There were three women in the room. Two older women with another younger one sitting on the middle cot. One of the older women was the mother of the younger, a daughter who appeared to be in her late 20’s. … Continue reading
It has been almost a year since my last blog post. In 2017 the LORD took our family on a very big detour that required all our time, attention, emotional energy, and brain space. In a way, we were living out all the ideas I wanted to blog about. We believe we are now on a renewed journey where the road looks much different. We are learning and discovering new rhythms and seeing His faithfulness and goodness in a whole new way. We continue to grow towards wholeness every day. This topic seemed most appropriate for the first one this year in 2018.
On a recent trip to Ontario, I needed to travel on Highway 401, a common thoroughfare that extends the length of the province. Instead of taking the 407-toll road that would save money and time in getting to my destination north of Toronto, I chose to endure the company of MANY other fellow travelers on the 401. I enjoy “their company” since we were all going in the same direction (pun intended). Unfortunately, it also makes me think of life in a church where so many people are going in the same direction (heaven) but don’t really know their fellow travelers. Perhaps that’s for another blog.
As I travelled this always busy and crowded highway, a news report came over the radio (CHFI 98.1, my favourite station when I am in town) announcing that there was an accident along my route that was causing a backup. I soon realized that the accident was so severe that the authorities chose to close all four lanes of traffic near an upcoming exit. I decided to get off at an earlier exit to visit with my sister-in-law and her beautiful daughter in hopes that the blocked roads and traffic congestion would clear up once I was back on the road.
Unfortunately, that was not the case at all. The accident took longer to investigate and clear up, so the highway was completely blocked off and all the traffic was directed to the nearest exit. Fortunately, for me, the exit to the 407-toll road was right in front of me just at the right time!! Go figure. God provided a way out. Although this detour was going to cost me more financially, I trusted that God’s plan was always better than mine. Along this new path, there would be more detours, a few more challenging than others. But I eventually made it to my friend’s house with minutes to spare. I had told her I would be there between 4:00 and 5:00 pm and I arrived at 4:55pm. For those who don’t know me, I love being a woman of my word and I don’t like being late! 😊
So many times, in life, we make decisions about “where we are going to go and how we will get there”. Then, something happens in our story that makes us feel like we are “changing direction”. I haven’t always liked that feeling but eventually the Holy Spirit gives me a different perspective in that space.
Years ago, I handed God the pen to my story when I decided that I wanted His way for me and not my own. Since then, I have come to see “a change in direction” as God putting a detour into my path. A detour can come in multiple forms. From illnesses, job changes, loss, a new romance, a pregnancy, etc., all of which can make us question our own decisions, callings, and passions. Sometimes, these detours have an unintended cost in the short run, but great rewards overall.
Can you relate?
When it comes to my spiritual life, I am NOT directionally challenged. I face the Cross. I face Jesus and seek to do what He wants me to do and go where He wants me to go. My passion to grow forward (#growingforward) has sometimes been detoured because I was going faster than He wanted me to go. I needed to stay or go in a different direction to keep learning the lessons He wanted me to learn. He wanted to equip me with all that is good from Him to allow His lessons to grow deep roots in my heart as I journeyed with Him. I continue to learn to trust in His timing and His direction…and then follow His leading. The distance between those two is getting shorter with every day I face Him.
There will continue to be detours, accidents, and road blocks in my story. But I am learning that my responsibility is to keep my eyes on Him and not on the obstacles and negative feelings I experience from the perceived inconvenience. It is always for my good!!
The Enemy gets a kick out of watching us come to a detour in our lives. He wants us to think that God isn’t a good God. That He (God) doesn’t want the best for us. After all, He is a jealous God, eh? Yes, the Enemy will twist God’s word…a detour that is very damaging to our souls.
Dear friend, please…
Embrace the power of God when you come up to a different direction in your story.
Seek godly counsel with those who are truth tellers and Jesus lovers. Sometimes they are one in the same and other times, not.
Pray and trust that His ways are ALWAYS better.
Don’t follow the crowd.
Let go of the wheel. (but not while you are physically driving please 😊)
Stay in your lane and live your own story.
What is your destination?
What are the obstacles, accidents, road blocks in the road you are travelling?
Are you being asked to take a detour in your journey? If so, how are you responding?
Thank you for joining me on my journey to find Jesus. Blessings on yours.
From my heart: It’s been awhile since I last wrote. Life has been very full and very complicated and I haven’t been able to blog the way I have wanted. I decided I wanted to finish out the year better than it started. I have many pieces waiting in the wings. I hope you will continue on this journey with me and that you will receive peace and insight for yours.
I love to write and share what God has put on my heart and I THANK YOU for joining me!!!!
“I’m looking at the man in mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways…”
You might recognize those lyrics if you, like me, are a child of the 80’s. “Man in the Mirror” was one of Michael Jackson’s most critically acclaimed songs released in 1988 and nominated for “record of the year” at the Grammy awards. Many radio stations continue to play it today, nostalgically taking me back in time.
A song I turn up in the car and sing along to my hearts delight.
Truth be told, I was a huge Michael fan growing up and even remember seeing him in concert when I turned 13. Sadly, his life ended at the age of 50 leaving behind a legacy of music, fashion and talent that no other artist has ever measured up to. He was aptly named “the king of Pop” for those reasons.
In the past several months, the lyrics of this song have taken me into deeper intimacy with Jesus causing me to have a lump in my throat and tears to follow.
Here’s why. I have been asking God to change His ways. I have had more requests for Him than affirmation, praise and gratitude for Him amidst the many storms surrounding me and many others in this country. I sat with these lyrics and God showed me something different. He changed the lyric for me to read, “I’m looking at the man in the mirror and He’s asking me to change my ways”. Who is this man you ask? Please read on.
I look in the mirror and see a woman. A woman of strong convictions that aren’t always received by those around her. A woman with scars, blemishes and character qualities that aren’t always welcomed, accepted or admired. That’s ok, because God isn’t finished with me yet. More importantly, He loves me just the way I am. I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror. But the glimpses I get I haven’t liked because the messages of rejection seem to be louder. I confess, surrender and ask God to show me what He wants me to see. To show me how He has created me and what He wants me to do with it all.
That’s when it happens….
Amidst the pain and struggle in my journey, I see the Man in the mirror. It is Jesus. The King of kings. I see the tenderness of His eyes and He is smiling and delighting in me. He tells me I’m beautiful and reminds me of His healing in my life. He shows me His scars, on his hands and feet as He reminds me that I have been crucified with Him, therefore I no longer live but He lives in me (Galatians 2:20). He reminds me that I have a Companion and Comforter in the Holy Spirit especially for all those times I feel alone. I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence while I look at this Man in the mirror and He has become my Advocate. He points me to the things I need to think on as He has written them in Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”
Do you see what I see?
This Man in the mirror is asking me to change my ways. Not because He doesn’t love me just the way I am but because they aren’t ways that reflect Him. He loves me more than I will ever know yet for today I receive that correction and walk in the way He wants me to. I tell Him it is hard to change some of those ways in my own strength and He assures me that when I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). I need to surrender to Him and He will do the changing.
I am learning to sing out those verses to my heart’s delight as I grow forward (and older) on this journey to find Jesus in the small moments of life.
A song written the year I graduated from high-school has become a landmark in my heart for the woman I am and the woman I am becoming as God grows me to hopefully reflect Him more and more each day.
Look in the mirror.
What do you see?
Who do you see?
Is God asking you to change your ways? How will you answer Him?
Is God asking something of you that you feel is impossible to do / change?
“Be the change you want to see in the world” –Mahatma Ghandi
Thank you for taking this journey with me,
Nepal is on, what we know, as the “Fire Belt.” – a marking on the earth that seems to reveal locations for earthquakes, volcanoes and fires that rise up from the earth. There is another belt we are familiar with … Continue reading
Join me as I take a walk down a road I have traveled before…. During the month of December when the kids were on Christmas break, my husband and I gifted each other a couple nights away to one of … Continue reading
Need a little laughter? Need a little encouragement to keep going forward? I would invite you to read my recent post and feel free to leave a message about how God is helping you in your journey!! What ever you are facing please know, “this too shall pass”. Continue reading
As the year is ending, and a new year begins, my life continues….and so does yours. This past Christmas season has been a tough one for me, to say the least…for now. While children were excited to make wish lists … Continue reading
While vacationing at a friend’s cottage for a few days up in the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, my devotions were centered around Matthew 11. Specifically verse 28.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.
I love how God times His Word to be the exact thing I needed on this vacation. We were entering this vacation after a several exhausting few months for our family. I was continuing the work of recovering from the effects of the Nepal earthquake. We had recently buried my sister after she lost her battle to brain cancer. My first book, “I Am Hagar: Forgotten No More,” was published and released (you can find it on Amazon.com). And a plethera of other situations that required my attention. The ups and downs of my emotions and the hard work I had done to cope has been exhausting, to say the least. This road, amidst it’s great joys and disappointments has been very treacherous!!
Without my supportive and loving husband, my children and friends who have been genuinely walking this journey with me, I think I would have been fit-to-be-tied months ago.
There was actually a time during those weeks where the “ride” seemed fast and furious and left my head spinning. I remember just closing my eyes and asking God to show me where He was in the midst of all this. At that precise moment, He gave me a picture of me sitting on a roller-coaster chair/bench and the lap bar was His arm. As I held on to His arm (the lap bar), I began to stroke it and had peace that He was holding me in place. I was assured that He would not let me go and would see me through to the end. That day (and since) He gave me an inexplicable peace that I was going to make it.
Back to the verse…I love this verse because it is very direct. For those who know me personally, I love direct communication. When I hear indirect communication it makes my brain work harder to have to decipher what looks like hidden meanings.
Jesus says, “Come to Me”….not, take a bunch of detours and then come. Yet, even if we have taken those detours, He still wants us to come to Him. If Nike was the speaker, they would say, “just do it!!”.
“All who are weary and burdened”, I think that everyone reading this and those we know have been weary and burdened at one time or another. I wonder what would happen if all of us who have obeyed this gentle command “Come to Me”, were to share with those who are currently weary and burdened, the Hope and rest they can find in Jesus?
“I will give you rest” is a promise from a promise-keeping God!! The kind of rest we can have in the midst of the fast and furiousness of our lives is uncompromising and available to all of us.
Our vacation ended with a day on Mackinaw Island. My time on the island started with a bike ride on a tandem bike with my husband. We rode the 8 miles around Mackinaw Island with the family and had a great time while learning a lot about us and other areas of our lives. Ken was in the front and I in the back. He did all the driving and I was along for the ride. I just held on. When he changed gears and went faster (than I would have liked), my heart raced and my muscle spasms (a result of the earthquake) kicked in with a vengeance. But I held on (perhaps muttering a thing or two under my breath). He would check on me every now and then and my answer was the same everytime. “I’m doing ok”. I’m not sure what He wanted me to say, because I really didn’t have a choice but to keep trusting him.
That gave me the beautiful picture of journeying with Jesus. I am doing ok and I don’t have a choice but to trust Him!!
He is leading, guiding and taking me on the ride of my life. I choose to rest in Him and hold on to see what other great adventures lie ahead. So, no matter how “fast” and “furious” your journey may be right now, know that God will lead you safely through it all.
What are you going through right now that needs more faith?
How do you respond when things don’t go your way?
How have you been responding to Jesus’ invitation to “Come to Him”?
Maybe you say that “God is leading” but are you following Him?
Thank you for joining me on this leg of my journey!
After spending that first night on our friend’s veranda sleeping in white plastic lawn chairs while bundled up in comforters and headcoverings, we sought shelter at the U.S Embassy. At first, they wouldn’t let me enter because I am a Canadian citizen and carry a Canadian passport accompanied with my Resident Alien Green Card. My teammates, however, are full U.S citizens and therefore had full privilege and access into the embassy. I didn’t, so I did what I do best. I paced and cried and prayed and sang and cried and prayed, over and over again till I got some results.
My song choice? “I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls. I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls”. (set to the tune of “I will trust in the LORD”). I sure put on a show for the security cameras.
When the first guard came out, I motioned to see if I could come in and he said, “no, we are still talking about you”. Did I really reach celebrity status? NOT!! So I continued with the song already mentioned. This time with more determination. I wasn’t going to let a person decide my path, I was going to “trust and wait on the LORD” (Prov. 3:5-6) with every exhausted fiber of my body. Finally, a guard came out and with tear-stained face, I was ushered through a security room, through a courtyard, and finally into the rescue shelter. God made a way. Man just held the door open.
The following morning I was able to get a call out to my husband on the U.S Embassy phone. Tears streamed down my face as I heard his voice and clutched his every word. Although I was in a somewhat safe place physically, I was still scared. I wanted normal. I wanted comfort. I wanted the noises in my head to stop. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to stop moving. I wanted the psychological tremors in my heart and head to cease. I wanted to deny that I was at my breaking point. But since I don’t do denial, I can admit that I had had enough. I was spent. I was at my breaking point.
Toward the end of our conversation, my husband said, “babe, remember, you can either be a vessel or a victim”.
It didn’t take long before those words took deep roots in my soul and began to give me the Hope I needed to finish strong. I have since asked God to help me continue to live them out.
Following the phone conversation with my husband, I decided to journal what he might have meant and how that was impacting my heart at such a critical moment. At the same time, a newly acquainted friend Sonia came in and asked if anyone would like to help in the kitchen or in any other way. Right away, I knew it was “vessel” time. I jumped up with great enthusiasm and headed to the kitchen to sign up to serve breakfast to the almost 300 people that were in the Embassy that day. The room was filled with a variety of people – military personnel in uniform, Peace Corp volunteers, military families along with their pets seeking shelter, U.S citizens who were on Hindu pilgrimages, climbers, and many others. For some, this was their first meal in two days. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
My job was to serve the rice and potatoes. How hard can that be right? Then I heard Ken’s voice again reminding me, “babe, you are a vessel NOT a victim”. A vessel pours out.
I served with a smile that became a gift to so many. While many returned the pleasant gesture and even responded with, “thank you for the beautiful smile”, others came up to the counter with distress and anguish in their eyes and a grumble or complaint on their lips. The pain I saw in their eyes and face, matched what I was feeling in my heart. On several occasions, as I served, I felt the burning in my eyes as I fought back the tears from flooding my face, all the while knowing I would eventually have a time and place to shed those tears. But right then, the moment wasn’t right. Being on the serving side of the counter strengthened my heart and fed my soul. But the reality was I was no different than the people I was serving. We were all facing the same crisis of uncertainty. We all needed a rescue and a place to lay our heads. We would all be carrying the same fear from this earthquake. But that day, I was called to be set apart. I was challenged to NOT be a victim, BUT a vessel. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit helped me be a vessel. I feel so blessed to have been poured out in such a practical way.
I remember one man who complained about the rationed portions we were giving him. I got angry in my heart and fought the tears and mumbled under my breathe, “we could take that away you know”. (I never said I served perfectly. I just said I served.)
I learned that day that an ungrateful and complaining person is still hard for me to appreciate. But God had called me to be a vessel that day and I was going to submit to His leading.
When a person is a vessel (one who pours out) she doesn’t hold back when tipped in the right direction. So I kept serving. I kept pouring out. Oh, the joy I felt that day in those few hours. I almost forgot I was in a shelter needing protection myself. I also forgot that my shoulder was burning with intense pain.
As I am home now with my husband and children, I am continuing on my healing journey. I am also realizing that disciples are vessels because of what Christ has done for us. If we stay as victims we lack the appreciation or understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.
Before the trip, I kept the following phrase close to my heart. “Broken and Poured Out”. Yes, the ground broke beneath my feet in Nepal, but the LORD is using it for His glory and pouring me out according to His choosing.
In closing I want to add a quote from Oswald Chambers.
“It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable of God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is simply sufficient”. (“My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. May 14th entry)
I chose to go on this mission trip to Nepal, which meant choosing the common discomforts I would encounter in any underdeveloped countries. But I didn’t choose the earthquake. God did. I believe God moved the earth that day for His purposes. He broke the earth and at the same time He broke hearts – mine included. I am not the same person I was before the trip or before the earthquake. I don’t want to be. I want to be healed but only to the point of His choosing.
In what direction is God tipping you?
How do you respond to disagreeable moments in your life?
What are you prone to do when a door appears closed to you?
Thank you for journeying with me,
When the earth moves beneath my feet and the mountains (threaten) to fall into the sea. (Psalm 46)
I gotta have faith.
That happened. No really, but the earth did move beneath my feet while on a recent mission trip to Nepal. By now it’s all over the news and for some people it is just that – news. They have moved on and are now addressing the “next big deal”. But for some of us, it is still a big deal because not only has it changed our hearts forever, but because people we served with and love very much are still digging out from the rubble and doing their part to continue serving others who are suffering the ongoing effects of this tragedy.
I was in CrossWay Community Church in a church service when this life altering experience took place. We had just experienced some of the most exhilarating tear-filled time of singing, worship, and prayer minutes before. The Holy Spirit was so present. My heart was overflowing with praise to God for the amazing 2 weeks of ministry in East and West Nepal that had ended the day before.
I was getting strengthened for what was next and my heart was open to the LORD for His leading.
Pastor Arbin Pokharel began preaching on Acts 1&2, beginning a new series on “Discipleship” and the importance of it in the life of a believer”. I wrote in my notes that day, “God has given us the keys to the Kingdom”. I don’t remember if he said that, or if that’s what the Holy Spirit was telling me as a result of the message he was speaking on.
Then the lights went out – typical Nepali fashion – so no one seemed concerned. Within seconds everything shook. (As I recount this story, I continue to feel that shaking. The triggers are still strong and unpredictable). It was as though we were all in a doll house and the (giant) child outside was shaking it. We scrambled and some screamed. My teammate fell and I grabbed her to pull her up. I was not about to take another step before making sure we were all safe. In doing so, I wrenched my back, only to find out later that I pulled my trapezius muscle and popped a couple ribs. Ouch.
After huddling by a wall and praying fervently we were encouraged to exit the building because there were cracks on the opposing walls and it wasn’t clear if they would topple at any second.
So much was uncertain.
You see, when the earth moved under my feet, I experienced an immediate sense of loss. Loss of balance, loss of understanding, loss of direction, loss of time, loss of reality, loss of safety, loss of nerves. But all the while, I was certain that God was with me every wobbly step of the way.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”. I was trying to be still alright. It was a little hard, physically, because the force of the tectonic plates shifting the earth beneath us was more than my body could sustain. My soul however, remained still amidst the encroaching fear. As a team we had celebrated the night before the reality of God’s obvious presence during the previous two weeks. Now I was in a valley of uncertainty. BUT I was determined to claim this same truth. He was present. How did I know? Because His Word says, “I will never leave you or forsake you…” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5). I chose to put my trust in Him and His Word.
I was certain of God and His Promises.
We all made it safely to the clearing on the outside of the church building. It was like running out of someone’s basement and onto their front lawn. Once we arrived there, we experienced another 6.9 scaled quake. Without having time to recover from the 7.8 in the church, the emotions just piled on.
While on the front lawn of the church it felt like we were standing on a wobbly card table. Not cool.
Over the next few hours we sang, we prayed, and I journaled what I could. I took some pictures because I didn’t want to miss out on what God was going to tell me later about those moments. Yet, taking pictures felt a little awkward because I wondered if I was violating a sacred experience somehow.
As a result of this experience, I am more sure that the keys to the Kingdom are Faith, God’s Word, and Prayer. Do you have them?
To be continued……..
What elements of faith do you hang on to in the midst of crisis?
Are you in a crisis right now? Where, to whom or to what are you running to?
Thank you for journeying with me