Friday, 10 March 2017

No Greater Place...

This morning I was reading the story of Stephen in the book of Acts.  "Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people." Opposition arises against him from members of the synagogue and they begin to argue with Stephen and I love what comes next in scripture, "but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke."  That same Spirit resides in us who believe!

The men of the synagogue can't stand Stephen, he's making them uncomfortable, challenging them and they're being convicted but don't want any of it and so a false charge is made against him. They seize him and bring him before the Sanhedrin.  "All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw his face was like the face of an angel."

Wow...who was this man?

He was a man fully committed to his Lord and he walked fully in who he was called to be.  

Standing before the Sanhedrin he is asked if the charges against him are true to which he replies with an account of the  history of the Israelites from the call of Abram to the death of Jesus.  He shares their life story,  and how it unfolded over the centuries...how all throughout it God was directing their steps all along the way.  

I admire this man, this fellow brother in Christ...oh he may have lived 2000 years ago but he is now among the great cloud of witnesses.  And I am encouraged to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and  to run with perseverance that race marked out for me.  To fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before Him, did you hear that...the joy...endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.



I am reminded again as I have been numerous times over the past number of weeks in my low moments, when I miss home and all those I love, that there is no greater place than to be in the midst of God's will for my life...no greater place.

I continue on in the book of Acts and read the stoning of Stephen...because that's where it ends and yet begins for him.  I see a man in the midst of God's will for his life...a man glorifying his Saviour to the very end of his earthly life.  A man whose total obedience lead to his death.  A great persecution arises against the church and the believers scatter.  And guess what...they don't scatter and hide...they scatter and preached the Word wherever they went. That is what I want for this heart of mine...this life of mine. I want to live so fully for Him...for His glory...His eternal purposes that no opposition whether internal or external can stop what He has planned and purposed for this life of mine. 

To God be the glory!

Things to be thankful for... 

3135. Visit with an elderly couple
3136. Game night with the guys



3137. God stories shared
3138. Morning chats with my husband
3139. Sunshine warm on my face
3140. Afternoon spent with Jocelyne and Dan



I got to meet and hold a ball python named Bill Murry.
3141. A pot of tulips from Jocelyne



3142. Worship
3143. Potluck lunch after church
3144. Birthday blessings from all the guys to Brian
3145. A new day
3146. Video call with my family
3147. Beautiful pink morning sky
3148. Good dinner time conversation
3149. The men shovelling my driveway
3150. Sunshine after the storm
3151. Refreshing walk



Aren't the children playing signs cute out here.


3152. Great news for one of the men
3153. Gorgeous sunset





3154. God's provision through His people
3155. Woke up to a foot of snow
3156. Guys shovelling my driveway and deck again




My decks and driveway were shovelled probably six or seven times in a span of five days when we had all our snow.  I felt like 'snow white and the seven dwarfs,' every time they came out to shovel :-)


3157. Card game with some of the guys
3158. My husband making me laugh
3159. Nice chat with my sister
3160. A good restful day with my husband
3161. Beautiful morning sunshine





3162. Great message at church
3163. Fun in the snow with Kara and April



I found some little people out here :-)


3164. Chat with mom and dad
3165. Dinner from Erica
3166. Blizzard day










3167. Out in the snow



Haven't seen a drift this size since I was a kid.

I made a little video about the blizzard for my family and friends.  I always hoped for a blizzard as my kids grew up so they could experience it but it never happened so this would have to do :-)



The difference after a few snowstorms.


3168. Beautiful blue skies and sunshine after the storm
3169. Laughter from one of the guys
3170. My husband's care of my heart
3171. Chat with my mom
3172. Facebook video call with friends
3173. Our first piece of snail mail
3174. Connecting
3175. Feelings...emotions...living
3176. A good day
3177. Nice dinner with the men
3178. More snow
3179. Jocelyne's 25th birthday
3180. Chat with Jocelyne
3181. Card games with the guys
3182. Morning drive with my husband





3183. Kids made it to Florida
3184. Chat with Joce & Charissa
3185. Graduation ceremony for Josh



Josh's graduation was a beautiful service at the Village of Hope.  What a blessing to see a life transformed.


3186. Testimonies shared
3187. Milder day
3188. Charissa is feeling better
3189. Words of affirmation for one of the men on his birthday
3190. Morning sunshine
3191. Cooking in the kitchen with Chad
3192. Matt down for a visit



3193. Kids having a good time in Florida
3194. Visit with Betty-Jo and her mom
3195. Nice day with Matt
3196. Sound of coyotes in the early morning
3197. A drive with Matt to check out some covered bridges






3198. Video call with the kids in Florida
3199. Good nights sleep
3200. Soft pink morning sky
3201. Chat with my dad on his birthday
3202. Beautiful, sunny mild day
3203. Drive with Matt
3204. Call from the kids...laughter
3205. Chat with mom and dad
3206. Kids all home safe
3207. Worship
3208. God's perfect love
3209. Taking pictures in the sugar bush while the guys were tapping trees






3210. Laughter
3211. Honesty
3212. Beautiful sunset
3213. Reading stories with Kara and April
3214. Morning cuddles with April
3215. Beautiful sunny day
3216. Call from a friend
3217. Birthday cards in the mail from family and friends
3218. Cute things kids say
3219. Morning fog over the river
3220. Seeing so many deer while getting the kids from school
3221. Night time stories with the girls
3222. God's provision through His people
3223. Calls from my kids for my birthday
3224. Call from mom and dad
3225. Visit from Jocelyne
3226. Cake and gifts





3227. Birthday card made by Kara, she drew all my animals in it
3228. Kara's words
3229. Call from my sisters
3230. Call from friends
3231. A book gift from Shelley
3232. God's steadfast love
3233. Morning sunlight through the trees
3234. God's word, His truth
3235. A better day
3236. Thank-you from Matt
3237. Nice chat with Charissa
3238. Small group sharing time
3239. More birthday cards in the mail



3240. Beautiful gift from my husband



3241. An act of kindness from a stranger
3242. Gorgeous sunset
3243. Birthday cards and beautiful gift from my sister in the mail



3244. Special gift from two beautiful friends





Thursday, 2 February 2017

Walking it out...

It's been almost two weeks since I left all I knew to go where the LORD has called us.  My days have been up and down.  At times I have wondered oh no what have I done, I could be here for two years or more.  But my life...my time is in His hands.  I have shed many tears missing...

home

family

my neighbourhood

my church community

everything I knew

the normalcy of my life as I knew it  

This card hangs on our fridge to remind me of what is true.


There are many things in life that we grieve, it's not just the loss of a loved one.  All through life there are losses that we must face and experience.  It is a passage, not a place to stay and I have to remind myself that when the tears come, it's not weakness or self-pity...it's love that brings on those tears.  You can only grieve what you have loved and lost. 

My second night here I had an awful dream.  My husband and I were driving somewhere and suddenly he grabbed his chest, he was having a heart attack.  Fear and panic set in and I said to him, no, you can't leave me, you can't leave me!  Yet at the same time these words came to my mind as well, no, God is my ROCK, He is my ROCK, no matter what.


And it's true, He is my ROCK.  He doesn't call me here and leave me, He is with me.  It is He who guides my steps.  At times those steps will be filled with joy, other times sadness and pain. This journey, this life I live is a mixture of both joy and sorrow, you can't have one without the other.  

I said to my husband the other day that when it comes time to leave this place...when God calls us back, I want to have the same feelings of sadness as when I left my home to come here.  I want my heart to have rooted here in this community. 

The other morning I was reading Hebrews 13: 20 - 21, beautiful verses that speak God's love.  "Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  

Jesus...that GREAT SHEPHERD, those words jumped out at me. He is my GREAT SHEPHERD...your GREAT SHEPHERD and the GREAT SHEPHERD of the men here at the Village of Hope.  He is the One who can refresh my soul.  The One who can guide me along the right path.  Even when I walk through the darkest of valleys, I need not fear for He is with me.

And so I know I'll be alright here because I can trust that He has led my husband and I here.  Life is different but He is here and it is good.   Most week nights my husband and I eat with the men, one of them works in the kitchen and makes the meals. And I think that's pretty cool, I feel blessed to be a part of their lives, even if it's only a small part.  I pray that each one of them who walks onto this property will know that Jesus wants to be their GREAT SHEPHERD.

Things to be thankful for...

3068.  Encouraging call from a man at church
3069. A day at home
3070. Dinner and fellowship with my family
3071. Visit and tea with a friend
3072. Gift from my sister-in-law and family...pepper grinder :-) 
3073. Homemade muffins from Kierra for our trip
3074. Peaceful morning at home on my last day
3075. Beautiful card from mom
3076. Heart felt goodbyes
3077. Prayer from friends, vehicle issues resolved 
3078. Safely at our new home



3079. A vase of flowers and groceries at our new home...settling in
3080. Beautiful surroundings
3081. Saw two foxes this morning
3082. Nice chat with Jocelyne
3083. Meeting the guys at the Village of Hope
3084. Quiet night with my husband
3085. God is my ROCK
3086. Church service at the Village
3087. Meeting new people
3088. A new day
3089. Fox running across the yard
3090. Bright morning sunshine
3091. Good meeting
3092. Dinner with the guys
3093. Chat with Charissa
3094. Working in the office
3095. Good chat with Matt
3096. Matt loves learning
3097. Everything encased in ice










An ice storm came through the Village of Hope last Tuesday and the next morning everything was encased in ice.  The slender birch trees were bent over, many the tops touching the ground.  It was a picture of many of the men who come to the Village, weighed down by wrong choices, brokenness and shame - bent but not fully broken.  I am reminded of Matthew 11: 28 - 30; "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  As these men face the tough choices it takes to follow Jesus, believe His truths and walk in His ways, they will be like the birches, the ice slowly falling from their branches, freed to stand tall.



3098. God's hand in the mens lives
3099. Meeting some kids at the Village
3100. Video chat with Will, Amy and Lily
3101. Seeing Lily's beautiful smile
3102. Video chat with Charissa
3103. Input from Matt
3104. My husband
3105. Warm sunshine on my face
3106. Euchre with the guys
3107. Call from Matt, his kindness
3108. Visit with Evan, Kara and April
3109. Our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep
3110. My husband's care for my heart
3111. Games night with the guys
3112. Facetime with Will, Amy and Lily
3113. Jocelyne over for a visit
3114. Took a couple short hikes









3115. Knitting
3116. Good nights sleep
3117. Church service
3118. Getting to know new people
3119. Walk in the sunshine
3120. Talk with mom
3121. A call with friends
3122. Productive day with Erica
3123. Watching the guys floor hockey game
3124. A good day
3125. Beautiful, sunny winter's day
3126. Video call with Amy & Lily
3127. Walk on a super cold sunny morning
3128. Sunshine glistening on frost covered trees







3129. Quiet day at home
3130. Delicious dinner at Frank and Linda's
3131. Gorgeous winter morning
3132. Sun glistening on the snow





3133. God working through people to accomplish His purposes
3134. Visit with Kara and April