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Friday, December 30, 2011

Well-Trodden Path


Yesterday I went to visit a friend that lives pretty close by, and the shortest way there takes me through my backyard and through a big empty lot.  I strapped on my boots and made the short trek through the snow, a lot of it through untouched snow, my footprints the first to break the snows surface.  After my visit, on my way back, I ended up walking in my own footprints as a path back to my house.  I remembered how much easier it is to walk through snow when there are already footprints to follow.  


When we still lived in Red Deer, I walked to my work at the bank everyday.  The route I took also took me through a large park where I crossed a big grassy area.  In the winter, I often found myself walking through the snow at this part of the walk.  Once in a while, if I was working early and we had gotten lots of snow overnight, my footprints would be alone.  But more often than not, because this was a well used route by many other people, there would be a full out path in the snow.  The snow would be untouched on either side, but because of the number of people walking through the same place, it was no longer overlapping sets of footprints, but a solid path of packed down snow.  This was much easier to walk on than making your own way through the deep new snow.  


Lately I've been trying to find a way to be more consistent in prayer.  Walking home from my visit yesterday through the snow, seeing my own footprints, I started thinking about this.  I think we make (or don't make) pathways in our hearts and minds towards things like prayer, reading the Bible, quiet and reflection.  And if it has been a long time, it's like making new footprints in deep snow.  It's harder than we think it should be.  We can be tempted not to do it again, and then life will blow over our single set of footprints and take them away, so that if we try again, its just as hard.  But if we choose to walk those paths often, making new footprints over old ones, again and again, we eventually make a solid path of packed down snow, and what used to seem hard to get to somehow has become a part of who we are.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning

It's Christmas!  The 28th one I have ever gotten to enjoy, my 5th with Kevin, my 3rd with the MRCC, and my 3rd with nieces!  A wonderful day indeed!  But wait, Christmas is not really about me.  It's not even really about spending a day celebrating with family, though we will enjoy that as well.


Christmas is about celebrating Jesus' birth.  But not just the fact that He was born.  We celebrate His birth because of who He was and because of why He was born.  Without these things, why would we celebrate?


This morning I woke up with Silent Night in my head.  I'm even listening to it now.  The last line of the second verse says "Christ, the Saviour is born."  Here is the key to Christmas - it's not just that Jesus was born.  It is that Jesus, the Christ, our Saviour, was born.  


Jesus is the Christ - the Anointed one, the Messiah.  God incarnate.  God, choosing to take on the form of a man to be born as a baby.


Jesus is the Saviour - He came to save us.  He came to suffer, He came to die.  For us.  Instead of us.  


Christmas isn't just about Christmas, Christmas is about Easter!  Already in celebrating the fact that He came as a baby, the "Why?" of Christmas leads us to Easter.  


This Christmas morning I am celebrating and worshiping my Saviour!!  To begin, I'm reading Phil. 2:5-11 -
 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

All Out of Words







Brian Doerksen has a song on his album It's Time called "More".  It talks about how he needs God more than anything - more than oxygen, food, the warmth of the sun, the passionate expression of song.  It is very reminiscent of Psalm 63:


1 O God, you are my God;
      I earnestly search for you.
   My soul thirsts for you;
      my whole body longs for you
   in this parched and weary land
      where there is no water.
 2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
      and gazed upon your power and glory.
 3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;


Your love is better than life.  I need you more than anything life-sustaining, more than anything beautiful, more than anything that provides fulfillment in life.  I need you and love you more than anything.


This is intense!  But I think a very appropriate adoration of our amazing God.  He sustains our every breathe, He provides the food and water we need to survive.  And His love is better than life!


And then, in Brian's song, there's this moment at the end when he has gone through this wonderful list of things that God's love is better than, where he throws out this line, "I'm all out of words..." And they proceed to go into a sweet instrumental outro to finish the song.


That line defines my worshipers heart sometimes.  You get to a point where you have tried to express in words the beauty and magnitude of God, trying to express through words how your heart responds to this amazing God, and you realize, "I'm all out of words".  And you throw your hands up, and dance, or cry, or just play your instrument with all the passion you can, try to find a way to express the love, the gratitude, the awe that is bursting from the inside out.


Sometimes I have had people ask me why we have to do repetitive songs, just sing the same line over and over.  Or what the point of a high energy instrumental is in worship.  To me, this is why - because sometimes I'm all out of words.  My heart needs to worship but my words just don't cut it anymore.  And I think for me something happens between my own spirit and God's that is outside of the music, that is beyond trying to sing about God's greatness through well crafted words.  My words fail, and my spirit cries out to Him in a way He can understand.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another Morning

This morning I am thankful for...

  • Sleep
  • The goodies that start coming out at Christmas time
  • The beautiful story of Ruth - love, redemption, faithfulness, devotion, compassion
  • Rain in December!
  • Christmas music, new and old

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our Story

I've been meaning to post this link for a few weeks but kept forgetting until now.  A few weeks ago in our church we did a series called "Stories that Preach".  Each Sunday someone from the congregation told their story about how God had worked in their lives and then our pastor moved onto a sermon based on that story.  In the final week of this series Kevin and I had the chance to share part of our story.  So below is the link to the recording of our story.  Our part goes until about 13 minutes in, and after that is the sermon.  I'd love to hear what you think.

http://mrcc.ca/node/650

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's That Time...



For the past few days I've been feeling like others around me are getting into that Christmas time spirit, but that I was falling behind.  I am not sure what it is, but so far this year it isn't hitting me like it normally does.  Perhaps I'm too busy for it to catch up to me?  Perhaps this year I'm feeling more drawn to focus on different things than the regular holiday hub-bub?  Whatever is going on, I know that I love Christmas time and that I would rather not let it pass me by.  So let's kick start this thing...


Clementines...  Last night I bought a box of clementines and just the smell as I broke the skin of my first one pulled me into this time of year.


Lights...  Tonight I'm going to turn on our outdoor Christmas lights to see how they look twinkling in the evening darkness.


Music...  I just might have to dig through my shelves to find my Christmas cd's and throw them on random at full blast!


Food...  Apart from the clementines, there are other special only-at-Christmas-time foods that are bound to start making appearances.  A few examples for us are cheese ball, nuts and bolts, peanut butter balls, and Quality Street chocolates.  


Love...  This time of year can be all about me, or it can be all about others.  About taking or giving.  I choose for it to be about blessing others.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Formed



I was hanging out with a friend and a sentence that came out of our conversation struck me.  She was talking about the Chronicles of Narnia, that she read them as a child.  And she said that they formed her.  Not just that they meant a lot to her, or that she loved them, that she thought they were great stories, but she said they formed her.  A child, beginning to comprehend the beautiful character of God through the character of Aslan, seeing the bigger and deeper picture of our spiritual reality through these children's stories that are more than stories.  I love that image, of something beautiful and good being brought into her life by God to help form her.


Psalm 139 says


"13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
      and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
      Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

      as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. "
God took care to form me (and you) inside my mother's womb, to physically create me.  But I think He also is active throughout our lives, bringing things, people, experiences into our lives to form us too.


I was thinking about this, and the various things from my childhood that helped form who I am.  I think of my parents.  The books I read as a kid.  The hours I spent playing the piano.  The close friends that did life with me.  There are so many things that helped form me.


But I realized that I am still being formed.  God is still guiding me, directing me, and putting the right elements into my path to help form me into the woman of God that he wants me to be.  And its still through a lot of the same kinds of things.  New songs that grip me with the significance of their words and open my heart to my Lord in a new way.  Books that uncover greater understanding of how to tackle life in a Christ honoring and Kingdom bringing way.  Old and new friends that listen to me and prompt me to make wise decisions.  


I am thankful to be clay in God's hands.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Morning

This morning I am thankful for...
  • A beautiful, clear blue sky that is lighting up early with the sun's warm rays
  • Sweet and crunchy red grapes
  • The anticipation of singing and hearing God's word today with my church family
  • Good food and good conversation shared with good friends
  • The patient and loving man I get to do life with
  • God's pursuit of us

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Do not forget


This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy 8.  Moses is reminding the people of Israel where they have come from - slavery, wilderness, testing - and where they are going - the promised land, prosperity, security.  And he says to them, "Do not forget the Lord your God."  When you are fully saved from the hardships you have had to endure, when you are living satisfied and blessed, do not forget God. 

But they, and we, have a tendency to forget. 

I love God's heart pouring out in this text, like a father to his child, like a lover to his bride.  Remember me.  I have loved you.  I have taken care of you.  I have brought you through such hard times of pain, hunger, thirst, fear.  I have made you my own.  Remember me. 

And then at the end of the chapter, a warning - if you forget God you will be destroyed.  And though there are definitely undertones of a God-wrath type of destruction, I think it also speaks to purely the cause and effect of forgetting God.

When we think that we have earned all the good things in our life ourselves, when we get proud and forget that on our own, we can actually do nothing, that pride will destroy us.  When we forget His sustaining grace and power, we begin to be drawn to other things that will destroy us. 

God longs for us to walk with Him, to remember His hand of guidance and continue living in it.  Do not forget the Lord your God.

Business matters...

Just a few notes about changes to my blog... 

I recently added an "about" page and a new section of the blog called "Rhythm in the Kitchen".  I feel like "The Rhythms of Grace" is primarily about exploring and celebrating living for God in various aspects of life.  I wanted a fun little place to also explore and celebrate my love for cooking and baking, showing pictures of my culinary endeavours and stories to go along with them.  I hope its fun to read.

I also have heard that people have trouble making comments.  Maybe this is true, or maybe no one is trying to make comments.  As far as I can tell there is no issues when you try to comment as "anonymous", and add your name if you want me to know who you are.

I feel blessed that people even read my writing! 

Love Jess

Monday, October 24, 2011

In short spurts



At our church we recieve a weekly email giving ideas of things to pray for.  This past week our Pastor, Amanda, started with these words:

Whether you pray in the morning or the evening, for a long time or in short spurts, with words or in silence, off the cuff or with ancient words, alone or with others, remember that:

"The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

- From our friend, Paul, in Philippians 4:5a-7

I really needed to hear those words, and they have stayed with me throughout the past few days. 

Often when I think of my "prayer life" I have felt discouraged.  I am not a warrior of prayer that finds it possible to dedicate large chunks of time to prayer.  When I pray it is often just in some of the ways that Amanda described it - in short spurts, alone and without the right words. 

But a few years ago I started thinking of prayer not as daily requirement of the Christian life, but more a part of walking with God, living in awareness of Him.  Prayer sometimes means purposely stopping and laying my heart out before Him.  Prayer sometimes means crying out in the intensity of a moment for help, for guidance.  Prayer sometimes means being filled with endless words describing His awesome character and faithfulness, and sometimes it means being quiet and just resting in Him.  Prayer is sometimes a quick remembrance or sometimes a long discussion.

He is not judging me based on how I pray.  He is near; He cares.  He is filled with joy when I come to Him, talk with Him, listen to Him, trust Him enough to ask Him for help. 

Prayer is talking with God about what's on my heart, and talking with God about what's on His heart.  Asking for Him to be present in my pain, my joy, my questions.  Asking to be present with Him in His work, His love, His story-telling. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

4 years...


In honour of Kevin and my fourth wedding anniversary today I wanted to reflect on our wedding scripture text, Colossians 3:12-17:

"12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."

I love the pictures this paints of how I should be a wife, of how I should love and honour my husband by treating him with mercy, kindness, forgiveness and above all love.  Our relationship has been and hopefully will continue to be marked by harmony, peace, thanksgiving.  We build each other up in Christ and we sing together of our Lord and Saviour.  And hopefully we represent Him well.  These are verses I strive to live by, in life, and especially in my marriage.

Kevin, I love you!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Soup's on?


Goals for 2011

Climb a mountain...check
Read four Christian living books...check (almost)
Continue becoming healthier...check
Learn how to make soup...not yet

It is Fall and I have been putting this goal off until now.  Summer was too hot to deal with long periods of boiling water but now that the wind has turned chilly and I'm dressing in sweaters, I think it's time.

I love cooking but for some reason just can't seem to get my head around making soup.  Everyone says it is easy.  But I guess my question is, how do I start?  Do I use ready made broth or go find some nice juicy bones to simmer?!? 

Regardless, it is time!  Let the experimenting begin!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Windy Places



This past week with my youth group that I am a leader in, we were talking about what are some ways you can strengthen your faith.  During our discussion I thought of an analogy given a few years back in a sermon.  I didn't share the analogy at the time with the girls, but I have been thinking about it through the week.

The analogy came from guest speaker Scott Cochrane at Crossroads Church sometime in 2008 I would guess.  He talked about windy places.   About how the Spirit of God is sometime understood as similar to the wind, effective and powerful, but not discernable to the human eye except by what it does.  Only this wind is not ruled by the forces of nature, but is the Spirit of God choosing to come.

Windy places then are places where God is at work.  Places (or people) that are responsive to the Spirit.  Places that are going to build your awareness of the Spirits presence already in you and around you. 

So where do you feel the wind blow?

I am aware of the Spirit when I am in nature.  When I am seeing the absolute beauty in trees, mountains, sky, stars, sunsets, rivers, animals, that He created. 

I feel the Spirit of God working in me when I am consistent in reading His word.  When I am reading and open to hearing His voice.  It truly is alive, and often God will bring a verse out that is so relevant to what I'm going through.  Or when I am leaning in to hearing the Word spoken through someone else, let's say on Sunday morning, or in a book.

I am aware of Him moving in me and around me when I am singing songs of praise to Him.  Either at home alone listening to my little ipod shuffle, or at church with a group of people that are also singing praise to Him with hunger, with passion.  Music that lifts high the name of God is very powerful to me and makes me aware of the Spirit.

Another very important windy place for me is to spend time with other people that are open and obedient to God in their own lives.  Hearing other people's stories, sharing in their lives, watching their example of faith, of trust and of love for God.  I know for lots of people reading this, they could say this about Adam and Melissa.  Windy place, hanging out with those two.  And its because they are open to Him, and willing to be fiercly obedient, even if it is painful.  And when I (or some of you) spend time with them, it is a windy place that helps strengthen my faith.  Adam and Melissa are just one example of this.  There are lots of other people in my life that I could name here.  But we influence each other.  Being around passionate Christ-followers will influence you in that direction.

So again - where do you feel the wind blow?  What places can you choose to be in that are going to make you aware of His Spirit and help strengthen your faith?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rain




I love the sound of the rain.  Last night I was on my way home from picking up some groceries, and it was starting to sprinkle.  By the time I got myself in the house, it was full out raining.  And before I even put the groceries away, I threw open the sliding patio door so that I could hear the rain as I puttered in the kitchen.  This has been happening all summer.  Sitting down to read a book with the windows wide open, hearing it.  Crawling into bed after opening all the bedroom windows, letting the rain be my lullaby.  Sometimes even standing under the overhang of our roof on the front steps a few minutes before going inside the house, to listen and rest in the sound.

There is something about the sound of rain.  It makes me feel alive.  It makes me feel safe.  It is peaceful and exciting at the same time. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Come, Lord Jesus



I've always been told that when you hear a word or theme repeated it means you should probably start paying attention.  For example, in a Bible passage, if the word Love is in it 10 times, it probably means its pretty important.  Or in my daily walk with God, sometimes the same theme will come out in the Sunday morning sermon, my Monday time of reading the Bible, and through talking to a friend the next day.  Obviously the Spirit is trying to get my attention on the topic.

Lately I have been listening to a lot of new music from a variety of artists and groups.  And a theme has emerged, one that has struck a chord inside.  Here are some of the key lines that have caught my attention:

Aaron Keys:
We are longing, Hope is dawning, Heaven's falling, Come Lord Jesus

Jesus Culture:
My soul longs for you, my soul longs for you
Nothing else will do, nothing else will do
I believe You will come like the rain
I believe You will come like the rain

Hillsong:
I have decided, I have resolved to wait upon You Lord
My Rock and Redeemer, Shield and Reward, I'll wait upon You Lord
As surely as the sun will rise, You'll come to us
Certain as the dawn appears
You'll Come, Let your glory fall as You respond to us
Spirit Reign, flood into our thirsty hearts again
You will come, You will come


The first word that kept catching my attention was "Come."  Usually when I hear the phrase "Come Lord Jesus" it is refering to Jesus return, as in Come back and get us and take us to Heaven.  But these songs are expressing longing and asking Jesus to come to the singer within their present circumstances.  Come Jesus, be present with me where I am, fill me up with you, with hope, with strength. 

Then what caught my attention was the waiting, the longing.  My soul longs for you.  We are longing.  I'll wait upon You Lord.  Right now I'm not going through anything particularily hard myself.  But something inside still resonates so deeply to these thoughts.  The picture of someone facing trouble, facing heart ache but choosing not to loose hope when it feels like God is far away - but choosing to have hope, to long, to pray, to wait, to know that Jesus will come to them.  Jesus will come.  Come like the rain - oh how that would feel to someone living in drought.  Come like the dawn - of how that would feel to someone living in darkness. 

Is it ok for us to express these feelings?  To say to God - where are you?  I need you, please come!?  Are we not supposed to trust that even when we cannot feel Him, He is right there with us?

When I looked for this concept in the Bible, I discovered the Psalms are littered with cries just like this. 

Ps 6:3 - My soul is in deep anguish.  How long, Lord, how long?
Ps. 13:1 - How long will you hide your face from me?
Ps. 22:19 - Come quickly to help me
Ps. 31:2 - Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue, be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress for me
Ps. 71:12 - Do not be far from me, my God, come quickly God to help me

And then this well known promise in Isaiah

Is. 40:31 (KJV) - But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

And Lam 3:25-26 "The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.


So it is good to wait, to hope.  It is good to cry out to Him.  And He will come.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Today's Blessings



Today I am thankful for...


  • The way music can influnce me, motivate me, move me, draw me in, inspire me
  • My husband, who can do all those same things to me; he is my support and encourager
  • The feeling of completing a long term goal, and still feeling up for the challenge of the next goal
  • Experiencing first hand how the human body can heal itself
  • Advil
  • The urge to bake... and the anticipation of eating that baking!
  • Being able to pray to my God knowing that He cares and is listening and wants to walk with me through this day




Saturday, September 17, 2011

Music Theory is to Playing Music as...



...Israel is to the Reading the Bible.

OK, I admit, I am a nerd because I do like music theory.  My sweet husband actually said this the other night.  And to me it made complete sense... Music theory is to playing music as visiting Israel is to reading the Bible.

Let's start with Israel.  Two friends of ours recently did go to Israel.  And on their return you could tell they just experienced something very significant.  One of the comments from them afterwards was that reading the Bible will never be the same.  That before this, they loved reading the Bible - learning from it, wrestling from the tough parts, gaining comfort and strength from God's Word.  But before the Bible was still black and white words written on the page.  After seeing, hearing, walking, experiencing and learning in the context that the Bible was created in - Now the Bible is alive to them.  Full of colour and action and life.

Music theory is the context in which music is created.  Not nearly as significant as the Bible, but I feel it does apply.  You can listen to music and even play music without understanding why it sounds good.  It can be beautiful and move you inside.  Music theory adds the context that allows you to know why it sounds so good, and I believe that enhances the beauty.  It's the difference between "That sounds cool" and "That was amazing because..."  Music theory also adds the context that allows you to know if and why music sounds bad.  Without theory, if you play something that sounds awful, all you can say is "I hope I don't do that again!"  But with theory you can figure out what just happened and make a new musical choice.  Music theory for a player changes it from needing to be told what to do, to having the ability to think about what music expression you want to make, and give you the tools to do it.

And yes, I just found an online music theory exam to do for fun....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Squeak



The business where I work is a parts and warranty company for a few high end European appliance brands.  On the warranty end this means a good chunk of my day is spent on the phone with wealthy individuals who have a broken down appliance that needs repair.  These are not always happy conversations.  And I actually enjoy my role of showing genuine concern and doing my best to get them taken care of quickly and professionally.  But every so often there are conversations that just irk me.  Someone will call in with an over-inflated sense of entitlement about a problem that is truly insignificant like a broken bracket or a missing screw and they will be yelling and going on as if the sky is falling.

A few weeks ago I had a call like this.  I can't remember what the exact issue was.  But I do remember that on that same day I had been reading up on what was going on with the drought and famine in Africa. Kevin and I have a sponser child in Ethiopia and my heart was wondering if he was being affected at all.  And as I hung up the phone from this irrate customer, I just felt angry that someone in a fancy high rise condo could feel so upset about a broken appliance while there are thousands of people in desperate need of water and food right now.

The next morning I was going through my normal morning routine, which includes a short bike ride on our stationary exercise bike.  Lately the bike has been developing a loud squeaking noise that I cannot seem to get rid of with any amount of tightening.  Perhaps I need to oil it.  Regardless, on this morning, I was getting very annoyed at this squeak, even to the point where I was going to stop biking for the day. But suddenly I realized I was being just like that customer on the phone.  I have a home, a job, more than enough food, running water, a closet full of clothes - and a squeak in my bike is making me this upset.  That is not who I want to be.  I stopped biking, thanked God through tears for the blessings I enjoy each day, and prayed for Africa.  I haven't fixed the squeak yet, but when it starts up when I bike each day, it reminds me to pray.  I haven't figured out what else I could do to help, but to start, I don't want to have an attitude of entitlement or a presumption that I deserve the safe and healthy life I have.  Everything I have is a gift from God and I need to be open and obedient to joyfully give of it to those in need.  Care for the poor, the orphans, the widow.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lots of fruit



Today I am thankful for...

Peaches and pears laid out all over my house in preparation for canning
The mingled flavours of peach, yogurt and granola
Hot temperatures in Sept that make it feel like summer is not over
The hint of a few leaves turning that signal fall is not far away
When it becomes apparent God is working from both ends of a situation
The lingering reminder that we are God's masterpiece... Eph 2:9-10




Monday, August 29, 2011

Hiking Musings

In the post right before this one you can see some of my favourite pictures from my recent hike in Yoho National Park in BC. In this post however, I just want to share some of the things I experienced and some thoughts I had from the hike.

Going into the hike, I didn't really know if it would be managable, or if it would destroy me physically. Now, having completed it, I am very happy with how I did. Overall it was managable, but there were moments of pain, sweat, tears, and moments where I did not know how I was going to carry on.

On the second day of the hike we did a trail called "The Whaleback." For five hours we hiked switchbacks up the side of a mountain, through a pass, and then back down again. After that five hours, I was exhilirated both from the sights I had just witnessed and from the fact that I accomplished so much. But I was also physically exhausted - pain in my knees, my lower back, my upper back, my shoulders. And at this point we still had one hour left of level ground hiking before we reached our campsite. You would think that flat ground would be a breeze after so much hard work. But exhaustion was creeping in, and I literally did not know how I would be able to go on. At one point as Kevin and I were encouraging each other to keep putting one foot in front of the other, he said to me "We are more than conquerors!" And I said back "But not on our own - more than conquerors through Jesus..."

As I kept somehow putting one foot in front of the other, I began to think of Jesus. Specifically of Jesus carrying the cross up that hill on the day He gave His life for us. How did He find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other? I was just trying to keep going so that at the end of the trail I could throw off my pack and find some rest. He walked on by choice knowing that what awaited Him was His death.

At the end of the third day, we had just hiked a trail called "The Iceline." This trail was mainly above the tree line and our view of the surrounding mountains was brilliant! There were still peaks above us with glaciers and lakes and rivers. It was a totally different landscape than anything else I've encountered before. That evening I read a few verses in John 1. Verse 3 - He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make. I'm lying in my tent with an overwhelming flood of images from the day - all the sights of awesome creation I had hiked through - and none of it exists without Jesus. He spoke it into being. Wow!

There's also just something about pushing yourself to accomplish something of this magnitude. It's not that it was ridiculously hard - but for me, a semi-active girl who mainly sits behind desks and computers and occasionally takes a bike ride or a walk - this was big. It's been a little more than a week since, but I keep thinking "If I can climb a mountain, I should be able to do..." I got myself up off my bum and did something amazingly worthwhile and I feel now that there is less room for excuses, less right for me to not do that on a daily or at least regular basis - physically but also relationally, spiritually. It is worth it to get up and do something! Walk, bike, play a sport, go out for coffee with someone, spend time with God outside, sing, be quiet, be loud.... I think for a small window I saw that life is supposed to be lived, not watched.

There was a point a few weeks/months ago where we were unsure if we were going to be able to go on this hike. But multiple times throughout it, I thought and even said to Kevin, I am so glad we made this happen. It has been a goal of mine for a little while, and it was worth it to do.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Hike

Here are some of my favourite pictures from the recent mountain hike I did in Yoho National Park. I thought I could put a caption on each picture, but I cannot seem to figure out how. Not the most artistic layout, but hopefully this shares a bit of how much I loved this hike. Great group of people to spend four days with. Incredible surroundings that shouted of the greatness of God - mountains, rivers, waterfalls!! Enjoy.




























Saturday, August 13, 2011

The next two weeks


My head hasn't quite been able to wrap itself around this fun new word it is experiencing: Holidays. So let's figure it out here... Holidays [hol-i-dey] - noun a time or period of exemption from any work, requirement, duty,assessment, etc.  Yep, haven't quite wrapped my head around it.

Regardless, next week we are going to Alberta to go on a mountain hike in Yoho National Park with some of Kevin's family.  The picture above is from google, but in a few weeks I'll hopefully have a few great ones of my own to share.  Am looking forward to some time away, a literal change of scenery, and the new creation of great memories.



Monday, August 8, 2011

Aslan


I just finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia from start to finish for the first time.  I already knew the story of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but had never read the full series.  I just love Aslan and the correlations between this character and Jesus.  It has been good for me to reflect on some of these characteristics.

Aslan is wild.  Over and over in the books it is said that he is not a tame lion.  To me this means he is not controlled, but the one in control.  He roars and runs and fights battles.
Aslan is good. Good in a way that those in his presence feel a beautiful terror, an awe-filled delight.
Aslan is eternal.  Before the first song to after the final welcome home, he is standing strong.
Aslan is mysterious.  He doesn't always make sense to the children or the Narnians.  He walks in and out of their history, weaving his story but not always answering the questions.
Aslan is sometimes absent, but always present.  Hundreds of years sometimes go by without his physical presence, but yet he's right there too.
Aslan does not force himself.  Some are drawn to him, others can't see or hear him no matter what he does.  He waits for an open heart.
Aslan only tells you your story.  Often in the books, the characters want to know such and such about someone else, and he says he's only telling you your story.  Someone elses story is between that person and him.  Your concern is your story and your time with him, what he says to you.

Sometimes we get a picture of Jesus that he is serious and hard.  I know these are childrens books.  And I do base my picture of Jesus from the Bible.  But even when we read the Bible, I think we don't realize the humanity in the words we read.  For instance when Jesus meets the woman at the well in John 4, or when he saved the woman caught in adultry from being stoned in John 8, on a quick read he can appear slightly hard or detached.  We read these black and white words - Go and sin no more - I am the Messiah - etc. But we need to see the love in His eyes, the passion in His face, and hear the delight in His voice as He brings people from death to life, as He speaks freedom and grace in the face of condemnation and hatred.  Jesus is playful and joy-filled.  I think for some reason relating the character of Aslan to Jesus brought Him a little bit more to life to me.  Except that Jesus isn't a character, He is the Lord and Saviour and delights in being these things in our lives - eternal, good, wild, present, storyteller, come along side, and even mysterious.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day of Rest



This evening I am thankful for...

The sound of the wind and waves and nothing else
Days that are slow enough that we don't have to look at the clock
Bright pink beach towels and ice cold water
Getting reacquainted with C.S. Lewis beautiful imagery of Aslan
The remnants of the tangy burn of Sweet Chili Sauce on my lips
Well executed surprises
Having a sweet man to walk through life with

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Passion and Discipline



I have been watching "So You Think You Can Dance" this summer and I've never watched it before.  I find it so fascinating!  I'm an artistic person in many ways with my music and even some visual art, but dance is very outside of my realm.  So I think one of the reasons I find it so engaging is that I relate to the beauty of the art but the way it is portrayed is so foreign to me!  It is truly beautiful.

Another thing though is that these dancers passionately and courageously put there hopes and dreams and talents right out there for all to see.  They don't hold anything back, but outwardly and loudly display who they are and what they are passionate about.

It inspires me actually.  Inspires me to live out loud!  Not to change who I am, but embrace it and show it.

I have also noticed these dancers have discipline. To get to where they are, to be able to produce such beautiful movement, they have to be extremely disciplined.

For myself, I am beginning to appreciate the worth of discipline in my life.  If I want to become a beautiful Christian woman, it takes discipline to build that relationship with God, to continue in the fight against all the things that want to distract me from prayer, God's Word, from living for Him.  If I want to become a beautiful musician, it takes discipline in warming up my voice, in keeping my hands in practice on the piano.  If I want to have a healthy body and feel great about myself, it takes discipline to choose to go for walks, to deny myself those small treats that I don't have room for, and to keep at it every day.  But the beauty of discipline comes when the day to day plugging away turns into a natural flow of what you have been practicing.  These dancers - the things they can do - the jumps, the lifts, the twirls and kicks, it is all so incredible - but behind it is years and years of daily working on flexibility, balance, etc.

I hope someday that my natural tendencies are to pray throughout everyday.  To trust Jesus no matter what.  That my voice stays strong and loud even as I age.  That I love others beautifully and naturally.  I hope that the things I struggle with and try to work on each day continue making me into a beautiful person.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home

Home I think is more than a physical place.  Home is feeling like "this is exactly where I should be and where I belong."  Here are a few places that are home to me.

In the thick of a crowd bursting with worship, or anywhere for that matter singing Jesus' praise at the top of my lungs


Standing at my kitchen counter testing cookie dough


Deep in the thick green of a mossy forest


Being in my husband's arms






Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unforced

My blog is titled "The Rhythms of Grace."  A few weeks ago listening to a sermon, our speaker shared Matthew 11:38 only in the Message.  Here's what it says -

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

It definitely caught my eye because of the "rhythms of grace."  But then I was drawn to the word "unforced".  Unforced rhythms of grace.  What a beautiful and perfect way to define relationship with Jesus.

Unforced
         Free flowing
                     Chosen
                              Not demanded and
                                        Not taken against someone's will 
                                                       Engaged in with delight

I think a lot of people see God as a tyrant, as someone who dictates and demands His own way.  But this verse speaks of such a different reality - an invitation of rest, a relationship that produces life, walking together, learning from the Master, keeping company with Him, flowing in grace, feeling the rhythm of God's heart.

This is beautiful and special to me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweet Mouthful


I made this dessert yesterday and had a lot of fun trying something new!  It is called Boccone Dolce - Sweet Mouthful.  Layers of meringue, chocolate, whipped cream and strawberries!  Very interesting!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

God's Heart



God's heart is for His people
God's heart is for the lost
God's heart is for the poor

This is another remnant of something God stirred in my heart at AOYC.  One of the things that struck me is that God can so completely have a heart for these areas in concert - not losing focus of the others.  I can't do that.  The area that was really impressed on me was the poor.  There is passage after passage in the Bible of God's heart for the poor and oppressed - if I want to follow Him I cannot disregard this.  But how do I make this a focus in my life - in a real tangible way?  And how do I not lose sight of serving the church, loving my brothers and sisters, reaching out to friends who do not know the Lord?  It is overwhelming to me.  But I want God's heart to become my heart.  And It is just clear to me that I cannot choose one of these areas and disregard the others.

One of the speakers at Convention talked about ideas for incorporating an awareness of poverty and oppression in the world into your life.  Ideas like researching the brands of food or clothing you purchase and boycotting those who do not treat their workers properly, being content with a simple life, living with a consciousness of cultural excess and choosing to not partake of it, contributing regularly to the local food bank, sponsor another child, lend on Kiva, buy things second hand....  My mind has been coming back to these thoughts for the past month and I still do not feel sure of where I am to take action.  Something I want to keep thinking and praying about for sure.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Missed Notes


This morning moments after I got out of the shower, I saw my husband driving away, leaving for work.  He didn't say goodbye.  I moved on with my morning and went off to work myself, but all day it kept bothering me.  Was he ok?  Did something happen that upset him?  Something I did?  All day long these thoughts kept bugging me and my mind kept creating reasons why things may not be right between us today.

I got home from work, and on the kitchen table is a note from him - Hey Hun, off to work!  Have a great day! -  I was in the shower and he wrote a goodbye note so I would know he was gone and that he wished me a good day.  I missed his note.  I missed it and paid all day for it with my pestering thoughts.  And in an instant everything was fine again - though nothing had ever been wrong.  My husband wasn't upset at me - he loves me, thought about me throughout the day, and was looking forward to seeing me at the end of the day.  And yet because I missed that note, I missed out on abiding in his love throughout my day.

How often do we miss God's love notes to us?  How often do we miss the Spirits nudge, or choose not to read a few verses from His Word?  And how do we pay for it all day?  If you feel unsure of how things are between you and God, if you feel maybe He's upset at you, or maybe He just doesn't care - maybe it is possible that He has left you a love note and and you didn't see it.  Maybe He has left something in your path to let you know He cares about you, and you've missed it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

New Mercies Every Morning


This morning I am thankful for...

The sound of light rain hitting the trees outside and the low rumble of thunder in the distance
The sweet man that lays beside me each night and the moments we reach for each other in our half-sleep waking up
The combination of subtly sweet mini-wheats and cold milk
Mornings at home when I get to sit around in my jogging pants and take the day as it comes
The availability of God's Spirit right here with me when my heart needs to figure something out

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Trees of Fruit

Just last week I was at the All Ontario Youth Convention as a youth leader with our church.  I just want to share one of the ways in which God revealed himself to me in a really cool way.

Rewind to the Wednesday before convention.  Wednesday morning I was praying for a few of the girls in my youth group and as I was praying, I got a picture of these girls as sapling trees - healthy, but young.  As I prayed for God to work in each of their lives and reveal himself to them, I saw the trees grow into mature trees with full leaves and fruit on their branches.  It was a great picture, and I continue to pray that they (and all our youth) grow rooted in God's love and mature in their faith.

Saturday morning at convention - I woke up feeling pumped and alive, still feeling the presence of God from our first general session the night before.  I got up, picked up my Bible and decided to do the open-to-a-random-page-and-read-whatever-is-on-it style of morning Bible reading.  I opened to Ezekiel chapter 47:1-14.  In it the prophet Ezekiel is seeing a vision of a river flowing from the temple, and at one point he notices that there are many trees along the side of the river.  Verses 12-13 "Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river.  The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches.  There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple.  The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing."
Pretty sweet.

After reading this, I felt drawn to read a verse in Revelation that has captured my heart recently.  Rev. 21:5 has been in my thoughts constantly for a few weeks here.  But this time, I read all of chapter 21 and into chapter 22, which says "Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  If flowed down the centre of the main street.  On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month.  The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations."

Wow!  Pretty amazing parallel between these two passages.  Throughout this whole day at convention I kept thinking on the relationship between what I had read, and then more passages kept coming to mind.

Psalm 1:1-3 - those who delight in God "are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.  Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do."  So, when we follow God, we are the trees?

Galatians 2:22-23 "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."  So we're the trees, and this is the fruit - the fruit that brings healing to the nations.

Ok, yeah, wow.  All through the day I'm ruminating on these passages and making connections and feeling blown away by the Spirit.  Then that evening, I share these things with the girls that I was praying for (from the top of the blog) and one of them says - "that's like what you were praying for us."
Yes!  Right on!  You (we) are the trees planted by the banks of God's river of life, bearing fruit that brings healing!

Love it!

So there's all this amazing stuff about the trees and the fruit.  But there's also this river of life that the trees are planted beside.  In the Ezekiel passage, the river flows from the Temple.  In the Revelation passage, the verses I shared are directly after a section saying how there is no longer a Temple because God lives with His people, they don't need the temple because they are directly in His presence.  The river flows from His throne.  Awesome!  And in the Galatians passage, the fruit is produces by the Spirit - the Spirit is the River of Life!

I could continue - but for now I'll stop!  People of God, the Bible is so rich!  Be rooted in Him!  And lets use the fruit that His Spirit produces in our lives to heal.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sweet Tooth


I have a sweet tooth.  A sweet tooth the size of the Eiffel Tower.  

I also have been working for a year and a half at adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes walking, biking, and being aware of what I eat.  I count my calories most days and log them into a really helpful website.  And if you've been around me the past year or so, you probably know that I have had success with this and have lost approx. 30 lbs.  Give or take with the ups and downs of life.

What happens when these two things collide???  

I come home from work, and man!  I want something sweet!  Open the pantry, open the fridge - look!  Left over raspberry tarts!  Perfect.  Without letting my good sense catch up with me, I pop it out of its little tin cup and chomp, chomp - gone!  Now something inside of me says, "you better log that!"  But something else says - Nope, that was my freebie for the day. Within a few minutes, I eat supper as if that tart never happened, and my count for the day no longer is an accurate reflection of the days intake.  When that second side wins out, I trick myself into thinking its ok to omit the tart from my count, its ok to not tell my accountability partner that I snuck a treat, and somehow I believe it will not impact that number on the scale tomorrow morning! 

Oh how wrong I am.  

I know what some of you may be thinking right now - what kind of way is that to live!  Can't even allow herself some room for a treat every now and then??  

But here's the thing, if my sweet tooth had free reign, it wouldn't be one tart every now and then.  It would  turn into two tarts, a few cookies, a spoonful of peanut butter and a handful of chocolate chips.  Every day.  

I actual find great freedom from counting.  I feel more confident and alive now than I did two years ago.  I'm learning self-control.  Learning - still need the help of counting.  Maybe someday I will be at a place where I can maintain a healthy eating lifestyle without counting.  But for now I feel free and secure within my daily rhythm of counting.

Here's another scenario where my healthy eating and sweet tooth both win!  I come home from work, and I choose not to sneak any snacks because, man!  I'm looking forward to the chicken and potatoes we're having for supper.  I enjoy a lovely meal with my hubby, and I input my food data.  Kevin and I decide its a nice evening for a walk, and when we get back he suggests we have a bowl of ice cream.  I know because of the count that Yes!  I have room to spare today!  Woohoo!  My sweet tooth and my self confidence win!  Bring on the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream!

This is more than just food for me.  It's spiritual - learning a life of self control and honouring God through not giving in to cultural excess.  It's hard, but I feel its worth it.  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The voice of Bob


I recently read the book Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer.  In it Phil talks about the creation of Veggie Tales and the incredible ride he and his friends had through its success and then through its bankruptcy.  At the end of the book Phil has two chapters on what he has learned <insert song - And so what we have learned applies to our lives today, God has a lot to say in his book....>  One chapter on what he has learned as a business man, and a second on what he has learned as a Christian.  From that second chapter, there are two thoughts he explored that have really stuck with me.

First, he said God's people are not to be people of vision, but people of revelation.  

Second, in response to someone asking him where he hoped to be in 5 years, he said If he is truly following God, where he is in 5 years is none of his business.

I love both of these statement so much because he has realized something a lot of people have not - Following Jesus is not about me!  It is not my vision or my plan that is going to define my decisions at the moment or my thoughts and hopes for the future.  

People of revelation - I love this!  It is not about trying to generate a vision within my own mind.  It's not even about being given a vision by God that I can then own as "my" vision.  It is about being open to the Lords leading, and letting Him reveal Himself and His vision to me.  When I think of the youth group I am a leader for, or the worship team that I help lead, or my daily interactions with friends, or my marriage to Kevin, or anything else in my life, I should be looking to Jesus to reveal Himself to me and see where He would like to lead.  I just find the difference between living out of my vision for the future and living out of God's revelation to be huge.  It is scary but freeing all at once.  Which takes us to point two...

Where I am in 5 years is none of my business.  Living out of God's revelation means giving up control completely - it means if He has chosen not to reveal what is coming around that next corner, then I have to wait and trust.  Actively wait, acting on what He has revealed for the moment, letting His Word be a light on my path.  In 5 years, will we still be enjoying the jobs God has blessed us with now?  Will we have a family?  Will we be called to move, or to stay?  I don't know!  But I can trust Him to reveal Himself when I do need to know.  And I can trust that if I keep pressing in, He'll continue to make me into the woman He wants me to be.

How do you find God reveals Himself to you? 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

He Loves Us

I'm sitting here at the computer before 7am checking my email and as the newly risen sun is streaming in the window, Kim Walker's song "He Loves Us" is playing on my little ipod shuffle.  And I am struck by the raw and awesome reality of those words.  God loves us - not in a calm, controlled way, not because He has to, but He loves us in a wild, undeserved, overwhelmingly powerful way.  Something in my spirit just feels like bursting with praise and tears and love when I listen and sing along with this song!  Oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us.  I am completely unashamed of how His love can leave me a complete mess!  A mess of gratitude!

If you have never heard this song, or need to again, check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoC1ec-lYps

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Constant

I was never an ardent science student in school, but I do remember the concept of constants and variables.  I may not be completely accurate in my definition, but for my purposes today, a constant would be a state of being that is the norm, and a variable would be a temporary change from that constant, but after a time, things return to the constant.  I think in life each of us live within mindsets of constants and variables.  For some people, life is generally good.  Their constant is comfort, happiness, good times.  Every once in a while something will happen to disrupt it, a sickness, a hard situation, but eventually things will return to being good.  For others it is the exact opposite, the constant in life seems to be suffering.  Life is generally rough, and there may be variables once in a while that lift that person up for a few moments, but inside they feel they know it won't last, and eventually life kicks them down again.  Life is hard.

Do I have a choice of which path my life takes, or am I at the mercy of life itself, am I trapped in my circumstances?  Or better yet, is there a bigger story that can completely change how I view my life, how I view suffering, how I respond to the inevitable pain life is going to throw my way?

I believe there's two constants by which we should view the world and our own lives.  I think this way of looking at things can change everything about how I live each day, how I respond to life, how I view who I am and what life is all about.

Romans 8:20 and following...  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse.  But with eager hope the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time....

John 3:18  - Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already...

The first constant is this - death, decay, condemnation.  Within the framework of human history, from Adam and Eve to the end of time, we live in a world of death, decay, brokenness, condemnation, judgement.  John 3:18 - we all stand already condemned, guilty of sin and in need of salvation.The first constant is that we, no, I deserve death because of my sin.   And even before physical death, because of human sin, the world is broken.  Cursed.  The constant of this world is not goodness or happiness or joy.  The constant of this world is sin and pain and death.  I should not be surprised when something in life does not go my way, when I have a bad day or someone hurts me.  In this world, that is the norm!  Instead, I should be shocked each and every time I am blessed with something good - a new day, a warm bed, the love of a good friend, the taste of ripe strawberries, the beauty of music.  Every single one of these moments in our lives goes against the very state of the world we live in.  It is not our right to have a good life, God owes us nothing.  We deserve nothing yet He lavishes daily blessings on each of us.

The second constant is God Himself.  The love, grace, hope that can be found only in relationship with Him.  Jesus died and rose again, permanently doing away with sin, death, brokenness, the curse on the world.  The constant of God is love - if you recieve the gift of grace given through Jesus.

John 3:16 - God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 8:35-39 - Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?  Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted or hungry, or destitute or in danger or threatened with death?...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.  Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 The first constant - the curse of sin and death - is the reality of this world, is the very fibre of human history.  The second constant - God's love and life - is the reality of heaven, and it goes way beyond human history.  It overwhelms this world.

So - how do I live my life?  By the constant of death - the fact that everything in this world always reverts back to brokenness, death and decay?  I think yes and no.  I think it is healthy to know that in this life, things are often going to suck!  That is the norm of this world and I should not be surprised.  Yet, even though that reality is often so present in our lives, I choose to live by the constant of God - that no matter what pain and brokenness I experience in my life, God's love in the end will eradicate all of it, and His love is really the constant of my life.

Revelation 21:3-5 - I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among his people!  He will live with them , and they will be his people.  God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever."  And the one sitting on the throne said, "Look, I am making everything new!"

He is making all things new!  It was made possible at the cross, and one day it will be fulfilled in heaven!       But what about our lives in the meantime? How do we live with pain and death and suffering?  With humility and with the bigger view of God's love and desire to restore.  When life hurts, instead of bursting with anger and hatred at God, as if it is His fault, we should instead grieve the brokenness of our world while turning to God who is going to make all things new through His everlasting love.

One last scripture...  This guy could see through the pain to God and he knew what it was all about...

Lamentations 3 (start at verse one, but I'll pick it up in verses 16-25)  - He has made me chew on gravel, He has rolled me in the dust.  Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is.  I cry out, "My splendour is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!"  The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.  I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:  The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.  I say to myself "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him!"  The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him...