Learn to Celebrate Even the Smallest of Victories

My life has been filled with struggles and so many of my posts relate my struggles –  with my struggles.

The past few days have been no exception. Early Friday morning I wrenched my lower back – doing nothing more strenuous that filling a bucket of water (to flush our toilet which hasn’t been working!) The pain was so bad that I dropped to my knees, began retching and almost passed out.

I managed to crawl to my recliner and haul myself up into it – and there is where I have basically stayed for the past 4 days. My husband had to help me get to the bathroom and back again.

The one small blessing (?) in that scenario was that at the time of my injury, I was wearing a little sundress as a nightie and was “sans undies”, or “going commando” as my hubby likes to say. This little fact made it sooooo much easier to go to the bathroom since I was unable to stand without holding on to something and had to use both of my hands to hold onto the bathroom counter to sit and to stand – thus leaving no hands for the pulling down and up of underpants.

The next day I was able to change into a long sundress because I didn’t have to bend down – just pull things over my head  – but still no undies. Not really a problem until an overly friendly blue mud dauber wasp decided to fly up my dress! A few tense moments!

My back pain slowly lessened each day and bound tightly with a back brace, I even managed to slowly shuffle into our van so that my hubby could take me for a couple of country drives – and a Wendy’s Frosty – but I was still “sans undies”.

Today, however, my hubby is in bed with a migraine and the Orkin man was coming to spray our house for spiders. I was not willing to greet the poor Orkin man in my “sans undies” state, so I finally dared to try to bend enough to get some undies on – and I was successful! For which, I and the Orkin man are eternally gratefully!

So today I write to tell you to remember to celebrate even the smallest of victories! (And it helps to have a sense of humour too).

Image result for funny picture of trying to put on underwear

Eph 5:20 Giving praise at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father;

Blessings,

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Sometimes You Just Wanna Cry

I can’t believe that it has been so very long since my last post!

The past two years have really been an emotional roller coaster ride with some pretty deep down slides.

We have grieved as we watched our retirement dreams die.

We have struggled to deal with new and alarming health issues as well as with the increase in existing health issues.

Chronic pain, fatigue and the loss of certain physical abilities have changed our lives.

Financial struggles have added to the stress.

And on top of our own struggles, we have also spent the past two years walking alongside a beloved child whose life literally fell apart at the seams.

I am exhausted – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

In the midst of all these trails and tribulations, I work at purposely looking for the blessings in each day. There are many days when doing that is also a real struggle, but it is a very good exercise in keeping my faith.

As each crisis passes, I have been able to look back and see where God has provided for me and my family. I also find peace in knowing that my heavenly Father understands my fears, frustrations, doubts and tears.

I don’t know how I would make it through all the trials and tribulations if I did not have the blessed assurance that God IS, that he loves me and that I can go to him with all my hurts and worries and that he cares and wants to help.

So I am doing my best to live quietly and peaceably, one day at a time, trusting in my heavenly Father’s love, grace, mercy and power.

Rom 5:1 For which reason, because we have righteousness through faith, let us be at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;
Rom 5:2 Through whom, in the same way, we have been able by faith to come to this grace in which we now are; and let us have joy in hope of the glory of God.
Rom 5:3 And not only so, but let us have joy in our troubles: in the knowledge that trouble gives us the power of waiting;
Rom 5:4 And waiting gives experience; and experience, hope:
Rom 5:5 And hope does not put to shame; because our hearts are full of the love of God through the Holy Spirit which is given to us.

Three Gifts

Joh 17:23 I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. 

 

Christmas is supposed to be all about the birth of Jesus. However, the true story of his birth has been so wrapped up with myth, legend and tradition that it is often difficult to know fact from fiction.

One of the traditional Christmas legends is that three Kings from the East, Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar, arrived at the manger when Jesus was born and presented him with three gifts – frankincense, gold and myrrh.

If you read the biblical account carefully, you will note the following: the men were not called Kings, the number of them was not mentioned and neither were their names, and they did not find Jesus as a baby in the manger.

Mat 2:1 Now when the birth of Jesus took place in Beth-lehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod the king, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Mat 2:2 Saying, Where is the King of the Jews whose birth has now taken place? We have seen his star in the east and have come to give him worship.
Mat 2:3 And when it came to the ears of Herod the king, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Mat 2:4 And he got together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, questioning them as to where the birth-place of the Christ would be.
Mat 2:5 And they said to him, In Beth-lehem of Judaea; for so it is said in the writings of the prophet,
Mat 2:6 You Beth-lehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the chiefs of Judah: out of you will come a ruler, who will be the keeper of my people Israel.
Mat 2:7 Then Herod sent for the wise men privately, and put questions to them about what time the star had been seen.
Mat 2:8 And he sent them to Beth-lehem and said, Go and make certain where the young child is; and when you have seen him, let me have news of it, so that I may come and give him worship.
Mat 2:9 And after hearing the king, they went on their way; and the star which they saw in the east went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the young child was.
Mat 2:10 And when they saw the star they were full of joy.
Mat 2:11 And they came into the house, and saw the young child with Mary, his mother; and falling down on their faces they gave him worship; and from their store they gave him offerings of gold, perfume, and spices.
Mat 2:12 And it was made clear to them by God in a dream that they were not to go back to Herod; so they went into their country by another way. (BBE)

The legend does accurately mention three gifts, as found in the scripture:

Mat 2:11 And coming into the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother. And they fell down and worshiped Him. And opening their treasures, they presented gifts to Him, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 

Some Christians believe that each of the three gifts held a symbolic meaning:

  1. Gold is associated with Kingship and Jesus is called the King of Kings.

Rev 19:16 And He has on His garment, and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

2. Frankincense was part of the holy sacrificial incense burnt in the Temple. It was to be set apart and holy just as Jesus was set apart and holy.

Exo 30:34 And the Lord said to Moses, Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, with the best frankincense, in equal weights;
Exo 30:35 And make from them a perfume, such as is made by the art of the perfume-maker, mixed with salt, and clean and holy.
Exo 30:36 And put some of it, crushed very small, in front of the ark in the Tent of meeting, where I will come face to face with you; it is to be most holy.
Exo 30:37 You are not to make any perfume like it for yourselves: it is to be kept holy to the Lord.

3. Myrrh was a perfume used for anointing as well as for use in the embalming process. As a gift to Jesus, it may have represented that Jesus was to become The Anointed One of God and also as a foreshadowing of his death.

Act 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good, and healing all those who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him.

Joh 19:39 And Nicodemus also came, who at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.
Joh 19:40 Then they took the body of Jesus and wound it with linens with the spices, as is the custom of the Jews to bury.

Apparently, it was the giving of these gifts that was the basis for our tradition of giving gifts at Christmas. Gift giving, in and of itself, is a lovely gesture, but as with all actions, it is the motivation behind the giving that is important. Unfortunately, I think that in this day and age of consumerism, materialism, and greed, Christmas gift giving has gotten WAY off track. It now seems to be all about the “how many” rather than the “why”.

I recently read a blog post from http://www.becomingminimalist.com/great-expectations in which the author, Joshua, shares his family’s way of dealing with the excesses of Christmas – they buy their children three gifts. The first gift is something the child wants. The second is something the child needs. The third gift provides an experience to share with loved ones.

I think that is a fantastic idea! And if the giving of Christmas gifts is supposed to symbolize the gift of Jesus to mankind and mirror the wise men giving gifts to Jesus, then three is the “magic” number and makes for a great template for our Christmas gift giving.

Compare Joshua’s gift giving reasons with God’s gift of his son Jesus:

  1. Child wants – mankind wants love, acceptance, and joy. Jesus came to give us all of those and more.
  2. Child needs  – mankind’s needs are the same as it’s wants but also includes forgiveness, salvation and righteousness. Jesus came to give us all of these and more.
  3. An experience to share – Jesus freely gave us all of the above gifts – and then he told us to go out and share these same gifts with others.

Joh 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another. 

When it comes right down to it, there is really only one gift that truly matters – the gift of love.

1Co 13:13 But now we still have faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

(And did you notice – “faith, hope, love” – three gifts!)

The following is my prayer for you, for Christmas and all the year through:

” For this cause I go down on my knees before the Father, From whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, That in the wealth of his glory he would make you strong with power through his Spirit in your hearts; So that Christ may have his place in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and based in love, May have strength to see with all the saints how wide and long and high and deep it is,  And to have knowledge of the love of Christ which is outside all knowledge, so that you may be made complete as God himself is complete. Now to him who is able to do in full measure more than all our desires or thoughts, through the power which is working in us, To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever. So be it. “

Blessings

(Image came from a shared post on Facebook)

When Those You Love The Most, Hurt You The Most

“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.” 
― E.A. BucchianeriBrushstrokes of a Gadfly,

 

The above quote sounds very depressing and hopeless, doesn’t it? It is difficult to live in this broken world without being hurt. I think that it is even more difficult when you have been hurt by someone you love. Being hurt like that can leave you feeling like the following lyrics by Nazareth:

Love hurts
Love scars
Love wounds and marks
Any heart not tough or strong enough
To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain
Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain
Love hurts
Ooh love hurts

In my life, a number of my loved ones have hurt me in that way. Each time has left me reeling and feeling shocked, betrayed, bruised, and sick physically, mentally and emotionally. Such times as these are very challenging for me as I already have to deal with daily chronic pain and fatigue.

I am a very emotional person and I love big and feel much. So when someone I love hurts me, I hurt big and feel much.

How I deal with such circumstances is not only a physical. mental and emotional challenge, it can also be a big spiritual challenge.

As a Christian, how am I to deal with those who have hurt me? First of all, I really shouldn’t be surprised that loved ones could/would hurt me. The enemy, Satan, has turned loved ones against one other since the Garden of Eden – Adam blamed Eve; Cain killed his brother Abel; Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Satan uses people to hurt people all the time. The Bible even warns us that family members will turn against one another:

 Luk 12:53 They will be at war, the father against his son, and the son against his father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. 

So when my loved ones hurt me, I must remember who it is that is actually orchestrating that situation. I try to remember what Jesus said when he was crucified by some of the very people he had come to heal and deliver:

Luk 23:34 And Jesus said, Father, let them have forgiveness, for they have no knowledge of what they are doing.

I must also remember that God loved me, even when I was a sinner. He loved me enough to sacrifice his son Jesus, and Jesus loved me enough to die for me.

Rom 5:8 But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us.

God’s Word tells us how we are to treat those who sin against us and hurt us.

Mat 5:44 But I say to you, Have love for those who are against you, and make prayer for those who are cruel to you;
Mat 5:45 So that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven;

Luk 6:27 But I say to you who give ear to me, Have love for those who are against you, do good to those who have hate for you,
Luk 6:28 Give blessing to those who give you curses, say prayers for those who are cruel to you.

Mat 18:21 Then Peter came and said to him, Lord, what number of times may my brother do wrong against me, and I give him forgiveness? till seven times?
Mat 18:22 Jesus says to him, I say not to you, Till seven times; but, Till seventy times seven.

Luk 17:3 Give attention to yourselves: if your brother does wrong, say a sharp word to him; and if he has sorrow for his sin, let him have forgiveness.
Luk 17:4 And if he does you wrong seven times in a day, and seven times comes to you and says, I have regret for what I have done; let him have forgiveness.

I know that I have also been guilty of hurting loved ones and for those times I am truly sorry. But, since I am a Christian, I have faith through Jesus, that God has forgiven me my sins. And since I have been forgiven, I must in turn forgive others and continue to love them.

Col 3:12 As saints of God, then, holy and dearly loved, let your behaviour be marked by pity and mercy, kind feeling, a low opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, and a power of undergoing all things;
Col 3:13 Being gentle to one another and having forgiveness for one another, if anyone has done wrong to his brother, even as the Lord had forgiveness for you:
Col 3:14 And more than all, have love; the only way in which you may be completely joined together.

Blessings

 

 

The Seven Year Itch?

Mar 10:8 And the two will become one flesh; so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Mar 10:9 Let not that which has been joined together by God be parted by man.

According to Wikipedia, “the seven-year itch is a psychological term that suggests that happiness in a relationship declines after around year seven of a marriage. The phrase was first used to describe an inclination to become unfaithful after seven years of marriage in the play The Seven Year Itch by George Axelrod, and gained popularity following the 1955 film adaptation starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell.”

This summer we celebrate seven years of marriage. Like most (all?) marriages, it has not always been smooth sailing.

We have had to deal with the personal baggage that came with each of our previous long-term but unsuccessful marriages. I would like to say that I have put all that stinking garbage behind me but the old insecurities and the fear of being rejected – again – continue to pop their ugly heads back up every once in a while. I know that hubby has his share of insecurities too. We work at over-coming these issues by talking about them and by telling, and showing, one another just how very much we love one another.

We both continue to struggle with the effects of chronic illness – specifically pain, fatigue and mental stress. Since we both suffer chronic pain, we can readily empathize with one another. We treat one another with concern and compassion and look for ways to comfort one another. This can be challenging when we are both unwell at the same time. It can also get very frustrating when the symptoms seem to drag on day after day. This is when we must work on exercising our patience along with our compassion.

We each have adult children from our previous marriages. Our children have brought their own respective baggage into our marriage. Since Paul and I love one another, we have also chosen to love one another’s families. This has been a REAL challenge at times, especially since our parenting styles were, and are, very different. Since our children are adults (chronologically anyways – lol), ‘parenting’ takes on a whole new dimension which often feels like we can only use the  ‘stand back and watch the accident happen’ method of parenting. Our children’s issues and behaviours have often caused stress in our marriage. At such times, I need to remind myself of what is most important – my relationship with my husband, rather than the foibles of our kids. After all, God did say:

Mat 19:6 Then let not that which has been joined by God be parted by man. (Insert children, parents and in-laws).

We also continue to struggle with financial constraints. Starting lives over from scratch, legal financial obligations, health issues affecting work ability, and yes, even some unwise expenditures, have all contributed to some difficult and lean times. But one of the reasons that I love my hubby is that he has NEVER made me feel like I am a financial burden when I have not been able to contribute to the household finances. Rather, he has often felt badly that he has not been able to provide me with the kind of lifestyle he wants to give me. During the lean and challenging times, we focus on the things that are really important in life, like our love for one another.

Challenges have also arisen in the way in which each of us approaches our day-to-day activities and household chores. I am creative and love decorating my home. My hubby can never quite ‘visualize’ my ideas, especially if it involves second-hand furniture.(LOL) I am also analytical, detail aware, practical and love to  be organized. Frustratingly for me at times, my hubby does not always share these ‘wonderful’ qualities. He definitely does not approach housework and washing dishes “my way”. I have learned to be grateful for the fact that he does those chores at all – and usually with no complaint.

While we are kindred spirits in many areas, I don’t always like the same kinds of movies and programs that he likes to watch. We live in a small, 1 level home, so when he is watching something that bothers me, we employ the use of the A.P.M.H. – which is the ‘Apparatus for the Preservation of Marital Harmony’ a.k.a the wireless headphones. Every home should have a least 1 pair of these!

Even with all the challenges our marriage has faced in the past seven years, I am very thankful that we have only ever had one major blow-up, and that happened in our ‘early years’ of marriage.

Although the years have not always been easy, we have been so very blessed to have one another. We are truly one another’s best friend, soul-mate, kindred spirit and lover. Because we both had difficult first marriages, we greatly appreciate, and choose to focus on, all the good qualities we each have. And we count our many blessings every day. We also laugh – A LOT – both at each other and ourselves. Loving humour can smooth over a multitude of flaws.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, my hubby Paul has been an answer to prayer and every day “I thank my God in remembrance of him”.

Life since marrying Paul has been the happiest time of my life. I can’t imagine living without him. I pray for ‘seven times seventy’ more years with him.

Son 1:2 Let him give me the kisses of his mouth: for his love is better than wine. 

 

 

Blessings

The Bad Guys Win??

Rom 16:20 And the God of peace will be crushing Satan under your feet before long.

(Warning – Spoiler Alert for Avengers; Infinity War movie)

While my hubby and I share a lot of common interests, our taste in movies can be quite different. I think that my guy is sweet, sensitive and fairly mild-mannered, so I am always puzzled by the fact that he LOVES action movies filled with explosions, gunfire, and martial arts fighting. When I have questioned him about it he has answered that he likes the movies where the good guys kick bad guys’ butt – where good triumphs over evil.

He recently went to the cinema with his kids to watch the new Avengers movie, “Avengers; Infinity War” and received a bit of a shock when at the end of the movie – the bad guys won!!

With the way that evil is growing in the world and the way that the entertainment industry panders to violent society, I will not be surprised to see more and more movies and tv shows starting to show the bad guys winning over the good guys – evil triumphing over good.

So I am very glad that I know the truth that no matter how bad things get in this world, it is only for a time and then there will be a stop to it and then finally goodness will prevail over evil – once and for all!

Rev 12:12 Be glad then, O heavens, and you who are in them. But there is trouble for the earth and the sea: because the Evil One has come down to you, being very angry, having the knowledge that he has but a short time.

Rev 20:10 And the Evil One who put them in error was sent down into the sea of ever-burning fire, where the beast and the false prophet are, and their punishment will go on day and night for ever and ever.

Rev 17:14 These will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because he is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with him are named, marked out, and true.

Joh 16:33 I [Jesus] have said all these things to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble: but take heart! I have overcome the world.

Related image

1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessings

 

 

 

A Sacrifice of Praise

There have been many times in my life when I wished that I had the talent to write beautiful psalms like King David did. This evening was one of those times.

Summer evenings are my favourite time and since my hubby was away for the evening, I decided to go for a bike ride around my ‘hood. Now my idea of a good bike ride is travelling just slightly faster than a quick walking pace – so basically, a casual stroll on 2 wheels.

I love the mellow light and the cool freshness of the air during summer evenings. Life seems more restful and peaceful. I love the golden glow of the setting sun as it highlights the tops of the trees.

My neighbourhood and the country road out to the highway are thickly lined with verdant trees and plants in every shape and size and hue of green (my favourite colour) from lime to emerald.

The mild evening air is heavenly scented with the sweet but light perfume of flowering shrubs and trees.

And the air is filled with the sounds of birds – robins, wrens, flycatchers and wood thrushes –  singing their evening choruses.

Life feels very sweet at such times and I thank God for these moments.

As I was offering up my thanksgiving unto God for the beauty of the evening, and wishing that I could write a psalm for Him, I remembered the following chorus I used to sing at fellowship gatherings:

We bring the sacrifice of praise
Into the house of the Lord.
We bring the sacrifice of praise
Into the house of the Lord.

And we offer up to You
The sacrifices of thanksgiving;
And we offer up to You
The sacrifices of joy

 

I don’t know if the neighbours appreciated my singing, but I think my Heavenly Father did.

Blessings