Monday, February 25, 2013

Epiphany at the Swimming Pool

Photo credit: Kenya Allmond / / CC BY-NC-ND 

I smiled when I saw the young man and his tiny daughter walk through the doors of the local swimming pool. She looked to be about three years old and was chatting happily and non-stop as she held her daddy's hand. A horde of kids had arrived just a few minutes earlier so I assumed he was there to watch the little one's older sibling. They headed for the observation area and I went back to checking email on my iphone while I waited for a friend. A little while later they emerged again. The little girl was still chattering as she raced for the door but her dad called her back to put her jacket, hat and mittens on before going outside.

He sat her on the bench opposite me. He put her hat on. She pulled it off. He put a mitten on. She pulled it off. She was chattering like a little squirrel the whole time, and he was hmmm-ing and aha-ing as he patiently put her hat on again. She reached up to tug it off but he caught her hand and managed to get a mitten on it. Then he scooped her into his arms before she could pull anything else off and headed for the doors to the outside world.

It was a delight to watch that dad and his little one. Love personified, I thought. He was patient, he was kind, he was selfless in his actions. Just like our Heavenly Father. And we are so much like that little girl.

We are self-centred and wilful, wanting our own way and often trying to undo what God is trying to accomplish in our lives, even though it is always for our own good and protection. That little one took her dad for granted, as all tiny children do. We too often do the same. We assume God's care and protection are there, while all the while following our own agenda and often rejecting his direction. How often we must try His patience!

But even though that little one was disobeying him, that dad kept smiling and nodding and letting his daughter prattle on. Because he loves her. She's his little girl and nothing will ever change that. This too is a picture of our Heavenly Father and His unconditional love for His children. Though we test and try Him, He never gives up on us, never stops loving us.

The writer of the book of Lamentations wrote: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." 
Visit Marcia's website for more information on her writing/speaking ministry

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love In, Love Out

Valentine's Day - it's one of those occasions when we get a plethora of emails, blog posts and advertisements all about love. Some claim to be experts, laying out a lot of advice on how to maintain your marriage, how to love like you should. Some of the advice is even worth putting into practice.

I have no magic wand, no step by step instructions, no guarantees, but this I know, after 33 years of marriage, you just can't love like you should without the love of Christ in you. And even then, it's hard. But if you keep on trying, keep on leaning on the Lord, one day you wake up and realize that you've made some progress. Maybe just a little, but enough to notice, and then the joy comes, and the gratitude and the grace.

Then you begin to understand that what the Psalmist David says is true - "You have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.... (and) you have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (Psalm 16-5-11).

Then you discover that as his love flows into us it flows out, as naturally as a spring of water, leaving us changed, refreshed and ready to receive and give out yet again. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Love is given out as it is received. We are able to love because we know in the depth of our souls that we are well and truly loved.

Visit Marcia's website to learn more about her writing/speaking ministry.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Books of Remembrance

In honour of Remembrance Day, celebrated here in Canada on Nov. 11th, I thought I'd post this devotional from my book Focused Reflections. Enjoy.

   It sounds like a gunshot. The report, echoing back from the marble walls, is the sound of a single soldier coming to attention. The sound comes from the sole of his boot as it strikes the floor in the Memorial Chamber on the second level of the Peace Tower in the Ottawa Parliament Buildings. The soldier salutes, bows, stands in silence for a moment and then opens a glass case in front of him. Carefully he reaches in and turns the page of a large book. Then he closes the case and moves on. There are seven cases, each containing a large book. The soldier comes to attention, salutes and bows at each one. This process is repeated every day at eleven o’clock. The seven books contain the names of the thousands of men and women, Canadians, who have died at war.

It took several artists many years to create the books, which are decorated with heraldic illumination and calligraphy. The paper and binding used were specially made. The steps and stand on which they rest are made of marble imported from the quarries of Flanders Fields. They are embedded with brass plates hand-crafted from the shell casings retrieved from battlefields and bearing the names of the major battles in which Canadians took part. All the symbolism and ceremony surrounding the Six Books of Remembrance is meant to honour those men and women, some long dead, for their sacrifice and acts of valour.
But there are more than seven Books of Remembrance. Revelation 20:11-15 tells us there are books in heaven, too. The exiled Apostle John described them as he saw them in his vision. He wrote: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne and books were opened. Another book was opened which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (v.12) .... If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (v.15)

There will no doubt also be great ceremony, great honour, but also great disgrace associated with the books of remembrance in heaven. That final judgement will herald a new beginning for all of God’s creation. For some, those whose names are written in the book of life, it will be the beginning of an eternity lived in the presence of God. For others, those whose names are not in that book, it will be the beginning of an eternity lived in the absence of God.

But there will be a difference between the ceremony in heaven and the one that is conducted on earth. The ceremony in heaven will happen in the presence of those people. They will be there to see the books opened and to hear their names called. Whose names will be written in the book of life? Jesus tells us  - “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)
Watch a video of the ceremony in the Memorial Chamber.
Visit Marcia's Website to learn more about her writing and speaking ministry

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Two Days After - M. Laycock

The line of people snaked through Pearson Airport with a low hum of conversation, broken now and then by the buzz of electronic devices - hair dryers and razors being plugged in, to prove they weren’t fake. Armed men roamed through the crowd. At the counter, luggage was opened, personal belongings tossed about, nail files and fingernail clippers taken out, purses and brief cases tagged. One woman looked embarrassed at needing a stranger’s help to get her suitcase closed again. Another looked flustered as a long screwdriver was pulled from her handbag. “I forgot it was in there,” she explained. The security guard wasn’t smiling. One man said, “They can search me six ways to Sunday. The more they do, the more secure I feel.”

As I waited in the departure lounge hours later, I realized there were not many people there who looked like they felt secure. Most were fidgeting, some pacing. All were taking careful note of those who would be boarding the same plane. A tall man standing by the window seemed especially diligent. He was not looking out the window, but studying the people. I noticed him survey each person’s bag, his eyes lingering on each purse, each briefcase. He also studied the faces, his eyes not shifting away when they looked directly at him. As we boarded the plane, he stood behind the stewardess, watching.

Security. It is a word we have heard continually, in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. No doubt many will continually wonder, how secure are we, really? Will the security measures taken at airports and borders really make a difference? Will all the efforts to protect the western world from another such attack guarantee it won’t happen again? The underlying reality creeps from beneath these questions - there is no guarantee. Must we then, like the people of so many other countries, live in constant fear? Must we change our daily habits and train our children to do likewise? No doubt our lives have changed as a result of the attack on the United States, but there is one constant that remains.

Hebrews 13:6 says  - “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 112:6-8 says – “Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear.” The only real security lies in trusting God. Putting your faith in Jesus guarantees, not a life without conflict or stress, but a life of peace in spite of circumstances, a calm heart that conquers fear.

Boarding a 757 two days after one was used as a flying bomb did make me realize Jesus is the only guarantee. May we all grow more and more into that realization.

Marcia's devotionals are distributed to thousands. Her devotional book Spur of the Moment is now in second printing. Visit her website

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Living For Real

Have you ever considered, in this virtual day and age we can ...

send a message to a friend without actually talking on a phone;
take a course at college without actually stepping foot on the campus;
find out all the latest news about any country in the world without actually leaving your living room;
check email without actually having to talk to anyone;
play tennis or basketball without actually stepping onto a court;
read a book without actually holding it in your hands;

But ...

there is nothing like hearing the actual voice of a loved one far away;
there is nothing like sitting in an actual classroom with others of like mind and spirit;
there is nothing like actually experiencing the third world, its people, its culture, its tastes and smells;
there is nothing like actually talking to a friend about their life, hearing the joy/pain/sorrow/laughter in his/her voice.
there is nothing like actually being on a court, hearing the crowd, working with your team-mates;
there is nothing like actually turning the page, feeling the weight of a good book

Don't let life actually pass you by. Live it, for real.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Reader Appreciation Award

I am honoured & humbled that Lynn Dove, nominated me to receive The Reader Appreciation Award.
Thank you, Lynn, for nominating The Spur for this award. There are a few guidelines for accepting this award: 1. Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog site. 2. Copy and paste the award to your blog. 3. Pass the award to up to ten bloggers. 4. Notify your selected bloggers that you have nominated them.
Accordingly, I am nominating the following bloggers for The Reader Appreciation Award:

Laura Davis - Learning from the Master - shares her thoughts on faith

Glynis Belec - her personal blog about life and cancer

Stephen Berg - Grow Mercy - insightful thoughts on faith, life and culture

Violet Nesdoly - Promptings - thoughts on life and aging

Kimberley Payne - devotional thoughts on life and faith

Janet Sketchley - Devotional thoughts and book reviews

Karen Toews - Real Food Matters - health and food info.

Mary Waind - Beech Croft Tales - backyard musings

Brenda Wood - Heartfelt devotionals

Bonnie Way - balancing life as a mother and writer

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A Few Things I've Learned - M. Laycock

One year ago today I answered my cell phone and heard my doctor say three terrifying, mind-numbing words: "you have cancer." It wasn't an April Fools' Day joke.

I just finished my last treatment and am feeling good but it has been a year full of challenges - days of having to face a reality I did not want to know, days of such bone-deep weariness that I just wanted to hold my breath and wake up in heaven, days when I rejoiced if I could put my clothes on without panting.

I learned a few things along the way - these are some of them:

I learned that you can be terrified of walking through a door and still turn the knob.

I learned that you can feel tiny and alone and helpless until you look into the faces of the other people in that hospital waiting room who are bandaged, bald and draped in hospital gowns but still manage to smile at you. Their strength feeds you.

I learned there are a lot of people out there who know how to love in practical ways. There are people who are brave enough to care for the desperately ill in ways that shout the word grace into a needy world.

I learned that doctors don't know everything but most are genuine in their quest to do their best to help.

I learned that when all you can do is howl in the middle of a hospital corridor there will be someone there who says it's okay, go ahead and do it.

I learned that being surrounded by suffering can reveal all that is noble and wise and beautiful in humanity. Seeing it is worth the cost of being there.

I learned that when you know there will be things to laugh about in the day, it's not so hard to get out of bed.

I learned that when you are in a place of having always to receive there is a desperate need to give.

I learned there is time to cherish life even when you feel that it's ebbing away from you.

I learned that when God's voice is silent, if you are willing to open your eyes you will see his face, weeping with you. Sometimes the face looks a lot like members of your own family or a friend.

I learned that God may seem indifferent until your eyes open to see a beam of light pulsing along the tendril of a spider plant, making its blossoms glow. Hope is a dimension of light.