Belated 1st Birthday Wishes

What a bad blog Mommy I am! I forgot the correct date of my blog’s 1st birthday; I thought it was today but I see that my very first post was made on March 21, 2013.

Well, belated Happy 1st Birthday my little blog baby. It has been a challenging first year but a year full of blessings as well. You and I have taken our first tentative steps together, unsure of where we were headed but having faith in the journey. I hope that our journey will continue and that we will pick up many more “hitch-hikers” along the way.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank anyone and everyone who has taken the time to read my blog. I hope that you were stimulated, amused, informed, encourage and inspired. Thank you to the readers who “Liked” a post and to those who took the time to send me a comment (even if we weren’t always on the same page).

I especially want to thank my readers who are regular followers. I know that I am doing this for the honour and glory of the Lord, but I must confess to getting a good shot of “kick-a-poo joy juice” whenever my blog gains a new follower. It helps me to know, that somehow, in some small way, I am making a positive difference in God’s Kingdom. I do not personally respond to every new “follower” but I do read your profiles and I am very blessed that you have chosen to follow my blog. THANK YOU!

I hope that you will continue to “follow” me on my journey as I explore life’s ups and downs and the lessons God shows me along the way.

Love in Christ, Shari

Push Fluids

As I am lying on the couch, I am trying to decide which best describes my current state: limp noodle, wet blanket, or death warmed over. Well, maybe it’s a bit of all three. One thing I do know – I am bored! A person (at least, this person) can only stand to watch so much tv or to read for so long! My mind begins to wander and as so often happens, an idea for a blog post and lesson comes to me. (Who knew that vomiting and diarrhea could be inspiring??)

As a former nurse, I am well aware that patients who experience ongoing vomiting and diarrhea can quickly become dehydrated. A simple test is to gently pinch the skin on the back of the hand. If the skin quickly and smoothly “rebounds”, the patient is usually not dehydrated. However, if the “pinch” of skin remains or goes down very slowly, the person is probably very dehydrated. When this happens, the doctor often orders “Push Fluids”, meaning that the  patient is to be encouraged to increase the frequency and quantity of drinking fluids. (And if the person is unable or unwilling to drink, a lovely I.V. is inserted – so pass the straw please!)

Since the digestive system has undergone some stress, the fluids are usually ordered as being “Clear”, meaning that you can see the bottom of the cup or glass while the fluid is in it.

So here I am, Day 2 of chamomile tea, red Jello, popsicles and diluted berry juice. And all I am craving is a big order of salty French fries!!

Just as our physical bodies can become dehydrated, so too can our spiritual life. Sometimes “doo-doo” happens in our life and we are left feeling drained, weak and tired. When this happens, we need to re-hydrate ourselves. We need to re-fill our spiritual water tanks with “fountains of living water”. Jesus tells us that he is that fountain. He invites us to drink of his clear, living water.

Joh 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give Me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water.

Joh 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

So if life has left you feeling “pinched” and dehydrated, go to the fountain of Jesus and drink deeply of his clear, living water. Remember – Push Fluids!

Joh 7:38 He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

(and you don’t even have to sit on “the great white throne”!)

Rev 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

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Tulips

Today, I have been sitting here trying to think of something witty, intelligent and inspiring to write. It is a challenge as I don’t feel like any of those three today. A 13 hour bout of Norwalk Virus tends to drain a person – literally.

This morning, as I lounge about looking regal in my pj’s (not!) I am feeling a bit sorry for myself (actually, I’m having a bit of a pity party – care to join me in a cup of chamomile tea?)), and although the sun is shining, I am having difficulty brightening my disposition. And then the phone rings – it is my employer, Joannie, asking if she can come up as she has something to drop off. I am thinking two things – she is dropping off paperwork for me to work on at home and she is going to see me looking like ****.

So I open the door and she greets me with a lovely, large bouquet of beautiful, bright, sunny-yellow tulips! What a lovely surprise! What a thoughtful gesture! She knew that I was unwell and she just wanted to do a little something to brighten up my day.

Often, we may think that we have to do something grand and glorious to make our mark in God’s Kingdom. I know that I have dreamed of having a ministry like Joyce Meyers and I often feel like I am not doing much for God or having much of a positive effect in the lives of others. I’m a “go big or go home” kinda gal.

But when we are only focused on the” big” things, we can miss many “little” opportunities which may, in fact, have just as much or more of a positive effect.

I think that every day provides some opportunity to share, if not the Word of God, then definitely the Love of God with others. I try to remember to “listen to that still small voice” and “bloom where you are planted”. Be aware and sensitive to the opportunities, big or small, to share God’s love with others.

Today, I challenge you to “listen”  and “bloom”  and be “a bright, yellow tulip” in someone’s life.

Blessings

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The Princess and the Pea

When I was a young child, my mother often read a fairy tale called, “The Princess and the Pea”. It was about a King who wanted to make sure that his son, the Prince, married a true Princess. Apparently, a “true” Princess was extremely delicate and sensitive. To test for these qualities, the King forced the visiting Princesses to sleep on one hundred feather mattresses that had been placed overtop a small dried pea. One of the “lucky” gals spent a sleepless night, tossing and turning and finally got up bruised due to having slept on a hard “lump”. Et voila! The Prince found his true Princess – and of course they were married happily ever after! (bah – humbug!)

I never imagined that I would have much in common with that poor, delicate flower of a princess, however, years of suffering with fibromyalgia(FM) has definitely allowed me to bond with the poor gal. My “tender points” (as they are called) can be so “tender” that if there is a wrinkle in the sheets or a seam in my pj’s, my poor princess body is in pain. It has even been so bad that I have had to wear my underwear inside out (heaven help me if I am unconscious and someone calls an ambulance!) or not wear any at all under something soft, loose and flappy (wait-that’s a description of my body!)

Aside from being able to identify with the “Painful Pea” aspect of the story, I have discovered, much to my surprise, that I can also identify with the Princess’s “royal personhood”. You see, I am a Princess too! (But not the spoiled rotten kind). Unless my family tree contains a relative born “on the wrong side of the blanket” that I don’t know about, I was not born into an earthly Royal family. And I don’t think that my earthly father ever regarded me as “Daddy’s little Princess”. But I have learned that my Heavenly Father, Abba, does indeed regard me as His Princess.

Rom 8:14,15   For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (and daughters) of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

You see, once I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I exchanged my earthly bloodline for a royal bloodline. When I became “born again”, I was born into the spiritual bloodline of Jesus Christ.

Gal 3:26, 27   For you are all sons (and daughters) of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as were baptized into Christ, you put on Christ.

Heb 3:14   For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, …

Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we have been given the right to share in His rights and inheritance as The Son of God.

Rom 8:16, 17   The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of GodAnd if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Through the blood of Christ, we have been made members of “The” Royal Family.

1Pe 2:9   But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession, so that you might speak of the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Rev 1:5,6 …   To Him (Jesus) who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,  and made us kings (and princesses!) and priests to God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings, H.R.H (Her Royal Highness) Princess Shari (I’m off to polish my crown)

 

Those Pesky Locusts

Seven years ago (can’t believe how time has flown!) my world, as I knew it, came suddenly and unexpectedly crashing down around me. My marriage of 26 years ended abruptly. Circumstances were presented (falsely) to me in such a way as to make me believe that it would not be possible for me to stay in my home. Health issues interfered with my ability to earn an income to support myself so that I could stay in my home. I ended up having to move in with my mother (to whom I will be eternally grateful) with not much more than my clothes, some books and a few personal possessions. My new life with her started off with me sleeping on an air mattress on the floor in her bedroom.

I had lost my marriage, most of my possessions, and  my home and had to leave behind my friends, my church, my church ministry and volunteer work, and my community and sense of belonging. Those are all physical things, and as difficult as it was to lose those, it was harder to lose my sense of self-worth, my identity, and my purpose. To top it all off, a few months later, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and possible kidney cancer! So now my life was also at stake!

I could definitely associate with my ol’ brother Job! And I came across a few “well-meaning Christians” (read Job’s miserable comforters) who would tell me Christian platitudes such as “you are never really alone because God is always with you”. Well, I know that is true, but even Jesus felt alone and isolated in the Garden of Gethsemane near the time of his crisis.

I am so grateful that during this very difficult time in my life, God placed many “guardian angels”, not the least of whom was my Mom, to surround me and to uphold, encourage, support, provide and pray for me. One of the scriptures that was often “spoken over” me was:

Joe 2:25   And I will restore to you the years which the swarming locust has eaten, …

I clung to that verse like a drowning person clings to a life preserver! There were many times when I couldn’t see how that verse would be fulfilled. I sometimes fell into despair which led me to desperation. Beware desperation! It can lead you to make desperate choices. I fell for a wolf in sheep’s clothing (he was literally the kind of wolf that the Bible warns us about – the kind of person who says that they are a Christian but they are in fact, the opposite) and ended up getting severely fleeced!

I continued to hope in God and not only did he bring me through those difficult years, He has truly “restored the years the swarming locust has eaten”!

I have been blessed with the most wonderful husband (who also endured great loss) who is truly my “soul mate”. We both had to start over from scratch. God has blessed us with the ability to completely furnish our home with new furnishings, all co-ordinating, and completely paid for (a first for me)! We have a nice car. Although we don’t get to go on fancy vacations, we have been able to enjoy romantic stays at hotels. We eat well (too well I think! lol) and can enjoy going out for an occasional meal. We live in a picturesque town surrounded by many lovely nature trails. I have been cancer-free for two years. We are going to be first-time grandparents this summer and another son is getting married. I am co-leader of a women’s fellowship. I volunteer at a local Adult Day Centre. I have a great camera with which to indulge my passion for nature photography.

My life still has it’s challenges, struggles and stresses, but when I look at how far I have come in the past four years, I almost can’t believe it! My life is filled with more love, joy, laughter, peace, fulfillment, and material blessings than I could ever have imagined ( and I have quite the imagination!).

I can truly say that God has, and continues, to restore “all that the locusts had taken”.

Joe 2:26   And you shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of Jehovah your God, who has dealt with you wonderfully; and My people shall never be ashamed.

Blessings

Today

When I write my blog posts, I share what I have experienced and know to be true in my life. I hope that by sharing my downs as well as my ups, people reading my posts may be able to identify with some of the topics and find a spark of hope to help them through their own ups and downs.

I always try to be positive when I write, because although misery loves company, it doesn’t really help anybody. However, lest you think that I am “little Miss Mary Sunshine” at all times, I want you to know that I have my dark days too.

Today is one of those days. Today, I am in pain. Today, I am very weary. Today, if I were to describe my emotions as a colour, they would be very grey. Today, I feel burdened by a heavy load. To put it crudely but succinctly, today, I feel like crap.

Some “todays” are more difficult to rise above than others. So today, I am resting in the Lord. Today, I am thankful for the sunshine. Today, I am going to volunteer at an Adult Day Centre because helping to alleviate someone else’s challenging “today” helps me to get through my own.

Today, I will remember that all my days are in God’s loving hands and I will be thankful that my eternal “tomorrow” is coming and it will contain “all things bright and beautiful”.

May God bless you and keep you through your grey “todays”.

Winter of Discontent

“Now is the winter of our discontent” are the opening words of the play, Richard  III, by Shakespeare.

This has definitely been a “winter of discontent” in most of Canada. Everywhere I go, the hottest topic of conversation is the weather. Specifically, when is winter ever going to end?? Here  we are in the second week of March and we are still experiencing snowstorms and temperatures in the negative double digits! Is there light at the end of the ice road?

While I was raised in Southern Ontario, Canada, I have spent most of my adult years living in Northern Ontario. (and for those of you who live in southern Ontario, Parry Sound is NOT considered Northern Ontario). I have also lived in Ottawa, Ontario which is considered one of the coldest capital cities in the world. When I lived in Kapuskasing, Ontario, I had 2 very small children and it was often hard to go outside with them because there would be weeks where the average “high” was -25*C.  My birthday is near the beginning of May, and after years of living “up North” I was never surprised to see snow falling around that time and ice still on the lakes. So I know a little bit about long, cold winters.

I have now lived in Southwestern Ontario for four years, and I must admit to chuckling (ok – I smirk too) when I hear “Southerners” complaining about the winter. Personally, I have realized that I actually prefer many aspects of northern winters over southern ones. While northern winters are usually colder, the days are often sunny and dry. Here in SW Ontario, the temperatures are usually milder BUT the winters tend to be very damp, raw, windy and grey. YUCK!

Jesus was a great fellow for using analogies to teach spiritual lessons. I think that the weather can be used as an analogy for both life and spiritual lessons. I have experienced many long, dark, cold winter nights in my personal and spiritual life. Sometimes, living with chronic illness can seem like one long winter season. The loss of a marriage or a loved one can leave you feeling barren, cold, and  alone like you are living in the Arctic Barrens. A diagnosis of cancer can take your breath away like a stiff, icy, northern wind and leave you gasping and brain numb. And along with those things, I have experienced a cooling off, a numbing and a darkening of my faith. Sometimes, it just feels like the “winters” in life are never going to end!

Yet, throughout all those cold, dark times, there was, (and is) a hope of light at the end of the ice road. Jesus is that hope; he is that light.

Mat 4:16   The people who sat in darkness saw a great Light; and Light has sprung up to those who sat in the region and shadow of death.”

Joh 8:12   Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

When I am living through a literal winter, I try to look for things that will bless me: the bright scarlet flash of a cardinal; sunlight reflecting diamonds in the snow; the twittering, chirping and whistling song of a tree full of starlings; the downy blanket of snow on evergreens, a breath of fresh, crisp air; and snuggling up to my warm hubby (which is good any time of year!) I try to keep in mind that winter is not forever and that spring will eventually make it’s appearance (although not today – it is snowing as I write this). And to help remind me that spring really  is on it’s way, I have a pot of hyacinths, just coming in to bud, on my windowsill  – I can’t wait to breathe in their sweet fragrance!

When I am going through a “physical” winter, I try to focus on things that I can be thankful for: access to free medical care, helpful medications, safe and cozy home environment, a loving, understanding and supportive husband, family and friends who pray for me, and I am especially thankful for a loving God who holds me in His arms, His healing words in scripture, and the sure and certain hope that one day I WILL be healed and delivered from pain forever.

For me, my times of “spiritual” winters may have been the worst kind of winter. When you are ill or in pain, there are often real, physical things that you can do to help alleviate the symptoms. In my spiritual winters, the solutions don’t always seems so clear-cut, straightforward or easy. During those times, I try to focus my energy on using those “Winter survival tools” that God has made available to help me “shovel through the storm”.

I am thankful that I have a collection of uplifting Christian music that I can listen to. I am a “rock ‘n’ roll” girl at heart and it is difficult to avoid getting up and dancing to the Lord when Steven Curtis Chapman or Michael W. Smith are rockin’ it to the Lord! Thirty minutes of praise and worship is a sure fire way to get your physical and spiritual heart a-pumpin’. (“Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, lift up your voice to God…”)

I also make use of books of uplifting and encouraging scripture such as “God’s Promises for Your Every Need”. The Book of Psalms is one of my favourite books of the Bible.  In it, I read how David struggled with fear and faith yet he always gave praise to God, in whom he trusted to see him through. I am grateful for people like Joyce Meyers who have “been there, done that”, who tell it like it is but use humour and truth to show us God’s ways.

Pro 4:20 – 22   My son, listen to my words; bow down your ear to my sayings. Let them not depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all his flesh.

And lastly, but certainly not least, when “having done all to stand”(Eph. 6:13),  I am thankful for prayer. I am thankful that because of what Jesus did for me, I have the right and ability to approach God’s throne of grace.

Heb 4:16   Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I am so blessed to be able to pray in tongues when “I know not what I should pray for”. I have peace knowing that the holy spirit that God has placed in me is communicating more closely with His spirit.

Rom 8:26   And in the same way the Spirit is a help to our feeble hearts: for we are not able to make prayer to God in the right way; but the Spirit puts our desires into words which are not in our power to say;

Rom 8:27   And he who is the searcher of hearts has knowledge of the mind of the Spirit, because he is making prayers for the saints in agreement with the mind of God.

Dear reader, if you are experiencing a “winter” in your life, I want to assure you that just as sure as Spring follows Winter in the physical, climactic realm, so too will God bring you through your dark “winter of discontent” into the warm light of new spring life if you will earnestly seek Him out and trust in Him.

Rom 8:24   For our salvation is by hope: but hope which is seen is not hope: for who is hoping for what he sees?

Rom 8:25   But if we have hope for that which we see not, then we will be able to go on waiting for it.

Rev 21:4   And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

Blessings