Importance of Remembrance

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada to honour the men and women who have served, and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace. We wear poppies in remembrance, symbolizing that those who died in service will never be forgotten. At 11AM, all is stopped for a minute of silence in honour of those who served. Due to the pandemic, there will be less in-person events to commemorate Remembrance Day, however no less honoured.

This is also a day of remembrance of my best-friend, Rhonda, since I was a toddler. Today would have been her 55th birthday. She passed away from cancer just shy of her 50th birthday. In honour of her, I am re-publishing a personal essay I wrote. Two years after the loss of Rhonda, my brother, at 55 years old, passed away from cancer, too. He is also honoured in the essay.

As I get older, I am realizing the importance of remembering and finding ways to leave behind stories of ourselves for our future generations. This can be done through writing a polished memoir, but also through journalling, essays, quilting, scrapbooking, painting…even day timers. I have my late grandmother’s 3 x 3 black leather notebook that includes dates of her visits to her daughter in the hospital after she received the first successful kidney transplant. Seeing even my grandmother’s handwriting is a remembrance of her I cherish. Those things you craft, or write, or take pictures of may seem not significant, however they may become as cherished a memory as a poppy on Remembrance Day. Keep doing your craft. It matters.

Disappearing Ladders

     One summer when I was small, a ladder appeared against a corner piece of fence that separated my backyard from Rhonda’s, my best-friend. I saw the silver top of another ladder on Rhonda’s side of the fence. That ladder was taller than the one in my yard so I had to swing my leg high over the fence to reach the rungs on the other side. When journeying back over to my side, I’d turn backwards, balancing my tummy against the wood, and stretch my leg blindly until my foot reached the top step of my ladder. I learned early that flip flops were not the shoe of choice to climb ladders. Sometimes a pair of flip flops would be in my hands and bare-footed I navigated the hot metal steps between my backyard’s and Rhonda’s.

    I don’t know whose idea it was or remember who it was that added these ladders that linked my backyard with Rhonda’s. I do remember my mother, years later, telling me she’d once found me half way to Rhonda’s house after my three-year old self wandered out my front door. And she told me too, about the later times when I was five years old and she received a morning call from Rhonda’s mom to let her know I was safe at Rhonda’s house, pajama- dressed and shoeless. This all must have been before the appearing ladders.

     I don’t remember wanderings to Rhonda’s. Mom is gone so I cannot ask her more. I do remember Rhonda’s favourite breakfast of crust-less buttered toast. I thought it very special, to eat bread with the crust cut-off. I wonder if I ate Cheerios before I wandered over to Rhonda’s. I do remember floating Cheerios in milk, and my brother, Mark, beside me eating his cereal in our kitchen then. I can’t ask him either about my wanderings to Rhonda’s since he is gone too. At my last visit with Mark, he nibbled on a crust-less sandwich while the sound of distant chimes came from his open hospice window.

      I was too late to see Rhonda in hospice.

      Rhonda had the prettiest baby doll pajamas. I felt big around her but she was smarter. Her house had four big rooms on the main level—the living room where we made card houses and the family room where we watched cable television, the kitchen, and the dining room with tables bigger than the one at my house even though my family was bigger. I had four older siblings compared to her two however, a big space of nine to twelve years in ages is between the three eldest and I. I remember dinners in our kitchen, a small gathering most often, with my mom and Mark, and a plate of food in the oven kept warm for my dad.

    I don’t remember when the ladders were taken down. Maybe it was months before leaving to move west- my parents, Mark and me. Both my parents are gone now along with Rhonda and Mark; my memories behind fences only I’m left to climb.

    I miss those ladders.

What are some things you do that you will leave behind? What encouragement would you give to someone who thinks their craft has no value?

Are you looking to give Hope to someone this Christmas?

The Advent Narrative by Mary Geisen Hope Connections by Writers’ Café

Insecure Writers Support Group-Why do you write what you write?

Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

Recently a writer friend shared a Facebook Post that quoted author Kurt Vonnegurt. The quote, according to the post, came from a letter he wrote to high school students.

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” Kurt Vonnegurt

Before I set out to write, I’ll often read essays in collections such as Slice Me Some Truth and Small Victories (Anne Lamont). Sometimes I’ll feel like quitting writing after reading these essays, as my own writing is not anything like or as good as the writing by these excellent word smiths. Every word, phrase, and literary device develops the theme, moves the story forward, and keeps the reader engaged–all things I aspire for my writing to also be. But most importantly, they create a moment in time that I can imagine, creating a new experience that may only be in my mind but expanding my world nonetheless.

This is why I think I write what I write-to have new experiences even while just sitting in an office chair surrounded by four walls. Each sentence, each word, even each spelling mistake is something new created at that very moment that wasn’t there milliseconds before. Even if the writing is not good, I wouldn’t have found that out without first taking that step to just write. The writing may never be good, but I have had the experience of writing. And are we not sums of our experiences? Kurt Vonnegurt suggests that experience is what can ‘make your soul grow’ no matter how well or badly you do. I’m hoping that in my final days of life, even though I likely will not be famous or money rich, I can say I had a life rich in experiences. So I write on, well and badly.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.  

Stopping in for the Extraordinary

Hello!

How is your summer so far? I’ve been restless to travel provincially to Jasper and Banff, however the timing has not yet been right! I still have 8 more weeks of summer, and will get there with camera in hand. And then have new landscape Breathing Spaces to share!

Today, I am over at Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Below is an excerpt.

Have you ever nervously laughed when something so extraordinary is told to you that you have a hard time believing it could truly come to pass? 

After already a long life-time that had Sarah and Abraham still childless, I can imagine the news that they would have a son in a year was astonishing. Their life experiences had thus far shown them a child of their own becoming an impossibility as time marched on. Today we may flippantly refer to times when things just don’t happen like we expected as “it just wasn’t in the cards,” or  “it is what it is.” We may laugh at ourselves while we try to justify in our minds and hearts that our unmet dreams were silly or unrealistic in the first place.  Or we laugh at others when suggestions so extraordinary from our own perception have us choking down chuckles while internally we throw water on any flame sparked in our hearts.

 The realistic and ordinary become the safe places to navigate rather than the possibility of the extraordinary. Dreams dim as circumstances prevail. Years, maybe even decades pass by and, like Sarah, the womb stays empty. Hope leaves with the passing of time. But the Nourisher never stops working. Continue reading….

What places are you planning on visiting this summer?

Themes and Breaks

Today you’ll find me over at Inscribe Christian Writers’ Online.

“Your theme is a Petri dish and experimental bubble in which you’re going to test and explore your theme and premise.” Ted Dekker

In The Creative Way, author Ted Dekker instructs writers to develop theme by looking within to the questions, struggles and victories they are experiencing in their own life.  Every aspect of your story must serve your theme. And never to cheat by forcing a conclusion, but rather be vulnerable. Experience and explore where the story takes you, be open to surprises and let go of your own preconceived endings. “Everyone is dealing with the same questions in life, so they will connect,” he writes. 

Creating connections through stories has been my goal for my writing as long as I can remember. As a very shy child, books were ways to explore my world safely. Looking back on the books I connected with most, I began to see a theme of the lost being found. 

In my childhood favourite book, Are You My Mother by P.D Eastman, I flew with a baby bird hatched in an empty nest who goes searching for a mother it’s never seen and is rescued by a bulldozer that drops it back into its nest where mother soon appears.

In elementary school my favourite books were Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White and A Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon. Reading Charlotte’s Web, I cheered for Wilbur, the pig, as his lonliness lifted when Charlotte, the spider, befriended him and webbed encouraging messages for the world to see.  Imagining Chester, the lost cricket, and his songs blessing the crowds in Times Square, The Cricket in Times Square showed me that friends can come from the most unlikely of places. Continue reading by clicking here

What favourite books do you see reflected as themes in your life?

Now that summer is here which means more work fun and less screen-time, I’ll be taking a blogging break. You may see me pop in from time to time here and at your places! And always love to connect with you at Instagram.

May you have a blessed summer!

When all Seems Gone-“Peace be with you.”

Usually these weeks before celebrating Easter, our sermons, readings, and devotionals reflect the upcoming celebration of Jesus’ resurrection of the cross. This year Easter seems to have been buried beneath the current events. But Palm Sunday is still almost upon us, followed by the Holy Week. These words I post were written a year ago, however like all of God’s words, it’s message is timeless and timely.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came among them and said, “Peace be with you!” John 20:19

An empty tomb. 

The tomb which had held Jesus, their Saviour, their teacher, their friend, was empty. The broken body of their King, gone.

Peter and John, along with the other disciples (except for Judas for he had betrayed Jesus, and for Thomas who was not with them that day) drew together behind a locked door. John’s gospel teaches it was a first day of the week, and Peter and John had recently witnessed an empty tomb except for strips of linen, and the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.

An empty tomb. 

Although scripture does not name the room where the disciples were hiding that day, bible scholars think it may have been the room upstairs where they stayed before (Act 1:13) and reference it as the Upper Room.

In the Upper Room that day, I imagine the disciples fear and sadness laced the air, along with the lingering smell of  bread and wine from their last supper when Jesus, their Saviour, their teacher, their friend was still there.

I imagine Peter feeling regret, the roosters crow still echoing in his mind.

I imagine John, tears flowing freely in grief and wondering how best to honour his Saviour’s request to take care of Jesus’ mother, Mary. 

I imagine, even though they huddled together, the room felt empty without the presence of Jesus whose love they had known. 

A love that now seemed gone, with an empty tomb while they huddled in that locked Upper Room. 

And, I imagine, all the disciples hoping they could have just one more day with Him. 

Then….

Then, He is suddenly standing before them. 

“Peace be with you,” He says. 

Peace be with you.

Even after all He had endured—whippings, a crown of thorns, a cross to carry, nails in His hands, and all the sin of the world upon Him…

His first words to His beloved disciples were to settle their grieving, fearful, and shameful hearts.

“Peace be with you!”

And “The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” John 20:20.5

Even when all seems empty, gone–a loved one, a job, a dream, a friend, a child moving out, consequences from a mistake- and your heart is grieving, may you remember Jesus first words to His disciples that day He appeared.

“Peace be with you.”

Those words are for you too, today and forever more.

Lynn J Simpson is just a gal doing life one step at a time. You can find more of her Breathing Spaces Photography at Lynn J Simpson Photography. You can also check out her publications at Publications.

A Breath for Your Spirit

Inspired by Trudy at Freed To Fly who wrote this week on her blog, “Thank you to all of you who share beautiful nature photos on your blog posts. They always breathe hope into my spirit,” I decided to purely do a Breathing Space post. May you be refreshed in your spirit and restful in your mind.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

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Embassy of Love

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20

Have you ever considered yourself an Ambassador for the Kingdom? When people ask what you do, have you ever considered answering, “I am an Ambassador?” And when they raise their eyebrows at you, you continue, “for the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I don’t know Ludmilla, but guess she may answer that way! Watch why…

What is an Ambassador?

A bible study I am currently in describes an ambassador as “a dignitary whose full-time job is to live for a period in a foreign land, intentionally building relationships with the people native to the land and purposefully representing to those people the desires of his king or sovereign and is given authority to speak and act on his behalf. Adapted from Chris Patton.”

How are we Ambassadors?

We are living in a foreign land until God calls us home. While we are here we represent  our Sovereign King. We live purposely by continuing the work of Jesus through the work of the Spirit that transforms our character and guides our steps. We are called to reflect God’s goodness and speak of His love.

Often I can get wrapped up in my wonderings of what my purpose is. Yet, God has it already laid out in His word!

Have you ever considered yourself as an Ambassador of God’s Kingdom? What resonated for you in Ludmilla’s story?

But you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 

Love Holds No Record of Wrong

(Originally posted on 2016 but a timeless message of love).

In our human world, it is natural to want to have rules to follow, laws to live up to, yet is that what God calls us to? Are His ways the ways of the world? Does He call us to follow the way of rules to become worthy of being complete in Him?

I tried to find my own words to answer these questions with what I think is truth but Paul’s words say it so much superior.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. Galatians 2:20-21 The Message

I’m struggling friends, of what to write, as there is so much here to unpack! It is the foundation for understanding how much we are loved without needing to ‘impress God.’ It is through this love, our identity in Him, we no longer are  ruled  by our egos, others opinions of us, and our human vulnerabilities. And we are free to love ourselves and others as Jesus loves who keeps no records of wrong.

(Love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:5

When we grasp this understanding that we are already complete in Christ, loved wholly and unconditionally, we no longer need to be loved by anything else in this world. Often our hurts, offences made against us are from expectations we have on others on how we think we should be treated. Our identity gets wrapped up in our attachment to how others satisfy our egos. So when others do not live up to our own expectations, our character feels attacked, and we take offence. We become afraid and build our walls of defence.

In other words we become a slave to others opinions and treatment of us.

The Way

But Jesus showed us a Way out of this entrapment to freedom. He showed us how to love.

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24

They do not know what they are doing. No judgement, no unmet conditions, just Perfect Love seeing the brokenness in his offenders, and keeping no record of the wrong. Instead, He rose and came back into a world that crucified Him because He loves us that much!

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When we grasp this understanding of this perfect love He has for us, where there is no condemnation, no-need to please or make-up for our transgressions, we begin to love ourselves as the Father loves us, freeing us to let-go of any need to be loved and treated a certain way to feel okay in this world. And in that way we free others too, from our own judgement and conditions. This leads us to take no offence and casts out our fears of being vulnerable because we are complete in Christ, and fully loved just as we are now.  We can then take that understanding of God’s love for us and return that same love out to the world.

The Promise

Friends, I don’t pretend to know it all. Paul’s words again express this so much more superior than mine.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12

Camp on these words for a moment-Christ Jesus took hold of me. He’s got you, looking out for you, because of who He is-Perfect Love.

And how can we understand His perfect Love that holds no record of wrong, that does not take offence and extends only grace? I believe only through the Holy Spirit, asking our eyes and heart to be opened to Our Good Father.

Open the Eyes of My Heart-Michael W Smith

 

 

Lessons of (new, real) life

 

sky (35 of 1)Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3: 2-3 AMP

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One summer vacationing in Vancouver, BC, with my daughter and two grandchildren, I found myself slowly stepping across the 450 ft (137m) long, 230 ft (70m) high Capilano Suspension Bridge.  Looking down, one hand gripped the twisted metal rail, the other held my camera tightly against my chest. People passed me, some whose quick steps swayed the bridge causing me to step even more slowly while muttering to myself that never again would I do this! Heights swell fear within me. Somehow my imagination sees me misstepping and falling, even though realistically I am safe and secure.

Once across I am in a 27 acre park of coastal rainforest where Western Red Cedar, Douglas Firs, and Western Hemlock trees grow among the delicate ground forest plants. My young grandson runs behind a tree and the trunks circumference hides him from our sight. But we know he is there.  We call out to him, and he comes back into our vision. He holds my hand securely as we step along the paths carved through this forest.

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When our minds play out scenes from our fears, we loose sight of the presence where we are now safe and secure. When life events cause our steps to be uneven and we try to fix our struggles in our own strength, we grow weary and worrisome.  I’ve been in a season of uncertainty experiencing the fears and worrisome mind. What I saw of as my security seemed to be dwindling away and a broken wrist deprived me of my regular exercise and photography pursuits.  I could say I sailed through looking up to heavenly things as Colossians 3:3 teaches, however keeping it real, I hid myself in a lot of Netflix and slept much more than usual!

We can’t hide.

Even when trying to hide behind screens and under covers, God though, knew where I was, always. And like my grandson unseen behind that tree trunk but known by us, his mom and grandma, nothing is large enough to  hide behind to not be known by God.

So the beginning of this 2020 has been like walking a swaying suspended bridge. Letting go of my grip and keeping my head up with hope and trust, and learning–learning the lessons (some of them the hard ones!) along the way.

My verse for this year is Roman’s 12:12-13 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Have you a verse for the year? Or a verse that gives you hope during troubled times?

A Breath of Waters

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. Matthew 14:22

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
― E. B. White

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