A Heavy Frost…

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A heavy frost on leaves in the field

For many of you, particularly in the south, today’s image will seem out of place for an April post, yet it is not entirely impossible for parts of Canada, the northern or high-altitude USA and even northern Europe to experience frost at this time of year.
(I promise though… I won’t post any Frost-pics in July!)

Matthew 24 speaks about what is typically referred to as “the last days” or the time preceding Christ’s return.

The disciples ask Jesus when they might expect Christ’s return and rather than answer them using a calendar, he refers to what life on Earth will look like preceding those days.
(It bears a striking resemblance to the days we’re living in)

One of the signs of the end times will be that the love of many will grow cold, as a result of an abundance of iniquity or selfish thinking… thinking only of ourselves.

In this world, radical individualism is constantly being hammered into us and the more I think about myself, the less room I have in my head and in my heart to think about someone else…
to love as Christ loved.

So Lord, today, my prayer is … don’t let my love grow cold!


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STM can be… Humbling!

STM can be… Humbling!

Shortly after Christmas, my wife and I got to laughing.

You know the laugh… the one that’s half hilarious, half pathetic, sillier than silly and for seemingly no good reason. That was us.

toilet paper snowflakeWe’d been talking about the uncertainty of finances and the constant challenge to make ends meet and then she said, as we sipped away on our afternoon cup of coffee…

“It’s a good thing that you can make snowflakes, to hang on the wall, out of toilet paper rolls and spray paint!”
(2016 Pinterest trend)

And that was the “Gufaw” moment… or, in modern internet parlance…. the “BAHAHA” moment. For although the spray paint represents an investment, there will never be a shortage on used toilet paper rolls.

This got me to thinking about other ways in which we’ve “adjusted” in

Creative Re-purposing…

  • Used tuna tins make a great place to store the loose change that accumulates on your dresser.
  • Used soup or canned fruit tins make an equally great place to store receipts, pens & pencils or other loose bits of paper that collect (on same dresser… mine – I wonder if she’s trying to tell me something).
  • styrofoam snow balls on christmas treeOur Christmas tree was adorned with simple white styrofoam balls “hanging by a thread” to (a) imitate snowballs and (b) make for inexpensive decorations.
  • Used ice cream containers have taken the place of tupperware for storing leftovers or muffins and replace the cookie jar on the days that cookies have been freshly baked.
  • Oh yes… said ice cream containers are also a great solution for storing my neck-ties.
  • Plastic fruit containers, from the produce section take the place of those nice rigid shoe-box like boxes, purchased from the home decor store and help organize all kinds of things… from greeting cards, to personal hygiene items
  • Used peanut butter tubs are a great place to store nuts & raisins purchased in bulk as opposed to leaving them in a bag that, once opened, causes freshness to escape.

A Different Standard

Had we been living in Canada, there is little chance that I’d have my change or my pens, etc. stored in used tuna or soup cans on my dresser… uhhh, no… just no.

At the very least, I’d have gone to an antique or a used goods store and looked for something like an old, thick glass jar for pens and maybe a discarded pottery soap dish for my spare change…. something with just a bit more character than tin cans.

(note to self: head to the thrift store to
look for old glass & pottery items)

Back home in Canada, there’s no way I’d’ve re-purposed tin cans and used them. I had a different standard. I must admit, when the tuna can first showed up on my dresser, I did flinch a bit internally. Said flinch may even have been accompanied by an internal (unvoiced) …. “Seriously…. ugh.”

tuna can change collectorI didn’t voice my unspoken “UGH!” (for it was indeed most likely an all-caps ‘ugh’) because after nearly 20 years of marriage I have gained enough wisdom to know that introduction of the tuna can meant that Liz had grown tired of seeing my spare change lying around.  The tuna can would not only keep it contained, but also out of sight because the lid of said can was also present and could be set on top.

With time however, something strange began to happen. I learned to simply lift the lid, drop in the change and replace the lid.

finished…

end of story…

No flinch, no internal Ugh! I barely thought of it anymore.
I grew accustomed to the can.

ice cream container and neck tiesThe same process took place with my ties in the ice cream container. My initial (and still internal) “Ugh!” was replaced with acceptance and a willingness to just flow with it. It did after all keep the shelf a whole lot more tidy.

Oh I know it may not look great but it keeps them organized and the fact that they’re rolled keeps them from becoming wrinkled and unsightly to wear.

*update* a clothes-hanger-style tie & belt organizer made its way ‘neath the tree at Christmas. So this ice cream container is now free to hold more freshly baked cookies.  We all win!!

Why Humbling?

Oh that’s easy. STM is humbling because from a financial standpoint your life (and lifestyle) will become much different.

This may not be all that noticeable if you’re only on STM for 3-6 months… you kind of expect it and it’s just part and parcel of the short-term experience.

When you’re two years in however, like we are, it’s a little different. It’s less of a short-term thing and more just day-to-day life. You live below the standard of living to which you’d long been accustomed.

  • Friends and family offer to treat you to dinner and you’re unable to reciprocate.
  • Plans are made and in the back of your mind you’re wondering what the implications might be later. You also wonder where Peter is (you’re going to need to rob him in order to pay Paul).
  • You are less able to simply be spontaneous.

As my wife said at the time…. you lose control.
It’s humbling to lose control.

It’s very spiritual to say that “our trust is in the Lord” and we say it a lot.  There are also times that it’s just downright hard; you’re forced, for better or for worse, to rely on the Lord and on his people.

Of course we grow.
Of course the Lord provides.
Of course we experience “stretching”
…but the whole process is humbling.

Positive Growth

The positive side is that, in the end, you become a bit more used to not getting caught up in as many of the trappings so common in a consumer-driven society. You become accustomed to a bit more simplicity… and that’s positive. This world is not our home, we’re just passing through.

But coming to the place where adopting that attitude is a comfortable place to live puts you in direct opposition to mainstream society – whether inside or outside the church, and that positive change, dear friend… is the result of a very humbling process.


Next Post: Where do I go from here?

You’ve already done one STM trip, perhaps even two… where do you go from here?
Traditional companies often have a career progression, but what about missions?

I’ll share what I’ve gleaned next time.
See you Monday May 8


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New Attack, Old News

New Attack, Old News

It’s happened again. Another attack in Paris, this time directed at police officers and along the famous Champs Élysées. Such events, along with the political rhetoric that’s being whipped up at a frenetic pace in the closing hours of a national election (the first vote of which happens tomorrow), make for a bit of a toxic cocktail. But interestingly enough, I’ve been reading about the life of France’s King Henry IV (16th century) and we see that there really is nothing new under the sun. Continue reading

Healed Followers

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Paris’ Eiffel Tower, seen from the Trocadero Esplanade

Crowds.
Jesus had a thing for them.

There were times when he went out to find a solitary place, but somehow, the crowds often “found him out” so to speak; they flocked to him.

Some followed him only to get a healing &
some got a healing because they just wanted to follow him.
My initial reaction is to assess the second group as being the more noble, but my assessment is really of very little value in the end.

“Many followed him and he healed them all.”

Of course the first thing we think of is physical healing and a contradiction comes to mind… there are still those Christ-followers that die of cancer. We can be tempted to deduct that this verse can’t hold true today, but scripture is unchanging.

They all had a healing of sorts:
Some were perhaps physical, emotional or psychological…
but since God is not a liar, they were all healed of something.

At the very least… they were all healed of the eternal sin problem…
The condition….

They followed him.

Will you follow him today…
There’s a healing that awaits you.


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Silence + Setting = Peace

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Bridge over the Clain River, Cenon-sur-Vienne.

When you’re a night-owl like I am, early mornings don’t come naturally, although they used to when I was younger. Nonetheless, I love the early morning and when Dominic was on a 3-day Work-Practicum he had to be there by 8:00am.

Since it was located outside of Châtellerault, not only was I up early, but I was out of town. Sometimes I opted to explore on my way home and on one such morning, I discovered this bridge over the Clain River, just on the outskirts of Châtellerault.

The morning was cool and the sun had not yet truly broken over the horizon, giving a magical feel to this image, as the mist rose from the water’s surface. There was little to no traffic so between silence and setting, I experienced God’s peace in a wonderful way.

Silence and Setting
If you need to experience God’s peace today:
Aabandon the noise and the traffic. Get alone with God. Experience his peace.

God bless you and may you know his peace today!


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Biking around Paris – the ECO-option!

There are a number of ways to get around Paris and the first to come to mind is typically the metro.

No Stress biking options in ParisWithout question, the metro is the easiest way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Not only that, but it’s one of the quintessential Paris experiences… you’ve just got to try it at least once!

That being said, it need not be your only choice for sightseeing your way around the capital. Did you know that you can rent a bicycle for either short rides (which can be very inexpensive) or for several hours (the price, of course, increases according to rental length).

Velib’

…a contraction of:
vélo (french for “bike”) + liberté (freedom)

As the name suggests, it gives you the freedom to visit Paris in a different way… many would say “a more romantic way”.

Vélib, bike rental, city bike, bicycles, ParisThat being said… while cycling through the streets and up the avenues sounds like a wonderfully romantic thing (and it is… when there’s no traffic), it can also be somewhat stressful when regular Parisian traffic is present (and it almost always is!).

In my book, Paris 3 Days No Stress, I give you 10 options for fairly low-traffic yet sight-rich bike rides around the French capital, allowing you to experience the romance of biking without the stress of heavy traffic… allowing you to get the most possible enjoyment of the experience.

Tip:

If you are planning to bike around Paris, don’t assume that all open, grassy areas welcome cyclists. Although wide open areas like the Champ de Mars, the esplanade in front of the École Militaire or the Tuileries gardens may be very inviting, you need to watch for signs prohibiting bikes. There may be external pathways where bikes are permitted, but bikes may not be permitted in the parcs themselves (such is the case for the Tuileries gardens).

Click here to purchase “Paris 3 Days No Stress” on Amazon
(in eBook or paperback format)

Paris 3 Days No Stress a travel guide for short stays in Paris

Teach me to Walk in Righteousness

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Vittorio Emanuele Bridge, over the Pò River, in San Mauro Torinese, Italy.

So the contradiction is obvious… this is a photo that we took while visiting a friend in Italy’s Torino Province, but I’ve added “France” to it. Doesn’t make sense.  …or does it?

I’m using this photo to illustrate the verse from Amos 5.24.

The word “Let”, with which the quotation begins, frames the rest as the heart-filled expression of a desired state. Amos is expressing God’s desire: that among his people righteousness would be so free-flowing, so common, that it could be considered like a mighty stream.

That was not only God’s desire for his people in the Bible’s Old Testament, it is also his desire for you and I, today.

In that sense… whether France, Italy, Canada, the USA, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, etc… it really makes no difference. God still desires that those who call themselves by HIS name, be characterized by righteousness.

Lord, let it begin with me.


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