Floating

When I was a child, my mother enrolled me in swimming lessons. She had been a competitive swimmer in school and we lived near Lake Ontario, so she thought that it was important for me and my two younger sisters to learn how to swim.

Many of those lessons took place in the morning in an outdoor pool – an unheated, outdoor pool. I remember one morning when the water was so cold, that a frog, who had unhappily landed in the pool, was shocked into a living rigor mortis! We soon joined the frog with equally frozen stiff limbs!

Although I did learn how to swim, it wasn’t all that enjoyable for me because I had to struggle to stay afloat. Treading water long enough to pass my swim test was an agony. I just couldn’t seem to bob along merrily.

I loved being in the water – just as long as I was sure that my feet could touch the bottom! But, deep water always held a bit of a terror for me.

Fast forward many years and I suddenly discovered that I was able to float – with a minimum of effort on my part. I have discovered that there is one good thing to middle-age, menopausal weight gain – fat floats! So now I can bob along quite merrily. It is a simple joy to just lay back, relax and float.

My hubby and I have often talked about going to a spa to try out a floatation therapy tank. Below is a description taken from a spa website:

Clients typically enter a private spa room outfitted with a floatation tank that holds 93-degree water containing 1,000 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salts. The water is as dense as the Dead Sea, where one can float on the surface effortlessly without any body manipulation. Clients enter the tank nude, wearing earplugs and close the hatch behind them. They then lie back and float for 60 to 90 minutes in complete darkness. Because the temperature of the water is the same as skin temperature, within a few minutes you lose the sensation of where the body stops and the water starts.

I think that it would be just wonderful to lay in warm water in a quiet and soothing atmosphere – just floating in relaxing bliss.

This past weekend I attended a women’s conference at my church. Its focus was on encouraging us to spend more time carrying out what is commonly known as “the great commission” – that being, to make disciples of others.

Mat 28:19 Go then, and make disciples of all the nations, giving them baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:

I used to get enthusiastically fired up and raring to go after such teachings, however, this time, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable – perhaps a but guilty or condemned. I kept doing an internal systems check to see if I could find the problem, but I couldn’t come up with anything specific.

After a time of prayerful introspection, I came to the conclusion that I am just at a stage of ‘floating’. By that I mean that I am currently floating in a relaxing, spiritual bliss, safe in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father.

In a previous post , Striving vs. Living, I wrote the following:

“I [have] discovered the truth that the main purpose for my life was to have a close and loving relationship with my Heavenly Father, my Abba. This is something that I am able to do 24/7, whether or not I am attending church, carrying out ministry or volunteer work, or just staying at home.

I must confess though, that because I am a “do-er” type of person, and because I know the great need of this world and have a sense of urgency, I can still struggle with the feeling that I need/should be “doing” more. But I try to allow God to be the one to open up opportunities for ministry rather than me “chasing” them. I also try to remember to “bloom where I am planted”, which at this time, is looking after my beloved husband, and “being there” for my sons and mother, all of whom are struggling with various life’s challenges.

Now, instead of always feeling like I need to be constantly striving to carry out some sort of “work” for God, I spend much more time enjoying living with Him – no matter what I am doing.”

I have spent several years in active ministry. Even now, I lead a weekly women’s Bible study and I write this blog. I also try to do my best to share God’s truth, and Jesus’ way of living, with all the people in my life.

My life has been filled with a lot of stress over the past year and I am feeling a bit wrung out. But I have been finding comfort in the peaceful knowing that my God understands and that He is okay with me just ‘floating’ in His arms of love.

Come float with me.

Blessings

I am carried in the arms of grace and love divine
I am held by hands of healing washed by water pure
Lifting up my heavy heart held in grace scarred hands
I am carried in the arms of grace and love divine

Geoff Bullock

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Carpet-bomb

Carpet-bomb:
1to drop large numbers of bombs so as to cause uniform devastation over (a given area)
2to bombard repeatedly, widely, or excessively 
Since the beginning of November, I feel like my life has been under one long carpet-bomb attack.
The increasingly dull, damp and cold weather causes a large increase in my pain and fatigue. This in turn made it much more challenging to stand at work for long hours thus increasing my pain and fatigue even more and decreasing my ability to deal with workplace stress.
My darling hubby was also suffering with weekly migraines lasting anywhere from 2-4 days. This required the house to be dark and quiet for long periods of time – not conducive to my already low spirits.
A family member, whom we are helping out and who had been living in our trailer during the warmer months has now moved into our small home until Spring. Not only did our living space get smaller, so did our routines, peace and privacy.
And then the enemy stepped up its offensive and the real bombing began, and in the aftermath, a young family has been torn apart; hearts have been broken; fear, insecurity, anger, blame, shame, and sorrow have left deep craters in the lives of all who are involved.
Our small home has become even smaller as we provide shelter and support to a troubled and wounded loved one. The walls of a 2 bedroom cottage/home are now stretched at the seams to accommodate 4 adults and all their accompanying baggage – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
To say that it has been challenging is an understatement! But, to say that God has been with me through all of this is also an understatement. Even during the times when I was so burdened and tired that I couldn’t even formulate a prayer in my head, I knew that God saw, understood, and acted in that situation.
I am so thankful for all those like-minded believers who prayed with me, and for me and my loved ones.
I am so grateful for my Saviour, Jesus, who carries my burden when it becomes too heavy for me.
And I am thankful for hope, a hope that is rooted in Jesus Christ and what he has done for me.
We are finally coming out the other side of this episode of the enemy’s carpet bombing. I know that there are still trials to come, but I believe and trust that God will continue to uphold and sustain me as I wait for the prayers for my loved one to be answered and healing and deliverance to manifest themselves.
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.
Rom 5:6 For when we were still without strength, at the right time Christ gave his life for evil-doers.

Overcoming Regrets

A good reminder for someone like me.

Unshakable Hope

Do you ever feel like your regrets are haunting you like ghosts from your past?

I used to allow regrets over things I’ve said or wished I had said and things I’ve done or wish I had done, to steal my joy, peace and hope. I became so aggravated with these condemning “ghosts” of regret that I finally decided to figure out how to defeat them. The following “battle-plan” (for conquering regrets) has helped me and I hope it might help others dealing with this problem too.

Defining this enemy
Even though I knew what the word regret meant, I began by looking up the definition, which, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is: “sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s control or power to repair: an expression of distressing emotion (as sorrow)” 

I also noticed that repent is one of the synonyms for the word regret. I suppose this makes…

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My New Place

I and my family have been enduring some very difficult and challenging times since the Fall. Many days have been filled with great stress. The ongoing struggles have left me exhausted – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Each day has been an exercise in perseverance to look for something to be joyful about, and for which to be grateful.

In keeping with the teaching of changing my focus so as to change the direction of my thoughts,  I thought that I would create another blog site – one that allows me to focus on the beauty that God has created –  a beauty which is all around me.

In my new blog, I will share photos from my many nature walks as well as an encouraging scripture or two. I may even bore you with some information about some of the interesting plants and creatures I have photographed. LOL

I invite you to travel with me to “my new place”:  In My Father’s Garden  at    https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/myfathersgarden832723765.wordpress.com

Come walk with me.

Blessings

 

Care for the Care-giver

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Mar 1:45 … And they came to Him [Jesus] from every quarter. 

 

I feel like I have been a care-giver, in one way or another, for almost all my life. As the oldest child, I often felt responsible for looking out for the well-being of my two younger sisters. As a daughter, I have been very concerned about the health and happiness of my mother throughout the various trials and tribulations of her life. I have been a wife since I was 18 years old and have looked after the needs of two husbands, both of whom had various issues, including frequent, severe headaches. I am the mother of two sons, and although they are now adults with families of their own, I am still frequently called upon to be a listener, comforter and encourager. I also have the somewhat unenviable and dubious role as a not-really step-mom to two adult children, one of whom is living with us for a time. On top of all of these day-to-day care-giving rolls, I have also been a long-term care nurse, women’s fellowship leader, adult Sunday school teacher, and community volunteer.

It seems that being a care-giver is a natural aspect of my personality and use of my God-given gifts. So it would also seem that doing all these different care-giving jobs would be easy, joyful and fulfilling – NOT!

Being a care-giver can be wonderful, joyful and fulfilling, but often as not, it is draining – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When this happens, I ask the question, “who cares for the caregiver”? Unfortunately, I have found that if I am hoping for, or counting on, other human beings to fill that need, I am often left feeling very disappointed which can then lead to feelings of bitterness, resentment and anger – not good!

Now some may say that being in service to others should leave us feeling filled and energized and that if we are not feeling that way, we are either doing something wrong or not using our gifts and talents where they are best suited. I agree that there may be some truth to that, and thus we should always seek God’s wisdom, discernment and wise counsel on how best to use what He has given to us. However, even the greatest care-giver, Jesus Christ, appears to have felt stretched thin, worn out and worn down at times by the cares of those to whom he was ministering.

Mat 26:37,38 And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and He  [Jesus]began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.

So what are we, the caregivers, supposed to do when we begin to feel stretched thin, worn out and worn down? We need to follow Jesus’ example in these situations.

Jesus chose people. He surrounded himself with the people that he chose to help him carry out his Kingdom work.

Mat 4:18-22 And walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea. For they were fishermen. And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they immediately left their nets and followed him. And going on from there, he saw another two brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And He called them; and they immediately left the boat and their father and followed Him.

Luk 6:13-15 And when it was day, He called His disciples. And He chose twelve of them, whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew;  Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who was called Zelotes; Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, who also became the betrayer.

Besides the disciples and apostles who helped Jesus with his ministry, there also were people, like Mary Magdalene, who followed Jesus and ministered care unto him.

Mat 27:55,56 And many of the women were there, watching from a distance, those who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, watching from a distance; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

Luk 8:1-3 And it happened afterwards, He traveled in every city and village, proclaiming and announcing the gospel of the kingdom of God. And the Twelve were with Him, and also certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who ministered to Him of their possessions.

When you are involved in a lot of care giving, pouring yourself out for others, you need to make sure that you also have a human support system in place. Make sure you spend time with people who can encourage, comfort, support and bless you. I am very blessed to have some special people in my life to whom I can turn to when I need encouragement and support.

However, people, being flawed humans, can disappoint you and let you down, even the ones you can normally count upon. Jesus faced this very issue at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mat 26:36-41 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to the disciples, Sit here while I go and pray there. And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Wait here and watch with Me.  And He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will. And He came to the disciples and found them asleep. And He said to Peter, What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus knew and understood the frailties and failures of humanity, so when Man failed him, or when he needed spiritual re-charging, comforting, support and encouragement, Jesus took the most important step – he went to the One in whom he could always trust and count upon to be there for him –  he went to his Heavenly Father in prayer.

Mat 14:23 And when He had sent the crowds away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray.

Mar 1:34, 35 And He healed many who were sick of different diseases, and cast out many demons. And He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.  And rising up quite early in the night, He went out and went away into a deserted place, and He was praying there.

Luk 5:15,16 But the word about Him spread even more. And great crowds were coming to hear, and to be healed from their infirmities by Him. But He [Jesus] was drawing back in the wilderness, and praying.

Luk 6:12 And it happened in those days that He [Jesus] went out into a mountain to pray, and He was spending the night in prayer to God.

So when my care-giving duties leave me feeling wrung out, worn down, and discouraged, I need to remind myself to follow Jesus’ example. I need to reach out and spend time with the One who is able to give me all that I need to continue serving others with love.

Eph 3:20 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.

 

 

A Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

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Tomorrow is my least favourite “holiday” of the year – Halloween. Kids of all ages will be sporting the latest costumes,  including witches and wizards.

One of my favourite childhood movies is The Wizard of Oz. After Dorothy lands in the fantastical Land of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch of the North appears in a shimmering bubble and asks Dorothy, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”  Dorothy quickly answers that she is not a witch at all!

Many children’s books and movies are filled with stories about witches, especially bad witches. In popular media, good witches seem to be a rare character. The only other “good witch” that I have ever heard of was the character of Samantha Stevens in the TV series Bewitched which, believe it or not,  ran from 1964-1972.

As a kid, I always wished that I could wiggle my nose like Samantha and make bad things go away.

As a child, I semi-believed in witches. As an adult, I know that the world is filled with those who would call themselves witches, warlocks, wizards, sorcerers etc. I know that there are people who practice the “art” of witchcraft and that some of them do define themselves as practicing black (bad) or white (good) witchcraft.

But as a Christian, I ask the following questions: is there such a thing as a “good” witch or “good” witchcraft?

As always, I go to the Word of God to find what He has said about the subject.

In the Old Testament, the word “witch” is translated from the Hebrew word “kashaph”:  to whisper a spell, that is, to inchant or practise magic: – sorcerer, (use) witch (-craft).

Deu 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, an observer of clouds, or a fortune-teller, or a witch,
Deu 18:11 or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or one who calls to the dead.
Deu 18:12 For all that do these things are an abomination to Jehovah.

God regards those who practice and/or promote any of the above activities as abominations – disgusting, abhorrent, abominable.

God says that practicing witchcrat is a sin.

1Sa 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idol-worship.

Gal 5:19,20 Now the works of the flesh [sin] are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies,

God hates the practice of witchcraft because it is based on lies and false spirits and it leads people away from The Truth of God and His son Jesus Christ.

Because God knows that those who practice such arts can have such a profound negative impact upon the spiritual, eternal life of  mankind, He has set a serious punishment for those who practice witchcraft.

Lev 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death:

Exo 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer [permit] a witch to live.

God has made His views on witchcraft abundantly clear. And I couldn’t find any where in His Word where He differentiated between a “good witch” and a “bad witch”. Witches and withcraft are an abomination to God – period!