Saturday, December 17, 2016
Often I’ve wondered what it would feel like when things “happened here on earth as it is in Heaven.” After all Heaven’s standards are lofty and unattainable for imperfect humans. Or are they? In the last five weeks I’ve discovered and experienced our Heavenly Father’s love when He employed hundreds of people to be His angels to do His Kingdom work.
My beloved husband Jack, the love of my life for over twenty years, suddenly passed away from a massive heart attack on November 15, 2016. God knows that in our darkest hours we are raw and helpless to eat, or make decisions. That’s when God sends His angels.
· Angels come when called. Our combined family of five children and twelve grandchildren were scattered all over North American when this crisis began. They left family vacations in Florida, conferences, school classes, appointments and business deals in order to support me. For almost two weeks my family surrounded me in love, prayers, food and helped me make endless decisions.
· Angels do necessary and practical things. My stepson David and stepdaughter Janice took on all Executor duties; dealt with all paperwork and looked after distributing all their father’s clothes. What a heavenly gift to have those painful and necessary details attended to.
· Angels hear the call of distress. Soon I was alone in the house and winter came with a vengeance. Jack had always shovelled our l driveway and I wondered how I would be able to handle it. As the snow piled up I became more anxious and asked God to help me. The next time I looked out the window my driveway was shovelled. My secret shovelling angel has kept my driveway clear all winter.
· Angels know when you are sick. I was flat on my back with the nasty flu, fever and cough and clearly not able to cook for myself. An angel friend showed up at my door with chicken noodle soup, a flower arrangement to cheer me up, and dessert to top it off.
· Angels know I can’t figure out remote controls. Another dear angel friend presented me with a gift of “one-stop Logitech” remote to replace all the other 5 mysterious controls. Finally I was able to turn on the T.V. and listen to music. It took another angel to come along to set up my T.V’s and
· Angels know when you don’t have strength to clean your house. A beautiful mother that I have been mentoring for a number of years was my cleaning angel. After two weeks and hundreds of people coming through my house, it needed a thorough clean and my angel cleaned it from top to bottom. Every corner, every nook. It was beautiful.
· Angels know you need laughter. God gave me an angel to take me to the movies and help me to once again…laugh out loud.
· Angels know you need help to fix stuff. In the middle of all my grief, my microwave broke, lights burned out and sinks plugged up. God tapped my brother-in-law on the shoulder to be my “helper-fixer angel” and he’s been a Godsend.
· Angels who are actually sisters. My sister actually has angel wings that you cannot see in this lifetime. She is my beautiful gift that is always there for me, checks up on me and supports me in every way imaginable.
This Christmas God sent His son to show the world how to live and love in a way that would allow mankind to experience bits of heaven on earth. It is the most beautiful thing when people allow the Father’s love to flow through them in tangible ways that make a difference in someone else’s life. It would take a book to tell you all the stories of how God manifested His love and shone His light through other people during my dark Christmas season.
To the hundreds of people who brought food, sent money, flowers, gave hugs, shared my tears, prayed for me and gave me evidence of God’s love, I say, “Thank you.”
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 Amazon.ca; Amazon.com, Goodreads.com or her website: www.heartconnection.ca
Monday, December 12, 2016
Today I’m going to share much of the narration written for our choir to present with music we’ve sung over the years. Of course you don’t have the advantage of hearing the songs that interspersed the narration, but I hope you will catch the flicker of light, the hope that the coming of the Christ Child can shed on whatever darkness you may experience this season. May you understand and rejoice.
The Light Has Come
When God’s people were taken into exile, the voices of the prophets stilled, it seemed to them that they were walking in darkness. Isaiah 59:9 says, “We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness but we walk in deep shadows.”
We can understand that. There is so much darkness in our world today, we sometimes despair as must have those waiting for the coming of the Messiah.
Darkness is a lonely, daunting place to be. In the darkness, everything we face seems worse; every pain bourgeons in severity. Positive thought is difficult to grasp.
The dawn of a new day brings hope, but even in the dark of the night, if we listen, God will whisper hope to us and there will be a flicker of light.
As Christmas nears, even as we sing and rejoice, we need to be prepared.
Prepared for what?
To have the answer to our dreams, our hopes, our expectations be different than what we imagined. Who would have thought the coming of a king could happen in a stable?
Yet Christ was born in a simple stable in the dark of night, and there came a glimmer of light. God chose a simple stable to shelter the King.
And in the darkness of our uncertainty, in situations and settings unexpected, the light will begin to dawn: God will whisper hope to us. We may experience that hope as we behold the Child of Bethlehem—God’s gift of love.
There must have been a glimmer of light in the breast of Mary at the coming of the promised child; Joseph must have felt the dawn of light as the words spoken to him in a dream months ago were fulfilled that night.
But the light could not be contained in that dark stable in Bethlehem. It burst into the very heavens, seen by simple shepherds and kings from afar.
Even so, the Light wants to burst into our darkness, to shine the light of love into our lives. As we open our hearts to that light, we will want to join the angels with our praise and sing our Gloria to God.
The mighty chorus rang good news through the heavens. The shepherds, when they heard the message the angels brought to them, were moved to action. “Let’s go see what the angels have told us.”
They found him in a manger, an unassuming, humble place, a little baby born, as all babies, with a lot of possibility and much mystery surrounding the prospect of what would come to be. Looking at that tiny babe, not yet was there understanding that as John’s gospel says that “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” One would wonder, How can that be?
What do we do when we hear good news? Are we curious but stay where we are, or do we, too, act on the message we hear? Do we get up and follow?
John knew our confusion for he added: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
We can sing our glorias and rejoice but to truly dispel the darkness, to open our understanding, to make our hallelujahs really ring, we must start with offering our hearts as mangers to receive a new life—the gift of love and light.
Our hearts—unassuming, humble, and what we may think to be shockingly unsuitable places for the birth of something so divine and royal—yet our hearts are exactly where God wishes to come to be Emmanuel—God with us.
That is perhaps why God chose to be born as a helpless baby. He wants to come to us in an unthreatening way, small enough for us to handle, but packed with possibility and bursting with promise. Possibilities that will be revealed as we grow in relationship with him, walking in the Light he shines on our pathway.
It’s up to us to decide whether we want to be filled with his light and reflect the Light of Life to the world around us. Do we want to ask Jesus to make our hearts a manger for his presence?
If we do, we will want to share it with others. It’s hard not to share good news so be invigorated to action. Yes, do go and tell!
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Photo: C. R. Wilker
You may be familiar with the children’s game of Hide and Seek. One person counts while another one, or maybe more, hides. What is agreed on first is that the person counting will get to a certain number, and then will call, “Coming, ready or not!” or some variation of those words. There might even be a home base, in a game outdoors, for those hiding to run for “home” without being caught.
I played the game with my sisters when we were growing up, and now I play it with my grandchildren who are five and seven. They have their secret hiding spots in our home (some not so secret, when they were smaller). It didn’t matter that, at first, it was the same few spots over and over, or that I heard giggling as I came near. I’d pretend I didn’t see or hear them and look other places, and finally only a few minutes later say, “There you are!” The response has always ended in a good deal of laughter.
Then it was my turn to hide. I found some pretty good places, but it didn’t dare be too hard or make them look too long or it wasn’t fun anymore. Sometimes they got their grandpa looking too. The best part of the game was the suspense, waiting to see my surprised face when I found them, or they found me.
Photo: C. R. Wilker
Imagine the suspense God created for his people when he said he’d send a Saviour. It wasn’t the five or eight minutes that it takes to find a person, as in our game, it was centuries. We’re told the people waited through periods of history for their saviour, through many trials and harsh rulers. They waited and waited, and then what did they find? Not what they expected.
When Jesus came, there was no jumping out from the shadows to say, “Here I am” as an older child might do, or even falling asleep while waiting to be found, as happened once in our home in a game of hide and seek when Dad took too long to find his young daughter.
Advent reminds us of that wait and those dark times before the Saviour finally arrived. It seemed as though it was so long that people forgot the clues (the signs) that God gave for the coming. The wise men looked in old scrolls for clues and the shepherds had no idea what was about to happen that night on the hillside.
People might have expected a king to deliver them, and if it was to be a baby, that he’d be born in some elegant place to important people, and certainly not in a stable as Jesus was born (Luke 2). The players were all important, it was just different than people expected.
This Advent season, remember God’s special gift, his surprises, as well as the expectations that God redeem his people, then rejoice, “Here you are!” when you find him.
Carolyn Wilker, author and editor from Ontario, Canada.
photo by James Woo, Clickr Photography
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