Waiting for the Promise

echoI give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1Cor. 1:4-9)

This passage describes people living fully as they wait for Jesus to come again and “to be revealed.” How much do I really even think about Jesus’ coming again? Do you? Jesus hasn’t come back for 2000 years. Would he really come back in our lifetime? But it isn’t so much about when, as it is about the anticipation, isn’t it? In the Old Testament, they were waiting for the messiah to come, “waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.” In Hebrews 11, it talks about how people like Able, Moses, Abraham, Rahab, the judges and prophets and countless others lived by faith in the promise. (verse 39-40) “Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.”
What does that mean to be waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God?

If Jesus were born today, would we be among those waiting with eager longing, like those who did not miss his birth (Mary and Joseph, the shepherds who listened to the good news of the angels, the wise men who followed a star, Ana and Simeon waiting in the temple). They didn’t miss out when God did the unexpected: coming as a vulnerable baby, born in the poverty of a stable, not in safety (Shortly after his birth, Mary and Joseph were forced to flee for their lives with their new baby).

Is waiting for the promise, then, an anticipation in God to do the unexpected? Is it a willingness to go wherever he is leading us, even if it seems unsafe, uncomfortable or unfair?
Am I willing to be like Mary and the others, willing to go with whatever God puts before me? He will never leave me nor forsake me. Can I walk forward into that promise? Where is He going to take us this year?

On Dec 3, I went to a follow up appointment for the surgery I had had in September on a cyst on my back. I was concerned about a second cyst on my arm. This second cyst had started bothering me two days earlier, and felt similar to the first before it was removed. I showed my doctor and it needed to be dealt with. He got me into an MRI that day and scheduled surgery for the weekend. By Sunday, the day of surgery, the cyst was looking awful--angry, red and ready to burst..

I am thankful for God’s hand in the timing of this, even if it set back our work and other things I wanted to get accomplished before Christmas. Again, I had to let go and practice what I shared with you in the last two newsletters. This has been an opportunity to be still, to rest and reflect, and spend time with our family and to be thankful for God’s unexpected provision.

I pray for you as we finish this Christmas season and in the New Year. May Jesus come in unexpected ways to show you His love and grace.

Happy New Year.

Painting: Waiting for the Promise

Painting: The Heavens Declare
Time flies...and sometimes it doesn’t.
I have worked on two paintings this year that reflect the passage of time. The changes a sky can have in 20 minutes. One I painted in February and this week I finished the second one. The first one I saw on my way to Kananaskis last summer. We were just past Airdrie headed west when I looked in the rear-view mirror and filling it were these thunderheads. It was so amazing; I pulled over for a better view and to take some pictures. The second one I will tell about in a minute, but first I want to share with you another thought.

This year has been a growing year for me. I have been taking the Urban Institute at the Urban Sanctuary, which is about growing in your spiritual walk with God and doing it with a small group of people, walking the journey together. Some of it is about listening, waiting and understanding more of ourselves as we grow closer to God. But it takes time. It takes carving out time in our day to spend reflecting and listening and reading. It has also been about waiting - God waiting for me to be ready to face things in myself, my past so that I can grow into who He created me to be. And it has been about me waiting and leaning more on God, trusting Him with my life.

261prairie storm1000wAs I worked on Prairie Storm in February, I was thinking about the waiting process and how it is sometimes like a storm. These big clouds build up and pile on top of each other until they are massive, and thunderous and lightning streaks out and the heavens seem to open for buckets of drenching rain and in the midst of all the chaos there is sometimes a rainbow as the storm passes over, dissolves and out pops the sun. In life, we have things that build up inside of us, things we need to face or deal with, things that block us from being our true selves. And then, it acccelerates or sometimes hammers us with emotion: the rains come, the tears, the realizations of our sin, our failings and things we are not good at. But after the storm can come the healing, the rainbow after the storm - redemption, God's grace poured out on us, because he loves us just as we are.

Back on the road to Kananaskis, just 15- 20 minutes later, I was watching for the sunset. We should be heading into it, but I caught the colors in my rear-view mirror. Those same clouds in the thunderhead had turned glorious in multiple colors. Of course I had to stop the car and drink it all in. Grace out poured. Majestic. And the heavens declare...

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

Spring?

springsnowSpring or Winter Relapse?

tulip snowyellowtulipinsnowWe woke up to snow this morning. And as I write this it continues to fall.

My girls were not excited about it. One chose to bike to work, the other hitched a ride from her dad to get to school. Once everyone had left I took the opportunity to grab my camera and our dog, Lizzy for a trek into fairyland.

First, I checked on my flowers out front. My daffodils were buried, but the tulips were bravely peeking through the snow.

I do love to watch the snow fall, even today, when I am eager for spring. It is peaceful, serene. Sounds are muffled, at least until I get down to the creek which is loudly, rushing along.

LizzyOurs are the first tracks through this part of the ravine. Here is Lizzy, our dog. She shows up better against the snow. She roams while I take photos.

When we moved to Edmonton, Alberta 18 years ago, we heard that it had snowed at some point over history in every single month of the year. Thankfully we have not experienced all of that, but snow in May has definitely been common.

spring snows300wThe watercolor painting here on the left, I did in 2013. The red Poplar seed pods were out that year. This year the buds have yet to open on those trees.

I think of all the times over the years, when I have gone out in May andred bridge April to catch this snow on the new life. Waiting for spring, is a theme I keep coming back to.train tresselWhat are you waiting for? What does "Waiting for Spring" signify for you?
I have written about it in the past. Today, I will just dwell in the moment.

Enjoy the photos of fairyland!bridge2

Merry Christmas

Have you ever noticed that there are more people out and about from November through December? This is the season of waiting: waiting in traffic, waiting in lines, waiting for the holidays, waiting for family, waiting with anticipation. When we read the Christmas story we are reminded of other ways of waiting: Mary waiting for the birth of Jesus, Israel waiting for freedom from the romans, Israel waiting for the promise of the Messiah, Elizabeth waiting for a child of her own, God waiting for us to turn to him. I wrote more about waiting in the blog I wrote about the painting, Waiting for the Promise, shown here.

In church last Sunday, we were asked to write down on a ribbon what we were waiting for. The ribbons were knotted to twine and will be added to the Christmas tree at the front of the church. They are prayers to God. 

What are you waiting for? Hope, friendship, healing, forgiveness, work, paycheck, family, time, retirement, vacation, all the above???

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6

May the hope of Christ fill you this holiday season for whatever you are waiting for!

Merry Christmas!

Season of Rest

This last week I was talking to my spiritual director about the conflict within me about rest. I feel guilty and useless when I rest even when I know I need to be doing it to let my injured muscles heal so they can again be strengthened. Knowing it and living it are two different things though. As I talked with her, she helped me to recognize the guilt and point out that the ambivalence doesn’t allow for rest and exacerbates the problem.

Our conversation led me back to our recent Art Vocabulary for the Soul retreat at the beginning of November. One of the scriptures we reflected on was Isaiah 30:15-18, which begins

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;  
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused…”

the passage goes on to talk about the Israelites refusal and running away and in the consequences of their flight finding themselves all alone:

“until you are left
    like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
    like a signal on a hill.”

God was calling the Israelites back to him- return to me, repent. But they wanted to go their own way. In verse 18, we see God waiting for the Israelites to repent and return to him:

”Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.”

One of the participants at the retreat related to “the flagstaff on a mountain” and painted an oil painting of a desolately lonely, battered flagstaff on a very gray wintry mountain on a cold, gray day. It spoke volumes as it reflected our state when we run away to do things on our own.

pigeon lake with snowAt the retreat, my shoulder was bothering me so resting was on my mind. I painted the scene in front of us as we looked out the large windows at the lodge. The view was overlooking Pigeon Lake. The barren trees were already preparing for winter and a season of rest as the last of the leaves had fallen. Last week, my shoulder was feeling better, so I finally finished the painting I started at the retreat. As I look at this painting of resting, I am reminded that everything has a season. And this is my season for rest.

Well I have been here before. And I will be here again. I am like the Israelites. Are you?

Knowing and accepting my limits is part of the rest and taking care of myself that I continue to come face to face with. I am learning to ask for help as I need it - and not stubbornly going my own way.  I am listening to my body when it needs to rest.

I have another month to allow my body to heal and strengthen my shoulder before classes start up again. I look forward to Christmas with the family members here and a quick New Year’s visit in Spokane with my parents and sister.

In this Season of Christmas, may you find space to rest.

Merry Christmas

Waiting.

What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?

Do you feel the difference with the different emphasis? Which phrase connected with you the most?

Waiting has been on my mind for over a month…

I put a show called "Waiting" up at the Glenrose rehabilitation hospital on Sept 27 reflecting on different aspects of waiting. It will be up until January 2. It is in the show cases on the basement level just outside the cafeteria.

Pigeon Lake Sunset “Waiting on the Lord” is the theme for the upcoming Art vocabulary for the Soul retreat (Nov 1-3) at the new Covenant Bay Bible Camp lodge. There are still a few places left. (register at CovenantBay.ca) I have songs and scripture selected to help us reflect and respond to with any art medium. This is a contemplative retreat that allows space for you to create, reflect and spend time with God.

Physically waiting for my shoulder to feel better – injured it the week after my son Nathaniel’s wedding. It has required a lot of resting, taking care of myself and just plain waiting to be able to go and do.  I have been forced to just “be.”

With all of this waiting, I have been able to rethink and reflect about the book on waiting that I was working on over four years ago but didn’t complete. I am finally ready to deal with some emotions and reactions I had during the editing process. I’ve learned some new things about waiting in the last few years. One thing I’ve learned is that I do not wait well. I want to run ahead. I want to “do” something. I can become impatient and bored if I cannot keep the goal or hope in front of me.  

On the phrases above, this is the one I resonate with: “What are you waiting for?” That is the impatient one to me – impatient with myself, with others, and impatient with God.

So often, I am like the Israelites in Isaiah 30: 15-18.

15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused 16 and said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”—
    therefore you shall flee!
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”—
    therefore your pursuers shall be swift!
17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one,
    at the threat of five you shall flee,
until you are left
    like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
    like a signal on a hill.
18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.
 
I am so thankful that God waits for me. He loves me. Twila Paris wrote a song with this line: “Could it be that He is only waiting there to see if I would learn to love the dream He has dreamed for me?”

Not only in learning to love the dream He has for me, but standing firm in the hear and now, in this present time, to let it come when it comes. Waiting on the Lord and trusting in Him and not running ahead on my own.

“I can’t imagine what the future holds, but I’ve already made my choice, and this is where I’ll stand until He moves me on, and I will listen to His voice” Twila Paris

How well do you wait?

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