A hundred-year old record was broken here this week. A record for cold. The leaves, many of which are still green, froze solid on the trees. A bird, seeking warmth, flew into the house via the chimney. My husband’s search for warm gloves turned up eight meant for the left hand and one for the right. It looked like the right failed match any of the lefts.
We weren’t ready for this.
Many miles away this same cold front is dropping snow on massive wildfires that surround a city. A friend posted photos today of steaming earth where threatening flames roared the day before. She joyfully expressed thankfulness.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand what on earth is going on. While I mourn the death of the last of my pretty little flowers, I rejoice with my friend for answered prayer and preservation of something much bigger.
Today this passage in Genesis showed up where I was not expecting to see it. I appreciate the reminder. While we need to change our exploitive ways and take responsibility for tending the earth and its resources well, ultimately God is the one who created its intricate workings. He is the one who holds it all together. He’s got this.
Sometimes I hate the nastiness and dismal forebodings on social media and think about leaving. Then, on a day like this, it gives me a beautiful gift. I check the memories feature often. It’s like my own snapshot journal.
When I feel like I haven’t made any progress on this journey, it reminds me that in many ways I have grown. It also reminds me of many things for which I am thankful. When I see photos of my children and grandchildren and read funny things they said, I think about the insight and maturity they have gained. When I see old conversations with friends, I remember how valuable they are to me.
This week I saw reminders of the marvellous goodness of God.
Nine years ago, my husband drove himself to the emergency ward of our local hospital (because he would) and was admitted with a life-threatening illness. Tests revealed a blockage and extremely high pancreatic enzyme levels. That useful, actually essential, organ was sort of digesting itself, painfully.
I was in another city helping my father prepare for a move into a senior’s lodge when all of this happened. Dad never threw anything out and I was hip-high in the sorting process when I received a call that my husband was in a crisis situation. The decision had not yet been made whether to do emergency surgery in the hospital in our town or to fly him to a major hospital in the city where I was helping my father.
After a tense time of waiting for news, I left Dad in the middle of chaos and jumped in the car and drove through the night to my husband’s side. I prayed the whole way, of course. Surgery kept being delayed for one frustrating reason or another, but by the time a spot was available in the O.R., his tests came back showing unexpected improvement. After a few days of observation, they sent him home. He didn’t have surgery. The problem never returned. He’s out jogging as I write this.
Seven years ago, a friend’s husband was in critical condition in the ICU. His body, overwhelmed with infection, became septic. Doctors didn’t expect him to make it through the night and called the family in to say goodbye. Many friends prayed for him. God gave him his miracle. He walked out of the hospital a few days later.
He had more underlying health problems that challenged the family for a time, but he received the gift of a transplant and has his life back. His wife posted a photo of him a few days ago. He was up on scaffolding putting new siding on a house. There is no doubt that although medical care was wonderful, when the professionals could do no more his life was in God’s hands.
Another picture from a year ago showed my friends’ precious little boy in the hospital. He was on life support. His heart stopped during surgery. Surgeons managed to start it again, but his little body was overwhelmed by infection. The doctors could do no more. His broken-hearted parents said goodbye — but God responded with a miracle.
This week, his mom posted a video of him riding his balance bike on a mountain bike trail. He is bright, adventurous, and full of energy.
I never noticed before that these events happened on the same date.
Can I admit how easily I forget, in times when answers don’t come quickly and I’m feeling worn down, how, in the past, God gave us a miracle or strengthened us to do what we didn’t think we could do? How easy it is to look at the waves in the storm and forget how the Lord took us by the hand and lifted us up last time.
The crowd of ex-slaves that Moses was to lead to the promised land had trouble remembering the goodness of God’s dazzling miracles that set them free, but had no trouble stepping back into the attitudes of previous victimhood. Minds remain in slavery much longer than bodies. It seems the way out of the expectation of disappointment requires deliberate focus on God’s goodness to get out of the hole, an expression of gratitude to stay out, and obedient trust to move on.
Thanks for the reminders, Lord. You give us the freedom to choose to remain as victims or to step into freedom. You are truly the God who extends your hand to save and deliver. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
“Then how glad the nations will be when you are their King. They will sing, they will shout, for you give true justice to the people. Yes! You, Lord, are the shepherd of the nations! Pause in his presence.
No wonder the peoples praise you! Let all the people praise you more!
The harvest of the earth is here! God, the very God we worship, keeps us satisfied at his banquet of blessings.“
“Fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.”
(Philippians 4:8 TPT)
I sat at the table complaining, as old people do, about the upcoming generation and their ungrateful sense of entitlement when my attention fastened on a bowl of oranges and lemons on the counter.
I’m currently writing a story set in Northern Europe in the early sixteenth century. I need to know what kind of food different classes would have had set before them, so I’m checking out books, articles and videos because anachronisms in historical novels annoy me — severely. I’m motivated by a strong desire, almost obsession, to be accurate with detail.
Oranges and lemons were not on the list for most people. Neither was chicken unless you belonged to an entitled, extravagant class that would butcher an animal capable of making eggs. Capons that didn’t run fast enough might find themselves facing the axe, but only on special occasions. Only the wealthy ate meat other than the pork poorer classes raised on scraps. Sometimes they enjoyed fish they caught themselves. The spices I thoughtlessly ground on my scrambled eggs this morning were kept under lock and key in the best houses. Even the tomatoes and hashbrowns on my husband’s plate would have been unheard of in 1505. Pea soup and barley bread fueled most folk who worked for a living. Not an orange in sight.
Come to think of it, my grandparents, in a prairie shack so cold that the baby’s bottle froze in his crib, never feasted on oranges in February either. Grandma certainly never clicked on a video entitled, “50 Uses for Lemons” like I did last week.
“What were you saying about entitlement?” I heard the Holy Spirit ask.
Forgive me for ingratitude. Forgive me for my own sense of entitlement. We are, indeed rich and blessed beyond measure.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you for oranges and lemons. They are glorious.
Think about it. What foods do you now enjoy that weren’t available in your area a hundred years ago?
November twilight. The sun disappeared behind the hills by 4:45 in the afternoon today.
Haze from controlled burns faded distant colours. Now is the time to clear debris when the risk of forest fire is low.
Nearly all the birds have left the sanctuary. Only the crows remain, singing like an enthusiastic unpaid third-rate band willing to work for exposure.
Snow briefly gave a preview of winter’s intent, then melted in the sun. Some still hides in the shade.
Thin ice covers Elizabeth Lake like a sugary crème brûlée crust. A foot would easily break through and the mud underneath the shallow water is still soft enough to capture a shoe. On the water’s edge, kids smash the surface with sticks to see how far cracks will travel. Most of their make-believe spears pierce the ice and get stuck in the mud. Someone hollers that his feet are wet. He runs home.
And then, before the sky is even dark, the moon glows in anticipation of its watch.
It feels like the sun is giving up on the day too soon. It’s hard to watch the ending of growing season full of colour and life, but there is still beauty in nature at rest — a subtler beauty, but still beauty.
Thank you, Lord, for every sunset because every sunset brings the promise of sunrise.