a big giant grocery bag and hand it to the One who can handle the difficult issues of life; who can replace it with peace and joy.

You see there is something interesting about the heart.  Most of the time,  you don't notice it's beating.  You don't even think about it as you are going about your daily business.  That is,  until there is something wrong.  Then it becomes a big part of your life.  It limits you.  It worries you.  You begin to make decisions around it.  You begin to pull back just in case it starts acting up.  You begin to put dreams on the shelf.  It's the same way with the spiritual heart.  You don't really notice it until something goes wrong.  Then you feel the pain, the hurt, the debt, the jealousy, the pressure of wanting it to be the way it was.  When you feel that pressure; that discomfort in your heart - there is something wrong and you have to deal with it.

Today,  I went downstairs and danced to lovely worship music as I often do before I go to work.

This time something was different.  This time,  my heart did not go into  palpitations - something that has happened everyday for a long time.  When I was finished, I was so touched.  This morning, I felt free.

  Both my physical heart and my spiritual heart are in sync with the fresh steady beating of the Holy Spirit  - of the One who created my heart.

Add a comment