Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Known for Doing Everything in Love

"They'll know we are Christians by our love."

That's a line from an old song that began running through my head when I read a verse in 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 16:20 says, "Do everything in love."

Everything we do should be done in love . . . for others and for God.

Our lives should be marked by love. Like the old song says, people should know we are Christians by our love. If we're going to be known by our love, then we need to be doing things in love.

We don't have to do everything in love. We can do things . . . in anger . . . in frustration . . . in indifference.

But, we can choose to do things in love.

And it does bring something different. When we do everything in love, it brings joy in what we do. Even when we're doing menial tasks, or things we would rather not do, if we choose to do them in love, we can find joy in doing them.

I don't always do everything in love. I have days (more than I wish) where I do nothing in love. I do it for other things. But that's not where I want to stay. I want to learn to do everything in love. I want people to know I'm a Christian because of my love, not because I have to constantly tell people that.

What about you? How are you doing at doing everything in love?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Changed by Encountering God

Meeting with Jesus changes us. Or at least it should. We shouldn't walk away from an encounter with Jesus the same as we were before the encounter.

Being changed doesn't mean everything we say or think or do will be instantly different. When we meet with and He sets us free, we still have to learn to walk out that freedom.

We have to develop new habits to take the place of the old ones. We have to develop new ways of thinking to replace the old ways.

This all takes time, but it doesn't mean we weren't changed because of our encounter with Jesus. We were changed. If we weren't, it wouldn't be possible for us to develop new habits and ways of thinking, because we would still be bound up in the chains that held us down.

We walk away from an encounter with Jesus changed. And then we learn to live it out in our everyday life. We learn new ways of living that reflect what our encounter with Jesus changed in us.

This is something I've been learning in the last few weeks. At the beginning of this month, I went to a retreat with my church called Encounter God. And that's exactly what happened for me that weekend. I encountered God, and I did leave changed.

God met me when I put myself in a place where what I wanted was to meet with Him. He broke bondage that had kept me from being who He created me to be, as I confessed it and chose to turn from it. He healed hurts from my past that had been keeping a firm grip on my life.

I knew I was leaving that weekend a different person - a free person. But I also knew that didn't mean there wasn't work I still had to do. God had broken the chains and healed the hurts, but now I had to get up and walk. The healing and freedom wouldn't do me any good if I just stayed exactly where I was.

Like the people Jesus brought physical healing to when He walked the earth - after Jesus healed them, they had to get up and walk. Like Peter when he was miraculously freed from prison (see Acts 12) - when the chains fell off him, he had to get up and walk out of the prison.

If the people Jesus healed hadn't gotten up and walked, their healing wouldn't have meant much to them. If Peter hadn't walked out of the prison, his freedom from his chains wouldn't have meant much to him.

The same is true for me. If I don't get up and walk away from the chains that held me in my own prison, my freedom doesn't mean much. If I don't get up and walk because I've been healed, my healing doesn't mean much.

So, that's what these last few weeks have been about for me and what the weeks ahead will be like. Learning to walk out my freedom and my healing.

And it all started because I met with Jesus and allowed that encounter to change me. The change has happened, now I have to walk in it.

I share this to encourage you. It's easy to get discouraged when you know God has done something and yet nothing seems to change in how you live. It takes time to learn to walk out the change.

When was the last time you had an encounter with Jesus that changed you? How are you doing at walking that out?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Friend

Joining in with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday again this week.

Five minutes of writing on the word "friend" today. Five minutes - no editing, no over-thinking, no back tracking. I don't always do that part well, but I edit these far less than most things I write.

Friends . . .

We need them.

We long for them.

Without them, life is boring and lonely.

To be a true friend requires that we trust someone else with things that they could use to hurt us. And that we allow them to trust us with those same things.

A true friendship is built on trust. But that makes it difficult sometimes. It makes it hard.

I've been blessed with some great friends in my life. They're people to laugh with. To cry with. To talk about pretty much anything with. To share so much of life with.

A true friend is someone you can sit in silence with and it doesn't feel awkward. You're comfortable enough to just be quiet and be together sometimes. No one rushes to fill the silence.

A true friend will call you on the tough stuff. They're not afraid of challenging you because they care enough to want the best for you. And, even when you don't like it, you'll listen to what they say because you know they care.

Who are your friends? What kind of friends are they? What kind of friend are you?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Are We So Lonely?

Loneliness . . . it seems to be something common in our culture. Even in all our connectedness with social media, we're lonely.

All around us people talk about feeling alone in a room full of people. We're looking for connection with people, but we struggle to find it.

If you think about it, becoming part of God's family should be a cure for loneliness. We become part of a family. It's something that should seem to fill that place where we need to be connected with others.

But, as I was driving home from church on the weekend, I started to wonder why it seems like the church and the family of God isn't the cure for loneliness it seems like it should be. And whether the expectation that it would is realistic or not.

And then I started to wonder if maybe the reason why so many of us who have chosen to follow Jesus are still feeling lonely is because of things we do or don't do. We get so caught up in trying to put up the best us that we can that we keep ourselves distant from everyone around us.

Instead of really allowing people into our lives, we only allow them to see a small part of us - the best part of us. And we remain lonely because the connection we long for goes beyond just letting people see a part of us.

We long to really be known. And that means the good and the not so good about us and our lives.

When we don't allow people to really know us, we remain lonely. Because we're not meeting our need for real connection with others.

I know this has been me often. I've walked through life and been a part of all kinds of things with churches and still felt very lonely. And it's because I wasn't willing to let people really know me.

So, how do we change this?

We have to take a risk. We have to allow people to really know us. If we don't, we will never meet our need for connection and we will continue to go through life lonely.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

30th Birthday Post

Today is my 30th birthday. For some reason, days like these often make me reflective. This one especially.

I've been reflecting on many things the last few days. The good in my life. The things that have happened that I didn't expect. The things that haven't happened that I thought would have by now.

I'm realizing how important it is to reflect on both sides of that.

There are things I had thought would happen by the time I was 30 that haven't. But, if I just dwell on those things, life can become depressing.

There's another side to it all. A side where there are things that have happened in my life that I never expected. Things that are better than anything I could have imagined on my own. And I have to see those things as well, because they make life so much better.

I think that concludes my birthday post for this year. I don't have anything new or insightful to write about. Just encouragement to not just see one side of things, but to look for the other as well.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Jump

Five Minute Friday post today. Joining Lisa-Jo Baker and others. Today's word is jump. Five minutes of unedited (well, I check for spelling mistakes and grammar, but nothing else) writing to share on a word given to us to write about.

"Jump," she called to me from below. "You'll be fine. The ropes and harness will catch you."

It was the last stage of the obstacle course I was doing. I never thought I'd get this far. I don't like being up so high. But now that I had made it this far . . . would I actually be able to make it? Jumping off this ledge was the last thing I wanted to do.

After what seemed like forever, I finally did. I really didn't have a choice. There wasn't another way down.

I fell for a while, then everything caught and I flew through the air. I was never more grateful to reach the end though. When my feet finally hit the landing area at the end I was glad. But I was also glad that I had done it. I had conquered a fear.

As I look back on that one thing, I see a lesson for the rest of my life.

Sometimes, we're called to jump. God is calling us to jump. And trust that He will catch us.

We have a choice when we are called to jump. We can stay safe and stay where we are. Or we can jump and experience the fear and exhilaration of taking a chance - of not playing it safe.

I know which one makes life more interesting. But, I also know that I don't usually choose that.

Which choice will you make when God calls you to jump?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Share It or Hide It?

Sometimes when I write I find it easy to talk about things from a distance. Under the guise of not getting too personal in my writing. I can begin to talk theoretically about things.

Usually, I know the truth of what I'm saying, because I have lived it to some degree before. But I'm playing it safe by not getting personal. It makes it easier to not get hurt.

But I'm realizing that I learn from real life stories - from times the writer takes a chance and shares something a little bit personal. A writer that allows me into their life is one who can change the way I see or think about someone. They're the ones I keep on reading.

When we share things that are personal, we provide other people the opportunity to hurt us with that information. But if we don't ever put ourselves in this position, we get lonely. We isolate ourselves and then we wonder why we feel so alone.

Obviously, we can't share everything with everyone. We need some boundaries in place. But sometimes we go beyond reasonable boundaries and share nothing at all which isolates and restricts us from really living.

So we have to learn to take a chance with people.

To share things with them from our lives.

Ultimately, we're taking the chance of getting hurt. But if we've taken time to develop friendships and trust with people, we've hopefully shared with people who won't hurt us with what they've just heard.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


This post should have been posted on Friday as part of Five Minute Friday, seeing as the word for this past Friday was "here". But it wasn't written then, so I share it now.

Driving towards a familiar place. One of my favourite places to spend time.

A place filled with memories.

Friendships formed here.

Friendships strengthened here.

Challenged in my walk with God here.

Many important lessons learned here.

Retreats and summer camp. I've spent lots of time here.

Turning down the dirt road that takes me here. It feels the same as it always has. But something also feels different this time.

I'm looking forward to being here again. But I'm also a little unsure of why I'm here this time.

This retreat won't be exactly the same as all the others I've been to here. I've been told that by others - by their stories from these retreats.

But, I know that God has told me I'm supposed to be here this weekend. God has a reason for me being here.

A couple days later, I head back out on the same dirt road. Leaving now.

I know why God had me here.

He had something for me here.

I was here to meet with Him. And now I'm leaving changed.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How Do You Approach God?

How do you approach God?

Do you come running and excited to see him?

Or are you hesitant to approach God?

As I was driving home from my church tonight I was thinking about this. As I did, God brought a picture to mind and used it to remind me of something important.

I was reminded of something from when I was a kid. When my sisters and I were little, the sound of my Dad coming in the back door when he got home from work each day, caused us to stop everything we were doing. We ran to see Dad. He didn't get far into the house before the three of us were right there.

As I was remembering this, I felt like God was asking me why I didn't approach Him the way I did with my Dad when I was little.

If God is my heavenly Father, why do I seem to think that I can't approach with Him with excitement and joy to see Him? Why do I seem to think it's something I always have to take seriously?

Maybe there are times when we need to be more serious in our approach to God. That's the case with our earthly fathers too. But, I think we need to learn to sometimes approach God with the excitement of a little girl running to say hi to Dad when he gets home from work.

After all, God paid a huge price for us to have the freedom to do so. And He loves us even better than our earthly fathers ever can.

When was the last time you approached God with joy and excitement to see Him and spend time with Him?

Is this something you need to learn to do more often?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Learning to Trust Again

Another conversation.

Another rejection.

Another hurt.

I walked away already beginning to build my wall of protection.

"I'll never trust anyone with the truth about my life again."

That's how I would protect myself. That's how I was going to make sure it never happened again.

And that's what I did. For a long time after I told myself I would never trust again, I didn't.

And even when I began to trust people again . . . it didn't come easy. You had to prove to me that I could trust you.

It's almost like I threw some bit of truth about me at you. And then watched to see if you would catch it and what you did with it when you did.

If you caught it and handled it well according to me, then there would be more chances for the same thing to happen.

But if you didn't catch it, or if you didn't do what I expected with it, I wasn't going to trust you with anything again.

I thought it was the way to avoid being hurt again. I thought I was protecting myself.

The truth is . . . I was isolating myself. The longer I lived like this, the higher and thicker the wall I was building became. Only the wall was no longer doing what I thought it would do.

It wasn't protecting me.

It was isolating me. And I was getting lonely.

Something needed to change, but I didn't know how to do it anymore. This was how I'd lived for so long I wasn't sure I knew anything else.

But, then a weekend came. A weekend where God showed me how to trust again. How to let people have a look at what was actually behind that wall. And see the broken mess I really am, instead of the perfect looking place I'd created in front of the wall for others to see.

I still don't have this trust thing perfect. It's scary. I don't want to be hurt again.

That wall I've built is crumbling. It's starting to come down. It's taking time. I've built it so high and so thick. The wall has become a part of me. It doesn't come down easily.

But slowly, surely, God is taking down those bricks. Sometimes they come down one at a time. Sometimes it's like things just explode and whole sections of the wall disappear at once.

It's about freedom. Freedom to be real. Freedom to be honest. Free to be all sort of things I've written about before, but I'm beginning to realize I didn't fully understand, because I wasn't living them.



They seem to go together. You can't trust without freedom, and you don't have freedom if you don't trust. It's hard, but worth it. Life will never be fulfilling any other way.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I walked carefully along the muddy trail. It had been raining recently and the ground showed evidence of that. But the sun was shining now. As I walked I listened to the birds chirping and the wind rustling the trees.

Alone with God in nature. That's when He often speaks to me. This time was no different.

As I looked carefully for where my next step would land, God began to speak.

The rain renews all that I have created. The trees and grass and flowers all need moisture to grow. But, the rain can leave a mess sometimes. It takes time for the ground to soak up all the rain.

Your heart is like that too. It needs my rain to come and make things grow. To come and make things beautiful. But when my rain comes to your heart, sometimes it makes a mess before you soak it all up.

I wasn't quite sure where this all was going at that moment. I kept thinking about it as I walked on.

The further I walked the less muddy the path was. Eventually it become quite hard and dry. God spoke again.

When the ground is hard and dry, things can't grow. The rain comes and softens the ground so that things have room to grow.

Your heart is like that too. Over time it can become hard and dry. Then nothing grows. When I send my rain, it softens your heart so I can make things grow. The rain might leave a mess for a time when it comes, but it is what allows Me to work in your life.

Long after I finished my walk, I was still thinking about what God had said to me.

You see, I'm someone who usually tries to avoid anything in my life that could be seen as rain on my heart. It doesn't often seem to be pleasant. It's often hard.

But, those are times when God works. Those are times when God brings healing . . . grace and mercy. We need the rain. Even if it leaves a mess for a time. Without it, our hearts become dry and hard and nothing grows.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

God, I'm Listening

I listening for Your voice
I want to hear from You
Sometimes it seems so hard
To hear Your still small voice
Over noise all around me
I want to hear You better
To recognize Your voice always
Teach me, God, to listen
To pay attention, look for You
I'm listening for Your voice
I want to hear from You
You speak so many different ways
I don't want to miss them
Your Word - the pages come alive
Creation - the beauty of all You made
The imprints on my heart and mind
Teach me, God, to listen
To pay attention, look for You
I'm listening for Your voice
I want o hear from You
Sometimes the words of others
Make your message clearly known
The still small voice that guides me
As I walk each day
Your voice still speaks so clearly
Teach me, God, to listen
To pay attention, look for You

Friday, April 5, 2013

Five Minute Friday: After

Joining in with Five Minute Friday and Lisa-Jo Baker's blog today. Today's word is "after."

After . . .

It's a word we use to delay pursuing something in our lives.

I'll do that after I . . .
     . . . finish my degree
     . . . get married
     . . . get a better job
     . . . have enough money in the bank.

We can give a list of excuses for what we're waiting for before we pursue something. We often say we'll do something after we meet a certain requirement of some kind.

There's always something we have to do before we get to pursuing that dream. The dream comes after all sorts of other things.

But there's something we miss when we continually put those dreams off until after.

We miss the joy and fear of trusting God as we step out into the unknown.

If we wait until after we've achieved the great life and the financial security we claim we need to pursue a dream, we miss out on that. And often we miss out on the dream no matter what.

Because we can always find something more we have to achieve or acquire first. The after holds us back.

One little word . . . five letters . . . and the potential to impact our lives in huge ways.

What are you waiting for before you pursue something? What is your after?

Are you willing to take a chance now and take a step towards that dream before you reach your after?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Doing Good Without Knowing How it Turns Out

"You do something good. You're not always around to see how it turns out."

That's a line from an episode of one of my favourite TV shows. I was watching NCIS a couple days ago when those words were spoken. They were spoken as encouragement to someone who was feeling like they weren't doing enough good in what they did.

"You do something good. You're not always around to see how it turns out."

I think there's a lot of truth in those words. And they can apply to many aspects of life.

We can spend time doing good. Helping people in many ways. And then they're gone from our lives and we don't know the outcome of what we did.

It's frustrating. Maybe even depressing.

Especially when we're trying to help people. We want to know how what we did turned out.

But, sometimes we're just not going to see how the good we did turned out. We can't get caught up in that. We have to instead, focus on the good we did - regardless of whether we know how it turned out or not.

Ultimately, we're not responsible for how things turn out for the other person - the one we try to help. We're just responsible for what we do. For the good we are compelled to do.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beautifully Broken

Jagged shards of glass covered the floor around me.

I was trapped by the broken vase. No where to step next without stepping on the broken glass. The broken pieces kept me stuck.

Often that's how I've felt about the brokenness in my life. I look around and all I see if the brokenness in me. And I end up feeling trapped by it.

Held back.

Kept from doing many things.

Trapped. Captive.

Slowly. Carefully.

I begin to gather the glass off the floor around me and piece it back together. The vase was a favourite. I didn't want to lose it.

So I began the difficult and sometimes painful work of putting the broken pieces back together again.

God wants to do the same with our lives. He wants to put the brokenness in our lives back together. He takes on the task of putting them back together if we allow Him to.

A slow and sometimes painful process as God puts lives and hearts back to how they should be - the way He created them to be. But He has the patience and the love to do the work. If only we allow Him.

I knew the vase wouldn't be perfect any longer.

There were gaps in it that allowed the water to pour through.

But it was still beautiful.

More beautiful than before it had been broken.

Our lives are that way too. When we allow God to put our broken pieces back together, we're more beautiful than we were before.

And the cracks that comes from putting the broken pieces back together allow God's love to pour through us to the people around us.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us."
2 Corinthians 4:7