Hope Full


To live without hope is to cease to live.  – Fyodor Dostoevsky

The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance. –  Jesus Christ

If you are listening to a voice that says it is too late, that you are under judgment, there is no hope, you are listening to the wrong voice.

Jesus came to give life with joy and abundance -not mere happiness and more stuff.





IMG_3041 wild roses woods


My rose bush produced one measly flower this year, yet in the forest, untended and uncoddled, the wild roses bloom freely.

Sometimes I fret and rush about trying to make things grow when and where I decide they ought to, when really I’m not in charge at all. I can’t force relationships to bloom when and where and how I want them too either.

The roses in the woods remind me that Jesus said, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to this span of life?”

“Instead, seek his kingdom and all these things will be added to you.”

And When I Am Alone

DSC_0011 plum blossom bokeh

I’m alone on my porch on a beautiful spring morning, drinking my second cup of coffee and watching the sunlight sift through the plum tree. It’s been less than a week since we stood in a downpour and committed my Dad’s body to the earth. Everyone has gone home, back to work. The flowers have wilted and the sympathy cards are stacked on a corner of the kitchen table.

Life goes on.

When I gave the eulogy at his funeral I talked to the children and told them about the great-grandfather most of them did not know before he had forgetting disease. We included all the children in our gathering because what better way is there to teach them about physical death and spiritual life than with a family member who loved the Lord, lived to an old age, and was longing to be present with the Lord and reunited with his loved ones? I spoke of all his fine qualities and the wonderful things he taught us. We do that at funerals. It’s about honour.

But there are things we don’t talk about. Like all human beings going back to Adam’s grandchildren he was the wounded son of a wounded son. He brought his deficits into our relationship the way I dragged mine into my own children’s nursery. There were seasons when I adored him and seasons when I avoided him for months at a time.

It was complicated.

I don’t think I had left anything unsaid before he passed away. He said he forgave me. I had certainly forgiven him and Jesus had replaced a whole lot of unwanted feelings with love and compassion for him, but there are a lot of things I can’t explain no matter how many words I use. No sympathy in form of visits or cards or flowers – or even therapy – can ever say, “I understand.” We say that to each other, but we don’t understand, not really. Every heart has its own sorrow. Every heart is alone in grief.

But we do not have to be totally alone. There is one who understands all our weaknesses. Unlike so many of the versions fed to us by angry unapproachable people of an angry unapproachable God who can’t bear to look at us because of our sin, Jesus approached us first. He, who was the perfect representative of the nature of Father God, chose to associate with those whose sins had become a part of their names -the harlot, the thief, the drunk, the hypocrite. He sat down right beside them. He was not disappointed in them because he never had any expectations in the first place. He had sympathy and compassion for them. He wept with them. He loved them. His joy in going to the cross was in knowing the freedom and new names they – and all who call on his name – would receive.

Since we have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God

who has passed through the heavens from death into new life with God, let us hold tightly to our faith.

For Jesus is not some high priest who has no sympathy for our weaknesses and flaws.

He has already been tested in every way that we are tested; but He emerged victorious, without failing God.

So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most.

(Hebrews 4:14-16 The Voice)

This morning  an old song came to mind:

In the morning when I rise,
Give me Jesus.

And when I am alone,
Give me Jesus.

And when I come to die,
Give me Jesus.

You can have all this world, just give me Jesus.

He’s all I need. Because of him life goes on – eternally.

Grace and Glory

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To live by grace means to know that there is light and there is shadow in our lives. There is glory and there is shame.

But grace draws us into the light. It coaxes us out of hiding. It wakens our dormant hopes.

Grace exchanges our shame for glory.


For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

(Psalm 84:11)

Look Who’s Here!


Blooming by my front door this morning.

IMG_1508 crocus in front of house



Melting ice down at the creek yesterday.




The same gentle warm sun that streams through my window has been gently coaxing changes in the neighbourhood. Gentle awakenings. Yes.

I’ve noticed that gentleness is on the list of the fruit of the Spirit and brutal candor is not. Why is that, I wonder. What’s with this frying pan to the face school of prophecy? If Holy Spirit takes the time to melt our hearts with patience and kindness and speaks truth to us in a gentle way that melts away lies we have believed and replaces them with courage to take the risk of blooming, shouldn’t we do the same for each other? Gentleness is not weakness; it is patient power under control.

I read this quote by Stephen Crosby the other day. “If people are going to reject the gospel we carry, let them reject it because they are rejecting a love they cannot process or handle at the moment, not because of an idiot with a Bible and the interpersonal skills of Attila the Hun.

Yes, there are times, when for the sake of protecting the vulnerable we need to be more blunt and even aggressive, and there are folks for whom subtlety is a faintly detected jet trail flying miles overhead. Jesus spoke gently in powerful parables, but sometimes he confronted religious pseudo-experts directly and plainly, but only when they blocked the path for everyone else. Allowances need to be made, but if smacking people upside the head with words – however true – becomes your go-to means of communication (because you “don’t have time to say this nicely”) and fact-delivery continually trumps loving encouragement, don’t be surprised when your garden of friends in May looks more like a frozen creek in January.

Just sayin’.

(File under: Things I have learned the hard way.)


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Just these two words He spoke
changed my life,
“Enjoy Me.”

What a burden I thought I was to carry –
a crucifix, as did He.

Love once said to me, “I know a song,
would you like to hear it?”

And laughter came from every brick in the street
and from every pore
in the sky.

After a night of prayer, He
changed my life when
He sang,
“Enjoy Me.”

Saint Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada ) (1515 to 1582)

We Could Ask the Flowers

IMG_8967 winter geranium full

I still had some flowers in the garden on Sunday, but by Wednesday the blossoms bowed under the snow — frozen solid. I hate to see the flowers die. I grieve for them every autumn.

My granddaughter, a few weeks before her fourth birthday, made a profound observation about the flowers dying. It was profound, because only a few weeks later her Daddy lay dying.

IMG_5839 winter flower 3

This is what her Mommy wrote:

Every time I left Bruce, I felt like I left half of me at the hospital. It felt wrong to leave him, like my being there would somehow make all the difference, but every time I was at the hospital, I felt like I should be at home with my children, making life feel as normal as possible, playing and laughing so they wouldn’t have to be worried about Daddy. No matter where I was, I didn’t feel like I was in the right place…

My kids never knew the severity of what was going on. At two months, two-and-a-half years, and barely four years old, I didn’t think it would be good for them to know that Daddy could die.

I recalled a conversation Keziah and I had shared not long after baby Vivia was born. A warm chinook wind had peeled back the blanket of snow in the park, and we were able to get outside for a little stroll. As we walked past an old flower bed, she looked up at me and said, “We don’t know what it feels like to be dead. That’s a’cause we’ve never been dead before so we don’t know how it feels.”

She looked at me for agreement. I nodded.

She went on, “And if you’re dead, then you’re dead and you can’t tell anyone a’cause you’re dead.”

She paused and thought about it for a few minutes, while shuffling her heavy winter boots down the sidewalk.

“But maybe we could ask the flowers a’cause they die every winter so they know how it feels…Too bad they don’t have mouths, or they would prolly tell us!”

I remember thinking at the time, What three-year old thinks about death? And now I wondered, What three-year old thinks about being raised from something that looks like death?

-from While He Lay Dying by Bruce and Lara Merz  (available here)