Brown Sugar

While I was tidying up my kitchen this morning, this post idea came to me.

Brown sugar has a tendency to turn into a large lump of rock candy once the bag has been opened. I don’t bake very often so it is very frustrating when I am in the middle of preparing a recipe only to find the brown sugar in a solid, un-scoopable state that requires a small jack-hammer to break off a piece!

However, many years ago I read a tip on how to prevent this frustrating state from occurring – you just have to keep a slice of apple or a fresh piece of bread in the bag or container with the sugar. The sugar then absorbs the moisture from the apple or bread (talk about sucking the life out of something!). You just have to replace the apple or bread when they become dried out shadows of their former selves.

Now it seems a waste to me to cut up a perfectly good apple just to put a slice of it in with the sugar. But, the crusts at the end of loaves of bread seem to be frequent unwanted visitors in my kitchen and so there is usually one piece that is willing to sacrifice itself for the cause of the common good.

This morning, as I was drumming the changing of the guard – old crust out and the new one in, I thought about how our hearts can become hardened like a lump of rock hard brown sugar. Feelings of hurt, anger, frustration, disappointment, disillusionment, bitterness, strife, jealousy and fear can all dry out our souls and leave us with a hard, cold, unyielding heart. I think that arrogance, ignorance and laziness can also harden people’s hearts.

Job 41:24 His heart is cast hard as a stone, even cast hard as a piece of a riding millstone.

Eze 3:7 But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are strong of forehead and hard of heart.

God told the Israelites not to harden their hearts:

Heb 3:8 do not harden your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness,

Heb 4:7 He again marks out a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” (after so long a time). Even as it is said, “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”

God’s Word tells us that putting on  righteousness does not come from an outward act but by the inward action of removing the hard and worldly shell of our hearts.

Rom 2:29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart.

The softening of our hearts comes when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Just as placing a moist crust of bread in with a useless lump of hardened brown sugar will render that lump soft and useable, so to will placing Jesus Christ, who is The Bread of Life, in your heart, make your heart soft, sweet and useful in the Kingdom of God.

Joh 6:51 I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he shall live forever. And truly the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Every time we participate in Communion or the Sacraments, we are remembering that Christ is The Bread of Life.

Luk 22:19 And He took bread and gave thanks, and He broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you, this do in remembrance of Me.

Luk 14:15 And one of those who reclined with Him heard these things, and he said to Him, Blessed are those eating bread in the kingdom of God.

If a small crust of bread can change useless hard brown sugar into soft and useful sugar, just imagine what placing Christ in your life can do for your heart – your life?!

Mat 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is My body.

“Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us our daily bread, Jesus Christ, so that when we partake of Him, we have eternal life.”

For my readers, I pray:

Eph 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

Amen

 

 

Advertisements

On Aging Gracefully

Recently, my hubby congratulated me on reaching the 20th anniversary of my 32nd birthday. His comment made me laugh. But is also made me think – wow – 20 years has gone by since I turned 32! It immediately made me think about how fast time flies and how quickly I am aging. This felt a little on the negative side of things. But then I thought about how it is something of a miracle that I have even  reached this age.

You see, there have been a number of times in my life where I just didn’t think that I could survive another day. Depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, hopelessness, helplessness and despair are heavy burdens that drain you and wear you down to the point where you can’t see your way out. And if you do manage to hold on, there always seems to be another wave to knock you over and pull you under.

For me, if I wasn’t battling mental health issues, I was battling physical health issues: Chronic pain, fatigue, and then cancer. There have been many times when I have asked “Why?”. But I know why – we live in a sin-tainted, corrupted world which is “patrolled” by an enemy – “the prince of this world”.

Joh 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

And this enemy is out to destroy all that God has created.

Joh 10:10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:

1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

I have found that knowing that I have an enemy helps me to choose to continue doing battle. I am determined that my enemy will not win – I will not give him the satisfaction or the victory. I “shake the dust off my sandals” right in his face and accompany it with a great big “raspberry”  – pppthththt!

I am also greatly comforted by the fact that I have God and Jesus on my side and they are a winning team.

Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

1Jn 4:4 You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

And so, even though I am not particularly crazy about the aging process, I am so grateful for God’s grace and mercy and for each day that is a victory in which I am able to love my family and share the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

To me, that is what aging “gracefully” is all about.

1Pe 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

1Pe 5:9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

1Pe 5:11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Blessings

Mirror, Mirror

I am sharing the following personal story in hopes that it will help someone who may be battling with the same problem.

If you are familiar with old fairy tales (or Disney movies) you will know about the wicked queen in Snow White. The Queen has a magic mirror that she looks into on a regular basis and asks “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” And of course, the mirror tells her that she is the fairest.

I have been looking into mirrors since I was a little girl and never once was I told that I was the fairest. To be honest, I don’t think I would believe the mirror if it did. I have never really liked my looks.

I don’t know where the insecurity first came from but I do remember it being re-enforced during my childhood and early teens. My nose turns up at the end so “ski-jump” was a frequent name for me. As I grew older, I heard “gorilla legs” for my hairy legs (my Mom didn’t let me shave them), and “itty-bitty-titties” for – well, you know. And then there was the humiliation of  frequent bouts of cold sores, (eewww – she’s got herpes!!)

I HATED having my picture taken but my Mom used to love to creep around with her camera as she tried to get “candid” shots. I have a photo of a Christmas dinner at my grandparents in which I am positively sneering (I think I was growling at my Mom with her #$%^* camera).

As I was very insecure about my looks, and thus my “attract-a-guy” abilities, I thought that the only way to get attention was to put on a “Sexy – Susie” routine. Anybody who tells you that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach is lying. Did you ever see a picture of Julia Child on the cover of a Vogue or Sports Illustrated magazine?

There were times where I thought I might have attained some level of “lookin’ good” but they never lasted long.

As I approached middle age, I felt the very definition of “frumpy”. My self-confidence took a huge hit when my first husband left the marriage. The icing on the cake was the 12″ surgical scar snaking across my abdomen after having kidney surgery.

Our culture is terrible for “judging a book by it’s cover”. Every type of media promotes the idea that beauty is what counts. We’re led to believe “If you’re beautiful, you’re popular”; “If you’re beautiful, you’re successful.”

I am now in my early 50’s, and by the grace of God, I am finally beginning to shed the stultifying  trappings of a poor self-image. One of my greatest weapons in the fight against “the ugly duckling”  syndrome is my wonderful husband. He is constantly complimenting me and showing me that he thinks that I am beautiful. In turn, I am learning to believe in and accept his compliments. I am beginning to see myself through his eyes.

Now when I look in the mirror, I think that my nose is kinda’ cute and adds personality. I have nice naturally white teeth (the better to smile at you my dear). My eyes often sparkle with humour and mischief. I have smile and laughter lines (no – they’re not wrinkles!) And my “itty – bitties” have become a somewhat voluptuous aspect of what my husband calls “an hour-glass figure” (I’m hoping he means 1 hour and not 24), which he says is his favourite shape. As for my snaking surgical scar, he tells me that it represents a battle won and is part of my life story.

My other weapon is the Word of God. Instead of looking at ourselves through the critical looking glass of our culture, we should look at our reflection in the mirror of God’s Word. In it, we will find descriptions of true beauty and lasting loveliness. In it, we will see how God sees us in Jesus Christ. In His Word, we will see how much He loves us and how important we are to Him. Through understanding God’s Word, we will see that the world’s concept of beauty truly is only skin deep.

Pro 31:30 Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears Jehovah, she shall be praised.

God does not determine a person’s worth based on their physical appearance; He looks at what is really important – a person’s heart.

1Sa 16:7 … For man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart.

Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart! For they shall see God.

Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!”

I pray that you will find your beauty in the eyes of God. I hope that you will begin to see yourself as He sees you – through the eyes of love.

Psa 139:14 I will praise You; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are marvelous and my soul knows it very well.

IMG_7014 (757x800)

 

 

 

You Is Kind …

In Kathryn Stockett’s book entitled, “The Help”,  Abilene, an African American maid tells Mae Mobley, the little daughter of her white employer – “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”. The mother of little Mae had very little time or affection for her daughter. The little girl did not fit in with her mother’s idea of southern grace, charm and beauty. Abilene loves the child and takes it upon herself to impress upon Mae that she is a good person and worthy of love.

How many of us need to hear those words “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” spoken over us?

I have struggled with the  issues of low self-esteem, insecurity and fear of rejection for most of my life. And although I know my mother loved (and loves) me, and gave me encouragement and praise, I still never felt quite good enough. And I know that I am not the only one who suffers in this way.

My 23 year old step-daughter has come to live with us for a month while she is doing a job placement for her college program. She is fun-loving, enthusiastic, intelligent, idealistic and hardworking. She is much loved and supported by her parents. She has all these great qualities yet she walks around under a great black cloud of fear, doubt, low self-esteem and great insecurity.

Where does all this harmful, negative “baggage” come from? We have an enemy!

Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Our enemy will use any and all tactics, such as fear, self-doubt, condemnation, self-criticism, self consciousness and poor self-esteem to wear us down, wound us and make us weak. His ultimate goal is to destroy us.

Joh 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy.

When God first created Man, He was pleased with what He saw.

Gen 1:27 And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him. He created them male and female.

When you read Genesis chapter 1, you will see that when God created something, “He saw that it was good”. You know – “God don’t make no junk!” So initially, Man was created perfect and beautiful, inside and out, in the eyes of God. But then  along came that “one bad apple”! (Actually, it was “one bad snake” and the type of fruit is not named in the Bible)

It was after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and had eaten the forbidden fruit, that fear and self-consciousness first formed in their minds and hearts.

Gen 3:7 And the eyes of both of them were opened. And they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made girdles for themselves.

Gen 3:9, 10 And Jehovah God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? And he said, I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I am naked, and I hid myself.

Naked and afraid – isn’t that one of our worst nightmares? To be found naked, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, fills us with fear.

BUT – there is “Good News”! We don’t have to remain in the state of “naked and afraid” because God sent His Son Jesus to deliver us from fear and all the baggage that goes along with it.

Luk 9:56 For the Son of Man has not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save.

Joh 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

When you accept Jesus as your Savior, you “put off the old man” with his burdens of fear and condemnation. In Jesus, you become “a new creation”.

Eph 4:24 And you should put on the new man, who according to God was created in righteousness and true holiness.

When you accept Jesus, you “put on” his heart – “You is kind”.

When you accept Jesus, you “put on” his mind – “You is smart”.

When you accept Jesus, you “put on” his kinship and inheritance – “You is important”.

Remember, if you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour, then you are a child of God and God loves you very much!

Blessings

IMG_7046 (800x320)

 

 

 

God’s Breath

Last evening, my husband and I drove down to our lovely waterfront (we live on the Eastern shore of one of the Great Lakes in Canada) to watch the sunset. There was little to no wind and the lake was very still and peaceful. The lake ice is melting but there are still beautiful ice formations floating on the water. There was a slow, rhythmic and gentle movement, almost a soft caress, of water moving in small, smooth, liquid laps up onto shore and back down again.

As I stood there and watched the gentle undulations of the ice and the water lapping up on shore, it reminded me of the movement of slow, gentle breathing. This peaceful movement was occasionally accompanied by a soft tinkling and whispering sound as the crystal edges of the ice pans bumped and rubbed along one another.

All of this was bathed in the soft rose and peach hues of the sun setting behind smoky purple quartz clouds.

Moments of beauty and bliss.

God provides moments like these for our enjoyment and benefit. We need to train ourselves to take the time to look for those special moments. Those moments when God’s spirit touches our spirit; when God’s breath breathes peace and joy into our souls.

May you have eyes to see and ears to hear when God breathes.IMG_6985 (2) (800x382)

Caught on camera – again!

Last year I went to my local vehicle licensing bureau to change the last name on my card from my maiden name to my married name. I thought that they would just have to input the new information into the computer and then “clickety-click, barba-trick” it would be done. In my ignorance, I didn’t think that they would need to take a new photo – poor fool that I was! Needless to say, I was woefully unprepared in the hair and make-up department and so I have been forced to walk around with photo ID that looks like a very unhappy suspect in a line-up at the police station! (they don’t call me “Scary Shari” for nuthin’!)

Since then, I have sworn that they will not catch me again with my proverbial “pants down”, or sans makeup and hair-bush, as it were.

This week, it was once again time to renew my photo ID. I carefully read (and re-read) the documentation on my license renewal and saw an “X” in the “NO” box of the “photo required” section – whew! So off I blissfully went for a walk to the license bureau on one of the windiest days we have had this year. I presented my paperwork with a smile, which was quickly wiped off my face when the clerk told me to stand up against the white screen, remove my glasses and don’t smile. I spluttered that the form said that my photo was not required. I was informed that this was only if I had renewed online. That must have been in microscopic fine print!! So there I was, once again with my back up against the white wall, sans makeup, and windblown hair (not the sexy kind). I can tell you that I did not have to work too hard at the not smiling part!

I feel sorry for anybody who asks to see my ID!

I was caught unaware in a somewhat trivial matter, but there are going to be many people, all those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, who will be caught unawares when Jesus comes again.

Luk 21:34 But give attention to yourselves, for fear that your hearts become over-full of the pleasures of food and wine, and the cares of this life, and that day may come on you suddenly, and take you as in a net:

Luk 21:35 For so it will come on all those who are living on the face of all the earth. (BBE)

And there will be much “weeping and gnashing of teeth” when that happens.

Mat 24:50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

Mat 24:51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

God tells us that there is no excuse for not knowing Him or the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Rom 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Rom 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Nobody needs to become a fool. Nobody needs to be caught unawares. God has given us His written word, He sent us His Son, people to share and teach that word, and His holy spirit to give us wisdom, discernment and understanding. We are all “without excuse”.

Don’t get caught on camera with your spiritual “pants down” when “that great and notable day of the Lord” comes.

1Th 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

1Th 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

1Th 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

1Th 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Rev_3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Rev_16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

 

 

 

Appreciation

I volunteer at an Adult Day Centre which operates day programs for Seniors with a variety of needs. One of the clients is a sweet little lady with advanced dementia. She has reverted to only speaking the language of her birth so we are unable to understand her and communication is a challenge. However, today she communicated something to me in a way that spoke louder than words.

After I placed her lunch plate in front of her, she smiled at me, grabbed my arm, bent down and kissed my arm. What a wonderful, eloquent expression of simple gratitude!

I believe that simple expressions of gratitude is what God wants from us –  not fancy words, not candles, not incense, not acts of sacrifice – just simple, heartfelt “Thank you Father”.

Psa 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Amen