Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Rocks Of Remembrance

"When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,  “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.... to serve as a sign among you.  These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.  He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Joshua 4: 1-3,6,7, 24


It has been my personal spiritual discipline as the end of each year comes to a close to find a quiet spot with my journal to spend some time with God in remembrance.

God commanded Joshua to be intentional to take some visual reminders of what He had done on their behalf.  The Lord intervened on their behalf by ceasing the flow of the water in order for the whole nation to cross safely through the Jordan.  God then sent the men to pick up stones from the Jordan to take with them as a symbol of the powerful hand of God in their lives.

I think that God knows that it is our nature to be quick to forget.

He also knows that when trouble comes our way we are prone to worry and panic instead of to trust in Him.  We are anxious because we fail to recall the times that God has provided and carried us through to the other side.

Symbolic stones are a prompt to remember the hand of God in our lives.

The stones are a powerful mechanism to share our story with others of what God has done.

Recording His faithfulness also helps us to be attentive and live with gratitude for the everyday wonders He has displayed in our lives.


May I encourage you to join me and carve out some time to remember.


What are your personal rocks of remembrance from this past year?


Take a few moments to quiet your mind and heart.

Do not force the memories or worry if nothing comes to your mind right away.

Ask God's help to remember. 


Feel free to use this prayer along with me




Father, 

Thank you for the precious gift of your Holy Spirit that you sent to teach us and bring all things that we need into remembrance.   Help us to recall the ways you have worked in our lives over this past year.  

Bring to mind the ordinary wonders, answered prayers, provisions, protection, as well as your miraculous acts.  Help us to also see the blessings and gifts from some of the difficult and painful experiences we have lived through this past year.  Remind us of the ways in which You have made yourself known.

Forgive us for being quick to forget your acts of kindness. Have mercy on us for the ways in which we failed to acknowledge or recognize your hand in our lives.  Forgive us for the times we have taken undeserved credit for what you have done on our behalf.  Forgive us for being afraid and anxious instead of trusting and recalling Your faithfulness.

Help us to remember You, not just what you "do" for us.

Thank you for Your faithfulness and that you are fully trustworthy.
  
Thank you for choosing to reveal and make yourself known to us.

In the powerful name of Your Son, Jesus

Amen




As you record your own Rocks of Remembrance consider...

Ways that God has revealed Himself anew to you this year (protector, healer, strength, provider, comforter...)

Answers to Prayer

Unique ways God provided for you, someone unexpected came along to help in a time of need (physical, emotional, spiritual)

Times this year where you saw evidence of His hand of protection

Unexpected gifts that came your way




As the memories surface, simply record each act of remembrance.

Remember there is no act too small.

If you have a physical item that tells your unique story of His faithfulness this year, go ahead and get it.  Put it out on display in your home or your office.  A place where you will walk by it everyday, see it and remember His power.  Find a place where others may be curious and ask what that item is.  You can then take the opportunity to use that symbol in your home, car or office to tell God's story of His faithfulness in your life.

You can always go back and add items to your rocks of remembrance if something comes to mind later on.

Before you leave this sacred time of remembrance with God - do not forget to give Him praise and thanks for who He is and what He has done. 


A few of my own rocks of remembrance from 2016 ...


  • You have revealed your wonder, creativity and beauty to me











  • You have been my present help to comfort and uphold me through those difficult moments this past year

  • My niece's engagement (hula hula girl) & our new addition to the family - welcome Matt!



The Christmas Light Engagement - So Happy For You Both ~  Love You!



  • Family - love, laughter, memories and protection

  • The healing and health of my sister in law and nephew

  • Provision of new opportunities and ventures this past year for Ken

  • For unexpected beautiful new/old friendships (Kristine, Cathy, Alicia, Jessica)

  • Memories of our travels together



Ken taking in the Giant's Causeway

Legends of Kylemore Abbey


Blarney Castle Knitted Tree Gardens


Lookout at the top of Yeats Tower


Autograph Tree - GB Shaw, Yeats  - Coole Park - Gort


Sampling at the Cheese Factory


Riding the Canal together in Amsterdam




  •  For helping me to live awake in You Lord & for all of you who have chosen to stop by at arils and castles.  I am humbled and so grateful for the time you have taken to read, encourage and bless me throughout this past year



May God continue to reveal Himself to you
May He bless and keep you
 May His face shine upon you
 throughout this upcoming new year!




 







Monday, 19 December 2016

An Unexpected Angel!

Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels
O Come All Ye Faithful, Wade/Oakley



When love came down, did I miss Him?

In my last post I began to grapple with this haunting question.  A helpless, dependent baby born in a filthy manger was not what the world expected.  This tiny child did not fit the image of the powerful King they had in mind.  We often miss Christ, because we are looking in all the wrong places. 

Jesus tends to show up in the most unexpected ways.  His loving Presence is revealed and found in miraculous grand gestures, but also in the small, the ordinary, the weak, the messy, broken people and places of life. 

After accepting the challenge to remain attentive to seeing Christ in the unexpected this Advent, I couldn't help but share this incredible story with all of you.

It is the story of an unexpected angel!

Last March, I wrote about a documentary called, A Better Slice Of Life.  

This film featured the powerful story of students with a developmental disability gaining independence through an innovative culinary program developed by a partnership between Christian Horizons and Humber College.




As part of the instruction in this unique employment-focused college program students receive their certification in First Aid and CPR.

On December 13, 2016, Dylan Duncan, one of the dedicated culinary students from this year's cohort was on his way to work when he saw a man having a heart attack and in need of help.

Dylan immediately stepped into action by applying his knowledge and training from his recent certification in CPR.  Dylan's leadership and skills ended up saving this man's life.

Jessica Burman Zinger (the wife of the man whose life was saved) was reported by the CBC as saying that Dylan is

 'a hero and an angel.' 
 

Check out the full article of Dylan's story here: 
Culinary Student With Developmental Disabilities Saves A Life 

This extraordinary event has me asking some hard questions.

CPR is performed and lives are saved everyday so what makes this story so unique?

Am I surprised because the unexpected hero in this story is a person with a disability?

In fact, when I viewed the comments that were trending on one site, there was a person questioning whether the story was even true.  I believe the validity of the story was called into question because most of us have a preconceived idea of what a hero looks like.

Can we be really honest for a moment?

If our Heavenly Father sent an angel to rescue us, would we expect this celestial being to come in the form of someone with a developmental disability?

I confess, not only do I often catch myself expecting far too little from God, but I also still fail at times to see and assume ability instead of the disability in others. 

Advent calls you and me to come with expectation.
Love is
revealed
in the
unexpected

The Scripture in Hebrews 13 reminds us that there are times we may not be aware of angels in our midst. 


I'm beginning to realize that angels are not just for Christmas stories of long ago.

Believe &
Expect
 the unexpected

Dylan's story is a needed reminder to never underestimate the talents, abilities or contributions of others simply because they have a disability.

After all, like Dylan, they just may happen to be one of God's unexpected and qualified angels sent to minister to you and me!


O Come, let us adore
the King of Angels




A few more days left to receive your free advent gift from the new release, Advent Sessions, by artist Terry Posthumus.

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Saturday, 17 December 2016

When Love Came To You, Did You Miss Him?

And she gave birth... and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.  
Luke 2: 7 RSV

I have been enamoured with Vincent (yes, I feel like we are on a first name basis) ever since we viewed his exquisite works of art in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam this past summer.  


Girl Kneeling by a Cradle, Van Gogh, 1883
"If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it.  I think I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes the morning, and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on it's cradle." 
 - Vincent Van Gogh, The Complete Letters, 242, 1, 483

The world (including the church) seems to be in this constant search for something grand, yet we usually end up looking in all the wrong places.

That night so long ago the world expected a powerful Saviour and King to come and rule on earth. Instead, this fragile, dependent baby in a filthy manger was born.


Love is 
 revealed
in the 
unexpected


I get caught in this same trap.  I fail to recognize Christ in the unexpected, the small, the ordinary, the weak, the broken, the messy and needy people and places of life.

Sometimes I am pleading so hard for Christ to show up through spectacular gestures and miracles in order to fix what is out of order and control in this world that I actually miss His love being revealed right here in the now.  I often find myself waiting for some distant, future answer to prayer to confirm that God has indeed shown up, instead of recognizing and receiving the reality of His love in the present moment.


 
There have been other times that I have missed the love, joy and peace of Christ simply because I had a preconceived idea of how Emmanuel should reveal Himself in a certain manner, situation, time or place.

Like the Innkeeper from that infamous night, I have also failed to make time and room in my heart for Christ.  When I am consumed and filled with worry, fear or hurt there becomes little space left to receive the unexpected revelation of His loving Presence. 


"All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come - we all of us do - our destiny, our joy, our heart's desire.  So how am I to say it ...?  When he came, I missed him. "Pray for me, brothers and sisters.  Pray for the Innkeeper.  Pray for me, and for us all..."
Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

When He came to you, did you miss Him?  

This question continues to haunt me.

During this year of seeking to live awake in Christ I have been humbled by the revelation of God's wonder and love, yet I sadly confess that I echo Buechner's lament for the moments I have missed Him.  

I don't want to ever miss my true love again.  

Awaken us Lord to Your Presence.
Thank you for revealing Your love in and through us.
Christ, you are true love revealed.

Emmanuel is here, right now with us as I write and you read this very sentence...don't miss Him.  Stop right now, acknowledge Him, receive and behold His love.  


Become
 living
 revelations
 of His
 love

This week let's keep watch as God reveals His love to us and through us so that we may become living revelations of His love to those we meet.


Come now and expect the unexpected!  



Love Is Revealed, Advent Sessions
 written by Terry & Jessica Posthumus & Ken Michell











Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Room With The Blue Slippers




To Wait
to not do something until something else happens


This definition in the Webster’s on-line dictionary made me smile.   The dictionary is usually not so vague, but in this case it fits perfectly.

The truth is, waiting involves entering in the realm of the vague, the unknown and territory beyond our control.

A couple of years ago my husband and I spent several hours in the hospital waiting room.  I named it "the room with the blue slippers."  Sounds romantic doesn't it?
 
It is the place where patients with blue slippers wait for the physician to take them in for their procedures.  On this particular day they were running about an hour or so behind schedule so we remained in the crammed room with all of the other waiting blue slippers.

After they took my husband in I sat reading and watching repeat news reels on the television screen above as I waited for another couple of hours.  Finally my magic number popped up on the hospital information board so I eagerly headed to the nurses desk.
 
I was anxious to see Ken so I followed the nurse down a maze of hallways.  At the end of the maze instead of delivering me to my husband I realized they had simply transferred me to yet another waiting room!  

Life is full of waiting.  It can’t be avoided. 

Waiting can be for a joyous occasion or a momentary inconvenience as we line up at the gas pumps when the price of oil drops.  However, in other seasons waiting can be torment where the end appears to be nowhere in sight as life hangs in the balance.

Advent is one of those precious seasons of waiting and anticipation where the outcome is absolutely life changing.

Henri Nouwen, a beloved priest and writer describes advent as...





“the time when we practice the discipline of waiting.

We focus our attention on the hope to come.







We set our hearts on God's not-yet-seen promises rather than our unfulfilling circumstances in the present.



We join the saints who even now are crying “How long?” before God’s throne (Rev 6:10), longing for the world to be put to right. We take the long view, keep our eyes on the big picture, and walk on.”


As I spent that day in the "room with the blue slippers" I realized I still have a long way to go when it comes to the spiritual discipline of waiting.

This spiritual practice has been especially difficult when I am waiting for God to act on behalf of those I love who are hurting, grieving or struggling with illness.  

I also acknowledge that patience and trust have not been my forte when it pertains to waiting for the fulfillment of the desires of the heart.  Rather than resting fully in the hope of Christ -  I gravitate toward the false belief that my life is on hold.

Have you ever felt like you were waiting for the answer to prayer or circumstances to change in order to begin to enjoy life?

If we are not careful waiting can deceive us into thinking we are stuck, that things will never change and there is no way out.  This can lead us quickly down a path void of hope and straight into the pit of resentment.

I think Nouwen would disagree with Webster’s definition.  He advocates that waiting is not a passive season, but rather quite the opposite...
“A waiting person is a patient person. The word “patience” means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty.  But, patient people dare to stay where they are.  Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there.  Waiting, then, is not passive.  It involves nurturing the moment."

The next time we find ourselves in the midst of a blue slipper season of waiting let's 

Turn toward God

Embrace the moment

Let go of the urge to escape or remain in control  

May we fully surrender to Emmanuel instead of the fear



Dare to stay right where we are and enjoy life while we wait

Advent whispers to you and me...

Hope is on the way

 Jesus is coming.







For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.

 Habakkuk 2:3-4


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Advent Sessions - A Free Gift For You!

The weeks leading up to Christmas are often so jammed packed with finishing last minute deadlines at work, shopping, baking, decorating and holiday parties that we miss "the coming."

The coming of ...

Hope

Hope in the here and now.  Hope for the not yet seen promises of God. Hope of Christ's return.

The coming of ...

Peace

The true, abiding Prince of Peace.

The coming of ...

Joy

An everlasting sheer joy that does not waiver based on our life circumstances.

The coming of ...

Love come down

The love of Christ revealed to us, in us and through us.

The coming of ...

Christ, the Promised One.


Let's not miss Christ in the midst of the Christmas to do lists, events and stress of the season.

Instead, let's carve out some space to be still.

Cease the rushing, the activity and noise.

In the quiet, lean in, listen.

Hear Emmanuel calling you.

He longs for you and me.

Expect, watch and wait as He reveals Himself to you.

Our Saviour is the One who is able to fill the longing in each heart with a hope that doesn't disappoint, a peace that surpasses all understanding, a joy that overflows and a love that never fails.

Unwrap this gift of Advent - Emmanuel, His very Presence.



Last weekend, Matt and Karen Fretz graciously hosted the CD release of our dear friend Terry Posthumus at their beautiful home studio.

Advent Sessions is a fresh warm musical invitation to eagerly anticipate, celebrate and enter into this precious season of the coming of Christ.

In honour of advent we have a special gift for you.  



I always say, why wait for December 25th for presents!

Subscribers to arils and castles will receive a link for a free download for one of Terry's songs from his new release, Advent Sessions.

For your free gift simply scroll to the top of this page to enter your email address to receive your automatic subscription to arils and castles and your free advent download - enjoy!

(*once you enter and submit your email address please do not forget to activate your subscription to arils and castles by checking your email or sometimes your spam mail in order to accept your subscription.  The download will be available until December 24, 2016).  
  


Tour dates and music - Terry Posthumus


Terry Posthumus, a must see in concert - truly engaging worship experience!

Blake Found, Terry Posthumus &Kenneth Michell
The beautiful and talented Juno nominated Bec Abbott

Kenneth singing and playing music together again with his dear friend Bec!


Christmas at the Studio - thanks Matt for the warm fire!

So proud of you my love!