Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Turning Sad into Glad by Glynis M Belec


       I try to get along with people as best as I can for I figure what’s the use of being an opinionated, grouchy person whose busyness trumps stopping to ‘smell the roses’?

      Over the past seven years or so I’ve discovered life’s too short and my whirlwind days are better spent fitting in as much joy, kindness and love as I can muster. Days don’t always start out that way (I’m only human). Sometimes that opinionated, grouchy side tries to claw her way out. That’s when I open the trunk and dig out the armour – beginning with the Word of God.

       Reading scripture sure helps. So I try to do that every morning right before “Miss Grouchy, Opinionated Self” gets out of bed.

       Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend. Gillian (I will call her). I met her a few years ago at a fundraiser for ovarian cancer and for some reason we hit it off, stayed in touch and now we get together every so often.

       Gillian struggles with depression and sometimes she just needs to get away and talk. As we nibbled on our Greek salads yesterday, she shared about her friend who had recently committed suicide. Absolutely heartbreaking. We ate slowly. I wanted to say the right things. My “fix-it” side floundered. There was nothing I could say to take away her immediate pain and bring her friend back. I felt God tell my brain to calm down, to shut up and to listen. So I did (as difficult as that was for me).

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, 
slow to speak, slow to anger 
James 1:19

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.                  
Proverbs 18:13

           Gillian continued to pour out her heart – even confessing that she had such thoughts sometimes but wasn’t sure what caused her friend to cross the line. Then the tables turned. God opened the door. A few words flowed and then during our discussion the focus shifted from indescribable sadness to grateful gladness.

           Nothing had changed except the flow of our conversation.

          “I don’t know how people who have no faith in God, do it,” Gillian finally said, tearing up.

           We both agreed and by the time we had taken our last sips of tea, we were hugging and planning another get-together. Jesus gives us Divine appointments. This lunch date with Gillian was no exception.

She left feeling a little better that she was able to share a bit of her pain. I left grateful to God
that He had made me slow down and shut up long enough to listen; to really listen.

           In this crazy, helter-skelter world filled with so much scorn for the Saviour on so many levels, it’s good to find focus in the Word.

           We’ll never fix everything no matter how hard we try, but in the Word there is comfort, hope, and a thousand ways to turn sadness into gladness; starting with – In the Beginning. 

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. 
You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 
John 16:20



        Glynis lives, loves, laughs and does an awful         lot of reading, writing, publishing and                 praying in her home office. 

        How thrilled Glynis is to be part of 
        GOOD GRIEF PEOPLE (Angel Hope                     Publishing) - an anthology filled with stories         that help readers recognize, honour and               celebrate  the individuality of grief. 
      
                               www.glynisbelec.com 


    

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Learning Discipline through Blogging


“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Today’s topic is the title of a devotion written by Melony Teague.  It is one of ninety devotions in As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers. The writing prompt asks: “Do you blog? If not, consider creating a blog as a form of self-discipline in your writing life. If you do already have a blog, how can you better use it as a tool to establish the habit of writing daily?”

Mel’s prompt encouraged me, and fellow author Claudia Loopstra, to jot down the benefits of consistent blogging.

We came up with seventeen; can you help us reach twenty?


A blog can:
1.       Honour God
2.       Be a forerunner to a book
3.       Provide personal accountability
4.       Stretch our minds and spirit daily/ weekly
5.       Share our spiritual gifts
6.       Be a witness to others
7.       Hone our writing skills and vocabulary
8.       Improve our ability to write concisely (300-500 words for a topic)
9.       Market our published works
10.   Create a ‘brand’ for our writing
11.   Highlight other authors and their  published works
12.   Share information
13.   Encourage  others to start the habit
14.   Provide conversation starters and comments
15.   Develop our ‘voice’
16.   Build relationships
17.   Become a published article

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE POWER OF KINDNESS-by Heidi McLaughlin


The word “kindness” may sound limpid, but I believe it is the strongest expression of love. If you notice a decline in human kindness, you’re not alone.  I was saddened and shocked by research done by the University of Michigan which states: “After the year 2000, College kids today are about forty percent lower in empathy (kindness) than their counterparts of twenty or thirty years ago.”  That was the beginning of the media age and kids grew up with access to games that eventually numb people to the pain of others.  When we become isolated and selfish, we don’t make time to be kind.

I am so grateful for people who still live their lives the way the Jesus taught us in the Bible which says: “…you should practice tender-hearted mercy and kindness to others” (Colossians 3:12 TLB). It takes unselfishness and time to stop our busy lives and make a phone call, deliver a meal, drop off a flower, or invite someone out for dinner.

It’s been five months since the death of my second husband and I am still receiving tender-hearted kindness from many people.  At the end of the third month I hit a wall and needed emotional and physical support.  When I prayed and asked God for help He used kind people to be His hands and feet to help me with every aspect of my life. Throughout my grieving journey, kind people have been my greatest gift. Those who took me in when I could not function on my own. Those who came to stay in my home and support me with meals and daily functions. Those who checked in with me every day to make sure I was O.K. Even the simple things like a card in the mail or in my Inbox, or joining me on a walk or a cup of tea.  Those people who made the time to extend kindness have literally changed my life


Kindness is not being a doormat or acquiescing to uncomfortable or unrealistic demands. Kindness is a sincere desire to allow the Holy Spirit to shape our hearts like Jesus, overflowing with compassion. To follow the example of Jesus, we need to re-adjust our over-abundant, over-complicated and busy lives to make time for a hurting world.

Modelling kindness to our younger generation is the first step to changing the statistics that our next generation is self-centered and uncaring. Through the astounding kindness that I have received in the last five months, I know that when I have the strength and ability, I will make it my life mission to extend kindness wherever I go.  I believe it’s the greatest legacy I can leave.

University of Michigan research: http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases, 7724, September 12, 2015




Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at Amazon.ca; Amazon.com, Goodreads.com or her website: www.heartconnection.ca


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Poured Out - by Eleanor Shepherd

                
This is Maundy Thursday and many Christians mark this day as part of the Passion of Christ by remembering Jesus washing the feet of His disciples.  The Bible tells us how He poured the water into a basin and went around to each of His disciples, washed their feet and dried them with a towel.  This has always been one of the most powerful pictures for me of the Leadership style of Jesus and something that I would like to imitate. It also connects with a part of my own story.
                I have recounted to many people how a few years after our son John’s accident that rendered him a quadriplegic, Glen and I were leading a church service in one of our congregations in Ontario.  That Sunday morning, before the service began, the worship team sang a song about the potter.  It talked about how he remade the clay pot into the vessel that he desired it to be. It was that day that I realized that all that many of the things that I experienced as a result of John’s accident were the actions of Jesus as the potter, refashioning the clay pot of my life into the kind of vessel He wanted me to be.  

                The image of the potter was one that was familiar to me and I had always thought that what the Lord was making of my life was some kind of vase.  However, as I reflected on my experiences during this troubled time, I realized that my reshaping by the divine potter was turning that vase into a pitcher. He was refashioning the top of the vase and forming it into a lip useful for pouring.  I knew that for many years, He had continually been pouring His love into my life and somehow through my sharing with others this new journey, I was going to be able to pour that love into their lives. 
                One of my dear friends, who heard me tell this story, gave me a jug and basin that she had found and chose for me for as a special gift.  Whenever I look at that lovely set, it reminds me of the love God continues to pour into my life so I can pour it into the lives of others.  
                When I left Opportunity International, my parting gift from my colleagues there was pottery – a pitcher and basin to encourage me to keep on pouring out God’s love, as I had shared my story with them also.  
                In the daily grind, it is easy for us to forget these important reminders of our calling, until again the Lord sends someone to remind us.  That happened for me again recently when I celebrated a significant birthday.  My daughter had a book made up with photos and letters from people who she thought might want to honour me.  In a sense, I am reluctant to share this, in that it can sound like I am boasting and I do not want to do that, but for me it was another reminder of what God has called me to do, with the empowerment of His Spirit.  


                In her contribution to the book, one of my friends spoke of the appropriateness of my maiden name – Pitcher.  Her comment was, “Now that I have known Eleanor for five years and have seen her in her various roles – among them pastor, writer, mother, wife, grandmother and friend – it strikes me that the Lord could not have chosen a better surname for her.  I have seen few people that, “pour themselves out” so wholeheartedly in word, deed and prayer.”  The kind words of my friend again remind me of the opportunities that the Lord continues to give me to follow His example and pour out the love He has poured into me. 
Word Guild Award
2011
Word Guild Award
2009

Eleanor Shepherd from Pointe Claire, Quebec has more than 90 articles published in Canada,  France,  the U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and New Zealand. Thirty years with The Salvation Army in Canada and France including ministry in Africa, Europe, Haiti and the Caribbean furnished material for her Award winning book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening. Eleanor works as a pastor in Montreal with The Salvaton Army.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Trusting—Carolyn R. Wilker



In March two of my daughters gave birth, each of them to a baby boy. We are happy for them and my husband is delighted to have grandsons to join the parade of granddaughters we already have and love dearly. We are pleased and thankful, most of all, for healthy babies who are doing well, and that the mothers, though still tired from broken nights of sleep, are steadily recovering from the birth of their babies.
It takes enormous energy to feed a growing fetus throughout pregnancy, giving birth, and then nourishing herself and baby in the post-birth days. Mothers can feel overwhelmed by the expectations and needs too.  And if there’s another child, to include that sibling in the daily routine and share the love. A new mother, or one having a second or third child, makes adjustments along the way. Often many. She appreciates the encouragement and physical support of  her husband, family and others, through lending a hand with tasks or prepared meals, during that time. Opportunities for an extra nap, too, to catch up on some sleep while Grandma or another family member cuddles the new baby and watches over the household for awhile.
I’ve had much opportunity in this past month to cuddle these new little grandchildren, and it made me think again, as I looked at the photos, how relationships build. How a baby needs everything—so much of his parents’ attention, for feeding, changing, comforting and protection. Completely dependent on his mother and father and family for those things, the baby does not yet know that it’s surely coming his way.

my husband and I with Isaac

The baby can only cry to let his family know that he needs something, long before he has the ability, or vocabulary, to tell what he needs. He learns, hopefully, that his care is assured, that someone will feed him when he’s hungry, that someone will rock him when he’s upset, and change him when he is wet. When the needs are met, baby can fall asleep again. In that long time, with steady loving care, a trust is built. Trust takes time. It builds a little at a time.

cousin Evy holds Nolan


I think of my brother, adopted at age 5 and a half, who did not have that same trust of adults in his life. His early life was full of broken relationships. We do not know for certain how many of them, but we know that those hurts take a lot of time to heal. Likely some of them never do.
Jesus asks us to come to him as children. He asks that we trust him with our needs and our life. It’s often hard to accept that trust that he’ll take care of us, maybe especially hard for people who’ve had similar early experiences as my brother. He’s learned some of that unconditional love having been part of our family, and yet trusting God with his life is a place he has not yet attained. I pray that someday it may still happen for him.
This same Jesus who came to us as a baby, whose earthly parents took care of his physical needs—his hunger, his need for comfort and protection from danger as an infant and as a child. He understands that and has experienced it.  He asks us only to trust him with our needs. And I’m here to say, it’s easier some day than others.


Author, editor, Carolyn Wilker





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