Sand Art Breaking Christmas Tradition

Should you break Christmas traditions? If so, which ones should you change? Under what circumstances should they be changed? What if families would return to the Christmas of long ago and peace reigned on the earth?

Image Courtesy of artar84 at FreeDigitalPhotos

Are Christmas traditions valued as much today? Different countries have their own Christmas traditions. Not any one is better than the other. But have you ever tried to break a family tradition without questioning from some family members?

What would aunt Susie (sorry if your name is Susie) say if you didn’t invite her this year because every year she causes a scene?

Small Village

What if this year you gave presents to the needy instead filling your closets with more ugly sweaters and stuffed toys?

What if this year, you cut back on the food and decorations and increased quality family time with games and just hanging out. Healthier too.

Or have we lost the art of conversation to the technical gadgets that take our time away from the people that are near?

I know, you’re going to say, “That’s old-fashioned.” I’m an advocate of social media and the gadgets just as much as you are but could we wean ourselves in order to celebrate the biggest birthday celebration of the year, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ born in a manger!

As Christians, we celebrate not only the birth of Jesus but the death and resurrection as well. God, the Father sent us his son as the gift for our eternal salvation. The gift is free to anyone and everyone who receives it.

A tradition that my family continues to this day. When my father was alive he always read the Christmas story from the Bible, and when he passed on the privilege fell on myself, the eldest child. Now my own family carries this tradition.

Reading the Scriptures keeps Christ in Christmas.

As we get older we long for simplicity. Gifts need not be elaborate, nor fill up the whole living room floor. To me, the lights, colors and star/angel on the Christmas tree bring on the emotional experience.

Embrace the changing traditions and culture….but don’t forget the real reason we celebrate. If it’s not custom for you to attend church at Christmas, break tradition and visit a church near you.

What traditions do you plan to break this year?

Listen and see the Christmas story via Sand Art from the Concert at Saalem Church.

 

 

 

By the water’s edge – a monologue

img_3597Sitting by the water’s edge waves crush

I tune in as the waves slurp the rocks

I listen as the swell crushes at the ragged shore

Moving in and moving out

One moment they punch the jagged rocks

And next a peaceful flow covers like a blanket of snow

Until….

Another surge lifts the white cap and bursts, not only on the rocky shore, but the wooden dock

Forced to float by the pressure

Moved, not in the normal direction but in opposite way

As the waters rip the dock the undercurrent pulls towards the open sea

 

The heat from the sun warms my face

I listen to the waves crash against the rocks

And think of the goodness of God

He is good when the waves roll high or low

Even when I don’t understand

The goodness overtakes the bad when I hear the sound of waves

Calming my soul like a mother snuggling her child

wavecrash

My God is in the waves as they crash to the shore I do not fear

For I know he created me and he knows my inner parts

He seeks me out to reveal his Presence

Even in the pains of life, they may beat and they may push

But they will not destroy

As the rocks along the shore have not moved from the constant pounding of waters

God changes not

His love and mercy remain

The sunshine warms my tired heart and my face glows in the sun

Time to rest

Time to seek the peace that flows in the soul

The One who covers my life

Sometimes the waves come loud and gushing

Or sweet and soft tender

Washing away the dirt and grime of the day

Waters cleanse the debris that hang in its way

The trees green

The leaves still strong hanging on the branches, colorful and bold

Hang on tight

The tree that’s planted by the waters will grow and flourish

The tree that stands in the dry desert may look withered and dead to me

But the roots will gather water from far away

I gaze around and behold the black ash tree

img_1290

filled with bundles of berries, red and ripe

Wondering what the berries hold, what mysteries inside

The cluster of the red as they hang so low towards the ground they go

Consider the secret of the redness

In clusters like grapes yet uneatable

Its branches support the berries for now

Until the weight forces them to drop to the earth

Seasons change….

Snow covers the berries on the ground

With winter comes the cold

The least favorite season of all but my soul seeks the Presence

Where God’s warmth covers the cold

Through storms regardless of rain, snow, hail, or even a tornado or two

You wash my soul in the warmth of your everlasting love

My heart lingers after your peace as I seek you this day

Let the words of my mouth flow from your heart

May the peace flow over me as I listen to the flow

Back and forth

In and out

My heart hears you today

Thank you Lord I am with you in your place

Where the words of life fill my heart with your goodness

Where peace like a river floods my soul

Where the mystery of red

Reveals the blood of God’s Son shed on the cross for me

 

Dilapidated Shed A Beautiful Room

Rebuilding a Dilapidated Shed. The choice to step inside or not weighed on my mind. Will the floor hold me or not? The rotten wood could cave in anytime. If you looked at the back wall you might see the critters scrambling to get out through the wide cracks.

Looking at the wet ceiling that’s been exposed to the rain and snow makes you wonder if for any reason you would store your valuables here.

Not a chance.

The roof had leaked.

My experience with this dilapidated wood shed. Throw out the junk and rebuild. 

But can you make something beautiful out of this building that’s ready to be torn down? Not everybody sees this dilapidated shed as a destruction site. If you look close enough and have a vision you can create something functional and livable even.

Dilapidated Shed No More
Recently we did an overhaul of this very old shed and made something beautiful by rebuilding.
He/She Shed
He/She Shed

Like this old shed had been ready for the wrecking crew our heart may feel so damaged and hurt on the inside that you wonder if you can make another day. Our physical heart can wear out and become unhealthy so we go to the doctor for medication. And hope for the best.

Relating this to the damage of the human spirit that many experience due to difficult circumstances. Whether you’ve been abused or driven to the brink of self-depreciation by your own thoughts and attitudes, the pain of the inner being is real. Or the disease of addiction has taken over. Only God can see inside a person’s heart.

Put-on smiles

We may put on a big smile and talk endlessly about superficial things, but who knows the pain of the heart.

Guarding our heart against the critters that would try to make their way in is more important that presenting a perfect outside appearance. It’s the inside that really makes us who we are. We can make our outside beautiful but still keep the garbage inside until finally one day they flow to outside and pollute those around us. If we speak words of doubt and disrespect we add more garbage into our souls and into the souls of those around us.

The heart will be full of deceit and lies, until one day we find out how sick we really are.

Just like rebuilding an old dilapidated shed both on the inside and outside, we can rebuild our  life by checking our heart attitude and getting rid of the garbage by asking for God’s help.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

Don’t let the negative circumstances and storms of life get you down, but build a strong spirit in you. Get rid of the critters that sneak in and clean the inner spirit through the Word and prayer. Sometimes it means getting your hands dirty to clean up the mess. Find the support you need and commit to the process. It may take time but God is there all through it.

It had taken years for the floors and walls to rot inside this shed, and one day it would have rotted away and collapsed. Same thing if we don’t do a cleanup and tune-up of our heart and continue feeding it the wrong physical and spiritual food, it will collapse.

Lake View
Lake View
Resting Place
Resting Place

Let’s get rid of the old dilapidated junk, clean up, restore and rebuild our lives on a solid foundation. God makes it all beautiful.

How about you? What are you storing in the innermost being of your heart? Want a pure heart and a strong spirit?

 

 

 

Interview – How To Live With Autism After Adoption

How To Live With Autism After Adoption  Recently I sat with Sylvia, a young mother, and talked about her not-so-normal family.

Tell me how you came about adopting your son, Dawson.

We had talked to CFS that we wanted to foster a child. They told us that they won’t contact us for 3 or 4 months, but about 2 or 3 weeks later they called us and said we have a child for you. They had never seen us or never been to our house. We were totally in shock. We went to the hospital and met the child and the social worker who was visibly nervous. We had no idea why, and they asked us would you foster this child. We said no problem and we signed away….**laughs**.  Little did we know. He was born at 1 lb 11 oz. at 25 weeks. we got him at 5 months, and he was 8 lbs. 3 oz. We got him from the hospital. He had been at the Health Sciences Centre for the first 100 days and then at the nursery until they airlifted him to Brandon, the day before we met him. They didn’t tell us there about his condition because they thought that he wouldn’t survive.

As a mother tell me about your experience the first time you realized that he had autism.

Actually, he was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. We fostered him for a year before we adopted him and one week after the adoption he was diagnosed with FAS when he was one year old. And when he was 2 he was diagnosed with ADHD. We had just moved to Winkler, and the occupational therapist said that she thought he has autism. We said, “Are you kidding?” We thought that was unfair to suggest but we went to see the specialist two days later who confirmed that he definitely has autism. We weren’t surprised. We drove him back home from Winnipeg and said to ourselves, “He’s the same kid, he just has a new label so we can research and try and see how we can help him better.”

What is autism? And how does it affect his daily functioning at the point?

Basically, it’s a communication delay and they are very poor at making eye contact, but Dawson is very good at eye contact. Many have no verbal communication but we’re blessed he does. It’s called echolalia which means that he just says what we say and what phrases he has memorized. He won’t come up with his own phrases. That’s okay. We try to teach him phrases that would be appropriate for him to say. With autism, they’re generally very sensitive and the senses are out of whack. His sensitivity is auditory. We stay away from blenders, lawnmowers, and babies. He hardly ever goes outside in the summer because it’s so loud. He now has custom earplugs which help a lot. He also has construction earplugs which he wears on top if we’re going to a very stressful place.

What level of education is he at now?

Dawson is 14 and technically he’s going into grade 9. Realistically his school has been working very hard to teach him some traction from 0 to 10 and he did not reach the goal. It’s way too hard to teach. He does know some basic addition up to the sum of 10. He can read quite well, probably at a grade 3 level, but if you add comprehension it’s back at the kindergarten level.

Photo credit to Sylvia
Photo credit to Sylvia

As a Christian, how has your faith helped you cope with the situation?

Great life! **laughs** We’ve always known that he was the child for us and we were the parents for him. We always go back to that. This is what God wanted for us and for him. When he’s feeling overwhelmed and aggressive we will regularly pray with him. In the midst of being hit, we tell him, “Dawson, stop.” Then he will pray. He repeats what we say so we say in “Jesus name.” At meals, he says, “Thank you, Jesus for his food. Amen.” A sign when he’s stressed he repeats, “I can trust God.” It’s awesome, but that means he’s feeling stressed. **laughs**

Were you ever angry at God or blamed him for what happened?

No. I don’t think so. He’s our child and that’s how he was made. FAS is obviously caused by the birth mother’s choices, and there’s nothing we did to cause autism. The only thing we thought we could have done is use different phrases and symbols. We did our best.

Dawson’s disability has always been there. Has it improved or has it got worse?

I wouldn’t say it’s worse. It’s just different. He will always have it unless miracles happen. It’s just different and he’s sensitive to different things as time goes on. Life changes. We moved to a city where there are different noises and people.

How overwhelming has it been for yourself, and did you wish that you had somebody you could talk to who would understand?

We didn’t have the support groups when he was younger so yes. It’s been absolutely overwhelming. Everybody wishes there was more respite sooner. Preschool programs that would take them. They are very expensive. It’s been very overwhelming and we’ve cried over it many many times. We got so exhausted because he didn’t  sleep at night. He comes to bed at 2 in the morning and you try to sleep with him at that point.

He’s been in care since the age of 10, but we are hands-on parents. It’s called a Voluntary Placement Agreement so we voluntarily ask CFS to help us so that means we are still the legal guardians. At meetings with CFS, the social worker says her only purpose is money, so everything else they ask the parents.

Because you’re both Christians and in ministry how has your faith grown as compared if you had a normal family?

I can’t imagine a normal family! **laughs** It absolutely has. It’s more difficult at times but made it deeper because of the trials. That’s where you grow closer to God. When you’re so exhausted and drained you have no place to turn but God. Your parents are at work, sister and brother-in-law are at work. God is your only source of hope and it’s a great way to teach him and say how overwhelmed you feel and ask him to pray. I don’t know how we could have been so involved and tried as hard if it were not for God.

Photo credit Sylvia
Photo credit Sylvia

Support For Autism

There are a lot of supports, especially in Manitoba. As soon as a child is diagnosed you would talk to the disability division of the government. They will provide you with some respite, minimally. We got 24 hours a week. Right now the wait list is about 3 years for a worker. The child stays with you those 3 years, and you just cope and hire private help. Some try to get their kids into an outpatient program at St. Amant, ABA program. It’s very intense training. It’s 3 hours a day or someone actually comes in and works with your kid at your house. There’s a high demand for this program. You need to do it early.

There are different play groups. You can pay for different stuff. We found a lot of support in Autism Winnipeg Pace, a facebook group with over 600 members for parents of kids with autism. They help each other and have a lot of get-togethers where you can bring your kids and feel normal because everybody is acting out. This has been helpful, but for us the most helpful has been Child and Family Services because partly because he’s been adopted so we can access them easier. But now he’s in care so we deal with the staff there.

Try to get supports. Get people around you, family, friends who will help you when you honestly feel like strangling your child, or yourself or something because there are days when you’re just so tired and the kid won’t stop. So have supports or something in place. And if you get really desperate, push the system. At least in Manitoba, there are ways and don’t be afraid to ask and push to get what you need.

Sad story – Cop Shoots Caretaker of Autistic Man Playing on the Street

Thanks for your honest answers.

If you are struggling with autism in your family, know that you can’t do it alone, get support and help.

 

Take Risks With Outside-The-Box Thinking

Thinking outside the box is not for everyone, only the brave and courageous take risks. Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to step across the boundaries, and take a stand? Words have power and create solutions in the atmosphere, but once they turn to action the consequences become visible to others.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin

We can have all kinds of opinions and viewpoints on social media, but are we willing to act on an issue, or do we have the capacity to do something about it? Are we willing to receive criticism? Are we risk takers?

Not a big risk taker

If you’re like me, then you’re probably not a big risk taker, and would have difficulty coloring outside the box. When my granddaughter was younger, she colored inside the lines. Then she drew her own lines and created beautiful art on a blank canvas.CarColor

I’ve been a rule follower and a color-inside-lines kind of girl. It’s difficult to step over the boundary line or the normal. They say there’s nothing new under the sun and everything that has been created is already done. That kind of thinking confines us inside the box.

Here’s a story of outside-the-box-thinking when it comes to drug addicts and crime.

The Police Chief of Gloucester started out on Facebook about his opinions on the drug war. He not only wrote a rant about it but went farther. Addicts were arrested and locked up only to return again and again. He came up with an idea. Help them! Da. A start in the right direction. But how?

He colored outside the lines and instituted a revolutionary program in his police department to direct addicts to rehab instead of jail.

Common Sense

Anyone who walks into the police station wanting help will get help….not later but right on the spot. The catch. The addict must want the help immediately, and if they bring their drug paraphernalia and drugs, they will be sent to rehab. On top of all this, the addict will not be charged and their record stays clean. Who would not jump at this opportunity? A sick person may or may not want it. Some will take it.

The thing that triggered this post is that not everyone is happy that the Police Chief has become a social activist as well as a law enforcer. From what I’ve read, it seems that it’s working and many other police departments across the nation are adopting similar programs, and many more addicts are saved from premature death. Because the nature of opiate addiction is so complex people who don’t understand will criticize it, instead of applauding it. Read it here in the New York Times.

Families recover

Anything that helps one more family have hope for recovery is worth it because every life matters. Apparently it costs more to process an arrest than it does to find a treatment facility for an addict. So why wouldn’t the police department go with the lesser cost? The ripple effects of this type of policing are huge at so many levels, but the main benefit is that families have a chance at recovery. Why? It’s a family disease where everyone suffers.

Every program has its critics but when something works and saves lives, why not? I know that sending addicts to rehab instead of jail is done in Canada to some extent. (e.g. Teen Challenge)

Take Risks

Draw your picture. Take a risk. Color it, but allow yourself to reach beyond the lines. Adult coloring books, the brainchild of some outside-the-box thinkers, are popular today….start there. While you do it you might start thinking outside the box, too.

Happy coloring.Crayons

What kind of out-of-box thinking would help reduce crime and drug addiction in your city? Has your out-of-box thinking brought you results? How can outside-the-box thinking make our world a better place or help us succeed in life?


If you leave a comment here and subscribe to this blog, I will send you a short blurb of my book before it goes live. If you’re already a subscriber, thank you.

 

Guest Interview – Marianne Jones-Author

A while back I had invited a local author as a guest to our Christian writers’ group that meets in my home. As a local author who had several publications under her belt, I wanted to interview her.Thank you so much for sharing your journey to inspire others to follow their dream.MarianneJones

As a guest, tell us a little about your background and about yourself?

I grew up in Thunder Bay in a family that loved books and reading. I guess we were a bit nerdy! I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a writer, and I published my first story at age fourteen in “Miss Chatelaine” magazine. After that came a long writing hiatus. I was too consumed with school, marriage, and raising a family to write. The truth was, I was afraid to try in case I failed. Eventually, I came back to it, and experimented with poetry, fiction and magazine articles. I had a very long apprenticeship before seeing results. Now I have five books, several plays and numerous published articles, stories and poems to my credit. Three of my poems are carved in stone benches at the Marina Park, which makes me pretty happy.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing?

From nature and from life itself. My children’s picture book, “Great-Grandma’s Gifts”, for example, came to me in the last year of my mother’s life. I wanted to honour my Mom for all the beautiful things she sewed for her family, especially her grandchildren. And I wanted my granddaughters to know who their great-grandmother was, and what made her special. I was so happy that the book was published in time for my Mom to see it. She displayed it proudly in her nursing home.

How did you know that you wanted to write for publication?

As a child, I wasn’t aware there was any other kind of writing. I loved reading books, and I wanted to be one of those people who wrote books for other people to read.

Writing can be hard at times, especially when motivation drops so what gets you back on track?

Mostly I guilt myself back into it. If the task seems too daunting, like the novel I’m working on at present, I use the “How do you eat an elephant?”approach. I tell myself I don’t have to write the whole thing, just a few paragraphs. It gets me back into the flow again. If it doesn’t I tell myself I have a few more paragraphs than I had the day before.

What inspired you to write your first novel, The Serenity Stone Murder?

My sister. She loves murder mysteries, and kept bugging me to write one set in Thunder Bay. Finally, I told her that if she came up with an idea, I would write it. And she did. It was quite a quirky, funny idea, about two middle-aged church ladies who get embroiled in trying to find out who killed the manager of the Thunder Bay Charity Casino. As she was talking, I could visualize the two ladies. I felt as though I knew them. Once I can see the characters, I know I can write the story. The fact that the story was funny was what made it so enjoyable to write.

What inspired you to meet up with Linda Stewardson and write her story, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die?GirlWhoWouldntDie

I didn’t know Linda when she shared her story at church, but, like everyone else who listened to her, I was riveted. The thought came to me, “There is a book here.” Later, I introduced myself to her and asked if I could write her story. She had been told many times over the years that people wanted her story in book form so that they could buy it, so she was happy to work with me on the manuscript. When it was done, I entered it in the Word Alive publishing contest with Women’s Journey of Faith, and it won!

What writing project are you working on now?

I’m working on a literary novel about a minister’s wife wrestling with a lot of issues. It’s very close to my heart, because, although I’m not a minister’s wife, I have grappled with many different questions throughout my adult life that were impossible to raise openly in Christian circles. I was awarded a Ontario Arts Council grant to complete the novel, which gives me the necessary motivation to complete it.

If you were to pick, what is your favorite kind of writing?

Perhaps poems, because they are short and self-contained. But I love the act of writing itself. I was that weird kid in school who was inwardly cheering when the teacher assigned an essay. All the other kids were groaning at the thought, and I was thrilled that I got to write something.

When you’re not writing what do you like to do?

Read. Walk. Go to plays. Have friends over for dinner. Visit my granddaughters. Hang out with my husband.

Connect with Marianne

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

LinkedIn

Google+

Goodreads

 

Colby’s Story – A Child Abandoned

Colby’s Story – A Child Abandoned is one of many stories that will grip your heart when a child falls prey to devastating experiences. Studies have shown that there are similar backgrounds of those who get enslaved by addiction. One is genetics. Another is environment. Others are basics like peers, adventure, or mental illness.

What is hitting bottom for a drug addict? Do addicts need to hit their bottom before getting help? Ending up in the hospital or sitting in a prison cell — the bottom? It’s different for everyone. Many live as functioning addicts for a long time before realizing they need help. And drug addiction knows no bounds and can enslave anyone from the educated to the non-educated, and Christian families are not exempt.

Photo credit Stuart Miles via www.freedigitalphotos
Photo credit Stuart Miles via www.freedigitalphotos

The debate whether drug addiction is a disease or a choice remains, but one thing we know that no one is born with the desire to become a drug addict. Those suffering in the clutches of this enemy want to get out, but most can’t without help.

Child Abandoned

 

Colby’s mother was seventeen when he was born. He was raised by his single mother until the age of four when his mother married. As a child he had security of a mother and a stepfather, and was connected to his birth father, visiting him on weekends. But the older he got the less he saw his birth father who abused drugs and alcohol, until he became a Christian when Colby turned thirteen.

This should have been a good time for a son to spend time with his father since drugs were no longer a part of his life. But it was not. Why? Colby had looked up to his dad and wanted to follow in his footsteps of drug abuse. Feelings of rejection and abandonment were part of life for Colby until he became rebellious. It seemed like he was angry at his dad for leaving his mom.

As a child he felt he was the problem child in the relationship and that is why his parents broke up, even though they were not married. He was the only child.

Drug Use

Friends were smoking pot so he, too, wanted to try it. Fitting in helped twelve-year-old Colby to feel accepted. He also wanted to have fun. Curiosity played a role.

During the teenage years alcohol and ecstasy became fun on weekends. School was not important, except for drugs.  Colby dropped out in junior high. A few years later he tried crystal meth, must have liked it and became addicted until….

One day paranoia set in. Feeling that everybody was against him, and he heard cops at his door. He needed to escape. But where? Grabbing the balcony railing he jumped over. By God’s mercy he didn’t land on the ground but somehow hung on to the second floor railing where he hung in fear. No other choice, but jump. So he dropped himself on to the ground and ran. Colby ended up as the go-between drug dealers/gang members and users to get drugs for himself.

Turning point

 

Soon the fun ended, if it you can call it that, and reality hit. Colby got arrested. A month later he found himself in the hospital from a failed suicide attempt. His birth father visited and told him about Adult & Teen Challenge. Colby had hit his rock bottom at age seventeen! He made a better choice. He wanted to live. He entered the Christian rehab centre a few days later. Today Colby works as an intern at the Winnipeg Centre, and is accountable to his mentors.

Before his suicide attempt he had been shipped to AFM rehab in Brandon, Manitoba. He lasted eight days when he was kicked out for using drugs.

Colby now has a chance at getting his GED and following his dreams of helping other addicts to find God and change their lives. No longer a child abandoned.

Advice to Loved Ones

 

Like many who have recovered or are in recovery, their advice is the same. Love but don’t enable. Encourage. Show support when they are in rehab and visit when possible.

Colby’s favorite Bible verse.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18.

Thank you Colby for telling me your story. For a video of his testimony, click here

 

If you know of someone who needs help please call Adult & Teen Challenge. 

 

Winter Season Of Joy

Winter Season Of Joy — a season of reflection. Winter season brings joy as we anticipate the coming spring. It’s a season to hibernate for some and greater activity for others. When the nights are long and the days are short, and  the temperatures drop we tend to curl up inside our warm houses, perhaps sitting by the fireplace reading and drinking hot chocolate.

Those who despise winter, at least for some of us who live in the North we tend to complain about it. We stare at weather reports and see how much snow will come, and how cold are the temperatures. We’re actually dependent on this knowledge, and often our life depends on it. It’s better to be prepared than be surprised by sudden weather change, and get stranded somewhere.

How can we benefit from times of inactivity during the winter season?

Perhaps we like to do things that keep us healthy or keep our minds stimulated. But most of all we can spend time with the Lord by reading his Word and prayer. By allowing the Lord to speak to our spirit man and directing our thoughts to think on His goodness and grace.

Blog-winterSnowPathWhen life situations happen we will be ready to lay the problems at his feet, and trust his wisdom to help us walk the right path.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

Yesterday when my granddaughter informed me that winter is now her favorite season I was totally shocked. She had liked summer before this. As one who likes to ask questions it’s easy to get a long verbal response from her. For a barely eight-year-old she’s full of intelligent responses. Grandma listened with interest as she went on with her lecture about the seasons. Through her imagination she explained the emotions for each season, which I’ve already forgotten, all but one, joy.

Winter is called Joy.

 

How is winter joyful?

Other than the winter sports enthusiasts I find very few reasons to celebrate winter at my mature age right now. After thinking about it I had an epiphany. As we trudged the snow and ice-covered paths, I found a reason to be joyful. I was spending quality time with her. She was loving it. Thankfulness welled in my heart as we played king in castle (snow sculptures) where granny was the servant and she was the king, or actually the queen.Blog-winterCastle

Building this relationship invigorated me about life. Once again I was reminded to be grateful for the little things, and even the snow. Winter is joy. How else would I have known how to rejoice in the winter season?

Often we meditate about our regrets or think negative thoughts about the season we’re in without consciously living in the present. Enjoying the present and letting go of past failures brings joy into our hearts, even in the cold winter season.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Contentment in any situation brings joy. Uncontrolled negative thoughts not rob us of this joy, but they also affect our emotional, mental and physical health. Our mind is the battleground. We have the power to think on good things in every circumstance. By taking charge of our thoughts we can enjoy the present, even in our least-favorite winter season. Remember winter is joy.

What do you like about winter? What activities do you like to do in the winter?

I will high-five (when we meet or virtually) anyone who subscribes to my Blog. Please add your email to the Subscription Box. You will get a notice of new posts into your email. Facebook statuses get lost in the noise so many will miss it. Thank you to those who’ve subscribed, and thank you in advance to those who hop on board. You are appreciated. Wishing you joy for the remainder of the winter.

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5 Steps To Achieving Your Goals In 2016

Steps to achieving your goals in 2016. What are goals unless you plan to work with them? Have you ever thought about wishing you could finish the project that gathers dust in your closet? What’s stopping you?

If you’re like me it’s procrastination among other things like life that gets in the way. Or is it plain laziness? Or distractions? Or family? Or illness? Some things are beyond our control but others fall under our own choices. Even though it’s February there’s still a lot of time to take steps to achieving your goals in 2016.

Step 1 – Write them down in point form

Goals must be written down and posted in front of you so you can see them every day. A verse of scripture talks about goals. I did this about a month ago and framed my most urgent goals that I needed to achieve in 2016.

my personal goals

Short point form words are easy to read quickly. Words will trigger you to take action and run with the plans.

            “Write the vision, make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:2 ESV)

Step 2 – Clear the clutter

Sometimes things just pop up in your face just at the right time. That’s what happened when I opened my inbox. An email just stared at me with the words, “Finish Your Book In 2016”, a three-part course by Jerry Jenkins. What timing? I’d just been clearing my desk of clutter and extra papers when I found my USB stick in one of the drawers. Manuscript. Chapters saved. An outline for the next chapter ready to be written.

A recent webinar by Michael Hyatt on “10 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making With Goal-Setting” inspired me with setting achievable goals. Since I’m not in the habit of making resolutions, and writing out goals has not been part of my past practice I thought I would do it for 2016. Resolutions don’t work anyways, but I’m now going to follow the advice of successful people who make goals. That should get me finishing my book this year.

Step 3 – Focus one thing at a time

What word would best fit into the new year? The only word that comes to mind right now is the word “FINISH” which of course relates to my plan for 2016. It’s not the only reason though. One of my character traits seems to be that I’m all over the place when it comes to getting things done. I start one thing, and then jump to another before finishing the first activity. After starting one job I’m already thinking about the next one. What about you?

Step 4 – Read books on topics that relate to your goals

For example if you plan to travel to China by the end of the year research it. Or if your plan is to write a book, read books about writing. 

Do you like to finish one book before starting another one? What if it’s boring? Will you finish it? I tend to pick books that I know I will read to the end. What kind of personality reads right to the end even when the story doesn’t grab you in any way? I guess I’m just a bore. Read it since I paid for it? Or finish what you start?

Step 5 – Measure your progress

How can you evaluate how much you’ve accomplished? Goals that are measurable are easy to track using log books, journals, or checklists even a calendar. Another way to measure is to have an accountability partner to share your progress.

Are you working on taking the steps on achieving your goals in 2016? Writing a few goals and making them easy to see will work wonders in achieving your goals.

 

Change – Fear It Or Face It With Grace?

Change is frightening but it brings refreshment. (Joyce Meyer)

When you face a coming change what feelings rise to the surface of your soul? Perhaps fear arises and chokes rational thoughts? Or anxiety robs you of the joy for today. Or thoughts reflecting on the past won’t let go.

Your mind swirls around and around thinking on what if this happens or what if that happens. A constant circle of mindless thoughts circle through your brain.

Then your heart opens up to the Word that says do not worry about anything and bring everything to God in prayer.

Photo by Poulsen via freedigitalphotos.net
Photo by Poulsen via freedigitalphotos.net

He will take care of you like He takes care of the ravens, and all his birds flying above.

Learn from children

Their carefree attitude hovers around as bubbles flowing in the wind. In their exuberant play, they pick up a little cup with coloured liquid. They swirl. Dance. Jump. They place a plastic stick into the soapy liquid. They totally trust that when they blow, bubbles will come out. Their happy giggles ring in the air as the bubbles, large and small, float in the wind.

Suddenly, one by one, they disappear popping into thin air with droplets wetting the sidewalk. What once was is no more. Gone.

Photo credit tuelekza via freedigitalphotos.net
Photo credit tuelekza via freedigitalphotos.net

Fears vanish into thin air

As you place your trust in our Heavenly Father’s willingness to take care of his children, those  fears and worries will disappear like the bubbles. Let go of those worried thoughts about what you will eat, or wear, and let the truth of God’s promises fill your heart.

Drink in his goodness as you contemplate the change ahead.

Count the cost and keep the faith

As I mediate on our life and the major changes that are around the corner for us, I plan what the outcome will be. Do I trust that God is in control and will be with us in the future?

We know that trees change color and the waters freeze up for the winter, at least in the North. We can trust that spring will come followed by summer. The seasons change, but God never changes. He will be there, always!

cc Pirkko Rytkonen
cc Pirkko Rytkonen

I remember the past. He has been there all along, during the good times and the bad times. So why worry?

As we plan and count the costs of change, it scares me. The reality of it brings the worries to the surface even though I know I can always trust him.

Where is the faith that once was? No, I haven’t let it go. I need to draw in the Word and trust him to bring on the provision. Material things may change, but His word doesn’t change. If he’s done it before he will do it again.

Even when relationships change, I can see his plan in it. Change is hard when it involves people whom you love and relate to.

Sometimes God moves you to different time and place in order to get you to step into your destiny.

Change happens for a purpose

When life brings on change, whether big or small, face it with grace, without complaint. With faith. Or face it with fear? Fear, as the opposite of faith, will tear on the insides, but faith lifts you to a new level of adventure and refreshing.

What about you? When you’re about to face a major change in your life, do you face it with faith? Or do you fear it?

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are more valuable to him than any birds! Can worry add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

And if God cares so wonderfully for the flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? Luke 12:22-26, 28