November 25, 2022
November 23, 2022
Jesus’ invitation this past year to sink my roots deep in Him is not the first time He has beckoned me to do so. Back in January I wrote about being rooted and grounded (Rooted and Grounded), sending my spiritual roots down into the rich soil of His love so I could bear fruit for Him in my life and writing.
When prompted to re-visit this theme, I recalled a time a few decades ago, prior to my world being shattered by multiple crises. Struggling to raise my three children while in a difficult marriage, my spiritual life suffered while I tried to survive. Then I began to hunger for God ˗˗ a hunger given by Him, for I did not have much appetite for spiritual food myself. For three years before the compounded trauma of a divorce, a cancer diagnosis and financial ruin, I craved more of God. I longed to feed on the rich nourishment of His Word, on intimate prayer and meditation and fellowship with other believers. As my roots grew deeper into His love, He revealed to me who I truly was. Not the weak, disappointing wife my husband told me I was, but God’s beloved, cherished child. As I feasted on His Word, I realized my true identity in Him. I no longer needed the unattainable good opinion of an emotionally abusive man.
During those three years, God prepared me for the coming storm by stirring my desire to sink my roots deep into Him so I could stand firm. I learned that Jesus Christ Himself is the soil where my soul finds nourishment and strength. As I absorbed His truths and teachings, the more I grew. I would not have survived the onslaught if not for complete dependence on Him. I could fill a book with stories of how He sustained me and my family during those painful times, which brings me back to the present, these closing days of 2022.
I prayerfully desire to bear fruit from my growth in the form of a memoir I am presently writing. Since God stirred my hunger for Him, I keep feeding upon His life-giving love. Growth needs to continue if I am to accomplish the task He has set. I cannot do it unless I abide in Him. He has established me, rooted and grounded in Himself, and is now calling me to tell my story in which He is the central figure.
I must admit, sending roots down in order to grow is not always easy. Sometimes the tender, searching roots hit stony ground. Writing my story requires me to revisit memories which come with residual emotional pain ˗˗ stones in the way of going deeper. Here God reminds me of the restorative healing He has done in me since then. Those memories no longer have power to wound me. My prayer is that the story of my healing journey will someday help others to find healing as they go deeper with God to become rooted and grounded in His love.
Your spiritual roots go deeply into His life as you are continually infused with strength, encouraged in every way. For you are established in the faith you have absorbed and enriched by devotion to Him! - (Col. 2:7 The Passion Translation)
November 22, 2022
Just imagine. In my January post I challenged myself to use my imagination more in my spiritual life and in my writing life.In the half-darkness of not-so-early morning I open my curtains to greet the day. Recently, fog obscures the landscape, drifting through trees and houses, revealing and hiding in turn. The process of imagining resembles fog to me. Ethereal. Soft and mysterious. Putting imagination into action is like the sun burning away the mist in an alchemy of air and warmth. I've learned that I need to harness my imagination to life's realities for it to serve any good. In addition, when my imagination aligns with God's, well, Ephesians 3:20 comes to mind:
"God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around, but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us" (The Message)
Poet Luci Shaw writes "Imagination gives us pictures by which to see things the way they can be, or the way they are, underneath." When we ask ourselves, "What if...?" I fire up those imagination cells and develop my view of the world.
This year I have asked myself,
"What if I could actually finish a writing project?"
That spurred me to create a plan of action and stick to it. I'm behind on my schedule and will not finish my first draft by December 1, but that's okay. I'm holding onto that imaginary moment in the future when I am finished. Grace goes along well with imagination.
"What if I could do something to help build my local church body?"
We are currently in between pastors and the body is struggling a little. I asked myself the above question and now I'm teaching Sunday School to K-Grade 1, a far cry from the high school students I am used to teaching.
"What if I did something more positive than listen to the news on the radio?"
Instead of listening, I now sing. It's a lovely way to drive and I arrive at my destination in a wonderful frame of mind.
Integrating imagination with my faith walk is a process that I look forward to continuing throughout my life. This little look backward has propelled me forward in my thinking. Erwin McManus writes "Only in our imagination can we begin to contain even the smallest expression of the bigness of God...". I know of God's greatness in my head, and I love using my imagination to bring that knowledge to my heart.
Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she enjoys boating and hiking with her husband. Gardening, sewing, reading, and spending time with her five grandchildren fill her days with happiness and contentment. She is newly retired from teaching high school Spanish. She writes a slice of life blog at Fabric Paper Thread.
November 21, 2022
Come follow me...
Jesus' words to us are so simple and yet so packed with meaning. As I reflect on the year that was, I think about what that “Come” has meant for my spiritual growth and for my writing. In a nutshell, it boils down to one word: "Trust". I did not foresee--nor could I imagine--some of the circumstances I'd face in the year ahead, but looking back, nothing has really changed (even though MUCH has changed) because I am still trusting in Him.
My husband and I moved into a house that was still "in progress" when we suddenly and unexpectedly sold the house we were living in. It was an answer to prayer since we had been carrying two mortgages for quite a few years. Out of the blue, God brought a buyer to the house we lived in and so we shifted gears and moved into the other house that we had been SLOWLY renovating.
I must daily remind myself what a BLESSING this is. (Sometimes I must hourly remind myself...) I believe that God's timing is always perfect. However, the reality of living in an unfinished house has been challenging for me. I like order. I like neatness. I like things to be in their proper place. And yet... God is asking me to trust. It has been humbling and I've had to lay aside my pride on many occasions as I've felt anything but patient.
Running To and Fro
After such a long period of not being able to travel, the second half of this year has been FULL of traveling for me. I've taken a long trip every month since August, either by air or by car, and have two more scheduled before the year is out. Add to that the many trips to one of the smaller cities near us every week for building supplies etc and it feels like my feet don't stay at home!
We were blessed with three new grandaughters this year, including a surprise set of twins. (I mentioned it before.) We are blessed to have all four of our children and all ten of our grandchildren living within a two-hour radius. It means more running to and fro...
The Best Laid Writing Plans...
What do all these changes have to do with this month's theme?
I already mentioned how I've been challenged to practice gratitude, patience, and trust this year. I have been forced to become more intentional about counting my blessings. It seems whenever God wants us to grow in an area, He puts us in situations where we must exercise these characteristics. So, upon reflection, I can see a steep learning curve in terms of spiritual growth.
Similarly, I've had to throw many of my writing plans to the wind and just "go with it". Like Steph Beth Nickel, I love the planning process. Usually, my plans are more grandiose than I can manage, but I'm still quite productive. Besides some new books, 2022 was going to be the year of "Audiobooks". I took a course earlier in the year, bought the necessary equipment, and began recording since I do not have the funds to pay someone else to produce all of my novels. (I naively hoped to do one per month! In hindsight, totally not possible!)
Even with a reality check, I felt confident that I'd get at least two--maybe three--to market before the end of the year.
Then I got Covid and sounded like a smoker for a couple of months...
Then all of the above happened! Now, there is nowhere, as yet, for me to set up my recording equipment. Any recording I try to do sounds echoey in the new house because things aren't put away yet. And who has time for such things at the moment, anyway?!
It comes down to trusting God's timing. Eventually, I may or may not get those Audiobooks recorded. I simply can't make something happen that isn't possible right now.
Upon reflection, "Come follow me..." is really all that matters. I can see God teaching me many things about patience, gratitude, and trusting His timing. I know if I don't trust Him and the process, the lessons might be prolonged, so I'm trying to be obedient.
Tracy Krauss writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. Follow her on social media or visit her website for more. https://tracykrauss.com
November 18, 2022
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”—Matthew 9: 36 (NIV)
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it”—Luke 19:41
I included the above Scripture references in my first post of this year. The post title, “A Time for Compassion,” outlined my need to follow compassion as a way of life in. See, https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/37258556/4769733841293622971
Before I continue perhaps a caveat is in order. My post on compassion in January has embraced me through 2022. I will offer a brief response to what this means. I am aware of how controversial this post may be to readers. I offer it as an example of how our compassion may be put into action.
Compassion in a Time of Chaos
Compassion need not be a mere passive feeling but an expression of action about a response to the plight of someone else. There is a place for emotional response, yet this may not be enough. These past two years remind me of the importance of speaking into the confused and destructive path secular minds and actions have inflicted on Canada.
As a retired healthcare chaplain, I hang my head in shame in response to how leaders introduced euthanasia to our country. Canada is now the most permissive country in the world for the expansion of euthanasia, or so-called Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). Euthanasia has historically been recognized as murder in Canada. For whatever reason it is now legal. The reality of changing something in the Criminal Code to legal, does not make it moral. This also does not make it an act of compassion.
Canada has chosen a destructive path by the inclusion of euthanasia into the realm of “healthcare.” Politicians and healthcare professionals do not exhibit wisdom in their unabashed use of this approach to end-of-life. MAiD is even permitted in government funded hospice facilities now. This shows disregard for the philosophy of hospice.
Compassion in Action
Over the almost past two years I have devoted my energy to researching a compassionate and dignified response to euthanasia. Here is an idea of how I hope to encourage Christians to turn to acts of compassion instead of those which hasten death.
While I write this post my mind is on a ministry, I hope to develop within the church community of which I am a member. The focus is on end-of-life care for Christian people. This ministry offers a compassionate presence to Orthodox Christians with a terminal illness and requesting end-of-life spiritual care and support. A team of volunteers will assist Orthodox Christians rediscover and follow the ancient Christian burial practices, including a recognition of the physical body as a sacred vessel. As our biological existence ends, we prepare for our transition from this world and into the hands of God.
This ministry is not a mere noble gesture, but a viable alternative to euthanasia in Canada. I ask God to help me nurture compassion and love for people by not being involved in an act to hasten death.
I am aware this post may be met with mixed responses and emotional reactions by readers. I cannot, however, ignore this blind direction our country has chosen. On the other hand, as Christians, we can speak into the darkness and resist it by compassion in action.
May God show His compassion to Canada.
Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry, and their poodle, Charlie. He contributed stories to Good Grief People by Angel Hope Publishing, 2017; Story by Story: The Power of a Writer, Unstoppable Writers Publishing, 2018; Easter Stories & More by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, 2021. He is currently working on a book expressing the grief of grieving grandparents entitled, Hidden Poetic Voices: A Reflective Work of Grief, Faith, and Poetry. Alan periodically writes articles for FellowScript Magazine. He has written posts for our InScribe blog since 2015. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca.