To All Little Sisters…

Little Sister

I know life seems dark and overwhelming right now. It seems lonely and like you’re trying so hard with so little results. It’s not fun, I get it. Hang in there.
 
You are in a season. Seasons last only so long and before you know it, the next one is upon you.
 
It’s ok. Take a deep breath.
 
When we fight against the seasons, we will never find a true rhythm and rest in life. That joy and peace that is present in the wrinkles of the wise who have lived through many seasons and embrace them in their fullness.
 
Seasons are not just in the passing of months and days on the calendar. They are in seasons of life. You will have seasons in relationships, in spiritual growth, in your career, in a greater calling, in parenting and in personal growth and maturity. Sometimes, when you are in one season in one part of life, you are also in a different season in another area, sometimes they converge… the point is to embrace them. To  live through each taking the good and the uncomfortable of each, knowing they produce one thing. A Life. YOUR LIFE.
 
So, look around you. What season are you in? Is it dry, is it barren and maybe even cold? Does everything and everyone seem to be buried? Out of reach?
 
 
Welcome to WINTER.
 
What a beautiful season!
 
It’s a much needed one. It is a season of rest, of SLOW, of quiet and separation and preparation. It is a season of peace and calm.
 
Winter is the season for reflection and introspection. It is one where on the outside, not much growth is visible, but underneath the surface, the roots are going deeper and getting stronger.
 
In winter, you can hear better. There is not as much fighting for your attention.
 
In winter, the skies are clearer and the air crisper. Unless there is a storm. There will be storms.
 
The snows and winds, the winter storms come to cover the earth. To blanket her, and provide a means for cleansing in the spring thaw. In winter, the fat is burned. The excess gets used up, or frozen and discarded. This is good. In winter, things die off. These things need to die, to make room for the new growth to come.
 
There is such beauty in the winter season of life. Sometimes it seems like relationships are hard, maybe it’s time to back off and rest for a bit. Everything is harder to do in winter. That’s why animals hibernate or migrate. We could learn from them if we watch them. Sometimes we hit those dry patches, we feel like we’re not learning anything, nothing seems to “catch us”…that’s ok. The ground is hard, impenetrable. The creator is at work in the ground of our hearts. In winter, we reflect back on what we’ve learned in the past “year”, and we plan…knowing the energy and excitement of a new season will come, it always comes. The warmth of the sun will touch our skin again. But then winter will be over.
 
Or perhaps you are in a SPRING.
 
Spring usually comes slowly. If we have truly embraced winter, and loved it. We will see the signs of spring and not grow impatient. They will encourage us. In spring, the thaw comes as slowly the position of the sun changes and the warmth and light extend into longer and longer stretches. The ground opens up. The waters wash away the debris. There is work to be done. Time for reflection and planning has passed. Hopefully, you used your winter well. It’s time to plant, to raise up seedlings, to turn the soil, to open the windows and sweep away the dust.
 
In spring, everyone seems to begin to tentatively venture outdoors again. They open up their lives and hearts again. Spring is dirty. It is wet. Sometimes it is uncertain. We aren’t sure if we need a jacket or a tshirt. So we wear both. We hear lovely birdsongs again. We see green sprouting and flowers bursting through the dirt and patches of snow. Spring is full of new life, rebirth. Ideas abound, hope is high. Love is easy, new life is celebrated and welcomed with great joy. Summer is on its way.
 
SUMMER
 
Oh the days of summer. Summer arrives in glory! The joy of days of fullness. Some harvesting, some playing, long days. Fruitful days. Food is abundant. Summer is noisy, full of song, laughter, shouting and greetings. Getting together with others is easy. Connecting with ideas and being productive is second nature. Celebration is common. Even work is fun.
 
As summer passes, the calendar fills up. The days become so full, they pass quickly, and thus summer seems to be short. It’s no shorter, just busier. Not as busy as fall mind you, but a different kind of busy. Everything is growing, until it isn’t. Then it gets hot. And DRY. Uncomfortably so. Enough to make us look forward to the cool winds of autumn. But not yet. Despite the heat and dryness, there is much work to be done, and the last of the summer fun to be had.
 
AUTUMN
In the midst of the busyness (and often the longing for more summer) people don’t even notice the early changeover of fall. Often, because of regrets in not living well in the preceding seasons…
 
But autumn is MAGNIFICENT! Many times, people lose the full benefits of the fall. It becomes rushed and harried…they lose their joy.  But regardless, it comes and speeds by with the harvesting and the people, everywhere people. Too many to be able to really take care of, but many hands make light work.
 
Thanksgiving. The reasons for a heart full of gratitude and praise are everywhere. There is beauty and abundance everywhere. While harvesting, the preserving and the setting aside the seed for the next spring. 
 
The cleanup, so much clean up. There is anticipation of a joyous celebration at the end of the autumn in the holidays. 
 
The autumn has shorter days though, and the weather and circumstances are always uncertain. It is windy, and the beauty can be blown away quickly. The Harvest rains come, to prepare the earth for the rest of Winter…but by then we are usually already inside, preparing for the celebrations that ease us from one season into another and mark the passing of the circle of time bound in a growing year.
 
Little sister… look up. Behold the season. Behold the passing of time. The ONE who has quietly observed the passing of the times and seasons through the ages, HE is with you. HE holds your days. Your moments in the sun and moments covered in the snow. Your moments caught in the storms. He is HERE. HE is HERE. In your heartbeat, In the breath of heaven that created us, that we use to walk on the earth.  In the still small voice. In the rising and setting of the sun. Calm your heart, still your mind. REST.

 

 
He is HERE. HE IS HERE.
 
 

Ordinary

Ordinary…

I’ve had a fear of being “ordinary” for as long as I can remember. It’s driven me to try to accomplish something, to “be” someone, to leave a legacy that is…special.

I haven’t wanted to be “just like everyone else”… and lately, as in the last few years, I’ve had to examine this drive. This sense of inadequacy and where it comes from.

Most people do not live to see the significance their life has or hasn’t had on their world and it’s far reaching effects…and yet I’ve been constantly aware of it. I’ve lived with a shadow on my heart because I didn’t find ‘significant’ education, or ‘significant’ success in business or ministry…

I think I’ve even tried to find ‘significance’ in my relationships with underlying motives of becoming significantly “wise”… what’s wrong with that you ask. Pretty sure that pretty much everything is wrong with that. I am a person, and the people in my life are significant because we are HERE. We all matter to someone. We all matter to God.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve developed some kind of psychological imbalance or spiritual deficit because I haven’t. I think I’ve just come to a place where I’ve realized that it’s not necessary for me to stand out from the crowd to be significant. I am no more or less significant than any other person…I am ordinary. Ordinary is not insignificant.

I matter to Him, but more than that, I’m not the only one that matters to Him. Yes I am beloved…highly favoured and blessed…but I don’t deserve it any more than the next person…none of us deserve His love, His forgiveness and grace…Yet He loves us anyways. We matter to him.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel that I have to matter to everyone else in order to matter to God. (And yes I know I am significant to my friends and family…my people – I am blessed among women). It’s just been a bit of a day of inward reckoning…

I’ve been very comfortable focusing on thinking about my place in the world, my place in history, the things I feel and think… without honestly giving a whole lot of thought to the fact that others maybe live like that too. I haven’t really thought about the role that others have might have NOTHING to do with ME. Thinking in that small minded way that everything happening around me, is about me. Crazy I know… I think I’ve been a slow learner at this… or maybe just an ordinary learner – lol.

This morning I read this post from a lovely soul (Thank you PW) who is an inspiration in her authenticity and transparency, it sums up how I’ve been feeling…

I sat in my usual spot.

I am a creature of habit.

I saw him coming down the bus aisle.

Pierced face.

Mohawk.

Pants hanging way past his waist.

“Please God don’t let him sit beside me”

I thought.

I put my purse down on the chair beside me.

Closed my eyes and leaned against the window.

Avoiding eye contact.

I felt his presence.

Standing beside me.

I opened my eyes.

He looked down at my purse and motioned me to move it.

“Fine” I thought to myself.

As I wondered why God had ignored my previous request.

He smelled like a mixture of drugs and alcohol.

I rolled up my sweatshirt and tried to ignore the smell.

I was feeling pretty sorry myself.

And wondering what I did to deserve this kick off to my Thanksgiving weekend.

I look over and noticed him texting someone.

“I want to die, everyone hates me”

The message said.

Whoosh…I could feel Jesus reminding me of where I use to be.

I started to take in this stranger beside me.

Starting at his feet.

His shoes were falling apart.

The back pack on his lap was held together with duct tape.

It was then that I noticed.

His arms.

There written with something sharp.

Were words like these:

Failure.

Worthless.

No value.

Garbage.

My eyes filled with tears.

I know what it feels.

To feel like that.

I started to pray.

For this man sharing.

My bus space.

“Are you ok” he asked.

“You aren’t worthless” I replied. “You have infinite value”

His eyes welled with tears.

“No one has ever said that to me before”

I gave him my cell number.

And said.

“Next time you feel like that, text me”

I got off at my stop.

Nodded my head goodbye.

And thanked Jesus for my new friend.

Be in prayer.

He has infinite value.

His creator said so.

Thankful that He who created me.

Sometimes says “No” to my selfish requests.

Blessed and Grateful.

For many things.

And that’s a great thought to kick off my Thanksgiving weekend.

It really is a great way to kick off the weekend!
Linking up here. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone (in Canada)!

We surrounded him…

3 years ago I witnessed a life pass from time into eternity.

The memory of it has been burned into my soul, my heart, my mind.
Death would soon usher my dad into another state of being.

Having said our goodbyes, we could not leave him alone.
My sisters and I, our husbands and my mom
Surrounded his hospital bed.
His breathing was ragged.
He was still fighting to live more days on the earth.
Helpless, the time had come.
We did what we knew, we surrounded him.
We surrounded him with love.
We surrounded him with our voices, singing.
Songs of praise, of worship, of faith, hope and love.
We were timid at first, emotions overwhelming.
But as we sang, we could not help but turn our eyes
to the One who conquered death.
The noises outside the room faded away…
Our voices grew stronger…
Eventually we knew that we ourselves were “in between”,
neither here nor there.
His breathing became easier now, softer.
Perhaps his breathing matched the phrasing of the hymns we sang…
Perhaps his breath was being “caught away”
as his body became unnecessary for truly living…
Perhaps he could not tell the difference between our voices
and the voices of angels who had come to carry him over…
And then… the moment had come and gone…
and still…
We could not help but turn our eyes
to the One who conquered death.
There was no sting, and the victory was not held by death,
but by the author of Life.
Dad passed over into eternity surrounded by love,
Surrounded by the songs of heaven.
Surrounded.
I cannot speak for the others…
But I caught a glimpse of something…
something, maybe someOne that took my breath away…
I’ve never been the same…

In remembrance – May 16th, 2008.
Aristotelis Bolovinos
We love and miss you daddy Y

“If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If i make my bed in hell, behold You are there,
If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me…
…Lead me in the way everlasting.”
Ps 139:8-10; 24b

Where do you go to church?

Where do you go to church?

I am often asked this question, and honestly lately, it’s been setting my mind a twitter…
Really, what’s being asked is “where do you go, to be who you ARE?”

Most people who’ve spent any amount of time as a follower of Christ understand this principle. We are taught that we are the church. When we become a follower, we become part of a body (Eph 5; 30) where Christ is the head and we make up the rest of the parts, working together to minister to the world… we are a body, a group of people, a FAMILY, all children, brothers and sisters. We are meant to be ONE. Over and over and over again in the New Testament, the body aka the church is encouraged, almost commanded to “be on one mind, one spirit, have the same love…”…there is ONE body, and ONE spirit, just as you were called in ONE hope of your calling; ONe Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism; ONE God and Father of all, who is above all, and through and in you all.” (Eph 4:4)
So we come back to the question… Where do you go to church?
Socially and culturally it refers to the smaller group of people you choose to meet with weekly in a building to celebrate, to worship Christ. I so long to answer…”it’s irrelevant.”
But it’s not. Nowadays, today, where you meet is of utmost importance. How you answer will determine (in some minds) how you believe – that is what factions of doctrine you hold yourself to. How you answer will imply the outward expression of your faith or the “passion” you have or don’t have. It will let people know your morality, your social standing, your dedication to family, etc. etc. etc. Of course we know this can’t REALLY tell us these things because no one really knows what is in a heart, except God that is. I wonder if many of us find a sort of peace in being able to hide behind the group we belong to, rather than BE, who we are in our world.

In doing this, we rob ourselves of our true place, our true identity as members of the body, the world-wide body of Christ. When we are aware of our place in the greater picture, when we know our authority and our responsibility. It changes everything.
We are meant to work together, all together, to encourage, bless, lift up, mourn with, rejoice with, grow with and worship and celebrate with – without limits. Without limits of time, space, geography, social standing, culture, language, age or gender.
If only we would have our eyes opened to see how deep, wide, high and vast the great Love of God is… that love that’s been poured into our hearts.
Our hearts are meant to be poured out in our world, as Jesus was. We are meant to love each other IN the body, so as a body, we can love the world. God hasn’t changed, and He loves the world so much, that He…gives.

Don’t you think that so much of church as we know it today, is about Taking. I mean really, we just want to celebrate together, be encouraged, and then be left to do our own thing. Churches have become programs, mortgages, the big show, employment opportunities, places for hospices from the world…. when really, its just supposed to be a simple celebration, an opportunity to share the joy of the LIFE that we live every other day – with Christ and with each other, as light and salt in the world.

I’m beginning to think that the best way for me to personally answer the “where do you go to church” question is…
I don’t go to church, I AM the church. I am part of the body, and wherever I go, the rest of us are. I hope that my life is a demonstration of God’s love for you today, how can I serve You today?
If you want to know what group of people, or what building I’ll be celebrating in soon…well it’s like this, just like in my earthly life, the where, the how and the scope of what I celebrate changes – it does in my spiritual life too. My worship is all the time, every day, because I’m a follower of Christ. My celebration oppourtunities are vast, there are hundreds of places where members of this body can be found, maybe it will be a big group, maybe it will be a small one, maybe I’ll be able to speak the language, maybe I won’t…it doesn’t matter. We are numerous, we are the body, the body of Christ. We are the church.
I found the following applicable, (from this blog)
Acts 2:42-47 – 42. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46. And day by day,attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lordadded to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Many people in the early church were being saved everyday because they were seeing them gather in the temple and in homes. They were seeing their love for one another and the community being established and because of it they believed in God. I also think it is reflectent of what Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” When people get to see how we relate to one another and worship God they will know who we belong to.

The expositional part of this blog post is over, if you want to read about my personal encounters with this truth, keep reading, if not. Be blessed.
Yes, WE are the church. It was never meant to have limits. I’ve experienced this way to much over the last 17 years, and I’ve been so blind.
God is not limited by the things we are limited by. He is not limited by time, space, geography, social standing, culture, language, age or gender.
While visiting India in 1998, I had the joy of celebrating Jesus with hundreds of believers in worship, and then again in smaller gatherings over two weeks. I could not speak the language, but there was no limits with God. Souls met their creator, bodies were healed, I rejoiced with a precious part of the body of the Christ, and we were ONE.
When I was travelling Canada in the year 2001, my husband and I had recently experienced our first of two miscarriages, after 3 years of brutal battles with infertility. I happened to be travelling in Eastern Canada on the day when I would have been due with my daughter, it also coincided, painfully, with Mothers day. God used a group of women I had never met to minister to my broken heart in ways that are unspeakable. I do not remember their names, but I remember the Love of God poured out to me.
In 2003 I traveled to visit my sister in France, we decided to attend a celebration service there in a village outside of Rouen, near the Northern coast. It was undoubtedly one of the most wonderful times of fellowship I have experienced with believers to this day. We shared a meal, the word, and life. It was beautiful truly.
there are countless other memories to add to this that span from North America to the South, across oceans to the Pacific Rim and back again.
As my eyes continue to be opened, I’m aware of this truth more and more. I recently had the privilege of visiting with friends and also followers of Christ in South Carolina – I joined them where they celebrate Christ each week, and it was powerful and timely to me, the sharing of the word, the fellowship all weekend long, the prayer time, rejoicing and mourning together. A couple weeks later we had friends and followers stay with us for a holiday, and again, precious fellowship, open hearts, honest prayers. Last week a family crisis rose up, and it was incredible, thanks to the power of the world wide web, to alert the believers I’ve come to know, love and value – to pray, to have the burden shared by the WHOLE body, from my limited perspective, and again to share in that burden for others when I’ve been made aware of a need.
I’m not sure who all reads this, but today I want to send a shout out to a friend in Europe. Once I was told that you Lindsay (in Croatia, yes you) read this from time to time – last week I saw your facebook status, and my heart was touched, and I lifted you up in prayer. We are the body, we are sisters and I hurt for you, I felt it. Be encouraged that you are part of something that is much bigger than you alone, something that is strong when you feel weak, wise when you are uncertain, and full of hope and peace when you are despairing – you are part of the body of Christ. We are Unlimited.

My love and affection to all of you reading this who are followers of Christ, may it not cause offense but hopefully inspire us to BE. To those who perchance who have read all this way, and do not follow Christ, thank you. Please leave a message or comment if you have questions, want to know more, or wonder what it means to be a follower of Christ, and I’d love to connect further with you.

Blessings,

T

Too, too, too

When you’ve had alot happen and it’s been awhile since you’ve last blogged, everything is “too”. too much, too big, too emotional, too intense, too, too, too… obviously this is where I’m at right now…I try to focus on something small in the midst of it all, and yet, it’s not enough.

The summer ended, projects were started, finished and more started. We made memories, enjoying the most of the sunny days – trips to the zoo, to parks, the beach, bbq’s, bonfires and so much more. Giggles, and tears, crying and laughing, being silly, being calm and rested, just being together. and this is too much. How do you encapture “life” in words. It was just wonderful, it is wonderful.

So that brings me to now, to the busyness, to the self doubts about commitments and decisions. About who to let down, and who not to. It’s too much now adays. There’s too many options for women, work, don’t work. Full time, part time, from home, out of the home and every combination. Volutneerism, and personal growth and expression, really zoning in on parenting, or taking a laid back approach, and all the reflections that accompany whichever route you take.

The nowincludes milestones. Lucas starting school, Carter crawling and pulling up on furniture, Max developing more personality everyday. It’s too much to absorb.

For me personally, a lot of emotional things to work through too. Memories, and daily events that should have been shared by Chris’ dad, by my dad, and they aren’t. Time passes without pause, and it’s too much…

Above all this, to try to take account of all the blessings that have been poured out on us, on me, oh, it’s too much. That there is a hope, a great hope. That we have a peace, that sustains us and passes understanding, that we’ve been provided for, super-abundantly. That we have joy unspeakable and that our lives are full of glory, truly, full of glory… each aspect of our life is now illuminated by a great “light”. By that awareness of that which is “great” in everything, and that we are daily growing in the knowledge of Christ. His great love, His hope of glory, His very life, his death, his victory, it’s just too much… and more than enough.