Ask

Ask.

It’s such a small word and, on the face of it, so simple.

In the gospels, Jesus tells his followers to ask. And he doesn’t say it just once.

Ask for provision. Ask for help. Ask and it will be given to you.

The promise of ASK is that you will RECEIVE.

You almost get the impression that Jesus wants to answer our prayers!

I have over the years, but more purposefully lately, put this small word – ask – to the test, to take up Jesus’ offer. I’m trusting him that this isn’t a mind game. He isn’t holding out the carrot just so I’ll pull the cart.

To ask is to trust. I want to trust the Lord. I will ask.

Though I’ve had increased eagerness to ask, I’ve also been surprised to find within me a resistance to asking – a desire to say instead, I’ve got this one, or this doesn’t require God’s attention, or I don’t want to…

I’ve needed help and instead of asking, I’ve chosen to worry, I’ve chosen to wallow. How strange.

I’m not sure what the barrier is to getting to the asking, but now I’ve got the word written big on my wall and in my heart: ASK.

I’ve been asking.

And I’ve discovered a few important things:

  1. The first is that the Lord cares about the minutiae. I have very specifically asked and the Lord has very specifically met my needs, ranging from a just affordable car repair and a surprise financial gift to cover the rest, a healed and healing friendship, plus inner peace, joy and increased faith, to name a select few. This is uniquely thrilling to consider that the Almighty God is so intimately aware of our needs and ready to meet them.

    Let me clarify, this is no prosperity gospel. This is not a get rich scheme. The Lord gives us [more than] enough – a sustainability of life and faith.

  2. The second is that I have sensed more than ever the Lord’s closeness. To ask is to acknowledge that he’s within earshot. Even closer! He’s hears our heart-whisper. He interprets our groaning. He reads my journal! That’s OK, I’ve asked him to. Even the instant peace of placing our circumstances in his hand is a beautiful answer to prayer because it is to know he is close.
  3. Asking also means that you necessarily have to let go of pride. If you’re not asking then you must believe that you do not need to. This is the wandering we are prone to.

    In the gospels, even the skeptics asked Jesus questions, though they had the wrong motives and evil intent. Jesus still answered. He still offered a worthy challenge, a beautiful nugget of truth even as he acknowledged their hardened hearts.

    Eventually, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, those who should have known him best, being unable to trap him nor to receive the life-giving truth he offered, STOPPED ASKING. Matthew 22:45 is, to me, one of the most heart-breaking verses in the Bible, “…from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.”

  4. If you ask questions of the Lord, he will ask questions right back. Your faith with be tested by what he asks of you. Because this is not a one-sided relationship. The purpose of the exercise is not to “receive a sign” to make Jesus prove himself to you – as if he needs to #clapback – but to ask in faith believing in the Lord’s love for you and power to answer.

Do not be afraid to ask. Take Jesus at his word. Ask and you will receive. Don’t stop asking. Keep asking. Ask. Just ask.

Going Grey – The End of a 2-Year Experiment

Yesterday, royal watchers celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. 63 years ago, HMQ first took her oath to uphold the laws of England and of God and to profess the true gospel. Then a crown was placed on her head, symbolising the  honour and authority bestowed upon her.

Today, there’s another, less famous celebration of a crown of another sort, the second anniversary of growing out my grey hair. It all started with a tenacious little Bible verse that I couldn’t get out of my head.

Grey hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Proverbs 16:31 (NIV)

I wondered what I was missing by covering a physical trait that the Bible deemed honourable. I decided to carry out a two-year experiment to understand better both our cultural views and Biblical truth about grey hair by growing out mine.  Continue reading

Beauty: The Bigger Story

Very grateful to Cheryl Weber and 100 Huntley Street for taking a moment to talk beauty – just a piece of “The Bigger Story.”  Capture

I’m trusting that the message would reach the hearts of those who need to hear it, that it would be a stepping stone to freedom from many women. We all have beauty stories. I’m taking a guess here, but they probably contain brokenness, hurt or confusion. Let God transform your story and find healing.

New Year’s Eve Self-Talk

New Year’s Eve always involves a little self-talk. This is me talking to me and maybe to you too.

At 42, I’ve had enough life experience to tell me that it’s not worth chasing the high you’re deciding on tonight, which is intended to last throughout 2016. Here’s the sober truth: fat can’t be flushed, regrets won’t disappear, the lottery won’t make you rich, s/he is not the answer to your problems. Even as I speak it, I know there’s a “but” in there… This year I’m getting rid of the “but.” (By all means, enjoy that play on words!) Continue reading

Faith like Olu (Part II) – in a word

Olu, our Nigerian friend, the refugee, changed his Whatsapp profile picture.

Take that, Justin Trudeau.

Olu recently started to ask for something. Have I heard about any jobs? Do I know of any work? Can we put the word out for him? Olu is hard-working, excellent in customer service, energetic, a go-getter, a quick learner… He doesn’t need to convince me, I’m sold. Except I have no leads, I have no contacts, I’m new to Toronto myself. I don’t even know where to direct him. Continue reading

42 years to learn

22 truths that took me 42 years to learn… and, by all projections, a lifetime to perfect:

1. Get your sleep, eat well, go for a walk. These are the best first steps to solving what ails you. If nothing else, it puts your mind in a better place to tackle the problem(s).

2. Pay attention to the words of those who stammer, stutter or blush because they are spoken with courage.

3. Embrace your tears. Those who know me know I cry almost daily. One friend has taken to calling me “Tina Tears.” Their involuntary appearance STILL takes me by surprise and, truthfully, sometimes embarrasses me. But I’ve learned to welcome them. I was marked with them in my early 20s when I received Christ. In welcoming these tears, I’ve discovered that they are a good gift. Tears detect beauty, break down walls, open the heart, and speak grace. They adjust my eyes to see what Jesus wants me to see. When your tears make a surprise appearance, acknowledge this good gift.

4. Welcome interruptions. Like tears, most gifts from God are not the things we planned or expected. The things that were/are an interruption in my life: my husband, my kids, my friends, and, well, 42 showed up kind of suddenly…  I can’t rightly say what good thing in my life wasn’t born out of interruption, even the things which initially seemed troubling. So welcome it all as God’s benevolence.

5. Banish offence. I believe it is possible to live a victorious life if we rid ourselves of offence. To qualify the term, I’m referring to when someone insults you either directly or indirectly, whether real or perceived. Root it out with prayer, kill it with kindness, walk through life unscathed and free.

6. Love others by keeping a record of rights. We know from 1 Corinthians 13 that when we keep an account of offences it is unloving behaviour. We like to either hold onto our offences and nurse them and/or throw them at others like a weapon once we’ve accumulated a good number of them. Is it possible to love by keeping track of, placing importance on, and speaking of the good things we see in others? I tried it. Suddenly, my husband is the most interesting man in the world, my kids are angels, I love Monday mornings, I have the best friends a girl could ask for, and I am saying hello to strangers on the street.  Gratitude is the outcome when we keep track of the good things.

7. Practice good gossip. Get caught talking well about other people. (That Karen is so amazing. Bob sure throws a great party. Don’t you just LOVE our pastor? And so on.) Start a new trend in the workplace, build the joy in your home, revitalize your church through good gossip.

8.  Asking for help is an act of generosity. Be specific with your needs and those who love you will thank you that you’ve let them in.

9. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.” Guidelines for life and social media from Romans 12:15-16.

On parenting (teens)

10. “Good for you!” “Use your words,” and “Play nicely” remain solid parenting principles well into the teen years.

11. Your teens actually do want to spend time with you. Force adventures on them, even if they resist. Do things together that make you hold your breath, use your muscles, tempt fate (within reason), laugh out loud. You’ve all just received a shot of perspective and joy. Now repeat.

Cockram Family Adventure

12. You are the boundary your teen needs to push against. Confirm for your teens that their home is a place where are they are safe to wrestle and doubt. Parents, this is Part II of your labour pains. There will be great rejoicing at the end of it.

13.  Parents of teens, you will need to add a sense of humour to your arsenal. No doubt about it, your kids will laugh at you, but if you join in, it means they are laughing with you.  Believe me, they’ll show you just how funny you didn’t know you are!

On marriage

14. Making the bed together is the best first thing to do each day. Bravo, you’ve accomplished something together. Now go, rock this day. It’s the two of you against the world. I also highly recommend unmaking it together at the end of the day, if you catch my drift…

15.  Dissatisfaction is never the other person’s fault, it belongs to you. Once you identify this truth, you can save/build/enjoy your marriage by ending the blame cycle and attending to the necessary changes in your own heart.

16. This one is for the wives. I’ve learned this little tip over time. (Don’t tell J-M, but it works like a charm). Whatever question you want to ask of your husband, ask it three times.  This is what it takes to get: 1) his attention, 2) the jokes out of the way, and 3) his real response. Try it and report back to me. We might be onto something.

17. Lighten up. If I may generalize, I think this is one of the brilliant things a man adds to a marriage – an easy going perspective. Women can place such importance on their deep thoughts and over-processing the minutiae.  If men and women are polar opposites in their thinking, perhaps the truth can be found in the happy medium. Emphasis on the happy.

On Faith

18. Faith is our spiritual muscle we must activate and exercise or else we become ineffective and unproductive. Train like an athlete. Digest good nutrients (truth). Work it off with strength training (service). Don’t get spiritually obese by only taking it in and never putting it to use. Don’t run yourself dry by always serving and never replenishing your reserves. And, just as importantly, rest once a week.

19. Worship God completely. Like, use every part of you – your voice, your strong legs, your wingspan, your thoughts, your heart, your eyes, your touch, your gut – to love and praise him. Discover how he wants to heal and restore every inch of you.

20. Thank God for the activists. They increase our proximity to the heart of God. They help us see and love the poor, the needy, the abandoned, the destitute, the lonely. So next time you see an activist coming, don’t squirm in your EZ chair, receive their good intentions and consider how you might take action with them.

21. Trade in Karma for Grace. Jesus paid what you owe. Best deal ever.

Final Word (For Now)

22. Seek after beauty. I have spent the past two years trying to understand what beauty is, where it comes from, where it can be found, who owns it. I can say with great joy that there are very real answers to these important questions. They all lead to a Creator God who decided that beauty is the way in which he would communicate his message of love and truth.  Look for beauty, find God.


Related Post: 40 years to learn

40 years to learn

2 years ago, I had 20 thoughts that took me 40 years to learn. I’m happy to say they still ring true.

22 more thoughts coming up.

Based on a True Story

There’s less than one week till my 40th birthday. Oh, have I mentioned that already? Well, anyway, it’s on Friday, October 25th. I’ll give you a moment to mark it on your calendar.

I’m making a big deal of it. Since the beginning of the month I’ve been talking about it all over the place, reminding my friends and family daily about this upcoming milestone. Perhaps over-celebrating it will reduce the impact when those big numbers – in Roman numerals that’s XL – actually hit.

Physically, I’m noticing my age. Not just on the surface, like wrinkles and age spots, but functional things like failing eyesight and a chronically sore left knee.

But I’ve recently come to view the aches and pains not as a sign of what’s to come, but as the sign of transition. This is what trade-off feels like. Wisdom for beauty via pang, spasm and twinge. And…

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