Trust

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“Do you deal with anxiety?”  The nurse asked me sharply.  Did I hear a hint of judgement in her voice?

I looked at her through half closed drugged eyes.  “Yes.”  was all I could say.

I turned and looked out the window.   My blood pressure was rapidly climbing a steep and dangerous hill, my heart rate was going through the roof,  they were talking about an emergency hysterectomy - all of which was totally unrelated to the illness of MENINGITIS that brought me to the hospital in the first place.

I guess that that was not enough to feel anxious,  I thought sarcastically as I looked at her.  I was too weak to say it to her.

“Just try to relax.”   She said as she hooked me up to some more antibiotics.  “Oh, " I thought,  "Yes, I could do that.  Completely forgot about THAT option.”  The thought danced through my head as I smiled weakly.

She wasn’t being mean.  She was a woman who had never experienced anything that I was experiencing at that moment.  That’s all.

I had been at home and trying to push thoughts of meningitis out of my head as my neck began its incline -  pounding and pounding more furiously.  Surely I wouldn’t have meningitis again.  I just had it three years ago.   I shook my head.  NO,  I was just nervous about it.  I asked Jeremy for a Tylenol 3 and kept doodling in my notebook as a way to distract my run away terrifying thoughts.

It was a beautiful day.  Warm,  no wind.  Simply lovely outside as we sat on our deck.  The Tylenol with codeine took the edge off of my headache.  Slightly at least.   We set up a table and started to play a game we like to play - Settlers of Catan.

The pain came back with more intensity than before and it was only an hour after I had had my medicine.  I couldn’t take any more medicine at this point.

I kept playing the game.  I tried to convince myself that there was nothing to worry about - it would blow over.  Tomorrow would be a better day.   I was fast losing my argument.

I went inside to lay on the couch.  I put something under my neck as I laid my head on the arm of the  cool couch, pressing hard to take the pressure off just above the neck.  I hated laying like this because it reminded me of the last time I had meningitis.  Such awful memories.  I tried laying another way but this was the best way.  It took a little bit of the pressure pressure pressure that I was feeling.  Oh so much PRESSURE and pain.

The next time I had Tylenol, it didn’t touch the pain that was escalating.  It didn’t even take the edge off.    I was concerned.  Jeremy asked if he should plan to take me in to the hospital.  I didn’t know.  Darn,  I hate this.  The wondering, the fear, the complete and overwhelming pain.  I didn’t want to revisit this season of my life EVER.  EVER.

Surely surely if I just laid down again, if I just calmed myself down.

Then it happened.

The sick sick feeling in my stomach -the knowing that I was going to throw up.  I grabbed a bucket.  Yes, I needed to go in.  NOW.  It would only get worse and when you know you have meningitis then you know you only have a short window before this horrible disease could become your worst nightmare.   My son and his girlfriend were there so they could watch my youngest son, as Jer brought me to the ER.

Because this wasn’t the first time I had meningitis,  they took me right in.  They wheeled me to a tiny room.  As I lay there in the hospital bed with people working around me,  I couldn't stop the spinning of the room.  It spun faster and faster and faster until I threw up -again and again and again.  I couldn't stop throwing up and I felt like I was dying.  I wondered if I had gotten there too late.   They couldn’t give me anything for nausea or pain until the doctor saw me about four hours later.  Four hours later I was hooked up to pain medicines and nausea and a bunch of things for my heart and blood pressure.  I had nurses around me constantly attending to me.   They were as concerned about my heart as they were about my meningitis.  They seemed to be focusing on both - equally.

After a couple of days of being in the hospital,  there was an issue with my uterus doing some crazy things and I was losing a lot of blood.   The doctor came in and told me she was considering a blood transfusion because my iron was so low and I was very critically anemic.  One morning,  I was visited by the on call doctor several times.  I was visited by my heart doc, my neurologist and they wanted to hook me up with a gynecologist.   

I was petrified.  It felt like I was stuck in a hopeless situation - like I was swimming with hungry sharks and at any second one was going to devour me for his snack.  There was nowhere to turn that was safe.  I sat there on my bed and thought ironically that  my life’s message was hope and here I found myself in this dark hole of endless hopelessness.    Nothing at that moment felt like it was going right.

Then the Lord very clearly spoke to my spirit.  He said,  “Do you trust me?”  I answered honestly.  I answer the Lord honestly because he knows my thoughts anyways.  I simply said,  “I really really don’t know.  I don’t know if I can trust you.  And I am really scared.”  I didn’t feel his anger.  I didn’t feel his indignation.  I just felt honestly scared.

As I sat there to process it all my chest started hurting.  Not a lot but just a little.   I rubbed my back and chest a little.  I tried to forget about it.  Really I had pain everywhere.  Meningitis kicks you in the butt without all the other stuff that was happening in my body.   But the pain wouldn’t go away.  It wasn’t sharp - it was more like pressure pain.  I called the nurse and casually told her.  When you are in the hospital and they are worried about your heart,  there is no CASUALLY telling ANYONE that your heart is  hurting.   I was briskly wheeled down to the Cat Scan room where they did a Cat Scan of my lungs.  I was sure everything was okay.  I even felt a little bit embarrassed about the whole thing - I was just being silly and over aware of everything that was happening in my body.  As soon as I got wheeled back to the room a nurse rushed in and said that I had to have an emergency ultrasound on my legs.  She seemed nervous - this wasn’t routine.  Something about blood clots and where did they come from?  Panic gripped me with a strong and cruel grasp.  Things were spinning out of control.

It felt like the world was closing in on me.  I was terrified.  More terrified than I have ever been.  It felt like the life was being choked out of me.  Everywhere I turned there was something to be afraid of.  And it wasn’t just little things - each one was life threatening.  Each thing could claim my life.  When the nurse left me alone, I wasn’t sure if I could make it another minute.  I looked up to the sky and said,  “yes, I trust you God because I just need to right now. I trust you. ”  I said that physically, but spiritually and emotionally it felt like I fell into his arms.  I needed Him more than anything.

Immediately, when I said that I felt my world expanding,  My breaths came in big refreshing gulps and it was as if a warm blanket of peace settled over me.  Nothing had changed.  Everything was still critical, but I had decided to trust Jesus through it all.

In that very moment, I realized something.  Trust is not putting your hand in God’s and believing that everything will turn out all right. Trust is not KNOWING that you are going to be successful and free of pain and sickness.  Because in reality there is pain and sickness;  and Jesus never promised that we would be exempt from these things.  Trust is putting your tiny hand in God’s strong, mighty one and saying,  “I know that you can walk me through whatever lies before me in the big black hole of unknowing.”  Trust is a decision and trust is completely spiritual and utterly supernatural.

That day, I was changed.

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On Closets and Simplicity

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A few months ago,  I cleaned out my entrance way closet.  It was so cluttered and so messy, I couldn't fit my coats in there anymore.  I couldn't shut the door and I was always mortified when company needed to get in there.

When I cleaned it, it felt wonderful.   It felt like a piece of peace right there in my entrance way.  It was completely refreshing and absolutely freeing to all of us.

I think our lives are like that sometimes.

Once in a while we need to take a good hard look at our lives and see what is working and see what is not.  Sometimes we have to weed out the things that aren't useful and that make our lives messy.  This is where the tricky part comes in.  Often we have to determine what that is.  We have to decide if it should still be in there but better organized.   Sometimes what worked in the beginning just doesn't work now.  You have to decide that.  You have to decide what will bring peace to your closet and to your life.

Do you have bitterness?  Get rid of that.  It will only be clutter for you.

Do you entertain jealousy?  Throw that away.  There isn't any room in your closet for that.

Are you too busy?  Do you equate busyness with acceptance;  being crazy busy with being important?   Remember your kids don't need you to save the world.  They need you to be there for them.  Present and in the moment - in their moments.  Don't buy into the lie that the busier you are, the better your life is or the more loved or in demand you are.   

Are you leaving room for harmful relationships?  Sometimes when you have harmful relationships,  you leave no room for the good ones.  It's like the coat that hangs in your closet that is too big or too small or too something but you leave it there because you think that one day you can fix it.  Get rid of it.  Make room for the coats that fit you.

Just because you can stuff it all in and close the door doesn't mean you can do it well.  It doesn't mean it looks pretty.

I want my life to be like that entrance way closet is now.  When I walk in the door,  I look to my right and take in a big gulp of peace.  It feels like I can breathe better when I see order.   I want people to look at me and feel the same way.  I want people to look at me and see peace.   I want to look at me and see peace.

Take a look at your life now.  What are some things you need to toss out in order to restore peace?

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Butterfly Wings

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My nine year old son said it and it gripped me.  I couldn't let it go.

He came home from the school the other day with a gift that he had made for Mother’s Day.  It was a really sweet gift.  It was a small canvas painted orange because it is my favorite color.  On the canvas were several butterflies that were punched out from a hole punch. It was punched from paper that Sean had  also painted.  It was a beautiful piece of artwork that I am so excited to display on my walls.

Then he said it.

He pointed to a butterfly that had blunt wings instead of pointed and rounded wings like all the others.  He said sweetly,  “Mom,  I had to hide this from the teacher because if she would have seen it, she would have had me throw it away because it’s not like the others.  But Mom,  I didn’t want to throw it away because it’s a rare butterfly.  I knew you would see that too - and we don’t throw away rare butterflies!”  he exclaimed, his eyes shining proudly.

I looked at him.  He got it.  Life - in a nutshell - he got it.  Don’t throw away the butterfly because it doesn’t look exactly like all the others.

He wasn’t ashamed of it.  He didn’t hide the blunt wings under another butterfly.  He didn’t put it on the bottom out of the way.  He put it right on the top in the center!  It was a treasured butterfly to him.

It reminded me of a workshop I went to the other day.  I came away from that evening with a thought from the main speaker that captured my heart.  So many times we look at certain students and we wonder how we can fix them.  In actuality we don’t need to fix them at all.  We need to see the beauty, the uniqueness and the rarity of their beautiful souls.  We need to grab ahold of their strengths and capitalize on them.  Our goal isn’t to change them,  to make them look like all the other humans -  like cookie cutter people.  Our job is to spur them on into greatness.  It’s not about fixing them.  It’s  completely about accepting them right where they are at.  It’s about seeing their strength and their uniqueness.  It’s not about clipping their wings so that they match the others.  We don’t need to match.  We need to live our own story and let others live theirs.  We need to let them be great in their own greatness and not measure greatness by our standard.

We were never meant to be a clone or a replica of the person next to us.   We were meant to be deeply and completely ourselves - wildly and weirdly different and unique and messy and perfect in every way.  We are all broken in some way or another - all of us show our brokenness in different ways.  All of us are accepted by the Beloved - by Jesus.  Jesus didn't tell us that he would love us when we healed ourselves.  He told us that he would love us no matter what and it's in the love that the healing comes.

Those of us who work with people on a regular basis - let's not look at the ones with different wings and wonder how we can hide them or change them.  Let our questions be different.  Let's ask ourselves how we can love them where they are at, believe in them genuinely  and help them to live and tell their story well.   Let them have a voice.  Let them see their importance in their world.  We need their voice.  We need their story and their magic.

I once heard someone say that they hated potential.  I remember it clearly - I snickered and wholeheartedly agreed.   I understand what he meant - that sometimes potential was another way of saying that they just weren't measuring up to what they could be doing in life; that they were sitting on their butts while they could be leading something great; or being someone grande.  He was really talking about potential wasted.  I got it then.  But I don't agree anymore.  I love potential.  Because  potential means greatness.   Potential means hope.  It is our job as caregivers, as nurturers, to tap into that potential.   To lead them to the vast wide field of potential and let them see with their own eyes what they can do and what they can accomplish with their own voice; it's our job to give them hope.  It's not our job to lead them to the "good little boy" next to them and ask them to be like him.  The picture is so much bigger; so much wider than that.

Pastors, Teachers, Parents,  don't try to fix the butterflies that don't have wings like the others.   

Don’t try to change them.

Don’t try to make them conform.

Do love them.

Do be proud of them.

Do see their beauty.

Please, please, please don’t throw away the butterfly with the straight wings.

It’s rare.

We need it’s beauty.

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Be Brave

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There was a woman in the Bible.

She was terrified.

She was filled with shame and remorse.

But still she found herself being brave.

You could feel the pulse of the unspoken terror as she faltered into the room full of judgmental people; full of people ready to mock  and demean her.  The stale air was stifling with anger and scorn directed solely at her.   She tried not to listen to the hushed whispers of ridicule. She hid her eyes at the faces of disapproving people.  But she felt it.  She felt it in every fibre of her being as she found herself collapsing at the feet of Jesus and began washing his feet with her costly perfume.  Because it was there that she knew she would find freedom.  It was at the feet of Jesus she would find healing for her very soul.  Being brave, she could muster - if she knew that there was freedom at the end of that pain-filled and humiliating journey.  It was a moment in time, where a woman deemed to be filthy, deemed to be wrong and reprobate of morals collided with the greatest Man of all history.  There was nothing that could happen but a miracle.

It was a brave moment for a young boy to timidly walk up to a man called Andrew and cautiously, with trembling hands,  lift up his tiny lunch; to let them have it to feed whoever they deemed necessary.  I wonder what Andrew did?  Did he laugh or did he politely take the lunch knowing that it was nothing - just a small lunch.    The very act of bravery that turned a few loaves into a feast, an ordinary day into a miracle and a little boy into a history maker.  What a full heart he must have had that day when he skipped back home.  His little lunch fed 5000 people!!

For some of us,  being brave is just getting out of bed in the morning; just showing up with a smile on our face; putting one step in front of the other even though it seems you are walking through mollases.   For some, it means grabbing onto our next grand adventure;  or stepping into that destiny that's been before you all along.  For others, it may be staying in a marriage that you know you are supposed to fight for or making amends with a person with whom a relationship was long ago, grieved.

I don't know what being brave for you today is.   I don't know what it looks like in your life.  But this is what I do know.  I know that you can do it.

In John 16:33, Jesus says,  "Take heart for I have overcome the world."   If you look at the whole chapter,  you will find that being brave to the disciples meant that they might die for the cause of their faith.  It meant that they would tell people about Jesus, they would live for Him even in the very face of grave danger.   That's what bravery was to the disciples after Jesus left this earth.  But Jesus told them that it was okay because He would give their souls peace and that the very world was in God's hands.

  What does this mean to us?  It means that we have to shift our prospective a little.  It means we have to realize that there is a bigger picture that  we don't see but that God sees it and that's good enough.

It means that even in the midst of being afraid God will blanket our souls with his peace.

Being brave doesn't mean not ever being scared.  Absolutely not - that's not bravery at all.  It means being so scared you can't move.  It means that the world stops around you but you will yourself to inch forward even if in slow motion.  Sometimes it means being terrified but making that decision to do it anyhow; to face it anyhow; to be that person you want to become.  That's bravery.  Doing it anyhow.

Your life may begin the day you choose to be brave.

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I always choose a new word for myself as a new year approaches.  I usually think about it and pray about it and decide what this year is going to look like for me and what this year is going to mean in my life.  This year I felt like my word should be 'miracles'.  I have been mulling over this word for a month now.   Every where I turn I find something to do with miracles and a stirring in my spirit which means, simply,  that I chose the right word for my life in this year.

The other night I went to a worship service with our church and I began to think of a man in the Bible.  He was a blind man.  He wanted to be healed and so he stood in front of the only One he knew could do so.    Very gently but intentionally Jesus bent down and took dirt in His hands and mixed it with His spit and smushed it in the man's eyes.    The man didn't move.  He stood there and let Jesus do this bizarre thing to him.  I don't know what Jesus was really doing.  I don't know why he chose to put mud in this man's eyes.   And he didn't explain it as you would suppose - He just did it.  Then he told the man to wash in the pool of Siloam.  So,  off he went to do exactly as Jesus had instructed him.  In the end, the man was totally healed.  So you can imagine, that he wouldn't have for even a second regretted that he let Jesus do what ever he did - however odd that it seemed.

There was another man in the Bible.   His name was Zacheuus.  He wasn't a well liked man because he was a tax collector and well known for cheating people out of a lot of money.   But this particular day,  Jesus was coming to his town and Zaccheus wanted to see him.  He wanted to see what this fuss was all about.  He just wanted to observe this Man who healed and spoke in strange parables and had such power over crowds.  He just wanted a glimpse of Him.  Most of us know this story well.  He was a small man and he knew that he wouldn't be able to push to the front of the crowd very easily.  People wouldn't let him in because, as we remember, people didn't care much for him.  Before he even got to where Jesus was, he had devised a plan.  He knew just what he was going to do.  He would climb a sycamore tree!!  Above everyone, he would be able to see Jesus.  He would be able to see what was happening in the crowd below.

It was working well until Jesus saw him!  Imagine how horrified he would have felt as Jesus began slowly walking up to his tree and gazing up at him.  What would He do?  What would He say?  Surely,  he  KNEW everything about him.  Zaccheus could sense that the minute Jesus started staring into his eyes.  I imagine that he wanted to run.  I imagine that he wanted to climb down the tree and get out of there at lightening speed.  He felt as though he had been caught.  But he was paralyzed.  He couldn't move a muscle as the power of His stare gripped his very soul.   He hung onto the tree branch, hanging on for dear life.  And then Jesus spoke.  And in one sentence, one paragraph, one moment,  his life was changed forever.  Jesus wanted to come to his house.  Jesus didn't hate him.  Jesus didn't shun him.  Jesus wanted to be with him.

Zacchaeus woke up like any other day.  He got ready for the day like any other day.   He had one interruption to his day and that was to climb a tree to see a Man who was changing the world as he knew it.  It wasn't going to be a huge deal.  He was just going to take a peek at this guy and then go about his daily business.  Little did he know that that he would be climbing down the tree a different man than when he climbed up.   Little did he know that the very act of climbing that tree, that day would culminate in a miracle for his life.  Zacchaeus repented of his wayward ways,  Jesus saved him, Zacchaeus gave back all the money that he had cheated people out of, and he was a different man.  Completely reinvented.  What would have happened had Zacchaeus decided against climbing that tree?  What would have happened had he decided that he just had too much to do and besides climbing a tree to see Jesus was just too beneath him?  Only little kids climbed trees.  It was embarrassing.  It was humbling.  It was downright crazy.   But on the other side of that crazy act;  on the other side of the unconventional thing to do - was his miracle.  It was that thing that turned his life upside down.

I look through the Bible and there are many times  where Jesus reaches out his hands and the miracles flow.  Then there are many times that he required the recipient to do something - and sometimes something even strange.   But on the other side of the obedience was always a miracle; a life changed.

My question for  you today is -  what is your sycamore tree?  What is that thing that he is asking you to do?  He may simply be asking you to take a leap of faith and follow him  - believe in him wholeheartedly.  He may be nudging you to do something  you have known for a long time.   Or he may be asking you to do something that you think is bizarre.   Whatever he is asking you to do whether it is big or small, listen to him.  Your miracle may be waiting for you on the other side of that sycamore tree.

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Ninety Cents

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I could almost hear her thoughts screaming at me.  “It’s NINETY CENTS lady.  Give it a rest!”  I had gone through the till at Walmart and she owed me ninety cents but forgot to give it to me before she shut the drawer of the cash register.  She was slightly embarrassed and I was equally embarrassed waiting for so many minutes for someone to come and open her till.  But ninety cents is ninety cents.  Add a few dollars to it and you have a big jug of milk.  Or find it on sale and you have a loaf of bread.  As I was calculating this in my head,  I became more and more determined to wait for my ninety cents even though a few minutes were stretching into many minutes.   Besides,  what if she was conveniently doing this with all of her customers - by the end of the day she would get quite a nice tip.  I was beginning to wonder as she was decidedly annoyed with me,  telling the other customers behind me,  “Sorry, I can’t help you.  I am waiting to give this customer her NINETY CENTS!” as she carefully put the emphasis on NINETY CENTS.

“I ONLY owe you NINETY CENTS,” she had said when she looked at the receipt.  “Yep, and that ninety cents matters to me,” I said with an edge of sternness in my voice as I stared her down.  She sighed inwardly as she realized that I had really bonded with the ninety cents and I wasn’t going to back down too easily.   She kept calling back on the phone and to be honest,  I did feel a twinge of sympathy for her- but not enough to give up my ninety cents. Also,  because she was far more annoyed and bothered with me than sorry about not giving me my rightful change.

Finally after about 10 minutes, lots of finger tapping, impatiently shifting her weight from one foot to the other and several calls to her superiors,  I got my money.  I heaved a sigh of relief,  thanked her and was on my way to my car.

And suddenly I realized - only after I went back and got my groceries because I forgot them after all of that - that this is a profound thing that just happened.

I sat stunned in the car, as I got this image in my head.  This is just the way that God looks at us.  He stares us down as we say,  “But we are so insignificant.  We are so small.”   And he says,  “I want my 90 cents.”  He doesn’t back down either.  He doesn’t pass on, realizing that  maybe you really  are just one small person - just one insignificant human being and there will be lots of them;  lots that He will lose.

NO,  he stares you down.  He says,  “You may be 90 cents but you are MY 90 cents and that makes you worth a lot..  Some day you will buy something with your life.  Your life matters.  Your story matters.  Your feelings matter.  Your paintings, your music, your dancing, your mundane job, your exciting career -  it all matters.  Deeply. To Me, it matters.”

Because you know,  Jesus died for us.  No matter how much you feel that you are worth,  he died for you.  Jesus died for that 90 cents and he wants YOU.  He wants all of you because he can see what He can do with your life.  He can see the potential that you have in your music,  in your words,  in your paintings,  in your friendships and in your life.  He sees you in a way that you don’t even see yourself.  He sees so much more than ninety cents.  He sees so much more than a small life and unimportant thoughts.  He sees you and he sees VALUE.  That's right - and he isn’t leaving, my friend until you see it too.

You may be 90 cents.  You may be someone standing beside someone you feel is so much greater but let me tell you that Jesus Christ is staring you down right now with those eyes that look right through you to your soul. He is not moving and  - and he is saying,  “I don’t care if you are 90 cents.  You matter.  And I want you. ”

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A Weekend of Promise

It’s hard to believe that it has been a month since our conference with the leaders of the churches that we are involved with.   Our little church belongs to a community of several churches both in England and in Canada.  What does this say to me?  It says that i am not alone.

We had three great men from England join us as leaders to talk to us.  When Mike crossed the border,  he was strongly encouraged not to preach to us.  While to me that is shocking - we DO live in Canada and we experience freedom of speech and freedom of religion - he stood by that restriction for the duration of the time that us as leaders got together.  He did this out of integrity and I appreciate that.  But even in that restriction,   God had other plans.  We prayed.  We prayed for the community.  WE prayed for those with hurting hearts and broken lives.  We prayed for those who don’t know Jesus.  We prayed for those who do know Jesus and need a closer walk with him.  We prayed for his grace and his love to be revealed to our friends and to us.

We did a lot of praying that weekend.   It was a beautiful time. And what came from that is a rich, deep founding of friendships - a knowing that each of us live so many miles from each other but that we are not alone.  We carry the same burdens, we are all on similar journeys.

Pastoring and shepherding can be a lonely road, but as we spent the weekend together, as we prayed for each other's and looked each other in the eye  and said, I am praying for you, suddenly we knew that we were in this journey together.  And if our eyes had been solely focused on our own lives and our own Church, we suddenly focused on a wider path - a path where churches stood on either side of us - each of us with the same vision, with the same heart, with the same passion for the people around us.   It is our bond.  And it makes us a tribe.  We found our tribe in each other.  And when we went back to our churches to work and to dig and to plant, we knew that there were others doing the same things, praying the same things and feeling the same things in nearby towns or provinces.   None of us are alone.

Our churches matter.  Each of our churches matter and we are going to pursue everything that God has for us and we are going to encourage and pray for each other to do the same.

For me personally, I was challenged to pick up a dream that I had put on the shelf many many years ago.  I was born and raised in Japan.  Japan is one of my passions.  I have always wanted to go back there and to see fruit from what my Mom and Dad planted so many years ago.  God so profoundly spoke to my spirit that the passion I have for Japan is intentional.    He isn’t done with me or with us in the nation of Japan and that excites me.

Around the table of Tim Hortons, between meetings,  we as team leaders shared our hearts.  Mike Betts asked a question that stuck with me.  He asked each of us what we love, what refreshes us and makes us come alive.  We shared what we saw in each other.  From that, we talked about how working and journeying together will work; what it will look like.   We talked about each persons strengths and what they could offer RM Canada to make it run smoothly.  The truth is,  we always need to look at running anything we do better.  That's when we know that we are a healthy, living, vibrant entity or group of churches.  We weren't looking at who would be the leader or who would be better than who.  We were looking at strengths and how we could capitalize on those in order to keep what we are doing alive and working beautifully.  This is how true team works.  It's not about who is better or who is higher or more talented.  It's a matter of tapping into our strengths and putting what we have to offer onto the table.

I am so excited to see where this journey of joining Churches will take us.  It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time.   Technology allows us to do so much that we could not have done years ago.  We skype, we text, we email and we facebook each other.  This is so vital in building team and in underlining the fact that we are not alone.  We are in this thing we call “life” together.  We are building churches together.  We are praying for our communities together.   When one is hurting, we are all hurting.  When one is rejoicing, we are all rejoicing.  Because it is so much better to do life together.

Together, shoulder to shoulder we will see the world, or at least our corner of the world set free.

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September 25, 1990

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Four words that changed my world.  " Your baby is dead. Your baby is dead."  My doctor  was running along beside my stretcher, in the halls of the hospital.  He must have said it twelve times as I was waking up from the anaethesia.  " Your baby is dead.  There was nothing you could have done differently.  The cord was wrapped around his neck and his stomach. "  I still remember what he was wearing - I still remember the feel  of his hand softly on mine as he delivered the unthinkable news.  I tried to wake up - I tried to comprehend what he was saying.   No it couldn't be.  My baby was just moving around yesterday.  We were at the finish line.  The room was all decorated in brightly coloured clowns and the crib was waiting for a tiny baby to makes its grande entrance.   This didn't happen to us.  These things only happened to other people - but not us.

One day I was planning, scheming, full of hope and vision for the future and the next day there was a nothingness that hurt more  than if someone had cut my arms off.  One week, I was standing in his bedroom holding freshly washed blankets and sleepers to put in his dresser.  The next week I was standing at his little grave site with baby roses in my hand.  In a moment,  in a sentence, my life was forever changed.

I didn't expect it and I didn't choose it.  Nor would I choose it now if I was able to go back in time and change the history of my life.    I will never fully understand and I will always miss Theodore.   There will always be a place at the table in my heart for him.

When I look back on what I went through twenty four years ago,  there was so much going on;  so much swirling around my brain and emotions but one thing stands out.   In the midst of the pain, in the midst of the black void - in the midst of the broken pieces and the unanswered questions, was Jesus.   He was there with his outstretched arms ready to carry me through, ready to steady me and ready to make sense of my world.

And this is what I know.  I know that Jesus will carry you too.  No matter where your life is,  no matter what circumstance you are going through or what storm you find yourself in the midst of.  He will carry you.

  If only you will let him...

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Burnt Toast and Answered Prayer

I was young and impetuous and a little bit angry at God.  I was  twenty one and pregnant with my first child.  I had had a job that I loved but standing for hours on end was so hard on my back. ( Must have been those heels. )  So I quit work in order to get ready for my small miracle.

But this particular day,  I was angry.  We didn't have any money.  I needed the job I quit.  Jeremy sold insurance but even though he worked really hard at it,  business just wasn't good.

The day started out grumpy and tired and nauseous as a lot of pregnant days start.   Jer was at work and I really needed breakfast.   We didn't have any peanut butter or jam or butter left.  We had no cereal.  We had no groceries~ no food in the house at all.   But we had two crusts left from our loaf of bread.  That was it.  I slammed the crusts down into the toaster sighing heavily.

Doing something else that needed to be done around the house I returned a few minutes later to the toaster; to my two crusts.  I was just going to eat them dry.  To my horror when I took a look,  they were burnt!!  Burnt to a crisp!  My last two crusts.  Something was horribly wrong with our toaster.

I looked upwards.   "God,  I am tired and I am hungry and I am ANGRY!!  I am going to walk over to that couch and I am going to go to sleep and I don't want to wake up for a little while.  I don't want visitors.  I don't want anyone phoning. I don't want anyone knocking on the door.   I don't want any interruptions!"  (Yes, I was quite bossy back then.)

I walked over to our brown plastic couch and threw myself onto it, falling into an uneasy and fitful sleep.  I hadn't been there for longer than a half an hour when suddenly I was jarred awake by my phone ringing.  Angrily,  I jerked my head up again,   "God you can't even answer that  small simple request?!?!"  I yelled.

"Hello?" I said grumpily.

"Hello?  Faith?"  It was my former boss on the other end.  "Would you let me know your bank account number?  I have some vacation pay that I need to put in there for you.  I figured you might want it right away."  She was right - I did and it was enough to buy quite a few groceries for us.

I learned something that day.  You never know what God is doing when He isn't answering your "small, simple" request the way you would like Him to.  I am so thankful that He is a God who provides,  even when you are grumpy...

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Broken and Beautiful

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It has been a year since my father in laws death.  He almost died on his birthday and God graciously chose to give us two more months with him.    A piece of me died the day he died.  Dad had such a propensity for casting vision, and for being an encourager that suddenly I didn't know who I was without him anymore.. I didn't know who we were.  The death of my dearly loved father in law, along with many other difficult things this past year, put me in the middle of a very treacherous place.  I spent a dark year trying to find myself.  Trying to find who I was without  the familiar  surroundings of the previous years; trying to understand what the "new normal" was in my life.   I met some bitter tears while I groped my way around some very dark days.

In essence I crashed and I crashed hard.  But the good news is that I crashed hard into Jesus' arms.  I crashed hard and pieces of me were so broken and so undone I just didn't know what to do anymore. You see,  when Jesus sees broken pieces, he doesn't see ugliness.  When he sees pain, he doesn't scorn you or avoid you.  When he sees the broken pieces of a person's life, He gently bends down and begins to pick up the pieces, one by one,  making a beautiful picture; a beautiful masterpiece.

Little by little Jesus began to remake me.  He began to rebuild me.  And those pieces that were so broken, so hurt, began to be reinvented.  I have grabbed ahold of some truths and some callings that he has on my life.  I have stepped into an authority that I had never dreamed I could hold in my hand before.  I am not the same person that I was this time last summer.  I am different.  I have stepped out into uncomfortable places and I have come back affirmed and strengthened more.  I have gone through things that I thought would make me want to throw in the towel - and while I did want to for a season - now,  I realize that I have lived through some really hard and bitter things in this last year and He has held me through it all.

As I look around - I AM STILL STANDING!!  But I am not just barely standing.  I am not just barely holding on, waiting for someone to cut the rope that I am hanging onto.  I am standing with both feet firmly planted, holding onto life with both hands and facing the future that God has for me.  I am holding my life with passion and with joy.  I feel a strength of fortitude that I haven't felt before.  I  cautiously walked through shaky ground and dangerous territory and slowly I felt the strength of God flow into my legs allowing me to run and to leap.

  He is so good and my heart is so full right now.  Because once again,  He has taken the broken pieces of my life and I see beauty again.

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