Saturday, January 28, 2012


I took this photo in Nova Scotia last summer. The more I look at it, the more it reminds me of my Family Tree research right now. Lots of branches and lots of directions all at once!! 

I started my tree when I was 17, even before the TV series Roots came out and made genealogy more popular. AND long before Ancestry and all of the online resources that are available now. It meant LOTS of paper & notes, trips to cemeteries (which most were not in great shape - thornbushes and blackflies!!), reading old books, researching at the NS Archives, and asking every relative about their families. This literally has created a room full of information - my office.  

Now I LOVE all the information that is available online and my research very quickly accelerated, at breakneck speed, to the point that it HAS to be organized into a more efficient system (one someone else could actually find what they were looking for!!), or it will just be seen as piles of useless paper. Worse yet, I will be labeled a hoarder!! (Yes, I have that gene!!) So now my task is to sort, identify, label, digitize, and file years of information. Where to start? One pile or box at a time. 

In the same way, our lives can sometimes feel out of control too. Things left undone or unsaid DO pile up. They don't just disappear. In fact, they more often continue to grow and become a huge issue, a lot bigger than if we had handled it sooner. BUT there comes a time to deal with it - no more procrastination - just do it!! 

So what is on your "To Do List"? Is there something you have been putting off until another day? Is there someone you need to call? Is there something in your life that needs to be cleaned out, or purged completely? Make plans to deal with it today. Make a new "To Do List"!! You'll feel so much better and then you'll not have to carry the weight of it any longer. 

God also provided a way for us to deal with the weights that bring us down emotionally. Is He on your list of things put off? Do you need to settle some things with Him? Do it today - right now. Ask for Forgiveness and then move forward. Are you holding something against someone else? Forgive them and move on. Unforgiveness is like a rock around your neck, choking the life out of you, leaving you with little strength to face each day. Break free from it and live in the freedom it will bring. Where to start? One step at a time. Just keep moving forward.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Do You Value Your Freedom?

Freedom. It's a word that has been used (and over used) a lot these days. What does freedom mean to you? Some will answer, "Freedom is being able to do what I want and no one can stop me!" That sounds so inviting to people who are feeling restricted, or pressured, or just over-burdened. In reality, sometimes we have so much freedom that we don't really appreciate what we have already been given.

I found out that today is "International Holocaust Remembrance Day," marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. "FREEDOM" came to those who had endured so much. Although we have seen the pictures and heard some of their stories, we will never know the depths of their suffering. So many died without their cries for help being heard. So many were lost before their freedom came. So many died fighting to preserve our freedom and to bring freedom to those captives. Freedom wasn't just "doing what I want to do," it was LIFE to those who were surrounded by death, with no hope of overcoming their circumstances on their own. They understood how valuable real freedom was - and sometimes, how elusive it can be. 

Using our freedom for selfish purposes can often lead us onto paths we may regret later. When investigated, most restrictions we face are for good reason. However, those which are imposed for our harm, must be resisted, sometimes with the aid of others. Oppression, especially resulting from prejudice and hatred, usually turns ugly and abusive. Seek out the help you need in time to avoid future damage. Value freedom and fight to keep it. Those who committed atrocities at Auschwitz were able to "do what they wanted with no one to stop them." That kind of "freedom" is never acceptable. Our freedom can never be at the expense of others, especially to that degree.

Freedom has been given to us. It was a gift. The country we live in (no matter what your beef) IS FREE because others have fought to make it what it is. My ancestors were given the opportunity to come and live free on land they could call their own. They were "Foreign Protestants" out of Germany and Montbeliard, France, who wanted the freedom to worship God and raise their families without oppression. They made that choice and they prospered. Others later fought to keep what was given to them, risking their lives for the sake of others to keep our freedom.

God gives all of us choices to make, but our freedom cannot be used "to do what I want to do and no one can stop me." How selfish and how wasteful..... and sometimes, how dangerous.

Galatians 5:1 says that it is for FREEDOM that we have been set FREE. Let's not waste that freedom. But don't let it be stolen from you either. Jesus didn't die in vain... it had a great purpose... to purchase YOUR freedom. It was truly a gift. He liberated us from things we could not free ourselves from. Don't give your liberty away to indulge in selfish desires, especially to the harm of others. Remember, extreme actions lead to extreme consequences.

When you see someone oppressed, don't be silent. Speak out for those who cannot be heard. God will lead you and give you opportunity to speak for freedom. The purpose of "Remembrance" days is to never forget the past events that led to great tragedy. We do not want them ever to be repeated. Remember those who were lost and remember those who survived, but also remember those who gave to bring freedom to others. 

Real freedom is so valuable. How are you using your freedom?


Friday, January 13, 2012

Let It Go

Your past cannot be changed. It is what it is, with everything included that has ever happened - good or bad, or somewhere in between. The past has brought you to where you are today. To exclude even one small part, you would not be in the same place.... or would you?

Some have said: "If only things had been different, then....." "If only I had more opportunities, then I would have......" "If only that person had not ruined my life by........" How do you know it would have turned out any differently at all? Why would you have made a different choice, given all the same factors at that time?

Chances are, you would have made the same choices, based on what you knew at that time. In hind sight, you may think differently, because you see a bigger picture that was concealed from you before. OR because through a painful experience you learned, "Not going down that road again. Don't like the consequences of that choice!" Failures can sometimes be devastating.... or they can be opportunities to make changes.

God gives us the gift of second chances (and third, and fourth, etc). Yes, He has a plan for your life, even if you aren't aware of it. Maybe in the past, you chose not to walk in His ways, maybe you did. Either way, HE is bigger than the circumstances in your life (then and now), and HE well able to turn any situation around for good, and back on track for His plan for you.

Not where you should be right now? Want to make a change? Then change your direction. Continuing on the same path, will only lead you to the same destination as before. Take a step in the right direction. Maybe a new direction, maybe back to the way you started long ago. Every journey begins with one step, and then another, and another...... until you arrive. Not there yet? Then keep going. A journey usually does not only involve one day, but every day can be part of that journey.

Does it look too hard, too long, too out of reach? Don't label yourself as "unfit" for the trip. Remember, your past does not define you. Let it go.... and move on to a new future. Need help to get there? Find those who are willing to walk with you (for whatever portion of the journey), but don't quit if they don't continue or turn to a different path. Stay true to your decision to go forward.

God has made a promise to us: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) 

He is the One who will guide you every step of the way, if you let Him. He is the One who gives you the strength to face each day and every trial along the way, when you ask Him. HE sees ALL that you will encounter on your journey. He already has a plan to get you through the storms and is waiting to celebrate the victories with you as you overcome each hardship.

God has so much waiting for you, if only you will step into the future He has planned for you. Put the past behind you (good & bad), and walk into the future that is waiting to be discovered. You'll wonder why you waited so long!!