Joseph creek flood ch IMG_7717

It’s runoff season in the mountains. This time of year pretty little streams can turn into aggressive torrents churning up mud and rock as they rush down to the valley on their way to the sea. If heavy rains coincide with melting snow this season can be messy, and even destructive and dangerous. I am tempted to complain. Loudly.

I went for a walk along the creek that flows near our house. I could actually hear rocks tumbling in two giant culverts that directed rushing water under the bicycle path. The banks of the creek are unstable and some trees no longer grip enough soil with their tangled roots to stay upright. Even in places that looked dry, my feet sank ankle deep in the soft saturated lawn in the park.

We are reading reports of massive flooding all over the southern portion of the province of British Columbia well as many other places in Canada. In some areas, homes, and shops are inundated. Hillsides slip slide away and roads and bridges are washed out. Traffic is chaotic. Our own home is still drying out from the last messy melt and repairs may take months.

kin park flood wide IMG_7630

Yesterday, as I walked beside the muddy pounding waters flowing from the high mountains, I heard the word “abundance.” I saw the creek overflowing its banks and spill out into the playing field where kids’ soccer lessons should be starting soon. They will be disappointed. How can this be abundance when it feels like loss?

joseph creek white water IMG_7686

ft steele winter eve chI remembered that the first European settlers who came to this area followed the stories of the discovery of gold in Wildhorse Creek. It was the violent spring run-off currents that washed the precious metal down from the treacherous terrain above. After prospectors and entrepreneurs filled their pockets with gold dust and nuggets they sent for their wives and children. Along with families came the merchants and services that families need. Roads and train rails reached the area. Towns sprang up – then churches and schools and eventually arenas and shopping malls and an airport with a runway big enough to accommodate international flights.


flood water tree stumps IMG_7712

I thought about some of the large successful ranches in the interior of B.C. Arable land is a valuable and relatively sparse in this province of massive rocks reaching to the sky. Many rich valleys which produce abundant harvests and feed sheep and cattle were, at one time, flood plains. Like the people who live along the lower Nile River, we have come to depend on soil nutrients carried by occasional flood water and the rain and melted snow that refills lakes, aquifers, and reservoirs.

creek trees flood IMG_7646

The bigger picture I think the Lord is showing me is that we may pray for prosperity, but we don’t always recognize it when it comes because our concept of prosperity is all about current comfort. It seldom includes the well-being of generations we probably won’t meet let alone planning for decades ahead. Perhaps abundance includes more people than we think.

kin park flood IMG_7624I wonder if the same thing happens when we are tempted to complain loud and long about uncomfortable circumstances in our lives. We don’t always see them as gifts that can benefit our great- great- grandchildren. We tend to be short-sighted and don’t enjoy setting aside our convenience for a greater purpose – especially one that is not obvious. We don’t realize that traits like steadfast courage, resilience, diligence, unashamed hope and trust in God’s goodness developed in times of “just too much” can be the greatest inheritance we can pass on to future generations.

Yes, there are disasters orchestrated by the evil one who intends to harm us, but God can still turn plans meant for our harm into better plans meant for our benefit. It’s his specialty. He’s done it many times. He will do it again. Just watch.

Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
I know that God is good!

– John Greenleaf Whittier


After the Rain, After the Flood

hallway water IMG_1378

Can I be honest? I am disappointed. Not devastated, but disappointed.

Only four months ago we finally finished a big renovation project. My Dad, who perfected the art of frugality, left me a little money after he passed away. We used it to do long needed repairs to our house and to completely re-finish the lower level. It’s taken nearly three years, but by Christmas it was finally done and I loved it. Our son spent many long hours away from his own wife and children to use his creative carpentry skills and give me the home I always wanted.

And now? Now, like many people in our town, I stand in my own house in rubber boots and wade through water that ought not to be inside our beautiful warm home with its new flooring and freshly painted walls and white trim. Water swirls around the new freezer and washer and dryer.

I’ve not been writing much this week because I have, with friends, been pumping water out the back door for seven days. When the huge dump of snow we had this winter began to melt, it had no escape route. Many of the houses in our town are filling with icy cold water flowing into low places and bubbling up from sewers. It seems the only place the water has not ventured is into the room with the drain installed in the floor to deal with such things.

Wonderful friends jumped in to help last Saturday. Then one by one our friends jumped out to bail out their own homes when the water reached them. Some of them are now in  deeper water than we have been. One brave guy came over and emptied an 1100 square foot pool with two shop vacuums all by himself – two days in a row! I am so grateful. But it filled up again within a couple of hours.

My husband’s mother is ill and needs help, so he flew up to her place in Alberta on Sunday. I am here. I’m still supposed to take it easy after surgery last month but there is really not much choice but to bend and lift and bail and do the best I can.

It’s not enough. There is really nothing I, or anyone else, can do. I have to let it go.

My Facebook friend has been posting pictures of the horrendous flood in Peru, where he lives in Lima – without access to water, ironically enough. Another friend posts photos from a famine in Africa and another pictures of the destruction in the Middle East. My problem is pitifully insignificant in comparison. No one has died here. It’s just property damage.

Yet as I heard a young woman say, “If you have no right to be sad because someone has it worse, you have no right to be happy when someone has it better.” Feelings are feelings. Like the feeling of thirst the feeling of disappointment carries no shame. It’s what I do with that disappointment that matters. If I fail to hold these things in an open hand and give my right to own nice stuff back to God it could congeal into bitterness. I’ve known that heavy entrapment before. I lost years to it.

The night before my husband first stepped on an unexpectedly cold soggy rug in the middle of the family room I had a dream. In this dream I was driving on the top of a snow-covered dike that ended near the river. I needed to turn around, but the trail was very narrow and a deep pool of water surrounded the dike like a flood plain. I almost made the turn, but then my car began to slide into the water. I knew there was nothing I could do. I felt annoyed and resigned, but not particularly upset or panicky.

As my vehicle began to sink I knew I had to give it up. (I love my little Honda Insight). I exited through the window and swam toward the snowy dike. By the time I touched the shore it had become a solid rock beach. People who hadn’t been there before waited with warm blankets to cover me. I saw men attaching cables to my car and salvaging it before it was completely submerged. Someone behind me, wrapping a warm hand-made quilt around my shivering body, whispered in my ear, “This looks very dramatic and like it’s a big deal, but it’s not. You’re going to be okay.”


My feet are wet and cold. I watch the water lap up against the new library shelves. They are already warping. It’s only stuff, I know that. But it’s a loss, and I’m sad. And that’s okay.

In January I asked the Lord to give me a word about what aspect of himself he wanted to show me in this season. In a vision in the night I saw the word “berit” written in the sky. I wrote it down and looked it up in the morning. The first article I found said it was a form of the Hebrew word for covenant promise – a one way promise from God that is not conditional on his people conforming to a code of behaviour to bring about fulfillment. It’s simply part of his faithfulness to keep it.

rainbow square mountain pass IMG_9852 chSomeone asked me if I’ve seen any rainbows lately, considering all the rain that was melting mounds of snow. I remembered seeing this word written in the sky. In Genesis a rainbow is a berit. I saw a literal word of promise taking the place of a rainbow in the sky.

You know, it shouldn’t surprise me that as I write this I am remembering that today is the anniversary of the day our daughter was told she couldn’t have children. It’s also her daughter’s birthday, the first of three miracle babies.

Today is also the anniversary of a terrible day when our son-in-law crashed after surgery for flesh-eating disease. The doctors didn’t think he would live. On this date a year after that he and our daughter celebrated his miraculous better-than-before recovery by going on a mountain bike adventure.

Shortly after that our son and family experienced a flood far worse than this one. Their house sat in a lake of water and they were displaced for months. This week marks the completion of the restoration of their house to better-than-new condition, it’s sale, and the beginning of a new project.

I guess if you want to see miracles you’re going to find yourself in situations that call for them. I am disappointed, yes, but not beaten down, not without hope, not without other treasures. We have wealth in caring friends, in family, in the laughter of grandchildren. We also know that God never allows something to be removed without replacing it with something better. I am anticipating that he will do it again.

A song has been going through my head this week. One line in particular seems to be on repeat:

After the rain
After the flood
You set your promise in the sky…

God is good. Still good. Always good.

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

(Habakkuk 3:17-20 NASB)



Go Back

IMG_7387 washout

I was driving down a familiar road yesterday when I saw this warning sign. I had a choice to keep going and see if I could find a way through, or change my plans, turn around and go back to the start of this road. I stopped to consider my options. A couple a big trucks with high clearance passed me and plowed through on the left shoulder of the road.

I turned back.

I’ve been praying about a personal problem that keeps recurring in my life (weight gain and  loss and gain and loss and gain…  if you really must know).  I’m tired of it, (way beyond frustrated, as a matter of fact) but I haven’t seen any solution but to buckle down and try harder and go down the same dieting [self-imposed starvation] road yet again. As I drove back these thoughts came to mind.

“And how’s that working for ya? Working harder, I mean. Re-doubling your efforts?”

Well, it hasn’t worked in the long run yet. In fact every time I put in maximum effort, within a year or two it’s worse and I get more discouraged.

“And how long has this pattern been going on?”


“Maybe it’s time to re-think. Maybe the problem is not the problem. Maybe the problem is only here to reveal the real problem. Maybe it’s time to quit plowing through and go back to the beginning.”



We can choose, determine, will, discipline ourselves, make an effort, decide, toil… and as soon as another crisis requires focused willpower, we realize that character quality is a limited quantity in us. We can’t try any harder.

For many years I was taught, “Love is something that you do,” and “Love is a choice.” I suppose that applies to doing right by myself as much as doing right by others and doing right by God. But is that really love? Or is that a burden?

In the story of the Prodigal Son, when the younger brother spent his inheritance and returned, humbled, to his father to ask for a job as servant, the elder brother was thrown into a crisis. When his father accepted his brother back without punishment (or a five-year disciplinary waiting period in which he proved he was willing to submit and work harder at earning trust and paying back what he owed) the elder brother was forced to question the basis of his relationship with his Father. He was crushed and angry. He realized his years of faithful service, his choice to put duty ahead of pleasure, his sense of entitlement based on job performance and “doin’ it right the first time” brought him no more love and reward than his wayward brother received. The crisis revealed his own loveless heart and fragile relationship with both his father and brother.

There are times when the feelings aren’t there, when maintaining a relationship (even with oneself) is a matter of choosing to do things consistent with the way a loving person would act. A relationship based on willpower is a rocky one though. When a crisis demands a re-direction of energy the truth comes out. Marriage counselors often ask the question, “What was it that attracted you to your mate in the first place?” Sometimes we forget, and we need to go back and remember the nights when we talked on the phone for hours because we didn’t want to be the first to hang up. Sometimes we need to remember those feelings when no one else mattered, when we thought of nothing else but what would please our loved one and the giddy joy it gave us when they smiled, or when their knock on our door thrilled our hearts.

The people in the church at Ephesus looked like they had a marvelous relationship with God. They did everything required of them, and more. They worked hard, they maintained high moral standards, they weeded out false influences, they patiently endured, they were loyal and unwavering in their application of will-power.  But it wasn’t good enough. Their heart just wasn’t in it anymore.  They had somehow lost their passionate emotion-engaging love for Christ.

Through the prophet Isaiah God warned a people who He said praised Him with their lips, but whose hearts were far from Him, that the days of doing the right things for the wrong reasons would soon be over. He was blocking that path. He sent the same message through the angel who spoke to John about the church at Ephesus:

Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Ephesus. “These are the words of the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks and moves among the golden lampstands: “I know your deeds, your tireless labor, and your patient endurance. I know you do not tolerate those who do evil. Furthermore, you have diligently tested those who claim to be emissaries, and you have found that they are not true witnesses. You have correctly found them to be false.  I know you are patiently enduring and holding firm on behalf of My name. You have not become faint.

“However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love. Do you remember what it was like before you fell? It’s time to rethink and change your ways; go back to how you first acted. However, if you do not return, I will come quickly and personally remove your lampstand from its place… ” (Revelation 2 The Voice)

For a group that would pass many people’s criteria on what a healthy church looks like this is a pretty harsh word. I think removing the lampstand meant removing the light that they didn’t want hidden under a basket. It was the light that attracted people. Loss of the lampstand meant loss of influence.

It’s hard for those who have worked hard to spread the gospel, guard against heresy, and maintain standards to see those who have lived carelessly welcomed, accepted, honoured and given gifts beyond anything they have ever known. (I suppose it’s like the way nothing makes me madder or more resentful than the way people who have never struggled with weight issues, or spent years dieting, offer weight-loss advice as they freely enjoy a sandwich with bread on both sides.) I do believe we will soon see an influx of “fringe people” returning to experience the gracious forgiveness and generosity of the Father. It will be a time of crisis that reveals many church-type people’s hearts though. Older brothers (and sisters) need to hear the message now: Everything in the Father’s house is already yours. It is not reserved for some day in the distant future after you go to heaven and receive your inheritance. God sees and appreciates your hard work. The right words and actions are there, but the heart has long been cold. The heart is what really matters. He cares enough to post a brightly coloured message that continuing to go down this road is not going to work.


Go back.

Find your first love.

Through the river

Photo: River rock in the flood

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God.

(Isaiah 43)

I took my little granddaughter swimming this week. The new pool has a “river” with a strong current that is so much fun — to me, anyway. Daisy spent a lot of the time standing on the edge of the pool throwing balls and floating toys at me in an aquatic game of  “fetch”, in which I was supposed to respond to her bidding. I tried to convince her to jump into my arms, but she whined that she didn’t want to. It was too scary. I knew I would never let her go under and that learning to swim is a very useful skill that starts with getting in the water. She didn’t know that.

So often my prayers are more about worrying at God and trying to convince him to take my discomfort more seriously, so he will stop it, than they are about listening to him. Instead of asking,  “God? What are You trying to show me and how can I honour Your plans?” I am often more likely to holler, “Ouch! I don’t like this lesson! Fix the problem, don’t fix me. I’ll be just fine when the world changes, thank you very much. I don’t really trust you to keep me safe.”

Instead He answers, “Trust me. Listen to Me. Do it my way and you will not be overwhelmed. It looks scary, I know, but you are capable of much more than you think. Let me show you.”

Trust vs. fear. The lesson always comes back to trust.

First I have to jump into his arms.