Imperfect

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Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.

~ Francis de Sales

It’s frustrating the way imperfections, like bugs on flowers, don’t show up until I blow up a photo on the big screen.

It’s frustrating when I don’t see imperfections in my own life until circumstances blow them up and project them on a screen where I can’t miss them.

Seeing our own flaws can suck the courage right out of us, but God in his kindness points out problems that could mess things up later. His grace is the empowerment to change. When he points out a fly on the flower in the way we relate to others, it’s not to convince us to hide in shame. It’s to infuse us with the courage to make changes that will improve our ability to love as he loves.

It’s his patient kindness that leads to repentance. He has invested everything in seeing us become who he knows we really are. Have patience. He knows what he’s doing.

 

 

Finders Keepers

 

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I lost my finder.

My talent for losing keys, wallet, and phone is the butt of jokes in my family. All of them hear me say, “I just had it in my hand!” regularly – like every time I am late for something. My adult kid and her spouse bought me several of those little electronic dollar coin-sized devices that are supposed to keep track of important stuff, like keys wallet and phone. I call them my finders. I appreciate the help. They have rescued me more than once.

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One evening this week I drove out to favourite spots about half an hour away, hoping to catch golden hour light. Frankly, I forgot to account for the advancing season and early mountain shadow on that side of the valley. The window of opportunity shrunk rapidly. I took a few photos, then came home.

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I know I had a finder on my car keys at Munro Lake because I noticed it coming out of its stretchy pouch that hangs on my keychain. I put it back in. When I pulled them out of the ignition at the next stop, the finder was missing.

I searched the car, including under and around the seats. I checked every pocket in my clothes and in my camera bag. Then I checked again. And again.

I must have dropped it somewhere in my meanderings. Losing an item whose only purpose in life is to help me not lose things was just too embarrassing. I had to find it before the jokes started. My phone should help me track it down, right?

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The next morning, I went back to the same area –with my camera, of course. The morning light was wonderful. The birds gathered in the meadow preparing for their flight south. The breeze blew sweetly and the sun glistened on the grass. Heavenly.

I checked my phone. It located my key finder… last known location …28 km away… two weeks ago.

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That was no help. I walked up and down the Peavine road looking for a shiny object. I went back to Munro Lake and Mineral Lake and Moyie Lake – eventually. The morning felt like that time my friends kidnapped me when I turned down an opportunity to go on a picnic one perfect spring day because I thought I should study.

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I felt like God kidnapped me this time. I felt his love and his presence as we walked and talked. I was in no rush. I didn’t want to leave.

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Four hours later, after I couldn’t think of anywhere else to look, I said, “When I first got to know you, Lord, you showed me you were with me by finding things for me. Could you do that again? I know it’s a just a little tracker, but I can’t find it myself. I’ve looked everywhere. I need you.”

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I saw people carrying kayaks toward the beach and took a few more photos. Then I went back to the car. I opened the door. There was my finder! On my car seat!

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Today a friend was talking about sensing God’s presence. We don’t call him down to be in our midst. He’s here already. He promised he wouldn’t leave. He seeks our presence. He delights in us. He wants us, our attention. Our awareness of him increases by focusing on him through whatever means he invites us to worship. For me that often means being out in nature.

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Spending time with the Lord is not an escape from reality. He wants us to bring that awareness of his presence into everything we do.

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I wonder if God feels like I do sometimes when I’ve gone to a lot of work to prepare a meal for my loved ones and they can’t hear me call them for diner because they have ear phones on, or are engaged in heated discussion with someone, or think they can’t take time away from work. I’m there. I’m just not on their radar at the moment.

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It wasn’t my finder that needed finding. It was me. I’m glad God kidnapped me.

Thank you, Lord. That was a delicious meal. You are beautiful.
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Love, Beauty, Faith, Life

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The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

~Elie Wiesel

I prayed this week about creeping indifference in my own heart. I asked God what he wants to replace it with. Then I heard:

Love

Beauty

Faith

Life

 

Eternal Light

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I haven’t painted anything for nearly a year. Sometimes I take out a canvas, put it on the easel and ask, “What should I paint?” I stare at it for a while. I go through my idea file of photos looking for something that inspires me. Then I pack everything back in the closet and go fold laundry or check Facebook again.

It’s kind of like spending an hour looking for just the right Netflix show to accompany a nap on the couch and then, failing to be enticed by yet another description of the protagonist’s discovery of a “dark secret,” turning the TV off and going back to work without the satisfaction of either a movie or a snooze.

Ususally I am energized by creative endeavours, but I’ve been slacking off writing lately too. I’m trying to discipline myself to make more progress on a big project, but it feels like I’ve been on a long climb for a long time.

It’s a strange place. The air is thinner here. My steps are slower. My stride shuffles rather than bounds. I measure progress on the novel by paragraphs completed instead of chapters. I measure personal progress in terms of surviving another day without letting fear or irritability dominate…too much.

I’m not depressed. I’m well-acquainted with what depression feels like. This is more like the fatigue that comes from working on a restoration project that has no end in sight — or climbing a mountain that is a lot higher than it seemed when the trek started.

Nasty side effects of medication I’m told I need keep me house-bound more than I like, even as an introvert. After four surgeries (one which was only the removal of a big toenail, but hey, that took a disappointingly long time to heal), my body is going to need time to fully recover. I understand that.  But I’m tired of being tired.

This week, friends issued an invitation for artists to come and paint during an evening dedicated to worship. Burn 24-7 calls for no agenda but focus on God and his goodness. People who attend are free to worship in whatever way the Lord leads them. Some sing. Some dance. Some wave banners. Some sit quietly. Some paint.

I’ve heard this type of art experience labeled prophetic art. Others call it worship art. One of my friends calls the finished pictures “painted prayers.” Any of those terms work for me. I decided, despite not feeling well this week, that I needed to go. I need to worship.

As I packed my tubes of paint and checked the condition of brushes I asked the Lord what I should paint. I had no idea. When I have painted at events like this before I often don’t know what’s going to happen until the music plays for a while. Nothing profound came to mind, but when I got there I realized that part of a choral song called Lux Aeterna had been playing in my head all day. The English translation is, “May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord, with Thy saints forever, for Thou art kind.”

I remembered a day almost a year ago when I walked through the tall cathedral of autumn-gold trees by the Elk River in Fernie, B.C.. We stopped for lunch on the way to an appointment with the surgeon who would remove the tumour from my abdomen. Fear almost won that day. I wanted to run in the opposite direction. I was afraid I would never see my favourite season again.

And now as summer becomes autumn, the trees along the path once again turn to gold. I am still here. My Lord still holds my hand and walks with me just as He promised.

I decided to paint my favourite cathedral – the forest. With the words “eternal light” still in my head I painted a prayer for that light to continue to shine in the scary shadowy places in my heart. I painted the celebration of another season of colour, and then I painted myself as a much-loved child holding the hand of the Lover of my soul. He leads me toward glory in the comfort of His friendship and humble majesty.

I can’t explain it, but there is something about an atmosphere of dedicated prayer and worship that makes painting faster and easier. Except for a few touch-ups this painting came together in one session.

I sat back and looked at it. “What are you saying today, Lord?” I asked.

This is the scripture passage that came up when I searched my Bible.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17.18 NASB)

He is kind. He is forever kind. He promised to never leave.

The journey continues.