Reflections

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I’ve been reflecting a lot on last week’s post about what it means to be an evangelical Christian; a teller of good news.

Why? Why do we, as evangelical Christians, believe that it is our responsibility to share our faith with others? Not every faith does this. So why do we?

Well, first of all, as I mentioned last week, the Bible very clearly instructs us to. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) 

But why? Why does the Bible tell us to do that?

Is it to earn Brownie points with God? To earn our way into heaven? Sadly, there are faiths that take that approach, but that is not true Christianity.

Is it to grow our churches? To put more butts in our pews? To add dollars to our offering plates? I certainly hope not for that is not true Christianity either!

Is it to attempt to make the rest of the world more like us? Again, I hope not! Sadly, some early Christian missionaries equated evangelizing with Westernizing, but that was never God’s intent nor should it be ours.

It all comes down to that Greek word, euangelion, which means good news.

After all, if you have good news, aren’t you eager to tell someone? If you found the cure to cancer, wouldn’t you want to share it?

We believe that we have found something even better, the key to living an abundant life now and forever! Jesus said it himself. ” I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Isn’t that news worth sharing?

Is it arrogant to believe that we have found the one true way? It might seem that way, but if there is really one true God, doesn’t it make sense that he might offer one true way? Isn’t it at least worth considering? The opportunity to do that is what the true evangelical Christian is offering.

Jesus also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

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Transitions

LogoI live on the Canadian prairie where we have very distinct seasons. As a result, I have two distinct wardrobes, summer and winter. Sadly, it will soon be time to pack away my shorts, capris, and all my other warm weather gear and prepare for the cold months ahead, but tucked in between summer and winter are the shoulder seasons, spring and fall. Times of transition. What do you wear when it’s 5ºC (41ºF) first thing in the morning and 30ºC (86ºF) that same afternoon? That’s the kind of weather we’ve been having this week and that’s why there are some pieces that stay in my closet year round.

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My new Graph Blouse from Cabi will be one of them. Though it’s from the Fall 2017 Collection, it’s floaty layers make it a perfect stand alone item for summer days and warm autumn afternoons.

To ward off the morning chill, I’ll simply add one of the lightweight cardigans that spend the summer at the back of my closet. As long as my shoulders and upper body are warm, I’m comfortable.

When winter arrives (I hate to think of it!), the Graph Blouse, tucked in or worn loose as shown here, will continue to serve me well under warmer sweaters and jackets.

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What is an Evangelical Christian anyway?

Christian terminology can be confusing even to Christians. We have a tendency to use words that aren’t part of the everyday vernacular of most people and sometimes we don’t even agree on what they mean!

When the word evangelical entered the conversation at our dinner table recently, a non-Christian guest asked what it meant. I was embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t readily come up with a clear and concise definition off the top of my head.

Then came the media reports of unprecedented flooding when Hurricane Harvey slammed into the coast of Texas forcing more than 30 000 people from their homes and leaving the area in a devastating state of emergency. When it came to light that Lakewood Church, one of the largest churches in the United States, pastored by televangelist Joel Osteen, allegedly refused to open their doors to hurricane victims seeking shelter, the media had a heyday. Mainstream and social media immediately began to paint all evangelical Christians with the same brush. Ignoring the fact that hundreds of them were, in fact, slogging through the mud and water striving to bring help and hope where it was so badly needed, evangelicals everywhere were suddenly uncaring hypocrites.

Please don’t get me wrong! If Lakewood Church did, in fact, turn a blind eye to those in dire need, they acted in a most unChristlike manner and deserve no one’s sympathy. Personally, due to conflicting news reports, I have no idea what really happened at Lakewood or why. I do know that I have problems with Joel Osteen’s theology as he preaches what is often referred to as the “prosperity gospel” or “health and wellness gospel” which teaches that that financial blessing and physical well-being will always come to those who have enough faith. This could not be further from the message of the Bible. Rather than guaranteeing them a life of ease, Christ told his followers that “In this life you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) If wealth was a legitimate goal for the Christian, Jesus would have pursued it himself. Instead, he was a poor itinerant teacher with “no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) In fact, the only disciple who concerned himself with financial wealth was Judas Iscariot.

I am not here, however, to defend or attack Lakewood Church or their pastor. I simply want to correct my own shortcoming and ensure that from now on when I use a term like evangelical, I know for sure what I’m talking about and can clearly communicate it to someone else!

So what exactly is an evangelical Christian?

Christian is the easy part. The term, first used in Acts 11:26, simply means a follower of Jesus Christ. But what makes us evangelicals?

That term comes from the Greek “euangelion” which means good news. An evangelical Christian, then, is simply a follower of Christ who believes that it is important to tell others the good news that through his death on the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins and that by his resurrection, he conquered death and provides everlasting life to all who follow him. It is a message of divine intervention; a message of hope for mankind who, no matter how hard we try, cannot save ourselves.

In the public arena, however, the phrase evangelical Christian is used in different ways, some of them derogatory. For some, it is simply a title used to differentiate between Christian denominations. Generally speaking, evangelical denominations are those that believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and that individual believers must accept Christ’s gift of salvation for themselves and enter into a personal relationship with God. For others, the term is equivalent to “wing nut”, “intolerant extremist”, or “right-wing, fundamentalist Republican”. There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview, but being an evangelical Christian most definitely does not demand allegiance to a specific political party!

In reality, all Christians should be evangelical Christians; tellers of good news! The Bible very clearly instructs us “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) 

Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone

LogoDo you ever feel like you’re stuck in a fashion rut? Are you tired of looking in the closet and seeing the same old, same old? Are you unhappy with what you see in the mirror? Perhaps you’d really like to try something new, but you have no idea where to begin. Maybe it’s time to step outside your fashion comfort zone!

Most of us get stuck in a fashion rut from time to time. I know I certainly have. There was a time when almost everything in my wardrobe was some shade of blue or brown! How boring is that?

Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be scary. Take it slow. Experimenting can be fun, but this doesn’t mean that you should try to change everything at once. Small changes can make a big difference.

The first step might be to look for ideas and inspiration. Though magazines can be a good source, I like to read fashion blogs written by real women just like you and I. You can find several of my favourites here. If you do a bit of searching, you’ll find others that may be more your style, especially if you’re significantly younger than I am.

People watching is another fun way to gather ideas. Try sitting in a mall for a little while and really looking at what the women who pass by are wearing, especially the ones who seem to exude confidence. You won’t like everything you see, but you might pick up some ideas that you’d be willing to try. Don’t make the mistake of trying to copy exactly what you see someone else wearing though. You want to put your own stamp on an outfit and allow your unique personality to shine through.

The easiest way to step out of your comfort zone and switch up your style is to try wearing a colour that you typically wouldn’t wear. If red isn’t part of your present wardrobe, that would be a great place to start since it’s a popular colour this season and there will be lots to choose from in the stores. For advice on how to choose the right red for your complexion, see my post from last Friday.

Accessories are a great, budget friendly way to update your look. Adding jewelry or shoes in a style that you haven’t worn before will instantly take your outfit to a new level. Be adventurous! I remember reading of one woman who admired hats on other gals. Eventually she bought herself one. She told of sitting in her car outside the mall, hat on head, terrified to get out and be seen because this was such a new look for her. I don’t remember if she ever wore her new chapeau into the mall or if it stayed behind in the car. I really hope she wore it!

Sometimes a wardrobe update is as simple as embracing a new, on-trend version of your favourite fashion item. I spend a great deal of my life in jeans and I admit that I’m not always quick to adopt the newest cuts. It took me awhile to accept the low rise variety and now that I’m accustomed to them, waistlines are rising again!

Stepping out of your fashion comfort zone doesn’t have to involve shopping for something new. Sometimes it can be as simple as combining items that you already have in new and different ways. Again, be adventurous! You might find several new looks right there in your own closet!

Are you waiting to lose a few pounds or to get in shape before you try to climb out of your fashion rut? Please don’t! Instead, begin by dressing the body you have. Again, look at the women around you. Not one of us has a perfect body, but by stepping out of our fashion comfort zones we can begin to feel better about ourselves just the way we are and maybe by doing so, we’ll be challenged to take the necessary steps to make those dietary changes or to join that gym.

What changes will you make this fall? You’re worth it!

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Good news!!

Good news

Four years post diagnosis, there are times when I almost forget that I have an incurable cancer. It’s no longer the first thing I think of when I wake up every morning and I’m sure there are days when it doesn’t even cross my mind.

Then there are days like today; days when it jumps to the forefront again. This morning started with CT scans of my head, neck, chest, and abdomen. Several hours later, we sat down with my doctor to discuss the results. I had no reason to anticipate bad news, but we’re fully aware that at any time the treatment could stop working. New growths could appear or tumours that have shrunk could start growing again. Someday, we probably will receive that kind of news, but not today!

Today, my doctor called me a “poster child” for the PRRT treatment protocol that I’ve been on since September 2014. He’s as delighted as we are with how well it’s been working for me. The largest tumour on my liver is noticeably smaller today than it was six months ago. The other remaining tumours appear unchanged and there are no new growths!

Quality of life is an important factor in cancer treatment and Dr. MacEwan is always delighted to hear that mine continues to be superb. It’s only days like this one that remind me that I have cancer! The rest of the time I’m busy living life to the fullest and with utmost gratitude to my amazing medical team, my many faithful praying friends, and the God who promised to take care of me on this journey.

Segway adventure

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Several years ago, our youngest son started giving us experiences for Christmas instead of things. One year it was a helicopter flight, another year tickets to a dinner theatre. Last Christmas, we received gift certificates for a one hour Segway adventure in Edmonton’s beautiful river valley.

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Though River Valley Adventure Co. operates Segway tours year round, we waited until summer for our adventure and I’m glad we did! The conditions were perfect.

Our experience began with a short safety video followed by a hands-on training session with our experienced guide. We learned how to mount and dismount the Segway, how to stand still, start, stop, turn, speed up, and slow down. Since the Segway balances automatically, it was really quite simple. Before we knew it we were riding the trails, going up and down hills, and even slaloming between trees!

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To operate a Segway, you simply lean forward to make it go and backward to make it slow down or stop. Tilting the handlebar slightly to the left or right turns the machine in that direction. By standing upright and tilting the handle, you can actually turn 360º on the spot.

At the end of our tour, we received our Segway Operator’s License which allows us to skip the training session if we return for another try.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! It was a blast!

Fashion trends for fall 2107

LogoAs one who loves summer, I’m hoping that I don’t have to make my seasonal wardrobe switch to fall and winter wear for awhile yet, but it’s time to start thinking about it. Although I’ve been retired from teaching school for ten years, my many years in the classroom still have an impact. When the end of August and the beginning of a new school year approach, my mind automatically goes to fall. Of course, the stores have already been gearing up for the new season for some time.

So, what are the trends that we should be watching for this fall? Let’s take a quick peek.

Sofa Print Florals

Floral patterns never seem to go out of style, but this season I’m seeing a lot of the large floral prints that the fashion industry often refers to as “sofa print” or “couch” florals. Deep, rich colours and dark backgrounds seem to be particularly popular this year.

Red

Pink was the popular colour for summer this year, but its big sister, red, is taking over for fall and winter. Everything from shoes and boots to overcoats are being seen in red, but if you’re not sure that it’s the colour for you, try it in small doses first. Consider adding a pop of colour with red accessories.

If you plan to wear larger expanses of red, especially near your face, it’s important to choose a shade that compliments your complexion. If your skin has warm undertones, you’ll look best in an orange-based red, while those of us who have cooler, fair complexions will look better in reds with blue undertones.

Plaid 

One of the most popular looks on the runways for this season was grey plaid suiting, but brighter plaids (remember the 70s) are also popular. This plaid shirt from Cabi is on my wish list.

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Velvet

Velvet is back in many different hues and not just for formal wear. Skirts, pants, blazers, even hoodies, shoes, and booties are being seen in velvet this year!

Shoulder pads

Shoulder pads are one returning trend that I’m not sure I’m ready for! I can handle something small to give a garment structure, but no football player shoulders for me, please!

Midi skirts

Below the knee, but above the ankle, mid-calf length skirts seem to be the most popular for the upcoming season. Silhouettes vary from pencil skirts to those with more volume, but this can be a tricky length to get just right. When it comes to midi, there’s a thin line between flattering and frumpy. A skirt that hits the widest part of your calf will visually shorten your legs, so instead, you want the hemline to hit the narrower spot just below your calf muscles.

Do any of these trends appeal to you? Which ones will you consider adding to your wardrobe this fall?