October 27, 2010

Hold those you love close...

Because time is short.

This has become so much more evident to me this week, since a friend of mine lost his sweet young wife of four and a half months. Yes - you read that correctly. God blessed Duncan with four and a half months of sweet marriage to his young bride of 23 years old. Yesterday was to be her 24th birthday, but God had other plans. Monday morning He took her home to be with Himself...

And while we know Bethany is not in front of her Saviour pleading to be back here, this sudden loss is such a shock and heartbreaking for those she left behind. While she is praising her Lord and Saviour in peace... in a place where no tears fall and no pain is felt...  there are plenty of tears falling here. Plenty of pain. Grieving hearts wondering how they will go on without their beloved daughter, sister, friend and wife. A young husband who must wonder how he will continue to do the work he has been called to do in Mexico... yet, with God's help and strength - he will.

It is impossible to not wonder why this had to happen... but we will choose to trust our God. He is sovereign. Everything He allows has a purpose. And while the night seems very very dark now.... the morning will come... and in trusting God and leaning completely on the One who never fails - joy will come through the pain.

With a breaking heart for Duncan especially, though that in no way diminishes the pain her parents, her brothers, her sister-in-law, her parents-in-law, the Mexico missionary team and her friends are experiencing, I am looking for things to be thankful for.

1. Above all, and really the only thing that matters, is that Bethany knew Christ as her Saviour. She trusted him completely. She served Him with love and joy and faithfulness. She lived Christ before all those around her.  We can truly be thankful for that and praise God for this.  Her life challenges each of us.

2. I am thankful her death didn't result from violence.

3. I am beyond relieved that she didn't die alone. That she didn't pass out alone, didn't experience the health complications alone, and that they won't be left wondering "What if someone came in 5 minutes earlier?"

4. I am thankful for the love and support Duncan has around him with his immediate family so far away. I am thankful that Dan could be there that first night.

5. I am so thankful that her memorial service was packed last night with those who loved her and Duncan. And that Duncan was able to do as he desired - speak briefly at the service... if you know Duncan at all, you can only imagine how impossible that would have been... God alone could have given him the strength at such a time to do that.

We have much to pray for... Duncan is on his way to Phoenix, AZ to catch a flight to Washington tomorrow morning... but he must first stop in Hermosillo to sign papers for the transport of Bethany's remains to Washington. Pray that all will go smoothly and that the Lord will have her remains arrive on time. Apparently those in Washington said this would be a miracle with all the International red-tape... but our God is a God of miracles. He can do it.

While I never had the privilege of meeting Bethany, I was so excited for Duncan when I heard their news. Duncan and I lived in Halifax at the same time... with our group of friends we spent many hours hanging out, playing hockey on Thursday nights, eating nachos, working together in the children's work, practically living at Cain's... well he actually DID live there... I didn't, but felt like I did. :) Duncan is one of the most sincere, genuine and soft-hearted guys you will ever meet. He has a great sense of humour and the Duncan I knew never took himself too seriously. Duncan has the respect of all of us who know him... he has served the Lord for a long time now, desiring to live a life pleasing to his God and to share the good news of the gospel. It sounds like his sweet Bethany was a perfect match for him... sharing in this service for Christ and being the godly woman he needed by his side.  Again... it is so hard to wrap my head around why she was taken... impossible to understand. But God's ways are not our ways... His plans are not our plans... He only asks that we trust Him.

For God's glory, let's allow sweet Bethany's life and death impact us. To challenge us. To change us. To open our eyes. What are we living for? WHO are we living for? Are we doing what counts for eternity? Are we being a LIGHT in this dark painful world? Friends, if we have Christ as our Saviour, we have a hope beyond all hopes. We need to share this hope... we need to shine forth Christ. It can't be just words any longer - we need action... led by the Holy Spirit.  We only have such a short time to live for Him - how are we spending our time?

Oh God - I pray this won't be a passing thought... but that You will strengthen us to be courageous and to live for You. That we will let YOU change us. It won't happen by accident... we have to allow it. We need our time alone with you. We need a real prayer life. We need to be active participants... but our eyes must be set on You. And You alone. Father - help us to be lights, burning for You.

Do you know what the last verse was that Bethany wrote in her journal? Duncan spoke about it at the memorial service...

Jeremiah 9:24
"but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD.

I know our God had great delight in Bethany. And now she is with Him.

So don't take your life for granted. And don't take the lives of those around you for granted. Love big. Hold close. And live... full out for Him.

And please keep praying for Duncan, the Kroeze family and the Beckett family.

October 22, 2010

One Day when Heaven was filled with His praises...

I think this is my all-time favorite hymn... there are hundreds of good ones, but the moment I first heard this one, it claimed a special spot.  This may be an old faithful of yours, but I first heard it the summer of 2006 when I came to Toronto for my first school work term. It was at a sing, and once they finished the first round, I begged them to sing it one more time. And they did.

The traditional tune is beautiful.  Casting Crowns has also recorded it with a different tune which I love as well... the words just can't be ignored... the contrast from where He came from and what He came to... what He endured because He loves me.  This always bring a smile to my face and a triumphant "YES! THANK YOU!" to my heart.

I am so thankful I can call this Man my Saviour... my Redeemer... my Lord... my Jesus. 

Take a moment, and read through... and praise Him for all that He is and all that He has done and continues to do.

One day when heaven was filled with His praises

One day when heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin—
Dwelt among men, my example is He!

Living, He loved me;  dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
One day He's coming—O glorious day!

One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected;
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He.

One day they left Him alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o'er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He.

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore.

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glory will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved ones bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;

Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
One day He's coming—O glorious day!
Amen. :)

Listen to Casting Crown's Version here...

October 4, 2010

A Fall Excursion

Well, we've decided. And I'm excited.

We're escaping on a road trip over the Thanksgiving weekend! We're using up a few remaining vacation days, and heading South of the border... The plan is to stay a night near Lake Placid, NY, a night in Burlington, VT, a night in Connecticut or NJ, and two nights in NYC.

In our travels, we hope to see some wonderful displays of nature's fall colours... maybe something like this?

I'm also super excited because I just confirmed plans to meet up with family in Connecticut for a few hours... it has been YEARS since I've been there, and I have such happy memories. I know the hours will go by too fast.

The Big Apple is our final destination, and one my man is most looking forward to. We'll see how much we can pack into a day and a half before heading home... we'll likely need a fix of those serene fall colours again after the sights and sounds of NYC!

Just 3 sleeps away.... yay! :)