Thursday, December 30, 2010

Characters of Christmas

I was looking at our Jesus Barn (nativity) and thinking about all the characters of the Christmas story.  What did they do after that First Christmas?

We know what Mary and Joseph along with their Baby did - they avoided Herod and his murderous plans. But I often wonder about the shepherds, the Wisemen, the Innkeeper and those who turned that little family away?  Maybe we should peer back in time and see if God has a message for us there too?

Shepherds - tired on night shift, on a chilly night.  The star was so bright and probably kept them wondering.  Perhaps dozing, almost nodding off when a great chorus of angels bursts through the night.  Can you imagine?

Hummdeummm...BANG! Holy trumpets, chorus and messages from Above!  No wonder they trembled they were most comfortable in their work  and suddenly things were never going to be the same again!  They would never be unaware of God's majesty ever again.  I wonder if they noticed the sheep were not afraid of the angel or if they were too awestruck?  I think they would always wonder why have us greet Him?  Not knowing, perhaps until many years later that they greeted the ultimate Shepherd and introduced Him to the first of His flock.

Did that change their lives?  Hard to imagine that it wouldn't.  But knowing farmers I think they went back to their flocks but never, ever forgot that night!  The stories would move around between flocks and keepers over the years they would grow and perhaps in those floods of people later on, He would minister to those who first greeted Him.

Wisemen - they sought for so long, and they travelled so far to see Him.  They knew He was coming, and brought the required royal gifts to His humble family.  They wisely chose to avoid Herod and returned home.  What happened along the way?  What did they say?  When they got home did they just say, "You had to be there, but the trip was worth it!"  Were they thought to have been mad to make that journey, did they return to find people thought they had died?  I wonder when they got back, gift bags empty but hearts full that they were humbled, thankful and stayed awestruck the rest of their days.

Innkeeper - was his choice one of greed (I can rent any space they'll fit in!) or was it of compassion (that poor girl is going to have that baby RIGHT here if she doesn't find a place soon) or was his choice on that was guided by the quiet whispers of the Angels?  Did he know that the stable needed to be made ready, even before he knew why?  Did God stir his heart to welcome them in their time of deep need?    Perhaps the light shining from the Christmas star gave him a sense of peace which was so absent during the business of a city full of people for the census.  Whatever his reasons, he provided what was needed and perhaps more.  Maybe he shared food, blankets, a fire and found a midwife for Mary.

I wonder, though, after all the excitement what he and his family thought of their humble guests?  Not many young families giving birth in a barn would have such visitors as they!  Richly clothed and bearing gifts the wisemen came - bet no one missed their arrival!  Shining brightly - no one missed that Christmas star! The presence of the shepherds, away from their hills and flocks at night - this never happens!  

I think that the first Christmas was one full of gifts and joy as well as mystery and excitement for everyone around that humble stable.   Farm animals kept it warm, their bodies and breath, their straw and hay scenting it like summer fields.  The cool light of the star filled windows, doors and cracks with its unmistakable presence.  Visitors of both holy and royal stripe appeared as well as those humble and poor.  All came, because God chose this innkeeper's stable for His son to be born.  All came because of the star, the angels and because of love. 

Christmas is about open hearts, open homes, open hands and when gifts are given they come from the heart.

Be well and be brightly blessed during this season and into the New Year!

Monday, October 25, 2010

God Speaks When Eagles Soar

I've always believed that God speaks to us through His creation - and that there are blessings to be found in being close to His creatures. Being aware of and listening to animals and the earth is something to treasure. 

I remember this summer an eagle was spending time over our place and when I went for a walk with my son I found a feather - perfectly placed in my path. I'm so thankful for the reminder that we are never 'unseen' and always watched over.

Isaiah 40:31(NIV) "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Saturday was a great day for our family - the three of us together. We enjoyed a fall day playing outside, getting ready for winter as only you can do on a farm or ranch.  I came out of the house, after a juice pit stop, and I did my usual glance at the sky.  Farmers do this.  Bird watchers do this.  Plane watchers and UFO believers do this. 

I almost couldn't believe my eyes, there floating on the thermals were 16 bald eagles.  They were just there, in a cloudless blue fall sky, and we were just there, watching them in awe and in wonder.

We've seen eagles, one or two, perhaps soaring or perhaps perched in a tree.  This many was cause to be speechless.  What can you say when some of God's most wonderful creations come to visit?  

They dove, they played, they soared, they were just like Isaiah said and I felt hope that we one day too be able to soar without tiring and that we could feel God's renewal like thermals under and eagle's wings.

Can you imagine?  Knowing that uplifting and Holy Touch!  When I watched them I felt a part of my soul soaring with them.  I could imagine that Holy Touch!

When we listen to God through His creation we are listening with our whole being.  We are listening to the voice of our Creator.

When we cannot be amazed by His creation in us we can be humbled by His attention to the world around us.  When I feel too small, too dirty, too scarred I can be awed by an eagle, a sparrow, a late October flower or the waggle of a duck walk.  

When I  feel too human and disconnected I can connect with The Source and feel His loving touch.  I can come from The Word and see Him in the natural world.  It is His creation after all - shouldn't we enjoy, cherish and care for it too?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Faith As A Little Child

My little boy loves his Grandpa Ed and they are really good friends.  His best pal has been in the hospital for two weeks and almost daily we go visit. 

Every day, every time we are there, that little boy folds his hands, closes his eyes and surrenders his Grandpa to God.  For healing and for care. This is a boy who drives monster trucks on the blankets, he is curious about people in other rooms and when he is done praying he gently puts his hand on his Grandpa's heart and says, "I love you Grandpa"

When the man in the next bed was in pain he wanted to tell a nurse.  When the nurses were working hard he asked me to take him to get them some treats and when he gets very tired he cries and we pray together.

I am humbled by the generous and faithful heart of my small son.  

Luke 18:17 (New King James Version)  "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

Oh how I want to be faithful like him!  I love his faith and I love his spirit and he teaches me every day that we can play, we can cry, we can laugh and we can pray. 

We can come to God as His children and give to Him those things which are not ours  to care for, handle or do.  As a (alleged) grown up I sometimes feel like I've lost that connection to the faith of a child we are told to have.

Have you ever noticed that small things matter so much to God?

Child faith, mustard seed faith, sparrow faith - if things as small as that matter a great deal to God then shouldn't they also matter a great deal to us?  

Just throwing that out for you to think about - what if it isn't all about the organized, neat and tidy faith we trot out to Church on Sunday?  

What if it is the muddy knees, finger paint covered, cookie eating, simple praying and totally believing-without-a-doubt little things make a big difference?  What if it really is a smile or a sandwich?  What if it really is a touch and a prayer in line at the store or at a red light?  What if it is getting a little bit of thankful in your joy instead of shushing or tidying or making things look pretty?

What if it is more pretty leaves and wild sunsets?  What if it is more giggles and singing prayers and less proof, arguments and 'being grown up'?

Jesus welcomed the children to Him and not just because He had a lesson to teach, I believe that He needed some skinned knees and grassy stained elbows, He needed some giggles and tickles, He needed a broken toy or a broken heart.  Jesus welcomed children because He knew the importance of the small in a big world, He knew the value of the little in a world where 'big' and 'grown up' were too important.  He valued the lambs, even as the rams rattled their horns and stomped their importance to the world.

I pray every day, sometimes many times a day, that I can be worthy of the honour and blessing that this gift of a child of God is.  I am grateful  for my miracle and each lesson we teach each other blesses us. 

Enjoy the little things today, laugh more, giggle  in the store, make faces at  the dog and when you need to talk to God, go to Him as a child to a beloved and trusted parent.  

Even if you never had a human parent who was beloved and trusted, God is always there and no matter how big the problem is God is bigger, His love stronger and don't forget He remembers the little things like children, sparrows and mustard seeds!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Holey Leaves...

...and today I'll be posting at (in)courage for my first guest post...

Be well and be brightly blessed, see you back here for Songs on Sunday...

Emma's Angels, wire sculpture by Shanyn

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Whatever You Do...

Colossians 3:23-24 (GNT) says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Remember that the Lord will give you as a reward what he has kept for his people. For Christ is the real Master you serve." 

How can we apply this verse in our lives today?

It hasn't been an easy week with my work.  It hasn't been an easy few weeks with the volunteer work I love.  There have been challenges and then some, one right after another.  I was feeling very grouchy about working for the man when there were other things I'd really rather be doing.

I don't mean things were that bad with everything, but it seemed to spiral into arguments, tears, stress, frustration and discord.  The more I stressed about earthly things the less I was looking at my heavenly blessings, the loving abundance that is in my life from moment to moment.

I started thinking like this sign,  NO THROUGH ROAD and I forgot that with God it can be transformed into merely a NO THROUGH ROAD.  

The rough road  I can, with God navigate.  After all it isn't closed, it isn't impassible, it is just rough.  

How wondrous is our God that He can take a road marked NO THROUGH ROAD and transform it into a merely rough road.  Certainly it will have pot holes, soft shoulders, ditches that are steep and debris filled.  Most likely it will have breakdowns and meltdowns, storms and flash floods.  It will be steep and curved, it will be bumpy and flat.  It will be rough but not impassible!

Rough roads are custom made to bring us closer to God. They are the path to understanding that we serve something greater and that when the signs say, NO THROUGH ROAD, God has the spray can to change four letters.  

While I was seriously hating doing the work that was in front of me, I was spending a lot of my energy forging ahead with not thought as to how I could be using this for the Glory of God.  My job, (pending contract renewal), is not one you would think of as Kingdom Building but it is one where I can speak for the other members of His Creation and make sure they are not forgotten.  

The little tasks of spreadsheets, sweeping floors, calling and emailing can all serve God if I am willing to let go of my determination to be facing a NO THROUGH ROAD sign.  The big jobs, the tasks I cannot imagine getting done are also for His Glory.  

How else could I do even a single thing?  I know I could not.  I would sit down before my closed, dead end road and quit.  I would stop.  Without my faith, without His Grace I would have nothing. I would lose it all because I am not serving the Source when I serve my own self.  When I feed my fears, when I feed my superiority, when I feed my pride, I would fight those I love, I would destroy what is entrusted to me.  Through Him alone am I able to seek to serve Him in all I do.

I have to go hang out the laundry, let the September breezes and the sun dry the bedding...and I'll be doing it with a lighter heart and a serving spirit because I am not doing it for me or because I have to but because caring for my family is one way I can serve my Lord.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Prayer of Saint Francis

Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,grant that I may not 
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


This is one of my all time favorite prayers, it lifts me and reminds me of the Grace of God in our lives.  

Be well and be brightly blessed, always and in all ways...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I am grateful to God...

"I am grateful to God ... when I remember you." -- 2 Timothy 1:3

Who are you grateful for?  Who makes you thank God for their presence in your life?

When we say our prayers we say, "Thank you God for________."

When I lay down at night I try to remember people in my prayers, and I remember why I am grateful for them.  

They bring me laughter

They pray with me.

They are friends from afar whom I've never gotten to hug, yet.

They are family who should be closer.

They are new friends, old friends and friends barely met.

They are the kind strangers and angels.

They are scar givers, wound healers, life changers and squeegee boys.

Thank you God, for all who read this far, and start to think of those whom they, too, are grateful.  Find in us a worthy heart to see, feel and be thankful for the things you give us daily.

Share with us, those whom you are grateful for today, so that we too may thank God for their presence in your life and through that in ours.

Be well and be brightly blessed, always and in all ways...and I'm grateful for YOU!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I Learned From Ducks...

Yes you read the title correctly, What I learned from ducks, and let me tell you I've learned a LOT from our ducks. About faith, about trust, about knowing where your care, food and safety comes from and about knowing someone, SOMEONE is always looking out for you!

We got our ducks from a friend, and they have lived in our barn and they have also lived in their penned area that we made for them.  These are ducks, they do duck things, like eat bugs and weeds, play in the mud, splash in the water and quack.  They are also created by God's Hand, and have things for us to learn from them.

Scoffing yet?  Thinking I've gone off on an extended tour of the back forty?  Stay with me and see where we go.

God created ducks to do jobs - we can agree on this.

What do ducks usually do, as my son would ask, and I would say: they swim, fly, eat bugs, eat weeds, quack, and hang about in a flock.

What do people usually do: we can do things like swim, eat, play, 'quack' and hang out together.  All of this is true...but one thing our ducks have over us is this they never question who calls their name.

They always trust that the voice calling, "duck duck" is the one who provides, loves, shelters, cares and protects them.  They don't question it, they don't snuggle down at night and wonder if we are real.  They don't doubt!

When I'm a bit late coming out they are waiting, when the dogs run up to the fence and stick their faces up in the ducks faces what happens?  Ducks test, ducks taste!  The ducks meet the dogs head on - face to face.  They nose each other, they open beaks to taste and they then nip the dogs because they know the dogs are not who cares for them, feeds them and shelters them.  The jobs of the dogs are to watch the ducks.  The ducks know this.

The ducks play in the water, they play in safe abandon because they trust our presence even when they cannot see it.  Even our lovely blind Runner duck learned to come to my hand for special care.  These are not the geniuses of the animal world but we can learn a lot from their faith.

God tells us to trust HIM for our food, our shelter, our care and our protection.

God tells us to trust HIM to love us, care for us and protect us.

How little is my faith, a thinking child of God, that I would question that, doubt that and wonder at that...

My little ducks are teaching me daily about faith, just as our rescue animals teach me daily about seeing more than the surface, seeking God's gifts and grace  and they all teach me about unconditional love and more importantly they teach me about forgiveness.  I know a closer walk with God because of my daily contact with His Creation.

What are your animals teaching you today about God's love?

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Book of Praise, With Music

Yard sale, dusty boxes, stacks of treasures, the smell of put away long ago and now...and we search, dig and laugh...

Treasures at our fingers, dusty or musty, vintage or junk...treasure is where you find it and I'm ever curious about looking inside covers of old books (not always a super nice treasure is found but that story for another day)...

I love books, old books especially, books of faith, books that share the Word in different ways.  This one is a special treasure.

You see, the gift that it is to me somewhere further down the line, it started as a gift for two years of perfect Sunday school attendance.  Two years and what a treasure this book is.

Enjoy the photos of the pages, verses and brightly blessed as you enjoy this treasure with me...


I love the verses of this children's hymn...A song which even angels can never, never sing; they know Christ as Saviour, but worship Him as King.  How wonderful, how amazing is that?

Oh yes please, let my heart be one of those who are counted in the rejoicing!

And at the end of my prayers, and my life I do wish to be welcomed at Heaven's Gate, His child!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

(what if it isn't a) Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

But what if it isn't a Happy Father's Day?  What if you have a child missing or a father gone?  What if there are wounds in a relationship that make talking painful, let alone celebrate the 'Hallmark" relationship?  What if the Father's Day you are having is bitter sweet because you have the love and presence of one child and your other child is busy going off the rails far from your love and help?    What if you have a father who is missing to addictions or in a new life with a new family, has no time or room for you?  What if your Father's Day is anything but happy...

There is a father I know who I met for the first time at his son's funeral.  He and the Mom hadn't been together for years, he had waited too long to reach out to his adult son. Then one day the call came and that child was gone, forever from his life.  At the funeral he sat behind me, stone faced and staring straight ahead.  The only words I heard him say is, "He is gone, it is too late." and I knew it was the words that were unspoken that were killing him, that the casket with boots, flowers and photo on top screamed silently at him. He stood tall and still, so like him who was gone - and his shoulders shook.

I know a father who strove to have his children follow his paths, listen to his rules and obey him.  He was raised in a way that enforced a world where he was in control of everything.  His children grew and moved into their own lives, feeling that when they were together they were going to be judged, as they were as children, and found lacking. They kept their children away, they distanced themselves except for some controlled family gatherings, they even distanced themselves from each other.  Siblings separated by the cold gulf of dysfunctional control, even when it was clothed in Christian garb.  He wished for them to fulfill his wishes, not their own.  His love was often delivered without a gentle touch, and was often hard to find.

I know a Dad, he is a great Dad to his small son.  He is doing everything right and every night he goes to bed wondering about the child he never had the chance to parent.  She was taken from him before she was two, and the rest of her life, until recently was kept a secret from him and his family.  They didn't even know where she was until she came looking for them, but not as a child seeking a parent.  She came looking for payback, revenge, an accounting for her version of the events.  She came looking for what she wanted and couldn't see what was being offered.  He gave her what he prayed over and knew was best.  She bolted into a life which is troubling at least and at the worst deadly.  He struggles with how he could have been a Dad and wonders what would have been different if he had had a chance, even a little earlier.

I know a woman who only celebrated Father's Day with her husband, she has no idea who her own father is, has had no father in her life.  She is surrounded by friends and family, and love yet her heart wonders what would have been different - better or worse?

I know another woman who struggles with her anger at her father, the injustice of their relationship sours even the small moments that were good, the times that held love and laughter.  His shortcomings and failings have colored her world.  She aches for her children and their father to have something better and when they don't she tries to 'fix' things.  She is broken when they fall apart again.

I have a call to make to my own Dad, to wish him a Happy Father's Day.  I know what we will talk about and what we won't.  I know what will happen if I don't make the call, or if my call is the second rather than the first.

What I am praying for today, in my house with a loving Daddy and an adoring little boy, is that for everyone who is suffering today, who is hurting, who is seeking or struggling, for anyone who is desperately alone that they find the place where our true Father can touch them.  That He can bring them peace and love and grace. That they can give to Him that which we cannot bear alone, and let Him carry us as He always has.

"Think  once again, He's with us to-day;
Heed now His blest command, and obey;
Hear now His accents tenderly say,
'Will you, my children, come?'
George Frederick Root - 1820 - 1895 (Presbyterian Book of Praise, 1897)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gifts and Grace

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms
— I Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Whatever gift he has recieved - oh I feel blessed with many gifts in my life, but which gifts do I have that can be use to serve others so that I may faithfully administer God's grace?  What a challenging place this single verse puts me in.  Are gifts things we are good at doing or are they how we are as we share our gifts?

Gifts can be so many things, and I know each one of us is blessed with many Gifts and all are equal to God, because He gave them to us!

I am a creative person, I am a joy seeker and I try to be a faithful steward to my land and my animals.  I believe God has graced me with skills to communicate and with a spirit that seeks so that not only may I seek Him but also encourage others to seek Him also.  

It, sometimes, seems hard to know.  I've had people say, you have a real gift for_______, and I'm immediately thankful for God's gifts to me  and I pray that when I use them I am doing so to Glorify God.

I'm also a broken gift, like the legend of the cracked pot which carried little water to the village but because of it leaking water it watered the flowers on the path.  Those flowers made the laborious journey of carrying water a walk along a path of beauty.  I don't mind being a cracked pot, after all it is the cracks that let God's love and light shine though.  

God has given me gifts that let me see and express beauty and grace, His beauty and grace, through words, art and photography.  I am humbled when my words touch someone because it is only through God that I have words at all.  Sometimes I feel my gifts are small, that they might be too small.  But nothing is too small to be used by God to minister to His people.  Whatever form your gifts come in, I pray that you are able to be thankful for them. because they are not only gifts from you but gifts to you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Heartsong by Zoe

A dear friend recently challenged me to describe the 'joyful noises' I hear around me. Shanyn - here is my reply.....


Breeze sighing through golden wheat, 
The paddock shimmering in the heat;
A horse's steady clop and the saddle's creak,
These are joyful whispers that I seek. 

The sand's gentle squeak on my local shore, 
The comforting tumble of the ocean's roar;
Laughter of my children as they splash and play, 
These are joyful chants that warm my day.

The soothing tones of piano keys, 
Caressing Celtic melodies;
Pure, clear voices in harmony,
All these, too, sing joy to me.

Magpie song, kookaburra's glee, 
The call of the parrots in my gum tree;
The calming thrum of rain above,
Yet more of the joyful sounds I love.

My cat's purring warmth on my feet, 
My husband's steady heart beat, 
my sleepy children's goodnight calls, 
These give me joy as each night falls. 

But through each of these, in every note, 
I hear the joy my Saviour wrote, 
And deep within, I pause to sing
Reverent praise in awe to Him.

My dear friend, Zoe, responded to the Joyful Noise challenge with this wonderful poem.  The wonderful images and sounds resonate from her home down under to our ranch in the heart of Canada.  Bright blessings Zoe, and thanks so much for sharing this wonderful poem!

Heartsong © 2010 Zoe Beringer

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blog Challenge: Joyful Noise

Psalm 98:4 "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise."

I have really been thinking about this verse, there is so much 'noise' in the world that does not make us think of joy, of rejoicing or of singing praise.  There is physical noise, there is emotional noise and there is spiritual noise.  There are distractions, noise if you will, that keeps us from really being able to enjoy the joyful noises around us.

Does the noise of the world around you keep distracting you from making and enjoying the joyful noises?  Does the to do list stop you from enjoying the laughter of your child?  Does the busy noise of being a good hostess keep you from enjoying the noise of fellowship?

When we are going to stop and listen to the joyful noises around us?  If we are going to make joyful noises we need to be able to hear them!  When you praise God are you making joyful noises?  I think Creation sings His praises all the time, and sadly we don't often take the time to hear them.

What are some joyful noises?

  • Birdsong at 5 am
  • Frogs singing at dusk
  • Dogs barking for joy
  • Purring of kittens
  • Nicker of horses
  • Humming wings of a hummingbird
  • Laughter of a child
  • Laughter with a child
  • Splashes in mud puddles
  • Boiling kettle
All of these sounds are, to me, full of comfort and joy. They, like the whisper of a lilac's last scent in the evening, remind me of the good and precious in the small things every day.  God blesses us the same ways He clothes the lilies and breathes air under the wings of sparrows - fully, completely and with total joy.

God holds nothing back in His love for us and the expressions of His Joy in His Creation are multitude.  

Sadly, so many miss the beauty of a butterfly racing to catch a dollar.  They miss the love in a crayon drawing looking for the perfection of a spreadsheet.  Not that spreadsheets and dollars don't have value - they can and they do. But they can also be distracting noise that keeps us from making and hearing joyful noises.

Psalm 98:4 "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise."

What shall we do to encourage each other then, to seek and share the joyful noises?  How then shall we create in our world a place  to make joyful noises?

This blog began as a challenge to write about the verse, and now I continue the challenge to you...where do you hear joyful noises?  Where are you going to make joyful noises?  I'll be sharing in the weeks to come photos and stories about some joyful noises in our world that bring us to praise Him with our own joyful noises!

My sisters in Christ are blogging this challenge with me, come and read more and join us at: "Sisters In Spirit" on