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On Fridays I post FFF to intentionally recall blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

1.Beautiful fields Yesterday my husband drove me to my post-surgical check up. We drove out of our small town, through the countryside, and into Edmonton. The fields outside our town are beautiful! Canola, wheat, and other crops undulated in the summer breeze. So lovely!

2.Improvement and doing ok At my appointment yesterday I had four dozen staples removed from my incision. During the hip replacement surgery, the surgeon followed the previous incision as closely as possible to prevent my hip and leg looking any more Frankenstein-ish than it already does. He was pleased with the healing of the incision and with my x-rays but reminded me that since this was a correction of a previous surgery, healing would take longer. He also wants me to continue featherweight weight bearing for at least another month when I next see him. I have been hopping around using my walker but decided today that I would also work on using my crutches. For a couple of weeks after surgery, I was so weak, dizzy, shaky, uncoordinated, and nauseous that using crutches was not advisable. I think working on using them a little each day will give me more choices in getting around.

3.Sweet kisses from grandchildren How wonderful to have my grandchildren here for these few weeks and to enjoy their sweet little kisses and enthusiastic take on life!

4.Helpful supportive family My family continues to be amazingly helpful and supportive as I recover and am still very limited in what I am able to do. Each one of them has helped, blessed, and encouraged me on this unexpected journey. My church family and the broader Christian community has also blessed me in amazing ways. I am so very grateful for every one of these blessings.

5.God’s promises At these times of illness and emergency I sometimes struggle with fear. I am deeply grateful for God’s words which are truth and for those who speak them to me in my times of doubt and struggle. I have been frequently quoting Psalm 94:19, a verse I recently learned. “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Amen!

I have not been out to take pictures since my emergency surgery so here are a few more photos from our June vacation in Holden Beach, North Carolina.

Askew

Marsh friend

Lovely lilies

Sunset reflections

Beauty all around

Sea oats on the waterway

 

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Suzanne hosts Friday Fave Five at Living to Tell the Story to encourage us to count our blessings each week. This week I am coupling my Titus 2 Thoughts with FFF.

To be honest, I did not expect to be writing a FFF today. When my doctor called on Tuesday and told me my x-ray shows my most recent hip replacement has is broken and I will be scheduled for emergency surgery in the next day or two, I literally believed a day or two. The latest word is ‘sometime this weekend.’ My son asked if that means they have downgraded me from emergency to urgent. Maybe, but for now, I am supposed to ‘just use crutches’ and keep weight off that leg.

Just use crutches. Hmmm. Part of what I have been experiencing the last few weeks involves balance issues and motion sickness. Partner that with my natural lack of coordination and that little phrase ‘just use crutches’ is fraught with potential disaster galore. “Here, poor sick, sometimes-dizzy, out-of-shape lady with a wonky hip, just hobble around on these two little sticks. Keep your leg off the ground, oh, and press those crutches into your ribs. No, no! do NOT jam the pad into your armpits! Stand up straight! Grasp those hand grips and use your arms to hold your lumpy self up! No slumping! Simply follow these 25 easy illustrated steps to master the art of using crutches for any occasion.” It may sound crazy, but having to use crutches post-surgically is probably the thing I dread most about this surgery.

After my last hip replacement, I told myself I never wanted to go through hip replacement surgery again. A congenital condition, both hips replaced now, we’re done. Guess what? I’m not in charge. I can do ‘everything right’ and still not be in the position to control whether or not I have to endure something once or a dozen times. God is in control, and He orchestrates every part of my life for my good and His glory.

I’m an introvert and do a lot of self-talk. This can get me in trouble when I do not filter my thoughts through the truth of God’s Word. Lugubrious, self-focused Eyore thinking does not glorify God and is not helpful to me or to those around me.

My self-talk: anxiety and fear. God’s truth: Be anxious for nothing. God has not given us a spirit of fear. I will never leave you or forsake you.

My self-talk: What about the unknowns? How am I going to get through this arduous surgery and recovery again? God’s truth: My grace is sufficient for you.

Remember the children of Israel in the desert? God provided manna daily for them. If they tried to save up for the next day (with the exception of the Sabbath) the manna would spoil and not be fit to eat. In a similar way, God provides grace to help in our time of need. It’s not saved up like money in a bank but is instantly provided for each situation. That is a promise we can rest on.

So here are five blessings among many from the past week.

1. Protection from a potentially life-threatening situation because of my broken prosthesis. I’m not sure how long it has been broken, but I have had symptoms (that I thought was a flare up of my fibromyalgia) for at least 6 weeks

2. Loving family, church, family, and friends. I have blessed with flowers, cards, and the promise of prayer from many friends from around the world. My husband and daughters have helped in so many ways. My son and his family arrive in 2 weeks ready to help, too.

3. Getting my desk work caught up while waiting for the call about surgery. I finished some reports, organized some photos, filed some papers, and set up some automatic payments in preparation for my time in hospital.

4. Living at a time and in a place where I can be helped medically. Such a blessing!

5. All the wonderful ministry friends I met and fellowshipped with at the conference we recently attended in North Carolina. It was a joy to spend time with many who serve God faithfully across the globe, hear their stories, and learn of their hearts for the places where God has called them to minister.

Update! I just got the phone call. I will be admitted through emergency today and surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

Here are a few more pictures from our recent vacation to Holden Beach in North Carolina.

Beautiful hydrangeas

Reflection

Marsh visitor

Sunset on marsh

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

1.Family night I always enjoy having my family here. These days when four of my five children live nearby, we try and have family night at least twice a month. Several of our children have lived abroad and are back here for now, and one still lives in China with his family. I cherish these face-to-face times we have to laugh, eat, debate, and share God’s grace in our lives.

2.Rest I have had a low-key restful week, which I pretty much always need after we travel. When we are traveling it’s hard to know for sure that I am eating gluten-free and avoiding the foods that make me sick. I did fairly well – only sick twice – but am grateful to be home again and to rest.

3.Crazy, amazing weather One of the things we missed when we moved to Alberta from the States many years ago was thunderstorms. While we would enjoy an occasional storm in Calgary, it was nothing like the humidity-infused, light and noise shows that defined South Carolina storms. This summer we have had many breathtaking thunderstorms in the Edmonton area. But not only did we have severe thunderstorm warnings here, we had a tornado warning while we were in Saskatchewan. In a moment of craziness, Bud and I drove around and took pictures of the menacing sky and the beautiful sunset colours as the storm weakened.

"What tornado warning?"

“What tornado warning?”

tornado warning

tornado warning

beginning to clear

beginning to clear

sun behind clouds

sun behind clouds

sunset coming

sunset coming

after the warning

after the warning

 

4.Joy in truth I have been deeply impressed as I have been studying the Scriptures that God is for us. He is for His children. This does not mean that we do not have trials or difficulties, but as we go through troubling times, God is there, encouraging us as we learn needed lessons, comforting us as we encounter our own failings, healing us as we acknowledge our sin-soaked brokenness and turn to Him for help. I find this deeply encouraging and the source of exceptional peace in dark moments.

5.Truffles The Lindt Lindor white chocolate truffles are gluten free…..and oh, so yummy!

Have you counted your blessings this week?

Here are more pictures from our Saskatchewan trip.

hawk

hawk

taking off

taking off

circling

circling

hawk and hay

hawk and hay

thistle

thistle

moon in the mist

moon in the mist

over the rise

over the rise

fix building (16)

twins

fix building (7) - Copy

total abandon

fix building (4)

beyond the fence

fix building (3)

still standing

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

1. This week we were able to enjoy the fellowship of a family temporarily here until their immigration papers come through to serve in ministry elsewhere. It was a blessing to get to know them a little this week. We’ve also had a fellow minister and occasional teacher at the college staying with us this week. He is a blessing to our family in every way and we always enjoy having him in our home.

2.Freshly returned from their honeymoon to Rome, our daughter and son-in-law regaled us with stories of their travels and explorations of the City of the Seven Hills at our weekly family night dinner. It was so much fun to discuss special places we discovered on our visit there a few years ago and learn what’s the same and what has changed.

3.This week I began rereading some of my missionary biography collection. I was looking to source a quotation which I thought was from Amy Carmichael’s God’s Missionary and ended up reading the whole thing. It’s a booklet, so not hard or long to read, but Amy Carmichael’s writing tends to be introspective and somewhat mystical so it requires some contemplation, evaluation, and simplification when reading her works. I did not find the quote I was looking for so began perusing Elisabeth Elliot’s work on Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die. Still haven’t found my quote, but I shall persevere! (Ahem * Grumpy Grammar Lady reminds you that this word is pronounced “per-se-vere.” Do not be bamboozled, hornswoggled, or flimflammed into saying “per-ser-vere.” There is no ‘r’ in the second syllable of persevere. But I digress…)

4.Someday some smart researcher will be able to definitively explain why cloudy days and stormy weather make some of us ache physically (my arthritis and fibromyalgia yell at me when it’s cloudy outside!) or feel down mentally. We’ve had a few of those days this week. I am grateful for every clear and sunny day and the positive influence they have on my outlook. More sunny days coming! Sunday is the first day of Spring.

5.I am grateful for brothers and sisters in Christ who willingly discuss thorny theological issues and controversial topics without judgement, but with an understanding that our mutual goal in any such discussion is to be made more conformed to the image of Christ.

I didn’t get much photography practice this week, but did get a few gloomy day pics of rural Alberta on Saturday.

Near Beaumont 2 Near Beaumont 5 Near Beaumont 7

What were some of your blessings this week?

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???????????????????????????????For those in our church:  you really missed a great blessing if you missed last night’s service.  We had a special evening of testimonies and singing, and it seemed as if God drew back the curtain to give us a glimpse of what He has been doing behind the scenes.

Hard things

It can be easy to look at and even focus on the hard things, or the things we view as bad that are going on in our lives. I certainly have been guilty of this.  When we do this we forget that God is still there, still working out things for His glory and our good.

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery

Remember Joseph?  Hated by his own brothers – this is bad.  Sold into slavery – how could those brothers be so mean? Falsely accused and thrown into prison – that Mrs. Potiphar was really wicked.  Languished in prison when the butler forgot his promise – how could he?

The story, as we know does not end there.  Joseph was not only brought out of prison, he was appointed second highest official in the land.  In Genesis 50:20 Joseph reassures his bothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”  When we look at part “A” and react to all the bad stuff, we are forgetting part “B,” “But God…”

Saul wanted to kill David

David, anointed to be the next king of Israel, had to be constantly on the move to avoid the murderous plans of jealous king Saul.  Day after day Saul pursued David and day after day David moved out of the way.  To onlookers this chase must have appeared to have an uncertain outcome, until we read in 1 Samuel 23:14, “And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.”  God was protecting David all along in spite of appearances.

Jesus was crucified

When Jesus conducted His preaching and teaching ministry many followed Him with gratitude and joy.  Yet one terrible day He was falsely accused, beaten, and killed.  His followers were shocked and grieved.  Some did not realize these events fulfilled biblical prophecies of the coming Messiah. Paul recounts the crucifixion story in Acts 13:29-30, “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead.”  What initially seemed to be a terrible injustice was, in fact, planned by the hand of God for the salvation of mankind.

But God…

When we arrive at the end of our rope, the end of our hope, the end of our courage, or the end of our strength, we need to be encouraged by the “but God” verses of Scripture.  Psalm 73:26 reminds us, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Forever means today, tomorrow and every day of our future.

God is still there

Are you burdened about something in your life, your family, your church, your wider circle?  As I listened to the testimonies last night I was encouraged that in every case when people got to the end of themselves God was still there, still involved, still leading, and still loving.  God is faithful to His word and is still using those who are willing to let go and give Him glory in their lives.

God’s choices

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 reminds us, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Take heart!

Something difficult may be happening in your life today.  Take heart! The same ‘but God’ verses which encouraged saints in the past are still true for us today.

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20130720_200311 - CopyGod’s provision

Years ago God gave me the opportunity to purchase second-hand missionary biographies very inexpensively.  We had a wonderful used book store in our city run by two retired sisters who had formerly served as missionaries in Africa.  Their burden was to get good resources into the hands of local pastors.  News spread, books were donated, and many, including my husband and I, were blessed and helped in ministry because of these dear ladies.

Church library

As a child I ransacked our church library and read as many missionary books as possible.  I loved reading about people from all walks of life, with all kinds of personalities, and many different skills and hindrances whom the Lord used to spread the gospel across the world.

Gleaning gems

When I learned that the used bookstore carried not only commentaries, but also biographies, I was thrilled.  Initially when I visited the bookstore I would stand and stare at the hundreds of missionary titles and wonder how to separate what was good from what was fluff.  A dear missionary mentor, Bettie Dreisbach, helped guide me in my selections.  She told me that reading missionary books was like mining for precious gems; sometimes you would come away with a gem or two, but sometimes you would glean a whole vault of gems from these books.

Family devotions

My husband and I had family devotions with our five children and would often read missionary stories in conjunction with Bible reading.  My husband would stop mid sentence at an exciting part or give a dramatic pause and finish with a cliff hanger so the kids would squirm in their seats and beg him to read more.  We discovered some good biographies written for youth, but not many written for preschoolers and very young readers, and so we compromised and edited as we read to keep our children’s attention.

Missionary stories for toddlers

A couple of years ago I was challenged by some friends, young couples with small children, to use my missionary books as references to write missionary stories for young children.  Tomorrow will be the first in what I hope will be a long series of stories written with my grandchildren and other toddlers in mind.  If you use these in family devotions or to teach your children, please pass on any feedback so that I can improve and refine the process as I write.

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No advantage in life can shield us from heartaches7-15-10 (70)

Heartaches. They afflict us in every area of life: marriage, pregnancy, child rearing, family relationships, health, jobs, finances, our dealings with other Christians, our interaction with the unsaved. No one is exempt from them: the young or the old, the weak or the strong, male or female, educated or unschooled, handicapped or healthy, PhD or illiterate, debutante or derelict, virtuoso or unskilled. No advantage in life can shield us from heartaches.

There is help in God’s Word

Who among us has not felt stabs of anguish or the pangs of sorrow over certain, maybe even many, unexpected or uncontrollable events in our lives? We women are emotional creatures. God has made us that way and formed us to accomplish His unique will in our lives with full knowledge of that emotional nature. He does not give us this nature, then allow events to stir up and touch that nature, without also providing us a remedy from these troubles that so weigh us down. There is help, solace, and comfort in the Word of God.

Hannah and her heartaches

In 1 Samuel 1 we get a glimpse of Hannah and her heartaches. Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah and grieved over her childlessness. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, bore sons and daughters for him, but his love was directed toward Hannah. Can you imagine the tension in that home where it was known that the husband loved one wife more than the other? Day after day Hannah was taunted and mocked for her barrenness so that she was in anguish of soul.

Overwhelmed by anguish

Truly Hannah lived under great stress. As she focused on her troubles, she was dismayed and despondent. To make matters worse, Elkanah did not seem to understand the depth of her anguish. We too, find ourselves in situations where we are overwhelmed by circumstances we cannot change. Often those we turn to for comfort do not seem to understand our distress.

Hannah changed her focus

Somewhere in her grief Hannah changed her focus. She was able in the full emotion of her heart to lay her burden before the Lord in prayer. Perhaps she realized that there is no human comfort to help in the midst of certain griefs. Maybe she understood that no earthly intervention would alter her circumstances.

Pouring out our hearts before God

We do know that she poured out her heart before the Lord, laying her heart bare in all of its distress and sorrow. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.” (v. 10) When Eli observed her lips moving without sound and rebuked her for being drunk, she reiterated that she was bringing her distress before the Lord. “I am a woman of sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.” (v.15) “for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.” (v. 16)

In the Lord there is relief

In earnestly entreating the Lord, Hannah had come to the point where she understood that with the Lord there is real relief from the deepest of troubles. We need to honestly and without reserve, entreat the Great Physician to provide remedy for our every heartache.

Peace and joy

Hannah came away from her time of prayer with peace and joy in her heart. “So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” (v.18) God spoke through Eli to assure her that her prayer would be answered.

Casting all your care on God

God gives us assurance through the Holy Spirit that He will hold our burden for us. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7) Where better to leave our heartache than with the “One that inhabiteth eternity”? (Isaiah 57:15) God knows all things. He is able to sort out even the most impossible mess in our lives, change the most stubborn of hearts, soothe the distresses that cause us to turn our focus from Him to ourselves.

Fix your focus on God

In coming to a place of peace in the midst of her circumstances, Hannah gives us one of the most wonderful poems of praise recorded in the Old Testament. “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord…, I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” (I Samuel 2:1-2) Hannah’s focus has become fixed on the Lord and His mighty attributes. No longer is her focus on her self or her circumstances, but on the Lord and His greatness. Her focus now rests on the One who can change any circumstance, relieve any heartache.

“The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.”

Unbeckoned heartaches will descend on us at many points in life. Our natural man responds by focusing on the trouble causing the heartache. Thomas Watson, seventeenth century preacher, aptly observed, “If God be our God, He will give peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.” Only when we remove our focus from ourselves and our circumstances, as Hannah learned to do, will we be able to overcome the heartaches that are an inevitable part of the life of every Christian woman.

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