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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"MAYBE IT'S MERCY": AN ANSWER FOR CANCER?


I call it Delayed Brain Syndrome. It's where you're asked a though-provoking question and you come up with a brilliant answer… the next day. 

I was on the phone with my mom yesterday, and in the middle of a conversation on cancer she asks me, 

“I wonder… what  ends it?” 

Since we lost her husband and my dad six years ago, our conversations have gone in this direction. What ends it?  What's inside a terminal cancer patient that tells the body to shut down, to quit, to die?
Mom and I continued to talk about cancer cells, blood flow, air restriction… they all seemed to be lame replacements to the answer that I think my mom was looking for.   I didn’t get the inspiration to Google the answer; I didn’t even pray about it. I just remembered and then I just let it go and went to sleep. 
This morning it came to me.  Three words.  Maybe, in the busyness of my day, God was whispering... 


"MAYBE IT’S MERCY."


That didn’t sound like God at first; my doubting kicked in.  If it was  God whispering it into my ear, He wouldn’t use the word “MAYBE”... or would He? 

As I write this, my heart just became heavy.  Last night , in our conversation, my mom and I were talking about a friend that was close to dying from cancer.  My mom just phoned me at work with the news.  Our friend passed away this morning. 
Right now, there are three children, of one amazing man, that are feeling the pain that I felt six years ago. And there is a beautiful woman who is feeling the pain that my Mom felt six years ago.  


"MAYBE IT’S MERCY."


If it was God whispering in my ear this morning, maybe it’s His way of reminding me that I don’t have to have all the answers.  I can’t explain all the medical reasons why people die when others don’t.  Cancer  takes years for some and only months for others.  Cancer takes some and some are left behind to breathe another day. I still don’t have the answers for that.  It’s all one big MAYBE.
Maybe... just maybe, MERCY explains the unexplainable.  When there are no answers, there is always MERCY.  MERCY for a child of God to live another day or MERCY that takes that child home. MERCY isn’t always the end of pain, MERCY could mean more pain, but more time.

Today, I will remember MERCY'S moments.  Will you remember them with me? 



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Amazing Performances of Amazing Hymns... and my favourites


For this blog post, I am going to veer away from my ramblings to share some really cool tunes. 
 I went hunting for my favourite performances of the a few of the great hymns that have impacted millions of lives over the years including me.  

Careful... these can send shivers down your spine.  

This is the best rendititon of The Battle Hymn of the Republic,
 by America's greatest choir...(in my books anyway!!!) 



I am a fan of Il Divo.  They have an amazing repertoire of music.  A group that comes from four different countries... these men can sing.  But can they ever sing Amazing Grace.  Best collaberation I've heard yet.  (and love those pipes)



Last year I downloaded two Hymn Collections from Alan Jackson and I am a fan.  He put together a collection of hymns as a gift for his mom.  My favourite Alan Jackson hymn on this collection is also my husband's all time favourite hymn.  



The Church's One Foundation is my all time favourite hymn.  I had it played at my wedding by my nephews. When they asked me if they could play a sax and clarinet duet, I didn't hesitate with my request.  This song is about the Bride of Christ.  Chris Rice does an amazing piano arrangement.  There is no video, just audio,  but close your eyes and listen.  It is very unique.  



I grew singing this song many Sundays.  It is fun to sing in a big crowd.  So when I saw this youtube clip, I wanted to add it to my collection.  There is nothing more amazing than watching a massive room full of people singing.  It only goes to show that you don't need to be on stage to rock the house. 



I had to include this one. It is a Will and Kate Royal Wedding clip.  I like the song and I like the fact that it was chosen as a song for the beginning of their marriage journey.  I also adore the pipe organ and cathedral acoustics, too.




Just as I am is a song that holds a precious memory for me.  It was the song that was sung at my Grandparent's funerals.  Paul Brandt's gospel album is a treasure.  This is definitely my favourite of his collection.  



And a good hymn collection wouldn't be complete without a couple of selections from The Gaither Homecoming Family.  They look like they are really having fun.  That's what it is all about. Also,  I will always think of my Dad when I hear them.  





And last, but definately not least, is actually my Mom's favourite hymn, "How Great Thou Art". Lee Greenwood does the best cut of this song. The video is a slide show I posted to Youtube.  It is a collection of some of my favourite scenic shots over a few years of photography.  






Saturday, February 15, 2014

Because LOVE compels me

"Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama.

God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working."


Matthew 5:17-18 (MSG)


BECAUSE LOVE COMPELS ME

(Poetry by Ruby Neumann:
 with inspiration from Exodus 20)

Because LOVE compels me 
I love God, my Creator, my Father
No one rates higher than He does

Because LOVE compels me
The things of this world don't take the place
 Of my Father's passionate affection for me

Because LOVE compels me
 I choose to honour God and who He is
 With thoughts and words and songs 
of thanksgiving and praise

Because LOVE compels me
I rest in God's peace

Because LOVE compels me
 I cherish the two people who
 With God's LOVE
Gave me life

Because LOVE compels me
 I want to love and support
 And encourage  my neighbour

Because LOVE compels me
 I am faithful to my husband

Because LOVE compels me
I want to work hard for the things I am given

Because LOVE compels me
 I want my word to mean something

Because LOVE compels me
I am grateful and thankful and content
 With what God had given me

Jesus came so
That we would no longer be ordered to obey
 But compelled to LOVE

Jesus came not only to show us that
 LOVE is stronger than obedience

But He came so that
 His LOVE would be real in us

God's law is LOVE

The Most Important Command


When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault.  One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up:  "Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?"
 Jesus said, "’Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list.  But there is a second to set alongside it: ’Love others as well as you love yourself.’  These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them." 


Matthew 22: 34-40 (MSG)

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Father you can trust


Hey Girls! Can you imagine this? 
 You never have to trust your own judgement ever again.
(when it comes to men, that is) 


Here's the thing.  We all have dreams, don't we, girls?   Some of us dream about a prince... especially all the Cinderellas at heart.  That prince... some have found, some haven't, and some have lost. 

 When those that have found their prince talk to those who haven't, sometimes the conversations go like this. 

"You'll find him.  You just need to be patient."

"Trust God."

"I'll pray for you, that you find a husband." 

"Maybe God has other plans for you." 

The last one is the most depressing for most single girls.  No one that I have met wants the "gift of celibacy"... even if it is a gift that God hands out.  Who wants to see their solitary life as a blessing from the Almighty?  Not many.  

This blog post isn't going to be me telling my single friends how to catch a husband.    It's just me and my story.  It is all about a Father you can trust.  

 ***

I was in my late twenties and a couple bad relationship judgements into my life journey... when I approached my dad with a request.  I told him as long as I was single, I wanted to use him as a sounding board for my relationship choices.  The deal was if I was getting interested in a guy, then I would relay the news to Dad and see what he thought.  Sounds somewhat 18th century, I know... but there was something else I did, that I didn't exactly tell my dad about.  I prayed.  


I wasn't good at hearing God when it came to my relationships, so I asked Him to talk to me through my dad.  It seemed like an odd prayer, but God honoured my request anyway.  There were a couple specific conversations that I had with Dad that I was convinced didn't come from his brain, but sounded more like the Wisdom of God... just as I had asked.  I was saved from serious heartache both times.  

I figured out after a couple of disasters that my judgement was lousy when it came to potential mates.  I conceded defeat.  One simple prayer later and it changed a whole lot of things.  I started to see that God had my back (for lack of a more simpler phrase).  My Father was looking out for me.  My Father was the one I could trust.  His all-knowingness worked better than my limited sightline.  

It was 6-7 years ago and I was questioning my relationship with a man who had become my best friend. Ken (not his real name) and I had a very close friendship and both of us were wondering if it was possible to keep it that way.  I was starting to wonder if God was leading us together.  I was confused and couldn't hear straight.  I didn't take this one to my dad this time, but I still went to my Father.  My prayer this time went something like this... 

"I don't know what plans you have for Ken and I, but I know my emotions are mixed up in this.  So if you can tell him, I know he will hear from You and his emotions won't get mixed up.  If marriage is something you want for us, then tell him.  I will trust You and I will trust him."


Well...  Ken was torn.  He was very open about his desire to marry again if God chose that path for him, but he was looking at a closed door.  God hadn't given him the go ahead to get married.

The more time we spent together, the more frustrated we both became.  He kept telling me that he wasn't free to marry.  God wasn't opening that door.  I was floored.  God was talking to him and he was getting it loud and clear.  But that didn't mean I liked what I was hearing. 


Letting go of Ken wasn't simple... so I have to admit, that even though I prayed for God to speak through him, it wasn't easy to hear what He had to say.  That all-knowingness I was talking about... My Father knew who my mate would be.  He knew the prayer I would soon ask of him and He knew exactly who would be the answer to that prayer... and it wasn't Ken.  

***

So that is the story I wanted to share.  I know not everyone has a dad that they feel that they can trust with their heart.  And I am sure not all men appear to have a strong ear when God is speaking to them...  but this I know.  There is a Father I know I can trust and I have trusted with the most fragile parts of my heart and soul.  This Father loves me and knows the best journey for me.  

One of my favourite quotes from "The Sound of Music" is from the Mother Abbess. She tells Maria right before she sings "Climb Every Mountain"  

"You have a great capacity to love.  What you must find out is how God wants you to spend your love."

My Father, My Creator is the one who planted Love inside me.  His Love.  He planted Himself inside of me. I asked him to give me an opportunity to love.  I trusted Him again with a heartfelt prayer and my Father answered that prayer... five years ago.  




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Losing My Parent's Religion


Train up a child in the way he should go,

 even when he is old he will not depart from it." 
Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)


I wonder just how someone can understand how painful this journey can be... unless they have walked that road themselves. And having walked that road, they can understand and can feel things like loneliness, doubt, guilt, shame, betrayal, condemnation, rejection, disappointment, confusion, regret, remorse, anger, judgement... from and towards themselves, others and even at times...  God.

I am not the only person who has walked away from the religion of their childhood. And my parents are not the only parents who have raised their child in what they believed to be right... only to see that child walk out that door.


For this blog, I am using the word religion instead of faith.  I want to be clear about what not just me -  but a lot of people are walking out on.  It's the parents'  religion, not necessarily the parents' faith. 



WIKIPEDIA DEFINITION 


Religion is an organized collection of beliefscultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.


Faith is confidence or trust in a person (as in their ability), thing, deity, in the doctrines or teachings of a religion, or view even without empirical evidence. It can also be belief that is not based on proof, or as confidence based upon varying degrees of evidential warrant. The word faith is often used as a conceptual synonym for hope, trust,  belief or knowledge.



My synopsis:
 Religion is belief in something.
Faith is belief in someone.


"Point your kids in the right direction-when they’re old they won’t be lost."
Proverbs 22:6 (MESSAGE) 



Losing something is not the same as getting lost.  I guess that is why I like the Message translation of Proverbs 22:6 better than the NASB.  

I lost something, but I didn't get lost.  I understand that there is often confusion between the two.  That is why there is so much emotion mixed up in the relationships when someone "departs" from what they were "trained up" on.  

A LITTLE HISTORY

But first, take a listen to this song from the Irish Rovers.


My Mom was raised Lutheran and my Dad was raised Mennonite.  When they got married, my Dad became a Lutheran.  Both my sister and I were baptized as babies in the Lutheran Church.  When I was four years old, we moved from town to the farm and because the Lutheran Church was an hour's drive, our family started attending the local Mennonite church (where my Oma and Opa attended). That  arrangement worked for a few years until my sister was confirmation age and my parents decided the drive was worth it to maintain the family's commitment to their Lutheran beliefs. 

I spend most of my childhood surrounded by Mennonites.  My dad's family and the community we lived in were Mennonite.  The Lutheran culture was something I experienced for an hour or two a week.  

That was the beginning... the journey spans over my lifetime.  I went where my parents went.  I didn't argue much.  I got confirmed Lutheran, went to a Lutheran high school and then onto a Lutheran Bible school for a couple months short of two years.  

I went where my parents went... even when they weren't there to go with me.  I guess a psychological analysis would narrow that down to the need for approval. 

I guess looking back, I was confused for most of the journey. Once I was able to commit,  there was no solid commitment. 

For most of my twenties, I was in and out of the Lutheran church.   Still hesitant to let it go entirely. I guess the last thing I wanted to do is disappoint the two people who brought me into this world.  So, I held on to the religion out of obligation and fear of rejection.  


WHERE I AM NOW...
IS NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF MY PARENT'S DREAM

... but that's okay, too.  

This picture is of a church building in Alberta.  My dad (with a little help from his family) built the steeple.  The original one was rotten and Dad was hired to build a replacement over thirty years ago.  This building is no longer used as a meeting house for the local Lutherans, it is a meeting place for artists.  I guess this building and I have something in common.  It lost something too... but it's not lost.  

Maybe another blog post might be "Keeping my Parents' Faith".  It's their faith that I admired and admire most about them.  While their religion left a bad taste in my mouth, it's their faith that I want more than anything. 

 Like I said... another blog post.