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And be as the butterfly…

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands. (Charles Wesley)

Arise, my soul, arise!

 Why do I often feel held by the bleakness of sin? Pressed down by the realities of life and unable to lift my shoulders from my despondent position to see the light above?

I am not (theologically) charismatic; I don’t believe my response to Christ and commitment to worship and awe of God come from my ability to claim physical blessing, or that our praise of Him has foundation in miraculous signs seen on earth. (Forgive the – perhaps generalized – summarization, my charismatic friends.) And yet, I love their uninhibited joy and celebration of life in Christ. Why is this sometimes missing in my life?

As reformed Christians we should have the strongest conviction to celebrate and rejoice. Our theological persuasion focuses on the full and complete decimation of our sin on the cross. All condemnation is fully GONE through absolutely no resolve of ours.

~FREE~

Constantly reminded of God’s law and our inability to please Him, this certainty should come as a physical weight lifted. Can we comprehend this? As far as the east is from the west… so far has he taken our sin from us. Like David in 2 Samuel 6:14-15, we should be singing and dancing in the streets.

Do we claim the life of freedom from guilt through grace… that Christ purchased and grants willingly? A life of forgiveness and grace, totally free from condemnation?

I am a sinner, programmed to feel the need to earn what I’m given. Unrepressed grace is so foreign to my darkened mind. It almost seems wrong. But it’s the truth of the gospel.

This truth challenges me to question. Do I live saying, ‘Arise my soul, arise – cast off your guilty fear?’ Do I allow my heart and mind to become despondent, looking at the wind and the waves, when I should see Christ and His salvation ever before me?

ARISE – rejoice daily in the reality of Christ’s amazing salvation.

Go in new life with Christ… Go, and be as the butterfly. (Jan Karon)

The Cupcake Post

The time has come, I’m told, to blog the giant cupcake experience.

First: some background. One of my bloggie heros, ANNIE DOWNS (see links) recently entertained the blgosphere with a chronicle of her attempts to bake a giant cupcake.  Annie has a way of engaging readers in even the simplest tasks (check out her video on how to fold a fitted sheet – classic Annie), and baking a giant cupcake was no exception. Way too fun!

“That’s something I’ve got to do!”

I am a hopeless cupcake lover, and a huge supporter of the current north American obsessions with cupcakes and chic cupcake shops! 😉 If you haven’t been to one, you are very much missing out. (Check out locations in LeththbridgeCalgary and Edmonton.   You are welcome!)

But back to the story…

After reading the post, Alison, my fellow Annie-lover, and I were sufficiently inspired. Thus began months of searching for a silicone ‘Big Top Cupcake’ pan. Did you know you can’t purchase them in Canadian stores? Metal versions, yes, but they cost more than double and don’t produce as large a cake. We had to have a ‘Big Top,’ just like Annie.

August of 2011, Alison’s mom finally found one in, wait for it: Ireland. Yes – the land of shamrocks and potatoes. And, oddly enough, Big Top Cupcakes.

September of 2011 – Alison and Laura have not one, but TWO giant cupcakes to make. Both of us love to bake, but as some of you know, our last baking experiment did not go as planned. Probably because we rashly attempted SIX previously un-tested recipes in one day. Wrong in so many ways. Redemption was needed, and we were hoping it would come in the shape of a cupcake.

‘Today we’re only attempting two things, and we’ve made lots of cakes – can’t go wrong!”

For once we were right. And, like Annie, we needed a blog chronicle.

Introducing: The Big Top!

First up: Boston Cream Cupcake for Young Adults kick off.

Here is a happy, blending Laura.

“The oven CANNOT be opened during baking.”

Someone is not sufficiently patient. This picture says it all.

Cooling – note the hollow middle for the pudding filling. Yummy!

Second Up: Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Icing for Alison’s moms birthday.

A carefully measuring Alison.

Homemade icing! It’s the ONLY way to do it!

“Laura, we forgot the sprinkles, and the cherry for the TOP! Absolute necessities.”

Off to the store we traipse – camera along, of course.

Slightly proud of ourselves! I’m sure you’ll concur – they look awesome!

Tasted delightful as well.

Conclusion: I’m sure you want a ‘Big Top’ now too, right?

🙂

Simple Life

If you’re like me, you struggle (often daily) with the WHY of life. A constant swirl of conflicting ideas and emotions vying to capture the coveted position of ‘life’s purpose.’

My mind spins, the tension mounts and guilt of inability inevitably follows.

Thank you, Lord, for stepping in when my mind cannot handle itself. Thank you for showing me what it is you truly need and want from me. Interestingly enough, what you want is always what IS best for me. And really… it’s simple. Life’s purpose is something we can all do – it’s not out of our reach.

The simple act of daily devotion to Christ. Knowing God understands our human condition and capabilities, and asks simple things from us.

Simple, moment by moment reliance on the full grace of God.

Simple, daily commitment to ordering each moment to bring glory to our saviour.

Simple – not asking for visions and revelations and impressive mission.

Someone sent me this song today – I think I have a new favourite. The music video is fun too. Gotta love Stuart Townsend for capturing our hearts in words we could not pull together ourselves.

When grammar matters…

I know who God is. He is my saviour; perfect, sovereign, all-knowing, completely good.

I know what God promises to do. He will never leave me or forsake me; He will complete in me fully the works of grace He has begun; He will work for good all the difficult situations of my life. He will present me blameless before the throne of God.

What do I DO with this endless stream of knowledge, with these beliefs that I hold?

I doubt… I look at the waves around me, am overcome with anxiety and fear. I don’t see (or choose not to) my saviour walking towards me ON the rolling water.

Tonight I read: Belief is a verb – something that you do. (Ann Voskamp)

Yes, God is asking me to act on the things I believe. Knowing is not good enough – my knowledge must manifest itself in full, unrestrained trust.

Daily the waves come and rock my little boat. But I am a believer, one that fully accepts the truth of God’s person and promises. This belief should transform my practical responses to life. It should permeate me, translated into a complete trusting and RESTING.

This is my challenge to myself.

Laura: get your grammar right. Belief is a verb. DO IT.

Life by the Cross

In light of world events, and the constant little reminders that this place is miles away from perfection…

Came across this quote today, from famous theologian, pastor and teacher, John Stott, who passed away last week.  I appreciated his clear and simple reminder of the all prevailing necessity of a cross-centered life.  Our personal spiritual lives, grasp of theology, and especially our ability to comprehend the realities of our world, are dead without it.

“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering. ‘The cross of Christ … is God’s only self-justification in such a world” as ours….’ ‘The other gods were strong; but thou wast weak; they rode, but thou didst stumble to a throne; But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, And not a god has wounds, but thou alone.’” ~John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 326-327

A Quiet Mind

Amy Carmichael has been a favourite writer since I found a little book of her poems in my church library. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever returned the book. I know it’s awful… but I moved, okay?

Carmichael lived a challenging life, struggling with illness, loneliness, probably depression as well. Yet every ounce of the strength God gave her was spent changing the lives of young Indian girls rescued from temple prostitution. Words from the lives of those who’ve hurt and still experienced the joy of God’s grace always speak the loudest. I love the honesty of Amy Carmichael, and she never ceases to be WISE and TURE.

In the last few weeks and months my mind has been scattered, unfocused, far from quieted. Life has a way of pushing and pulling our thoughts and emotions off a course of quiet trust. Most of the time I’m not even fully aware of how turned around and off kilter I’ve become. Then I stumbled across this poem… and with it the truth of where our minds should be as children of a living and magnificent God.

This is where I want to be, Lord… and where I so often am not. I am sorry I explain away my mind’s unrest as a result of my business, life stress, even the way you made me. Thank you for reminding me that quietness of mind is really the consequence of an unfaltering trust in your love, kindness, constant provision. Help me trust this reality of who You are  fully, even in my restless moments. Let me see that peace in my mind and heart reflects immeasurable GLORY to You.

 

GIVE ME A QUIET MIND
When winds are blowing, waves are rising, falling
And all the air is full of dust and spray;
When voices, like to sea birds’ plaintive calling,
Confuse my day;
Then, then I know Thee, Lord of highest heaven
In newborn need discover Thee, and find
Nought can discomfort him to whom is given
A quiet mind.
When hopes have failed, and heavy sadness crusheth,
And doubt and fear would weave their deadly spell,
Then thought of Thee my troubled spirit husheth;
And all is well.
In midnight hours when weariness ignoreth
Heaven’s starry host, and battle wounds are mine,
Then Thy right hand uplifteth and outpoureth
Love’s oil and wine.
O Blessed Lord, beyond the moment’s sorrow
I see above, beaneath, before, behind–
Eternal Love. Give me today, tomorrow,
A quiet mind

Tomorrow (or, sometime this week) I’ll share my all-time favourite Carmichael poem.

It’s the Tough Kids

After days of struggling to motive reluctant students, hours spent suffocating under piles of test papers as I muddle my way through dozens of report cards, and countless moments dealing with discipline problems miles outside my expertise or experience…

After hearing countless stories of messed up lives, hurts in children deeper than those most of us experience in a lifetime…

All I can really say is… the tough ones worm their way into your heart.

Unlike some teachers, I didn’t necessarily enter the profession to work with under-privileged kids. Working with elementary students, and especially those struggling academically (and often socially) was never even on my radar screen. How did I end up as the temporary resources room teacher at one of Lethbridge’s most difficult schools? God must have had things to teach me.

Despite the challenges, I’m loving my time with the dirty faces, broken little hearts, and lives lived for years unrestrained by positive outside influence. Yes, I’m thankful my contract is finished June 17th. Still, there is something about the tough kids; their great needs make every little thing you do seem so much more significant.


From the granted path…

Ramblings from my head and heart, aiming to reflect glory on the One who is my Saviour.

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