Shovelin’ and servin’

 Growing up, I was the kid that mumbled and grumbled when my Ma called my brother and I outside to shovel the driveway, before Dad got home from work.   Perhaps  the  root  of  my frustration, was knowing  we  had a perfectly functional snow blower parked in the garage, waiting – silently begging – to be used. However, my Ma felt uncomfortable  using it, or letting any one of us kids use it, lest we manage to break something.
So instead, we reluctantly dressed in our winter gear; snowpants, jacket, boots, scarves, toques, gloves (sometimes 2 pairs); and trudged to the garage for the best shovel.
For a mid-sized family, we had quite a collection of shovels. Two heavy, metal shovels for chipping the ice; two small, plastic red shovels from when my brother and I were much younger ( My folks’ certainly weren’t against child labour – I intend to do the same!); A sturdy plastic shovel; and then, our personal favorite, the giant, red scoop shovel. So large, two kids could use it for a sled, if they so desired. ( I don’t recall if we ever did…)
So, because there was a favorite, we would take turns, swapping shovels every so often. Most of the time, my Mom was the ice chipper. But occasionally, we’d swap with her too.
I’m sure when evening rolled around, Dad was pleasantly surprised to pull into a cleared driveway. Really, it was the least we could do. That man has the best work ethic I’ve ever seen in my life. He just gets things done. He’ll work a 9, 10, 12 hour day, then come home and fix the vehicle, work on a project, fix something in the house or yard. Often in the winter, when the snow reached knee-deep or higher, he would use the snow blower and make his way across the field, creating for us a path to school. I’m sure lots of kids used this path. Heck, even deer used the path!
That’s how he showed Love; by doing, by serving.
Isn’t that what serving is all about? An act of Love and kindness? You don’t have to know somebody to demonstrate kindness either.
A couple of winters back, sometimes my roommates and I would be pleasantly surprised to come outside and find our driveway already shovelled. (That Christmas, we gave our neighbours a small gift basket, with a note of our appreciation.)
I want to learn to have a servant’s heart. I think it is safe to say, Jesus is the best example of how to do this.
How can we show love to our neighbours this season? To family? Friends? Co-workers, and strangers?

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“Didn’t I Tell You?… Oops!”

In a foreign land, quite new to me; of rocks and hills, right by the sea.
A celebration, a wedding, you see. All seemed to be going swimmingly.
Then I’m approached by my sister’s MC.
“You’re next” She said. I thought she was kidding.
I turned, wide-eyed, to where my sis was sitting.
“Didn’t I tell you??… Oops!” she giggled.
I shook my head; my jewellery jiggled.
‘Welcome to the family’ – well, that’s a big deal!
What should I say, that’s kind, clever and real?
So I borrowed a pen and scribbled some notes.
Not even enough time to check what I wrote.
Went up to the mic and started with Hello,
clutching my paper, I went with the flow.
Jitters non-existent, I might make it through!
I ended with “lookin’ forward to getting to know you.”
I’m not good with speech, my tongue gets ahead of me,
Even with notes, in which I rely heavily.
But this was an exception, surely God’s grace,
that my impromptu speech successfully took place.
We then ate, and we danced; we laughed and had fun.
Never will I forget when two hearts became one!

Live Simply…

“Live Simply, so that others may Simply Live” .

At last Sunday’s Young Adults study, we watched a video clip from a series of discussions involving Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne. ( “Simply Enough” ) The focus of this clip was lifestyle. One of the questions the video challenged us with was;
“Are you living as Jesus wants us to live?”
Tony brought up 1 John 3:16-18 ~
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” ( NIV)

Just this past Monday, a few of us had the privilege of attending the annual Hope International Banquet. An event that included dinner, a raffle, silent and live auctions. Donations help the poor across the world in numerous ways; educating, building clean water systems, teaching families sustainable agriculture, etc.
As I scanned the tables of hand-made goods for the silent auction, carefully deciding where to place my bids, it somehow slipped my mind the hands that had made some of these items. Perhaps not so unlike my own. Maybe more scarred, more callused from long days of work just to eat a simple meal; or darker and wrinkled, from toiling all day in the sun.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve noticed and have come to strongly dislike how tightly I hold onto my dollars. We received a form from our church the other day, stating how much we had given from ___ to ____. And I felt ashamed of the number. ‘Is that all we tithed?’
Then at this Hope Banquet, as my husband and I are filling out the donation envelopes, I found myself nearly bartering with him as to what we should give! He said a number, and then I said something lower, and we just stared at each other. Then wrote down his number. And I’m glad. I’m glad for a generous husband, who loves to give. Whose goal is to give a little more each year, than the previous.
I want to stop staring greedily at the numbers in my bank account. These treasures fade. Besides, none of it is really mine anyways.
It is all God’s.

Live simply, so that others may simply live.

( A challenge to you as well as myself!)

“Even If the Healing Doesn’t Come…

… And Life falls apart; And Dreams are still undone.
You are God.
You are good.
Forever Faithful One…”
(Kutless – “Even If”)

I heard this song just the other day. And then, the following Sunday, the pastor taught a sermon from Matt 20:29-34; about the healing of two blind men, who had called out to Jesus, ” Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
As our Pastor pointed out, it takes some level of humility to admit you’re struggling; to admit you can’t do it alone. To recognize you have no pull. You have no power. The situation is out of your hands.
Jesus and his disciples had been on their way to Jericho, followed by  a large crowd, when Jesus stops and calls out to the blind men, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, we want our sight.” They answered.
Jesus had compassion on them, and healed them. (Paraphrased based off of NIV version).
Compassion.
Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as: ‘sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it’.
The Pastor described it as a feeling of one’s Guts being Twisted. (Quite the image, eh?)
We serve a compassionate God; a loving God from which everything good comes. He hears our prayers, his heart breaks with our hearts.
” I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.” (Psalm 116:1, NIV)

Admittedly, at times, it gets tough to trust in God. Prayers hover unsatisfied. We seek, but do not find.  Nothing has changed.
And sometimes I wish I knew why this is so. Sin? Bad Choices? Not righteous enough?
However, the focus should be on God. Loving, compassionate, good. It is in contrast to our shortcomings, that His glory can burst forth so radiantly.
I don’t have the answers. My Pastor sometimes admits he doesn’t have all the answers.
But as for this faith-journey, I’m in it for the long-haul.
Rain or Shine.
Because He Loves Me.

( Here’s the music video, for those who want to check it out!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqOkZiOb9u0

*Spiritual High!* Then it Dies…

Thud – thud – thud – thud – thud – thud – thud.
The bass is cranked up. Drums playing so loud, your adrenalin starts to race. Pounding in your ears, your chest. Life, right now. Tens of thousands of people clapping, dancing, chanting, pumping their fists:
“Yes Lord! Yes Lord! Yes, Yes, Lord!”
Just thinking about it, gets my heart beating a little faster. I love concerts. Especially weekend-long gigs. Like YC, (Youth Conference) in Edmonton. Or Creation Fest in the States. It was a time to escape the normalities of life, and dive head first into a world of fellow believers; young people who seemed to be on fire for Jesus. The energy was contagious.
I have seen a few in my time. I loved dancing. I loved singing so loud my voice was hoarse the next day. There was nowhere I’d rather be.
And in between the heart-pounding concerts, would be speakers that would challenge us; Shake up our world a little bit, but also encourage. And I’m sure some of us must have been thinking, “Yes! This is what being a Christian is all about! I’m totally going to share this faith with everyone I know! My Life is totally changed! God is Awesome!”
And then we’d start jumping up and down to the next song.
The momentum could keep up like this all weekend. This… Spiritual High, I’ll call it.
And then…
It just dies.
And some cycles don’t cease with time, do they? Should they…?
There have been times, where I can come home from church on Sunday, refreshed and challenged on how I can better live for God’s kingdom. And often, I will share these ideas with my Husband.
Then Monday rolls in abruptly, scrapes me off the bed, and plunks me smack-dab in the middle of chaos. Or dullness. Either way, it seems everything from the day before is no longer relevant or even evident in my routine-programmed mind.
I hate this.
Don’t you?
It bothers and pains me to see how easy it is to get sucked back into ‘normal life’. Almost as if this chunk of our lives; family, jobs/school ( All blessed and given by God) is the main act, and Church and faith and devotions – well, that’s just kind of our go-to plan.
I guess what I’m getting at, is that I am guilty of saying ‘Yes Lord!’ with my lips, then turning around, and having my life and actions say ‘No, No, Nope!’
This may have some similarities to previous posts, but I think it’s because this idea of Kingdom Living has been placed heavily on my heart this past year.
And day by day, I’m just trying to figure out what that looks like.