Friday, August 1, 2014

Photos and Thoughts Inspired by our Vacation

    We just came home from a family vacation in Whistler.  We had a wonderful time and there were things we experienced that led to moments of inspiration.
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     Unknown to us we 'happened' to arrive at Whistler on the day the first Ironman Triathlon was held in Whistler.  The last few miles into Whistler forced us to just slow down and enjoy being part of the event.
The Ironman Triathlon is the world's most gruelling race consisting of a 2 1/2 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, then concluding with a 26 mile run --  the allotted time is 17 hours - the winner completed it in 8  hours and 16 minutes.

At first we came upon a few riders, then more and more.




I was impressed by the number of people who  lined the roads to cheer on the bikers as they passed. 





Finally, we were able to access our townhouse (although later it was impossible to get  back out to main roads - they were closed to accommodate the bikers) 

After the bike ride of 112 miles was complete the athletes began their 26 mile run, which took them right past our townhouse, so we watched from the patio......



front door .....  
or 'ran with them' --   that is my husband in the black pants who started jogging beside one runner who  suggested he change places and finish the race for him. 


What impressed me more than the athletes themselves,  was the people who cheered them on.  
Even inside our townhouse we could hear the shouts of encouragement to the athletes as they passed.  These encouragers all along the route sat/stood for hours spurring the runners on to the finish.  

I thought about how we are called to that for each other in the 'race' of life running for the goal  - to cross the finish line to win the 'crown of eternal life'.   How encouraging it would be to have those around us committed to spurring us on, calling out words of praise and expressing confidence in our ability to finish... holding out 'bottles of water' to refresh us. 
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We also witnessed another interesting 'race' of different kind.   The race of the tiny toads from lake to forest where they will grow up. 



The tiny toads (smaller than a dime) having developed from tadpoles come out of the water and gather in piles along the lake shore.  About 25,000 will complete the migration race. 



A man-made barrier to protect them has been laid all along the lake shore to encourage the baby toads along a safe path from lake shore to the forest some distance away. 
A few  toads manage to escape and forge out on their own as this little guy did.  I  felt bad for him.  He had a hard road a head of him - with little chance of surviving or reaching his destination. 



How like us!    God has put up barriers - not to restrict us , but rather to make our journey safe. Yet, like the little toad we wiggle our way through the barrier and try to make our own way - and find that in the end it is to our own hurt and loss. 

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On our way home from Whistler we stopped at Squamish (one hour from Whistler)  to experience the new Sea to Sky gondola that takes you up to the top of The Chief mountain.  It is a 10 minute ride. 


At the top, is a cafe/shop/sitting areas and viewing platforms to take in the 360 degree views! 



Connecting the two viewing platforms is a swinging bridge. (the two blonde girls on the bridge are my grandgirls) 




While we were on top we experienced another 'first'.   The first wedding on top of The Chief. 

The 'aisle' for the bride was the swinging bridge and all traffic was halted so she crossed it alone to meet her groom waiting at the 'alter' with family and friends. 



As one who avoids swinging bridges -  I watched the bride crossing the swinging bridge, high above the ground -- and I thought about how often in life  we have to take 'risks' - letting go ... starting over .... making life changing decisions or choices. 
How much we value our 'goal' will determine how great a risk we are willing to take to get there.  

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God has created us emotional beings - we desire to love and be loved, to feel joy and fulfilment. 
 We are also created with a capacity and need to be WOWED -- to feel 'awe' because feeling 'awe' is meant to draw our thoughts to God. 
How often vacations are planned around the desire to enjoy God's creation. 
Here are a few photos I took that filled me with awe for the beauty God used to create His world to reflect the beauty of His character! 
















In spite of all we saw and experienced, the greatest gift God has given me is my family.  To share time and togetherness is what I treasure most.


Thank you, Father !!   
  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." 
James 1:17 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Face to Face With Jesus


(last night's glorious sunset)

    While I read a lot of books, I recommend comparatively few... but I recently read a book that I have put on my  'must read' short list.
    The book is called Face to Face With Jesus - by Samaa Habib with Brodie Thorne.
It is a the true story of Samaa Habib, the tenth and youngest child of a strict Muslim family in the Middle East. The story is captivating, inspiring, and makes you feel like you are reading a modern rendition of the book of Acts.
     The first chapter of the book tells of the horrific bombing of the church Samaa attended. Four bombs were planted by terrorists, Samaa standing right beside one of the bombs as it went off.  She was 'killed'.   You are left 'hanging' there as the story takes you back to the beginning of Samaa's life and then leads you back to the time of the church bombing.

     I hate to be a book spoiler so I will say no more, but if you want a good, true-life-experience, inspirational, can't put the book down,  kind of read I encourage you to read this book !

     If you aren't a reader, don't have time to read,  but you have an hour to spare to listen to her audio testimony, you can find a link here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Another Lesson from my Garden



If I hadn't seen this with my own eyes I would not have believed it !

As you can see in my photo there are two seed geranium plants growing side by side.
I bought them in spring from the same garden shop tray, all the same size and all equally healthy looking.  Obviously, they get the same amount of sun/rain and I water them if we have dry days back to back.   There is a reason I buy seed geraniums.   I don't have a green thumb so plants have to grow in spite of me, not because of me.  Seed geraniums are the most forgiving plant --  too dry, too wet, too much sun, too much shade they forgive it all and just do what they are supposed to do --BLOOM!  And I love them for that!

So this morning, not having taken note of them for a few days, I stopped, stood and stared - not really believing my own eyes!  Was it possible?  Why was one  plant huge and the other one so much smaller?    I puzzled over it for the rest of the morning.  Then, it came to me!  There WAS a logical reason.

The huge plant is situated so that the 'drip-through' of my hanging basket runs down to it and I fertilize my hanging basket regularly.  On the other hand, I  neglect the seed geraniums... since they are growing and blooming just fine,  or so I THOUGHT until this morning when I saw what they COULD have all been by now.

Immediately, I saw the vivid spiritual lesson.

Why do some believers grow in the faith faster than others?   Why do some people accept salvation and then struggle along and never reach a strong maturity in their spiritual journey,  never grow in their knowledge of God's ways,or  in their understanding of a personal relationship with Him, never seem to change in how they relate to others in actions or reactions.
They look 'fine' in the sense that they are quick to acknowledge that they are a believer, there are 'flowers blooming'   is fruit in their life, but when you compare them to the 'giants' of faith they suddenly look pretty puny.  What makes the difference?

I think the answer may be quite simple.   You have heard the expression 'location, location, location' ?  As a believer your 'location' is everything.
Do you situate yourself where God's word regularly 'drips/pours' into your life?
Do you pray 24/7 in conversation with God and not just run to Him when you have a need/want/request?
Do you surround yourself with fellow believers, letting them invest into your life? Do their faith/experiences/wisdom run-over into your life?  Do you let them encourage/inspire you?
Is gathering together with other believers to study God's Word and worship together something you do only when and if it is convenient and doesn't conflict with other priorities?
Are you careful what you fill your mind with?
Do you enjoy the things of the world and the environment/entertainment the world offers?  or do you seek out the godly things and places that please God?

Here are some scriptures that speak of  the 'location' we are to choose that will determine whether or not we will be a 'mega-Christian'  or a 'puny-Christian'.
  
Jude 21 -    Stay always within the boundaries where God's love can reach and bless you.
1Peter 2:2  -  As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,"
1Th 5:17  - Pray without ceasing, 
1Jn 2:15  -  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 
Heb 10:25 -  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 
1Co 16:13  -  Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.  
2Ti 2:15  -  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 
Eph 4:15  - But,    speaking the truth in love, (you)  may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—
Php 4:8 -   Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Free Will - Love it ? or Hate it?


Have  you ever thought about how free will is like our computer ?   If it works, I love it... but if it crashes, freezes, loses my stuff or gets a bug or virus I hate it!

Don't we have the same attitude about 'free will' ?   If is serves our desires or purposes, we love to have it - but let anything go wrong and we are so quick to blame God with accusations and questions about why He allowed something or didn't do something to stop it.

I was taught a 'lesson' on my patio this week.  
I love sweet peas. My mom always grew them when I was growing up and to gather a bunch of the delicate, ever so fragrant blossoms to bring into the house was always my delight.
I don't have a green thumb, things grow in spite of me, not because of me!   Having tried to grow sweet peas before and failed, I had given up,  but this year I found a new seed that had a protective coating around it to help it sprout and grow.   I thought, for a couple of dollars, it was worth a try.   As you can see the seeds did sprout and I have some promising shoots.  
I have carefully tended them, watered them - not too much, not too little - fertilized them and knowing they need something to climb on, I leaned them on skewers and provided them with a garden mesh to wrap their tendrils on and climb, hopefully to the very top !  

The other day as I was tucking the mesh close to each shoot and gently encouraging the short tendrils to reach out for the mesh, I wondered.... is that what God does for us ?

My sweet peas have free will ... they can grow or not, bloom or not or they can just refuse to climb.  I can't MAKE them grow.   But what I can do is encourage them to grow , I can provide for them everything they could need.   I watch over them, every day checking to see if their tendrils are long enough yet to reach out. I hope every day that they have found my mesh.    I know how excited I will be the day I see them begin to twist and twirl their way up the mesh and then one day cover it with a profusion of blossoms.  

God has given man free will and in giving it He has to stand back and let man do what man will do.  He hovers, encourages, puts up props, blesses us with good things .... but He cannot - by His own will - force us to do contrary to our own wilful desires.  When men are evil, when bad things happen, it isn't God's fault -  its man flexing his free will muscles to his own hurt and the harm of others. When man makes bad choices/decisions we all pay the price and suffer the consequences but it is not God who caused it nor God's responsibility to stop man from doing what he wills.
How patient and gracious is our God - and so desirous of our free will offering of love and devotion to Him - that He puts up with us.   There is nothing He will not do to 'help' us grow the way He wants us to - the way that will permeate  the sweetness of Jesus' fragrance in us and through us for others to enjoy.

"Oh, Lord, let me be a 'sweet pea'  blooming in your kingdom."

PS...  When my sweet peas blossom , I will update this post !- I have faith, (I think!)