Complacency

screenshot_20180419-0818141397298146.png

I’ve been feeling like a blob of clay lately, rearranged and pushed in ways that are not comfortable. Being comfortable, peace at all times tends to be my motto! This challenge to leave my complacency has happened most of my life and I should be used to it. Yet as I look back I can see that when I resist the potter’s hands life becomes more difficult, painful and unfruitful. The times I have embraced The Potter’s gentle, loving spinning and molding, the baking and glazing I see in myself something wonderful that amazes me! I can see that I have been, am being molded into a vessel that my Father God can use for His glory!

A Mouse and a Man

A story by my dad, Lance Stephens.

Here is a true story about a mouse and man (me). It began when I had to dig a septic tank hole for our house. I started one afternoon with my pick and shovel and got nearly two feet down before supper. Next morning I went out to look at the hole and lo and behold a mouse had fallen in and couldn’t get out. So I found a board and stuck it in the hole for the mouse to climb out on. Then I went back to have breakfast.

After breakfast I went outside to start digging. The mouse was still in the hole. So, maybe I can lift him out. The mouse was too scared of me . The mouse kept running around the edge of the hole at the bottom trying to find a tunnel to escape through. Oh well, I kept digging. After a while the mouse was not so frightened. He would walk right close to my shovel as I scooped up dirt. Presently, I could put the shovel down flat close to him. At first he veered away. Later, I put the shovel right in front of him. The mouse stopped, sniffed the shovel blade, looked up at me and walked away. Well, I tried!

By now, I was down in hardpan. That’s very hard, almost rock like soil full of gravel. Shoveling was harder now as the pile of loose dirt was quite high and the hole was about four feet deep. The mouse had gotten very frantic. Imagine being trapped in a huge hole with an enormous monster digging it deeper, with no way out. He kept checking the sides for escape tunnels. Nothing only solid walls.

I had broken up the hard pan in the bottom and was beginning to throw it out with the shovel. I had to throw it real hard as the hole was deep and the dirt pile high. Then the mouse was right in front of me, he was sitting up on his haunches with his front paws together, looking up at me. I placed my shovel blade flat on the ground right in front of him. He stepped on the blade and quick as a wink (for I was afraid he might get scared and jump off) I threw him up and out. The last I saw of him he was sailing through the air, legs all stretched out, and disappeared as he landed just over the top of the dirt pile.

Other mice fell into my excavations but never another mouse came and asked me to help them out. I thought long on that mouse. A very brave and smart mouse. Compare him to people. How many folk when faced with impossible situations from which they are not able to escape, are still too afraid or proud, or stubborn to ask the help of their creator. They will not trust themselves into His hands, the One who made them and all things. The mouse had the courage to trust me. How many have the courage to trust God. For that’s what faith in Him is.

Emmanuel lived

Emmanuel (interpreted “God with us”) has been on my mind this Christmas season as I have faced fears and challenges in our life here in the city. Learning that God is with me, He is my strength and peace, and fear has no place in His presence!

When I needed to move our car to facilitate street cleaning I realized that a fear of driving had developed from an accident that totaled our previous car (I was the driver). I let Michael drive our new vehicle when we went out together and got around on transit comfortably on my own.

What a thrill it was to overcome this fear as I sat in the car and drove it the long way around the block. That old familiar enjoyment of driving, came back. HE was in the seat beside me, HIS strength and hope in my heart as I drove. Victory! Next challenge: driving on the high speed freeways.

May you have clear vision knowing that the Lord is with you as you travel the freeways of life in the year 2020!

You Surround Me With Your Glory!

I love Psalm 3. This version from The Passion Translation I have personalised in light of challenges I have been facing lately.

Lord, I have so many enemies, (sickness, unforgiveness, pride, fear… I am my worst enemy!)…….. . Listen to how I whisper ….slander against myself, saying: “Look! she’s hopeless! Even God can’t save me from this!”

As I pause in his presence……

In the depths of my heart I truly know that YOU, Yahweh, have become my Shield;

YOU TAKE ME AND SURROUND ME WITH YOURSELF.

Your glory covers me continually.

You lift high my head when I bow low in shame.

I have cried out to you, Yahweh, from your holy presence.

You send me a Father’s help.

Pause in his presence

So now I’ll lie down and sleep like a baby

— then I’ll awake in safety,

for you surround me with your glory.

Even though dark powers (Depression, dark thoughts and shame) prowl around me,

I won’t be afraid.

I simply cry out to you : “Rise up and help me, Lord! Come and save me!”

And you will slap them in the face, breaking the power of their words to harm me.

My true hero comes to my rescue , for the Lord alone is my Savior.

What a feast of favor and bliss he gives his people!

Pause in his presence.

You Surround Me With Your Glory

Fenced in beauty

Biblical boundaries… a life of love, freedom, responsibility, and service to God’s glory. Lately I have been flourishing as I embrace establishing Godly boundaries in my life.

Dancing in the rain

Blueberries, blue cheese, blue coffee

“What are you doing tomorrow?” My husband texted me. I was alone for the weekend as Michael was “Island cooking” “Pasta & garlic bread, burgers, pancakes, grilled cheese, and french toast.” Was his response to my what’s cooking?
While my dear man was in his element with no carbohydrate restrictions, what was I going to do on this day to myself?
“You can wander through the market” was the next text. Yes! (He doesn’t enjoy market days as I do).
I am discovering that I don’t enjoy “lots of time to myself” as I used to. People chatting in the hallway of our apartment complex, contruction workers noisey activity and conversing as they build, are a comfort to me: I’m not alone! Focusing on myself too much brings the blues.
“Good morning. Have a good time at the market.” Was the cheery text this morning.
Old tyme market music

Old tyme market music

And a good time I had indeed. After interesting conversations with venders, a walk to and from the market observing frisbee golfers amongst the lawns and trees of her majesty’s park and a cup of coffee, I realized all my purchases were blue! (Water buffalo blue cheese, fresh blueberries and coffee from Blue Parrot Cafe)
As I entered our complex one of the many artfully displayed sayings caught my eye: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass: It’s about dancing in the rain!”
I am so thankful that I can dance in the rainy blue days! “And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 TPT

Thoughts on the rainbow.

Genesis 9: 11. I will establish my covenant with you: all flesh will not be cut off any more by the waters of the flood, neither will there ever again be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12. God said, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13. I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth. 14. It will happen, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud, 15. and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16. The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17. God said to Noah, “This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

The rainbow is for everyone. May those who use it as a symbol of their cause/ identity see God’s great love and undeserving grace for them!

Urban Blooming

My husband’s and my favourite thing to do when we visited the city was to walk the neighbourhood streets admiring the character gardens and homes.  Yet my personal preference has always been in living on a rainforest island with acres of trees, deer, isolated homes, dirt paths through canopies of foliage and where quietness abounds.  So when God orchestrated (the melodies of provision and family drowning out the discord of my preferences and comfort) we moved to the bustling city.

Today, nearing the anniversary of our move, I walked home along the paved sidewalks and actually had a delightful time enjoying  our urban neighbourhood.

The nearer I came to my home the realization of what a change God lovingly and graciously had done in my heart washed over me. In solitude I walked under a canopy of trees, then across a beautiful field with daisies, butter cups and clover, to our apartment’s community garden flourishing in the absence of deer.

Our community room, hallways and bright cosy suite often echo with the voices of long-time friends, our children and grandchildren who could not afford the distant grandeur of my rainforest island.

This evening, as I relax here in city solitude (the faint rush of traffic, the roar of the crowds at the neighbouring stadium, folks chatting on the street and footsteps, voices echoing, doors closing in the hallway): I am thankful for a all-knowing, loving God  who knows best. I am learning that where God wants you, is the best place to be.

Hebrews: 13. 5. Be …. content with such things as you have, for he has said, “I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.” 

Snowy Paths

snowy path

Oh Lord! When I am confused by which path to go and the right way is confused by brush and snarls and I feel snowed under, you open my eyes and show me the right path beyond the confusion!

 

Thank you Lord for covering my sins with Your righteousness!

Thank you Lord for covering my sins with Your righteousness!

and my fingers for fighting…

2013-08-05 13.44.521 Blessed be the Lord my strength, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for fighting. Psalm 144.1

Where I live for the summer is like a little taste of heaven; The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, the food is amazing and in abundance, every day a sunny day, lots of things to do and enjoy all my needs provided for. Best of all a community that is loving, forgiving, trustworthy and gracious.

However the burdens I brought with me are like this arbutus tree it’s twisting, peeling, red branches piercing the beautiful. As I struggle with these burdens, frustration, humbling mistakes and a feeling of being a blind woman leading the blind I cannot see yet a conclusion to the buffeting. Yes, God’s grace flows through this place enabling me to carry on with His words echoing in my mind: “He trains my hands for war.”

I had the opportunity to paint under an artist I admire last week drinking in his little suggestions on how to improve and hearing his wisdom of  “focus on where you are going not on the bumps along the way lest you loose sight and fall off the path”  While I painted my bumps and burdens fell away and I had the joy seeing some good from my efforts.

This painting hangs on the wall in our little room and as I get up in the morning it reminds me of His promise:  “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him…”   He is training my fingers for fighting … but the key, I see is in loving Him even when I don’t feel like it, even when it is hard and I can’t see for the bumps and twists. All I have to do is focus on Him…on loving Him!

Renovations

Renovations  I am a country girl living in the city for a short time. Lying in bed on a warm, July morning I could hear the city waking up through the open window. The roar and swish invaded my room and my comfort along with the much coveted breeze. It reflected the challenges I did not want to face in the day ahead.

REST IN MY LOVE

Warm peace washed over me.

Bang! Crash! pierced my balm as the basement renovation next door resumed. Large debris hitting the sides of the dumpster. Ouch! Lord I do not want this!

I AM DOING RENOVATIONS IN YOUR LIFE. REST IN MY LOVE.

Like warm waves on sandy Vancouver beaches I visited recently…. the peace of God washed over me.

Bang, Bang, Crash! Renovations, clearing out for the new. Oh the pain!

REST IN MY LOVE!

More waves of peace, rest.

Crash! Bang!

Close the window! Stop it!

LET IT GO! REST IN MY LOVE!

Waves crashing, slamming on the rocky shore, rubbing, wearing, breaking, grinding. The waves recede revealing warm, soft, golden sand.

REST IN MY LOVE

 

It’s about Him….

Arbutus tree at Pioneer Pacific

There is an arbutus tree outside our window surrounded by wonderful, rainforest, coastal island beauty. I contemplate how we have been so positively led to this place the beginning of a new chapter in our lives and as I face life’s challenges I wonder again:  “Who am I, What am I doing here?”  Then I am reminded of His gentle and surprising response to me when I asked that before: A quiet whisper in my heart, He said: “Find out who I AM, and what I AM doing!”

There are arbutus trees in every corner, along every path in this place living their beauty. Whenever I feel lost and face challenges, I know that like these trees, He is here and I need to seek  Him, El Shaddai, He is here in all His beauty and love. It’s about HIM and what HE is doing!

Scale Tale

IMG_4628_1

This is a touching story that I became a part of when I posted this baking scale on “Quadra Island Swap and Shop” Facebook Page. It goes as follows:

April Conchie Antique, collectors baking scale … lots of history in this, comes from one of the old bakeries on Fraser St. in Vancouver. $45.00  This still works well, my baker husband used it in our bakery to weigh out the bread dough. April 8 at 1:06pm

Lydia Brittany Peter remembers these, he used to work at a bakery on 54th and Fraser St. when he was a kid. He says this is a scale for weighing out bread. On one side is a one pound weight and the other side is where you would put your piece of dough that had to weigh 16 ounces. 1945-1946. April 8 at 8:41pm

Naomi Terry Lydia imagine if this was one he used as a young man!! How cool would that be! April 8 at 9:14pm

Carla Duffey very cool!!!!!! thats cool he used to work there Tuesday at 8:04am

April Conchie Amazing…it is the one. That is where we got it from "Wonder Bakery" on 54th and Fraser. It was a German Bakery and was moving it’s business across the bridge in Langley. Michael bought the scale from one of the sons of the original owner … that was in 1996 Tuesday at 1:30pm

Meanwhile I got a private message:

Carla Duffey Hi, if nobody takes the scale, I can offer you 30 for it, I’d love for it to be at Yellow Dog and love to gift it to them but cannot afford to pay 45…??? 2:00pm

April Conchie Carla the scale is yours….we would love the yellow dog to have it. $30. is great. I’ll clean it up some more (still has some of Michael’s flour on it) Friday is a good day to pick it up.

I didn’t check my messages again that day. Michael and I stopped in The Yellow Dog Health Food Store on Wednesday to deliver something to Lydia. Michael had an animated conversation with Peter, reminiscing about the old bakery. When I came home and checked Facebook again I saw that Lydia had made two more postings:

Lydia Brittany Was that Richard or Neena? WE would love to purchase this please OMG. so amazing. Peter said he lived right behind the Bakery. How wonderful!Tuesday at 7:47pm · Like

Lydia Brittany This morning Peter told me that he worked there between the ages of 7 and 11. His friend was the owner’s oldest son Richard. He would help after school and weekends and made 50 cents a week. and in the summer they would make 2.50 a week, when they worked all week.Wednesday at 8:29am · Edited · Like · 2

Sue Mitchell What a cool story! Sounds like something cbc radio would tell Wednesday at 9:59am · Like · 1

I quickly checked with Carla Duffey and then made this post … and it carried on:

April Conchie Lydia Brittany I’m so sorry! I sold it to someone before I saw that you wanted it! The person I sold it to really wanted it.Wednesday at 3:58pm · Like · 1

Lydia Brittany These things happen. It was wonderfully exciting and created a space for Peter to share his history for that I am grateful. things are just things but through this I have memories of his life and that is what is the most precious thing.Wednesday at 6:51pm · Like · 6

Cristina Fox What a sad ending to the story……Thursday at 9:06am · Like

Lydia Brittany would the person who bought it be willing to show Peter the scale by bringing it into Yellow Dog. I think it would be a treat to just even see it.Thursday at 8:20pm · Like

Lydia Brittany WAIT There is more! Our dear friend Carla Duffey of Lime Soda Photography bought this scale as a surprise for Peter and I and what a surprise it was! She said that when she read the story she noticed I did not bid on it right away and wanted to be sure Peter got it. WHAT a Darling! How selfless, thoughtful and kind. WOW what a friend. SO it is sitting on the kitchen table and Carla says "with one condition and that is I can borrow it to photograph babies on it!" Peter has not seen it yet….oh boy!

A happy ending and a glimpse of life on Quadra Island where we live.

Advent

Advent Banners

His banner over me is love ……

Banners by me…December 2012

HOPE

Hope;The first candle in the advent wreathHope.  What is hope? Rom_8:24 & 25  Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Many times in my life when a change in my life is coming about I have held onto Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for blessing and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”    In the past year, again, I have seen the fulfillment of this promise over and over. I am learning to keep my eyes on Yeshua, He is our hope…And: 2Co 4:18  “Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen areHoly Spirit Dove eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen.” So I conclude with:  Rom_15:13  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

The dew of Heaven

My teaching...like dew on the fields Deu 32:2 “When the dew came down…at night, the manna came down with it.” Numbers 11:9

My teaching is dropping like rain, coming down like dew on the fields…” Deu 32:2

This morning I looked out at our field and was noticing the dew glistening on the grass. The sun was shining, everything was sparkling…a glow of green.

Oh Lord, that is you! You envelope us with your refreshing, cleansing, life giving dew (love) from heaven, restoring so that we glow and sparkle with joy!

Jennifer, you were asking me what is heaven like … ah I don’t know exactly …sometimes I long to be there, but this morning, looking out at that field and getting the revelation of His great love for us, I can say, Jennifer, that when you embrace Him and His word , He will put heaven in your heart and give you eyes to see a glimpse of it here on earth!   

 

Encouragement

 

Deep in thought and apprehensive about a revelation of changes I needed to make in my life, I sat in my favourite corner with a cup of tea. Then I glanced over at a planter and saw a vine we had planted 6 years ago. What is that on my plant? Some plastic thing a recent child visitor had left? Something was stuck on there. No! A flower! flowers! Deep red tube bell flowers! All over the plant springing up every where.

“Dear, are you busy right now? Come up and see something amazing!”

I was still bending over the plant marvelling over this little miracle, when he came in, work clothes and rolled up sleeves.  A long silence as he took it in.

The thought flitted through my mind. “God is telling you something”

Last year that plant had been in a dark place. We re-potted and fertilized  it, put it in the light.  Now that the light had been shed on the heavy burden I had been carrying, God promised that with change, endurance and faith, the outcome would be promising.

A small special moment, a visual revelation that I and my Dear could remember and hold onto in the days ahead.

 

 

Spring Blossoms

Spring Blossoms

Spring Blossoms

   On my walk a few days ago I encountered a lot of white … blossoms. I explored new places with the enthusiasm of a little girl. To my great joy I found some white lilacs, some of them now grace my kitchen counter and dining room table. The house is full of their fragrance. I think lilacs are my second most favourite bloom.  A taste of which I acquired when I moved to the city.  Just before I encountered these I caught a glimpse of pink amongst black berry bushes and salal. I looked closer and there was a rhododendrum…gone wild. I just planted a rhodo in my little garden and am waiting for it to bloom. It accompanies for-get-me-nots and fox gloves which I cherish as highlights of my youthful wanderings. While on the beach I came across a branch blooming with white lichen and pretty little flowers growing on mossy rocks. Then a wild apple and pear tree reminded me to return there again this fall. Returning home the dandelions and little white daisies in the lawns danced. The Yellow Arum (Skunk Cabbage) and the pond foliage glorying in the damp.
    These walks remind me of times that I would spend with my dad walking through trails. Like me he enjoys the dandelions in the lawn.  He is very knowledgable about plant and animal life and I would listen with fascination as he told me about things we found. I wish he could be with me on my walks today. I love you, Dad. Instead I walk with my great Father God, who created such an amazing plethora of things along the way: Life’s encounters, tumblings and joys. As He instructs, as I walk and follow,  listen and learn: I will dance like the daisies and the dandelions. Happy Birthday Dad!

Spring Walk

Pretty wild flowers and moss intermingle with the grass

As a little girl my playground was the beach and the forest. Here I day-dreamed and discovered The Creator and his creation. Then I moved to a big city and this part of me was buried (but not forgotten). As a city teen I hid away in my bedroom and wrote in my journal. Years later … today, I am going to begin ‘journaling’ again. Today, I walked along shaded paths through the forest and fields that surround my home. Beautiful little white and blue flowers sprinkled over the mossy hills and amongst the grassy fields. I could hear the call of a raven and humming birds zipped by me. New life, Spring, every where. As I felt the warm sun filtering through the firs and hemlocks. Gone was the stress of life. I could walk as long as I wanted to, dream and think. I was so thankful. Here I was again, much older and molded by reality. My maker, The Creator had opened the door of my heart and let His light, His spring (new life) shine in.