Tag Archive | faith

The Butterfly

Yesterday, I was talking to my sister on the phone, when I looked out the window and saw a gorgeous butterfly flitting through the leaves of my husband’s lemon tree. “Go and get a picture of it,” Brenda said. The butterfly didn’t stay long enough for the picture but the scene created a picture in my mind.

A number of years ago, when we were  living in a tiny apartment, my husband’s lemon tree appeared to die. There was no sign of  life, just a bare stick. Finally, I decided that I would discard of this dead tree and put a new one in its place for a  Father’s Day gift. The tree had other ideas. Before I could carry out my plan, a tiny spot of green appeared. It was a very small beginning, hardly noticeable, but now we have a healthy tree, that has actually had to be cut back several times.

Butterflies are my favourite symbol. Inside the dark cocoon a lowly caterpillar grows into a beautiful butterfly. Life out of death. Joy out of sorrow. Hope out of despair.

We all go through periods in life in which it  seems as if dreams have died. Perhaps they are too remote,  too impossible, too painful to fix. We don’t have the answers or the foresight we need. We have tried our own solutions and they haven’t worked.

When I saw the butterfly hovering about our lemon tree God spoke to my heart. The dreams you cherish are still there, waiting for the right time to be revealed. They are not dead. I am in control  of them. 

Whatever you are facing, don’t give up. Your tree will bloom. Your butterfly will land in its branches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Jane

Sarah

September 14, 2014 was a day full of celebration. In the afternoon, I went straight from church to attend the birthday party of a good friend’s nine year old son. Even though rain was predicted, the skies held off their downpour, and the party was held in the back yard, complete with a bouncy castle for the children. Then we went inside while Sam opened his gifts. It was a joyful event for a special child in my life. 

I also was aware that on the  same day, a surprise party was being thrown in Ontario, for my close friend, Donna, who was having a turn of the decade birthday. I would loved to have been there, but it made me very happy just to think of her excitement  and joy. 

When I went to bed that night, I was content and thankful for  the events of the day. The phone rang in the darkness, and I reached over to pick it up, thinking it was my daughter, Hannah, who sometimes called late. But it wasn’t Hannah. It was my sister, Brenda, from Ontario and her voice  was full of worry and fear. “Sarah is breathing like a fish,” she said. “She might die.”

Brenda and Mark’s daughter, Sarah Jane, had suffered for a number of years with kidney failure and sporadic incidents of a rare but very dangerous brain condition called PRES. On May 23, Sarah had had a kidney with a cancerous growth removed. The cancer was completely contained and no treatment was needed. Then, in the summer, she had a second operation, this time to remove most of her parathyroid glands, because of excessive hormone production. Generally this procedure only required an overnight stay but Sarah experienced another episode of PRES and dangerous and fluctuating blood pressure levels. Finally, after 46 days in  hospital, she was released. Now she was in Owen Sound, for a short family holiday, to see her grandmother. 

I went downstairs and sat at the kitchen table to wait for Brenda’s next call. All my family were asleep. I noticed, though, that my dear friend, Gina, was still up and on facebook. It was a comfort to chat with her online and tell her what was happening. 

About twenty minutes later, the phone rang again. I knew it wasn’t good news. “Sarah is dead,” Brenda said. We cried over the phone, overwhelmed with the pain and shock of the death of this beautiful, courageous and faith-filled young  woman. 

Over the next few days, family gathered at Sarah’s grandmother’s house in Owen Sound. Somehow we got through  all the formalities: the visitation, funeral and burial. We were comforted by being together and by all the friends and family members who joined us in our grieving. 

Eventually, though, we  had to return to our lives and responsibilities. For Sarah’s parents, it is a matter of putting one step in front of the other, of taking each day as it comes, of holding onto their faith in the midst of such a great loss. 

And now Christmas is coming. There is much joy at Christmas. The angels rejoiced and sang when the Christ child was born, and in our churches and homes, we try to keep that sense of expectation and thanksgiving alive. However, I am well aware, that in spite of our faith , this will not be an easy Christmas for our family. It will not be an easy Christmas for thousands of others who are experiencing loss, poverty, family and relationship issues or other types of suffering. The minister at Sarah’s funeral used as her text 1 Thessalonians 4:18: “We do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (NIV). Rev. Zakamarko pointed out that while the Bible tells us not to grieve, as if we have no hope of seeing our loved ones again, it doesn’t say not to grieve at all. Sarah had a strong faith in Jesus Christ, and we know we will see her in heaven. In the meantime, we grieve that she is not with us on earth. This is where our hope comes in, hope for a better tomorrow, hope that God is still in control and will take care of us. This is what Christmas is about: Emmanuel, “God is with us.”

 

 

 

 

Friendship and Marriage

Over Valentine’s Day weekend,  New Covenant Ministries Church, our place of worship, invited guest speakers to conduct special services on the subject of marriage. The husband/wife team provided Scriptural insights and helpful examples of what a marriage should be. The sessions were informative and fun, and we shared a lot of laughter, as we explored the roles of husbands and wives and how spouses can serve and complement each other. I thought of how important it is to never take your partner for granted,  whether you have been married one year or thirty. Every day we need to pay attention to our spouses and show them appreciation and respect. Acts of kindness should begin at home.

On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate both romantic love and friendship. There are few things more precious than friendship in life. In the Bible, Jesus refers to us not only as his children but his friends: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends,  for everything that I learned from the Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15, NIV). Jesus puts a high value on friendship. The strongest marriages have not only a romantic component, but a foundation of of friendship, as well.

When our children were small, we would occasionally arrange a date night for just the two of us. One one of these evenings, a lady observed us in a restaurant and said she could hardly believe we were married, because we were having such a great time talking. to each other. We have always had  a common bond, because of our faith in God, and our many shared interests such as history, music and literature. Of course, we have our differences, as well.  I prefer to shop with my female friends because the whole process bores my husband. He sees only the dollar signs, while I think of shopping as a social activity. On the other hand, I have to remind myself to at least ask my husband how his favourite baseball or hockey team is doing!

A few years ago, during a particularly painful time in our marriage, which involved job loss, extreme financial stress and greatly altered  circumstances, I believe that one of the things that held us together was the solid friendship we had developed early in our relationship. The best of friends are there for each other, during good times and bad, even when circumstances are doing their utmost to unravel their lives. Our faith in God convinced us that better days were ahead and our friendship and love  gave us a a point of contact and endurance.

Throughout the rest of 2014, let Valentine’s Day live in your everyday lives. Be a friend to your spouse and others. Perform acts of kindness in your home and outside of it. Many blessings await you!

Happy Valentine’s Day!