Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Beyond The Storms, A Spark of Hope



Reeling in shock. That’s how I would describe our small community after a series of senseless murders and fatal accidents claimed the lives of several of our young men. In a community as connected as ours, the tragedies always come too close to home. We are all affected. This spate of unfortunate events was so sudden, so tragic that some started to suspect the work of unnatural forces. In a community familiar with hurricanes, this one threw us off of our feet as the dark storm clouds of pain and fear settled on our small islands.

These tragedies came on the heel of two major losses in my family... one somewhat expected and one found only in your nightmares.  Losing both your father and your youngest brother within a short time span rocks you to the core, the pain is hot and real and lasting.

On the world stage things were no better. We need only look to our close neighbor to see the waves of uneasiness. Rising tensions, riots, and protests following an unpredicted election result scream ‘uncertain times’.  Wars and rumours of wars, refugees, terrorist attacks, corruption and greed dominate the global media coverage. Without a doubt these are grim times.

To say that hope was struggling to breathe would be an understatement.

I had read about God’s promise of joy and his admonition to ‘count it all joy’, but in reality joy seemed missing in action, drowning under the turbulent seas of life.

I wondered about my children. I wondered what they felt deep down about all these things. 

I understood in a fresh way the delusional need of our youth to sedate themselves with the ever-flowing ebb of entertainment. Living for what makes one happy does seem to offer a respite from all that ails us, but I wondered about the questions that float through their minds in their infrequent quiet, unplugged moments.

I wondered if a steady unwavering joy and a hope that steers us on were within their grasp.

And so I grabbed them by their hands, walked to the edge of our crazy circumstances and dove right into the book of Revelation.

Revelation?  Really?

Really!

I recall my childhood memories of Revelation were not too pretty... fire and brimstone, moon turning to blood, stars falling from the skies. What was I thinking? What twisted love is this? Did I plan for them to be scared to death or coerced by fear?

No; I was simply diving in, in search of hope... a hope, grounded in love and leading to joy... a hope that changes the lens through which we view the events of our time.  A hope that gives meaning to today and assurance for tomorrow. 

These times were too perilous to leave them drifting on their own in a rickety boat of their own making. 

They need to know the Captain.


Together we would sail the seas and together we would search.

It started out with smooth sailing. The introduction brims with hope; the letters to the churches are relevant, convicting and encouraging. Yep, those first few chapters of Revelation are bursting with the promise of reward.

But we soon sailed into choppy waters. One morning as I was pre-reading the upcoming chapters, I felt the old fears of my childhood memories bobbing to the surface. The images were downright creepy; for me even. I could only imagine my children’s reactions.

In a moment of doubt, I thought... maybe this was not such a good idea after all. Maybe we’ll just read something different... something more hope inspiring.

But I kept reading on. This was after all the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ  - revealing Himself to us – I needed to see more... my children needed to see more... more of Him. Besides, a blessing was promised to everyone who reads it. 
God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3
So I pushed past the images of the apocalypse to see Jesus. 

And I decided to start with the end.

Sometimes, I think if we can know how the story ends, the scary twists and turns of the plot won’t seem so intimidating after all. A spoiler for sure, but hey, in this life I think we all could benefit from a spoiler like this one.

So I leaned in close to my Captain, braced myself against His strength and prayerfully steered my children’s gaze straight to the end of the story. Right then and there, I skipped right over the hairy parts that seem ghoulish in detail and read the final few chapters of Revelation for them. 


Aaahhhhh! Somehow just reading those passages strengthens my sea legs. I don’t feel so tossed about any more when I meditate on His rock-solid promises. I know life is rough and will continue to be rough. I shudder when I think of all the possibilities. But I also know that I have a Captain that promises to never leave me nor forsake me and that assures me of safe passage. 
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deut. 31:6
As I cling to this mast of hope, I fix my gaze at the rising joy that leads me deeper into Him.  

And He steels me for the onward journey.

As for my children, thankfully, I don’t need to rely on my imperfect navigation skills and my flawed understanding of the course. God has promised a guide for our journey – His Holy Spirit – and He will lead us into all truth. On Him we can depend.

Yes, the journey is not over. Together, my children and I, would continue our search through the book of Revelation and though the tempest rages, we would drop anchor at all the choppy parts in full hope of uncovering the Treasure that lies beneath. I think we are in for quite an adventure!

May God bless you as you travel on,

Carlie

*************
What about you?
Where do you find hope?
What are your thoughts about the book of Revelation?
Love? Hate? Avoidance? Confusion?

*************

I pray you are encouraged 
as you listen to this hope inspiring song by J. Brian Craig.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Does Time Have You in a Chokehold?


The pain bubbles up and spills over, as hot, salty tears run down my cheeks.

The fact that I cut so deeply for someone I've never met doesn't even surprise me.

The twinges of sorrow have been seething under the surface for some time now... waiting to overflow.

I peer at her bright smiling face, and feel it again... the aching... the longing... the wrestling with time.

If only... 

one could turn back time.

Pain... it stands at the edge of our 'not-perfect-but-we-love-them' lives and claws and tears with its sinister talons.

No one is left unscathed.

We struggle... we writhe... we squirm... trying desperately to escape its grasp... to return to the time when... pain was not.

Have you ever felt that?  The overwhelming almost urgent desire to turn back the hands of time... just change that one tiny thing that... caused our world to come crashing down on us.

We know it is impossible, but oh, how we wish we could. 

It was just a mistake, a foolish choice. Who could know it would end up like this?

And so we struggle.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm caught in a battle with time, and he's the one who has the upper hand... has me in a chokehold. 

Can you relate? 


Looking back and wishing you could change the past does nothing but fill you with despair and regret.

Not exactly components of living a victorious life. 

So you try to pull yourself together. Waiting for time to soften the blow, you shift your focus and peer longingly into the future. 

But even here, my friend, we must be careful. Fixating on the future often leaves us unhappy with today... unable to enjoy the essence of now. 

You know us moms, sometimes we get so caught up in preparing our kids for the future we forget to slow down and enjoy today.

Or we look longingly to the day when we can... ________. You fill in the blanks; we all have something that tries to hijack our promise of joy for today.  

So what's a girl to do? 

I'm starting to realize that our 'big picture' view of life has a lot to do with how we envision time, and likewise the way in which we understand time has a great impact on how we feel about our lives. 

Are we at the mercy of time? Or is time just a 'tool' in the hands of our Master? 

When we are locked in the battle with time... tossed between languishing over the past or yearning for the future... between the "if only's" and the "one day's”... we can find hope in turning to the only One who sits outside of time and sees it all.  

We can turn to God, our Father in heaven. 

Give Him Our Yesterdays
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19
But, you don't understand, it is so painful, you say. 

God says, "I am making a way!"

I am so grateful that God's mercies are new every morning. He is always at work doing a new thing... making a way in the wilderness that is life. Are we looking for it? Are our eyes opened to what He is doing now? Or are they strained on yesterday? 

But, you don't know what I've done, you say. But God says, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12)  

Can you imagine such grace? Once you have accepted God's offer of forgiveness, let it go; God has. Don't let your past mistakes rob you of the joy of today. 

He Holds Our Tomorrows

As for your future...

Leave it in His hands. He's already there anyhow. 
"But I am trusting you O LORD, saying, "You are my God!" My future is in your hands."  Psalm 31:14-15a
No, we don't have to worry about the future when we are walking with God, but we still do. We are so entangled by our strife with time, that we forget that no matter what happens, His presence never leaves us and our eternal future is secure with Him.

Nor, should we boast about the future. 
Now listen, you who say, " Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is you life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say. "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."  James 4: 13-15
So, if we can neither change the past nor fast-forward to the future, shouldn’t we make the best of now?
Live For Him Today

Easier said than done, but it's time. 

Time to stop battling with time... to be freed from its strangle hold... to purposely and prayerfully take our gaze off of time and peer instead on our omnipotent Father in heaven. The only all powerful One who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, who forgives our yesterdays and secures our tomorrows, who stands at the door, knocks and calls emphatically... today.
"At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you." Indeed the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2
Today if you hear his voice do not harden your heart. (Hebrews 3:15) 
He calls us to a life of hope... a life of joy in His presence... of peace beyond understanding and of love incomprehensible. 

Not an easy life, necessarily; there will still be pockmarks of pain and distress, but our view of time changes when we are cradled in the arms of the One who created time. And we live to make the best use of our time for Him... to love those left behind and marred by pain, and to shine brightly for Him in the dark shadows of life. 

I pray that God, in His mercy, would ‘teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom' (Psalm 90:12) and that we would embrace the freedom He offers to live fully, abundantly right now right where we are... in joy... in love... in Him.

Blessings,
Carlie


What about you?
Do you battle with time? 
Is your fixation with time stealing your joy today?
Please share your thoughts below; I'd love to hear from you! 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Amazing Beauty & Impact of One Drop


It’s just one drop. 

It seems so insignificant... so minuscule... so painfully small. One might even doubt its worth. Doubt the value one drop could add to an infinite sea... a vast sea of unrealized goals or plans, unlived dreams, ‘waiting-to-be-prayed’ prayers, unmet needs of a thirsty people.

But...


There is an amazing rippling beauty in just one tiny drop.

In a world where quantity is often a benchmark for success we sometimes overlook the powerful impact and influence of one.

Yes, I know the feeling. I’ve been there. It’s March, and already you’ve wandered away from your ‘this-time-it’s-going-to-be-different’ resolutions, your well-intentioned goals or the focus on your ‘one word’. You’re disappointed with yourself... again. Maybe this is the way it will always be... you tell yourself... I might as well just accept it.

But...

it just takes one.

One choice to reject the lie, to refuse to be cloaked in the veil of failure... to forget what lies behind and forge forward... to believe that just for today... just for now... you can do it.

You can take one bite to a healthier you.

You can clear one cluttered spot in your home or office... perhaps just one drawer.

Just this once, you can choose one kind word.

But, what about those distant dreams that seem impossible to reach? Buried so deep below your responsibilities and excuses, they’re almost forgotten. Can one drop really make a difference here?


Yes, my friend! Just one step and the choice to believe that ‘one’ is powerful... that ‘one’ has great impact and influence... that ‘one’ brings you closer... spurs you on... lifts your spirits... tells you it is possible.

Just focus on one.

I remember talking with my daughter about the plight of so many of the disenfranchised in our world and the feeling of helplessness expressed in her words, “But what can I do?”

Sometimes, I feel that same smallness... that same powerlessness... weighed down by the prayer needs around me. There is so much to bring before the Lord, that at times I just become overwhelmed.

But... what if I start with just one prayer... one belief that my God hears. Right where I am... right now... what if lifted up one name before the Lord.
'Granted, a set time and place for prayer is a desirable thing, but let that not blind us to the countless opportunities in a day when incidents, problems and even idle thoughts can be elevated to the level of prayer. The name of an old friend flits into mind during the lunch break. Need that name drop back again into the memory's filing system without being lifted, even wordlessly, to God?'   Richard Bewes - 'Talking About Prayer'
It’s an awesome privilege partnering in the work of God... and it just takes one prayer... with one focus that our one God, who sees the many, loves the one and will draw close to him.

Oh, the amazing beauty of one. May we never despise these small beginnings.

Yes, there may be thousands... millions of souls needing to be fed, thirsty for hope... and we want to reach as many as possible. We want to grow our influence, but what if we focused on reaching just one.



Oh, that touches my heart, like nothing else in scripture, that God... the LORD Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth should have such a heart... such a focus... such a love for just one... one soul... one sheep wandering from His path... that He would shed His blood to save just one.

Can't you feel the thanks rising up in you as you ponder that one simple truth?

So why not...

Make one call to the friend who is hurting?

Offer one meal to the man who is hungry?

Find one practical need and serve wholeheartedly?

Start with one. 

No matter if you’re on the world stage or you’re at home, you can start with just one.


“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
‘For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.’ Ephesians 4:4

 ******************
What about you?


What one thought... action... prayer... person can you focus on today?

May God, in His power, wisdom and mercy abundantly bless your one.


In love,
Carlie

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Join Us For The Sparkle Circle

Recently, I read an online article that piqued my interest about the friendship-making aptitude of the different personality types.

And so because I’m famous for running down rabbit trails, I took one of those online personality tests just for fun. I even encouraged my kids and my husband to try it as well.

Needless to say, it led to a lot of humorous conversations about our various idiosyncrasies and the four-letter boxes we tried to fit into. We had the biggest laugh about my expressive husband’s unconvincing efforts to claim the introverted label. Really? Who was he kidding?

As for me, however, there was no debate. I was definitely more reserved than my husband. I didn’t need a personality test to tell me that. I don’t think anyone would mistakenly peg me as warm and fuzzy. (And that’s just a bit... well... unsettling.)

But if you’re an introvert like me, you’ll understand why I’m not surrounded by a throng of friends.

Nonetheless, it seems to me, regardless of our personality type, in today’s fast-paced, success-driven, self-reliant world, friendships just don’t come easy.

Yet, God has placed in us a deep need to connect with others. We have this longing to belong... to feel a part of something. To feel as though we’re not alone but that instead there’s someone else who knows what we’re going through and can relate to our struggles.
'... a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.' Proverbs 27:9b

So together with my sisters, Andie and Marva (of SunSparkleShine), I invite you to join us for The Sparkle Circle, a monthly series all about community and doing life together.
Every last Tuesday of the month, my sisters and I would take turns sharing about our crazy lives and encouraging us all to keep our eyes and hearts open to the connections God has lined up for us. Yes, our lives might be crazy - and we don’t have it all figured out - but we have been blessed by God’s love, and it’s a love that we long to share with you.
Our hope is that you will feel welcomed here and that you will find The Sparkle Circle to be fun, engaging and real — a place where you can be you.
So... without further ado, please follow me over to Marva’s site, where I’m sharing about God’s heart connection business in ‘Colourful Prayers and the Spark of Friendship’.