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A Song in the Night

“….‘Where is God my Maker who gives songs in the night, who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?’” Job 35:10, 11

Clouded moon

Christ’s death and resurrection is particularly dear to me this year, as our earthly celebration follows mere days after my sister-in-law passed away. Over the past four years, some of my posts documented Rebecca’s battle with cancer and requests for your prayers.  You shared in her victories and disappointments. Now she is gone–and it’s as difficult to write that as to believe it.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 

I Corinthians 15:56, 57

Becky wrote a song the night before she had a very difficult back surgery to remedy months of excruciating pain caused by an unforgiving tumor.  The song was put to music by the worship team at her church and played at her memorial service last week.  I may have a word or two wrong since I transcribed this from a shaky recording, but it deserves to be shared:

Becky’s Song in the Night

Jesus you are the bright and morning star

Illuminate our hearts and guide us where you are

Help us dear Lord in the shining light you send

Oh morning star, we love you, and we long for You

Jesus morning star, our lives in you made new

Jesus morning star, our lives in you made new!

~~

Chorus:

Praise the bright and Morning star

Praise his holy name

Praise the Master and the Saviour,

You won’t be the same

Praise Him, Morning star!

Praise Him, The bright and Morning star!

~~

Now as you rise in heavens glory, morning star

Help our hearts to rise up on your wings

Help us know the ways you made us free,

And let us see your beauty and your majesty!

~~

Praise the bright and Morning star

Praise his holy name

Praise the Master and the Saviour,

You won’t be the same

Praise Him, Morning star!

Praise Him, The bright and Morning star!

How amazing, that her song in the night focused entirely on her Morning Star!  Becky’s eyes were fixed on Jesus!

As we remember our Lord’s Passion, his suffering, pain and grief, may our songs in the night melt into praise in the morning, as we see Him, risen with power and glory, paving the way of Hope for our eternal future!

~~

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.   According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

And so we will be with the Lord forever.

I Thess. 4:13-17 

~

Kodak Moments

To me remains nor place, nor time;
My country is in every clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.

After  settling back into our non-routine routine life, I finally found made some time to compile a little photo log of our journey over the past several weeks; or, one might call it, “really great excuses as to why I haven’t been blogging.”  I think my husband’s seven-year old Kodak 612Z camera still does a pretty good job capturing and highlighting our days.

After Easter, we moved out of our cute little spot in Ottawa.

Then we stayed on the “other” side of the Ottawa River a while with friends:

with dear friend, Elaine!

and moved our “schtuff” into their basement…

Guess I got a little too comfortable in their basement!

Then, it was time to say “See you later” (not goodbye), to some friends…

With Mitch at the Coffee House (JRCM)

Dave speaking at Jericho Road Coffee House

Kim’s surprise party was a success!! ♪ Happy 50th Birthday dear Friend ♪ !!

Last day–Brunch with Mack, Ray, Gloria, JL, and Charlene (taking the pic)

As we headed out of town, some colourful tulips peaking through the snow caught our eye.

At Dow’s Lake, these early blooms held up well to the late snow

Delicate, but tough

Then we drove south, and south, and east a bit…to enjoy an extended stay in Virginia Beach for my mom’s 80th birthday celebration, shared with our daughters and grandkids!  These are just a few pics of all that were taken from our blessed time together:

With my beautiful mom. Willa

With my mom, Hope (& her baby-to-be), and Gracey!

Joy, my mom, Grace with Eva, and moi

All smiles with Gracey and Joy (and her baby-to-be)

Sisters with child(ren)

Say Cheese!! Grace, Joy, Steve, and Eva!

Cousins get reacquainted

Protected and Protector

On stage at the Kid’s Place

Eva is a star too!!

Busch Gardens with Hope, Jon and Andrew

Joy and Eva are not persuaded that the ponies are entirely safe at the Petting Zoo 🙂

John Deere meets John and Jon!

Wrapping up a morning at the Petting Zoo

Time for piggies in the sand!

The whole world’s a Beach for Poppop and Jonathan

Eva’s beach time with Pop-Pop

A few minutes of relaxin’ for lovely Nurse Grace

All done….

After spending time with our blessings, it was time to meet the road again.

highway to the hills

As Bilbo sang in The Hobbit,

Roads go ever ever on,

Over rock and under tree,

By caves where never sun has shone,

By streams that never find the sea;

Over snow by winter sown,

And through the merry flowers of June,

Over grass and over stone,

And under mountains in the moon.

So we return, for a bit, to our hollow in the hills, giving praise to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and seeking Him for whatever lies ahead.

Your decrees have been the theme of my songs wherever I have lived. Psalm 119:5

While place we seek, or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness in none;
But with a God to guide our way,
“tis equal joy to go or stay.

Jeanne Marie Guyon, 1722

What have you been up to lately?

Too Busy Being Me

Amidst this sad consciousness of imperfection, here is comfort for you–you are “perfect in Christ Jesus.”  ~ Spurgeon

I am so imperfect.  And quite the imperfect blogger.  I’ve been terribly sporadic this year!  So, thought it time to lay out all my excuses and explain why I’ve been less-than-regular with writing and encouragement.

My husband has often says of himself, “It’s a full-time job just being me.”

And so with Linda….I’ve been too busy being me.

Being me, as any beloved child, is about partaking in God’s daily discipline and grace.  Discipline, because I need it so much, and truly deserve it.  Grace, well, because I need it so much, and don’t deserve it.

And being me has felt a bit like Bilbo Baggins, who said he felt “thin, sort of stretched, like butter, scraped over too much bread.”

Stretched, but content…

.

~~Living in Ottawa, but preparing to leave for our “other” home, building on relationships while facing goodbyes, being served by the very people I seek to serve, tutoring and plugging along with my degree, surprisingly chosen for the “novel” task of ghostwriting,  and most recently, selected to be a contributing author for Regent University’s new blog.

~~A grateful wife of 36 years to a lovely, deep man, with an oft broken, contrite, yet humorous spirit!

~~Always a mom, though my daughters are grown and don’t live anywhere nearby.   But I’m a mom, and thankfully, ever will be!

~~A grandma to two precious little ones, with another on the way!  When I’m with them, I can’t imagine being away.  And when I’m away→→I skype!!

.

~~An only, beloved child to my sweet mom, and this year, planning her 80th birthday celebration and reunion! How priceless is that?!

Being me may keep me from blogging regularly, but may it never keep me from daily seeking the Lord, leaning on and learning of His unfailing love and surpassing mercy.

I just pray that me being me won’t get in the way of

Him being Him,

in me,

for

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

~~~

Maybe you could share how you maintain blogging and other responsibilities, while still being you?

Grace

Grace finds beauty in everything

Happy Birthday to our wonderful youngest daughter, Grace Victoria!

Bono’s song, Grace, touches my heart on so many precious and personal levels.

First it speaks of “a girl”, not just a girl, but our lovely daughter, Grace Victoria, who turns 30 today!!

It defines her, as she “finds goodness and beauty in everything” even as Oncological Nurse, who sees pain and disappointment on a daily basis.

It addresses the very reason we gave her that name–because, God knew we were in desperate need of His Grace to ‘change our world.’

And ultimately, His Grace is what, or rather, WHO, “takes the blame…covers the shame, removes the stain.”  That Grace is Jesus.  Jesus is Grace, unmerited favour, an undeserved gift, full of unconditional love,  Who “makes beauty out of ugly things.”

Like us.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your Grace, God’s Grace, and our Grace Victoria!

~~~

Grace, she takes the blame

She covers the shame

Removes the stain

It could be her name

~~~

Grace, it’s a name for a girl

It’s also a thought that changed the world

And when she walks on the street

You can hear the strings

Grace finds goodness in everything

~~~

Grace, she’s got the walk

Not on a ramp or on chalk

She’s got the time to talk

She travels outside of karma, karma

She travels outside of karma

~~~

When she goes to work

You can hear the strings

Grace finds beauty in everything

~~~

Grace, she carries a world on her hips

No champagne flute for her lips

No twirls or skips between her fingertips

She carries a pearl in perfect condition

What once was hurt, what once was friction

What left a mark no longer stains

Because Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

~~~

Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace finds goodness in everything.

 

If you care to listen to this lovely song, just click away on the Music Box.  The MP3 may be purchased Here

Honouring My Mom

Happy 79th Birthday to my Mom!!

I long to honour my mom whenever possible because, even though everything in Scripture says she should be served by the Church, my mom seeks and lives to serve Jesus and His church with no expectation of return.

Recently, she’s struggled with some upper respiratory issues, and had to be the recipient of others’ servitude. But she felt so uncomfortable with that!  She prays to be fully restored and back on her feet, so she can serve, minister, and fellowship to and with others! That’s just one of the reasons I love her so much!!

The following is a repost from her birthday two years ago, but it’s as true today as it was then:

mom and me!Me and my Mom

Let me introduce you to my mom–not back to when I (or she) was a child, but who she is Today–at 77 years old:

  • She joins others at her church several mornings a week to intercede for their pastor, the country, church family, own family, and many other needs.
  • Several years ago she started a Bible Study in her home–and 5 years later, several precious and faithful women still gather together every Monday night to study God’s Word.
  • She serves on her church’s Mission Committee, corresponding with a LOT of missionaries and their families; sends them cards for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, and keeps them apprised of church events/issues at home.  She also helps plan the annual Missions Conference–contacts missionaries, compiles names of those attending, and helps plan events throughout the week.
  • Four years ago, she started a puppet show ministry, using Bible Stories she wrote for children. Along with other extremely devoted friends from her church, the “Gospel Tellers’  was formed.  They present fun and Scriptural puppet/flannel shows 3-4 times a month at various shelters in the Phoenix area.  And the best part–through these shows, hundreds of children, moms and dads, have come to know Jesus as their Saviour!!

This list doesn’t do her justice, because what really sets her apart is her spirit, her example, and her love for Jesus.  And….she’s my mom!

Her children rise up and bless her!”

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised!! ”

Prov. 31:28, 30

Sin in Control

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”      Psalm 51:4

I’m not a theologian, I don’t read Hebrew or Greek, and I’m not a subject-matter expert about much of anything. There.

But sometimes I’m burdened about something so much, that I’m compelled to step out of my comfort zone (as a warm-fuzzy encourager), and share my heart. It’s my sincerest prayer that through today’s post and future Titus2sdays, you may grow in the Lord, pleasing Him in every respect, and His name would be glorified.

Even though it’s quite clear that the desire of  human nature is to control and be in control, I think women struggle the most with this battle. I  know—I am one.

Genesis 3:16 reminds us why we’re so encumbered:

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

When boundaries are set, we instantly to try to step over them, climb under them, or reason our way around them.  The apostle Paul discusses this inclination extensively in Romans 7.  Specifically, verse 7 says,

For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

So, just as the Word revealed Paul’s coveting as sin, we too face an uncomfortable fact:  Our desire for control is sin. We don’t want to be ‘ruled’ by anyone, God or man.  Perhaps because we don’t trust others to make the right decisions on our behalf.  Or, we don’t trust God.  And that equates to sin.

But desiring to control is more than not trusting God, it’s attempting to be God.  One of my favourite authors, Paul D. Tripp, discusses this dilemma:

  • The desire to be God rather than to serve God lies at the bottom of every sin that anyone has ever committed…. Sin is rooted in my desire to live for me. [1]
  • Self-sovereignty is the dream of every sinner. It’s hard for us to trust ourselves to the wisdom, power, and control of another. We want to write our own drama, and we want to be the central character of the story. But the spiritual reality of the universe is that we are not authors of our own story. Our story is a part of a larger story written by the Lord. In this story we are never on center stage. That is a position to be occupied by the Lord alone. [2]
  • You and I can change no one. Ultimately, personal change comes from only one source: the gracious act of a powerful God. When people try to change one another, typically the focus is on behaviour. Yet behaviour is not really the issue…the root problem is the heart. When we attempt to do God’s job and change someone’s heart, we only cause frustration to ourselves and pain to the other person. [3]

So try to control others according to our limited wisdom or for our benefit, we become self-serving, we hurt others, and, we’re sinning against God.

“Against You only, I have sinned.”

Thankfully, the Lord is gracious. He is compassionate, wise, understanding, and above all, forgiving. He is able to help us. We can and must depend entirely on Him, yielding our hearts and minds to His control.

What a wretched woman I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!!  Romans 7:24

~~~~~~~

Let’s pray together about this during the week and ask ourselves:

Where do I need the grace of God to say no to the temptation to step over God’s boundaries and control?

How have I sinned against the Lord by trying to control others?

~~~~~~~

Dear Lord, Thank you for the victory we have through Christ! We are incapable of living out this Christian life apart from you.  Sometimes it’s so difficult, we feel like quitting. Please meet us first thing each morning and all day long, with your mercy and grace, to enable us to relinquish our behaviours, thoughts, and words to You. Your kingdom come, Your will be done…not ours. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen

~~~~~~~

[1]  Whiter than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy

[2]  A Shelter in A Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble

[3]  Broken-Down House

~~~~~~~

Join us next Titus 2sday for more discussion on control, trust, and the help available through Jesus!

Eighty or Twenty?

Titus 2sday, brought to you today, by Elisabeth Elliot:

A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations.  There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much.  She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.  [1]

What are we focusing on today, the 80% or the 20%?

~~~

[1]. Elisabeth Elliot, Love Has a Price Tag (Ann Arbor, MI:  Servant Books, 1979), p. 97.

No Comparison

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.  2 Cor. 10:12

I think one of the hardest battles we have as women, is comparing ourselves with others.   This thinking can invade every area and role of our lives.  If we’re working outside the home, we look around, and wonder if we’re doing as good a job as others.  Some nebulous standard out there says we must have a cleaner or more creative home than….who?  Others, of course!  And forget it when it comes to mothering!  Organic meals, frugal budgets, home-schooling, discipline, potty-training, Baby einstein…it’s craaaaazy!!!   No matter how hard we try, there is always, always, always, someone doing ‘it’ better…or worse.

There is no peace in comparison.  And, honestly, I am not the best person to offer insight on how to defeat this monster, because it rages in me…everyday.

But, God’s Word can! 

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Eph. 2:10 

Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Psalm 100:3   

For you formed my inward parts;  you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:13 

God Made You. 

There IS no comparison.  You are unique in everyway.  Uniquely beautiful, talented, intellectual, spiritual, and, all together Wonderful!   So why still try to measure up or compare ourselves with others?

It’s a matter of Focus.

We focus waaaaaay too much on ourselves.  Or others.  We need to adjust our sights, and focus on only one Person.

Focus on Jesus.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.   Hebrews 12:1-3

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.  Romans 14:7-8

 

Working, parenting, teaching, cleaning, changing diapers (whether cloth or disposable), serving, achieving, befriending–Living–it’s all for the Lord!

Focus and live for Him.  Freedom from comparing, peace in knowing He loves and made us, strength in living each day for Him, and Him alone…now that kind of life has no comparison!  

~~~

Dear Lord,  It seems that our flesh cannot help but to compare everything we do with everyone we know, and even those we don’t.  It’s a battle we face day in and out.  Help us to focus on Jesus as our standard, and no one else.  Destroy our worldly speculations and comparisons, and bring our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.  We yield ourselves to you.  Let all we are, say, and do, be for You glory. You alone are worthy.  Amen.

~~~ 

Please come back every Tuesday–Titus 2sday–when we seek God’s Word for hope, grace, and strength to be the women He made us to be.

Thankful. Period.

“I’m not going to complain about the flooding in our basement anymore!”

That’s what my husband said last night after we watched video after video of the tsunami devastation in coastal Japan.  There’s something about the difficult plight of others that puts our own into perspective.  Apart from the earthquake and flood damage, the greatest loss many Japanese people are experiencing today is the loss of their loved ones.  They are lifting buildings and cars, digging up sand and rubble, searching frantically everywhere, for spouses, children, friends and neighbors. 

So, with each breath today, I give thanks and pray.  Please join me in both.

 “..in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  Philippians 4:6

Words will, no doubt, fail, as I abound in thankfulness for my family and friends.  I wouldn’t be me, without these:

11.   My wonderful Husband of 35 years, John!  I love you.

12.   Our precious daughters, Joy, Hope and Grace!  Gifts from God.

13.  Our priceless grandchildren, Jonathan and Eva!  Double blessings.

14.  Their terrific husbands, Steve, Andrew, and Dan!   True sons.

15.  My MOM!   Her life, love, and service is ALL a Christian woman and mom should be and more.

16.  My Dad Sam.  He’s been with the Lord for 9 years, but his affect on my life never ends.

17.  My mother-in-law, Dot, a lifelong student of God’s Word.

18.  My husband’s BIG family, who’ve enriched this only child’s life.

19.  Forever, lifelong, friends–YOU know who you are.  🙂

20.  Dear new friends, in person and online, whose encouragement is unceasing.

and, an extra for today that’s a bit ad hoc, but I’m thankful all the same,

21.  Samaritan’s Purse!  An organization, a family in Christ, who are anywhere and everywhere!  They were in Haiti before the earthquake, and are still there. And they already have people on the ground in Japan.  I trust them to get money, resources, and other assistance right to where it’s needed.  I’m so thankful for Samaritan’s Purse, and I imagine, today, a lot of Japanese people are too.

 

I could keep going..and I will, next week.  For now, suffice it to say, I am Thankful.  Period.

Home is a Person

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Cor. 15:9

Home is a confusing word for me.

I grew up in Denver, Colorado, but moved away when I was 20.  My husband and I both served in the US Navy a total of 30 years, living in at least 18 different homes, on and off base, around the world, and back again.  The only house we ever owned, and that, only recently, is on a little plot in the Appalachian Mountains.  Our three daughters and their families live in as many places on the East Coast. My mom’s in Arizona, and my husband’s family is scattered here and there, including the town where we live.  And, our hearts are deeply knit with friends and fellowship in Ottawa, Ontario.

Each place was/is like home to me!?

Yes.  Upbringing, family, work, life, property, and fellowship; each set the stage for all that home means and feels. 

And no.  Each place leaves me with a sense of wanting.  Isn’t there something more? I feel like that little bird in the Dr. Seuss book who goes around to every living creature asking, “Are you my mother?” Is this my home? Where do I belong? 

Through this search, I’m discovering that home is not so much a place, as it is a Person.  God is my Home.  He is my refuge and shelter, upheld by His arms, carried on His shoulders, healed by His stripes.  He is the only lasting home I have.

I refer to Spurgeon’s devotional quite often in my posts, but that’s because he speaks to me in so many areas of my life.  And to this need for home, belonging and attachment, he speaks clearly:

“You have made the Lord your dwelling place, the Most High, who is my refuge.”  Psalm 91:9

The Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change.  Wherever the pillar of cloud stopped, the tents were pitched; but the next day the morning sun arose, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow mountain passes, up the hillsides, or along the arid wastes of the wilderness. [Sound familiar?]

They never stayed for long in one place.  Even wells and palm trees could not detain them.  They had an abiding home in their God; His cloudy pillar was their roof, and its flame by night their fireplace.  They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle or to say, “now we are secure; we will stay in this place.” [I’ve said that!]

Instead, Moses says, “Though we are always changing, Lord, you have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations.”  Psalm 90:1

The Christian know no change with regard to God.  He may be rich today and poor tomorrow; he may be sick today and well tomorrow; he may be happy today and sad tomorrow–but there’s no change regarding his relationship to God.  If He loved me yesterday, He loves me today.  My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord.  Even when prospects are few and hopes are squashed and joy is waning, I have lost nothing of what I have in God.

He is my refuge to which I continually return.  I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God.  In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet dwelling place.”

 

Teach me Lord, to find my rest in you, to be at home anywhere, and everywhere, because You are there.

You are my Home…now, and forever!