Canaan's Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

May 17, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Love this warmer weather! This morning I made 2 spaghetti pies and went to Aldi’s and my exercise class.This afternoon we are going several places, including Culvers for ice cream Emoji, and then our walk. 
Devotions from Judy’s  heart
Next Sunday we are going to be receiving a large group of new members into our congregation and it is an exciting time for all of us. They come bearing gifts that God has given them that will enhance the Body of Christ in many ways. Each one is a special gift that adds to the beauty of the whole Body and will bring glory to the Lord. I reflect back on when we received our two adopted grandsons from Korea into our family. There are no words for the joy and love we felt. The family of God is like that in opening our hearts to the new ones that are added to His family. And as wonderful as that is, we also know that there are unhealthy churches that have caused deep hurts in many of God’s people and gone on to bring a split. I was reading an article by Karen Rhea, a Bible Study leader, speaker, author; she writes about the pain and hurt in many churches over sometimes trivial things and other times over painful experiences but yet seldom over theological differences. Even though we know the Lord, we can be critical, gossipy, argumentative and combative. She and her husband resigned their positions and left their church over an issue and began staying home Sunday mornings. (before Covid) They missed their friendships with others and home groups and worship times for a period of over four months. One day her husband sat down by her and shared the scripture he had gotten for several days that spoke to him. Heb. 10:23-25, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” They were convicted and knew they needed to forgive the ones who caused them pain. When they forgave and opened up to God’s healing power in their lives, they were able to go back to church to worship and get involved again. The enemy will try in any way he can, to bring division to the Body of Christ and to magnify our hurts and keep us apart. But after we have grieved, we are called to forgive and to move forward. It could mean going to another church but we all need to be in a place we can be encouraged and spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
Challenge for today: Be inventive in encouraging others in the Body of Christ and forgive any hurts that have been done to you.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Normative Male Alexithymia

What does “normative male alexithymia” have to do with us?  It is a cultural attempt to name the difficulty men have putting their emotional experience into words.  Our ancestors would have joked about the need to label a characteristic that has been a part of the male makeup since the beginning of time.  Remember: even Adam failed in his communication with Eve when he was silent after Satan had tempted her (Gen 3:1-10). 

I found this term in the May edition of Harper’s Bazaar, in an article entitled, “Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden.”  The subtitle states, “Toxic masculinity – and the persistent idea that feelings are a ‘female thing’ – has left a generation of straight men stranded on emotionally-stunted islands, unable to forge intimate relationships with other men.  It’s women who are paying the price.”

What got my attention was this: “It’s women who are paying the price.”  The article cited research from Brené Brown: “Whereas women experience shame when they fail to meet unrealistic, conflicting expectations, men become consumed with shame for showing signs of weakness… having hard conversations that involve vulnerability is something men often try to avoid.”  The article’s author noted, “Women continue to bear the burden of men’s emotional lives… For generations, men have been taught to reject traits like gentleness and sensitivity, leaving them without the tools to deal with internalized anger and frustration.”  

This article can be compared to one’s wife waving one of those beach flags indicating the surf is rough today – so proceed with caution.  When my wife waves the flag, I need to engage lovingly and wholeheartedly – and not avoid the warning.  I hope you can agree that too many wives carry more of the emotional load in their marriages.  Here are some takeaways from this article for Christian men.   

First, don’t be like Adam, who didn’t utter a word in his fateful moment with Eve.  Men, it is downright messy at times to dialogue with our wives.  You will usually feel on the short end of the discussion.  But you need to stay with it. Being “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” can be helpful (James 1:19). 

Second, admit that many of us are straight men stranded on emotionally-stunted islands.  Good models have been hard to find. But we can make a difference by asking God to make us tough and tender. “…Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). 

Third, cultivate male relationships.  One of the best ways to become emotionally involved with your wife is to get emotionally involved with other men.  Do yourself a favor and get into a men’s group that practices transparency. That will help you learn to share your emotions with your wife.  She will bless the group for “cracking” her man open.

Fourth, reject the label “toxic masculinity.” Yes, some men are toxic, but don’t allow the label to cloak you in shame.  Be committed to being a man who has both the Lion and the Lamb in his tank (John 3:29-30).  God can make you capable of deep, caring emotions when they’re needed. 

Finally, remember this from Leanne Payne: “To ask a man to become relationally aware, without being first of all secure in his maleness, is to ask a man to be less than a man.  It is in some way asking a man to act like a woman without first knowing what it is like to be a man.  A man must be sensitive from the heart of a truly secure man.” Amen to that!

May 15, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the weekend. It is a gorgeous sunny day! The house has a wonderful aroma since I put in a pork butt roast in the crockpot early this morning and could hardly wait for dinner. Later this afternoon we are going to the Soup Kitchen and help prepare a meal and groceries for those in need. Our church does it once a month. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart 
We all need encouragement and affirmation as we go through life. Somehow, we want to know we make a difference and our time on earth brings glory to God but also blessing to others. When Al and I are out on the Paul Bunyan trail we often walk part of the way with a couple we met who have become our friends. The four of us greet others along the trail who may be walking, on bikes, skateboards, roller blades etc. What we have begun doing is clapping for them when they whiz by and it is fun to see the expressions on their faces. First it is surprise but then they usually break out in a thank-you-smile of acknowledgment. They feel noticed and appreciated as they go on their way. Some even thank us. Affirmation is important, first of all that we know we matter to God, but also that we matter to others. We can go to the Word to read so many words of affirmation from the One who loves us unconditionally. Our voice is heard by Him whenever we call and He even knows our thoughts and our weaknesses too. He gives us positive affirmation as no one else can fully do. He calls us His chosen treasure, His very own, and in Psalm 139 we are told we are remarkably made. He watched all the stages of our life since our conception and calls us His new creation (II Cor. 5:17). He has great plans for us and says in Jer. 29:11(ESV), “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We can also be used to speak words of affirmation into the lives of others that can impact them but we must be sure they are in alignment with scripture. It’s good to receive positive words but the bottom line is that we are totally dependent on the Lord, and not our own strength and gifts. Each day we have a choice if we want to receive God’s affirming words to us and at times, we might want to speak them aloud. Maybe we wake up feeling tired and grouchy but instead we say the affirming words, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Or we feel left out and we can affirm that we are His beloved and He is ours. As we speak His affirming words, we will find He draws us closer to Him in intimacy.
Challenge for today: Take an affirming scripture with you throughout your day.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

May 14, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy Weekend!! Thank you for prayers for Donald as his surgery went well and they did everything they needed to and he will be going home. PTL!! Big answer to prayers. This morning I cleaned the apartment, did food prep and wrote letters. It is raining now but everything looks so fresh and green again. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Surprise! This morning as I opened the blinds and looked out my window, the tree that has looked almost dead all winter is now full of white blossoms that appears almost like popcorn. It seems like the change took place overnight and is now a thing of beauty. Think of all the gardeners who are itching to get out to plant gardens and dream of nutritious veggies and beautiful flowers. Today I read how author, Ann Spangler, had a very small yard but once planted all kinds of veggies and berries and lots of tomatoes in her raised garden. It wasn’t long before she realized that the tomatoes were taking over and were so thick that the other veggies couldn’t thrive. She compared her garden to our hearts and how we need to give it space and nourishment if good things are going to grow. When our lives are crowded with a plethora of even good things, it chokes out time with the Lord and our relationship with Him suffers. We were meant for close fellowship and to bear fruit and that takes space and time for prayer, feeding on His word, for resting in Him etc. If the enemy can’t get us one way, he will cause us to become so busy that our time with the Lord is choked out and we won’t bear fruit. I loved to garden and in our church in Brunswick I had a very large one. The first year, the senior group helped me plant it and then they drove by often to check on it. One gardener said I had the cleanest garden in the county but it took much of my time. Although I had to weed it and tend it, I found it was also a time I could pray and enjoy God’s presence. Some plants needed thinning, others pruning and some needed to be tied to stakes to climb. So, it is with our spiritual gardens, the weeds need to go, other unnecessary or harmful things have to be cut back and sometimes we need encouragement from others who are solid in their walk of faith. Patience is required as we can’t go out and pull up a plant to see how fast it is growing. God gives the growth and our part is to be rooted and grounded in Him and the growth will naturally take place. Consequently, we can live in hope for we know that only by remaining in Him will we produce much fruit. Apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) So let us tend our spiritual gardens and grow, grow, grow!
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord if He would have you plant something new in your spiritual garden.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

May 13, 2021

Dear Ones,
An early good morning to you! About 7 this morning Donald is having surgery for melanom and please pray for him. This is the father of Kurt’s business partner. This afternoon we have our second Bible Study in our community room and it is so good we can resume them again.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I just finished reading Eugene Peterson’s book on Psalms called “Answering God”.  What I noticed was the Psalms are really prayers answering our God who has already addressed us. Of course, we may not always understand what He is saying to us at the time so we need to listen carefully. Most of the Psalms are complaints by hurting people calling for help and it seems strange to call this The Book of Praises. But if we follow the Psalms to the last word and final goal, they all end with praise. It is the finished product. Like Peterson says, “All prayer, pursued far enough, becomes praise.”  Now it may not happen immediately and sometimes it takes a life time but it does end in praise for those who know Him. Knowing the end shapes our journey through life and helps us in our day to day living. So often when I am reading the Psalms there is a lament and a description of pain or doubts etc. but then right in the middle often comes words of praise. “But I have trusted” or “I will rejoice and sing to the Lord”. When awful things happen and we think of the ultimate end, we can actually sing praises also. One Psalm, and one Psalm only however, is titled Praise. It is Psalm 145 and David wrote it and uses the form of acrostic, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. But there is no lament, no complaint it is all praise and everything from A to Z. And isn’t that just like our lives as His children? It doesn’t matter what we suffer or go through in this world for one day, it will all end in praise. Our hearts hurt when we see our loved ones suffer and are helpless to relieve it, or maybe we are the ones in pain; but gradually be may find our prayers finally turn into praise. I memorized Psalm 91 when we were going through a hard time in one of our churches, and it was a constant message to me of God’s strength and comfort for me. But it wasn’t until we got to our next church that I could actually praise the Lord for all that He carried us through and could see His purpose. All of our prayers reach for praise even if it takes a while to get there. Like Peterson said, “The end of prayer, all prayer, any prayer is praise.”
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to speak to you as you sit in quiet with one of the Psalms and then respond to Him.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy 

May 12, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good day. This morning I made choc bars and shopped and went to my exercise class. This afternoon I have Creative crafts and hope to get to Kohls. I received a prayer request to pass on to you for Donald, an 86 year old man who is having melanoma surgery tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. He has cardiovascular problems also, so please pray for him! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I think we would all agree that there is so much darkness in our world and it seems to be getting darker all the time. Things that use to shock us, are getting to be almost common place and even accepted. But that should not be. More than ever, we need the Light of His presence to invade the darkness of our world. Light is important to me and I love light! The first thing I do in the early morning before having my devotions is to open our blinds and watch for the sunrise. We were blessed to have an end apartment so we receive more light because of the extra windows. For a very short time, while in California, we lived in a cottage with overhanging trees that blocked out the light. We had to put the lights on even during the day. When Al got a job at the church a few weeks later, we moved into the top floor of an apartment the church owned and had light on all sides of us. What a difference!   Jesus is the light of the world and He came to dispel the darkness and calls us also to be light bearers. He said in John 8:12 (ESV), “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Those who haven’t received the Lord walk in darkness and we can’t expect them to act like children of light. They are spiritually blind and need to be awakened and gain spiritual sight. Our part is to let our lights shine and God wants His love to shine brightly through us. Let us not be only Sunday Christians that compromise and don’t act any different than those in the world. God is calling us to more, to make a difference, to act different, to have different priorities. He says that we should stand out as stars in this evil world. (Phil. 2:15) Stars are used as navigation tools and light up the sky; they also express God’s power and wisdom. We are called to be stars and light bearers that show the way, bringing peace and hope because of His love that empowers us. Let us not conform to the world but be full of the Holy Spirit, letting His light shine through us.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to dust the world off of you and that you would shine brightly for Him.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

May 11, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this nice sunny day! I got egg dishes made and choc covered raspberries to take downstairs for coffee. This afternoon we also have a birthday party and then plan to get to Costco. Correction in yesterday’s devotion…the little dancing girl, Alexandra, is only 3year old! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
One day while reading from a devotional book by Ann Spangler I was especially touched by her story of the “Speak Wall” at Grand Rapids Christian High School. It is literally an 800 foot wall where over 900 students can post whatever they want and remain anonymous if they like. It is not like Facebook where so many show their best face, their lavish vacations and perfect families, but it is where they can post sticky notes about what they are going through. They might say, “I’m lonelier than you might think” or “All I want is to be loved” or “My smile hides a lot about me.” They write about their fears, brokenness, and desire to be accepted. Some write even about attempted suicides, and at times if notes are signed, a counselor may step in and other students can post words of encouragement.  It’s a place to be honest and when students pass the wall with over 1,000 notes on it, they usually grow silent and just whisper. Wouldn’t it be great if our churches or places where we work had a Speak Wall? It helps us know that we are not the only ones that struggle and it’s alright to be honest and share we don’t have it all together. God is our personal Speak Wall, of course, because for He waits to hear our cries and is ready to listen and to help. It says in Lam. 2:17a (Amplified), “Arise (from your bed), cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.” He knows what goes on within us, even more than we are aware of. We can tell Him everything! God can also help us reach out to others who are broken and help them plug in to the One who heals all our hurts and loves us unconditionally.
Challenge for today: Be sensitive to those around you who may be hurting but don’t forget to share your struggles too.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

May 10, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. I had such a blessed Mother’s Day seeing friends at our former church, steak dinner at the lake with Ann’s family and games and fun. This morning I went to Aldi’s to stock up and to my exercise class. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Maybe we think what we have to offer God is so small and won’t make a difference. When we observe others, who appear to be important and influential, we may look down on our own lives and feel they fade in significance. We may ask ourselves if who we are and what we do in this life matters in the long run.  But though we may live simple lives, God uses us to touch others and at times a deed we do makes all the difference in the life of another. I think of the little boy who was willing to give his 5 little loaves and 2 fish to the Jesus, how it was multiplied and fed 5,000 people. Or I think of the little girl that danced before Jesus just yesterday.  Al preached at our former church and friends were there with their two beautiful adopted daughters dressed up like little princesses in white frilly dresses. During worship when the music began, Alexandra who is around 4 years old just raised her arms up and down, and began dancing, keeping in rhythm with the music. At times she danced on her toes and twirled around in circles and seemed to have no idea that others were watching her. I was struck by the beauty of her lack of self-consciousness and being able to just do as she felt in her spirit. What I really wanted to do was to go over to her and take her hand and bring her upfront so that others could be blessed by the freedom of this little girl. I have prayed often to be free of self-consciousness and when I see such displays of being uninhibited it touches me deeply. This little girl made a difference and she was not even aware. It reminded me of the words in the song, I Can Only Imagine. “Surrounded by your glory what will my heart feel/ Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still in your presence/ or on my knees will I fall/ Will I sing hallelujahs/ will I be able to speak at all.” I suspect there are many different ways we respond to Jesus and others often witness Him in our lives. It may not be in some big dramatic way, but in simple living out our love for Him, maybe even dancing! Let us not be inhibited by what others think but do what is in our hearts. As I read in Hebrews 13:20 this morning, “May this God of peace prepare you to do every good thing He wants. May He work in us through Jesus Christ to do what is pleasing to Him. Glory belongs to Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to use you to make a difference in your world.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Hold On To Me

Lauren Daigle has a new song out titled “Hold On To Me.”  One of her former hits, “You Say” was on the charts for months, and I wrote a blog on it as well.  I believe these two songs touch something deep in our nation’s current psyche. People feel disconnected. Many pass like ships on an angry sea.  They are pilgrims wandering in a wasteland of angry words and conflicting ideas, longing to hear words like “I love you” or “There IS hope” from a transcendent, loving God. 

Lauren’s songs have a haunting, searching, mystical feel to them. They seem to be groping for a greater reality, without naming God or getting too preachy with the words and the intent of the message.  I can envision that many are touched by her style and words, reaching out to God. The choir in the background gives a sense that one is not alone in the search, giving the wanderer encouragement to keep seeking for firmer grounding in their Creator.  To her credit, Lauren leaves pilgrims some freedom to wander, giving space for listeners to cry out to God for mercy, while finding their way back home to their Father’s house, where they can be held. 

“Hold On To Me” includes such cries for help as, “When I’m not somebody I believe in / When I don’t feel like I’m worth defending / When I’m tired of all my pretending / When I start to break of desperation underneath the weight of expectation…” 

The chorus adds: “Hold on to me when it’s too dark to see You / When I am sure I have reached the end / Hold on to me when I forget I need You / When I let go, hold me again…”  At the end are the words of hope – not direct, but giving a subtle invitation to let go into the Father’s arms of love.  “I could rest here in your arms forever / ‘cause I know nobody loves me better.”

This is a song for wounded pilgrims needing to come home into the arms of love.  I kept thinking of certain words from the prophets.  First, our heavenly Father speaks in the feminine to express His love through Isaiah:  “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore?  But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you – never.  Look I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16 – Message).   Secondly, compassionate, fatherly words also come from Hosea: “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.  To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them” (Hosea 11:4).  

Men, don’t let the cultural narrative limit your opportunity to know a heavenly Father who delights in you.  In the words of Leanne Payne, God is the great “Unseen Real” outside of ourselves.  He is the One who gives the gift of “objective reality.”  Your heavenly Father is reaching out to you, so you can receive His healing word coming to you. Our problem, due to cultural conditioning, is turning in on self in the “disease of introspection.”  This song speaks to a deep, agonizing, introspective search for meaning.   If you identify with the song, I encourage you as an act of your will to look up and out to Jesus and receive his healing word coming to you.

Check out https://youtu.be/RWua9o2KEv0 – and hear the Father say through this song, “You are my beloved, I delight in you!” 

May 8, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the weekend! We were so glad to celebrate grandson Lar’s graduation last night…a scrumptious meal  with family and friends before the ceremony. Instead of my usual devotions I am sending a prayer for Mother’s Day.
 by Rebecca Barlow Jordan on Crosswalk.Com 
“Dear Lord,  Bless every mother and every grandmother with the finest of your spiritual blessings today. Confirm in her heart and spirit the work of her hands and the love that she has so freely given to those children under Your care. Validate her worth daily so she has no reason to doubt whether she is loved, valued, and cherished in the eyes of her Heavenly Father.  Create in her a deep sense of your protection and trust, so that worry and fear will disappear as she places her loved ones into Your care. Let her know that every prayer she has prayed and every encouraging word she has spoken on behalf of her children/grandchildren has been transformed into sweet, fragrant offerings before Your throne.  Whisper deep within her spirit the sweet words she longs to hear from You—that nothing can ever separate her from Your love. Help her to nestle daily into the promises of Your Word, standing with faith on the things You declare are true. Let her know that You reward faithfulness, but that true success doesn’t lie in her accomplishments or accolades. Let her rest in the knowledge that she has done all she can—and that she and those she loves—truly belong to you. Bless her with a servant spirit so she can teach her own the joy of hearing one day, “Well done!” Remove any guilt, false or real, and replace them with Your amazing grace and forgiveness. Help her see her children or grandchildren through Your eyes, knowing that in Your hands is the safest place they can ever be. Calm every doubt, and strengthen her confidence in the Only One who can bring good out of any situation. Teach her that she cannot meet every need of her child’s life, but that You can. Give her wisdom and guidance to train those precious children in Your path, and then to leave the results to You, Lord. Help her to love without limitations, to pray without ceasing, and to live without regrets. Bless her with such a sweet dependency on You that she will acknowledge her inadequacies, yet recognize and accept Your reward of praise—and Your sense of pleasure in having her as Your own beloved child. Where prayers may still seem unanswered, and dreams are not yet realized, open her eyes to see beyond this world to a Hope that never disappoints, and to a Father who will never leave or abandon her. Give her courage to persevere even in the most difficult moments of her life. Bless her with honesty, integrity, and a playfulness that shows her children she is human, yet unswerving in her desire to know You.  Let her joy be contagious; let her passion be pure; and let her life overflow with all the blessings she deserves—on special days, and on every day of her life. In Jesus’s name, Amen”
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy
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