Monday, 12 December 2016

Winter is singing to me

This summer was a bit duller than most due to my dad's passing, and then autumn 2016 held on for a surreal length of time. Last week, however, winter finally settled in with all its fury: heaps of snow, ferocious winds and the subsequent big chill. 

Thing is, I kinda like winter. I don't love the endless putting on and taking off of layers of clothes and the grimy leftovers of the sand and dirt on the streets in March. But j'adore the endless white, the crunch crunch crunch of walking in snow and the way it allows me to anticipate and appreciate spring and summer. 

My mom died in late November in Gimli, right after the town's first snowfall, but Winnipeg didn't get any substantial flurries for another couple weeks. Maybe it's because I've seen 50 plus winters and several blizzards, but I wasn't at all fazed by the over 30 centimeters of snow that got dumped on Winnipeg. 

This afternoon I was driving and "Sing Winter" by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser came on my stereo and I was undone by the lyrics.
Can I fall Iike glory and wash your year away // 
All that remains was really meant to stay //
Come and clothe me Winter, I really need a change

Oh those Helsers; they always know the right things to say. Come Lord, wash away this terrible 2016. Come with Your glory and transform what's left of my life. Come clothe me with each distinct snowflake, which You created. Come, Lord. I need You.

Hear the snowflakes falling // Winter’s calling my name
The silent song she’s singing // What’s she trying to say?
Can I fall like glory to wash your year away? //
All that remains was really meant to stay //
Come and clothe me Winter, I really need a change // 
With silent redemption, Cover me with grace //
Hear the song of beauty, Melodies and sounds //
Cover you in white love // The joy you lost but now have found //
Sing sing winter // Sing me your silent song

Thursday, 24 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Final Day (40)

I'm so grateful that in the midst of the deep personal drama of losing both my parents within seven months, I can experience God's promises anew.

My father died in April and when I think back my go-to state of mind was mostly jaggedness underpinned by a dull ache. Now, after walking alongside my mother and the battle she just lost with cancer, I'm a bit astounded to feel palpable peace, love, thanksgiving, comfort and even joy co-existing with my grief, anger and sadness.

As an experiential learner, I've been taken aback to discover the rather vague concepts that many of us Christians throw around somewhat lightly...are actually entirely true. 

Losing my parents has brought me more compassion and understanding for myself, and for others, as well as a newfound level of wonderment for Jesus. And, for me, that's a real reason for thanksgiving.

I come, God, I come, return to the Lord //
The one who's broken //
The one who's torn me apart //
You struck down to bind me up //
You say You do it all in love //
That I might know You in Your suffering //
Though You slay me, yet I will praise You //
Though You take from me, I will bless Your name //
Though You ruin me, still I will worship //
Sing a song to the One who's all I need //
My heart and flesh may fail //
The earth below give way //
But with my eyes, with my eyes //
I'll see the Lord lifted high upon that day //
Behold, the Lamb that was slain //
And I'll know every tear was worth it all // 
Though tonight I'm crying out //
Let this cup pass from me now //
You're still more than I need, You're enough for me
#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 39

I'm thankful that when even the darkest of night is holding on to me, Jesus never lets go. He is always holding on to me.

Let the King of my heart be the mountain where I run //
The Fountain I drink from, He is my Song //
Let the King of my heart be the shadow where I hide //
The ransom for my life, He is my Song //
You are good good oh //
Let the King of my heart be the wind inside my sails //
The anchor in the waves, oh He is my Song //
Let the King of my heart the fire inside my veins  //
The echo of my days oh He is my Song //
You are good oh You're never gonna let me down // 
When the night is holding onto me // God is holding on 

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

#WarOnGrumbling Day 38

I'm thankful for the circle of life.

My mother died early Sunday morning and she was cremated yesterday. 

Today, I went to visit my friend Shayani and her precious new baby boy Jace in the hospital. I snuggled with him, prayed for him and, as always, gaped in wonderment at a new life.

I'm awed that my heavenly Papa set it up so I could see mom leave this earth, and then welcome another new life in such a short timeframe. It was beauteous and poignant, and just like the song says it moved me through depair and hope and faith and love.

From the day we arrive on the planet //
And blinking, step into the sun //
There's more to see than can ever be seen //
More to do than can ever be done //
There's far too much to take in here //
More to find than can ever be found //
But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky //
Keeps great and small on the endless round //
It's the circle of life and it moves us all //
Through despair and hope //
Through faith and love //
Till we find our place on the path unwinding //
In the circle of life

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 37

I'm grateful for friends who can make me laugh, and friends who can let me cry. 

It has been meaningful and endearing having friends nearby as I navigate my way through the valley of the shadow of death, where I need to be able to access the full spectrum of my emotions. 

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Monday, 21 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 36

I'm thankful for my Comforter.
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
by Tiziano Vecellio 1545

But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. (John 14:26)

Even in the wilderness //
Through confusion and barrenness //
You are beautiful God //
Even in my brokeness //
Through this pain I will confess //
You are always good //
Deserts will bloom in the light of Your love //
Valleys make room for the river of God //
You never run dry //

You're my source, never ending //
You're my life, never lacking

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Sunday, 20 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 35

Tonight I'm grateful for the truths in Psalm 23.

A Psalm of David. 
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

There is a man in the mixture //
And one of His names: The Revealer //
Gray lines dissolve in the power of His blood //
He sets The Cross as the standard //
And says we should live; only die first //
Dead men rely on Someone who can bring them back to life //
What's to come of it? //
I don't even know if I want to be part of it //
There's this Man that I see dimly //
But it's enough to give Him everything //
The curtains will rise and the curtains will fall //
#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Saturday, 19 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 34

I'm thankful for some fresh perspective.

Idlib devastation at night © Reuters
I've had a stressful couple of days with mom and some other things swirling around me. It's been difficult keeping my emotions in check and my hope alive, although I've most certainly felt the steady hand of my Saviour guiding me.

Downtown Idlib
Tonight my friend Naomi and I ran into a Syrian refugee we've seen around the last few weeks and he brought along his brother in law, who'd just arrived in Winnipeg. Through Google Translate and broken English they told us a bit of their story and how they got from Idlib, Syria to Winnipeg, Canada. When we asked about their hometown, they said simply "it is no more."

Over the years, I've heard a gazillion refugee stories, but something about that statement took our breath away. Canada is far from perfect, but it does offer safety, openness and multicultural flair. 

Methinks I needed that perspective check today.

I will fight to follow //
I will fight for love //
To throw my life forever //
Into the triumph of the Son //
And I know Your love has won it all

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Friday, 18 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 33

I'm grateful that God loves to blow my mind.

Today was just Wow. Whoa. Holy crap. Whoopt. really? Really?! REALLY?!

I can't even try and put God in a box. He plays chess on a multi-leveled chessboard. He knows what He's doing always.

The thing is...He could just leave it that way. But somehow He also desires for me to be woven into His story line. And that in itself is reason for awe and wonder. 

I used to think that I could box you in //
But I’m laying down //
I want to know you, Lord //

I’m laying down all my religion //
I’m laying down //

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Thursday, 17 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 32

I'm thankful for good things in the morning.

I gotta be honest, I'm not a morning person at all. However, every time I get out to an early meeting, I appreciate the morning light and to see things differently.

It's led me to meditate on God's promises in the morning watch. Here's a few I've found:

Mercy (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Joy (Psalm 30:5)
Unfailing love (Psalm 90:14)
Strength (Psalm 59:16)
Justice (Zephaniah 3:5)
Lovingkindess (Psalm 92:2)

For the sunrise does prophesy of my Beloved's return //

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 31

I'm grateful for my downtown public library.
Today was d-day, the day I had to return my new favorite book, "The Queen of Katwe", which rocked my world on many levels. 

But I got to spend my afternoon in the Millennium Library, one of my favorite places in this city. I took out another biography on a female Afghani entrepreneur and found a couple of DVDs to rent.
I also checked out the art. Not all of it appealed to me, but there were a couple of interesting pieces including this one.

So many cultures and demographics come together in that library. And the ever brilliant John K. Samson is currently the writer in residence. It all just makes my heart happy. 

Late afternoon, another day is nearly done //
A darker grey is breaking through a lighter one

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 30

I'm thankful for the little things.

I walked to the prayer room today. My usual route winds through through the greenspace and back lanes of my West Broadway hood. I happened to pass a Syrian family moving in to an apartment building, and was mightily amused to see their two young children outside the building using a couch that had not yet been moved in as a trampoline. They were giggling and it was a tiny little slice of joy that I didn't catch on camera, but is etched on my heart. 

On the way was Peanut Park, one of my favorite spots since childhood. I stopped to admire some tiny red flowers that visually popped in a garden that's fading into winter but still lovely.

Later at Starbucks, my jaw dropped when a fairly ordinary sunset suddenly turned several shades of pink before disappearing into the November evening. It happened so quickly I wasn't able to capture it on film, but it was beauteous.

It could've been just another ordinary afternoon, but several little moments conspired to make it memorable.

More than a pot of gold
More than the finest silver
More than the precious jewels
Upon my fingers is who you are
More than the grains of sand
More than the flowers in the field
More than the twinkling stars
Against black velvet skies is who you are
There's a greater something
An invitation for more
There's a great big someone living
Inside out of little me
He's calling, calling calling me back to the garden
To have all the courage
To have the greater faith
And just to simply breathe in all of the greatness
Of who you are
To know that I am seen
To know you're singing my song
And in your mighty chest!
There is a heart that beats! For me
#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Monday, 14 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 29

"Crying Girl" by Roy Lichtenstein
I'm grateful that I can weep.

There was a period of my life when I hardly ever cried. I'm thankful my tears have returned, for good it seems.

This afternoon I was driving listening to a compilation CD a friend made me a few years back. On it were some Rita Springer songs and when "Holy Visitation" came on I burst into tears and bawled for a good 10 minutes. I'm not sure what prompted them...the lyrics, the Holy Spirit or just a general culmination of where I'm at right now. All I know is I felt cleansed and lighter afterwards.

It feels good to admit that I don't have to resist my tears and I can allow myself to cry even when I'm not really sure why. 

Sound the alarm Gather the people
Gather the elders Let the ministers wail
God take back the years that the enemy's stolen
Lord you are coming with a holy visitation
We return to you fasting and weeping and mourning
Oh My Lord you are returning
We lie here weeping between porch and altar
Pour out your spirit on your sons and your daughters
Sound the alarm Awaken the watchmen
Open their ears let their voices be loud
We prophesied, You'll come to this nation
Touch this generation with a holy visitation
We dance, we shout, we lift up our voices
Let your kingdom come down
I was made for war
I was made for battle Lord

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Saturday, 12 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 28

I'm thankful that even when I fail, there is grace.

Okay I admit it. I grumbled today. A whole lot. Winnipeg's Santa Clause parade is always a test to my usual positive temperment and this year oh did it ever kick my ass. I started my day whining because the parade actually takes over my entire neighborhood with its road closures, massive floats, costumed people and police presence. So I got out of dodge and positioned myself at my 24/7 Starbucks and later at a women's peacebuilding roundtable for South Sudan.

I managed to masterfully elude the parade's resulting traffic snares until I offered to drive one of my kids to work because she was running late. I ended up getting stuck in a massive traffic jam, prompting me to unleash a torrent of potty mouth and even to yell at a police officer (I am quite grateful that he laughed at me).

On my way home, I had a little chat with my heavenly Papa about my behaviour. And I felt His grace. It's so real, especially when I mess up and admit it. 

Find me here on my knees again...I will never be able to grasp what I did to access His grace. It's truly humbling.

I could run for all my days // But I'd never run away // There's no mistake I could make // That could ever make You change // There's so much grace in the arms of the Father

WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

#WarOnGrumbling Day 27

I'm grateful for a few of my favorite things on a really bad day.

My usual Friday in Gimli turned out a bit brutal. After I sat and prayed with my mother in her hospital room and then further disassembled her apartment, I felt a wave of profound sadness wash over me. 

At times like this I have found deep solace in the fact that Emmanuel is God with us (meaning me) and that He hears my most basic cry: "Helper, help." 

And there's my favourite things. Thankfully I got a few of those today. 

My brother and I stopped at Ponemah Beach to gaze on my Lake Winnipeg on a brisk but bright afternoon.
Ponemah Beach
And on our way home on Highway 8, we caught the last gasp of a superb pink-ribboned sunset. 
Sunset on Highway 8
After my dad died, I lost my of joy of cooking for a while. Thankfully, at the same time I became obsessed with the #58 spicy coconut chicken vermicelli soup at Pho No. 1. I ordered it at least once a week and you should've seen my conniption fit the week the restaurant closed for holidays. Tonight as I contemplated my weariness, I knew that only #58 would do.
Spicy coconut chicken vermicelli soup at Pho No. 1
When I left Pho No. 1, I noticed a stand of lovely perfectly bloomed purple flowers in front of my parking spot. In November... If you're not from Winnipeg, you just won't understand.
Flowers in November
Look at the way the flowers bloom for You //
They want to show You their beauty Lord //
Running waters dance, You and I romance //
Unto You be all the glory.
WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Friday, 11 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 26

Tonight I'm thankful for Zechariah.

Every once in a while in ministry, you get to meet someone you know God ordained for only you to meet in His kairos time. This evening it was Zechariah, a young aboriginal man from one of Manitoba's First Nation reserves, who I met during the Zion Outreach at Portage Place mall. He and his best friend initially stopped to ask me for bus tickets and we began to chat. After I offered to pray for him, he immediately divulged he had an alcohol problem and some other hindrances. He seemed truly bemused at his willingness to share his problems with a complete stranger and the subsequent encounter marked by vulnerability and tears. God ministered to him right in the centre court of a mall in a way that was so affirming, so touching and so beautiful. 

He later shared that he and his friend were plotting to do things that "weren't good at all." Seems God had another plan. I was honored to meet him, and truth be told it was Zechariah who ending up ministering to my heart.

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Thursday, 10 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 25

I'm grateful for all the free stuff bestowed on me today.

Sometimes you just know God is lavishing His love on you by giving you free gifts. Today I was invited to a VIP Holiday event at Aveda Institute and I was a wee surprised to discover I could indulge in lots of free pampering. I got an exfoliating hand massage, a facial, a scalp and shoulder massage and my hair braided, plus lots of yummy snacks.

After I left, I popped into Starbucks, where a friend bought my favourite drink, a doppio espresso on ice. And then another friend served me some yummy Greek food.

Not a big deal individually, but in such quick succession, it seemed that once again I was being spoiled by my heavenly Daddy.

How silently the purity the wondrous gift is given //
For love has made a way for us to come into Your Presence //
You are the Bridegroom take us in Your arms //

We refuse anything that hinders love //
It's the joy of being love sick, the pleasures of loving You //

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 24

I'm thankful I live in a city with rivers where I can go to pray.
Palmerston at Aubrey ©  Bryan Scott
Today I did exactly that on the banks of the Assiniboine River in Wolesley at sunset with a sister. Oh did we ever pray to the Good Lord, who will surely show us the way.

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way!

O sisters let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sisters let's go down,
Down in the river to pray.

O brothers let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
Come on brothers let's go down,
Down in the river to pray.

O fathers let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O fathers let's go down,
Down in the river to pray

O mothers let's go down,
Let's go down, don't you want to go down,
Come on mothers let's go down,
Down in the river to pray.

O sinners let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sinners let's go down,
Down in the river to pray.
#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 23

I'm grateful that God gave me a smile and I get to use it. 

Before my father passed away, he spent almost a year in and out of hospitals. During my many visits, I found there was one thing in my spiritual arsenal that worked better than anything. My smile.

Whether it be the health care staff, the patients or visitors, people are so stressed out in hospitals. And nothing changed the atmosphere more than smiling at folks. Some days it was hard, but the more I did it, the easier it got. After a while it almost became my ministry to walk through the hospital and throw smiles at anyone I encountered.

Dad is gone and I think I sorta forgot about the power of my smile. Then today at Polo Park, I passed by a bald elderly lady who was grimacing and leaning on a cane while she made her way one unsteady step at a time down the mall. I stopped and did nothing more than smile at her, and to see her face light up and her entire demeanor change because of a such a tiny gesture was truly humbling. I have got to do that more often.

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Monday, 7 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 22

Today I'm thankful I got to chill on my purple porch in November. 

There's usually snow in Winnipeg in November. But this afternoon as the temps soared to 18C, I got a couple hours lounging on my purple porch. I finished "The Queen of Katwe", cracked open "Jesus Feminist" and swilled Sumol Passionfruit, one of my favorite beverages. 

Spending time on my purple porch time at any time of the year is precious to me, but getting to do it in November 
makes my heart soar with gratitude.

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving

Sunday, 6 November 2016

#WarOnGrumbling Day 21

I'm so very thankful that God knows what He's doing. 

Again today, Papa showed me how he's in charge of all my relationships, all my prayers and all the things He wants to do through them. He knew these things would transpire far before I did and to say He's working on many levels is a vast understatement.

I'm reading "The Queen of Katwe" right now and of course it talks about the basic rules of chess. It also talks about chess strategy with the opening, middle game and end game. It occured to me that God can play the end game before we're even thinking about starting...

When He weaves me into His master plan, it's mind-boggling and cause for more wonderment. And once again I realize who's in charge and it surely isn't me.

He's Intentional //
He's been doing it for a long time //
He's Intentional //
I'll be giving my trust now

#WarOnGrumbling #40DaysOfThanksgiving