Parenting and Monotony

Written by: Rev. Phil Aud

Several years ago my wife and I were leading worship for a week of camp at Lakeshore’s Family Camp in Cobourg, Ontario. My oldest daughter, Soleil, was four or five at the time. She was still waking up early in those days and the two of us would head over to the cafeteria for an early breakfast. One of those mornings we decided to go for a walk near the lake and eventually found a park bench to sit on and watch the water. After sitting there for a while Soleil asked, “Are those fairies?” I had no idea what she was talking about. She pointed left, towards the water, and said “Over there. Are those fairies?” I still didn’t have a clue but continued to look. Finally I saw it. It was the sun reflecting on the moving water. It was beautiful and–I don’t know a manly way to say this–it totally looked like little flying fairies. I saw sun and water. She saw fairies.

As I later thought back about that morning I was reminded of some writings of G. K. Chesterton. Chesterton reflected that while ‘nature’ often repeated itself, it was far from boring. In his book “Orthodoxy” he wrote: “The repetition in Nature seemed sometimes to be an excited repetition…The grass seemed signalling to me with all its fingers at once; the crowded stars seemed bent upon being understood.”

Some people see wind and grass while others, like Chesterton, see fingers signaling to them. Once when my son was sick, he insisted that my wife carry him to sit with her on the back porch. He was drawn by the trees. We have a lot of large trees in our backyard that sway like wild men when the wind picks up. The sound of the leaves rustling is mesmerizing. But while out there he talked about the trees ‘waving their arms.’ Maybe he was right. The great prophet Isaiah wrote about the mountains and hills bursting into song, and about the trees clapping their hands (Isaiah 55:12).

So what keeps us from seeing the world the way our kids see it? Chesterton says it’s monotony. More specifically, it’s our view of monotony. We tire of the “same old, same old.” We thrive on what’s novel and new. As we all know by now, anytime we acquire something new it’s already old and disappointing. We’ve been trained to find monotony draining. But children haven’t submitted to this training yet.

“Because children have abounding vitality,” writes Chesterton, “because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.”

What if we’ve stopped really looking at the beauty around us and have lost the mystery of creation because we’re always looking for something novel? Chesterton would asks, what if things repeat themselves because they want to? Because God wants them to? “It may be that He [God] has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.”

I’ve never forgotten Chesterton’s idea about our sin causing us to becoming older than our Father. I can think of at least two things that all of this can teach us about parenting.

First, it is obviously part of our job as parents is to help our children grow up. But I think we are supposed to help them grow up in a specific way. We should guide them as they acquire skills to navigate through the world and make hard choices. The Apostle Paul talks about the importance of “putting away childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11). But these words of Paul need to be heard along side Jesus’ words which tell us that unless we become like “a little child” we will “never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). We must help our children grow up, but must be careful that we don’t train them to grow up in such a way as to grow older than our Father. I think this is possible. I was moved upon reading about how one of my favourite Jewish scholars, Abraham Heschel, upon entering the woods would always put on his dark hat. One of his friends, Shlomo Beillis, asked him why he always wore this hat in the forest. He responded, “‘I don’t know if you will understand. To me a forest is a holy place, and a Jew does not enter a holy place without covering his head!’”. Herschel was a great thinker, but he retained his childlike wonder. In fact, the book I just quoted from is titled “Abraham Joshua Hescel, Philosopher of Wonder” (by Maurice S. Friedman). Perhaps the words ‘philosopher’ and ‘wonder’ can, in fact, be set side-by-side, just like Jesus’ and Paul’s words. Isn’t this what we should be after for our children? To see them grow, become wise, and yet keep the wonder?

The second thing that this can perhaps teach us is that there is beauty in the monotony of parenting. I confess that I can far too often become older than my Father in this regard. But I don’t want to. I want to catch the beauty in the everyday things that my children do that I will one day, far too soon, miss. Let’s not become too old to say to our children, “Do it again! Do it again! Do it again!”

 

Phil loves connecting with people through story, songwriting and coffee. Phil, his wife Marisa, and their three kids are Canadian transplants to the American South. Phil serves as the worship Pastor at Trinity Church located South of Atlanta.

 

His Hand Upon My Head

Written by: Rev. David Slauenwhite

His visits were always exciting to us kids. Empty pop bottles were stored until he arrived. Then we’d load them onto my cart to be pulled by him, surrounded by us, to be cashed in for candy. In the early 1950’s, that was big in this small boy’s life. I’ve never forgotten walking to the store, for he was deformed in his feet resulting in a slow and awkward gait. He was my grandfather.

He had no wealth, no car, no importance in his community, no remarkable traits, no special job, no accomplishments. As I understand it, he got his house, with no running water or electricity, by moving in to care for its dying occupant, who rewarded him with the property at the end. Though forgotten by his community, my father gave me memories of him.

As a ten-year old, my father played poker with his Dad and neighbors. The home was known for Saturday night parties to forget the poverty and pain of scratching out an existence during the war. During the two world wars, our name had changed from Schlagintweit to Slauenwhite along with a claim that we were of Dutch origin. My father was shocked to learn later in life that our ancestors came from Deutschland (Germany) via Holland to Nova Scotia. Being Deutsche was not the same as being Dutch.

My grandfather worked hard. On deformed feet he walked to the mill to labor for the pittance given in those days. Somehow, he saved enough to buy a radio, the only one in the community. Proud to possess such a wondrous instrument, he would open his window wide, turning up the volume so neighbours could hear and envy him. Everybody has one sin that so easily besets!

One day a Pentecostal preacher came to hold evangelistic meetings in a rented room. Few came and no one was converted. Discouraged, he decided on a last meeting. If none responded, he would leave town. My grandparents were Lutheran, though they never went to church. In God’s province, they went that night and my grandfather became the reason for the meetings to continue and for a church to be established. His conversion also moved the meetings to his house. Saturday night poker became pre-Sunday prayer meetings. For some years the church met and grew in my grandfather’s home. From the Slauenwhite family, several in the next three generations became Pentecostal ministers.

But I have one memory of my grandfather, Harold Slauenwhite, that is very personal and meaningful. I was ten years old. Startled, I watched my father cry as he hung up the phone and quickly gathered us to drive to Liverpool. I knew Grampa was sick but now it was serious. Arriving, we children joined our cousins in my aunt’s home. Soon, I was taken to my grandfather’s house. He wanted to see me. He was in a bed set up in the dining room. His family, gathered around him, was crying. He was calm. I stood beside Grampa. He spoke with me about his pride in me, his love for me, his hopes about me. Then he placed his hand upon my head. With his other hand reaching up, he prayed and pronounced his blessing upon me. Never have I forgotten it! He died singing, “I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.” Neither will I.

David is happily married to Carol, two children, a daughter-in-law and three grandkids all of whom are now teenagers. He comes from a rich Pentecostal heritage from both his father and mother’s sides. David and Carol have pastored churches mostly in the Maritimes, one in Ontario and was a missionary to Zambia. David also served as the district superintendent for fifteen years. Grad of the old Eastern Pentecostal Bible College and Dallas Bible College; with some studies taken at Acadia. David enjoys reading, classical music, walking along shores of lakes and ocean, playing rook, he loves ice cream (which is bad since he’s a diabetic), and now as a senior he specializes in having naps.

Holy Week — The Resurrection That Conquered Our Death

 

Written by: Brittany Allen

If Jesus was still in the tomb, where would we be? Had the Angel not had reason to say, “He is not here, for he is risen!”, we would be of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:19). Our faith would be in vain.

We would be utterly hopeless.

As we approach Easter, let us praise God for the atonement through the blood of Christ who died the death we deserve, as well as the resurrection which brought us life spiritually and physically.

He Conquered Spiritual Death

We were the literal walking dead.

Roaming the earth, blind to sin and danger and feeding on our own fleshly desires, we were like zombies, chasing down sin and devouring it until it devoured us from the inside out. We were called “children of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

But God.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:4-6 ESV)

When Jesus was raised, we were raised with him spiritually.

Until the Lord reveals himself to us, we remain dead in our sins. But when he lifts the veil from our blinded eyes, we turn from our sin to Christ and become spiritually alive. A new worldview falls upon our soul and our heart of stone is transformed into a heart of flesh. (2 Corinthians 3:16; Ezekiel 36:26).

What a blessing it is to have fresh eyes to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and his salvation!

He Conquered Physical Death

People are dying.

Death isn’t just something we hear about on the news, it sneaks into our homes and families. Did Jesus only conquer his own death? How do we reconcile the bible with our reality?

Through his resurrection, Christ waged a war that death cannot win. It was a down payment of a victory won, but not yet fully realized until his second coming.

But we have this hope: Jesus will return for us. And in that moment we will be changed and our loved ones who have passed, if they are in Christ, will be raised. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).

O death, where is your victory?

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Do you see what you have been saved from, friend? You and I were dead and couldn’t do anything to change it. But because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we can walk in newness of life!

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4 ESV)

You are now dead to sin and alive to God. Furthermore, you are no longer a slave to sin. (Romans 6:6). What beautiful news!
Let us walk as such, remembering the beauty of Christ’s resurrection!

 

Brittany is a follower of Christ and wife to James. She exists to bring God glory and prays her writing is an avenue for that. She longs to encourage women to think and live biblically. She thrives on seeing women open up their hearts to The Savior and to other women around them. Find Brittany over at godsmyhealer.tk!

Holy Week — Thoughts On Easter

Written by: Jonathan Zinck

When I asked Mandy what she wanted me to write about, she was very precise and specific by replying: “…death/resurrection of Jesus….thoughts from the Gospels and their depictions…nothing really specific, just leaving that up to you.” Well, these thoughts are definitely the later.

This year, as we are approaching the Easter season, I have been gripped by a stark reality; more than I ever have before. The reality that Easter is more than a celebration of what Jesus has done, but that it is about an entirely supernatural God- breathed reality that has become available for us to step into while stepping out of our own- His kingdom for ours. I’ve also been gripped by the reality that even though His Kingdom is accessible for us today, we ( yes, the corporate ‘we’ of faith) tend to chose to settle for the celebration of events instead of an abandoned ‘diving in’ to the wonders of Christ’s Kingdom.

This tension isn’t unique to us today, but has been the tension ever since Jesus walked among us. It’s in John’s Gospel that we see a vulnerable window into this tension. From the very onset of his Gospel, John frames his purpose for writing with the words:

“…The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life He brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through Him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.” ~ John 1:9-12

It was in the final days before Jesus sacrificed Himself on the Cross that this tension came to a climax. On the day that we today celebrate as ‘Palm Sunday’, hoards of people were falling over each other trying to even get a glimpse of Jesus. They had become His biggest fans! Over the previous months they had heard stories of Jesus offering forgiveness to those that society rejected , physical healing to others who had been crippled and infirmed for most of their lives, and most recently gave new life to a dead man who had already been decaying!

This tangible experience and witness to the reality of Christ’s Kingdom should have been enough to win everyone over. The actual result however, was quite opposite. Jesus’ very own disciple became disillusioned, the knowledgable and committed religious crowd became so exasperated that they made a pact to have Jesus killed at any cost, and the majority of all those who had once trampled each other to even get near Jesus were no where to be seen.

Why? Because of what His kingdom asked of them. It wasn’t a lack of desire for what Jesus’ Kingdom offered- everyone wanted what Jesus promised. The tension and rejection was because of what it meant to receive and follow. For Judas, a trusted disciple of Jesus, the command to give everything away threatened Judas’ desire for wealth [ for the corporate ‘we’ of faith that hits close to home]. For the committed religious they were convinced that their true enemy was society, and that the best solution was political influence and lobbying [yikes! a lot closer to home]. For the remainder of those that day, they wanted to experience all of who Jesus was but didn’t want to surrender their life to do so [yup, that covers the rest of the ‘we’]

  1. John 4:9-26
  2. John 5: 1-14
  3. John 11:11-43
  4. John 12:4-6

In short, the Kingdom of God is accessible to us today…right now! I don’t think the tension today is a lack of desire to experience and live it. I believe the tension is what it asks of us. There are many of Jesus’ words that are quoted at length for their value and impact, but I think the words Jesus spoke in John 12 are some of the most relevant and God- ordained for us today:

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.
“If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honour and reward anyone who serves me.” ~John 12: 24-26

If we are willing to be vulnerable, we would agree that we love to celebrate and experience Christ’s Kingdom, but we chaffe under the words of burying our plans for His, investing all of what we have and who we are in ministry to others, and putting aside our personal purpose for the life of a dedicated servant of Christ. We have certainly made the effort to create a compromise where celebration and affirmation of Christ is enough, but in doing so we find ourselves still longing and hungering for what we desire most- a walking, living, breathing existence of experiencing the wonder and reality of Christ’s Kingdom in His presence.

If I were Rick Mercer, at this moment I would probably walk through an urban corridor while ranting something like…

I’m tired of Christian’s relying more on a political party than Jesus. I’m tired of the Christian church aligning with values of fear, exclusion, and wealth rather than mercy, forgiveness, and sacrifice. I’m tired of people marketing church and ‘launching churches’ like a ‘Good life ‘ membership or like introducing the newest flavour of Doritos….

I won’t do that. Instead, as my mouth is dry from the thirst of longing for the taste of abundant life, and as my stomach rumbles and aches in hunger for the fullness of Christ’s presence in my life, I want to do more than celebrate, but receive and follow. In vulnerability I need to be honest and ask myself : “ If I’m not following God then who am I following? Am I building my kingdom or Christ’s? Am I investing all of me for all of Christ?”

As one of the ‘we’ of faith, will you ask yourself the same?

Christ offers us a new reality. It’s one where we obediently commit to serving and loving others, be willing to sacrifice our comfort to be a light in dark places at all times, and to absolutely trust the power and sovereignty of Christ and His will at all times. When we do so, we move from being a crowd of fans to a community of Faithful. Those “… made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.”

 

Jonathan has ministered as a pastor, Counsellor, chaplain, and missions advocate for the past 25 years. He loves laughing with his family, playing his guitar, and rugby on the pitch. Jonathan is currently pastor of The Pier Church, Police Chaplain, SE Asia director of BIC Canada Global, and author of ‘ When God Is Silent’.

Holy Week — Holey, Wholly, Holy

Written by: Kris Camealy

An Excerpt from Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement

Something about the incision site just didn’t look right. Having been through two prior cesarean sections, I had a pretty good idea of what things ought to look like as they healed and this definitely wasn’t right.

I knew a trip back to the doctor was in order. I also knew that I’d probably caused the problem by going against the doctor’s orders. I justified my increased activity levels because I had two other children who needed me, and well, I’m a mom—it’s what I do.

Lying there, exposed on the exam table, I waited and wondered what the verdict would be, more stitches? Glue? Staple’s? What was it going to take to put me back together right?

The doctor gently poked a bit, eyed the incision site carefully, pulled a bottle of silver nitrate from the drawer and then looking up at me over the top of his glasses said, “Take a deep breath, and relax, this is gonna hurt”….

Anyone who’s been a Christian for any length of time knows the hard seasons of refining. You recognize the burn of redemption even as it just begins to singe away the scales of a sinful life. The reality is, we are called to live as Christ lived—to be willing to suffer as He suffered, to be stripped of the excesses and pride that prevent us from living a life that more fully glorifies Him.

This is the hard refinement, the journey from holey (broken in sin) to wholly (surrendered) to holy.

As a sequin-wearing, homeschooling mother of four, Kris is passionate about Jesus, people and words. Her heart beats to share the hard, but glorious truth about life in Christ. She’s been known to take gratuitous pictures of her culinary creations, causing mouths to water all across Instagram. Once upon a time, she ran 10 miles for Compassion International, a ministry for which she serves as an advocate. Kris is the author of, Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting and Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement, and the follow up, Companion Workbook. She has contributed to numerous other books, is the host of Refine {the retreat} and the founder and Executive editor of GraceTable.org . In her free time, she writes at kriscamealy.com.

Holy Week — Jesus, Our Passover Lamb

Written by: Rev. Jeff Futers

In the early church, Passover and Easter used to be essentially the same celebration until anti-Semitism began to grow and eventually the church banned the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus in conjunction with Jewish Passover.

It’s sad really, because the Passover celebrated by the Jewish people for centuries was not just a celebration of a past deliverance, but a foreshadowing of THE Passover Lamb who would come—Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

I don’t have space in this article to get into the wonderful significance of it all. So let me tell you about one item on the Seder plate. It’s the ‘zeroa’ or the shank bone of a lamb. Up until the destruction of the temple of course, the Jews would actually eat the Passover lamb because lambs could still be brought to the temple and sacrificed. But once the Temple was destroyed and sacrifices were no longer being offered, they stopped eating lamb at the Seder and began to put only the shank bone of a lamb, called the ‘zeroa’, on the plate to remind them of the paschal (Passover) lamb.

‘Zeroa’ is a Hebrew word meaning ‘arm’, but it is very often used metaphorically in Scripture to describe power or might, particularly when speaking of the ‘arm of God.’ The word ‘zeroa’ is the word used by Jeremiah to describe God’s powerful act of creating the universe (Jer. 32:17). It is also the word used to describe the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and it’s the word that Isaiah used to point to the One who would bring salvation to the world. Isaiah 53:1 says, “…to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” That’s the ‘zeroa’.

Look at Israel’s history, from the story of Abraham and Isaac where God provided a lamb on the mountain of the Lord, to the story of the Exodus when the Passover lamb was sacrificed and its blood spread on the doorposts for the salvation of all Israel’s first born. Then in the wilderness at the tabernacle and later in the temple, a lamb was offered every morning and every night. It’s all about The Lamb. Isaiah 53 describes One who will be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities and then led like a ‘lamb to the slaughter’. Later in Isaiah, the prophet said that God was lamenting that there was no one to intervene and bring justice, so His own arm brought salvation (Isa. 59:16).

John the Baptist would say of Jesus, ‘Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (Jn. 1:29). The shank bone on the Seder plate reminds the Jewish people of the Passover lambs of the past and the hope of their coming Messiah. Praise God, we know that Messiah, the Lamb of God has come. He died and rose again, and through His once and for all sacrifice we are redeemed!

Jeff is married to Sharon and together they are blessed with two great kids, Austin who is married to Amanda, and Alana who is studying Business Management at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S. A pastor for almost 30 years and a gifted communicator, Jeff’s love and passion for the land, the people and the God of Israel is evident in his presentations. Jeff has a vision to call attention to the importance of blessing God’s chosen people and praying for Israel and for the peace of Jerusalem.

www.firstcenturyfoundations.com
Facebook: @fcfjeff, Twitter: @fcfjeff, Instagram: First Century Foundations

Holy Week — Amazing Grace

Written by: Phil Zinck

Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound that saved
a wretch
Like me.

Wretched. What a word.
Images of vile, evil,
Despicable ways – that’s not me!
Pitiful, Worthless, not worthy of grace or mercy;
That can’t be me!
I’m good most days, as good as can be
Yet when I stop and get
Outside of myself I see
That who I really am.

I once was lost . . .

I come by it honestly, if that matters,
From the very beginning
when the selfish act
Of one man set humanity on a hopeless track
To somewhere, nowhere, can’t get there, can’t get back.

And so I do
As all others have, trying to correct
The sins of the father by
Doing good for others because I am good.
Doing the right thing because I am good.
People love me, or if not they should
Because I want to be good.

But they don’t, and I’m not, because
it’s all about me.
There’s gotta be more, if I’m going to be free.

“. . . But now I’m found . . .”

That was me.
That could still be me,
But I choose to honour He
Who gave His life to be

My Freedom.
Because of He.
It should have been me,
Taking responsibility,
But it’s bigger, you see,
than you, than me, than we.
And so He,
One man, one time, for once and forever,
Death defeated,
My chains severed.
Forgiveness secured, Hope restored,
True life assured,
all for love.

For true love is love in spite of my weakness,
no need to impress
but to acknowledge, confess
that my life now and after rests in
Unmerited favour,
Paid with His life, the gift of our Saviour.

. . . ‘‘Twas blind but now I see.”

Such love, such mercy, Waiting to hear
the bleat of the lamb from nowhere near whose cries in darkness scream “Saviour I come!!!”
And He comes, He finds us, in compassion and care and says

“You sought Me, you found Me,
Don’t worry don’t fear”.

And so I am His, He is mine.
I’ll never truly understand how I fit His design
nor the depths of love no words can explain
but with faith in This truth I will humbly proclaim

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free,
Unending love, Amazing Grace”.

 

Phil thanks God everyday for His perfect life partner in Doretta Zinck and their two amazing daughters who are living their lives as young women desiring to serve Him in their own unique and special way. Forever Nova Scotian, living in Newfoundland, Phil uses his own blog to share words of encouragement, with the occasional dusting of humour http://phlipper1963.tumblr.com. He is all about the bass, donairs (as only Nova Scotia can!) and all things Leafs!

Hug and Hold

 

Written by: Brent & Carina Cantelon

Last year my husband Brent and I were speaking to a group of couples and telling some of our story, things we have learned and things we are still growing in as a couple.

We do this it seems a few times a year in different cities with different groups and by far one of the most appreciated illustration we give to married couples is the HUG AND HOLD.

People tell us all the time how it has impacted their lives and that makes us very happy.

When we illustrate it and then give the couples in the room a time to try it for themselves with some instructions….. there is hardly a dry eye in the room. I just love sharing it.

Now here is the truth, we can’t for the life of us remember where we first read about this or perhaps heard about it…..so we can’t really give credit to an author or speaker. It is possible we came up with it ourselves but we usually say we are not that smart. 🙂

However we ARE smart to have implemented it into our life and marriage and we can tell you it is one of the best things there is to help smooth some rough patches, bridge that gap when you need to find each other again.

We all know that life gets busy. At times it gets hard and for what ever reason we can find ourselves having drifted apart.

We may not have meant for this to happen but kids take over our schedules, work has us particularly busy or we are distracted by pressing matters….and then we feel the distance.

One of us may feel it more than the other.

In our case it was probably Brent who would notice that I was completely absorbed in kids lives and activities and the many MANY pressing needs around me, and there we were, almost in two different worlds.

So here it is, this is where it comes in. THE HUG AND HOLD.

I know many of you have the same thing happen in your lives and marriages. And very often one of you is going to have to draw the other one in. And when they do, if you are on the receiving end of the one initiating, then I’m telling you right now accept the invitation. You will be so glad you did.

How it works is you both come together, when you come home from work.
Picture both of you in the kitchen coming together for a hug.
Now, NO pat, pat on the back. Like “there, there”…
And no smooching either. Completely forbidden for this exercise !!!! 😉

You simply hug and hold. Hold on and don’t let go. Maybe a minute. Brent usually says at this point to the guys in the audience when we go through it “oh and guys, this isn’t going anywhere” haha!

Here is what you do next :
You don’t say anything !!!
You don’t speak out loud, but what you do is you think about your spouse. Thoughts that focus on him or her. Thoughts that remind you of who they are to you.

Let me illustrate what I might think about Brent.
( let’s say this was back at the busy time with kids and our busy church life)
I would think…….. This is my husband ! Lord You gave him to me. He comes first, even before the children !!!
He is so kind and gentle, I do love him
I don’t like this distance….he is my best friend in the whole wide world.
He makes me laugh and I want to be close to him. He needs me and I need him……

Now while I am thinking those things, Brent would have his thoughts and wonderful things to go on and on and on about me —HAHA!

To have a re-connecting effect, do this every day three or four times in a row.
I hope you will try this…. explain what it is to your spouse and give it a try. Here is the strange thing…. it may feel awkward. Yes, it may. Because remember it is designed for times when you are feeling distant in your relationship. A remedy of this sort is actually an exercise like I said and it may seem scripted or calculated. But trust me, get together in an embrace, think and remind yourself of the things you know to be true and you will both be so glad you did.

I hope this will really be a blessing to you
All my love
Carina

Best Guests of 2016— Advent Winner!

A Thrill of Hope the Weary World Rejoices

Written by: Angela Mercer

2016 for many people has been a year they can’t wait to be over. For many it has been a year full of hardship, frustration, questions, trauma, sickness, uncertainty, challenges, possibly a crisis of faith.

Where is God? What IS He doing? Is He REALLY good? And while I am so tempted to answer all those questions and defend, I know the Lion of Judah needs no defending. But, still, it pains my heart for God to be so misunderstood and life to be so painful.

Our God is not afraid of the crisis, nor is He afraid of the questions or the doubt. In fact, He welcomes it. Why? Because without these moments of “rock bottom” how do we know if our faith really works?

You hear people time and time again say that it was through the most difficult time in their lives they sensed God in a brand new way. They experienced His peace that passes ALL understanding and they felt His love so tangibly through their church community and friends. I even heard someone once say they don’t regret what happened because of the way they experienced God. Psalm 34:18 reminds us that “He is close to the broken hearted”.

I was leading worship one evening with a group of young adults and we sang “You are good, good…. You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down…” I could see the weary faces. I could see the questions and hurt upon faces as they tried to reconcile what this world looks like and what they are personally going through while singing the lyrics of this song. It was the day after the Orlando shooting.

Is He really good? Is He good to me? WHERE is He?

And I couldn’t stop myself from yelling at the top of my lungs as tears streamed down my face: “He is good… He loves you…. He sees you… and He mourns with you”. God is here. And one day we will see Him face to face and all this will pass away and until then, as Christians, we gotta get this right because there is a weary and hurting world out there in need of the comfort of a Saviour and WE have the answer! His name is JESUS. He knows what we’re going through because He experienced it all on earth as a human. We don’t have a God that is far away and unaware. He is close. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

And so, I pray that this Christmas season you feel His love so incredibly close. I pray you experience His love in a fresh and new way. I pray that even in the midst of whatever it is you are going through, you are filled with excitement knowing that Hope is here. And I pray that even in your weariness you will begin to rejoice!

 

Angela is passionate about Jesus, women and building community. She fully believes that women are the heartbeat of the church. Angela has been married to her favourite man, Blair, for 17 years and together they pastor Gateway Church in Komoka, Ontario. When Angela is not leading worship or running some type of women’s event, you will find her doing a DIY, reading a good book, drinking her husbands amazing coffee or planning a meal with friends. One day she hopes to make pie as good as her mom’s. Angela has two incredible kids to call her own (Isaac 13, Michaela 12) who keep her quick and on her feet and enjoying every single moment of life.

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Through The Fire— Jan’s Story

Written by: Jan Zinck

It was a lovely morning in Oct 2014 when I got the call. We all know how much we dread “the call” as it usually contains ominous news of some description. This was no different. He started out by saying “don’t worry the kids and I are Ok”. My mind kind of froze and raced simultaneously.

Many of us have been right here-various scenarios of course, but a- what we perceive- worst case scenario. I just never dreamt it would be happening to me for real. My home had burned down, everything lost. Life changed.

The story though isn’t really about the fire, although thats the catalyst. The real story is about a family who had placed too much stock in our home, in tangible things-in things that don’t actually matter that much. Interestingly enough, for about six months prior to the fire, God had been challenging us-Jonathan, my husband in particular- about being “stuff heavy”. We were in loose conversation about how to simplify our lives again. I think we might not have been moving fast enough for God-He helped us along in that journey-I inwardly chuckle as I write this.
Lots of people ask me if we ask “why us”. Honestly, I never asked that question-I knew the answer straight away.

The best part of the story is the blessing of God in our lives. When I say blessing, I don’t mean a bit of scraps tossed our way by a distant “God-being”.when I mean a torrential downpour by a loving, generous Heavenly Father. Our community surrounded us, our family, co-workers, and church family gave to us sacrificially and generously, and this doesn’t even feel like it begins to explain it properly or fully. I know for sure, that the fire was a God given moment in our lives.

Now, please do not confuse or equate “a God given moment” with an easy moment. This was by far the most difficult thing I have ever had to negotiate. I was sad, distressed, overwhelmed-all of the descriptors one might use for such an event. I-we- needed God in ways we had never thought possible. I remember the day of the fire-totally dazed in Wal-Mart. We all needed socks and underwear, but I kept driving the shopping cart in circles because I could not think coherently enough to figure out sizes or styles or anything really.

My husband and children were absolutely amazing-the two younger kids stood on the street with my husband and watched the house burn. They both called me right away (yes they thought to grab their phones on the way out of the house) saying things like “We’re fine mom, It’s just a house” and “we are good ‘cause we’re together”. Words of life and healing-words of God from my kids. The strength and unwavering trust in a provisional, perfect God displayed by Jonathan was a-maz-ing.

So at the end of the day, I am thankful for this event-this “refining fire”. We rebuilt our house on the same property and built a stone wall using stones from the original foundation as a reminder of God’s provision in our lives. We now know for certain that life is not wrapped up in material things-it’s so much more and so much bigger. I am thankful for a God who loves me enough to bring hard stuff into my life-all the while loving me and holding me and reminding me what’s really important-I pray I have learned the lessons He needs me to learn. Mostly I pray that I don’t become ‘Stuff heavy” again-I want to be free to go and do what He will ask of me.

About Jan:

Jan is the mother of 3 amazing children, and a beautiful daughter-in-law. Jan is a RN, working in the local ER and teaching at the local college, and for the past 26 years years been involved in a variety of ministries, both locally and abroad, with her husband Jonathan.