Category Archive: Blessings

Froggies and New Birth

Our niece, Janae and her two-year old son joined us for dinner Thursday. Titus is an adorable, all boy moving wonder! After dinner we took them on a golf cart ride through The Villages, especially along the golf course. We crossed the street to reach the pond with ducks, geese and frogs. Titus was fascinated. We stopped, and he and Janae got out of the cart and walked toward three bullfrogs sitting on the lawn. The first two, flip, leaped into the pond as soon as Titus headed for them. The third held his ground, didn’t move, and eyeballed Titus from about 12-18″ apart. Then, as Titus’ little hands reached for him, he jumped. What great fun!

Soon after, our decades-long friend Susan Jones spent the weekend with us. So lovely to catch up face to face, to share our hearts and pray together.

And early yesterday morning Don’s grandson and his wife gave us our second great-grandson, Michael James. We are thrilled that all are doing well and look forward to meeting the newest Loewen.

A few days after Janae and TItus were here, I called his grandmother, my sister-in-law Sheila. We talked about upcoming plans for a family reunion and Titus insisted on getting on the line.

“Hi Aunt Cayo, Unca Don.”

“Hi sweetie.”

“How it going?”

“It’s going well thanks. How’s it going for you?”

“Good.”

“Remember the frogs we saw last week?”

“Yeah, froggies in the water. Crocodiles in water.”

Sheila spoke up. “I don’t think they have crocodiles in their water, Titus.”

“No, we don’t have crocodiles. But honey, the ducks just had babies! They’re so little.”

“Babies just like me.”

“Yeah. Just like you. Isn’t that great?”

“Yes. Bye Unca Don, Aunt Cayo.”

Now if that conversation isn’t a blessing I don’t know what is!

God, give me a grateful heart. It’s so easy to focus on the things I don’t like, from family conflict to poverty to national conflict. But God has given me this day, this week, and for that I am thankful. He has richly blessed me in family, in two wonderful marriages, and with deep friendships. So teach my heart to praise, to give thanks, to look for the positive and the blessings in life rather than getting wrapped up in the negatives.

“A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick.Laughter is a good medicine …”

Proverbs 17:22, TLB

For what are you thankful this week? What little or big blessings have you experienced? I find It’s often the little blessings that we miss most when someone is gone from our lives; the loving smile or hug of spouse or parent, the ability to talk through issues and make joint decisions, the fun of laughing at each other and at ourselves. Each of these is a blessing not to be missed.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:15-16, ESV

Open My Eyes

I looked out the kitchen window and gasped. I grabbed my husband’s arm, almost pulling him over in my excitement.

American Goldfinch


“Look, there, on the fence.”

This little beauty didn’t stay long, but we haven’t seen him before. We have quite a few bird varieties coming for goodies at Don’s birdhouses. We have colorful Grossbeeks, Red and Gold Finches, Junkos, Scrub Jays and Stellar Jays, Nuthatches and Chickadees. Fluorescent tiny green hummingbirds. And, just a few times, we’ve seen a stunning, sharp black and white Ladderback Woodpecker.

But we’d never seen a Goldfinch here before. His breast was almost yellow-orange, stunning in its vibrancy, his head capped by a black forelock, with black wings, orange beak and claws. We delighted in his presence. And then, flit, he was gone.

How often do we miss small moments of joy because we’re busy looking elsewhere, or waiting for the BIG revelation? I love the scripture that says “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from your law…” Psalm 119:18. And while that speaks of seeing amazing truths in God’s word, I think we can also ask him to open our eyes to see the beauty he has placed around us. Nature in all its beauty, majesty and variety is one way God reveals himself to us.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Romans 1:19-20 ESV

Do you see God in creation? In yellow-orange sunrises, in pinky-mauve sunsets, the multitude of greens in our forests, grasses and shrubs? As one of my friends said, “While you’re looking at creation, don’t forget to look for the Creator.”

photo of snow capped mountain under blue night sky
Photo by Ian Beckley on Pexels.com

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

John Muir

Dads’ Day

Happy Father’s Day!

What’s your favorite memory of your father?

I was blessed, through nothing but the grace of God, with a loving Father.

I have friends who had unhappy childhoods. Abuse, sexual trauma, fear. I can understand why they sometimes have difficulty trusting God as Father.

My father loved me unconditionally. Even when he corrected me, he did it with firmness, with strength, and with an explanation of what he wanted me to learn through this lesson. His discipline usually ended with a mutual hug.

He taught me about Jesus. He wakened early to spend time at his desk, designing homes he would build; spending time reading the Bible and praying. He focused on his relationship with God, modeling that for us children.

Dad had integrity. I don’t think he ever lied to anyone.

And when someone he cared about did something that was against God’s standard, I saw Dad’s pain. Not pain for an offense against him, but for an offense against God.

One of my favorite memories is when, as a child, I sat on my Daddy’s lap in Winnipeg, Canada. Together we watched the Northern Lights flicker across the sky. While the awesome power of those brilliant, floating colored lights terrified me, I felt safe in my father’s arms.

Dad with my two older brothers, Melvyn and Arnold

He also taught me to act like a lady, and my brothers as gentlemen. Once, walking along the street, one of my brothers walked on the inside of the sidewalk. I was on the outside. We may have been four and six at the time.

“Arnold,” Dad said quietly from behind us, “don’t you know a gentleman always walks on the outside of a lady?” And I felt ten feet tall.

Yes, some of those old manners are no longer in style and it’s ok – we’re not walking under windows where garbage might be tossed out onto the street at any time. But Dad modeled his love for Mom, and for us, clearly and openly. And I think at least partly because of that, I now have three adult brothers whom I love dearly. They’ve walked with me through a difficult move away from a legalistic ministry; through the death of one husband and into marriage to another; and continue to be a significant part of my life.

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad’s been in heaven almost 19 years already, Mom one.

When I broke an engagement, Mom stayed up ’til all hours while I cried and told her what had happened. The next day Dad took me to one of his job sites. He and I had a very different interaction. Calm, logical, no tears. I needed both a female and a male perspective. I felt supported having both of them listen and feed back regarding this major decision I’d made.

When I married at age 36, my father teased me about making up for lost time by having quintuplets (which I never did!). He loved going out to lunch with my first husband because Jerry encouraged him to enjoy desserts (which Mom didn’t always approve). And Jerry passed away three years after my father did. Both losses left enormous gaps in my life.

I wish Dad could have met Don, my second husband. Don shares many qualities with Dad.

  • His integrity
  • His love for God and his family
  • His graciousness.
  • His ability to fix anything around the house
  • His love of color and making the yard beautiful
  • Their mutual experiences in construction, and
  • Don’s great love for me.

You may not have been blessed with a good father. But God promises to be a “father to the fatherless, a husband to widows.” Perhaps you need to change the word “father” to “friend”, if “father” carries a negative connotation. But as we learn to know the Father better through his Word and prayer, we understand more of his love and correction in our lives, his Father-care.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,

    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Psalm 68:4-6, NIV

Thanks for listening to my memories. I’d love to hear some of yours.

Blessing in an “Annus Horribilis”

In case you missed it, I’m reposting this blog I wrote, and which my author friend Laura Bennet posted on her site when we swapped two weeks ago. May you find blessings in this season of Advent, of waiting for the arrival, the celebration, of the Christ-child, our Savior and Lord.

By Carol Nicolet Loewen

In a speech marking the 40th anniversary of her succession, Queen Elizabeth II referred to 1992 as an “annus horribilis,” a horrible year. Many of us would say the same of 2020.

Our country is in the midst of an ever-expanding pandemic as we wait and pray for an effective vaccine. We have isolated, masked, attended church, family, and business meetings on Zoom. We are hitting new highs for COVID-19 hospitalizations and are cautioned against being together with family members for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa holidays. Fires and floods have taken lives, homes, animals, property. And our election results are still in question, with the media quick to step in with their interpretation before waiting for the final electoral vote in December.

We need hope. And out of that hope we need love that goes beyond our differences.

I heard a statistic recently that more than 80% of Americans–whether Democrat or Republican, Christian or non-Christian, church-goer or non-church goer–say they have no friends who see the world differently than they see it, politically and theologically. We prefer to stay in our own comfort zones rather than deliberately choosing to know and learn to love someone who is “unlike” us. And nothing divides us like fear. Fear of loss … of control, safety, rights, freedom, health, power, economic stability, and on and on.

We look for affirmation, security, and love in a variety of ways, many of which are not only unproductive, but potentially dangerous.

  • The sexually abused daughter who grows up to become promiscuous, believing physical intimacy is the way to gain security through the approval of men.
  • The son who has never been able to please his father, continues to push himself, trying ever harder to get an “atta boy”. He becomes a workaholic who is almost an absentee parent.
  • The tycoon who thinks his business success will buy him security. 
  • The perfectionist who continually beats herself up because she could have “done it better,” never satisfied despite awards and recognition.
  • The rioters and looters who attack and destroy businesses of those they claim to defend.

What we’re looking for is a blessing. “Blessing” is defined as God’s favor and protection; a special favor, mercy or benefit. Three thousand years ago, God gave Moses a blessing for the people of Israel, which my lovely mother sang at my wedding. It has carried deep meaning for these millennia, and still does today. 

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
 Numbers 6:24-26

Only in the blessing of God do we find unconditional love which remains constant, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who HE is.

“Thy love is uncaused and undeserved. Thou art Thyself the reason for the love wherewith we are loved.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 97)

God has chosen to delight in me. What an amazing, life-altering fact! I don’t have to earn His love. I can’t. I simply need to receive it, bask in it, find my security in it. And when I am secure in His love, I am able to love others and fear begins to evaporate.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18

So then how can I GIVE a blessing to others? In a video, an impatient man is given a pair of “all-seeing” glasses. People who before were irritants or interruptions are seen through a new lens—recognizing one needs a hug, a woman just lost a dear friend, a man lost his job. Seeing their pain, the man responds very differently than before.

I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear, so I can bless those around me … with a warm smile, a listening heart, a “thank you” to store clerks, health care professionals, and others. I want to intentionally affirm those I love and those who need encouragement.

I have needed a blessing these past weeks. Have you?

What choices will you make this week to receive and give the blessing? I’d love to interact with you at carolshope.com.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17b-19

Paradigm Shifts

What’s the paradigm behind your world view? I’ve been wrestling with this these past months. I wonder if you have been too.

In this time of tensions within and outside our nation, pandemic fears, destruction of life, property, animals, and finances through fire, flood and violence, we see different paradigms at work.

  • The paradigm that we are in control of our lives. (2020 has shattered much of that one, hasn’t it!)
  • That politics, OUR politics, whatever they may be, has the answers we need to right the wrongs in our world.
  • That we are subject to external circumstances that control our lives; or
  • That God is sovereign over our lives, nations, world. His Throne is still occupied! He gives us freedom to choose our behaviors and responses to the world around us. He loves us with an everlasting love, to which we must choose how we will respond.

It seems to me that if we go with either of the first three paradigms (and there are others), we lose hope when a) we lose control over our lives because of illness, election results, loss of loved ones; b) our politics fail to provide the answers we seek; or c) the external circumstances we believe control our lives are unfavorable to us.

Our paradigms, our belief systems, affect our lives. And we can’t change our lives until we change the paradigms. We come to faith through a host of life experiences, education, and belief systems we have learned from our childhoods. These help form the lens through which we see the world.

  • Think of the woman who hates men because her father abandoned the family when she was a little girl, pushing them into poverty and insecurity.
  • Or the one who was abused as a child and doesn’t trust anyone, always fearing the raised hand or voice.

Pastor Rene Schlaepfer spoke last night about the shape of the gospel–a bell curve from weakness to power. Christ’s death looked like an absolute tragedy, a picture of complete weakness. But it was in reality the ultimate in power because of His resurrection from the dead three days later.

A gospel shaped paradigm gives me a pattern for my life when I realize that I can expect both crosses and empty tombs (perhaps figuratively, perhaps literally). If I expect only crosses, I can’t rejoice in the empty tombs. If I expect only graves, I fall into despair.

It changes how I see my future, because my future is in the hands of my loving Father who has promised never to leave nor forsake me. The apostle Paul said it this way.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 

II Corinthians 4:7-11

And, changing my paradigm gives me power for life, because God is strong when I am weak!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

II Corinthians 12:9

Pastor Rene said one way to get this gospel shaped paradigm into our heads is to expose myself to a new idea over and over, for example:

  • “God loves me and has already given me eternal life.”
  • “I know life has its crosses but they lead to resurrection.”
  • “I can trust the God who loved me enough to send His Son to die in my place, who knows my past, present and future. And one day I will worship at His feet, rejoicing in the grace He’s given me.”

Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

I’m working on my paradigms. How about you?