Blessing Or Curse?

Image of lawnmower by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if a circumstance is a blessing or a curse.

You’d think it would be easy to know if something was good or bad, wouldn’t you?

But you might not be correct.

I used to complain to anyone who would listen about how much work it was taking care of my parent’s yard. The huge corner lot involved endless mowing of the lawn in summer and raking of leaves in fall. Not to mention shovelling all the snow off the driveway and extra-long sidewalk in winter.

I’d gripe that caring for their yard would be the death of me.

Then one day I happened to look at my biceps.

Not bad at all. Sort of impressive, really, for a woman my age. I don’t go to the gym, so what was keeping me toned and fit?

Taking care of the dang yard, that’s what.

What I had cursed as a burden was actually the very thing that was keeping my muscles and bones strong. I repented for my grumbling and ingratitude as I realized that the big yard had been a blessing in disguise.

Sometimes God uses what appears to be something negative to bring about something positive. We shouldn’t be too hasty to assume that we know whether something is good or bad.

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You Are Now Entering The Mission Field

Image by Jimmy Emerson on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

There are a lot of exciting things about travelling, aren’t there?

Things like seeing famous landmarks, interacting with different cultures, trying new cuisines, or having once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Even simply crossing the boundary into a new city can be exciting.

You often pass a large sign when you enter the outskirts of a new place. It might read, “You are now entering Albuquerque” or whatever your destination happens to be.

You get the same frisson of excitement even if you’re entering a small town that’s new to you. It still seems momentous, because the unknown awaits you. You never know who you might meet there, or what might happen.

These thoughts crossed my mind recently as I was exiting a church parking lot onto the main street. Leaving the lot, we were faced with a sign that read:

“You are now entering the mission field.”

My heart skipped a beat as I read that.

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How To Become A Loaf Of Bread

Imagine that you’re a ball of bread dough (for some of us whose figures are a bit “doughy,” this isn’t much of a stretch).

You’ve had your ingredients mixed together nicely, and you’ve been resting for a while after all that effort. You feel good: you’ve even risen higher. It won’t be long now until you become a beautiful loaf of bread.

But wait! What’s that coming toward you? It’s a fist! Someone is actually punching you! You feel yourself deflate, and lose a lot of your volume. Then you’re lifted out of the warm bowl you were in and slapped onto a counter. Ouch! That hurt! The hands are now kneading and pummelling you. You wish they could be a bit more gentle.

Finally, it stops. Thank goodness! That was excruciating! You’re now resting back in your bowl in a warm spot, with a tea towel over you to protect you from drafts and from drying out. You can relax now. At least all that pain is over with.

Or is it? Some time later, here come the hands again. They lift the tea towel and begin punching you down anew, just when you’d risen to your previous height. Not again! You’ve got to be kidding! Wasn’t once enough? Once more, you’re kneaded and prodded, stretched and pressed down hard. What good could this possibly be doing you?

When all the pummelling is finished, you’re shaped and placed into a loaf pan. At least it’s cozy here, and the hands have disappeared for a while. You can rest again. Surely nothing worse will happen to you.

But then suddenly you’re thrust into a searing oven. Yikes, that’s hot! You feel your insides begin to transform, and your surface start to turn brown.

You’re becoming a loaf of bread after all.

But why all the trouble and pain? Was it really necessary?

Yes, because that’s what gave you a finer texture.

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Shift Your Perspective

Mallard duck. Image by Ralphs_Fotos from Pixabay

Among the most spectacular aspects of nature for me are its colours.

I’m continually wowed by the vivid colours found in nature, such as the brilliant red plumage of the Northern cardinal.

The cardinal’s red feathers, which come courtesy of pigments, look the same when viewed from any angle. But there’s another source of colour in nature that is even more mesmerizing:

Iridescence.

With iridescence, the hue of something changes when seen from different angles. You’ve probably experienced this shimmery optical phenomenon yourself when looking at certain insects, butterflies, birds, or even soap bubbles.

A good example of iridescence is the head of the mallard, a common duck found in the northern hemisphere. Its head appears to be a bright emerald green at first, but if you shift your angle of observation, it can appear green-gold, blue, or indigo.

It all depends on your perspective.

Maybe there’s a little lesson here for us.

If we shift our perspective about our own situations, we can see beauty that we didn’t know was there.

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No Matter Your Age, There’s a Miracle For You!

Stained glass window depicting Gabriel and Mary. Image by Dorothee Quennesson on Pixabay

When we think of the Christmas story, we often focus on the birth of Jesus as the only miraculous event that occurred.

And indeed it was an awesome miracle: the virgin birth of a baby who would become the Saviour of the world.

But there was another miraculous birth that happened around the same time, described only in the gospel of Luke.

The angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive without having had relations with her betrothed, Joseph. The Holy Spirit would come upon her, and she would give birth to a son, who was to be called Jesus.

This was no doubt astounding news to Mary. But the angel didn’t stop there: he had another amazing news flash.

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