Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hope Meets Grit - by Heidi McLaughlin

Hope is not optimism or a good luck charm. It takes grit to walk through darkness and believe in something better for tomorrow. On a recent Facebook post I declared: “The darkest storms make way for the greatest sunlight.” I believe this with all my heart because God is a good God who promises that our future plans are good and abundant. But how do we survive those endless, dark seasons without any cracks of sunlight?

We need to have grit to grab hope.

Sometimes hope feels like an exploded dandelion seed floating in the air teasing my fingertips as I try to grab it.  Hope is not nebulous.  It is real and tangible but it takes backbone to step into it. I am at the three-month marker after the death of my second husband. It’s been a long, cold and hard winter outside and in my soul.  As I wait for my new season to arrive I need to do what my brother-in-law Bill says, “Give ‘er snoose.” Not entirely sure what it means but I know it entails hard work.

Give ‘er snoose.

With determined grit I step into hope every day. Here is how I do it:
  • Whether I feel like it or not, I get out of bed, feet on the floor and start my day. Time with God, a shower and I make intentional appointments with friends to get out of the house each day.
  • In spite of how I may feel, I start each day writing in my Gratitude Journal.
  • I keep my body strong by eating healthy and walking 5 km every second day.
  • I DECLARE that I will live in God’s light and that God has my glorious future. Out loud I speak against defeat, discouragement and despair. I will not allow the enemy to sabotage my thoughts with negativity and hopelessness.
  • I stand on God’s promises with hope for my future. I look up verses that proclaim God’s truth for my fulfilling life. “So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (1 Peter 5:10)
  • I remember God’s faithfulness in the past. I suffered through the death of my first husband, watched my father die of ALS and my mother of a pre-cancerous blood condition. God was with me in those grieving journeys and He restored my soul and placed a beautiful “new normal” in my life. Because God did is then…He will do it again.
  • After a thundering, black storm the sun emerges and we enjoy a gorgeous rainbow. A visual imagine of an eternal promise.  Life is circular. Babies are born-we die. Winter is here-spring comes. We die-we go to Heaven. The suffering seasons we are in do not last forever.  Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. “(James 1:2)

There are many more but I will end on this note. God is the I Am of all I Am’s. The name of God is YHVH, which means “I Am.” When I say, “I am Heidi McLaughlin” that means that my “I am” only exists because of His. I know that everything in my life flows from Him and He would never intentionally hurt himself, so why would He hurt me? The only time He hurt himself was when He sent His son Jesus Christ to die for my sins and freedom. 

What kind of radical love is that?

That’s the hope I cling to each day. My God who loves me like that will walk me into a new and glorious future. I believe it with all my heart.

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at;, or her website:

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tried and True or What’s New—Carolyn R. Wilker

In my household, tried and true is a good thing for many reasons. Whatever works, we keep on with it, whether it’s a particular way of planting or making a pot of soup. Whether it’s a way of building something or a system for filing important papers. Sometimes, though, it’s good to break out of a rut, if one could call it that, and try something new.

The philosopher in Ecclesiastes declares that generations come and go, that the sun rises and sets and confirms that “There is nothing new under the sun.” (v. 1:9c, NIV) While those things regarding creation remain the same, if the philosopher were here, I might argue that there are new things under the sun. Maybe not the way the water flows to the sea or the return of seasons, or the wind blowing as it does. It’s good to have some things that remain consistent. But there are new ways of doing many things.

            In our time, we have telecommunications systems that the philosopher could never have dreamed of. We have Go Bus, Go Train, printing presses that are much more efficient than the first presses invented. Our way of sharing ideas is different, with internet and Smart Phones and the iPad, for example. Perhaps the ideas are limited, but the way of expressing them can be quite varied.

Several years ago, I got tired of my garden not producing in our sandy soil, no matter what I did or how hard I worked and watered it. Some plants did alright and others failed. 

A friend shared an idea on her Facebook page that she found on some other social media sharing place. A raised bed, in which we could add better soil, would be less stress on the back leaning down to plant, and we could put netting over to keep the small animals out so the plants get a chance to grow. I thought the idea was brilliant and I was able to get my husband—who likes tried and true the best—on board. That was March. In May, when it was time to get things planted, he completed the raised beds and we put them in place and filled them with new and better soil, with a lot of help from family members and a neighbour. Thus we began a new way of gardening.

Since then I’ve learned about Square Foot Gardening, an idea that the raised bed was built on. There were learning curves with this kind of gardening, for example how close could I plant the seeds or seedlings so they have room to grow and aren’t crowded. It’s been a successful venture even if my tomato plants grew through the netting. And it’s been fun, too, for my grandchildren to help me plant and water.

 And here’s where I’m glad for what doesn’t change, that the rain falls from the sky to water the plants, the water we collect from the downspouts into our rain barrel that’s the best kind of water for the plants—warm and soft.  Also I'm grateful that the seeds grow as they are intended to, and the sun shines, and that God, the creator, is in charge of all that. We just have to be good stewards and take care of what we have, using it wisely.

Carolyn Wilker is a writer and editor from southwestern Ontario, Canada

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Rising Love: A Valentine's Love Story - HIRD

By Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird
Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s wife Maryon once famously quipped “Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.”[1] Billy Graham, aged 98, was recently named for the 60th consecutive year in a Gallup poll as one of the ten most admired people in the world, along with Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis, and Bill Gates.  It was Ruth Graham his devoted wife for sixty-three years who enabled Billy Graham to be healthy in the midst of relentless international attention.  Without Ruth’s loving care for their five children, it would have been impossible for Billy Graham to have taken part in 417 city-wide celebrations in 185 countries, speaking to live audiences of nearly 215 million people.  Billy and Ruth Graham were a Valentine’s love story that we can all learn from. 
Ruth, who lived her first seventeen years in China, never wanted to marry, intending instead to become a missionary in Tibet.  After going to school in North Korea, she moved to Wheaton College in Illinois.  There in 1940, she met her future husband Billy who instantly fell in love with her.  Ruth was slightly startled by his intense blue eyes.  As her biographer Patricia Cornwell put it, “Billy was unlike anyone Ruth had met....earnest, quietly confident, and personal. Clearly he spoke as one who knew God and knew him well...But what interested Ruth was that as Billy escorted her...,he seemed completely unaware of his uniqueness, his poignancy, his gift.”[2]  Billy was very nervous around Ruth, but eventually invited Ruth to hear Handel’s Messiah with him.  That night Ruth knelt on the carpet by her bed and prayed, 'God, if You let me serve with that man, I'd consider it the greatest privilege in my life.'  Ruth wrote to her medical missionary parents in China, saying: "Despite Bill's fearlessness and sometimes sternness, he is just as thoughtful and gentle as you want a man to be...he makes you feel perfectly natural and looked after without being showy or obnoxious. Sounds like I'm in love, doesn't it? Don't get worried. I'm not."[3] Both Billy and Ruth were independent and very determined people which led to some early challenges in their relationship.  It was normal in Ruth’s family for women to be strong and outspoken, something that Billy had to get used to.  In writing to her parents in 1941, she said: “(Billy) isn’t easy to love because of his sternness and unwavering stand on certain issues.  Many a night I have come in almost hating the man because I wanted my way in some little thing that was either unwise or foolish or something, and he wouldn't give in even if it meant losing my love...”  Sometimes Billy and Ruth could be the immovable object and the irresistible force.   Writing to her parents later in 1941, she said: "(Billy) has his faults and some people object to his fearless, uncompromising presentation of the gospel. But that was the first thing about him that commanded my attention and later my admiration --as I grew to know him better, my trust."
After accepting his marriage proposal, she visited her sister Rosa in a New Mexico TB Sanitarium.  While there suffering from exhaustion, she wrote Billy a crushing letter, telling him that she didn’t think that she was in love with him and that marriage was perhaps unwise.[4]  Her sister miraculously recovered, and Ruth went ahead with the wedding.  Cornwell commented: “What Ruth would do next, no one could predict, for she was as quietly stubborn as the sphinx and just about as inscrutable...She didn't necessarily do the practical or the expected.”[5]
One of the greatest challenges to their marriage was how much Billy was away. Ruth often said: "I would rather have a little of Bill than a lot of any other man."  Many of Billy Graham’s sermon illustrations came directly from Ruth’s voracious reading of biographies, histories, novels, books about art and foreign countries. It was Ruth’s deep faith in God that kept her going through many trying times.  One time after Billy unexpectedly went with his buddies to Chicago without Ruth, she tearfully prayed: "God, if you forgive me for marrying him, I'll never do it again." When he realized how much he hurt her, he was full of tender apologies.  Ruth often said: " Sometimes beautiful women develop from adjusting to difficult men." By all accounts, Ruth was a beautiful woman in body, mind and spirit. Her medical missionary dad, her evangelist husband Billy and her beloved prodigal son Franklin all helped her become more beautiful.
In 1963, Billy wrote to Ruth: "How can I find words to express my appreciation for all you have meant to me. Your love and patience with me in my ups and downs...have meant more to me than you will ever know. Your counsel, advice, encouragement, and prayer have been my mainstay....It seems in the recent months my capacity to love you has deepened...I love the wife of my youth more every day!...Yes, I am thankful to God for you...No child ever had a greater mother than our children.”[6]

Rev Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
 -an article for the Feb 2017 Light Magazine 

[1] Maryon Pearson spoke her mind". Toronto Star, December 28, 1989.
[2] Patricia Daniels Cornwell, A Time for Remembering: The Ruth Bell Graham Story (Harper & Row, San Francisco), 60.
[3] Cornwell, 63.
[4] Cornwell, 72.
[5] Cornwell, 155.
[6] Cornwell, 149.

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