Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Light


We've made it! In this corner of the world, we've had our shortest day. Six months of increasing daylight is ours to enjoy. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder suffer most, but everyone has more zip on brighter days. We crave sunshine and light. In a black sky, if there is one splash of vivid sunset colour, where do we look? We can't help but look away from the darkness toward the beauty of that light. So why is the same not true in the spiritual realm?

In the wee hours of the morning many years ago, I came to the place in C. S. Lewis' The Silver Chair where the evil Queen lies to her captives that only Underland is real. Overworld does not exist and the sun they speak of is from a child's story. It's just a copy of the lamp in Underland. Lewis' characters overcome the enchantment and escape from the dark realm. But how many individuals live their entire lives on this earth believing the lies of the evil one - that what we see and experience with our physical sight is all there is? In his gospel, John quotes Jesus as saying, "Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light." (John 3:19 NIV)

At the start of a new year I'm anticipating fresh revelations and insights, increased light in my soul as God continues to do a new thing in the coming days. I welcome more daylight, but I'm greedy for that greater Light. In John 8:12, Jesus said,"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (NIV) The beauty of nature is a mere shadow of God's overworld, a realm of beauty beyond anything we can imagine.

Deliver us from every lie of the evil one, Father. Anoint our eyes with spiritual eye salve to recognize and realize all that you want us to see.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ripples and repercussions


" Now run this by me again. You'll be gone for ten days! And who's going to look after me?"
My orange house buddy had plunked himself in the middle of the suitcase I intended to pack. His support group was kind and attentive and he did survive my vacation, but if he could have emailed me, no doubt his message would have been something like, "Life is not up to snuff."

Wouldn't it be grand if things that bring joy on one hand did not cause heartache or difficulty on the other? I enjoyed the days away, but I did miss Mr. Whiskers and I know the absence of his resident door-opener, feeder, chin-rubber was not to his liking.

The needs of pets do not rank up there with all that's involved in national affairs or personal relationships. The cause and effect principle, though, does still occur. One afternoon I watched the water flowing around and past a branch caught along the river bank. It affected the pattern of the ripples on the surface for several meters... and I thought how every thing we do can impact upon any of those with whom we are connected.

I want the ripples from my life to be a help and not a hindrance to others. There's no way that what results will always be welcome. So many things are beyond our control, but I can pray that the Lord will guide me through each day and ultimately use what happens, when I am at that spot along the shore, for the good of His Kingdom.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Times They Are A-Changin'


These days in Ontario, precipitation and temperatures don't know where they're at. Many leaves have lost their grip on the branches. Some haven't even turned colour. One morning, snow covered the clematis on the arbor, the still green magnolia foliage and the leaves on the copper beech. Since then we've had a variety of crisp, sunny days; days with warm rain; days with cold winds - the whole gamut. The season is a-changin'.

We welcome some changes and cringe at others. Whatever our reaction, to move forward, we have to deal with each new reality. Before the snow comes to stay, I've emptied the rain barrel, stowed it in the barn and attached the longer downspout for that eavestrough. The birdbaths, hose, barbecue, lawn furniture, tomato cages, decorative planters are all packed away, safe from the elements. The laundry dried on lines in the cellar this week and last. Instead of fresh-air fragrance on the clothes, they are lending the pleasant scent of Purex, After the Rain to our old cellar. The house is feeling cozier and I'm capturing some writing time.

The changes in nature can be easier to cope with than new challenges we face in other realms. Joyce Meyers said this week that satan continually tries to diminish followers of Christ. The word "diminish" impressed me. The Oxford Canadian Dictionary gives the definition "make smaller or less". The enemy would delight to see us take our first steps toward a fresh project with apprehension and feelings of inadequacy. He would love for us to think the task is too great.

Anything we haven't tackled before can seem formidable, but if it's something Father God is nudging us to do, He's with us in it and we'll succeed eventually if we don't give up. Each new venture has its yucky stage until we've worked at it long enough to have some degree of expertise. With a positive attitude we can discover things we enjoy during the process.

The next flip of the calendar brings us to the month Mom dubbed Novembrrrrr. In this province, its days can be cold and gloomy. When the snow makes its "official" arrival, somehow the cold is less intense and the days are brighter. If there have to be some rather dark times during this transition - and in times of change I'm dealing with in other spheres - I still look forward to brighter seasons ahead.

Saturday morning - BONUS !!!
A special friend gave me an orchid cactus. It kills me to not give it a drink when I'm watering the other house plants, but it is only to be watered once a month, and...now that we have fewer hours of daylight, this wee survivor is in a dark corner of the basement until spring! It may even welcome a time of rest while I feel cruel leaving it away from the light. In any case, without the dark period, the cactus cannot bloom.
Revelation! Dark times are necessary to develop what is to be produced in nature and what is to be accomplished through our lives. We have reason to take courage and embrace change.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reflections

Sunday morning as I drove across a bridge north of the village, I caught a glimpse of the river bank reflected in the water. The reflection impacted me. Why did it seem even more special than the actual shoreline? Then I began to reflect on a scene in my spirit that had impressed me earlier that morning. It concerned releasing control.

I'm more comfortable driving than being a passenger, but I am willing to move over and let someone else drive. I give up control of the vehicle and trust another person with my life. We constantly put our trust in other people in many different situations. We put our trust in a variety of objects. For instance we sit in a chair and trust that it will support us. We place confidence in humans and in material things without fear. Why are we hesitant to place complete trust in the One who created and loves us?

In the 40 years since I first chose to trust the Lord with my life, He has been so patient while I slowly learn to loosen my grip and allow Him to take control - of my circumstances, of my time, of my finances, of every aspect of my life. It still tickles me to see the great way He engineers all of it, presenting solutions and arrangements I could never have come up with. Perhaps joy enhances many memories when I look back making the reflection even better than the original event? 

In any case as I mulled over this matter of releasing control, I realized when I refuse to let go I'm surrendering to fear. I'm still not in control, and instead of giving the situation over to the One who wants to give me His best, I'm actually letting the enemy, the one who wants me to be afraid, take over. I've made the decision, but I'm still not truly in control. The ripples disappeared. The smooth surface of the water offered a crystal clear image. God loves me. He wants to look after me and He is oh so able. Best yet, He has no favourites. He's just as eager to do this for everyone. If you have not yet made a choice on this issue, maybe I've given you something to reflect on?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why "Beech Croft"?


Get comfy. Want to get you settled into Beech Croft.

A croft is a very small farm. Underline very. Farther back than I can remember, a mean Shetland pony named Joey had a stall in the brown barn. My oldest brother, Paul, bought chicks each spring. They grew to replace the current batch of egg-makers which, in turn, were promoted to main course features for Sunday dinners. To deliver the eggs around our village, Paul loaded cartons on the cart behind Joey who behaved better in harness than when either of the boys tried to ride him. Dad and my brothers also raised dogs. The boys had hounds. Dad raised cocker spaniels. Plus a succession of single canines came and went - an Irish Retriever, a Dalmatian, a Golden Retriever, a Spaniel/Collie mix. Some even gained access to the people house.

One of Mom’s stories was about my brother, Hugh, asking the meaning of “confusion”. Her answer was, “When I’m trying to make dinner and you two and your Dad and the puppies are in the kitchen, that’s ‘confusion’.”

The rest of the livestock consisted of a barn cat that, judging by his wounds, survived some vicious battles, and two rabbits noted for the brevity of their stay. Mom traded them, hutch and all, to a chap for a bunch of prize-winning gladiolas – a bouquet of cut flowers for two rabbits and their cage!

So much for the “croft”. As for “beech”, there was a young beauty growing in the south corner of the front yard, except I’d learned from Mom that it was a lemon tree. When preparing food for a family who loved to eat, she wasn’t one to take any chances on ruining it by letting me in on the mixing. I was eager to crank that dover beater, fascinated by the transformation of egg whites into foamy froth.

“I’m making lemon-snow,” she said. “You can make your own.” She gave me a high glass container, poured in some water and let me crank the dover beater. No transformation. No froth. “You’d better go get some lemons,” she said, “from the lemon tree.”

Even as a pre-schooler I was pretty sure there was no tree with lemons anywhere close. But Mom had a way about her. I don’t remember whether she told me to pretend. In any case, she convinced me. I picked “beech leaf lemons” and beat them up in that water. It was the sorriest looking mess. Those kids in the ally on-line banking commercials - I know exactly how they feel. I’d been had. It wasn’t right. Still the young beauty in the south corner remained a lemon tree for some time.

Mom was a widow when my brother, Hugh, gave her a copper beech to plant by the brown barn. She thought she wouldn’t live long enough to see it grow. The years zipped by and that tree became so large the rhubarb along the side of the barn couldn’t get enough sunshine to amount to anything, but the beauty of the sheen on those copper leaves in sunlight was worth it. Mom watched that tree mature and we had extra justification to name this patch of God’s earth “Beech Croft.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Running late, but I'm off...

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. NLT

    The significance of this “brevity of life” thing packs a greater wallop as the years zip by. We put projects off for a later day until the revelation unfolds:  Sister, the “later day” is here! Room for procrastination has passed.

    Increased wisdom is to be coupled with this realization. Over the years interesting opportunities popped up that I passed on to others, or maybe even began to take a run at myself. As some of the busyness of family and work obligations slip away, so do the reasons for not committing time and energy to tackle and complete a challenge or two.

    So… this Caleb wants a crack at conquering her mountain of opportunity. I want to remove myself from the pessimistic ten who focused on the gigantic obstacles, and join the two who saw the huge possibilities – with God. Thankfully, I’m not close to 85 as Caleb was when the promised land was being divided up (Joshua 14:6-13), but I have completed a precious, often uphill, forty year faith journey. I’m hoping you’ll stop by when you have a moment. Maybe you’ll be inspired to begin some new venture that you’ve been saving for the right time too?